We Are Listening: ACA 2015 Member Needs Survey Results

April 7, 2015

We all strive to teach the skills necessary for our campers’ future successes. Camp is a critical place for this learning. This is what I love about what we do: Skills that we share with our campers and staff will make a difference not only in their classroom performance over the next nine months; rather it will form a foundation for a lifetime.

I practice many life skills that I learned at camp on a daily basis, but there is one lesson that stands out more than others: listening. At camp, we teach the skills of active listening and receiving feedback which will be utilized by our campers throughout their lifetime. This goes beyond listening attentively during a performance or a campfire; this is the listening that comes when each of us receives constructive feedback on how we can improve ourselves.  This is the listening that has been taught at and has helped to guide ACA camps for over 100 years. As camp professionals, we use these skills when we listen to feedback from campers, parents, and staff to make positive change.  

As the staff and leadership of ACA, we hear from our members in a variety of different ways. One of the most impactful tools that offers us member feedback is our biannual member survey. This survey provides us with the opportunity to embrace the feedback we receive to advance your association. As with all feedback, some of the highlights are affirming, others enlightening, and all important. This is critical information for our member-driven and volunteer-supported association, and we believe it is important to share with you the highlights that will guide our future direction.  

Here are some highlights from the ACA 2015 Member Needs Survey (completed during January and February of 2015):

Top Four Reasons Why People Belong to ACA

  1. Accreditation
  2. Professional Development
  3. Conferences
  4. Networking

Top Three Most Important Resources Provided by ACA

  1. Accreditation materials &  trainings
  2. ACA website
  3. ACA regional and local events

Underutilized Resources

Respondents indicated a lack of awareness of many ACA products/services. The four that appeared the most in our results were:

  1. ACA’s online communications toolkit
  2. Music and video licensing
  3. Group purchasing
  4. The CampLine

Important Information and Challenging Issues Facing Camps

Respondents indicated that information from ACA on the following issues to be most important to them:

  1. Abuse
  2. Behavior challenges
  3. Background checks
  4. Staff training and leadership development
  5. Risk and crisis management tools

Customer Service

We learned a great deal about how people communicate with ACA and what that experience was like. Almost half of all respondents did not call or email the administrative office of ACA, Inc. during the year. Approximately 70 percent of all respondents communicated with their local or affiliate office at least once throughout the year, with email being the communication tool of choice.  Of those that reached out to ACA in some manner, 98 percent expressed that they were either “somewhat satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the results, while only 2 percent expressed that they were “not satisfied at all.”

Service Utilization

Respondents offered key insights into not only which services they are using but how they are using them. For instance, we learned that 53 percent of respondents use ACA discounts and business deals. We also learned that most ACA members participate in professional development at least once a year, and twice as many respondents participate in online courses than in-person events.  Additionally, we learned that more than half of all respondents currently are, or had at one point been, a volunteer for ACA.

Conclusion

With a response rate representing 9.6% of ACA’s membership, this data set is an adequate representation of current opinions of ACA members. The highlights presented here are just the tip of the iceberg. We received wide ranging feedback on many more topics including current services that we should be offering, the direction and priorities of the association, and individual success stories or critiques of our services. For this feedback, we are most appreciative and would like to thank all those who took the time to complete the survey.

To truly practice the lesson of listening and receiving constructive feedback, we must guide our association with your feedback in mind. You can expect your local staff members and your contacts on the administrative team to know and appreciate your sentiments as we shape our work plans for the coming years and continue to take steps toward realizing ACA’s 2020 Vision. It is this partnership in listening and receiving feedback that shapes who we are as a camp industry.

Tom Holland
Chief Foundation and Funds Development Officer
American Camp Association