For many camps, the benefits of partnering with an existing nonprofit for the purpose of scholarship fundraising far outweigh the extensive challenges of starting their own nonprofit. If your camp is ACA-accredited, you don’t have to look any further than the ACA to fill this role!
One of the many benefits of being an ACA-accredited camp is being able to participate in the ACA Camper Scholarship Program. By partnering with ACA for scholarships, camps not only gain a number of resources that help them provide more scholarships to campers in need, they also connect with a program that has a proven track record. Over the past three years, camps participating in the ACA Camper Scholarship Program have granted $1.6 million dollars in scholarships for campers in need.
The program is designed to give scholarships to campers who cannot afford the entire camp fee, and each camp solicits its own contributions. As an ACA Camper Scholarship Program camp, the camp can solicit contributions from parents, businesses, organizations, and/or foundations.
By participating in this program, camps can encourage donors by offering tax advantages. Because ACA is a tax-exempt corporation under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service code, ACA can accept contributions for a camp’s scholarship program (within certain restrictions). In this way, when a camp has established a camper scholarship fund with ACA, donors make tax-deductible donations to ACA, designating the name of the camp, which ACA then directs to the camp’s scholarship fund. By offering this donor advantage, camps typically can increase the number and amount of their scholarship donations.
ACA further helps camps in their efforts by providing free donor solicitation brochures that describe the ACA Camper Scholarship Program. These brochures can be personalized with the camp’s name and contact information.
Contributions may be sent directly to ACA or collected by the camp and forwarded to ACA. When ACA receives a contribution to the camp, the association credits it to the camp’s account. ACA completes a donor acknowledgment for each gift and routes it back to the camp — the camp simply sends it with a personal note of thanks to the donor. An administration fee (currently 7.5 percent) is assessed by ACA on all scholarship contributions at the time they are credited to a camp’s account.
When a camp needs to fund a camper, the camp completes an application for each camper scholarship requested. ACA then issues and mails a check to the camp based on the requests and the balance in their account. A balance statement is sent to the camp each time ACA processes a receipt of funds or issues a scholarship check.
Each camp selects its own scholarship recipients. The selection of campers is made by the camp, coinciding with its own criteria set up for selection. ACA encourages camps to set up selection criteria that promote equal opportunity among individuals from varying social, economic, racial, national, and cultural backgrounds. While ACA encourages camps to consider campers whose presence at camp will broaden the composition of the camp community, decision making for selecting scholarship recipients is at the discretion of the camp. The association also strongly recommends that scholarship recipients remain anonymous to the camp’s community.
How to Participate
To participate, the camp must be currently accredited by ACA at the time of the scholarship award. Participating camps are required to develop and submit a set of objective criteria by which scholarship recipients will be evaluated and selected, and scholarship monies must be used to provide services for campers whose families cannot otherwise afford the experience.
Relatives of a camp’s owners, operators, or employees are not eligible for scholarships, and the person who makes the scholarship selections for a camp may not be a donor or allow a donor to exercise a significant influence in the selection of scholarship recipients. Camp owners or operators may not make contributions to their camp’s scholarship fund.
For more information on the ACA Camper Scholarship Program, contact the American Camp Association scholarship staff at 765.342.8456 or contribute@ACAcamps.org .
Visit www.ACAcamps.org/support/camper-scholarship  to find the Camper Scholarship Program Agreement and Scholarship Application.