Proposed Accreditation Model

In response to the changing nature of camps and the contemporary trends of volunteerism, a Visitor Task Force was commissioned in the fall of 2012 with these desired outcomes:

  • Generate ideas for developing accreditation models that will expand the camps and programs involved in ACA's accreditation program, including systems that recognize legitimate levels of professionalism. Identify how these models would affect the visitor system.
  • Define the components of a visitor system that preserves rigor and complements today's volunteer environment designed to accommodate an increasing number of camps and programs and adapt to new models for accreditation.

The Task Force made the following recommendation on a proposed accreditation model and that recommendation was accepted by the NSC in January 2013. This recommendation continues to stress the rigor, integrity, and education of the current accreditation model.


After a camp has successfully completed two accreditation visits, they can potentially move to a five-year visit cycle if the camp meets established criteria. All currently accredited camps would have the opportunity to move to a five-year cycle as long as the established criteria were met. A five-year cycle is common in the accreditation world.

Suggestions from the task force of what would have to be completed to maintain a five-year cycle of accreditation (having an on-site visit every five years). NOTE: these suggestions come from the task force's work, however it is important to remember that this is a list of POTENTIAL items.

  • No significant change in key leadership/owner/management team (a change in a seasonal director would NOT necessarily prompt a change in cycles, although the seasonal director would be required to complete, at minimum, an online course regarding the purpose of ACA accreditation, etc.). Once the criteria were more refined/determined, it would be left to the discretion of the local area if a camp were to be on a three-year or five year cycle — as it is now with an out-of-cycle visit.
  • There have been no complaints lodged against the camp resulting in action by the local leadership, the NSC, or the Ethics Commission.
  • Must not have any failing scores when visit does occur. The local leadership will be provided with a set of criteria/parameters that, if met, would allow a camp to maintain the five-year cycle. As always, a camp could appeal to the NSC. Once a camp fails a visit, they go back to the three-year visit cycle.
  • Be willing to provide a visitor at the associate level. We will need to develop parameters for this, such as: The camp is exempt from this requirement if they operate for less than four weeks, have less that x number full-time employees, etc.

Potential list of what must be done/completed by the camp in non-visit years. NOTE: Again these suggestions come from the task force's work and again should be considered as starting points.

  • Completion of a "standards refresher" or other professional development piece specific to the standards in a designated year by a designated date. Tying professional development and accreditation together increases the educational value of the accreditation program.
  • Submission of paperwork for any new programs being added during the non-visit years by a set date.
  • Completion of paperwork/checklist indicating WHEN and by what process all standards were reviewed for compliance for that specific year and years prior (like the old OM-5).
  • Annual Statement of Compliance due by June 1.

EXAMPLE of what might be required in a five-year cycle:

  • 2013: Accreditation Visit, SOC due by June 1.
  • 2014: Professional Development (PD) related specifically to standards, SOC both completed by June 1.
  • 2015: Paperwork/Checklist and SOC completed by June 1.
  • 2016: PD related specifically to standards, SOC both completed by June 1 (might be a standards refresher course).
  • 2017: SOC due by June 1, Standards Course.
  • 2018: Standards Course if not taken previously, accreditation visit, SOC.

Action to date regarding input on the proposed model:

  • Task force members solicited feedback from camp directors/visitors throughout their process.
  • Two focus groups were held at the 2013 ACA National Conference in Dallas.
  • ACA field and affiliate staff provided input on two conference calls.
  • ACA legal counsel has reviewed the proposal.
  • The National Council of Leaders heard and discussed this proposal on their recent call.


  • Continue the research/discovery phase by gathering input from ACA-accredited camp directors and volunteers through both formal and informal methods.
  • Members of the National Council of Leaders have been asked to share this information with their Local Council of Leaders/board of directors.
  • Contact various state licensing agencies to determine how/if a change in the ACA accreditation cycle will impact the status of ACA accreditation in their state.
  • NSC will review and consider feedback/comments/suggestions at their September meeting and will further develop the timeline and identify next steps and tasks.


It is important to note that for any change in the accreditation model, work would be completed to "revise" the standards to better suit the model. This does not mean the intent of the standards would change; what is asked and how compliance is demonstrated might change. Also, this proposal is just that, a framework from which to work and permission to think about the look of the accreditation process for the future.

Please direct any questions/concerns in the comment box below, or to: Rhonda Mickelson, ACA Director of Standards —, 765 349 3306 or Incoming NSC Chair, Judith Bevan —, 828-264-9348.



Yeah, this is going to be such a great deal of change for most of you are I am sure it will be said to be something that most of you would not be able to live without once you get a start off. ::: selling united miles :::

Great idea

As a director and visitor and ex standards Ctte members this is a great idea - many of the camp ins our are have been accredited for over 40 years and consistently score highly on their visit years. Camps that operate under standards should not be scrambling to get their ducks in a row for visits so therefore should be fine to have an extended period between accreditation's.
Great work!

Thank you and keep the comments coming

Thank you for posting comments so quickly. As a director and/or a visitor as you move through your summer and situations arise that this model would impact please post those thoughts. Speaking for everyone working on this model and its further development we need your stream of thoughts and questions.....particularly in the "Have you considered what would happen if...?", "In my region the proposed model brings these will they be addressed?", "I think we should use these as a criteria for a camp to move to a 5 year cycle." line of thought.

Those types of comments, questions, possible scenarios would be very helpful at this stage of development. We would like to think that we have looked at this from every possible angle and perspective.......and can with your help.

Thank you,


Proposed Accreditation Changes - 5 Year Cycle

I just wanted to lend my support to this change. I think it is a great idea to go to a five-year cycle for Accreditation for seasoned camps and directors. I think if there is a change in directors or ownership or significant program changes, then this needs to be addressed, but for the most part, change in a camp setting is gradual and I think a five-year cycle is very reasonable.

proposed change to 5-year cycle

I completely embrace the idea of the five-year availability for visits.

Providing a visitor at the association level might be a hardship for smaller private, family owned operations as they often do not have as large a director base to pull from and the owners feel a responsibility to always be on site when campers are on site.

I like the continuing efforts to make accreditation more meaningful!

proposed changes to 5 yr cycle

Yes! This sounds reasonable, helpful, good thinking. Thank you for your work on this.

Proposed changes to visit schedule

I LOVE these ideas! It would make the process much more useful as an educational tool, and would incentivize camps to consistent meet / exceed the standards!