What's up with the Youth Outcomes Battery?

August 20, 2019
Laurie Browne, PhD

Greetings everyone, and happy (almost) fall! The end of August is an interesting time for camp folks — some are still finishing their summer season, some are rolling right into fall programming, and some have closed up shop and are taking a well-earned break. Whatever your story, you are probably reflecting on summer 2019 and thinking about changes you might make for summer 2020.

We have written many times about the powerful way evaluation can help you reflect on one summer and prepare for the next. Quick review: evaluation is a process of gathering information (some might call this information "data") and using that information to make decisions about the future. Ideally, this process also includes ways you can determine to what extent those decisions worked in the ways you hoped. We call this the plan — implement — assess — improve cycle.

One of the best tools available for camp evaluation is ACA’s Youth Outcomes Battery (YOB). Shameless plug, I know, but it’s true. The YOB is a scientifically tested set of surveys designed specifically for campers. Eleven outcomes to choose from (like friendship skills, problem-solving confidence, and camp connectedness, for example), most of which are available in formats specific to young campers, older campers, or as observations to be completed by camp staff or parents. We even have national averages you can use to measure progress over time.

Until recently, you could purchase the YOB either as a PDF that you could copy or input into an online survey software of your choice, or as an annual subscription, an option we called YOB 2.0. YOB 2.0 subscribers had access to a dashboard from which they could custom design YOB surveys, enter data online, and view results in real time.

That is — until recently. You might have noticed that YOB 2.0 is no longer available on the ACA website. Partially because of unexpected technological shifts, we are currently in the process of rebuilding YOB 2.0 into a more flexible and responsive online YOB system. And while the new product will not be available in time for your immediate evaluation needs, we are excited to share with you what you can look forward to in Spring 2020:

  • Like YOB 2.0, the new online system will be an annual subscription during which time you will have access to a library of YOB surveys and demographic questions so you can custom design surveys to measure camper outcomes.
  • New! Administer surveys onsite via smartphone, tablet, or computer, or send a survey link via email, text message, or QR code.
  • New! Export raw data to Excel (or, if you are a real nerd, to SPSS).
  • New! Custom design reports using report templates or go wild with charts, graphs, or word clouds.
  • And much more . . .

And now for the million-dollar question: When will this be available? By February 2020, you will be able to purchase your annual subscription for the new and improved YOB 2.0, as well as resources for survey design and reporting. And join us at the 2020 ACA National Conference for an in-person training session and YOB Users’ Community of Practice.

Until then, happy evaluating!

Laurie Browne, PhD, is the director of research at ACA. She specializes in ACA's Youth Outcomes Battery and supporting camps in their research and evaluation efforts. Prior to joining ACA, Laurie was an assistant professor in the Department of Recreation, Hospitality, and Parks Management at California State University-Chico.  Laurie received her PhD from the University of Utah, where she studied youth development and research methods.

Thanks to our research partner, Redwoods.


Additional thanks goes to our research supporter, Chaco

Photo courtesy of Ramah in the Rockies in Denver, Colorado