Fun And Safety — ACA Camps Set the Standard

ACA Accreditation means that Camp Scully cares enough to undergo a thorough (up to 300 standards) review of its operation — from staff qualifications and training to emergency management. American Camp Association® collaborates with experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Red Cross, and other youth-serving agencies to assure that current practices at the camp reflect the most up-to-date, research-based standards in camp operation. Camps and ACA form a partnership that promotes summers of growth and fun in an environment committed to safety.

ACA helps Camp Scully provide:

  • Healthy, developmentally-appropriate activities and learning experiences
  • Discovery through experiential education
  • Caring, competent role models
  • Service to the community and the environment
  • Opportunities for leadership and personal growth

Here are common question asked by parents.

What’s the difference between state licensing of camps and accreditation by ACA?
Accreditation is voluntary and ACA accreditation assures families that Camp Scully has made the commitment to a safe, nurturing environment for their children. Licensing is mandatory and requirements vary from state to state. ACA standards are recognized by courts of law and government regulators as the standards of the camp community.

How do ACA standards exceed state licensing requirements?
ACA goes beyond basic requirements for health, cleanliness, and food service into specific areas of programming, including camp staff from director through counselors, emergency management plans, health care, and management. ACA applies separate standards for activities such as waterfront, horseback riding, and adventure and travel.

What are some of the ACA standards that camps rely on?

  • Staff to camper ratios are appropriate for different age groups
  • Goals for camp activities are developmentally based
  • Emergency transportation available at all times
  • First-aid facilities and trained staff available when campers are present

How can I verify that my child's camp is ACA accredited?
Parents can (and should) verify the accreditation status of any camp at any time by visiting ACA's Web site at www.ACAcamps.org or by calling 1-800-428-CAMP.

If your child's camp isn't ACA accredited, ask WHY NOT?
Keep in Mind — Informed parents are best prepared to select a camp that meets their standards for staff, programs, safety, and facilities and strives to promote the welfare of every child. Read more . . .

Visit CampParents.org for more specialized talking points for marketing the value of ACA accreditation, ACA's outcomes research, and camp to parents. 

How Free Play Can Define Kids’ Success

Free, unstructured playtime gives kids a chance to discover their interests and tap into their creativity. It’s a crucial element for building resilience in children, an attribute they’ll need in order to become happy, productive adults. That’s Kenneth Ginsburg’s thesis and the core of his book Building Resilience in Children and Teens.

Ginsburg, a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who also works with homeless children, has spent a lot of time trying to help young people build tools they’ll need to succeed — even when trauma has marred early lives.

But the word “success” can be loaded, often carrying different connotations. To Ginsburg, a successful child is one who finds something he loves to do, is generous, empathetic and compassionate, committed to repairing the world, shows grit and the ability to collaborate, creativity and can take constructive criticism. These are what will serve young people as they move into the world on their own.

“Play is integral to being able to build resilience.”

“So many of the things that we care about are completely learned through the creative process,” Ginsberg said at an event hosted by the Bay Area Discovery Museum. When kids are allowed free time to play, they learn how to work in groups, negotiate, share, self-advocate, and make decisions.

Ginsburg cautions parents that putting too much pressure on children’s academics might have negative effects in the long term. The way he frames parents’ ultimate goals: Raise healthy, wise35-year-olds. Parenting with long-term vision helps keep the little things in perspective.

[RELATED READING: Are We Wringing the Creativity Out of Kids?]

“All the best ideas haven’t been thought of yet. If you have people who are only thinking about fitting in the box, then you aren’t going to get ideas outside the box,” Ginsburg said. Parents and educators shouldn’t be trying to shape children into cogs for an economy that hasn’t figured out what kind of machine it will be in 20 years.

Instead, one of the most important skills a parent can foster in children is resilience, which he says can be fostered through creativity. Ginsburg relies on the “Seven C’s of Resilience” as a road map for helping students to find their inner grit.

7 C’s of Resilience

  1. 1) COMPETENCEYoung people need to be recognized when they’re doing something right and to be given opportunities to develop specific skills.
  2. 2) CONFIDENCEConfidence comes from building real skills that parents and educators can teach and nurture. Confidence can be easily undermined, but also bolstered by tasks that push learners without making the goal feel unachievable.
  3. 3) CONNECTION: Being part of a community helps kids know they aren’t alone if they struggle and that they can develop creative solutions to problems.
  4. 4) CHARACTER. Kids need an understanding of right and what wrong and the capacity to follow a moral compass. That will allow them see that they cannot be put down.
  5. 5) CONTRIBUTION: The experience of offering their own service makes it easier for young people to ask for help when they need it. Once kids understand how good it can feel to give to others, it becomes easier to ask for that same support when it’s needed. And being willing to ask for help is a big part of being resilient.
  6. 6) COPING: Kids need to learn mechanisms to manage their stress by learning methods to both engage and disengage at times. Some strategies for doing this include breaking down seemingly insurmountable problems into smaller, achievable pieces, avoiding things that trigger extreme anxiety, and just letting some things go. After all, resilience is about conserving energy to fit the long game and kids need to know realistically what they can affect and what should be let go.
  7. 7) CONTROL: In order to truly be resilient a child need to believe that she has control over her world. Feeling secure helps engender control, which is why kids test limits.

Creativity plays an integral part of developing these seven skill sets. “Play is exactly about learning to control your environment, to figure things out,” he said. “Play is integral to being able to build resilience.” When kids play, they make mistakes and learn how to recover. It’s also a unique time for parents to observe their children and offer gentle guidance about skill development or how to share.

Keeping children on rigid, academically driven schedules denies them the space for some of the real self-learning that will see them through unexpected challenges, the ones that aren't on the test.

Originally blogged here by Katrina Schwartz