Practitioner Tip Tuesday
By Guest Blogger Mike Knutz, 4-H Educator Yamhill County, Oregon
Growing up with three brothers on a small farm, my parents would often echo the phrase, “Many hands make the work light.” Now as a youth development educator, I continue to live this mantra as I work with teens in our 4-H Camp Leadership Program. This program prepares youth to serve as camp counselors through training in positive youth development, leadership, teamwork, and communication. I have been amazed at how the annual camp evaluations can motivate our counselors to step up their game.
The camp evaluation measures important concepts such as supporting Youth Spark, Developmental Relationships, Program Quality, and Communication with counselors. During training, I present the findings from the previous summer’s camp. When I shared that 89.2% of campers agreed or strongly agreed that they could “talk to counselors easily,” an uproar of “WHAT?” rang out. Counselors felt strongly that all campers should feel comfortable talking to their counselors.
Teens look to the evaluation to assess “How are we doing?” I have also included evaluation data from the previous two years so they can identify any trends. Overall, my experience of involving counselors and staff in the evaluation process has resulted in an “All Hands of Deck” attitude of program improvement. Teens are engaged in not only making camp safe and fun for youth but ensuring a camp experience that develops youth “spark”, builds developmental relationships, and yields the program qualities that we as 4-H Youth development professionals want for all of our programs.
How can you engage youth in your programs to turn evaluation data into better programming?