The Best Questions get the Best Answers

“How has camp changed your life?” 

OK, it’s a powerful question.  I could answer that in many, many ways.  I'm sure you could, too.

If you ask this question to a camper, staff member or alum, you might get a great answer immediately--in journalism school, we had a professor who would call this good fortune a "dial-a-quote" situation.

However, dial-a-quotes are exceedingly rare.  It would be foolish for us to rely on one or two simple questions and and expect to elicit the best answers.  To get the best answers, we must be prepared with the best questions.

So, going into end-of-year appeals and the fast-approaching Annual Campaign season for all of you YMCA kids, here’s a short list of powerful questions you can ask members of your camp family to elicit those deep, expressive, mission-advancing answers (oh, and make sure you are videotaping or taking notes or something so you don't miss the answers!):

What is something you learned about yourself at camp?

Talk about a relationship you built with someone at camp or because of camp.

Who is someone you look up to or looked up to at camp?  Why?

What is a lesson you learned at camp?

Talk about a time you overcame a major challenge or obstacle at camp.

Describe a time you changed your mind about something due to an experience you had at camp.

What is something about camp that your “outside” friends do not understand?

Talk about a time at camp when you felt like you were the best version of yourself.

How has something you learned at camp helped you in your outside life?

What is something about you that you do or believe because of camp?

And, at the end of ANY interview, whether for the NY Times or for your camp newsletter...always ask the following two questions:

1. Is there anything I didn't ask you about that you wanted to talk about?

**This is where I find that I get the best answers.  Make sure the tape is still rolling.  When subjects relax, that's when they truly tell you what they think.

2. Could you please confirm the spelling of your name?

For another day, we can talk about once you do with this great information once you collect it.  Until then, here's a favorite example of a YouTube Channel for McGaw YMCA Camp Echo and their series "Camp Echo Stories".

What are some of your favorite questions?  Add them in the comments.