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Why the “Y”?: An Evaluation of the YMCA Overnight Camp Program Offering. By: Allison Seguin. Agenda. Background and research process Purpose Objectives Methodology Sampling Plan Purchasing the YMCA Overnight camp product The Path to Purchase Reviewing the Quality Eight

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Why the “Y”?:

An Evaluation of the YMCA Overnight Camp Program Offering

By: Allison Seguin


  • Background and research process

    • Purpose

    • Objectives

    • Methodology

    • Sampling Plan

  • Purchasing the YMCA Overnight camp product

    • The Path to Purchase

  • Reviewing the Quality Eight

    • What are the Quality Eight

    • Table Stakes

    • Values

    • Outcomes

  • Future Research

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Background and Research Process


  • Qualitative in nature

    • Online Bulletin Board Focus Groups (BBG)

    • In-Depth Interviews (IDI)

  • What does this mean?

    • BBGs: parents would sign in at least four times a day over two days to answer questions

    • IDI: half hour telephone interviews

  • BBGs: 55 parents were included

  • IDIs: 9 parents, 5 counselors, 5 new Canadians, 11 Eastern camper parents, and 13 directors

Sampling Plan


Western Canada

Eastern Canada

Sampling Plan

  • 11 Interviews were conducted with First Timer and Repeat Eastern camper parents

Path to Purchase: What is it?

  • Steps the customer takes when purchasing a service or product

  • Includes awareness, research, consideration, purchase and re-purchasing intent


  • Parents were asked how they heard of YMCA overnight camps

  • Parents typically heard of overnight camps through:

    • Other YMCA program offerings

    • Word of mouth

Awareness: Word of Mouth

  • Past campers

    • Neighbours

    • Friends

    • Colleagues

  • General word of mouth

    • Did not specify who provided the recommendation

    • Well-known in area


  • Word of mouth and not much else

  • Those who did follow-up research

    • Spoke to staff at gym or daycare

    • Consulted the website

New Canadians

  • Consulted the website

  • One went solely on the recommendation of a friend and did no other research

  • Different Websites Different Problems

  • Lay-out and navigation issues for (names omitted).


What stood out?

  • Positive experiences

    • Other campers/Their camper

    • Themselves (camp alumni)

    • Other YMCA Programs

Also came up when asking about how heard about YMCA Overnight camps

  • YMCA Brand

    • Reputation

    • Age of camp

    • Affinity to values of YMCA

    • Trust in the organization

  • Qualities of camp

    • Traditional, basic or simple

  • Heterogeneous group of campers

    • SES

    • Children with special needs

    • Just different kids

Outcomes of camp (will be discussed more later)


New Canadians

  • Friendly and helpful staff

  • The ability to participate in outdoor activities

  • Making new friends

  • Learning Canadian customs

  • Why Not Girl Guides?

  • Already knew everyone

  • Enjoyed the activities offered at the YMCA camps

  • Transportation convenience

Re-Purchasing Intent

  • What made the Camper want to go back?

  • Everything!

  • Fun games

  • Connecting with friends or counselors

  • What made the parents want to re-enroll their child?

  • Praised great staff

  • History or values

  • Camper’s enthusiasm

What Are the Quality Eight?

Fun-The YMCA Resident Summer Camp is fun.

Safety- The YMCA Resident Summer Camp is safe - socially, emotionally and physically.

Friendship - The YMCA Summer Camp is a place of friendships.

Belonging - The YMCA Summer Resident Camp is a place of caring, belonging and responsibility.

Learning- The YMCA Resident Summer Camp participants learn and are challenged.

Natural World - The YMCA Resident Summer Camp treasures the natural world.

Life Needs - The YMCA Resident Summer Camp meets personal life needs. (Clean facilities and enjoyable meals)

Place to Return - The YMCA Resident Summer Camp is a place to return to.

What Are the Quality Eight?

Quality Eight Principles




Place to return to

Natural World


Life needs


Table Stakes: Safety

  • Safety included

    • Physical and emotional safety

    • Communication and safety

    • Safety and an individualized approach

Table Stakes: Safety

Emotional Safety

  • Bullying

  • Discussing issues in a supportive environment

Physical safety

  • Buildings

  • Facilities

  • Equipment

  • Availability of medical staff

  • Adequate training of counselors

  • Adherence to safety protocols

  • Acceptable counselor to camper ratios

  • What do counselors think?

  • Emphasis on safety overwhelming

  • More training for soft skills

    • Camper behaviour or sensitive issues

Table Stakes: Safety


  • Before, during and after camp

  • Really an unplugged environment?

    • Parents have been known to sneak in phones

    • They want photos, videos, updates and posts

  • Both camp directors and counselors commented on this trend

    • Infringes on some outcomes of camp

Table Stakes: Safety

Individualized Approach

  • Although group dynamics were important, MY child should not fall to the wayside

  • Counselors responsibility to sense group dynamics

  • Negative experiences were noted because of cabin dynamics

    • Requests on registration forms

Table Stakes: Food

Health-Conscious Parent

Things to consider…


  • Suggested sugar-free camps

  • Balanced meals necessary

  • It’s just camp

  • Suck it up

  • Best stories are about the food

  • One new Canadian parent mentioned food options that take into consideration religious restrictions

Values: Belonging

Campers enjoyed:

  • Camp songs

  • Lingo

  • Routines

  • Traditions

    Some parents wanted for their camper:

  • A connection with the camp

Values: Natural World

  • Fourth most commonly mentioned benefit to attending overnight camp

    Tell me more…

  • Nostalgic recount of childhood memories

  • Being unplugged

  • Learning outdoor skills

  • Interacting with nature in a safe way

    • Environmentally conscious citizens were not mentioned

Values: A Place to Return To

Factors that foster a place to return to


  • Everything!

  • Fun games

  • Connecting with friends or counselors


  • Reputation/history of YMCA

  • Camper’s enthusiasm to return

  • Same topics mentioned in Ontario, Eastern and Western groups

Outcomes of Camp

What Parents Mentioned as the Benefits of Attending Overnight Camp

Outcomes of Camp: Independence

  • Make decisions for themselves

  • Solve social problems without guidance from their parents

  • Navigate through awkward or difficult emotions or situations

    • Bullying

    • Homesickness

  • Come to a solution and deal with outcome

Outcomes of Camp: Confidence

  • Confident in abilities

  • Pride in accomplishments

  • Step out of comfort zone

  • Allowed them to try new things

Outcomes of Camp: Friendship

  • Made friends but also kept in contact

    The Importance of New Friends

  • Broaden horizons

    • Counselors from other places

  • Attending camp with children with special needs

  • Kids outside of community

Outcomes of Camp: Separation

  • Some parents just really needed some time to themselves or with their significant other!

  • Some mentioned they were still always talking about or wondering what their little ones were doing

Outcomes of Camp: Other Benefits

Other benefits

  • Developing a new skill set

  • Responsibility

  • Developing social skills

  • Mentorship

  • Self esteem

  • Teamwork

  • Having a personal adventure

Some of these benefits are quite profound!

Outcomes of Camp: Fun

  • Fun came up in conversations time and time again no matter what the question was!

  • As mentioned previously, many parents decide to re-enroll their children based on their enthusiasm to return

    • Many parent mentioned their kids would say….”but this time I want to go for…!”

  • The importance of a variety of activities emerged over and over

    • Age appropriate activities

    • Camper being able to do the activities they really wanted to do

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Future Research Considerations

Background and Research Process

Future Research

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