As an organization we are always learning, growing, and making improvements. Everything we do is framed within a continuous improvement cycle, which consists of multiple phases that are repeated year after year. First, we prepare to assess our programs and youth outcomes. Then, we conduct our assessment plans and collect data. Next, we identify areas where we are successful and determine opportunities for improvement. The opportunities for improvement are where we can make the greatest change and implement improvement plans to enhance the youth experience. Everything we do is based on intentional reflection, planning, and improvement.
Summer 2022 was our first full season of program quality assessments. A total of 72 assessments were completed across all sites of the organization. Assessments were completed by counselors, facilitators, coordinators, managers, and external visitors, and ranged from 15 minutes to multiple days, including during both structured activities and unstructured social time. This provided a holistic understanding of the quality of campers’ experiences at Tims Camps.
The overall score was 68%. In summer 2023, we are aiming for a score of 73%. We will focus improvement efforts in the areas of emotion coaching, furthering learning, and promoting responsibility and leadership.
Reflecting on the process of program quality assessments, engaging more voices and perspectives is key for us and will allow for a well-rounded view of how we create a high-quality experience for youth. Our goal is to connect and engage with staff in different roles across the organization, youth in all three of our programs, and other stakeholders (e.g., teachers, partnership organizations) to provide insights into program quality. We are also engaging youth in creative camp-based activities to share their views on what makes a high-quality camp program. Sourcing different perspectives of the quality of our programs will allow us to gain a deeper understanding of what we do well and how we can improve.
As we learned that participants’ general wellbeing increases after camp, but might not be sustained into the school year, our year-round youth engagement efforts will focus on connecting with campers, transferring and sustaining wellbeing into home settings. This will impact the supports and ongoing outreach that we provide throughout the school year.
In addition, we aim to incorporate TIMpact365 outcome measurements into school and community partnership programs to better understand the outcomes youth experience across all of our programs.
Short-term impact is measured through the Big 3 components of self, community, and future. Summer campers responded to these questions once before and once after the camp experience to determine the impact of camp programs. Data from 2022 indicated that the programs positively impacted youth in all three categories, however it was not a statistically significant increase for “future”.
This information will be used to modify activities related to “future” for summer 2023. Our goal is that with these modifications, scores related to “future” will show statistically significant increases from pre- to post-camp measures. In addition, repeated measurement related to all the Big 3 elements in 2023 will inform the impact of our improvement efforts and determine our next area of focus for program improvement.
In 2023 we will begin to incorporate Big 3 impact measures into school and community partnership programs to understand the impact of all our program delivery models.
Long-term impact was measured with alumni campers in Spring 2023. Three key takeaways were determined:
- Tims Camps was critical to the development of skills that remain important in former campers‘ lives today.
- Greater years of camp = greater impact.
- Tims Camps opens doors/creates opportunities for education and employment.
Our goal is to continue to foster relationships with our alumni. Ongoing communication with alumni will allow us to stay in touch, keep updated contact information on file, and connect again in a few years to continue to understand the long-term impact of camp.