Message discipline is difficult. Yet, in a complex association such as ACA, the demand for clarity is paramount. For an organization to grow, it must learn how to walk that thin line between chaos and order — because it is along that thin veil that true growth takes place. Even with clarity, we often find times when messages compete — where one message may take greater prominence than another due to frequency, volume, or the cacophony.
We have heard many voices talk about ACA's 20/20 Vision. Some use it as a platform for organizational transformation — transformation that can advance efficacy, relevancy, and credibility. Others use the 20/20 Vision to advocate for more children and youth receiving ever-improving camp experiences — those that add value to education and positive development. I believe both messages have merit. However, those messages leave us with a two-legged stool. What of the third leg?
The third leg is related to professional development. Professional development is no less important than the other two legs. As a matter of fact, we cannot enrich the character of ACA or the lives of children, youth, and adults without qualified professionals.
ACA has always been, and will always be, dedicated to the growth and development of those who work with children — particularly in the camp setting. ACA recognizes professionals as those who advocate on behalf of others and operate outside ego to ensure the advancement and success of the profession. We view professionals as those who seek out a larger network of colleagues from parallel and dissimilar positions to both support and challenge their authentic learning.
ACA demonstrates our commitment to these philosophies through our research and our ever-diligent collection of knowledge that supports those dedicated to lifelong learning. We are not amateurs dabbling carelessly with the lives of others. We are a network of professionals who live and work in a disparate, complex system of camps and camp programs. We firmly and passionately believe in the contribution the camp experience provides to not only children and youth, but to adults and the community at large.
This "third leg" of professional development is an incredibly powerful asset — one that is needed for all leaders in educational and developmental roles, especially in the unique camp community. I encourage you to visit ACA's Professional Development Center (www.ACAcamps.org/pdc ), become engaged in these outstanding online resources, and do what we do best — share these opportunities for growth and development with your camp community.