First Visit Help - Purpose of the Accreditation Program

Purpose of the Accreditation Program
The main purpose of the ACA-accreditation program is to educate camp owners and directors in the administration of key aspects of camp operation, particularly those related to program quality and the health and safety of campers and staff. The standards establish guidelines for needed policies, procedures, and practices. The camp, then, is responsible for on-going implementation of these policies.

The second purpose of ACA accreditation is to assist the public in selecting camps that meet industry-accepted and government-recognized standards.

Resources to Lean On

Top Ten Ways to Make Your First ACA Visit a Success

1. Delegate sections of the Standards out to other staff to prepare. For example, have your Waterfront Director take the Program-Aquatics section (PA).

2. Do the mandatory standards yourself. Find out which ones apply to your camp and make sure you're going to take a "yes." Missing just one will cause you to fail. To avoid extra laborious paperwork and lots of headaches, get it right the first time!

3. Remember, you must include EVERY specialized activity. Make sure each activity -- gymnastics, bicycling, archery, etc -- has a documented supervisor, written operating procedures, safety orientation, and so on. Tip: see #1 above. Check the specialized activity determination guidelines to see which of your activities should be scored.

4. Call your standards chair or your assigned visitor with your questions now! You don't have to wait until the day of the visit. It's not like taking a final exam. Ask questions.

5. Gather blueprints, agency policies, insurance records, etc. from your main office and have at camp.

6. Gather your written policies, copies of certifications, etc. into ONE place. A notebook works well for many policies and procedures. Put them in order according to the standards. You don't want to run all over camp during your visit just to find individual pieces of paper. Get organized!

7. Double check your mandatories. It's worth all the effort you put into it to be sure you've got them ready!

8. Double check your written material. Each standard marked with written documentation is required. Make sure you understand what is being asked for. Call with your questions!

9. Check with your section about arranging a written documentation review. There are a variety of ways that the visit process can work for you.

10. Relax and be prepared to learn from your visit! Remember that your visitors are your peers. They are "camp people." They know what it's like to be in your shoes. The ACA accreditation process is set up to help you, not hurt you.

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