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Education Vs. Compliance
According to the ACA website and as stated in the front of the Accreditation Process Guide (page 12), the main purpose of the ACA-accreditation program is to educate camp owners and directors in the administration of key aspects of camp operation, particularly those related to program quality and the health and safety of campers and staff. The standards establish guidelines for needed policies, procedures, and practices. The camp, then, is responsible for ongoing implementation of these policies.
Yet, when it comes to the actual visit… it all seems about compliance. SO, what is it?
EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION! From the time a camp determines they want to go through the accreditation process, we at ACA (staff and volunteers) need to do all we can to help the camp realize the educational value of accreditation – for both the camp director/owner as well as staff. This includes sharing ideas, reviewing materials (as your time permits), answering questions, etc. Ideas can also be shared during the CSA and while reviewing other written documentation.
THEN COMES COMPLIANCE. The day of the on-site visit is when compliance to the standards is determined. What is seen that day is what is scored. While education still occurs, verification of compliance with the standards is the key purpose of the on-site visit.
It is very important for all ACA standards visitors to remember we are visitors to the camp being accredited. ACA accreditation is voluntary and ACA has no authority to “shut a camp down.” We are not inspectors, and it is critical that ACA accreditation visitors are not perceived as such.