In 1997, the American Camping Association, Ohio Board established a means of paying tribute to those who make an extraordinary contribution to the advancement of the camp movement in the State of Ohio and who have played an important role in creating today's ACA, Ohio Program. All recognition awards are presented at our January Ohio Camping Conference (OCC). It is not a requirement that each award be presented annually. In 2021, ACA, Ohio Local Council of Leaders added the Heart of it All Award and the Rising Star Award.


The Nominating Committee of the ACA, Ohio Local Council of Leaders administers the Award Program. Annually, the membership will be given the opportunity to nominate individuals or organizations for awards and the Nominating Committee will determine the award winners. All nominations are due by December 20, 2023.

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There are six (6) recognition awards: The Oak Leaf Appreciation Award, the Friends of Camping Award, the Program Excellence Award, the Buckeye Award, the Heart of it All Award, and the Rising Star Award.

Buckeye Award

The Buckeye Award is the highest honor presented to a member of the American Camp Association, Ohio. To qualify, a candidate must:

  • Be known for his/her outstanding service in the field. It should be easily recognized that no other award would do justice to the magnitude of the contribution of this nominee.
  • Have an affiliation with the American Camp Association for at least ten (10) years and with ACA, Ohio for at least five (5) years.
  • Have high moral character, personal integrity and exemplify a spirit of devoted service to the field.
  • Be an active participant in National and Local ACA programs.

Past Winners

  • Amy Thompson (2022)
  • Michael McGinty (2021)
  • Eli Cochran (2020)
  • Jody Oates (2018)
  • Marjorie Dooley (2017)
  • Barb Byler (2015)
  • Dan Reyolds (2014)
  • David Devey (2012)
  • Anne Brienza and Rich Garbinsky (2010)
  • Bill and Phyllis Wiley (2009)
  • Jerry Duffie (2008)
  • Larry Maxwell (2007)
  • Bill Lyder (2005)
  • Dennis "Denny" Elliott (2004)
  • Ted Witt (2000)
  • Aileen Blyth and William "Bill" Tighe (1999)
  • Myra Jamison (1998)


Program Excellence Award

The Program Excellence Award is designed to honor programs that:

  • Develop effective, creative responses to the needs of people and/or societal problems using the camp environment and encourage continued development of such ideas
  • Stimulate the exchange of creative ideas
  • Present to the public examples of positive contributions camp has made on the well being of individuals and society.

To be eligible for nomination, a program must have been in operation for at least one year (planning and development time does not count) and be part of an accredited camp.

Nominations will be judged on creativity and imaginative planning; relevance to the needs of participants; involvement of the target participants in the planning or implementation; adaptability and potential for replication; cooperative efforts with other organizations, agencies, or camps; and the ability of the program to meet stated objectives.

Past Winners

  • Camp Hamwi, Central Ohio Diabetes Association (2023)
  • Camp Ho Mita Koda (2021)
  • Camp Stone (2017)
  • Flying Horse Farms (2014)
  • Camp Atagahi at Wyandot (2012)
  • Camp O'Bannon's camps for Disadvantaged Children (2011)
  • Camp Joy's Medical and Family Camps (2010)
  • CHAMP Camp (2008)
  • Operation Military Kids — OH National Guard & State 4-H; and Royal Family Kids Camps — offered at Camp Wanake (2007)
  • YMCA Camp Kern "Teen Extreme" (1998)


Friends of Camping Award

The Friends of Camping Award is presented to an individual, group or organization that has made significant contributions to camping through related fields. Membership in the American Camp Association is not a requirement. Contributions or relationships can be administrative, legislative, professional, or specific participation in local development.

Past Winners

  • Chris Rehs-Dupin, Transplaining (2023)
  • David & Tina Brizius (2022)
  • Donnie Borland (2021)
  • Dr. Tracey Gaslin (2021)
  • Marty Sweterlitsch (2018)
  • Mercy Health - Jewish Hospital (2017)
  • Judy Elliott (2015)
  • Linda Flynn "Tick" (2014)
  • The West Ohio Conference United Methodist Church (2011)
  • Susan Yoder (2010)
  • ERI (2008)
  • Schmidt Copeland Parker Stevens, Inc. (2007)
  • Christ Child Society of Cleveland (2000)
  • ACA National Risk Management Team (1999)
  • Markel Insurance (1998)


Oak Leaf Appreciation Award 

The Oak Leaf Appreciation Award is presented to an ACA, Ohio member who has demonstrated service or special contribution to the overall philosophy of the American Camp Association movement and the ACA, Ohio Program.

Past Winners

  • David Faulstich (2021)
  • Brandon Mitchell (2017)
  • Elizabeth Cochran (2016)
  • Gregory Copeland (2013)
  • Lou Thalheimer (2013)
  • Barbara Byler (2012)
  • Mike McGinty (2011)
  • David Devey (2010)
  • Kim Bronson (2008)
  • Anne Weinberg and Stuart Weinberg (2007)
  • Rich Garbinsky (2006)
  • Bill Lyder (1998)


Heart of it All Award

The Heart of it All Award recognizes an outstanding seasonal staff member/volunteer for the positive impact they have had in their camp community. Nominees must be an employee or volunteer at an ACA, Ohio member camp and must be at least 18 years old.

Past Winners

  • Shakobe Walk, Camp Joy (2023)
  • Noah Appel, Camp Wise (2023)
  • Janny Briziuz, C.A.M.P camp (2021)

Rising Star Award

This award is geared towards a rising professional in the camping industry.  Nominees must be camping professionals who have worked in the field for five years or less and contribute to the advancement of the camping movement through service to ACA, Ohio and the camp community.  Nominees must be current members of ACA.

Past Winners

  • Aaron Baughman, Widewater Camp & Retreat Center of the West Ohio Conference (2023)
  • Olivia Mackey, Camp Christopher (2023)
  • Eric "EB" Brown (2022)
  • David Baxter, Red Oak Camps (2021)

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