Requirements and Criteria for Accreditation

Accredited camps are responsible not only to meet state and local laws, but also to meet those requirements defined by the standards. Those requirements include:

  • Site and food service standards, including provision of adequate sleeping quarters in resident camps, safe playgrounds, and fire and law enforcement protection.
  • Transportation standards, including driver qualifications and training, vehicle maintenance, safety procedures, and the availability of emergency transportation.
  • Health and wellness standards, including supervision of healthcare practices, availability of first-aid equipment and personnel, the use of health histories and health examination forms, and the use of recommended treatment procedures.
  • Operational management standards, including safety regulations, emergency procedures, and risk-management planning.
  • Human resources standards, including qualifications, screening, staff training, and supervision of camp staff.
  • Program standards, including activity-leadership qualifications, safety regulations, and procedures for conducting both general and specialized activities, such as aquatics, horseback riding, challenge/adventure, and trip/travel camping programs.

Criteria for Accreditation

To achieve accreditation (or reaccreditation), the camp must fully comply with each of the applicable mandatory standards and attain scores of at least 80% in each applicable section of standards.

Preparation involved for the Visit

  • Attend/complete a standards course that explains the process and describes the requirements for accreditation. At the time of the accreditation visit, an individual must be on the camp site who has completed the standards course and has participated in the development of materials for the visit.
  • Prepare materials and written documentation required by the standards. Review and evaluate each area of camp operation, using the guidelines in the standards.
  • Submit for review the written documentation required in the required camp self-assessment.
  • Participate in the visit by a team of ACA-trained visitors who will spend the day observing the camp and working with the director in the scoring process. This visit must occur when the camp is in full operation during its primary business season. Results of the visit will be reported to camps no later than November 10 for camps that were visited in that summer.

Differences in Levels of Some Requirements

The camp standards represent basic expectations (at a minimum), which apply regardless of the varied types of camp programs and operations. These basic standards, such as the provision of emergency exits in buildings and lifeguards for swimming, are to be applied to every camp seeking accreditation by ACA. There are instances where ACA standards and state laws or regulations may coincide, and others where they do not. Camps should always abide by the more stringent regulations, laws, or standards governing their specific camps.

Other standards vary, based on who is delivering the program or services and who has the responsibility for supervision of campers. For example, the requirements for the collection and maintenance of health information and healthcare supervision are different when the camp is operating a resident camp from when a weekend group rents the camp facilities to run their own program, because the responsibility for service may vary.

When rental groups are responsible for their own care and supervision, camps need only advise rental groups of limited site-related or youth-specific concerns. Camps are not responsible for collecting health forms, leader qualifications, vehicle maintenance records, and so on, in these circumstances. This directive is consistent with requirements under the law when the site owner operates in a landlord capacity.