What is Raise the Bar?

Raise the Bar (RTB) is a group of camps (we call it a cohort) working together to help one another measure outcomes. Some of us are measuring camper outcomes, others of us are measuring counselor outcomes (some both, some neither — it is not a requirement that you already be measuring outcomes).


What happens in Raise the Bar?

RTB is a collaboration effort, like an affinity group. The camps in the cohort are working together to support one another and advance the initiative’s mission. We ask questions, look for help, make introductions, offer assistance and meet at conferences when possible.


What has Raise the Bar achieved so far?

We spent Year 1 (April 2014 to March 2015) finding our bearings. We established a simple leadership structure, made introductions across the cohort, and submitted our first article to Camping Magazine. In February we met in-person at the ACA National Conference in New Orleans. There we presented at a breakfast and a breakout. Since the conference we have written a mission statement, revised the application process from being selective to being inclusive, and developed this website. We have also developed a presentation structure for learning more about what other camps in the cohort are doing.


If we join Raise the Bar, what would be our commitment?

One person from your organization would commit 1-2 hours per month from September to May. If you miss a month, it’s ok. You will spend your time writing emails, participating in committee projects, or meeting in groups.


What about our commitment during the summer?

From June to August you are free to run your camp. Although you may be measuring your outcomes, you will not be asked to meet, touch in or report.


Are any camps unsuitable for Raise the Bar?

No, no camps are unsuitable for RTB. Already in the cohort we have day camps and overnight camps; non-profits, private businesses and agency camps; secular and religious camps; traditional and specialty camps. Most of us are measuring outcomes but some of us are not.


Will there be opportunities for camps to share their evaluation results?

Yes, definitely. This is a priority, although we are still working out the logistics. If you have ideas, we are all ears.


Is there a platform for camps to connect with experts or get help with evaluations?

Yes, there will be. This is a great question, and we have a great opportunity before us. All over the country, there are camps who want to measure outcomes but are intimidated by research. At the same time, all over the country there are researchers pleading with camps to let them do research. These two communities — camps and researchers — are natural allies. RTB wants to help you develop partnerships.


How will our summer look different if we participate in Raise the Bar?

It depends. If you are measuring outcomes, you will be giving your campers one or two tests. Aside from that project, you have no commitment to RTB.


What resources does Raise the Bar offer to help camps?

We can connect you with camps already measuring outcomes. We can connect you with the ACA and its Youth Outcomes Battery. Maybe we can connect you with a researcher to advise you and help you analyze your data.


What resources do you envision offering in the future?

This initiative is a work in progress and, as such, we will develop whatever resources the cohort requests. If that means, for example, you want an introductory guide to measuring outcomes at camp, we will develop it.


Can you give us examples of outcomes we might measure?

Resilience, affinity for nature, independence, problem-solving confidence, and affinity for reading.


If we join Raise the Bar, are we tied to measuring specific outcomes or can we measure whatever we want?

You are not tied to measuring specific outcomes. You can measure whatever you want. Long term, the intent is to connect camps measuring similar outcomes, e.g., resilience. At the outset, however, we are focused on growing our numbers, confident that outcomes will begin to overlap over time.


How do we apply to Raise the Bar?

To apply to RTB please fill out this form.


When is the next application deadline?

The next deadline is March 31st, 2016. We use these deadlines to consolidate orientations and on-boarding.