This past fall, the YMCA of the USA and American Camp Association entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will drive our collaborative work. We are excited about this agreement and what it means for the future of both organizations.

While the full details are being developed over the next several months, we want to make sure that our full membership is aware of the agreement.

The overall objective is to strengthen and grow YMCA camping programs and, thus, the camping movement. While the framework of the agreement centers around five main points of collaboration, the agreement supports the overall goals of increasing quality, serving new and emerging audiences, and expanding the impact of camping across the Y movement. To achieve these outcomes, the five main points of collaboration are:

  1. Accreditation of YMCA Camps — The Y has embraced ACA accreditation as a standard for all Y overnight camps as one measure of quality. We will work together to ensure that all Y overnight camps become accredited. While accreditation of day camps is not specifically mentioned in this MOU, we believe that will be an eventual goal for both organizations.
  2. Professional Development — The Y and ACA both offer robust frameworks for leadership development. Together, we will evaluate opportunities to align and enhance both organization’s professional development offerings, including existing and customized courses, to strengthen professional development opportunities in Y camping.
  3. Impact Measurement and Data Sharing — The Y and ACA will seek out opportunities for collecting and sharing business data, program quality assessment data, and youth outcomes assessment data in order to strengthen each organization’s ability to achieve their goals.
  4. Marketing and Messaging — The Y and ACA will jointly promote accreditation, professional development, and the partnership represented by this MOU.
  5. Financial Alignment — The Y and ACA will evaluate opportunities to secure grant funding and to develop additional financial strategies to support the implementation of this agreement.

At the Y Global Camping Conference in November, the Y and ACA made a joint announcement of this agreement to all attendees. Over the next few months, the Y and ACA will work in collaborative teams to determine the specific actions required to support each of the main points of the agreement and to begin to outline the path forward to achieving them.

Both organizations are very excited about the ways in which this partnership will strengthen our collective work serving youth and adults in camps across the country. We fully believe this agreement will be a model for the development of stronger partnerships with other youth serving organizations.