Why We Choose to Be ACA-accredited and What It Takes

March 6, 2018
Ken Atkinson
Campers during an activity

The directors and staff of Geneva Glen Camp (Indian Hills, Colorado), have always approached the triennial ACA visit anticipating a very upbeat and affirming experience! Our feeling is that we simply have a quality program and we are excited to share it.

We were asked to look a little more closely at why the accreditation process is so important. . . and why we see what on the surface appears to be an enormous effort and the encompassing nature of it!

We were happy to host four visitors at our August ACA visit at Geneva Glen this past summer. We were overjoyed to see the enthusiasm they reflected and by their genuine appreciation in the way the standards were answered comprehensively and precisely. Credit our staff team — in particular, Reid McKnight — who directed the effort with a group of as many as 20 Geneva Glen Camp staff who had specific camp duties, carried out expertly, with Reid coordinating them. Our guests applauded the success of the visit, and even pulled out their cameras and took notes! They enthusiastically made over how organized every facet of the visit was prepared and “presented.”

ACA visits are a huge undertaking, make no mistake: every ACA camp knows this! But it carries with it a higher cause and purpose.

Camp directors are assigned a visitor to coordinate the date of the visit and other aspects of the visit. When these details are known by the visitor and the camp director, then a comprehensive raft of ideas that we all share expands and deepens the pool of knowledge and betterment of the experience. Beyond that comes a stronger sense of the nature of ACA’s Standards program. This “shared knowledge” amplifies the message presented throughout the group of camp professionals, directors, parents, and counselors, branching out to all involved! Including the campers!

Today’s camp director understands that to get the “ducks in a row” for the following summer reduces the effort and stress affirming the standards that we abide by are counted as good management. This is not to say we make a carbon copy from past years; that’s not possible! But we have adjusted to the need to begin our standards compliance duties as early as the end of summer, staying on course as the next summer brings more demands, ideas, and experiences. Geneva Glen is one (of many!) that scores highly — we simply value the chance to go to the effort to demonstrate what a good camp looks like: what it sounds like, tastes like, feels like! (Yes, the visitors join us for lunch!) Of course, it inspired our staff to see the efforts that go in to the visit, the innumerable qualities that go into it, the months of preparation, and our pride in the end result.

And just what is the end result? Ask the kids! Campers know a good product and they recognize it in their counselors — these “pseudo-adult-friend-teachers” — the moment they meet and begin the process of relationship-building, you’ll know if they want to return! They’ll know because the counselors helped them develop their friendships, appreciating the outdoors, experiencing safety, and keeping them feeling secure with caring and praiseworthy leadership.

We are grateful for the opportunity this profession provides, and in a community that can feel so much like a family, praising these timeless values for children and youth.

Ken Atkinson, director emeritus at Geneva Glen Camp in Indian Hills, Colorado, is a long-time ACA volunteer in ACA, Rocky Mountain.

Photo courtesy of Geneva Glen Camp

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