Our Results

Building values for life since 1887
Our Results
Building values for life since 1887

What we have known to be true through many enjoyable alumni and parent anecdotes, research data now confirms: our program approach helps youth develop skills and values proven to contribute to a thriving and productive life. We build values for life.

We believe in utilizing data to ensure we are delivering the program quality and life-long impact for which we are known. We utilize several methods to measure our programs’ impact: statistically-validated camper evaluation surveys, qualitative Value Catchers, and parent surveys.

The results of these evaluations are reviewed by the Executive Director and Senior Program Team and play an instrumental role in effecting the logic model and program implementation strategies for the coming year. We believe that it is through on-going program evaluation and improvement that we ensure that our children and teens step into the world more prepared for its challenges.

1. Strategies That Work

Trail Blazers works with Algorhythm, who specializes in capturing data to evaluate and improve social impact. Their program evaluation instrument is based on statistically validated constructs of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Positive Youth Development (PYD), and considers the implementation of program strategies proven to help develop competencies that contribute to long term success. Trail Blazers’ program elements proven to foster positive youth outcomes:

Living in rustic smallcamps

Unplugging from technology and from the city and being immersed in the outdoors is a hands-on way to engage youth, to learn about nature, and to develop environmental science literacy

Positive, supportive environment

Small groups, high staff-to-child ratios, and absence of competitive sports in preference for team-building activities help build community and socio-emotional growth

New friends and positive peer relationships

Camper diversity helps create a unique space where campers can meet people they wouldn't ordinarily meet and having older campers work with younger campers helps them learn from each other

Value Catcher & Growth Mindsets

Celebrating effort and realizing that the journey and the process is just as important as the end result reinforces the notion that everyone can learn, grow, and achieve

Exploring interests and new things

Our decentralized program model enables youth to act upon their curiosity and learn to learn as well as try new things to step outside of their comfort zone

Vagabond and other goal-setting activities

Setting high goals and learning to work through challenges, even when they are hard, helps build confidence in one's competence and builds resilience

2. Skills and Values

Algorhythm’s camper surveys measure the development of six competencies that have been proven to help youth grow in the short-term and be successful in the long-term. The surveys demonstrated that, as a result of their two-week participation in Trail Blazers’ summer program, 78% of our campers step into the world more prepared for its challenges, having demonstrated statistically significant growth in at least one of the following competencies:

Positive Identity

45% made significant gains in this trait, which correlates with confidence, empowerment, resiliency, and reduced behavioral problems


41% made significant gains in this trait, which correlates with purpose, fewer suspensions/expulsions, and improved social development

Self Management

41% made significant gains in this skill, which correlates with higher grades and fewer suspensions/expulsions

Academic Self-Efficacy

26% made significant gains in this skill, which correlates with confidence in ability to learn and longer-term gains in career growth

Social Skills

39% made significant gains in these skills and traits, which correlates with positive social interactions and improved behavior

Social Capital

36% made significant gains in building these positive bonds, which creates a support network and sense of belonging

Parent Survey:

At the end of the summer, we send surveys to our parents to learn whether they have observed any growth in Trail Blazers’ Six Pillars. Summer 2016 are below:

Self Growth

65% of parents reported improvements in self confidence

Being Healthy

64% of parents reported improvements in activity level

Being a Friend

66% of parents reported improved respect/care for peers


84% of parents reported increased interest in being outdoors

Learn to Learn

75% of parents reported improvements in persistence when facing difficulty

Being a Steward

68% of parents reported improvements in concern for the natural environment

Parent Quote:

“Just wanted you all to know the amazing time that Kendual had this year with you all!  He was so excited about being a Leader in Training! He was just so proud of himself and all of his many accomplishments.  We are so proud of Kendual and so glad that you Riel took the time with your staff to visit his grammar school years ago when he was just a little boy full of energy and ready to go and explore. You have really proved to me that facing your fears head on is hard but very much needed so you can excel to the next level.  I just want to say thank you so much for giving my son Kendual the opportunity to grow and glow. Thank you!”

3. Success in Life

In 2011, we sent a survey to alumni who attended camp between the years of 1940 and 1982 to learn what impact the Trail Blazers experience had on their lives in the long-term:

• 64% reported Trail Blazers influenced their ability to work in a team/with others on their job
• 53% reported Trail Blazers influenced their curiosity and interest in learning
• 51% reported Trail Blazers influenced the role of environmental stewardship in their lives
• 62% reported Trail Blazers influenced their ability to relate to and get along with others
• 66% reported Trail Blazers influenced their current relationships with family and friends