The Greater Washington Board of Trade yesterday launched its annual campaign to find private-sector summer jobs for area youth, but its spokesmen refused to commit the program to numerical goals.

In the face of widespread youth unemployment--particularly in Washington--and an areawide recession that has chopped away at job prospects, Geoffrey Edwards, chairman of the board's summer jobs task force, said setting a target of how many youths will be served is "meaningless and unrealistic."

"We're thinking that it the campaign will be as effective, in difficult times, as anything is going to be," Edwards said. "All we can do is to give it our best shot, to get as many people into as many jobs as possible."

Last year's Board of Trade campaign, which is separate from the D.C. government's summer jobs effort, served about 8,000 area youths, about 1,000 of them in the District. D.C. officials said yesterday they expect the board's campaign to find jobs for only about 800 District youths this year.

Edwards said this year's program will take a different approach from that taken in the past. Instead of contacting prospective employers and dunning them for jobs, the board says it will try to entice the employers into volunteering.

Last year's campaign used a central telephone bank to query area employers for job openings. This year, he said, the board will depend on a donated media campaign to urge employers to volunteer, and also to inform young people of the program.

The jobs program is cosponsored by the Board of Trade and area chambers of commerce, and has been in existence for 17 years. "Make the Most of Your Youth" will be the theme of the 1982 effort, soon to be proclaimed via posters, direct mail, and newspaper, magazine, radio and television ads.

Daryl Hardy, the District's coordinator of planning for summer youth employment, said about 24,000 D.C. youths have already registered for summer employment. He said he would refer some young people to the Board of Trade's program, but added, "a lot of them aren't ready for the private sector."

Other District youths will be served by the city's summer jobs program, he said.

For summer job referral information in the metropolitan area, the campaign's telephone number is: 331-1414.