What’s Up with Standards?

2011 Spring Standards Newsletter

A Brief Overview

  • The Accreditation/Education Task Force determined the standards should focus on health, safety, and risk management.
  • The National Standards Commission (NSC) and additional volunteers reviewed all standards to help identify redundant standards, as well as determine what standard did not meet the above stated criteria.
  • ACA has been consulting with the Council on Accreditation (COA) since early 2010 to help develop processes that allow ACA to align our practices within accreditation industry standards.
  • The current standards have been reviewed, and at times, re-written and reformatted for improved clarity.
  • Subject matter experts have been and will continue to be consulted regarding the content of the standards.
  • Legal counsel has been and will continue to be consulted.
  • Additional environmental scans and research have been conducted as necessary.

Key Changes

  • Each section has a stated purpose.
  • We have changed the term "interpretation" to "contextual education" as that is what we are really providing: Additional education specific to the standard.
  • In the "compliance demonstration," it more clearly specifies what the Visitor should see/review. Three areas have been identified to be used to determine compliance: Written Documentation, Interviews, and Observation.
  • The standards focus on the PRACTICE vs. the policy/procedure. The written policy/procedure will be seen as part of the compliance demonstration.

The current sections of Program Design, Program Challenge, and Program Horse have been collapsed into one section. The actual name of this section is yet to be determined (ideas are welcome).

What Now?

  • All sections of the standards will be posted for review and comment by internal and external audiences for no less than thirty (30) days.
  • Comments will be read and evaluated for their content, concern, and merit.
  • Additional revisions to standards will be made as the evidence informs.
  • A key role of the NSC is to make sure the process has been followed and to affirm they are in agreement with the standards being sent to the ACA National Board for approval.
  • When complete, the NSC will recommend the National Board approve the standards in their entirety.


  • Moving forward, the standards will be a Web-based system (although a printed book will be made available for all Visitors and camps).
  • Through use of an “intake” form (asking various questions regarding the types of programs offered by a camp), a camp can populate a “customized” version of standards for their use.
  • Documents can be uploaded to the camp’s unique Web-based accreditation account, on a secure site specific for that camp. Visitors will be given limited access to review written documents.
  • Scoring will NOT be done via technology at this point (for the future).
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