Colette Marquardt, Executive Director, American Camp Association, Illinois
I’ve carried my love for professional development in to my work at ACA Illinois. I adore the Mid States Camp Conference and the many different programs that we are able to offer our community. Because you also deserve that time of learning and exploration of new ideas. Let me repeat that: You DESERVE the chance to explore new ideas and grow. Because when you grow, your camp does as well.
This past year during budgeting season, ACA Illinois made a commitment to walk our talk by setting aside funds and time to develop our staff at the Association. After all, our own innovation and service is limited if we aren’t out with others networking and learning. We have talked a lot about doing more professional development, but time and money never seemed to actually exist and it wasn’t happening as much as it should have. Enter the Association Forum.
All of the staff of ACA Illinois are members of the Association Forum - its an association for associations. Its where we go for hardcore education on running an association so that we can better serve you. Each field brings its unique challenges and it's wonderful to connect with others who do similar work. It’s important that we make time for this. Because you, our members deserve to have a staff who are current on the trends and needs of today’s professional.
Just like with my camp staff, I expect my staff to be open and ready to embrace learning more about their field. And more importantly, I model it. I also actively participate in professional development, often with them. Sometimes we divide and conquer so we can all learn and report back what was covered, but I find the areas that turn into action are those we do together. When we attend sessions together we can talk about what we learned, how it applies to our work, and support each other. I’m able to point out the growth I see in each of them and their work. Our commitment to professional development isn’t just to ourselves, its to each other as well. It takes a village to grow.
We have been noticing so much growth in ourselves and our Association this past year that we wanted to make sure you have similar quality experiences. We wanted you to have options. We wanted you to have the topics you need in the way you learn best. There are short workshops, day courses, multi day conferences, networking groups, and more!
The famous Gordie Kaplan always refers to himself as a “lifelong learner.” I do as well. But it requires a commitment. And time. And yes, even money. (I know money is hard to come by for most camps, that is why all of of events and conferences are subsidized over 50% to help make it more affordable.*) But it's all worth it. Because when you do better, your camp will do better. When you strengthen your skillset, your camp staff will be stronger this summer. And when your camp staff is stronger,the campers have an even more incredible and powerful experience.
Consider this the official kickoff of a year full of new and favorite professional development opportunities for you! We hope you will join us at a few of the events this year. Throughout the year we’ll release tips and tricks to find funding, how to convince your boss to allow you to attend courses, ways to squeeze in what I call “PD on the Go!, ” and more! Stay connected through our ACA IlliNOISE newsletters, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for real time updates.
I look forward to seeing you at our events throughout the year!
Happy Learning. Happy Growing. Happy Professional Development Year!
*Is money holding you back? All our events are already heavily subsidized to make them more affordable however if you are still struggling to attend an event, please reach out to us so we can see if we can help assist in securing some financial assistance for you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.