While summer camp is an institution with roots over 150 years old, today’s campers live in a world marked by constant change and uncertainty. Globalization, automation, and artificial intelligence have changed the nature of the workplace, and the pace of that change is gaining speed. Pervasive technology and social media have altered youth development, and children are growing up faster than ever before. However, many lack the relationship, problem-solving, and innovation skills they need to thrive in the future.
The critical skills associated with social-emotional learning — self-awareness, self-motivation, empathy, emotional regulation, etc. — can’t be mastered through individual study. To stem the tide of depression, anxiety, and lack of connection among youth, these skills must be taught through shared experiences that allow children to practice, take safe risks, and learn from their failures and successes. In other words, kids still need camp.
Nearly a century later, his words still ring true. For all that time, the American Camp Association has been helping create powerful social-emotional learning opportunities through high-quality camp experiences — shaping resilient and compassionate communicators, problem-solvers and leaders. But today’s greater need demands bolder action and clearer focus.
In 2018, the ACA Board of Directors invested in a nine-month strategic planning process involving hundreds of interviews, many focus groups, surveys, and retreats. In June of that year, the board adopted a 2020–2024 strategic plan that gives substance to our 20/20 vision. It sets a promising five-year agenda for ACA, and for each of us as experiential educators. Much has changed since we first adopted our 20/20 vision, so this strategic plan presents a case for bold investment in a future where all children, youth, and adults have access to high-quality camp programs.
We invite you to learn more about our overarching strategic goals and priorities and the action items within our strategic plan.
Past-Chair, ACA Board of Directors
Get Involved with the Strategic Plan
ACA needs your help to ensure the children, youth and adults we serve thrive. Join us on our journey to equip generations of youth for a bright future!
Advocate for children and youth by establishing camp as a vital and enriching developmental and educational experience.
Brand Awareness and Education
Advance public understanding of the value of the camp experience, of ACA and of ACA accreditation, ensuring ACA’s relevance in a changing society.
Government Relations and Advocacy
Develop sufficient infrastructure and capacity to monitor and proactively affect federal, state, and local issues impacting camps, anticipating threats and opportunities to advance ACA’s mission.
Advance the reach and relevance of camp by expanding equitable access to camp and growing the camp community through diversity and inclusion.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Foster and tangibly support an increase in diversity, equity, and inclusion within ACA and across the camp community.
As a collaborator and convener, foster existing and create new strategic partnerships with shared-purpose organizations and businesses to the camp community and its impact on children, youth, and adults.
Drive high-quality camp experiences through evidence informed best practices, industry-leading evaluation tools, and exceptional professional development.
Further advance the talents and opportunities of camp staff by strengthening education, practical advice, and training for professional and seasonal staff, and by providing resources to support college and career readiness for seasonal staff.
Strategic Research Initiatives
Continue applied research that increases the voice, value, and visibility of camp experiences for children, youth, and adults.
Deploy tools to measure program quality, continue to grow the number of accredited camps, and continue to position ACA accreditation as the foundational standard of camp health, safety, and risk management.
Ensure the ability of ACA to grow and achieve its mission by improving organizational strength, capacity, and alignment.
Ensure that operating structure, capacity, capabilities, and resources are aligned to achieve ACA’s mission and the specific strategic priorities of the organization.
Financial Strength and Vitality
Increase ACA’s financial strength through new revenue from current programs, emerging sources of revenue, and developing fundraising programs that will support the organization’s structure and priorities.
Volunteer Growth and Engagement
Grow the number, engagement, and satisfaction of volunteers across the country.
Download the Strategic Plan Field Guide
Email us at strategicplan@ACAcamps.org with any questions.