Why do I need a new toolbox? Don't I have enough different tasks to do at my camp, in my section? Don’t I have enough tools to use when I share the value of the camp experience with my community? We all have way too much to do each day, but we also have a responsibility to share the great benefits of our camps and all camps with a much larger segment of our communities.
The American Camp Association® (ACA) has adopted an exciting 20/20 Vision. We know that camp experiences are key contributors to the growth of individuals. As an association, we have accepted a challenge to contribute to the lives of twenty million children annually by the year 2020. Why is this a challenge? Today there are fifty million children of camp age. Ten million of those are attending camp each year. Only three million of those campers are attending camps associated with ACA. In addition, we have challenged ourselves to increase to twenty million the number of children and youth who experience the joys of attending camp and to increase the number of participants in ACA to twenty thousand by the year 2020.
As camp folks, our initial urge is to get it done right now. 20/20 is a challenge — not just an easy incremental step. So relax. This change we have accepted will require us to change our thinking, to change our relationships, and to increase our ability to share the key point of the camp contribution to human development. We will need to find new partners, new audiences, and new messages to include new participants. We will need to learn how to share our skills with others who are interested in joining with us in making a larger contribution to human development and to the strengthening of our communities.
Watch this column each issue for new concepts and innovative tools to help all of us adapt and change — and to embrace this extraordinary vision. 20/20 Vision = 20 million campers and 20,000 participants in ACA by the year 2020!
Peter Surgenor | American Camp Association national president
Originally published in the 2008 September/October issue of Camping Magazine.