Pioneers of Camping

Who We Are

The Pioneers of Camping Club was founded by Marvin and Annette Black in honor of Marvin's father, Edwin "Hughie" Black, who started Pine Forest Camp in 1931. The Club offers special recognition for current ACA members with at least thirty years of professional camp experience. Camps that have been in operation for at least thirty years and affiliated with ACA are also eligible for recognition.

The Pioneers of Camping Club was formed in 1985. Our tradition continues to grow and thrive. In the first four years of operation, sixty-one camp directors and ninety camps represented its membership. Membership is now over 125 individuals and over 165 camps. Each year at ACA's national conference, new Pioneer members are presented with a Pioneers of Camping plaque symbolizing their commitment to the field of camping. All Pioneer members are listed in one issue of Camping Magazine each year and join together at a luncheon meeting or other event to share and learn from each other.

The Pioneers recognition is not just for the living. Many camp directors have been nominated in memoriam for this recognition by the thoughtfulness of family, friends, and colleagues.

Members are asked to record and document their accomplishments, programs, and contributions to the camping profession. This documentation process preserves our heritage and offers a valuable historic perspective to others in the field. Through the club's Pioneer Partners project, members also have the opportunity to assist and encourage young camping professionals.

Benefits to Others

A pioneer prepares the way for others. If you are already a Pioneers of Camping member, we need your help. If you are considering joining, this is yet another reason why you should join.

The combined years of experience of our Pioneer camp professionals are 2,440 years minimum! If we add the experience from camps that have been in operation over thirty years, the combined experience swells to 6,040 years - a staggering figure. It is time to offer this experience to those just entering the field of camping.

The Past Will Preserve the Future

If you have some time, energy, and enthusiasm to offer to our young camp professionals, please use this application form to state your interest. There is too much talent here to lose. Please offer to share your wisdom with others and encourage other Pioneers to do the same.

Pioneers always leave a legacy for others to follow. Our legacy is the knowledge we share that will help others promote and preserve the camp experience for the next generation.

Pioneers Club Benefits

  • An annual, inspiring event where ACA Pioneers are recognized
  • Opportunity to preserve and promote the camp experience with rich tradition and history
  • Strong network of dedicated camp enthusiasts
  • Opportunity to counsel young professionals in camping
  • Pioneers of Camping plaque
  • Photograph and history kept at the national office
  • Listing in one issue of ACA's Camping Magazine each year

Who Can Join

  • Any individual who has been a practicing camp professional for at least thirty years and is currently a member of the American Camp Association (Includes those currently working and retirees. Memorials for deceased members are acceptable.)
  • Any camp who can document that it has been in continuous operation for at least thirty years and is currently affiliated with ACA.