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:

Outdoor focused

Unplugging from technology and from the city and connecting to 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

Positive Identity

39% 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

22% made significant gains in this skill, which correlates with confidence in ability to learn and longer-term gains in career growth

Social Skills

36% made significant gains in these skills and traits, which correlates with positive social interactions and improved behavior

Social Capital

40% 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 ask parents of our camp participants to share with us any growth that they’ve observed in their child, that they can attribute to their experience at Trail Blazers. We ask questions that are in line with the six competencies indicated by Algorhythm, as well as observations about their child’s interest in the environment and interest in being a leader. We’ve pulled out some highlights from our summer 2017 parent surveys below:

Self Management

73% of parents reported improvements in their child's ability to persevere through challenges and make decisions

Social Skills

68% of parents reported improvements in their child's ability to understand others and to behave in ways that are appropriate to the emotion and setting

Positive Identity

76% of parents reported an increase in their child's sense of self-worth and belief in their ability to succeed at tasks

Environmental Stewardship

78% of parents reported increased interest in being outdoors, and increased knowledge on environmental topics

Leadership Competence

72% of parents reported an increased interest in leading others, and an increase in their child seeing themselves as a leader

Social Capital

68% of parents reported increased positive engagement with family and with the community

Parent Quotes:

“I think this is an important life experience on so many levels and that every kid should have a chance to go to camp and experience those things.”

“Weeks after camp ended, I would still hear my kids sing songs they learned during campfires, and I would hear them talk among themselves of the experiences they had and shared.  They really enjoyed it, which surprised me because I was very concerned about them being away from home for so long.  They want to go back!”

“My sons are excited every year to go to camp. They come back with more motivation and confidence.  We see them full of excitement when they speak about all the things they’ve learned and all the friends they made. The experience has always been more than exceptional and we  look forward to continuing with the trailblazer tradition.  My oldest is even talking about eventually becoming a counselor himself.  We are thrilled!!”

“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