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 families they serve. 

(If you missed part one in this series, you can find that blog post here.)

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 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 1,600 to date. Here’s what we’re learning so far about how camps talk about character with their families:

  • Most respondents (84 percent) rated character development as at least an 8 out of 10 or higher regarding the importance of character development to the participants and/or families served at camp.
  • Camps used varied approaches and language when communicating what their organization does to promote character development.
  • Key terms that appeared about how camps describe and communicate character to stakeholders include: community, responsibility, leadership, respect, confidence, help, caring, honesty, independence, growth, courage, kindness, resilience, relationships, and empathy.
word bubble for character at camp

It is clear that the field is not only excited about this opportunity but already actively engaged in this work! These results also strongly indicate that this is an ideal time to launch an initiative supporting the growth and expansion of character at camp.

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 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. 

We will continue to 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 at or email with questions.