Evaluating YMCA Anglesea’s Nature Play and Forest Skills programs

The challenge

The purpose of this project is to:

  1. Understand whether and how YMCA Anglesea’s nature playgroup and forest skills programs are making an impact in the lives of children and their families.
  2. Understand if there’s anything unique about the design and implementation of the YMCA Anglesea Nature Play and Forest Skills programs.
  3. Support continuous improvement of the YMCA Victoria’s Nature Play and Forest Skills Programs (what are the current barriers, enablers and what could be done to improve the Programs).

Project overview

This qualitative study will draw on ethnographic methods to understand the early childhood and primary school age nature programs offered by YMCA Victoria’s Anglesea Discovery camp. Ethnographic research is a qualitative, iterative research method used to engage with a group, community, population or society that is aimed at description of everyday life and practice and the interpretation of cultural meanings, patterns and systems emphasising an ‘insider’s point of view’. Ethnographic research is usually based on fieldwork using a model of participant-observation and the research questions are often developed in collaboration with research participants. The result is an account of the people, place or institution with whom or with which the researchers have interacted.

This is not a full ethnography because it is a shorter-term research project as opposed to a long-term study where the researcher embeds themselves into the field. In addition, as part of this study, a parent survey and semi-structured interview of YMCA Anglesea leadership, YMCA Anglesea program facilitators and parents who have children participating in the programs will be implemented to gather data that seeks to understand the experiences of staff and parents who are involved in the two programs being researched.


A report provided to YMCA Victoria, conference presentations and academic papers.

Project team

Dr Chris Speldewinde




July-December 2024


early childhood, nature based programs, primary school forest skills