Evaluation instrument use for camp practitioners: A review of evaluation instruments for a one-week or short-term residential camp context

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Virginia Tech


For camps, designing and executing experiential-based programming, as well as their structure is central to their value of providing opportunities for positive youth development. Those within the camp community, inherently understand this value and see it throughout the many characteristics of camp. However, demonstrating these positive outcomes can produce challenges to camp practitioners. This report presents recommendations for evaluation instrument implementation for interviews, observations, and surveys. Using a one-week or short-term residential camp context lens, this report is able to provide real-world factors and structure that affect and should be considered when implementing an evaluation approach. A brief introduction and purpose of the project is described first, followed by background information on evaluation, and then the description of the report’s camp context lens. From there, each evaluation instrument is generally described, and recommendations stated. These recommendations are meant to provide camp practitioners with a guide in helping them decide which evaluation approach and instrument suits the needs of their camp. In providing recommendations through a specific camp context lens, this report tries to present the information in a way that camp practitioners can use and will aid in demonstrating their camps’ value to their stakeholders, especially in terms of positive youth development outcomes. The report concludes by highlighting some important evaluation implementation points from the paper, as well as a few best practice recommendations for camp practitioners moving forward.