why send your child to an accredited camp?
There are many reasons we recommend that parents and caregivers send their child(ren) to camp, but beyond that, sending your child to an ACA-Accredited camp offers assurance and safety measures beyond what non-accredited camps are required to provide. Here are five of the most important reasons to send your child to an accredited camp:
1) a commitment to safe, quality programs.
Camps and programs that are accredited are required to have a quality assurance process. This means that other industry professionals have verified that they are following regulations beyond local and state government requirements, significantly reducing any oversight for the safety and well-being of your child(ren). You can think of camp accreditation as a “second set of eyes”.
Accreditation is voluntary and ACA accreditation assures that camps have made the commitment to a safe and nurturing environment for your children. If a state requires licensing, it is mandatory, and these licensing requirements vary from state to state. ACA standards are often recognized by courts of law and government regulators as the standards of the camp community. Participation in this voluntary accreditation process also demonstrates that your child’s camp program has a genuine interest in continuous self-evaluation and self-improvement.
Having a commitment to both professional standards and aquality program means that your child(ren) will experience healthy, developmentally appropriate activities and be exposed to positive learning experiences through experiential education.
2) Highly-Skilled & knowledgeable staff.
The safety and well-being of campers is of the utmost importance to the American Camp Association, and because of this, accredited camps and programs have requirements related to staff and screening, supervision, and professional development. Regulations around that specifically address staff screening, supervision ratios and topics covered during staff training are required. A few of the ACA standards a camp or program must meet include:
Does the camp require annual screening for all camp staff — paid, volunteer, and contracted — with responsibility for or access to campers that includes: A check of the National Sex Offender Public Website? A criminal background check for staff eighteen (18) years of age and older?
Does the camp require screening for all new camp staff with responsibility for or access to campers that includes: A criminal background check for staff 18+ years of age? At least two (2) reference checks and verification of previous work (including volunteer) history?
At its core, accreditation is validation that a camp or program prioritizes having skilled, caring and competent role models as staff and/or volunteers.
3) Positive Opportunities for Your child to grow & lead.
Past research that looked at promoting youth development through research and enriching the lives of children conducted a study with more than 5,000 families around the US. Results from this study confirmed that camps help to build the skills necessary to prepare young people to adopt roles as successful adults. This included growth
in areas such as:
3) Making friends,
4) Exploring and learning new activities, and
We can confidently say that camp provides positive growth opportunities for youth that can benefit them throughout their adolescence and into adulthood. Camp professionals have enormous power in communicating teachable moments, distinctive moments of passing experiences touched by the human spirit. These fleeting moments of
time help to build values that are reflected in the benefits campers derive from camp.
4) Industry Professionals who offer guidance & training.
In addition to ACA staff and members across the country, accredited camps have access to experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Red Cross, and other youth-serving agencies to assure that current practices at your child’s camp reflect the most up-to-date, research-based standards in camp operation. These experts and professionals collaborate to promote positive youth development and experiential education in a fun, safe environment committed to your child’s well-being.
One of the main benefits accredited camps experience is ongoing professional development, both through more formal trainings’ and informal networking opportunities.
5) dedication to community engagement & service.
Among the core values of ACA are the value of people, the natural world, and a sense of contribution. These contributions are both obvious and subtle; the benefits of our work both immediate and slow to emerge.
Many of our camps at ACA Illinois can be seen collaborating with local grocers and farmers to provide food for their campers, or reaching out to neighborhood craft stores for discounts in art supplies from their camp programs. These relationships not only benefit camp and local shops, they benefit campers. Children and young people who attend our camps often learn about the connection that we have with our local stores and retailers through staff, or are perhaps even introduced to a local farmer when they attend a program on composting or gardening.
Children who attend camp are introduced to service to the community and environmental stewardship, encouraging them to develop connections with the world around them. This skill-set of developing connections can further lend itself to other acts of community engagement with service in their communities when they return home, and as they get older, it may serve them in seeking employment opportunities with confidence.