Dear Colleagues,

I wish to express deep gratitude to all of ACA’s volunteers, leaders, donors, sponsors, partners, and members for your generous leadership and support over the past year and especially during this cataclysmic pandemic. Your generosity of wealth, time, and talent has helped ACA provide leadership and support in many ways to camps across the country facing precarious and unprecedented challenges.

The Field Guide for day and overnight camp operations amid COVID-19 is a living document and will continue to be updated to provide camps, after-school and youth programs, and schools with the latest practical information on implementing specific recommendations by the CDC and other public health authorities to reduce potential exposure while operating programs for the foreseeable future. And we will continue to facilitate webinars with our environmental health consultants and others to provide you with up-to-date education on the pandemic as you prepare for programming throughout the year.

Every camp, individual member, business affiliate — and even ACA itself — has been deeply impacted financially by the pandemic. ACA continues to fight for additional disaster relief for you. We know Payroll Protection Program loan funds are not enough to sustain many camps as they prepare for fall programs and look ahead to summer 2021. Our field has sustained a multi-billion-dollar hit, and ACA will keep advocating until everyone is included in COVID-19 recovery efforts.

Over the past few months, ACA has had the opportunity to maximize its public relations platform to articulate the value of camp and increase the reach, relevance, and access of high-quality camp programs in more than 4,200 media stories with combined audience exposure of more than 3.1 billion. ACA will continue to leverage media opportunities for the benefit of camps, parents seeking options, and the public at large. The ongoing story of summer camp during COVID-19 will be especially important as families plan for the school year and summer 2021.

Our research team is launching two important studies about summer 2020 to provide you with valuable insights into COVID-19’s impact on campers and noncampers and their families, as well as around the COVID-19-related program challenges and innovations that occurred. A third study around business operations is also planned to help you understand the operational and financial impacts of COVID-19 on camps and navigate financial decision-making as we head toward next summer.

Membership dues and program fees alone could not have supported the extraordinary expenses ACA has incurred in recent months. We are grateful to our many donors whose generous support helped the Association respond without hesitation to the needs of camp and the entire field during this catastrophic time. As we look to fall, ACA will do everything possible to meet the changing and increasing needs of the field. Your volunteer leadership and generous financial support will be instrumental and paramount in determining the Association’s capacity to sustain our critical COVID-19 response and our strategic initiatives over the coming year. We are working to raise additional critical funds from grant-makers, corporate entities, and individuals, but will need everyone’s help to see these initiatives through.

We are each doing our best to press on with focused determination despite feeling overwhelmed with unknowns and struggling with anxiety and financial challenges. You are not alone; the American Camp Association is with you. We will help each other through this collective catastrophe and together build a stronger field for tomorrow.

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