Tools for Assessing Camp Program Quality

A quality camp program is one that consistently promotes camper and staff growth and safety over time. Experts in youth development have identified things camps can do, from staff practices, activities, policies, and overall camp climate, to support youth development, which also serve as a rubric for continuous program improvement. With your own camp as a baseline, these tools can help your staff plan and practice camp program quality, and assess the effects of your improvement efforts over time.

Camp Program Quality Assessment (CPQA)—Short Form

The Camp PQA Short Form 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. The Short Form provides an introduction to the best practices of positive youth development based on the Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality’s widely used Youth Program Quality Assessment (YPQA) tool. 

The CPQA—Short Form contains three sections:

  • Program offerings. This observational form is designed for structured programs that youth attend for a set time with a set purpose while at camp. These offerings may be referred to as programs, clubs, workshops, classes, etc.
  • Informal climate. This observational form is designed to capture youth experiences in non-program offering times, such as meal time, transitions, or free time. This form also includes an optional segment that focuses on the camp's attempts to develop an affinity for nature in their programs for campers.
  • Camp structure and administration. This form is intended to capture how the camp's structure and administration support program quality. This form is completed through an interview with the camp director or other appropriate person.

Download the CPQA Short Form


CPQA Staff Checklist

The Staff Checklist is a condensed version of the Short Form and is perfect for staff training and observation. 

Download the CPQA Staff Checklist


ACA's Program Improvement Toolbox (online course)

ACA’s Program Improvement Toolbox has six modules that provides background on the characteristics of quality programs and positive youth development, lessons learned from the ACA Program Improvement Process, easy to use observation forms called the Camp Program Quality Assessment (C-PQA) that help identify and recognize exemplary staff behaviors and interactions, a way to collect and document information on how you are doing with your improvement process, and tips on how to use these resources as a part of your staff training. The end result is for you and your staff to know, apply, and document the desired skills and know-how that lead to quality programs!