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SuperCamp! Shaping and Sharpening Trainer Skills

SuperCamp! Shaping and Sharpening Trainer Skills

By Cody Sigel, MPH, CHES | September 9, 2016
Professional Development Consultant, ETR

Have you ever been to a truly extraordinary training event? The kind where you actually look forward to completing the feedback form at the end because you’ve learned so much and had such a great experience?


Those are the kinds of trainings I love to attend, and also the kind I love to deliver. Here at ETR, we strive to make every training event we deliver the kind that makes our participants feel equipped, confident and inspired to do their best work and have the most impact. As a training team we never stop working on continuous improvement efforts that make this a reality. 

Sharing the SuperCamp Ethos

We are constantly striving to answer the question, “How can our trainers shape and sharpen their skills to better meet the needs of youth-serving professionals?”

We make sure our trainers master skills related to the science of adult learning. We ensure that our trainers have knowledge and skills on emerging topics of importance.

Our ultimate goal? We want every trainer to bring a science-based approach to professional development because we believe this is one of the best ways to boost the efficacy and impact of youth-serving programs.

And this is where an event we call SuperCamp comes in.


SuperCamp was a multi-day professional learning event. Participants included ETR staff members (representing five ETR teams) and our consultants (non-staff), who represent several organizations around the country. Here are some of the topics we covered:

  • The science of learning and the distributive learning process. These inform professional learning practices that can help any training succeed.
  • Adult learning theory and the research-based elements for teaching skills. Adults learn differently from children. Almost all trainers know this. But how do we operationalize it? SuperCamp set out a roadmap, based on the latest research on adult learning.
  • Key concepts in sexual health for both adult and youth learners. Much of our work emphasizes sexual and reproductive health. What concepts and skills do learners need to acquire to protect themselves from the negative outcomes of risky sexual behaviors? Using existing research and behavior change theories, we frame prevention messages in meaningful and effective ways (see an example here). SuperCamp put that work into practice.
  • Strategies for LGBTQ inclusivity. Recent federal prevention funding has boosted the emphasis on LGBTQ youth participation in sexual health programs. Why? Because lesbian, gay and bisexual youth have a greater risk of unplanned pregnancy and gay and bisexual young men and transgender young women have the highest risk for HIV. SuperCamp allowed our trainers to hone their skills in modeling inclusive language and practices in their facilitation. They developed powerful ways to share the skills that best support LGBTQ inclusivity and equity.

Plenty More

There was more, of course. We discussed managing difficult training situations. We practiced answering sensitive questions. We learned more about effectively addressing adaptations in evidence-based programs. Where is there room for flexibility? Where are we jeopardizing fidelity? How do we collaborate with providers to find the delicate balance of staying true to the curriculum while making tweaks that better meet the needs of a particular population of youth?

We did some deep dives into the kind of tailored follow-up that supports adult learners when they get home from a training—helping them put what they’ve learned into real-world practice. We explored strategies to bring trauma-informed implementation into our practices, using appropriate language, providing trigger warnings and offering effective support to affected youth.

That’s Some Great Training!

SuperCamp was a success. It allowed us to bring some of the best trainers in the field together in one space to grow and learn from one another. Skills were shaped and sharpened. We left feeling equipped, confident, and inspired to deliver top-notch professional development.

This talented group is ready to bring these same qualities of excellence to trainings around the country. If you and your team has training needs, I hope you’ll consider the chance to meet our SuperCamp professional development team at your next training.

Cody Sigel, MPH, CHES, is a Professional Development Consultant with ETR. She can be reached at Feel free to contact her to learn more about ETR trainings.

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