Q: When will I learn who my visitors will be and when will they arrive?
A: Local areas will assign visitors to camps usually by March or April each year. One of your visitors will contact you to make arrangements to review your Camp Self-Assessment and to schedule the on-site visit at a mutually-agreeable time.
Q: How can I schedule the visit to avoid special days, etc.?
A: The purpose of the visit is to verify a camp's compliance with the standards. The visitors will want to see as much of your "normal" camp day as possible, so it is best to work with them to avoid "special" days.
Q: Our camp operates year-round. Does that mean I can have my camp visited sometime other than the busy summer season?
A: Probably not. The visit should be scheduled for a time when the most standards can be verified. The majority of the standards still apply to day or resident camp, so the visit should happen during one of these sessions if the camp operates day or resident camp sessions.
Q: How do I know that my camp has "passed"?
A: Well, always remember that no news is good news. If you don't pass your visit, you will be notified by email and/or certified mail within a week or two of the processing of your score form. Most camps, however, do pass their visits, and the process takes a little longer. The ACA Administrative office sends score reports to local offices/volunteers at the end of the heavy visit season. Most of the local leadership meets in October to approve accreditation of camps. You will be notified of your accreditation status by your local area no later than November 10th.
Q: Who are the people who will visit my camp?
A: Visitors are volunteers. They are often persons with a background in camp administration who have completed at least twenty-one hours of training prior to conducting visits for ACA. They have also completed an "apprenticeship" with an experienced visitor. Many visitors are camp directors themselves. They understand the importance of accreditation and the scope of laws, regulations, and procedures of camp.
Q: How much time will it take to prepare for the visit?
A: It really depends on the scope of the camp's program. Larger camps with a wide variety of activities may take longer than smaller camps that focus in only a few areas. Typically, we recommend planning for 6-9 months to organize and prepare written materials.
Q: Is the accreditation visit like an inspection?
A: Many directors feel like the ACA visit is going to be like an inspection from the state health department. However, the emphasis of the ACA accreditation program is on education. Our visitors are trained to be helpful, supportive, and knowledgeable about CAMP things. Accreditation is a voluntary process, arranged in advance with the cooperation of the camp and the visitor. Inspections differ from visits in that they often occur without notice, and have a "punitive" feel to them.
Q: What do I need to include in my camp's health plan?
A: Resources are available to help with this process. See standard HW.11 in the Accreditation Process Guide for the complete standard and interpretation. There is also a significant number of resources available on the ACA website.
Q: Does a nurse or doctor really have to be on site each day? What about day camps that send kids home?
A: For day camps, there should be a licensed physician or registered nurse on site OR the camp may have phone access to a physician or registered nurse. Written documentation must exist for this phone consultation/health care support arrangement. For resident camps, a licensed physician or registered nurse must be on site at least daily. See standard HW1.
Q: How can I meet the staff-to-camper ratios when I'm required to give my staff time when they do not have assigned camp responsibilities daily as well as have staff meetings in the middle of a camp session? Do I have to hire extra staff?
A: You shouldn't have to hire extra staff for this if you have enough staff to meet the ratios for the majority of the day. HR.8 part B asks for any exceptions to the general ratios that may occur during segments of the day. Use your creativity to balance the staff time off with the need for camper supervision. You may need to vary some of the time-off schedules to ensure appropriate supervision at all times. During staff meetings, you may need to assign some staff to supervise CITs leading the campers in singing, and then catch them up later. The point of this part of the standard is that you think through what some of these situations might be, then write down the policies! You may choose to make no exceptions to your ratios.
Q: Our camp operates in the city park and we don't have any control over when and how the bathrooms are cleaned.
A: Your situation is not uncommon, but you would still need to meet the standard for a clean camp-site. You do have to make choices sometimes about the facility that you choose to use for your camp or for parts of your camp operation. You may be able to work with an owner/operator of a property to establish some cleaning routines that would be suitable for your group use. You may also creatively and safely figure out a way to involve your staff and campers in doing a service by helping keep the area clean.
Q: What should I include in my risk management plan?
A: For more help in preparing risk management materials, see the standards book for the complete standard (OM-3) and its interpretation. Help can also be found on the ACA website in the Operational Management Section.
Q: Yikes! I just can't do all this work by the summer!!
A: Relax! If you're running a camp, much of the information probably already exists. You just need to gather it all together, review it in relation to the specific standards, and organize it. Many camps have policies and procedures already, and may just need to put them in writing or clean them up a bit to meet the requirements of the standards. Delegate! YOU don't have to do it all yourself. Use your key staff members to help prepare by assigning out portions of the standards to your Assistant Director, Waterfront Director, Ranch Supervisor, etc. Have these people gather written material and be in charge of making sure their areas are in compliance.
Q: I need copies of the state regulations for starting a camp and the state requirements for summer camp staff wages.
A: Every state is different when it comes to licensing requirements and state regulations. For state-specific questions, check out ACA's public policy page.
Q: Do I have to start from scratch on all of this documentation?
A: No, the ACA website has sample forms, outlines, work plans, and so on to help you develop your written documentation.
Q: I'm a new director. Is there any education or training available that might bolster my confidence?
A: Besides the Standards Course, which you must take as you begin to prepare for your accreditation , other courses that might be of help: Basic Camp Directors Course and New Directors Orientation.
Q: Is there a simple way to determine what type of aquatics staff are required for the various aspects of my program?
A: There is. We've provided lists to those who have attended training courses on the new standards. The chart is called the Aquatics Supervision Chart, and it is available to members. You will need to check the individual standards though for information on the specific requirements.
Q: There are so many certifications for first aid, CPR and aquatics from various organizations, how can I know which ones are acceptable under ACA standards?
A: ACA members can check out the First Aid Certifications, Aquatics Certifications, and charts that we've provided during our training courses. They list the latest information ACA has on certifications that are appropriate to meet ACA standards. The charts will be updated as new information is available. Also, you may contact the standards department with questions at accreditation@ACAcamps.org
Q: What do I do if the answer I received from the online Accreditation Answer Center is not acceptable to the visitor?
A: Standards veterans, the National Standards Committee, and national staff monitor the discussion and check for accuracy of responses. It is in your best interest to keep a record of your online discussion by printing a copy of your question and the response, along with follow-up responses. File them with other related documentation in case a question arises during your visit.