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. 

Camp is not all about the performance, but the pursuit — the pursuit of relevant experience and knowledge.

The following article by ACA CEO Peg Smith appeared in USA TODAY on February 1 and 4, 2013.

What is the path to innovation — spending alone time in a seat or actively engaging in learning that helps one become adaptive, ambiguity-able, and alert? What will help create tomorrow’s innovators? One thing is clear: We will need innovators. Maybe we should spend as much time considering how we develop innovators as we do graduates. I believe a balanced approach is imperative — to life and to education.

Robert C. Pianta, PhD, found that fifth graders spend 90 percent of their time in their seats listening or working alone (Bromley, 2007). That statement seems counterintuitive to what we know about child and brain development. If play is a form of invention, and invention seeds innovation, where does active learning take place today? Where are the safe places that young people can experience risk taking, explore new activities, and gain new skills while exercising their natural curiosity to learn? Where can children enjoy lessons that are experiential and relevant to their social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development?

I believe, absent of positive play, we are seeing children manifest social and emotional behaviors that are developmentally underdeveloped. They are not prepared to work with others or participate successfully outside of the family unit. They have not learned to manage conflict or solve problems in cooperation with others. Yet, maybe most disturbing, they have not had a chance to exercise their creative and innovative muscles — the opportunities to make mistakes, reflect, persist, and survive setbacks or defeat. This is the “grit” discussed by many, including Paul Tough, author ofHow Children Succeed: “Overcoming adversity is what produces character. And character, even more than IQ, is what leads to real and lasting success” (2012).

I believe the camp experience is a classroom without walls that young people deserve and need today. Yet, it is said that the radius of play has shrunk from 1 mile to 500 feet. That time spent outdoors has declined by 50 percent in the last two decades. That by age twenty-one, a young person will have spent 10,000 hours in front of a screen. (It only takes 4,800 hours to acquire a bachelor’s degree.) A balanced approach to childhood will create tomorrow’s innovators. Our new environment is understood, but long-standing, important elements of development must be preserved.

Innovators in the future will need minds capable of synthesizing and making new meaning. Experiential learning environments such as camp give young people the opportunity to rehearse and refine ways of thinking and doing that afford an expansion of possibilities. Innovators will be critical. It is not just those who have imaginations thinking up new ideas, but innovators who will take action, make change, and make a difference.

Innovators must be comfortable with mistakes and capable of learning from mistakes; they must be persistent with a stomach for imperfection. In his blog, Vernon Lun (2006) writes that “being innovative . . . requires disruptive thinking, which is an evolutionary process with many failures along the way. That’s tough to do especially since all of us are taught that failure is bad and we try to avoid it at all costs.” Camp is not all about the performance, but the pursuit — the pursuit of relevant experience and knowledge. Learning is risky.

A positive, healthy camp experience is an oasis for many young people in today’s complex, frenetic world. It is a laboratory of maturation encouraging discovery, reflection, and possibility. Like nature, the camp community is a diverse, dynamic system that uses creativity to find new meaning. Camp allows one to synthesize his or her best intuition, life lessons, and creativity to discover new learning and a harmony with the natural world and fellow campers (citizens) — an extraordinary gift in today’s world.

Consider camp for your young innovator — camp can inspire the power of imagination, spirit, and entrepreneurial flair.

References
Bromley, A. (2007 March 29). Elementary school classrooms get low rating on high-quality instruction. UVA Today. Retrieved from http://news.virginia.edu/content/elementary-school-classrooms-get-low-rating-high-quality-instruction

Lun. V. (2006 March 27). Disruptive thinking. The Idea Dude. Retrieved fromwww.theideadude.com/2006/03/disruptive-thinking.html