Camp is one of the happiest places a kid can go during the summer. Between making new friends and trying new activities, kids of all ages get to escape the doldrums of school and live wild for a while.
But to keep your camp as a wonderful place for your kids to attend and your counselors to work, your team has to keep its finger on the pulse of your camp’s community. That’s where summer camp evaluation forms come in!
Summer camp evaluation forms are a crucial part of your camp’s wrap-up activities. When you send out evaluations to the kids at your camp, their parents, and your staffers, you can get honest feedback about how your camp is doing, and continue to improve in the future.
But how do you know what to ask about? Every camp is different, with varying activities, processes, and priorities. There are some commonalities, however, among all camps. We’ve split our best evaluation tips and tricks into these five sections:
- For campers.
- For staffers.
- For parents.
- How to make the best eval you can.
- What to do with your evals afterward.
Click on the section you’re most curious about, or keep reading to learn all our best ideas. Let’s get started!
The first step in your evaluation strategy is to get some feedback from the people to whom your camp matters the most: your campers! They’re the ones living in your cabins, participating in your activities, and living out your camp’s culture and mottos.
When you think about camp evaluation forms for campers, you have to consider every aspect of their camp experience. What are the things that matter most to them while they’re at camp? You should ask questions about things such as:
- The food and dining halls.
- The staffers.
- The activities they participated in.
- The cabins and roommate situations.
The things that are going to matter most to them are the fun that they had with their friends, the support they felt from the counselors, and the things they learned from your activities. To make sure that your campers want to come back summer after summer, ask questions on your evaluations that inform you about what made them happy at camp, and what didn’t.
These questions will also vary based on the focus of your camp. If your camp caters mostly to children below the age of ten, and focuses entirely on sports, you’ll want to ask questions appropriate for that age range.
If you’re writing evaluations for a performing arts camp, you’ll want to ask questions about the choices of repertoire and quality of rehearsal spaces, and give the campers room to explain themselves.
Young kids aren’t going to want to sit and fill out forms when they could be playing outside at camp, so consider including a field for their email address on your summer camp registration forms in addition to their parents’ contact information so you can send it to them later.
Ask the Right Questions.
Here are some questions that can work for any summer camp that you can use to get started on your summer camp evaluation form.
What was your favorite meal at camp?
What type of food do you wish there were more of?
On a scale of 1-10, how much did you like the food at camp?
Who was your favorite counselor at camp, and why?
How much did you like (counselor’s name)’s activities?
What was your favorite activity at camp?
What was your least favorite activity at camp?
What activity would you have liked to try, but didn’t get to?
What activity do you wish we did more of?
On a scale of 1-10, how well did you get along with your bunkmates?
Your counselors and staffers are some of the most important people in the world to keeping your camp running! They take care of the kids, run your programs and activities, and keep track of payments, paperwork, and more.
Without your camp staff, you wouldn’t be able to pull off half of the awesome stuff that you do. That’s why making a summer camp staff evaluation form is so important. You need to know what’s working and what’s not working for them.
Topics that you should touch on in your summer camp staff evals are:
- Their thoughts on their coworkers.
- Their satisfaction with the activities they worked.
- How supported they felt in their training.
- How they felt about their benefits.
Effectively staffing your camp and communicating with your counselors is an important part of your camp management toolkit, so you need to ensure that you know how your team feels about pretty much everything going on at camp.
And if your whole camp staff fills out the evaluation, you can determine what’s an isolated incident and what’s a pattern.
With an effective evaluation, you should be able to tell who enjoyed their summer at camp and who isn’t planning on returning, as well as who isn’t a team player or who excels with the kids.
With staff members, you might want to consider allowing the evaluations to be anonymous so that staffers can be honest without worrying about someone finding out what they said. As an administrator, it’s key that counselors trust you enough to be honest about what’s going on at camp.
They’re the front lines of your camp’s staff, so you’ll have a better understanding of your camp’s workflow and culture if they can be candid and frank with you about everything covered in your evaluations.
Ask the Right Questions:
The following questions will be valuable in creating a useful camp staff evaluation form.
On a scale of 1-10, how did you like working at camp?
What was your favorite part of working at camp?
What was your least favorite part of working here?
Who on the team did you work the best with?
Who on the team were you unable to work well with?
What was your favorite activity to run/coach/teach?
What was your least favorite activity?
What did you feel unprepared for when the summer started?
How would you improve the counselor training process?
Do you feel as though you had enough time off?
Another important population that you need to keep in mind when you draft your summer camp evaluation forms are the parents of your campers! Without the parents’ good will, your campers wouldn’t be able to come back to your camp.
An effective evaluation form for parents would include the following topics:
- How your registration and drop-off processes worked.
- How much trust the parents have in the camp.
- Any part of the camp experience that they especially appreciated.
- How comfortable the parents are with their child’s experience.
Receiving feedback from parents is especially important to your camp’s evaluation strategy because they are frequently willing and able to say what their kids will not.
Parents are superheroes. When a child is too shy or too uncomfortable to discuss when something isn’t right, like if another child is being mean, it frequently falls to the parents to make sure that the situation is rectified.
When you keep parents involved in the evaluation strategy, and give them their own summer camp evaluation form to fill out, you can keep your camp running smoothly and safely. Plus, when parents know that you accept and act upon feedback, they’ll be more likely to continue to send their child to your camp.
In addition to acting as their child’s interpreter, parents can also help your camp to streamline any processes that might have some roadblocks. If multiple parents comment on how your registration portal is down frequently, or if they sent emails that didn’t get delivered, you know that there’s a process to be fixed.
Ask the Right Questions:
When you compose your summer camp evaluation form for your campers’ parents, remember to include a combination of qualitative and quantitative questions.
On a scale of 1-10, how easy was it to use our camp registration software?
Would you recommend our camp to your friends for their children?
On a scale of 1-10, how comfortable did you feel with your child at our camp?
Do you believe that your child had a good time?
What activities do you wish your child had partaken in?
What about the camp experience do you think was most valuable for your child?
Will you send your child back to camp next summer?
On a scale of 1-10, how much do you trust our staff to handle an emergency with your child?
Has your child told you anything about the camp experience that they did not enjoy?
How can we make the camp experience better for you, as a parent?
Now that you know what to ask, it’s time to determine how best to create and distribute the evaluation forms to your camp community.
- Determine what tools you have at your disposal. Are you going to distribute the evaluations on paper, or online? If you distribute the evals online, will you do it through your summer camp management software, or through a free resource like Google Forms?
- Once you know your medium, write your evaluation form. Include a variety of short answer, long answer, and multiple choice questions, with both qualitative and quantitative answers. While quantitative responses are easier to analyze through reporting, qualitative answers give you a truer and more contextual understanding.
- Distribute your summer camp evaluation to your campers, staffers, and parents when it is most convenient for both you and them.
- When the completed evaluations begin to return, you can use them to analyze the success of your summer camp, and determine where you have room for improvement for next year!
Our Best Tips
Here at CircuiTree, we believe that a data-driven camp is a smarter, more fun camp overall. Paperless evaluations are the best way to go, because they’re easier to fill out and return, as well as cheaper for both you and the form-filler.
When you conduct your evaluations online, parents and staffers can complete the form from the comfort of their own home. They don’t have to go to the post office to drop off the completed form, and your camp doesn’t have to worry about distributing pre-stamped envelopes.
We also think that using your camp management software to distribute camp evaluation forms is the most effective way to collect and analyze the data you get back. You’ll be able to see feedback both from individuals and as a collective, which allows you to determine trends and patterns.
Plus, you’ll be able to track feedback year over year, which allows you to determine how your camp is performing with the same families over time!
Don’t forget to offer an incentive to those who fill out the evaluations. There will always be people who can’t find the time to do so, but minimize that impact by offering something of value. This could be an early registration date, a discount, or a t-shirt. And a genuine thank-you note afterwards never hurts.
Here's an example of what a staff evaluation would look like in CircuiTree!
The whole point of your summer camp evaluations is to determine what your camp is doing right, and discover where you can improve for next summer. When your evaluations are returned to you, analyze the data to discover trends.
This can mean a lot of different things, especially for different camps. But some common next steps after evaluations include:
- Reaching out to staffers with the best reviews and working to recruit them for next summer.
- Discussing reviews with staffers who didn’t receive positive feedback to determine where to go next.
- Make a plan of attack for improving cabins, meal plans, or activity offerings based on how the kids responded to those areas.
- Reaching out to families with overwhelmingly negative feedback to determine how you can improve or correct what went wrong.
- Consider adding more sessions of the most popular activities, or adding a program featuring an activity that a lot of children requested.
There’s no wrong way to move forward! The key to evaluations is to make it clear to your campers, staffers, and parents that you care about them and their experiences. When you work together as a community to improve your camp, everyone benefits.
Running a summer camp is a difficult but delightful and fulfilling lifestyle. For more help on keeping your camp running smoothly and keeping your campers happy, check out some of our favorite additional resources:
- CircuiTree: When it comes to camp management software, we don’t mess around. Learn more about our software solution for summer camps here.
- Top 10 Capital Campaign Consultants: Is your summer camp considering a capital campaign to raise money to improve your facilities? You don’t have to do it alone. Read this list of consultants from Re:Charity to learn more.
- 5 Essential Camp Database Software Features You Really Need: It takes a lot to keep a camp running smoothly. Learn more about the tools your team needs to thrive with our guide to these essential features.