Our mission is simple: to offer a multi-year growth experience, with a focus on communication.
Our results, however, are not so simple.
Here we present three ways of looking at our results:
- Outcomes (Algorhythm)
- Parent Feedback Survey Responses
- Anonymous Online Reviews
Before we look at these, though, we have to talk about impact and happiness. They're different things, and understanding the difference might help you understand the Longacre experience a little bit better.
Impact vs. Happiness
The difference between impact and happiness is the difference between objective and subjective.
Let's start with impact. Impact considers questions like, "Was the camper measurably impacted by the experience?" and "Has she demonstrated measurable growth?"
These are not foolish questions. Social and emotional learning (SEL) has a strong foundation in the academic literature. And there are tools out there (a.k.a. instruments, or surveys) used by researchers to measure (objectively) the various areas of SEL (like resilience or social skills).
Then there's happiness. Happiness is subjective. Happiness considers questions like, "Did the camper have fun?", "Does he want to come back?" and "Do the parents like us and want the child to come back?"
Questions like these are answered with satisfaction surveys, which you're surely aware of because every business from Dunkin' Donuts to Delta Airlines wants to know if you were "satisfied".
When it comes to summer camp, happiness is very important (stating the obvious here). If the camper is unhappy, the parents are unhappy; if the parents are unhappy, we are unhappy.
We want you to be happy. We want you to be so happy that you return for many summers. The more returning families we get, the stronger our culture; the stronger our culture, the greater our impact, the happier our families, and the more returning families we get. It's a virtuous cycle.
We Want Both
So both impact and happiness are important, but they are not the same thing. To confuse things a little further, one does not necessarily lead to the other.
The key (for us) is to find families (like you) who will be both impacted and happy. We want both.
Here is a silly table to illustrate a serious point:
|Camper #2||Yes||No||Still not good|
|Camper #3||No||Yes||Better, but far from ideal|
We want Camper #4. By a mile.
The key to Camper #4 is for us — Susan, Maddie, Louise and Matt — to be on the same page with you. We want to work with you as your child grows up. We want to work together. Like we're on a team.
Impact at Camp?
An important note about impact at camp.
As you look around for your ideal summer camp, you may not read much about impact — lots about fun and happiness, but probably not much about impact.
That we are even talking about impact should signal to you that Longacre Leadership Camp is not your typical summer camp. Are you sure you want that? Because impact is neither good nor bad; it's only right for you or not right for you.
Remember, there are thousands of great, wonderful camps out there run by inspired people doing amazing things with kids. And you deserve to find the camp that's right for you.
(If you need some help finding your ideal summer camp, we wrote a 4,000-word guide called Finding a Fit in 5 Easy Steps: How to Find a Great Summer Camp. Check it out.)
Three Ways of Looking at Results
Onto our results.
We have three ways of looking at this. The first addresses impact. The second and third address happiness.
1. Outcomes (Algorhythm)
Let's start with outcomes. Outcomes measure impact.
To measure outcomes, we use Algorhythm's Youth Development iLearning System (you've probably never heard of it).
Algorhythm (yes there's a "rhythm" in there) is a Philadelphia-based company that helps social impact organizations assess the efficacy of their programs. (Most of Algorhythm's clients are non-profit organizations. Youth development organizations use assessments like this to secure funding.)
When they launched the company a few years ago, the founders of Algorhythm reviewed the academic literature and identified six areas that are core to the healthy development of young people:
- Social Skills
- Positive Identity
- Academic Self-Efficacy
- Social Capital
Each of these terms means something. If you don't recognize the terms, you're in good company because we didn't either. (We'll flesh them out below.)
Algorhythm measures those six outcomes using a survey, which is like a test; but not the kind of test that measures what you know. Instead it's a kind of test with no right answer.
The survey presents a statement and then asks the camper to check a box: "describes me well", "sort of describes me", "does not describe me well", etc. Here are three sample statements:
- "Other people's feelings matter to me"
- "I keep going, even when things get tough or stressful"
- "It is important for me to participate in my community"
We give campers a pre-test (when they arrive) and a post-test (when they depart). Then we compare their first answers and their second answers.
It doesn't really matter where campers start (our campers tend to start pretty high up) — only whether there was a positive change (with statistical significance).
That positive change (or lack thereof) represents the impact of the Longacre experience.
"How can you be sure that the cause of the impact is the camp?"
Great question! This is something we struggled with when shopping around for instruments a few years ago.
One of the beauties of the Algorhythm model is that every youth (from every client organization) takes the same survey. And all results are plugged into the same software; so we're comparing our results to everyone else's results.
There are tens of thousands of records in there. It's brilliant! It gives every organization a benchmark; so here at Longacre we can be sure that the change we're seeing is due to the Longacre experience, and not due to external forces.
Six Outcome Areas
Above we listed the six outcome areas: social skills, self-management, contribution, positive identity, academic self-efficacy and social capital.
In the table below we explain what these terms mean and why they're important, and then give you some example statements from the survey.
|Outcome Area||Description||Research says ...||Outcomes Survey Examples|
|Social Skills||Caring, perspective-taking||It supports positive social interactions and promotes positive youth-environment interactions||"Other people's feelings matter to me" and "I try to support others when they aren't as good as me at something"|
|Self-Management||Emotion regulation, positive risk-taking, persistence||It's correlated with GPA and standardized test scores, fewer suspensions and expulsions, and improved social development||"I keep going, even when things get tough or stressful" and "I can deal with my emotions when I'm disappointed"|
|Contribution||To family, community and society||It's correlated with GPA and standardized test scores, fewer suspensions and expulsions, and improved social development
||"It is important for me to participate in my community" and "I know how I can use my interests and skills to make my community better"|
|Positive Identity||Self-awareness, confidence||It's correlated with higher confidence and reduced behavioral problems||"I take the time to find out about my own identities (who I am)" and "I participate in activities and programs to explore my identities (who I am)"|
|Academic Self-Efficacy||Hopeful academic future||It's correlated with GPA and standardized test scores, fewer suspensions and expulsions, and longer-term gains in skills to identify, attain, and retain a career
||"It's important for me to work hard in school" and "I believe that finishing school will help me achieve my goals"|
|Social Capital||Positive bonds with people and institutions (school, church, community center, etc.)||It builds youth's support network and sense of belonging within their environment||"How many adults in your life outside of the camp ... expect you to do your best? ... believe that you will succeed? ... pay attention to what's going on in your life?"|
For background on Algorhythm's work we recommend two documents, Bridging Research to Practice and Mapping Outcomes and Practices Across Youth and Staff Surveys.
Last summer 79% of our campers made significant gains in at least one outcome area.
Here are the percentages of campers who made significant gains in each area.
Percentages without context don't mean much — we get it.
Here's one possible takeaway: "There's a leadership camp in Pennsylvania. It's a little different from your typical summer camp. Its mission is to offer a multi-year growth experience, with a focus on communication. In 2016 it achieved its mission with 4 out of 5 campers."
If 79% seems low to you, well, it seems a little low to us too. And we can do better.
2. Parent Feedback Survey Responses
A second way of looking at our results is parent feedback survey responses. The survey measures happiness.
Last May we decided to publish all the responses from our 2015 parents survey. (It was nerve-wracking.) Here are the three reasons we gave:
- To honor the parents who give us feedback
- To highlight a few things we're proud of
- To ensure we make the proper adjustments
For more on our rationale, check out Parent Feedback Series — Introduction.
You may not be interested in sifting through all these responses; but if you are there are some good nuggets in there. Here is the main page from our 2015 Responses (still collecting 2016's). From there you can navigate to the specific questions you're interested in.
Just to be clear, we've published everything, even the bad stuff.
3. Anonymous Online Reviews
A third way of looking at our results is anonymous online reviews. Reviews also measure happiness.
We've found two sites with Longacre reviews. (Found more?) The first is Google reviews. The second is CampRatingz.com.
In both cases we have no ability to take down reviews we don't like. If something goes up, it's up forever.
Google Reviews are pretty easy to find. Just Google "Longacre Leadership Camp" (or click here).
At the time of writing we've received 16 reviews. Here's a screenshot:
We're pleased with those.
CampRatingz.com has tens of thousands of reviews on thousands of camps. It's a great resource for parents looking for inside scoops on camps.
At the time of writing, Longacre Leadership Camp is the top-rated leadership camp in the country. Pretty cool stuff.
So those are our results.
What'd we miss? What do you want to see that we're not showing you? Any questions or criticisms? Email Matt Smith at [email protected] or call me at 717-567-3349.
Or, if you're interested in speaking to someone about your child, Step #1 is to fill out this inquire form. Thanks!