A State of Mind

The American Camp Association® (ACA), as an association recently passing its 100th birthday, has managed to evolve and adapt over time.  Today, ACA is possibly facing the most critical need in its history to facilitate a powerful transformation. As an association we can effect a change that creates an environment that embraces viability—viability not for the camp community but for children, youth, and families . . . those who need and deserve the camp experience.

The camp experience serves as a change agent in the lives of nearly ten million children each year.  That number, although it may sound impressive, is not acceptable.  It represents fewer than 20 percent of the youth population.  If we believe the camp experience adds value to the lives of children, youth, and adults, why would we let ourselves be lulled into satisfaction serving so few?  To serve so few, without qualification, suggests self-serving satisfaction for a small community.  We should possess a social and organizational commitment to ensure all children and youth have the opportunity to participate in a positive camp experience . . . an experience that enriches the lives of children, youth, and adults.

ACA is working toward their 20/20 Vision - to serve 20 million campers and have 20,000 customers/users by the year 2020. To do this we must be deliberate and intentional in plans - current and future. We must look forward and use that as our beacon of guidance. In order to serve 20,000 customers we must think beyond just our “members” and therefore we must broaden our representation of our volunteer base (leadership) and committees). 

What does being on our Council of Leaders mean?

  • Being an agent of change. To offer insight and input into our changing world and what we need to do to not only keep up but to even be a step in front.
  • Work with a passionate group of people who are dedicated to youth and/or the camp experience.
  • 4 physical meetings a year in Jan, Mar, Sep and either late Oct or early Nov. While we previously rotated locations north/south/center, in 2008 the board re-voted and now we just meet central to the Indianapolis area. Every effort is made to car-pool among COL members to be good stewards of expense, eco-friendly and it is a great opportunity to network.
  • Work with a committee in the actual implementation of the goals we establish.

What does being on a committee mean?

  • Develop and implement action steps to fulfill the tasks established by the COL in support of the goals set forth by ACA, Inc.
  • There 4 physical meetings a year in Jan, Mar, Sep and either late Oct or early Nov for the COL. Committee members are welcome to attend the COL meeting itself. After lunch, everyone splits up for Committee time. While we previously rotated locations north/south/center, in 2008 the board re-voted and now we just meet central to the Indianapolis area. Every effort is made to car-pool among board members to be good stewards of expense, eco-friendly and it is a great opportunity to network.
  • Work with a passionate group of people who are dedicated to youth and/or the camp experience.

Regarding the amount of actual work/time involved - that will really vary depending on committee and depending on time of year. Much of the committee work is done via email and/or teleconference.  For example, Standards is very busy in March once the chair knows which camps are confirmed for visits, then arranging actual visitors, scheduling pre-visits, etc. Then things simmer down till summer when visits actually occur - not much work for the committee members, mostly chair work. For PR/Marketing Committee, spring tends to be busy with camp fairs, and public awareness, then occasionally during the summer IF we get calls from the media.

We have worked hard to break down the various goals and projects of each committee into small, limited time specific tasks. We find it to be far less intimidating to approach someone asking them to volunteer say 2 hours a month for X project rather than "do you want to be on X committee?" We also find greater success for the committees having a volunteer who follows through and completes their task and happier volunteers who don't feel overwhelmed!  

Committee options:

Member Services-

  • Recruitment-Prospect follow up, identify and approach interested camps/members, seek opportunities to partner with organizations to cross-recruit members or partner for mutual benefit.
  • Retention- New Member Welcome, Lapsed member follow up/resolicit.
  • Camp Tours/Visits- facilitate tours of camps both members and non-members.
  • Scholarship-review and award scholarships provided for national conference, Mid-States Conference, field office events, professional development and membership dues.
  • Awards- review and recognize awards given at the local level recognizing contributions to camping and/or ACA Indiana. Awards team also promotes nomination of local members/camps/supporters for national awards.
  • News In Brief (NIB) - bi-weekly news brief distributed to members and others (by request) to communicate efficiently and effectively with members in a consolidated format. Additional, time-sensitive communications are distributed as needed.
  • EPIC Indiana (Emerging Professionals In Camping)- providing opportunities for new and young professionals to network and gain knowledge/experience.
    • Student Camp Fairs
    • Networking events, educational event
    • Newsletter/other communication.
    • Student Camp Leadership Academy (SCLA) - weekend professional development event for college students interested in pursuing a career in camping. Volunteer opportunities include serving on the Steering committee and promotional support.


  • Camp Fairs- coordinator will facilitate set up, participation and awareness of the fairs to members/camps and parents (in conjunction with staff and in collaboration with Member Services).
  • Public Relations- redistribute press releases as appropriate, identify other ways to promote ACA to members/camps/parents/etc.
  • Complaint Resolution/ Ethics- Chair will follow Complaint Resolution Manual guidelines when presented with a complaint, often involving identifying if the complaint is legal (refer to legal counsel), standards (refer to standards chair) or ethics (follow guidelines).
  • Website/Social Networking –update website, suggest/implement website improvements, update social networks as appropriate.
  • Campership program (foster/ CASA/BBBS)- seek opportunities to develop relationships with organizations/groups who have clients interested in camp and match with camps willing to accommodate such clients.

Professional Development-

  • Clusters- Coordinator oversees event organizers who implement ½ and 1 day topic-specific workshops held in various locations throughout the section.
  • Conference Coordinator- oversee implementation of local conference based on membership needs.
  • Training- soliciting and distributing information regarding training opportunities (already promote trainings by Indiana Youth Institute, Indiana Nonprofit Resource Network).
  • Mid-States Camping Conference - 3 day regional conference for camp directors and their staff. Volunteer opportunities include Steering Committee, and sub committees of Education and Marketing.
  • Special Events- based on needs of membership.

Resource Development-

  • Grants - develop priority matrix, create application schedule and work with staff to write grants.
  • Non Dues Revenue- seek opportunities to generate non dues revenue including annual fundraiser, special fundraising events as well as online/virtual opportunities.
  • Partnership Dev for discounts - seek opportunities to develop partnerships with companies/organizations that provide members with discounts.
  • Partnership Dev for resources - seek opportunities to develop partnerships with organizations/others to provide resources/access for members (already partnered with Environmental Education Association of Indiana, Christian Camp & Conference Association Indiana, and Indiana Park & Recreation Association).
  • Fiscal Review - review reports.
  • Leadership development - recruitment and development/training of new COL and committee members.

Public Policy-

  • Provide legislative watch of issues relevant to section members and camps.
  • Promote legislative issues occurring at the national level to members.
  • Work with local entities with similar public policy agendas to collaborate for greater efficiency.


  • Visitor Training - coordinate training course, identify instructor candidates as needed.
  • Standards Training - coordinate standards course.
  • Mentoring - partner new/prospect camps with visitor as a mentor.
  • Accreditation scheduling - coordinate and schedule visitors for accreditation visits.
  • Accreditation promotion- promote accreditation, make presentations to camps/organizations interested in pursuing accreditation.


Our leadership team is family friendly (we kind of have to be in our line of work) with COL members bringing their toddlers/infants to meetings on occassion. Whenever possible we try to provide babysitter service at our meetings.

If you have any questions before making a decision regarding your interest in participation, please do not hesitate to contact:

Sonny Adkins, Chair                    sonny.adkins@culver.org                                    574-842-8120