Educators and youth leaders know from research that positive social emotional learning (SEL) youth development with a caring adult helps children and teens develop short-term outcomes and skills that lead to long-term success, such as improved academic outcomes, stronger well-being, reduced risky behaviors.
Data from a pilot this past summer demonstrates that young people’s involvement in YMCA summer residential and day camps develops SEL, building their foundational assets for the future. Six NC YMCA associations participated in a pilot at summer residential and day camps to measure pre- and post-SEL assessments specific to camps using Hello Insight, an SEL assessment tool, between July 5 and August 13, 2021.
Nearly 1,000 elementary through high school-age young people participated in the pilot, and Ys were able to collect pre-to-post data from almost half. As a result, Y staff teams were able to learn about their campers’ SEL strengths and areas of need at the beginning of camp, as well as the SEL development and feedback on their program experiences at the end of their camp experience.
Among those surveyed, 95% demonstrated improvement in at least one SEL capacity and 70% demonstrated SEL success in three or more capacities, showing the depth of personal development YMCA camps provide. The SEL core competencies measured are academic self-efficacy, positive identify, social skills, contribution and self-management, aligned with the national Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) framework.
Because Ys care not only about SEL development but also value youth voice, we were pleased to see this feedback from young people:
• 92% would recommend our camps to a friend
• 89% said that staff frequently told them that they “believe in them and their ability to succeed.”
The NC Alliance of YMCAs has a statewide strategic priority to implement SEL-based character development across all youth programming, including summer camp.