Are You Ready?

May 8, 2015

When I was directing my camp program, I remember once asking a newly enrolled 11 year old, who was attending camp for the first time: ‘Well, are you ready?’

He nervously fidgeted for a bit and looked at me in a strange way before finally getting out ‘I don’t know.’ But then, with a blast of energy he pulled out of his pocket the packing list that had lines through all the articles of clothing (4 pairs of socks, 4 t-shirts, etc), and on the back of the sheet of paper was a hand drawn picture of the mountains that surrounded our camp property. He then began to explain to me how he was going to arrive, the boots he was already breaking in, the experiences he had had spending the night at friends’ houses to ‘practice for camp’, how he heard about camp, and the backstory of all his connections to our program.

As I walked away some time later, I rethought my question: Are you ready?

He did not know if he was ‘ready’ because he had never been to our camp program before. His answer of ‘I don’t know’ was honest and true. But in his follow up to my question, he answered the questions I should have asked: Are you excited and are you prepared?

As the CEO Designate of ACA, I can honestly say that, much like that camper years ago, these two questions are easier for me to answer.

I feel prepared for this journey because of the experiences I have had in and around the camp experience my whole life. I was a camper, a counselor, a teacher, and a camp director. I have been a volunteer, a member, and an employee at ACA. I am also a father of future campers. I believe in the profound impact that this experience can have on a child because I have lived it. With me, I carry around the proverbial ACA packing list with dreams of our future sketched on the back.

I am excited about leading ACA because of our cause. Today, five million children are readying themselves to take part in ACA programs. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of camp staff are eagerly training to ready themselves to grow the capabilities of those children. Today, the experience of camp is needed by more children than ever. I am excited because I believe that with our reach and our collective voices, we can advance our cause to be recognized by all as critical to the growth of children.

I look forward to working with our members as partners in advancing this cause. As ACA members, I know you are prepared for the adventure that lies ahead of us. It is my true hope that you are as excited as all of us at ACA are about our collective future.

In the spirit of the camp experience,

Tom Holland
Chief Executive Officer Designate
American Camp Association