Latest ACA Blog Posts

June 28, 2011

A full ensemble makes the best jazz, and you want your staff to be jazzed about the work they do. A well-placed board member can be instrumental. Find a place at the staff table for an occasional visit from a board member. The energy and commitment a board member can bring to your staff can often inspire and stimulate new vitality. Adding a new perspective or lens to the work that we do on a daily basis can embellish and "renovate" the mundane. In turn, the board member will bring new insights and creativity to the board room. The perfect jazz ensemble — go make music!

June 22, 2011

An internationally recognized in trainer and mentor for youth, Jeffrey Leiken, M.A., shares advice for making a positive impact on a difficult bunk.

At some point each summer, it seems we find ourselves faced with the "difficult bunk." This is the bunk in which the wrong combination of personalities creates bad chemistry. Sometimes the campers just don't get along. Sometimes they do get along and have chosen to become famous for their prankster ways. Whatever the problem, the result is an excess demand on our time as we respond to their needs, and often this leads to a bunk meeting.

June 22, 2011

In 1996, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and ACA made an agreement to let ACA-accredited camps pay a small fee for all ASCAP-licensed music. Today, ACA and ASCAP have an agreement that allows ACA-accredited camps to use ASCAP licensed music without paying any licensing fees. Learn more about this agreement and licensing requirements for motion pictures and stage productions at ACA's licensing resource page.

June 20, 2011

Camp directors tell me all the time that the counselors make or break the camp experience. A camper who bonds with the counselor and other campers wants to return. Well, that is not magic. Well-trained staff who understand the "magic" of what is developmentally appropriate and the importance of an intentional program dedicated to the values and mission of the camp will bring both campers and parents back to camp year after year. What changes lives? Relationships! Sure, sprinkle a little magic into that formula, but never underestimate professional development.

June 16, 2011

Child and youth development are not only a young person's right, but imperative if he or she is to grow up to be healthy, contributing citizen in our global community. However, be sure to read the warning label.

WARNING: Tamper with the developmental stages of growth and development by eliminating opportunities for social, emotional, and physical development while practicing, failing, and learning in safe, intentional environments, and you risk seeing normal adolescent behaviors resurface in adulthood.

I fear we are witnessing such behaviors in far too many adults today — not pretty, huh? You are doing important work!

Camp is like a perfect greenhouse for kids. It is an enriched, thriving environment...

June 15, 2011

In 1885, Summer F. Dudley and seven boys from the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) in Newburgh, New York, went on a camping trip. By 1891, there were eighty-three campers. The camp became known as Camp Dudley and is the longest continually operating camp in the United States.

What’s your favorite YMCA Camp?

June 15, 2011

Annie Moretz Stanger, a teacher in recreation management at the University of Maine at Machias, explains why rainy days don't have to put a damper on fun.

Rain doesn't have to be an unwelcome guest at camp. It can be an inspiration for camp activities. Rainy days offer an opportunity to teach campers more about weather and for them to see firsthand how rain affects plants, animals, and the environment.

June 8, 2011

Christopher Thurber, board certified clinical psychologist and co-founder of, offers advice to counselors working with campers who have attention deficits.

There are opportunities to teach every child better self-control. Of course, being spontaneous — even a little out of control — is fun. It's just that learning to listen, concentrate, and sustain attention are also important life skills. Camp is an ideal setting for cultivating self-control and controlled chaos.

June 8, 2011

In 1983, the first International Camping Congress was held in Toronto, Canada. Four years later, the second International Camping Congress was held in Washington, DC. There were more than 1,800 people from fifteen countries in attendance. First Lady, Nancy Reagan, addressed the Congress. In addition, the International Camping Fellowship (ICF) was formed, and its basic operating standards were announced. The ICF logo — a butterfly (above) — was born out of the “Our Fragile World” congress theme.

Learn more about the 9th International Camping Congress, taking place November 4–7, 2011 in Hong Kong.

June 1, 2011

Kim Aycock, M.S.T., staff trainer and teacher, offers questions you should ask yourself during any decision-making process.

When I think back to my first summer as a camp counselor over twenty years ago, I wish I knew then what I know now about working with a group of energetic campers. "Quest for Best Practices" is a list of questions to help lead you through the steps of thinking through the "nitty-gritty" of a typical day at camp.

June 1, 2011

In 1970, the first Hedley S. Dimock awards were given to to Julian W. Smith, Sigurd F. Olson, and Stewart L. Udall. Dr. Smith served as director of the Outdoor Education Project at Michigan State University. Olson was an American author, environmentalist, and advocate for the protection of wilderness. Udall was a representative from Arizona and secretary of the interior under Presidents John. F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

The Hedley S. Dimock Award was created to honor persons who had made significant contributions to the camp profession through related fields such as outdoor education, conservation, recreation medicine, education, architecture, or the social sciences through administrative, legislative, or professional contributions or by participation in local, state, or national program development. The award also required awardees to be ACA members, with at least ten years of membership....

May 25, 2011

Renowned trainer Jeffrey Leiken, M.A., reveals that it's the little things a counselor does that matter most to campers.

Greg was a first-time camp counselor. He went to college in the Midwest and could teach tennis. There was nothing remarkable about him on the surface. He was a nice guy, got along well with his peers, and did what he was asked to do. When the campers arrived, however, something transpired. Campers from all ages congregated around him. Even some of the toughest campers in camp liked him. At his mid-summer evaluation the head counselor dared to ask him this question, "What is your secret? What are you doing that all these kids are drawn to you?"

Read more.

May 25, 2011

In 1912, the first Girl Scout camp was held in Savannah, Georgia. Ever since the founding of Girl Scouts, camp has played an important role in the Girl Scout program. In 1922, the organization decided to charter camps throughout the country.

May 18, 2011

Christopher Thurber, Ph.D., a board certified clinical psychologist, explains that what children say isn't always what they really mean.

"I don't want to play. I hate kickball." — Sophia, age five
"Ben doesn't like me. He's always mad at me." — Betrand, age nine
"This place stinks. All the activities are stupid." — Asa, age twelve

If you're like most camp staff, you bristle when you hear children say these sorts of things. Read the full article.

May 18, 2011

The U.S. Forest Service and ACA signed an agreement allowing camps to use public lands in 1995. Today, it is estimated that 9 percent of all camps use public lands and waters for at least a portion of their program.

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