ACA Keystone Conference Program Preview

The Sweetest Conference Ever!

ACA Keystone Conference - November 7-8, 2012 

Presented by ACA Keystone in cooperation with Pennsylvania 4-H and Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society, Inc. with generous support from AMSkier. 

This program has been granted educational endorsement by the American Camp Association's Educational Endorsement Review Committee. Educational endorsement means that the program has been reviewed by a qualified panel to verify the goals, learner outcomes, presenter qualifications, and evaluation requirements are relevant for this educational program. Continuing education credits (CECs) are available for this program. Participants completing this progam and requesting CECs must petition the appropriate certifying body regarding acceptance of these CECs.


Conveniently located at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, PA - the Sweetest Place on Earth!  


Presented with thanks to our SPONSORS AMSkier.

Transportation between venues will be provided unless otherwise indicated. We recommend attendees staying overnight make hotel reservations at The Hershey Lodge ( - please mention ACA Keystone Conference when booking your room.


12:30 pm       Registration

1:15 pm         Welcome Session: Creating a Culture of Hospitality; Shelly Mastrella, Director, Talent Acquisition & Workforce Inclusion and Rachel Angstadt, Manager, Hospitality Training; Hershey Entertainment & Resorts

What can camp professionals learn from a world leader in hospitality? All Hershey employees are ambassadors of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts, trained to ensure that each and every visitor has an extraordinary experience that makes them want to tell others about The Sweetest Place on Earth! Learn how Hershey fosters a hospitality culture within its employee team, and empowers employees to create customers that return again and again. 

2:45 pm         CHOOSE ONE:

  • HERSHEYPARK: Maintaining a Culture of Hospitality - During this behind-the-scenes walking tour, venture into HERSHEYPARK while it's closed and preparing for the next big seasonal event. Guided by HERSHEYPARK managers, the tour will illustrate how Hershey employees work together to maintain a world-class theme park that provides excellent customer service to thousands of guests and each day while upholding the legacy that Milton S. Hershey started more than 100 years ago.
  • Hershey Highmeadow Campground: Secrets of Family Camping Success; Mark Panassow, C.P.O. General Manager. Hershey Highmeadow Campground, a Division of Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company, works hard to turn their families and guests into “Happy Campers”! Learn the “Top 10” Secrets Highmeadow follows to insure all guests achieve ultimate satisfaction and pleasure. After learning Highmeadow’s Top 10 Secrets, take a behind the scenes walking tour of the campground and explore all that Highmeadow has to offer. Hershey Highmeadow Campground was purchased in May 1963 and has continued to develop the campground since then. The Historic Landis Barn, which houses the registration office, camp store and game room, was built in 1843. The campground hosts over 300 open and shaded campsites, and 27 cabins on 55 acres.

(note HERSHEYPARK tour limited to 50, first-come, first-served).

4:45 pm         Secrets of Training Adults: Anthony Cortes, PhD, Director of HL Professional Development, The Milton Hershey School; followed by DINNER and informative session about The Milton Hershey School.

8:30 pm          Evening Activity: Learn to Make S'Mores Cake Pops from an Expert - a Chef from Hershey Entertainment & Resorts! - What would a visit to Hershey be without chocolate? Join your friends and colleagues for a deliciously sweet social evening, with a lesson you can take back to camp!

9:30 pm          Meet your friends and colleagues in the Bears' Den at Hershey Lodge! Modeled on the Hershey Bears, this cash bar with video games is the perfect place to catch up with old friends and get to know new friends - come for networking and relaxing!



Please join Bunk1to learn a little more about Bunk1’s Newest Platform Rollcall (developed by former camp and program directors). More importantly, we'll collaborate on future developments and brainstorm about technology in the camp world. To further entice you we will be serving a light breakfast and coffee. We will also be offering a raffle ($100 gift card of store of your choice) so please bring a business card.

8:30 am         Keynote Session: The Eight Hallmarks of Great Camps; Gary Forster, Author, Consultant, and former YMCA National Camp Specialist

The “average” camp isn’t full.  Of their first-year campers, almost 2/3 don’t return for even a second year.  (And you know what their bathrooms look like!) Comparing yourself to “average” isn’t very helpful. Instead, I compared camps with high camper return-rates.  “Great” camps have continued to grow each of the past 12 years, and over 2/3 of their campers return each year.  It’s time you put their secrets into practice.  It’s not rocket science, and it’s NOT what most of us were taught. 

9:45 am         CHOOSE ONE:

  • Love and Logic - How to Deal with Power Struggles; Anthony Cortes, PhD
  • Make a Plan, Be Prepared, Act - Managing Emergency Situations; Amy Murphy, 4-H Youth Extension Educator, Penn State Extension, and Kelly Weisner, 4-H Youth Development Educator, Residential and Day Camp Director - Are you prepared should there be an emergency or disaster that occurred during your camp? Being prepared to care for your campers is a collaborative effort. Emergencies, accidents, and disasters do happen, but it is important to be prepared in advance. Come learn some tricks to help you should you have an incident with your camp or retreat. Learn from some individuals who have lived through emergencies and how they are now more prepared.
  • Eight Essential Elements - How They Make Your Program a Success! (this is a two-session 4-H workshop open to all); 

    Suzanne Ault Boarts 

     -The Eight Essential Elements provide a guideline to leaders, teen leaders and educators for promoting positive youth development.  As the eight elements are discussed, health, fitness and nutrition activities will be used to develop these eight elements and provide a better understanding of how we can be better educators overall. The Eight Elements include: a caring adult, an inclusive environment, a safe environment, opportunity for master, engagement in learning, seeing oneself in the future, self-determination, and service to others. Learning outcomes include focusing on knowledge and skills to make healthy personal decisions; modeling positive, simple, consistent messages on youth development and physical fitness activities; assessing and planning physical activities for adults and youth, especially those not athletically inclined.Come and learn how you can incorporate these important elements into your own camping programs.  All camping professionals welcome! 

  • BEHIND THE SCENES TOUR: Milton Hershey School-Hartman Supply Center Tour and Presentation of Clothing Center, Food Services and Transportation program areas. Learn why the MHS Distribution and Supply Center is acclaimed as a model of institutional efficiency; take this unique opportunity to learn from experts in residential and educational facility management:

    ·         Clothing Manager Jennifer Guimond will discuss the purpose of the Clothing Center and how MHS outfits 1800 students via fittings and fulfillment, the types of clothing provided and how MHS creates an “even playing field” in terms of clothing.

    ·         Transportation Manager Brian Loncar will guide a tour and discuss how closely transportation ties in with the other departments in the Supply Center, in addition to the student transport services his department provides to the school community.

    ·         Food Services Director Brad Hajek will discuss Food Distribution and Fulfillment with a Facility tour, during which he will review processes and operations for Food Service support to the student homes. 

11:00 am       CHOOSE ONE:

  • Outdoor Cooking; Cricket Snearing, Administrative Director and Rockwood Adventures Teen Travel Director at Sesame/Rockwood Camps and former Outdoor Program Manger at Greater Essex Girl Scout Council/Director of Camp Eagle Island - Come learn fun and easy ways to cook in the out-of-doors...cardboard box ovens, tin can stoves, paper bag cooking, reflector ovens and MORE! Something for all ages and camps.
  • Understanding Sexuality in the Camp Setting; 

    Mara Yacobi, MSW, Dynamic speaker and educator, a Licensed Social Worker with 10+ years experience working in adolescent sexuality and prevention education. - Parents are their children's primary educators when it comes to talking about sexuality. However, summer camp staff can also play an important role because all facets of learning about sexuality occurs under their care. Young children are curious about their bodies and gender roles, and would like to understand why boys and girls are different. Older children are curious about their changing bodies, body image, and feelings of attraction. When camp counselors respond to camper's curiosity, they send important and powerful messages - either positive or negative - about themselves as sexual beings and as role models for campers.. Through a series of interactive exercises and role play, participants will gain knowledge about how to respond to sexual behavior and questions related to sexuality. Various religious perspectives as well as policies regarding what can and should not be discussed will be shared among participants.This session will give counselors (and anyone who interacts with youth) response skills, and teach camp administrators how to support counselors when they encounter challenging questions, to ensure they have created a culture of dignity and respect for everyone. 

  • Managing Communications in a Crisis; Gary Kimball, Kimball Communications, LLC; presented by AMSkier - Even the best run camps run into their fair share of problems, from natural disasters and accidents to angry parents and police investigations. Your initial response to a crisis or emerging problem often determines whether or not there will fines, negative news stories, lawsuits or worse. How you communicate sets the tone for handling an incident and contributes heavily to the outcome. So what do you say? What don't you say? And how do you say it? Learn the emerging camp threats in 2013 and the secrets to planning for and responding to emergencies in today’s high-speed world – the importance of planning, the role of leadership, communicating with media and families, and the impact of social media.

  • (Note that if you choose 4-H Essential Elements at 9:45 you will be in part two of that program during this session.)



Enjoy your lunch with a stimulating roundtable discussion! Stay at one table, or drop in to join any of these conversations:

Family Camp Programing 101; led by Todd Brinkman.  Our goal in this discussion is to design family camp program criteria for the purpose of evaluating new programs and to assess the effectiveness of existing family programs at camp. This will help camps that have family camps for a weekend or a week, or have a long tradition of family camping, or are just starting out a new program. You will leave with a tool for evaluating your program and an idea of what areas you can move your family camp to the next level.

Growing Leaders; led by Tim Nielsen. Camp is designed to serve the campers, but let’s not miss the potential impact that camp can have on our staff.  We train them, stretch them, and coach them in order to achieve the goals of camp, but what goals do we set for their growth?  Let’s look at ways we can really develop our staff so that everybody wins!

How Safe is Your Challenge Course?; led by David W. Pastorok. This is a discussion appropriate for all camp or ropes course directors. We will be examining two areas of risk. The first is equipment failure and the second is human failure. Challenge course materials will be presented to familiarize participants with problems that can occur. We will also examine what type of challenge course may best fit your camp. A private questionnaire will be given to all participants to help determine the level of safety of their challenge course and staff.

Like or Unlike – Facebook, Twitter and More; led by Steven Bernstein. Social media platforms allow camp professionals an easy and simple way to reach campers, camp parents, alumni and prospects.  Posting updates, videos and photos give camps the ability to send their messages instantaneously to their customers throughout the year.  But there are some pitfalls to avoid and challenges to overcome.  We’ll discuss how to benefit from using social media, where you should draw the line and precautions you can have in place to help you and your camp. 

Solar Power Green Energy = Green $$; led by Mark Major. In this discussion, we’ll try to provide as much practical information as possible about how solar works, its benefits, grants and much more. We’ll also share our progress with the solar PV system we installed at our camp. Please come with a lot of questions! We’re happy to help.

1:45 pm         CHOOSE ONE:

  • 4-H Water Science & Other 4-H Environmental Education Opportunities for Camp; Jennifer Fetter, Watershed/Youth Development Educator, Penn State Extension - 4-H Programs offer a vast array of opportunities for your campers to take part in valuable hands-on lessons and activities. Learn about the new innovations in 4-H Water Science Programs, developed by Penn State Extension, which you can incorporate into your camper’s experiences. Youth water education is a great way for youth to get involved in environmental stewardship while also getting excited about science! In addition to 4-H Water Science, there are many other environmental education themed curricula available. Take your creek stomps, nature walks, and day hikes just a little further by adding valuable environmental science lessons along the way.
  • Beyond Bullying - Breaking the Cycle of Cruelty and Aggression; Mara Yacobi, MSW - Why is one of your campers being ostracized or excluded? How can you help? Cyberbullying, teasing, bullying and social cruelty take on many forms. From  exclusion  and gossiping to eye rolling and shoving, the ramifications of aggression reach far beyond the victims- all children are impacted.  This interactive and engaging workshop will help camp professionals teach campers to stand up for themselves and others, as well as how to create a more welcoming inclusive environment. 
  • Your Camping Future - Who's Driving?; Gary Forster - Camping can be a wonderful career.  Unless you can’t run a successful camp.  As the national director for 265 YMCA resident camps and 2,000 day camps for eight years, an ACA national board member for three years, and an independent camp management consultant (his MBA is from Purdue), Gary has had unprecedented access to research the questions we’ve always raised, but only guessed the answers:  Why do campers return to some camps, and not to others?  What are the secrets of camp professionals that grow their camps every year?  Lots of hilarity (‘it’s funny because it’s true”); plus a swift kick in the pants to take control of your own future. 
  • BASIC or ADVANCED GEOCACHING; Matt Stambaugh, Hershey Outfitters (Note that these participatory workshops will be held at the nearby Hotel Hershey grounds and span two sessions; you must provide your own transportation; and additional fees apply.)
    • ​Basic Geocaching ($45/pp): Learn how to create a geocaching program at your camp by participating in a 2-1/2 hour course on a nature trail at the nearby Hotel Hershey, created by Hershey Outfitters - experienced providers of geocaching, adventure trips, and team-building programs. Program materials include a property map (just to see where the trails begin), a topographic map to plot coordinates, a Garmin Geko 201 GPS unit, instructions for the GPS, and coordinate points. The GPS will get teams in close range to their destinations, where they will fan out to find hidden canisters.  Inside the canister will be items that teams can trade at other canister locations as well as a log which they can sign using their team name and date their find
    • Hershey Quest-Advanced Geocaching ($100/pp)  The more extensive geocaching experience involves canisters as well as pictures, puzzles, and clues. Each team will receive a Sony Cybershot digital camera to use along the 3-mile nature trail. Building a geocaching program at your camp? Learn how to take it to the next level of experience! 

3:15 pm         CHOOSE ONE:

  • Hula Hoopla; Darlene Rush and Rebecca Kaucher, 4-H Extension Educators, Penn State Extension - Learn how to make your own hula hoop! You will also learn activities to get youth and adults up and moving.  You will learn the history of the hula hoop, why hoops stay up, activities, songs, games, and the importance of exercise. 
  • Maximizing Savings and Efficiency in Food Service; Rick Coxe, Executive Chef at Trout Lake Retreats & Conference Center/International Sports Training Camp; In this session we will focus on three areas of the food service department. We will discuss how to develop and implement a successful bid process to suit your camps needs. In addition, we will explore the hiring of culinary externs to increase quality and productivity in your kitchens. Also, we will devote time to determining how to cost out menu items to decide which items should be the star of your camp menu and which items might just occasionally “visit’ the menu to give it flair and diversity. This session will nourish you with ideas and leave you full and sated to go forward and produce your own tasty results.
  • Power Hiring; Gary Forster - Ever hire the wrong counselor? Can't find enough good ones?  This interview method not only works; it’s fun.  It was created with a $100,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation, and they want it shared. “Behavioral Interviewing” has been used by successful corporations for years, but most of us are just now hearing about it.  Comes with ready-to-use materials. Gain more confidence in hiring decisions, a positive attitude about interviewing, and improved overall staff quality. 
  • (Note that if you choose Geocaching at 1:45 you will be in part two of that program during this session.)

4:30-5:00 pm   Swap+Meet = Sweet Success! Tim Nielsen, Director, Camp Sandy Cove (since 1989); President, ACA Keystone Regional Council of Leaders - WAIT! Don’t run off! Our closing session is YOUR chance to wrap up your conference experience with real takeaways. Need something for your camp? Have something at camp you don’t need anymore? The Swap Meet is a great way to connect people and resources: purchase, donate, or exchange goods, services, and even ideas! Be prepared to share what you need, and share what you know. We’ll also swap lessons we’ve learned from Hershey, have fun with Hershey trivia questions, watch a short “Conference@Hershey Highlights” video, and announce our raffle prize winners (YOU MUST BE PRESENT TO WIN)! Come get Kissed – Hershey style – at the conference closing session!



ACA/4-H/PRPS Individual Member registration: $125 by 9/30/12; $150 after 10/1/12.

Non-Member Individual registration: $140 by 9/3012; $165 after 10/1/12.

Full-time student: $75

Member Group (up to 4 people from SAME CAMP): $450 by 9/30/12; $550 after 10/1/12

Non-Member Group: $525 by 9/30/12; $650 after 10/1/12.


This program has been granted educational endorsement by the American Camp Association's Educational Endorsement Review Committee. Educational endorsement means that the program has been reviewed by a qualified panel to verify the goals, learner outcomes, presenter qualifications, and evaluation requirements are relevant for this educational program. Continuing education credits (CECs) are available for this program. Participants completing this progam and requesting CECs must petition the appropriate certifying body regarding acceptance of these CECs.

For information, contact or 765-349-3526.