Impact

Our model hinges on building the healthy habits, social skills and capital, and self-management young people need to succeed academically and thrive. Our evaluation surveys, as well as interviews and focus groups, push us to reflect on our model and how to improve it. Some results from our surveys in 2014 and 2015 are shared here.

Overall Impact

In 2015, 9 out of every 10 campers (89%) made statistically significant gains in at least one key outcome area (like social skills or self-management). This means that the we’re nearly certain it was camp that accounted for these gains. This is higher than the average among the 34 other youth-serving programs that used the same youth development evaluation tool.

Healthy Body

After coming to camp, campers planned to make positive changes to their eating and fitness habits, and these gains held over time. We asked campers about their habits and behaviors with respect to their health – how much water they drink each day, how much fast food they typically eat, how often they eat vegetables, and the like. We posited that the camp experience – eating healthy foods, drinking water, and being active all day – would result in campers planning to change their behavior with respect to these benchmarks.

At entry, around one-quarter of campers said they ate vegetables more than once per day. At the end of camp, 58% of campers planned to do so – a 31-point change.

For almost all of the behavioral indicators we used in 2014, campers reported significant change from the beginning of camp to the end. For example, at entry, around one-quarter of campers said they ate vegetables more than once per day. This is far below the national average - a 2010 study by the Center for Disease Control found that 67% of high school students nationally reported eating vegetables at least once per day.

By the end of camp, 58% of campers planned to eat vegetables at least once per day – a 31-point increase. This change represents a medium-to-large effect, or about 0.6 standard deviations. One camper reflected, "[I learned] how to eat good [tasting] food and still be healthy." These changes in tastes and preferences are important; a National Institute of Health study found that liking the taste of vegetables is a key factor in predicting young adults' increases in fruit and vegetables intake. 

The same study found that reduced consumption of fast food is also an important predictor of increases in fruit and vegetable intake. At the beginning of camp, just over half - 55% - of campers said they ate fast food two to three times per month, or less. By the end of camp, 71% of campers planned to eat fast food at this frequency - 16-point increase. This shift represents a medium effect size - equivalent to a change of about 0.55 standard deviations.

A follow-up survey conducted in January 2015 found that campers stuck to behavioral changes they planned to make at the end of camp.

Critically, a follow-up survey conducted in January 2015 found that campers stuck to behavioral changes they planned to make at the end of camp. Six months after camp, campers reported eating more vegetables, drinking more water, and eating fewer sweets and salty snacks than they had when they first camp to camp. All these changes were statistically significant.

Healthy Heart

After coming to camp, campers felt more attached to a particular community, and had more tools for managing stress and conflict. We asked campers to rate their level agreement with several statements gauging their self-concept, as well as their communication and collaboration skills. We know these social skills are linked to positive long-term outcomes, like thriving, academic success, and reduced risk behaviors.

We saw significant change, including a medium-to-large effect size - for the following indicators, which relate to sense of belonging in a community and constructively managing stress and conflict:

  • I stay calm when facing problems.
  • When something is bothering me, I do things to relax.
  • Violence is never OK in a relationship.
  • I don't need to fight because there are other ways to deal with being mad.
  • I offer help to those around me.
  • I have a strong attachment to a particular community.

In the intake survey, about half of campers agreed that they have a strong attachment to a particular community. In the exit survey, 74% agreed – a 26-percentage point increase (p < 0.005, d = 0.87). 

For example, in the intake survey, nearly half (48%) of campers agreed that they have a strong attachment to a particular community. In the exit survey, 74% agreed – a 26-percentage point increase (p < 0.005, d = 0.87). Similarly, in the intake survey, about 77% of campers agreed that violence is never OK in a relationship. In the exit survey, 92% agreed – a 15-percentage point increase (p < 0.005, d = 1.3).

Notably, campers continued to show statistically significant growth with respect to "Healthy Heart" indicators in the follow-up survey conducted in January 2015.

Healthy Mind

After coming to camp, many campers felt more comfortable speaking up in a group, more able to tackle tough problems, and more connected to people who can help them get information about college. In 2015, more than half of participating students made statistically significant gains in self-management -- making camp a "positive deviant" in the lives of these youth! These self-management and academic self-efficacy skills lead to positive long-term outcomes, like thriving and academic success.

In 2014, we asked campers about their decision-making processes, as well as their plans for the future. We saw significant change from the beginning of camp to the end for the following indicators:

  • I feel comfortable expressing my views in a group of people.
  • I express my opinions when classmates disagree with me.
  • I can always manage to solve difficult problems if I try hard enough.
  • When it is time to make an important decision, I am able to develop a plan of action.
  • I know where to get information about college.

At the beginning of camp, for example, about 62% of campers agreed that they express their opinions when their classmates disagree with me. In the exit survey, 81% agreed – a 19-percentage point increase (p < 0.005, d = 0.33). In addition, in the intake survey, about 78% of campers said they know where to get information about college. In the exit survey, 91% agreed – a 13-percentage point increase (p < 0.05, d = 0.24).

In the intake survey, about 78% of campers said they know where to get information about college. In the exit survey, 91% agreed – a 13-percentage point increase (p < 0.05, d = 0.24).

Six months after camp, in January 2015, campers continued to show statistically growth in problem-solving and communication, suggesting that these gains hold over time.

Camper Testimonials


 
"Camp taught me how to present myself and how to communicate.  [As a Junior Counselor,] I was a role model for the campers and you see the effect that you have on them. Campers motivated me to be my best. It was amazing to see how the campers changed from the beginning of the session to the end. There is no talking down, and...everyone has respect for each other. It’s amazing to see how you can change people’s lives."
 

 
 "During this session, I learned to treat your body not beat it. What I mean by this is to eat right, exercise, and every once in a while have time for yourself and nature to maintain a healthy mind."
 

 
"I learned that in order to communicate and support others you can't just say you what you think needs to be said, you have to listen to what the other person has to say."
 

 
 “I learned that working together as a team and communicating can really push people forward. It won't hold you back as along as everyone has an input.”
 

 
"I learned that it is not scary at all to share your opinions with others and it's not weird to support people that you just met."
 

 
"I met so many strong, independent, kind, helpful, caring, smart, and respectful young women."