It Matters What You Measure (Pt. 1): How Camp Fire Investigates Impact

Camp Fire Columbia

Numbers last updated Jan, 11, 2018.

You know we take being a leader in the positive youth development community seriously. That means regularly trying out new methods, new ideas, and new ways of encouraging kids to be their best selves right now.

But how do we figure out our impact, what’s working, and what’s not working as well?

We measure a lot of stuff.

And we don’t just count the number of people Camp Fire served (184,584 in 2017) and how many program sites we have (1,300) – we want to go deeper. A lot deeper. We want to know if Camp Fire is really helping kids grow, succeed, and thrive.

So we ask questions. Lots of questions. And we work with our external evaluation partner every year, Hatchuel Tabernik & Associates, to collect, measure, and evaluate the data and determine our impact; this includes the hard numbers of how many people we served, to more intangible things we capture like growth in youth knowledge, skills, and abilities.

“We ask youth about the Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) skills that we know from research that young people need in order to thrive now and later in life,” says Shawna Rosenzweig, Director, Program Effectiveness at Camp Fire National Headquarters.

Camp Fire Northwest Ohio

We call them “thriving indicators” and we give our youth surveys twice-a-year so we can find out Camp Fire’s programs affect their lives in real ways:

  • Social Skills: Do Camp Fire kids/teens have the tools to interact well with others? Do they practice inclusiveness and empathy?
  • Life Skills: Can Camp Fire kids/teens manage social situations and work toward their goals?
  • Conflict Resolution: Do Camp Fire kids/teens know how to respectfully navigate disagreements?
  • Confidence: Do Camp Fire kids/teens believe they are able to accomplish their goals?
  • Purpose: Do Camp Fire kids/teens know their “reason for being”?
  • Nature: Are Camp Fire kids/teens inspired by nature and motivated to care for it?
Camp Fire First Texas

When our youth report making progress in those areas—and when our staff can see they are, too—we know we’re fulfilling Camp Fire’s promise:

Young people want to shape the world. Camp Fire provides the opportunity to find their spark, lift their voice, and discover who they are. In Camp Fire, it begins now.”

Of course, in order for us to  effectively reach the youth we’re serving, our organization needs to work efficiently and our our staff and volunteers need to thrive, too! We monitor our organization’s health, get leadership training, and we check in with our trained, caring adults to make sure they are using the thriving tools in their own lives and have the support they need.

Can you tell we really love to nerd out on this impact stuff? We’re going to spending this month sharing what we’ve learned by asking all these thriving questions. Stay tuned to find out what kind of progress we’ve been making.

Camp Fire Pautuxent

In the meantime, learn more about our powerful programs, and make sure to follow along with our social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. We’ve got daily videos—thanks to our friends at Frost Media—to share with you! You won’t want to miss these.

Like what you’re hearing? Please support us in the Newman’s Own Foundation Holiday Challenge. We’re in a friendly competition on Crowdrise with other nonprofits to raise the most money—and engage with the most supporters—this holiday season. What’s at stake? Some very sweet prize money for the nonprofits who raise the most cash by January 3. Take a look, join in, and give if you can!

Camp Fire Columbia

December 4, 2017

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