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. Skills and Values

Our programs foster the development of competencies proven to help youth step into the world prepared to thrive and succeed.

Positive Identity

Positive Identity describes a young person's understanding of who they are and their place in the world. Young people who excel in this capacity report taking the time to explore their identities. They think about how their lives will be affected by their identities, and have a clear sense of who they are.


Contribution describes a young person's desire to give back to the world around them. Young people who excel in this capacity believe it is important to participate in their community. They know how to use their interests and skills to take actions that make their community better.

Self Management

Self-Management describes a young person’s ability to regulate their emotions and behavior, take positive risks, and persist through life’s challenges. Young people who excel in this area are able to stay calm and to deal with their emotions. They keep going and put in their best effort, even in situations that are tough or stressful.

Academic Self-Efficacy / Mastery Orientation

Academic Self-Efficacy / Mastery Orientation describes a young person's belief in their own ability to do well in school now and as they get older. Young people who excel in this capacity see themselves as good students. They understand that finishing school will help them to achieve their goals.

Social Skills

Social Skills describe a young person's ability to get along with others. Young people who excel in this capacity demonstrate caring and empathy towards others. The listen to others, value their feelings, and try to help friends who may be hurting.

Social Capital

Social Capital describes a young person's positive bonds with people and institutions (e.g., school, community center, youth-serving organization). Young people who excel in this capacity have a greater support network and sense of belonging within their environment. They rely on this nextwork for help and have more connections leading to opportunities as a result.

2. Strategies That Work

Our programs are rooted in time-tested, research-based methodologies proven to foster the above competencies in Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Positive Youth Development (PYD). We regularly update our logic models to ensure that our programs are truly helping youth to learn and grow.

Outdoor focus

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 & goal setting strategies

Celebrating effort and realizing that the journey and the process is just as important as the end result fosters growth mindset, which is 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 team challenges

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

3. Success Today… And Later in Life!

Our strategies produce immediate impact (within just two weeks at Overnight Camp!) and continue supporting our youth as they grow into adulthood. To ensure that our programs are truly serving our youth, we work with Algorhythm, who specializes in capturing data to evaluate and improve social impact. Learn more about Algorhythm, their age-appropriate statistically-validated tools, and the underpinning youth development research here. We also survey parents/guardians to capture a full picture of our impact.

97% of campers grew
of Overnight Campers grew in at least one competency
Camper Survey

97% of campers in Grades 5+ demonstrated growth it at least one competency, 77% in 3 or more competencies. The competencies with the highest levels of growth were: Academic Self-Efficacy, Social Capital, and Positive Identity.

100% of campers in Grades 3-5 demonstrated growth or maintained baselines it at least one competency. The competencies with the highest levels of growth were: Academic Self-Efficacy, Mastery Orientation, and Self-Management.

Parent Survey

78% of parents observed an increased interest in nature/being outdoors

74% observed increased knowledge of topics having to do with environment and outdoor skills

80% observed an increased perseverance through challenges

74% observed an increased level of self care

67% observed an increased ability to understand and relate to others

63% observed camper behaves in a way that is appropriate to the emotion and the setting more

76% observed an increased sense of self-worth

74% observed an increased belief in ability to succeed at tasks

70% observed camper engages positively with family more

80% observed camper engages positively with community more

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!

of After School Campers grew in at least one competency
Camper Survey

PreK – 2nd Grade Self-Assessment (pre vs. post program)

Percentage of campers who could identify an action to help the environment (Environmental Awareness) increased from 64% to 74%

Percentage who could identify a specific thing that they are the best at (Positive-Self Identity) increased from 96% to 98%

Percentage who could identify a positive interaction between friends (Social Skills) increased from 91% to 97%

Percentage who could identify an action to feel better when they feel bad (Self-Management) increased from 75% to 93%


3rd – 5th Grade Self-Assessment (pre vs. post program)

Percentage of campers who agree with the statement, “I think it is important to take care of our environment (eg. recycling, picking up litter, taking care of plants and animals)” increased from 92% to 93%

“I enjoy spending time outdoors and in nature” remained the same, at 90%

“I like to try new things, even when they are hard” increased from 88% to 95%

“I really like being a leader” increased from 77% to 88%

“I have the skills to lead a group” increased from 81% to 88%

“I am good at sharing my ideas and feelings” increased from 79% to 83%

“Other people’s feelings matter to me” increased from 85% to 88%

“I can stay calm, even when things get tough or stressful” increased from 73% to 78%

“It is important for me to work hard in school” increased from 92% to 95%

“I am proud of who I am” increased from 88% to 93%

Parent Survey

95% of parents are satisfied with their Trail Blazers experience

75% of parents observed increased knowledge of environment/outdoors knowledge

56% observed increased interest in nature and being outdoors

65% observed child perseveres through challenging situations more

63% observed child behaves in a way that is appropriate to the emotion and setting more

62% observed increased belief in the ability to succeed at tasks

65% observed increased interest in leading others

69% observed increased ability to understand others

Parent Quotes

He has learned how to play chess, tie knots, create beautiful crafts, make goop [oobleck], and more. I love the projects and games that he takes part in.

Expanded vocabulary and knowledge of the environment.

My daughter is always excited about the days she stays late for Trail Blazers. I had worried about the longer days at school, but she always walks out of there happy and energetic. Trail Blazers has proven to be a positive way to keep her engaged outside of school hours.

Trail Blazers has a great afterschool program and I feel safe sending my child here. Also my son loves the outdoors now even more and is learning new and exciting things about nature I am so happy about that, go Trail Blazers.

Under One Sky is an exceptional after school experience. The ratio of kids with instructors is beneficial. My son is happy, busy and safe. He really grew and learned to get along with others.

of Alumni (1941-1980) say Trail Blazers influenced relationships with family and friends
Alumni Survey

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

Alumni Quotes

I do very much enjoy adventure – climbing up a mountain, rafting on a river, exploring new places. I prefer nature and adventure to fancy cruises, meeting different peoples to “society”.

I had a TV program for children Hodge Podge Lodge on Md. Public TV 1970-1976 using info from my camp experience.

It helped me decide to become a teacher – I did it for 35 years.

I was so used to one culture, one race, one community. Being at TBC you had to expand your mind in order to get along with others.

However I think it’s made me a better person and that helps me be a better parent.

I can still light a fire with flint and steel (shocked my children!) I’ve taught my children so much of the skills and core of nature I learned – 3 bite rule, nature vacations, leave no trace and songs.

The training that was a part of the summer experience had a great influence on how I approach my family, friends and other professionals. The close sense of community that TBC encouraged was like a large family. I was able to develop my communication skills with individual and in relation to larger groups. I still teach “I feel” statements in my college course. I still apply a few key ideas to my life today that I got from my friends and coworkers at TBC…”I can’t make anyone do anything, but I can provide them choices and feedback and allow them to make their own choice.” “Remember the importance of playing and fun.” “It is ok to agree to disagree and move on.” “Once you build a relationship with someone it is always there simmering even when you don’t see them on a daily basis.” I learned how to have healthy relationships, set expectations, and healthy boundaries.