Membership — Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. Call 800-428-2267 for more information.

What Categories of Membership Does ACA Offer?
ACA brings tools, networks, and exceptional learning resources to members. There are three different types of ACA members: individuals, camps, and businesses. Currently ACA's membership breakdown consists of:

  • Over 9,000 individuals
  • Over 2,700 camps, with nearly 90% accredited
  • Over 300 businesses

Why Does ACA Have All These Membership Categories?
These membership categories are a way to serve the needs of different groups who are connected with ACA. The membership category for camps is a way for ACA to positively effect a greater number of programs, including camps, outdoor programs, and afterschool and out-of-school time programs, who care about kids and the outdoor experience. ACA provides great resources to all types of camps and programs serving children, youth, and adults. Helping camps provide excellent programs is achieved through availability and access to exemplary knowledge that has been assimilated and provided in a timely and easy-to-use manner. It is also achieved by networking with a greater number of experienced professionals in our community. All the membership categories are designed to support ACA’s 20/20 Vision in its effort to increase the number of children who are able to experience quality developmental programming.

What Is Membership for Camps?
This membership category allows camps, afterschool and out-of-school time programs, and outdoor programs to become involved with ACA, a leading authority in youth development and outdoor experiences — working to preserve, promote, and improve the camp experience for more children, youth, and adults. A member camp has joined ACA and enjoys the benefits of networking, developing its staff and programs, and participating in the larger camp community. Camps may take advantage of educational opportunities and prepare for the voluntary accreditation process. Membership is not equivalent to accreditation status.

What Types of Camps and Programs Can Join the American Camp Association?
All camps and programs may join ACA. The following types of programs will be particularly interested:

  • Afterschool and out-of-school time programs
  • Government-run programs such as parks and recreation day camps
  • Short-term programs run especially for participants with special needs or health concerns
  • Short-term programs run by religiously affiliated organizations
  • Camps or programs outside the U.S.

What Does ACA Have to Offer a Camp?
Camps that join ACA enjoy many benefits: networking, developing staff and programs, and participating in the larger camp community. ACA offers resources and tools to help camps and programs create professionalism, qualified staff, and quality programming. Members are able to have a voice in the professional organization for camps, participate in and benefit from the public advocacy efforts that ACA supports, and gain savings on products and services. Camps that join ACA receive products and services from ACA, including:

  • Individual ACA membership(s)
  • Discounts on products and services
  • Access to the accreditation program, including discounted materials
  • A listing on ACA's Find A Camp (a parent resource camp database)

By becoming a member or an accredited camp of ACA, your organization is demonstrating its commitment to continuous improvement and quality camp experiences for young people — one of professionalism, qualified staff, and superior programming. As a member of ACA, your camp will have access to a dynamic and knowledgable resource in the youth development field, and become better equipped to serve its campers, participants, and families.

Organizations who become members of ACA may also choose and are encouraged to pursue best practices and accreditation of their camps or programs. ACA-accredited camps and members enjoy many benefits.

Is There a Membership Logo?
No. There is not an ACA logo that says "Member" for camps or individuals. All members of ACA have the option of displaying the Camp Gives Kids a World of Good logo for noncommercial use. Accredited camps may display the accredited camp logo.  Find out more about ACA logos.

Which Camps Get a Listing on Find A Camp?
All camps can list their programs on ACA's Find a Camp. Camps that are accredited are shown with the accreditation logo and move to the top of the list on Find A Camp.

How Much Does It Cost for a Camp to Join?
Membership dues for camps start at $350 and increase on a sliding scale based on the camp's budget. Any camp interested in applying for accredition pays from a different fee table. See full pricing information.

Do Camps Sign a Statement of Minimum Practices When They Join?
No. There is a clear separation between membership and the service of accreditation. Camps are not required to sign a statement of minimum practices on joining ACA. A welcome packet will be provided to each new camp with lots of information for the camp, including information about minimum practices for camp and youth programs (as identified by ACA’s National Standards Commission). Learn more about minimum practices.

How Can I Promote My Camp as an ACA Member?
Specific language is recommended for your use. Member camps also have a listing on ACA's Find A Camp.

How Is a Camp That Is a Member Different from an Accredited Camp?
A member camp has joined ACA and enjoys the benefits of networking, developing its staff and program, and being part of the larger camp community. Member camps may prepare for and are encouraged to pursue the voluntary accreditation process, if they choose.

An accredited camp is a member camp that has successfully gone through the accreditation process, which is a thorough peer review where camps meet up to 275 standards. An accredited camp may use the accredited camp logo if they choose. Accredited camps are required to sign an annual Statement of Compliance.

What Does Accreditation Mean?
Camp accreditation is a voluntary peer-review process of a camp's operations and procedures. Over 275 standards may apply. ACA's Accreditation program: (1) educates camp owners and directors in the comprehensive administration of key apsects of camp operation, program quality, and the health and safety of campers and staff; (2) establishes guidelines for needed policies, procedures, and practices for which the camp is responsible for ongoing implementation; (3) assists the public in selecting camps that meet industry-accepted and government-recognized standards; (4) ACA's Find a Camp database provides the public with many ways to find the ideal ACA-accredited camp.

Does a Member Camp Have to Become Accredited?
No. This membership category was created for camps that are not currently interested in pursuing accreditation. There is no expectation that a camp member will need to be accredited, but they have made the committment to pursue professionalism and networking. That said, we encourage all camps and programs to take advantage of the education offered through the Professional Develoment Center and the accreditation program. A member camp is welcome and encouraged to go through the accreditation process if it does become a fit. Once a member camp begins the accreditation process, the camp will begin to pay the fees related to accreditation.

Why Don't All Camps Have to Be Accredited?
ACA provides the option of accreditation as a service to members and the public but it is not a requirement for ACA membership. We encourage all camps to strive for accreditation and implementing exemplary professional practices. While many camps are ready and well-equiped to seek accreditation, others are looking for ACA educational programming and other services to grow a credible camp organization and to better serve the children in their program. It is important to meet the needs of the variety of camps and camp-like programs, and individuals who run them, as ACA strives to fulfill its mission.

What Happens When a Camp Wants to Become Accredited?
If a camp finds that accreditation fits its program and needs, the camp will begin paying accredited camp fees at the time of their annual renewal and will go through the accreditation process. Many member camps will choose to become accredited, making the member camp category a place to start.

What about a Camp that Is Already Accredited or Affiliated?
Every accredited camp is also a member camp. American Camp Association will be piloting the camp membership option for two (2) years for camps or programs that are not currently involved with ACA. After the pilot period, American Camp Association will make the decision on how to work with existing accredited or affiliated camps that are interested in dropping their accreditation and moving to the membership category.

What about the Risk of Confusing the Public Regarding the Difference Between an Accredited Camp and a Camp That Is a Member?
Specific language is used on Find a Camp to define and differentiate accredited camps from member camps. Recommended language to describe a camp's relationship is offered on the Logos and Lanuage Web page. Accredited camps are ideally situated to promote their extensive efforts around accreditation and to contrast and highlight the differences of an accredited camp from a member.

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