Designing Your Programs to Best Enhance the Camp Experience

Top Tips for Camps

  1. Intentionally select program activities that provide one or more of the youth-development supports (supportive relationships, safety, youth involvement, skill building).
  2. Identify and improve ways in which campers are immersed in your camp’s program, philosophy, traditions, and mission.
  3. Examine ways to enhance camper's feelings of physical and emotional safety.
  4. Create meaningful new practices in which youth feel involved in decision making and leadership opportunities.
  5. Evaluate activity plans to see how they provide challenges, support, and reinforcement of your camp’s mission.

Tips adapted from Designing Quality Youth Programs. American Camp Association.

Resources For Camp Program Quality Improvement

  • Camp Program Quality Assessment (CPQA short form) - the CPQA is a free downloadable PDF designed for your staff team to use to examine, discuss, and plan to improve the quality of your camp program.
  • CPQA Staff checklist - free downloadable 1 page PDF that lists the best staff behaviors to use in programs that contribute to positive youth development
  • ACA Program Improvement Toolbox - a 3 hour online course that:
    • provides background on the characteristics of quality programs and positive youth development
    • lessons learned from the ACA National Program Improvement Project
    • easy to use observation forms (C-PQA short form) that help identify and recognize exemplary staff behaviors and interactions
    • ways to collect and document information on how you are doing with your improvement process
    • tips on how to use these resources as a part of your staff training

Additional Articles and Advice