Latest ACA Blog Posts

September 16, 2014

As someone who lived on the frontlines of camp for 15 years, I have had the last year to look back and carefully reflect on what keeps me in the camp profession (working for ACA) and what moves me about the camp experience.

Camp Moves Me - Join the MovementI am moved by camp parents who put their trust in us as camp professionals. They “loan” us that which they value most in the world, and they stand with us as partners as we challenge their children to grow in ways they never have before. As a dad myself, the camp parent moves me.

I am moved by the camp alum who recalls her time at camp with a smile, admiration, and the knowledge that this...

September 9, 2014

At ACA, we have spent the last year honing the time-tested, traditional practices of fundraising. In doing so, we have sought to increase the clarity of where each gift will provide support; we have worked to acknowledge our donors appropriately, and we have increasingly shared the impact of the gifts we are given. As we honed these skills, we have sought to develop our culture of philanthropy at ACA to further connect people with our great association. 

But as we worked on these skills, who knew that a bucket of ice and a challenge issued by friends would change the face of philanthropy throughout the country?

Unless you have been asleep the past month, you know I am referring to the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge. With the enthusiasm, support and publicity that this fundraiser received, it seems like philanthropy will never be the same for nonprofits around the country.  The change comes as it appears there are new...

July 16, 2014

Our job is to help campers form connections with us as staff, each other, and their inner selves. If we can help connect them, their best qualities will shine.

As a camp counselor, the findings of brain research can be a tool to lead your camper group. As campers encounter new situations, we want them to form connections with past experiences, future goals, and each other within the camper group.

In a Camping Magazine article, molecular biologist Dr. John Medina (2008) offers twelve principles that he calls Brain Rules to help you be more successful in leading your campers to make connections.

July 2, 2014

The American Camp Association (ACA) has a long history of advocating for the health of children, including fighting obesity through healthy eating.  We provide resources to camps to help them develop programs offering appropriate foods and beverages to kids.

ACA supports the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Standards for Early Childhood and Afterschool Programs  (HEPA) — which specifically include standards for healthy beverages. Additionally, ACA is a member of the Healthy Out-of-School Time Coalition (HOST) and also works with other organizations to promote the health of children.

“ACA seeks to educate camps and parents about healthy beverages and foods in the camp environment. We believe that changes in behavior are best facilitated through educational partnerships with camps, organizations, parents and kids,” said Peg Smith, CEO of the American Camp Association...

July 2, 2014

River Way Ranch Camp, Sanger, CA

In a recent report, young adults were shown to be the most stressed-out generation (Sifferlin, 2013). This summer at camp, odds are you’ll have your share of stressful moments, so it’s important to know some self-care and stress relief strategies to help you take it all in stride.


Part of combating stress will be long-term self-care strategies that you can employ throughout the summer. Camp consultant and psychologist Ethan Schafer, PhD, offer these tips in his 2011 Camping Magazine article “Be at Your Best to Do Your Best”:

  • Create a set of three aspirational goals that will help you gauge whether or not you are on track throughout the summer.
  • Get enough sleep. Sleep needs vary from person to person, but...
June 24, 2014

Guest post by Diana K. Rice, RD, staff dietitian of The Kids Cook Monday.

As any parent knows, equipping kids with the life skills they’ll need to make good decisions and live independently is among the primary goals of parenting. But we usually think of this as a long-term goal instilled indirectly by our day-to-day actions. So in the hustle of preparing kids for a few weeks away at overnight camp — what to pack, how to stay in touch, what to do if they feel homesick — the realization that your child will need to rely on those good decision-making skills right now without you around can come as quite a jolt to many parents.

Of course, campers will still have their counselors to help guide their decisions and keep them safe. But what about that tricky buffet line that kids must navigate for themselves, often piled high with tempting options like chocolate chip pancakes, hot dogs, and chicken tenders? Surely...

June 16, 2014

Post by Peg Smith

Daniel Goleman, the psychologist who originated the concept of emotional intelligence, states: “High levels of cognitive ability (measured IQ of 120 or greater) are a threshold qualification for leadership roles. Once you are at or above that level, IQ loses power as a predictor of success. EQ then plays a larger role.”

So, how does the camp experience play a role in one’s success? In the book True North, Bill George and Peter Simms write that EQ starts with self-awareness of your life story and the crucibles you have experienced.

At camp, one has the opportunity to participate in three requirements for self-awareness.

  1. One has the opportunity to experience real life/world experiences, including leadership. You are unplugged.
  2. One has the opportunity to reflect about...
June 10, 2014

Results from ACA’s latest Emerging Issues Survey are in!

The camp experience has been around for more than 150 years, and camps are constantly evolving to meet the needs of today’s kids and families. Check out what camps are doing to help today’s kids thrive!

Click to ​enlarge


June 4, 2014

Guest post by Tamsin Andrews

So you’ve made it. You’ve finally got that e-mail or phone call or snail mail letter and you’re over the moon, you’re on staff, and it’s like being a camper without bed time and full access to the snack stuff. You’re thinking of your staff name and finding out who else got hired. But you’ve suddenly realized you have to be in charge of campers like yourself, and you’re lost. Now what? How do you make the most out of your first year in the staff shirt?

It’s almost impossible to be completely prepared for you first year on staff. I’m on my fourth, and I still surprise myself every time. You’ll never pack enough, but you’ll still over pack. You’ll learn how to deal with ridiculous situations before camp starts, but the...

May 28, 2014

Camp Echo

Guest post by Stacey Ebert

An event planner by day, I got a call to meet with the new executive director of my former sleep-away camp on planning events for its ninetieth anniversary. I couldn’t help but think of all of the people who have passed through the wooden doors of those cabins all those years. It’s May in New York and summer is on its way. Students are studying for finals, parents are making packing lists, staff members are connecting with friends on social media, all with one common thread . . . CAMP.

Ninety years. Visited a few times a year by school groups or conferences, those wooden cabins wait patiently and anxiously for the arrival of hundreds of boys and girls every summer. Do they know just how loved and revered they truly are? A staff member told me the new director is...

May 23, 2014

CEO Peg Smith encourages counselors to remember the powerful influence they will have on campers this summer, reminding them to communicate in a way that is "True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind." Read her Camping Magazine column on this topic.


May 19, 2014

Guest post by Matt Smith

Less than 40% of 12th graders are prepared for college-level math and reading. Plus: Evaluating the charter school movement 20 years in, a debate over how to evaluate public school teachers, coding is headed for the K-12 mainstream, and the commencement speaker protests raise some interesting questions.

The Education Week in Review is a weekly recap of the national debate for busy parents and professionals. This week, five summaries of 100 words. Got feedback? We want it.

Featured photo credit: “Barack Obama” by Joe Crimmings...

May 15, 2014

Guest post by Katie Johnson

As a product of camp, I have always assumed to know a lot about kids, youth development, and, well — parenting. But then, it happened. I became a parent myself. Like most first time parents, I went into the experience with naïve theories on just about everything. The ideas of Richard Louv, Michael Thompson, and Wendy Mogul danced in my head — my child would be connected to nature, skinning his knee would not be an epic crisis, TV was not going to be his babysitter, and his time would not be consumed with structured activities and strictly-supervised schedules.

Fast-forward 5 years — 5 years of two parents working, juggling childcare, preschool, swim lessons, and travel schedules. Add in one-cross country move and the fact that we ARE actually living in the 21st century with e-cards, e-books, e-mail . . . e-everything. And, well, the truth is this: My child does watch TV. He knows how to...

May 7, 2014

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month! Camp experiences are great ways for campers (and you!) to stay active in the summer.

Did you know?

  • According to a recent study by ACA, over 80 percent of all camps have campers engage in physical activity levels greater than the CDC-recommended hour per day.
  • Free, unstructured play time is great for getting kids moving while developing critical social and problem-solving skills.
  • Helping campers find fun ways to engage in physical activity is more important than ever. According to the CDC, obesity rates among children remain high (approximately 17 percent of children ages two to nineteen are considered obese).


May 5, 2014

Guest post by Matt Smith

The House considers a charter school funding bill, and the U.S. graduation rate reaches a milestone. Plus, opposition to Common Core intensifies, and should student test scores be included in the evaluation of teachers?

The Education Week in Review is a weekly recap of the national debate. This week, four 100-word summaries on charter schools, common core, the graduation rate, and teacher evaluation.

Got feedback? We want it.

Charter Schools









U.S. House of Representatives.

In 5 Words: House considers school...

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