The American Camp Association (ACA) continues to work to advance our public policy agenda in Washington, D.C. and in the states. Our agenda is simple, yet impactful. Our agenda for 2011–2012 is to:
- Protect the safety of children, youth, and adults participating in the camp experience.
- Achieve recognition that camp is an expanded learning opportunity.
We are pursuing a number of different initiatives with the current Congress:
- Child Protection Improvements Act: An important bill we have been advocating for since 2004. The bill will close the gaping hole in the federal law that prevents camps, children’s groups, and other organizations that work with children from gaining access to federal criminal background checks on employees and volunteers. For the most up-to-date information, visit: www.ACAcamps.org/publicpolicy/cbc
- No Child Left Inside Act: An education reform bill that includes a commitment to environmental education for children. There are provisions in the bill that would partner community organizations (such as camps) with schools to provide environmental education programs and training. For the latest information, visit: www.ACAcamps.org/publicpolicy/NCLI
- Motorcoach Safety: We are monitoring a number of bills meant for the motorcoach industry to ensure that there are no unintended consequences that would negatively impact camps and camper safety. For more information, visit: www.ACAcamps.org/publicpolicy/motorcoach-2011
- Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC): ACA is providing expertise and comment to the EEOC to help them as they consider potential changes to the direction they give to employers regarding criminal background checks and the screening of employees. Read ACA’s comments here: www.ACAcamps.org/publicpolicy/EEOC_CBC
- National Youth Summer Jobs Act of 2011: ACA is examining the potential positive impact this bill might have on summer camp employment opportunities. It was just recently introduced, and we are still examining potential. Read the bill here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.2539:
- Successful, Safe, and Healthy Students Act: This very large piece of legislation may have an important element that provides funding opportunities for community organizations (such as camps) that partner with schools to reach certain goals. We are examining its potential impact. Read the bill here: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:s.919:
- Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act: A bill dedicated to issues concerning urban parks. It might have elements that will positively impact camp programs being conducted in urban areas. ACA is currently examining potential issues. Read more at: www.nrpa.org/uploadedFiles/Get_Involved/Issue_Resource_Center/Urban%20Park%20Bill%201%20Pager_Final.pdf?n=9633
And finally, we are pleased to report that on September 13, 2011, Congress recognized the 150th anniversary of the organized camp experience in the United States. Representative Chellie Pingree (Maine) extended remarks into the Congressional Record that honor the anniversary and recognize the important part camp experiences play in the year-round development and education of children. Find out what she had to say here: www.ACAcamps.org/publicpolicy/Congress-150th-Anniversary-of-Camp.
To keep up-to-date on all of ACA’s government relations and public policy initiatives, visit: www.ACAcamps.org/publicpolicy. If public policy issues interest you, consider becoming one of ACA’s public policy advocates or issues experts. Find out more here: www.ACAcamps.org/publicpolicy.
Contributed by Kyle Heatherly and Susan E. Yoder