It’s an exciting time for the American Camp Association (ACA) as we continue to grow and adapt, remaining always relevant, open to new ideas, and responsive. Our organization is no different than other legacy organizations that are confronting a time of many changes during a time of larger nationwide and global change. As we work toward our preferred future, it is important that we have opportunities to connect and learn with one another.

Each year, ACA’s national conference allows us the opportunity to come together in a community setting, where everything is at the table. This year’s theme is Transforming Lives: CAMP — Capacity, Character, Community. The idea of community resonates strongly for me. One of the most important things in my life is the people with whom I “do” life. I can’t do it on my own. The communities of which I am a part help encourage creativity, provide support, and keep me on track by inspiring me and helping me to be accountable.

There will be any number of ways to foster our sense of community at this year’s conference. National and international professionals from camp, out-of-school time, parks and recreation, and youth development, not to mention our students and future leaders, will be in attendance. In gathering together, we will build and expand our sense of community that will inform and leverage our work long after the conference is over.

The conference will be packed with rousing speakers, exciting performances, thought-provoking panels, and the chance to meet amazing people from all over the world. The best part about this camaraderie is that we are a group of people who all have a similar focus. By surrounding ourselves with others who are pushing for greatness, we can’t help but be motivated, and our chances of being successful dramatically improve.

I encourage you to attend the conference and bring your expertise to the gathering. You have the vision, the knowledge, the wherewithal, and the experience to help us pave our way into the future. You are truly our greatest asset today and tomorrow, and we could not accomplish what we do without your service and leadership.

The conference team has planned an amazing program for us in February! This issue of Camping Magazine serves as a preview for what is to come. For those who are unable to make it to national conference this year, you will find critical insights from conference presenters and keynote speakers. For those attending conference, this issue will give you a sampling of the wonderful learning opportunities to come! I hope to see you in Orlando!

Originally published in the 2014 January/February Camping Magazine