Raise the Bar Initiative

Innovation Incubators

The deadline for the first group of applications was March 11, 2014.

Raise the Bar is an initiative to discover and articulate how the ACA camp community is participating in the transformation of young people, including educational approaches that facilitate the positive development of young people through comprehensive, whole-child collaborations and a focus on outcomes.

Innovation Incubators are the practical innovators in the camp community who are leading the way in bringing new thinking and methods to an ever-growing set of challenges facing today’s children and youth. Innovation incubators are those who have developed service delivery models that demonstrate new and expanded opportunities using a time-tested pedagogy — the camp experience.

Below you will find the application to become a participant in one of two camp cohorts designed to discover how we move beyond intuition and toward articulated, evidence-informed results. We are particularly interested in those who are using either an educational or work force development context when providing services to early and/or late adolescents. For example, are you focusing on outcomes for your campers or staff that you have selected because of their relevance to current thinking about the skills gap and workforce development? Is your program or training focus specifically designed to address perceived gaps in our formal K–12 educational system?

For reference, we are defining “early adolescents” using the World Health Organization definition (ages ten to nineteen) and “late adolescents” using the work of Karen Pitman (ages eighteen to twenty-five).

Those who apply will be considered to join a small cohort of camps with the purpose of discovering emerging lessons related to ACA’s efforts to expand outcome-based programming as well as discover how innovators in the camp community are increasing our relevance in the education and work/career “schools of thought.”

The ACA Board of Directors has three specific questions:

  1. What are camps doing (their pedagogy) that complements and, therefore, reinforces the lessons recently learned in brain and emotion science?
  2. How are high-functioning camps defining and addressing campers’ noncognitive and life skills in their programming?
  3. How can we build on ACA’s outcomes assessment work, providing ACA with the opportunity to improve current assessments work with early adolescents (skill development in a community / applied learning) and more intentionally expand its learning into the field of later adolescents (individual mastery / workforce development)?

What to expect if you are selected to participate (not an inclusive list):

  1. All applicants will be interviewed by phone. This will give us a chance to ask additional questions, and you will be able to ask us questions before a final decision about participation.
  2. Participate in several webinar meetings (spring and fall)
  3. Panel presentation at the 2015 ACA National Conference
  4. Camping Magazine publication of findings
  5. Entrance into shared group on Facebook to facilitate sharing and lessons learned


Outcomes Resources


Photo courtesy of Camp Westminster on Higgins Lake, Roscommon, Michigan