In our continued celebration in support of the Character at Camp initiative, we’re taking a deeper dive into the impact of Character at Camp and the barriers to completing character work at camp.

(If you missed it, check out Part One and Part Two of the series.) 

In this initial launch, we have adopted a broad definition of character, like the one the Character Lab provides: “Intentions and actions that benefit other people as well as ourselves.” Rather than tell you what “good character” looks like, our intent is for every camp to consider what character means to the communities and youth you serve.

Shortly after announcing this new initiative, ACA built a survey to learn more from the field about how character already shows up at camp. We asked survey participants to tell us about how their camps include character in their programs, how they talk about character with their families, and what barriers exist to introducing or growing character programming at their camp.

The survey has received a record number of responses — over 1,720 to date. According to the survey, character already shows up at camp in a wide variety of ways, and with that naturally comes barriers to introducing new or expanding existing programming focused on character.

Camps reported a wide range of potential barriers or concerns they have in introducing new or expanding existing character development into programming. The most frequently named potential barriers or concerns include:

  • Staff
  • Training
  • Campers
  • Resources
  • Curriculum
  • Funding
  • Support

Fortunately, the Character at Camp Initiative seeks to address many of these concerns. For more than a century, character development has been foundational to the camp experience, as each camp distinctively offers a variety of opportunities to develop important character skills and traits. And, the Character at Camp Initiative aims to support the growth and development at camps across the United States.

With this wide variety and depth to character across camps, we hope you’re beginning to imagine the opportunities to expand and build on the character programming, as well as address some of your concerns regarding character development at your camp. We can’t wait to learn more about what this will look like in action as we continue to roll out this exciting initiative.

What are the next steps? We will use this information to guide our upcoming deep dive into how the field thinks about and supports character at camp. This information will also inform future phases of the project, which include in-person and virtual training opportunities, educational tools, and other resources for camps. ACA plans to not only improve access to tools related to character, but also to make these tools more usable and help camps better communicate their character development work with others.

If you haven't done so yet, please participate by completing this short survey.

Learn more about the initiative or email with questions.