As the year winds down and the holidays approach, I hope you and your loved ones are well and finding time to breathe, play, and celebrate with time together.
During this season of giving thanks, I want to express sincere gratitude to each of you for your leadership and devotion to your programs and the camp families and staff you wholeheartedly serve. Every young person needs safe and healthy camp experiences today more than ever.
Your work is deeply transformational, inspiring, and rewarding. But it can also be unpredictable and challenging, and it seems clear that planning for success postpandemic calls for reassessing risk-management planning with renewed agility. Extreme weather, such as heat waves and intense storms, is becoming more common, as are lengthy power outages, flooding, fires, and severe drought.
This is a time for careful, systematic risk-exposure analysis in all areas and implementing techniques to reduce, control, or prevent identified perils. The camp insurance market continues to harden with sharp increases in premiums, stricter underwriting criteria, restricted coverage terms, and less competition among insurance companies for new business. Work with your agent to identify and address risks.
The pandemic exacerbated a youth mental health crisis that saw feelings of persistent sadness and hopelessness — as well as suicidal thoughts and behaviors — increase by 40 percent among young people in the preceding decade. Most children and teens faced social isolation and academic disruption during the pandemic. Many lost caregivers to COVID-19, had a parent lose a job, or were victims of physical or emotional abuse at home. Psychologists have noted that these challenges and growing concerns about social media, mass violence, natural disasters, climate change, and political divisiveness can feel insurmountable to camp professionals, classroom educators, and others who work with kids (Abrams, 2023). This has resulted in a considerable loss of institutional knowledge and experience through professional turnover in our field and the need for significant investment in mental health professionals and training. These post-pandemic realities demand wider and deeper approaches to staffing challenges, a comprehensive review of staff and camper supervision policies and procedures, and staff selection and development.
This past summer, you worked hard to create safe and joyous camp experiences for campers and their staff. Camp pros and parents have shared that despite the numerous challenges, camp felt more hopeful and closer to normal than it had for some time. Your heroic work helps to improve well-being and youth development while inspiring a growth mindset, positive risk-taking, confidence, and emotional resilience. Thank you in advance for all you are doing to prepare for another successful and deeply impactful summer in 2024.
Giving Tuesday 2023!
This year, ACA will participate in the national Giving Tuesday effort on November 28. The purpose of our participation is to be part of the global generosity movement and to encourage new donors to support the American Camp Association. Our personal goal for the day is to raise $2,800, challenging 100 donors to contribute $28 to support ACA during the 24-hour period.
As a nonprofit, the ACA provides research, education, accreditation, advocacy, and training to promote a safe and healthy camp experience for all. ACA is committed to empowering camps to create quality experiences that build a world of belonging and growth. Please join us — and consider asking others to join you — in this mission with a charitable gift to ACA on November 28, and be a part of this crucial work.
“Live simply. Dream big. Be grateful. Give love. Be generous. Laugh lots.” — unknown
- Abrams, Z. (2023, January 1). Kids’ mental health is in crisis. Here’s what psychologists are doing to help. American Psychological Association. apa.org/monitor/2023/01/trends-improving-youth-mental-health