From Peter - January 2011

by Peter Surgenor

"Changing Lives — Enriching the World": These are simple words with challenging implications.

I thought of the words above, and how poignant this concept is for ACA at this time — especially as recent transitions remind us to recognize the work and accomplishments of our predecessors, and how we need to honor their pioneering spirit in order to stay present and relevant in the next 150 years.

Healthy Things Grow — "Better Camping for All" appeared on the mantle at the National Office with intuitive understanding of the expected outcomes of a growing association. We recognized the need for standards and wrestled to provide the best and most rigorous possible. We found the inspiration to invest in research which has helped us demonstrate the value of our experiences.

Growing Things Change — We have stretched our imaginations and redefined our thinking many times. At one point, it was an intellectual challenge to include day camps in our association. We followed great leadership as we dropped the "ing" from our name to become the American Camp Association. We intentionally changed the composition of our board of directors to diversify and increase our service to those who benefit from the camp experience. And we have been in deep conversations over the last three years about changing the way we organize to increase our voice.

Change Requires Discipline — Over the last twelve years, we have refined our definition of the ends and goals of ACA. We have pushed our vision further and further into the future and then worked hard to progress toward that vision. Discipline has led us to do lots of fact finding before transitioning into a newly imagined delivery system for our unique contributions to human development.

Discipline Leads to Health — As an example, the national board envisioned a Washington, DC, office over five years ago. It was with a conscientious consideration of costs, effectiveness, and impact that led us to open that office in 2009 with a careful plan for implementation. This presence, coupled with a strong public policy committee, has brought impressive results in a very short time. Our disciplined life as an association (investment in technology, research, and collaboration), has prepared us to be ready to quickly move to address the three growth strategies identified last February — Professional Development, Public Policy/Government Relations, and Membership/Customer Service. This commitment to embrace change led to a meeting of volunteer leaders in October 2010 when organization for growth was becoming reality. Those leaders could clearly see that ACA is Healthy and Growing.

I hope that you enjoy this issue of Camping Magazine as we celebrate our history and look to the opportunities ahead of us. Join us as we change the future.

Peter Surgenor,
ACA National President

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