Key Messages by Topic: ACA Communications Toolkit

The following key messages are designed to help assist you in developing press materials, including press releases. They can also be used as your key messages during media interviews.


Accreditation:

  • The American Camp Association is the advocate for the accredited-camp experience.
  • ACA accreditation assures parents that the camp has had a regular, independent safety audit that goes beyond regulations in most states.
  • ACA accreditation means that your child’s camp cares enough to undergo a thorough (over 300 health and safety standards) review of its operation — from staff qualifications and training to emergency management.
  • Accreditation is voluntary, and ACA accreditation assures families that camps have made the commitment to a safe, nurturing environment for their children.
  • No accreditation process, no licensing program, no set of regulations or laws can guarantee safety. However, accreditation is the best evidence for parents that a camp is committed to providing a safe and nurturing environment for their children.

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Adult Camps:

  • Adult camps are a growing segment of the camp community. Like their counterparts in youth camps, adult specialty camps can also focus on team-building exercises and self-esteem issues.
  • Adult camps offer an oasis of wholesome fun in a hectic and stressful world.
  • Many camps provide physical challenges and thrilling adventures for the young at heart.

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American Camp Association:

  • The mission of the American Camp Association is enriching the lives of children, youth, and adults through the camp experience.
  • ACA's over 7,000 members encompass all segments of the camp profession, including agencies serving youths and adults, independent camps, religious and fraternal organizations, and public/municipal agencies.
  • ACA is the largest association serving the organized camp industry.

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Benefits of Camp:

  • An independent research firm, Philliber Research Associates, conducted the largest study of camper outcomes in the United States.
  • The research found that 96 percent of children said that camp helped them make new friends and 92 percent of children found that the people at camp helped them feel good about themselves.
  • Camp provides children with the opportunity to connect with nature, to participate in human- powered activities, and to benefit from personal and primary relationships.
  • Many young people who attend camp experience an increase in their self-esteem and are able to establish a true sense of independence apart from their families.
  • Camp is an element in a child’s total development, and it complements the academic skills that are learned in school with experientially-based life skills.

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Camp Costs and the Economy:

  • Camp Costs: Fees to attend camp can vary anywhere from $100 to $800+ per week. There is a camp for every child and for every budget.
  • Seventy-five percent of ACA-Accredited® camps offer some level of financial assistance to over one million children who are from underserved or lower-income families, have special medical needs, or special situations that might preclude them from attending camp.
  • Each year, the ACA community mobilizes over $39 million annually in camp scholarships.
  • Camps are doing everything to assure that every child can attend camp regardless of economic status.
  • Across the country, ACA is working with local partners to provide more camp experiences.
  • There is a camp for every budget.

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Community:

  • Camp is one of the few institutions where young people can experience and satisfy their need for physical activity, creative expression, and true participation in a community environment.
  • Noted experts in child development have expressed their thoughts on summer camp as a valuable resource for giving children the value of belonging to a community of their own.
  • Camp connects children to authentic relationships that afford friendships, understanding, and appreciation for one another and the global community.

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Corporate Camps:

  • Social and business networks are critical in the 21st century.
  • Camps working with the corporate world give adults the opportunity to develop/practice critical competencies such as trust building, communication, and critical thinking to achieve collective success and teamwork.

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Family Camps:

  • In 2008, 42 percent of camps offered family programs. That number is up from 2003, when 36 percent of camps offered family programming.
  • Family camps allow families to unplug from cell phones, television, and iPods® and plug into each other.
  • Family camps help parents who are looking for a healthy, positive experience to have with their children, allowing them to bond, grow closer, and build relationships as a family.
  • Family camps offer cross-generational activities that produce positive outcomes that continue after the camp experience.

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Grief Camps:

  • As always, camp directors are responding to the needs of their campers in an ever-changing society.
  • For generations the camp community has nurtured the souls of children, youth, and families.

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Health and Wellness:

  • The American Camp Association is a leader in health and safety standards for camps.
  • The daily activities that make summer camps so memorable offer an added benefit to youth: healthful exercise.
  • A summer experience at camp is the perfect prescription for keeping children active and healthy.
  • A camp wellness program’s main goal is to improve health habits of campers with activities tailored to the age and developmental levels of the children.
  • Childhood obesity is a national epidemic. Research has found that children gain more weight over the summer months than during the school year. A child’s summer camp experience can provide the physical outlets needed to keep kids healthy year-round.
  • According to research conducted by ACA, 63 percent of children who learn new activities at camp continue engaging in these activities after they return home developing healthy habits that last a lifetime.

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Homesickness:

  • Homesickness is, above all, a normal feeling. It is the natural result of separating from home and loved ones.
  • Opportunities for children to experience healthy, successful separation, help children discover who they are and to recognize their strengths.
  • In a recent study, nearly 96 percent of all boys and girls who were spending two weeks or more at overnight camp reported some homesickness on at least one day.
  • One way to minimize homesickness is to involve the child in the process of choosing a camp. The more that the child owns the decision, the more comfortable the child will feel being at camp.

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How to Choose:

  • Camp is a great place for children to unlock their potential and discover the world. This special environment helps young people develop positive self-esteem and enhance their social skills while having fun!
  • ACA offers resources to help families find the right camp for every child. Visit our family-dedicated Web site —www.CampParents.org— which not only helps parents search for the right camp through our extensive database, but also offers information on a variety of child and youth development issues.
  • ACA offers Camp e-News — an e-newsletter designed to serve as a resource for families by answering questions and offering expert advice. The newsletter can be found at www.CampParents.org/newsletter. Parents can sign up to receive the newsletter via e-mail.
  • ACA has 24 local offices around the country that provide help to parents as they search for camps in that particular region. Parents can find the office in the region they are interested in by visiting www.CampParents.org.

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Nature:

  • According to a 2005 study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, American children spend on average 5½ hours a day plugged into some kind of electronic medium (TV, video games, computers, etc.).  Most of that time is spent alone.
  • Camp allows children to unplug from technology, and plug into the world around them —making authentic human connections, interacting with nature, and developing healthy behaviors. 
  • A recent study at the University of Essex in England concluded that evidence suggests that nature can help us recover from pre-existing stresses or problems, has an immunizing effect that can protect us from future stresses, and helps us to concentrate and think more clearly.
  • Parents can view articles, online resources, and going green family fun ideas on ACA’s parent Web site at www.CampParents.org/nature/.

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Specialty Camps:

  • The industry has been very responsive to the needs and interests of our ever-changing population — young and adult campers.
  • At a specialized camp, campers can find their niche, learn, and feel good about themselves.
  • The diversity of camps today reflects the diversity of America — there is a camp for every interest — from a soccer camp to weight loss camp.
  • ACA values diversity and inclusion — a community of camp professionals dedicated to enriching lives through the camp experience.

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Special Needs:

  • Camp allows special needs children to be children first.
  • The camp community recognizes that the camp experience should be accessible to all children. A physical, medical, or mental disability is not a roadblock for a camp experience.
  • Each year more than a million special needs children benefit from summer camp. Some camps specialize in serving certain groups while other camps integrate special-needs campers into the total camp population.
  • A camp’s terrain or activity-level may make it difficult to accommodate children with special needs. Parents should work with the camp to determine safety and medical accommodations, mainstreamed programming, and appropriate facilities.

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Statistics:

  • More than 12,000 day and resident camps exist in the United States; approximately 7,000 are resident camps, and 5,000 are day camps.
  • Each year, more than 11 million children and adults attend camp.
  • Nonprofit groups including youth agencies and religious organizations operate approximately 8,000 camps, and 4,000 are privately owned independent for-profit operators.
  • Camps employ more than 1,200,000 adults to work as counselors, program/activity leaders, unit and program directors/supervisors, and in support services roles such as maintenance, administration, food service, and health care.
  • The number of day camps in the U.S. has grown by nearly 90 percent in the past twenty years.

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Technology:

  • Technology at camp does not need to infringe upon the beauty of camp independence, but it can give the parent a means to feel connected.
  • Technology at camp can enhance all the positive aspects of the camp environment.
  • According to a 2005 study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, American children spend on average 5½ hours a day plugged into some kind of electronic medium (TV, video games, computers, etc.).  Most of that time is spent alone.
  • Camp allows children to unplug from technology, and plug into the world around them — making authentic human connections, interacting with nature, and developing healthy behaviors.

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Trends:

  • Camps continuously discover new and vital ways to promote learning through partnerships with parents and children; with home and camp, and with school and camp.
  • In an ACA survey, 75 percent of camp directors reported adding new activities and programs over the last few years. The newest program additions in recent years are challenging and adventurous activities, including high and low ropes courses, climbing walls, zip lines, backpacking, mountain biking, and cave exploring.
  • In an ACA survey, over half of the camps reported having community service or good deed programs incorporated into their programs. The top projects conducted at camps were community clean-ups, food drives, recycling programs, and volunteering with senior citizens and hospital patients.
  • Nearly 4 percent of all students attend school year-round. Camps are extending the season and diversifying their services.

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Weight loss:

  • Child obesity affects one in five children in the United States.
  • Each summer, the more than 5,000 overnight camps and more than 7,000 day camps provide leadership and promote healthy, active living—at least while children are at camp.
  • In the camp community, children and youth participate in healthy activities that contribute to the growth of healthy habits

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