Latest ACA Blog Posts

December 7, 2012

As many of you know, a new national grant announced this past Monday will fund extended school days for ten school districts in five states. (Read more about the grant here.)

This pilot merits our serious attention: 1.) to learn more 2.) to advocate for the camp experience as viable in the education of the whole-child and 3.) to take the opportunity to engage in the conversation. I am also encouraged by the words of Education Secretary Arne Duncan:
The goal here is not more time, the goal here is more learning.

I hope that means it is about learning, not more skill and drill.

Being ready to learn is just as important, if not more, than being taught. What do children need in order to learn...

December 7, 2012

Camp is place to make new friends (or meet up with old ones!), learn how to be a leader, and hone your skills to help kids have fun and grow.

ACA’s 2013 ACA National Conference gives you the chance to do all that, too!

Network with peers and experts, attend great keynote lectures, and workshop your skills in a wide variety of educational sessions. And, as always, Student Members of ACA attend conference FREE. (Check out the registration page for details.)

Join us in Dallas, February 12–15, 2013! Visit the conference homepage to find more about the keynote speakers, educational sessions, and schedule — plus special events and pre-conference gatherings.

Not a member? First-timers can join ACA for free.


November 27, 2012

It may be my imagination but, at times, I feel many of us feel that we are far too often dealing with unfriendly spaces or feeling threatened. We may feel physically, emotionally, or even economically threatened. Regardless, the feelings are the same — discomfort or fear. How can we be better people, a stronger family or community, or a healthy country, if we feel unsafe?

I believe the camp experience allows young people to learn and practice civility — which might be one of the most important attributes in this decade.

I am not saying we should be passive or easily pushed around to avoid conflict; rather, what are the skills we can possess and teach others that will facilitate healthy, constructive, and safe discourse?

Well, I don’t believe the answer is rocket science. Frankly, what comes to mind are the lessons my grandmother taught me. Or more recent, the lessons I have observed being taught at camp.

  1. Be...
November 20, 2012

Last week I wrote about the value of play as it relates to socialization and maturation. Play has an important role in the development of maturation for not only our campers, but the adolescents and young adults at camp who serve as our CITs and counselors.

As I reflected on the concept of play, it occurred to me that if I were a young adult, I might resent my activities being characterized as play. When I was in that stage of my life, it was important to me to be seen not as a child but as a capable adult, albeit a young one.

I started to dig a bit deeper into the literature about play. I found myself wondering what Piaget, Hymes, and Erickson would think regarding all that we have learned recently about brain development. Ah, this would be a whole new and interesting discussion, but I digress.


November 9, 2012

What happens when children and youth are deprived of play?

We view play as frivolous or fun — a waste of time. Yet, once again while meeting with camp staff in Alaska, I was reminded of the danger of removing critical developmental opportunities for children and youth. Marginalizing play is an unwarranted, unrecognized, and careless experiment.

Play is a child's laboratory. Without that lab, the camp professionals in Alaska are witnessing some interesting developmental gaps in readiness. As we discussed these observations, it called the questions . . .


November 5, 2012

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” This was Shakespeare’s way of telling us that what matters is what something is, not what it is called. Boy, would Shakespeare love today’s nomenclature. Today, we spend an inordinate amount of time arguing over shared concepts just because we are using different terms to describe the same thing.

Consider the term “development” of a decade ago — career development or work force development is now referenced by the term “readiness.” Often you see the trifecta — career, work, and life readiness. And yesterday’s reference to “soft skills” seems remarkably similar to today’s “noncognitive skills.” A rose by any other name . . .

I was reading Expanding the Leadership Equation by Ellen Van Velsor, PhD,...

October 30, 2012

I sit here today like many others across the nation watching the weather event taking place in the Northeast. My thoughts go to the children. Although I grew up in “tornado alley,” weather was rarely a distraction. With all of the talk about global warming and one dramatic weather event after another, it seems these topics are as oppressive for young children today as the Bay of the Pigs was for me as a child.

The adult talk in nervous, hushed voices frightened me as much as the black and white granular news coverage or the school safety drills at school. I wonder today how children are managing the glaring, relentless coverage (in HD) of the world’s weather challenges.

“Googling” the phrase “kids and weather” results in a fascinating array of Web sites sharing the sad, threatening realities of our weather today. Reading through these pages, I realized many of the messages are the same as one finds on...

October 25, 2012

Guest post by Sarah Andes, a 2009 Mississippi Delta corps member, Teach for America

Summer camp is about discovery. New sports and hobbies. New friends and loves. New tans (at least if you’re in Texas). New songs. New independence. It’s all about creating and experiencing a community in which kids are free to explore and grow.

That’s why I loved Greene Family Camp at the time. I knew it as “fun.” Looking back on my experiences as a camper, counselor, and administrator, I now value camp for the unintended byproducts of those “fun” summers. I developed a set of values and beliefs at camp that have grounded the choices that I’ve made and the attitudes with which I have made them ever since.

Several years after my last summer at Greene, I once again packed up my belongings and loaded the car, but this time I was headed down a new path: east to the fertile farmland of the Mississippi...

October 9, 2012

Recently, ACA received a 2012 Summit Award from ASAE — the Center for Association Leadership. Watch the video below to learn more. Giving a voice to the camp experience's positive (and safe) youth development outcomes for parents and the public is a very important part of all of our work, and ACA was honored to win this award.


October 9, 2012

Special thanks to Allison Lee, an archery counselor at Camp Chinqueka, for submitting our last counselor story of the year! Have a great fall — summer will be here again soon!

I don't even know how to narrow my summer down to one favorite memory. There are just too many! Having recently just worked at camp for my second year, I know 100 percent it will not be my last. As soon as I walked back into camp for the second time, I knew was back at home, my real home, a place where I feel completely comfortable to be myself and let go of all the stress and worries that comes with real life.

This year, the whole staff waited in anticipation for two weeks before the bright, happy, and excited campers came running through our gates. Honestly, the feeling is indescribable. I still get goosebumps now when I think about it. It felt as if the previous nine months back at home didn't exist and as if I’d never left camp!


October 5, 2012

Health and safety at camp has always been a top priority for the American Camp Association (ACA). Recently, ACA's Healthy Camp Study, which monitored injuries and illnesses at camp — and developed prevention strategies for injury/illness occurances — was recognized by the Center for Association Leadership's 2012 Summit Award

Watch the video below to learn more!

About the Healthy Camp Study

In 2006, ACA partnered with Markel Insurance Company to embark on a five-year surveillance project to benchmark camp-related injury and illness in U.S. camps. Over 200 day and resident camps were involved in this project...

October 4, 2012

Thank you, Kyle Lefler, for sharing your summer story! Did staff at your camp overcome any obstacles this summer? Share your favorite memory with

Along with much of the East Coast, our little summer camp was devastated by the thunderstorms the weekend of July 4th. Mar Lu Ridge (MLR) is a Lutheran summer camp located in the mountains of Frederick County, Maryland. The storms came quickly and hit our little mountain hard, felling trees, taking out the power (and water!), and leaving debris everywhere.

As a staff, we slowly made our way down the road and through the woods to investigate the damage. Much to our relief, our newly renovated dining hall was totally untouched, as was our 50-year-old A-frame chapel, which is entirely fronted in glass. What a blessing! Unfortunately, the road was impassable and camp would have to make some major adjustments.

In the wake of the...

October 1, 2012

A big thanks to Hannah (Tom Tom) Wiese from Camp Chinqueka for this summer story! What did your summer at camp teach you? Send your stories to and you might see them here!

As soon as the car rounds the bend and Bantam Lake comes into view, I smile and bounce up and down in anticipation for I know that I am almost at my summer home. I know that as soon as the car pulls on to the gravel drive, there will be my summer family, waiting to greet me with happy screams and lots of hugs. This was only my second summer at sunny Camp Chinqueka, but from the moment I stepped out of the car and my feet hit the ground, I felt like I was back home.

At camp, I’ve learned many lessons — things I could have never learned in school. Lessons such as, if you use a leaf blower to clean your cabin, you’ll probably set off the smoke detector. And, that if you let a CIT drive...

September 26, 2012

Are you interested in one day having a profession in the camp or youth development industry? Attend an ACA Student Camp Leadership Academy (SCLA) weekend retreat!

SCLA brings students together with camp professionals to take an in-depth look at options for a profession in the camp field. It also helps students build skills to prepare for a career in camp.

Choose from 4 locations:

  • Midwest Register Now!
  • West — Register Now!
  • South
  • Southeastern — details coming soon 


September 25, 2012

I was rereading an article that was in the Boston Globe earlier this month titled “How Kids Make Friends — And Why It Matters.” Of course when I first read the article, I was reminded of ACA’s outcomes research and the power of the camp experience as it relates to “making friends.”

However, as I reread the article, I found myself considering deeper thoughts: The article does not just talk about making friends but honing “friendship skills.” Are we simply creating opportunities for kids to “make” friends, or are we teaching and facilitating “friendship skills?” And what does that look like?

The article also recognized our recent societal concentration on the prevention of bullying (which is...

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