Big R, Little r; Big A, Little a

April 26, 2016
Tom Holland

With ACA’s new strategic focus on accreditation and research comes the need to evolve our practices and services at a national level. In order to accomplish these important tasks, two special task forces have been working diligently to prepare recommendations that will address these programs on a national level. While these national tasks forces are looking at how this new focus on research and accreditation (or BIG R and BIG A, as we’ve taken to calling them) will play out nationally, many have asked what they can to advance this strategy at the local level.

As a part of our strategic focus, we call this little a and little r, or the local delivery of research and accreditation from dedicated ACA volunteers around the country. Here are some basic ideas about what people are doing on a local level to advance both research and accreditation.

Little r: A Local Emphasis on Research  

Only 20% of camps across the country track the outcomes of their programs. While it is not our desire to evolve into the over-tested atmosphere of our school systems, it is clear that we must take more strides to adequately document the educational value of camp for today’s children. To do this in our own camp communities, each of us should strive toward measuring what our programs are doing for our participants on a yearly basis. While any sort of data collection is great, we recommend using ACA’s Youth Outcomes Battery Tool 2.0 (available via subscription, see link for more information) as a great starting point. Not only is this tool statistically tested, but it also gathers all data from all of ACA-Accredited® programs. In doing so, we learn not only the outcomes of our individual programs, but the outcomes of all programs across the country.

Little a: A Local Emphasis on Accreditation  

For decades, ACA-Accreditation has helped shape the camp experience as we know it today. By emphasizing accreditation on a national scale, we will highlight the value of becoming an ACA-Accredited camp, while also expanding our public relations efforts to promote this program to more and more camps. The strength of our accreditation program lies in all of our voices working together. Locally, camps are already exemplifying this strategic focus by expanding their own efforts to let their communities know the value of ACA-Accreditation. Additionally, we are encouraging our camp professionals to take on an active role as an accreditation visitor, further connecting the already strong camp community from within. There is no greater professional development than to be a visitor, and they are the life blood of our organization.

For this strategic emphasis to gain and sustain momentum in our Association, we must have these local and the national initiatives. With the national focus underway, we are excited and encouraged that so many camps are rallying behind this focus with such energy at the local level. It is through your efforts that this strategy will be a success, and continue to build better camp experiences for all.


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