Standards: Reviewed, Revised, Reformatted

Over the past eighteen months, ACA’s accreditation standards have been reviewed, revised, and reformatted. This process has been a thorough/thoughtful review of one of ACA’s core programs, at the recommendation of the Accreditation and Education Task Force. While the actual content of the majority of the standards has not changed, all of the standards have been reviewed, and many have been reworded to focus on the practice that must be in place in order to meet the standard. The method by which compliance is demonstrated has been clarified, and there is now the opportunity for a camp to generate a customized set of ACA standards using a new Web-based system.

The purpose of ACA’s accreditation program has not changed! Education is still the main focus.

Key Changes

  • The Program Design and Activity (PD), Program Challenge (PD), and Program Horse (PD) sections have been combined into one section.
  • The sections of the standards have been re-organized so standards asking about related items (such as policies/procedures or staff training) are grouped together within that section.
  • The numbering system of the standards has been slightly revised to reflect industry standards for the numbering of standards. 
  • “Contextual Education” replaces what was formerly called “Interpretation.” This section provides additional education and clarification to the content and context of the standard to help determine correct applicability and better understand the intent of the standard. The purpose truly is education.
  • A “Camp Self-Assessment” review must be completed prior to the start of staff training for the summer season (or earlier if required by your local leadership). This consists of a review of twenty pre-identified standards all requiring written documentation. It is expected the written documentation will be complete at the time of the review, although the actual scoring will take place the day of the on-site visit. One of the purposes of this review is to help verify the camp is ready for their on-site visit as well as offer an additional opportunity for education and discussion.
  • While not required, additional written documentation can also be reviewed prior to the start of the season.
  • Using a secure, Web-based system, there is the opportunity to customize a set of standards for each camp based on the camp’s program, site, and modes. This system also allows uploading documents for review by a third party (visitor).
  • Resources available on the resource CD that accompanied the 2007 Accreditation Process Guide are now available online. This will allow users easy access to the documents, and gives ACA the ability to make edits and additions to the resources as necessary.

What’s This Mean to Me?

  • The 2012 edition of Accreditation Process Guide was released mid-September 2011.
  • Camps will begin using these standards at their NEXT on-site accreditation visit (i.e., camps being visited in 2012 and after will use the revised standards). As stated in the required Annual Statement of Compliance, an accredited camp continues to meet the standards under which it was last visited, as well as all applicable mandatory standards.
  • All camps and visitors will receive a complimentary printed version of the 2012 Accreditation Process Guide prior to their visit, even if they choose to use the Web-based program.
  • Prior to the on-site visit, each camp to be visited is required to have an individual who will be actively involved in both the preparation of materials, will be available on-site the day of the visit, and who will attend a Standards Course.

Important to Note

As in the past, accreditation is granted and removed at the local level. The NSC key responsibilities include oversight and establishment of the guidelines for the administration of ACA’s Standards Program.

Contributed by Rhonda Mickelson, Director of Standards Program

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