Fundamental to this concept is that quality is determined at the point of service, which represents how individual youth participants interact with camp staff and their peers during structured and unstructured time. a high-quality program consistently promotes youth development when young people feel these interactions are safe, inclusive, and invite them to make meaningful choices about their experience. In essence, program quality represents how programs are implemented.
All programs regardless of their size, experience, and accreditation status can improve. Continuous program quality improvement is designed to be a repeating, cyclical process of Prepare-Assess-Plan-Improve; an effective sequence that establishes a supportive system for improvement.
Continuous Program Quality Improvement
Improvement of program quality at ACA is not linear—it isn’t easily accomplished for an organization as a checklist. Instead, our program quality work is inspired and framed by continuous improvement. Through a supported , annual cycle of Prepare-Assess-Plan-Improve, camp programs can sustainably integrate continuous program quality improvement into their internal systems and cultures.
Because of the ongoing and subjective nature of this work, ACA has systems of support to ensure camps of all types can engage in each step of the continuous program quality improvement cycle in ways that are accessible and relevant to them. These systems include access to tools, trained program quality assessors and coaches, professional development workshops and trainings, and a community of practice centered around peer learning and support.
Community of Practice
Anyone is welcome to join the Community of Quality Practice. It is an open space for those who have been trained and have already integrated continuous quality improvement into their programs or are new to program quality improvement. This space is for Community of Quality Practice members to discuss how quality is showing up in their programs, what improvements they are making, and to connect with each other. Ideally, this community will turn into a space that is member driven. Our Program Quality Community of Practice convenes monthly from September – April each fiscal year.
Our Continuous Improvement: Organizational Quality Improvements and Continuous Improvement: Improving the Youth Experience workbooks are standalone resources that can be handed directly to camp and youth serving practitioners. Each workbook is intended to be interactive and offer opportunities for readers to engage with sections as needed.
Purchase the individual workbooks:
Creating Inclusive Camps
The Creating Inclusive Camps tool is designed to help you and your camp identify the work you already do to make your camp an inclusive space. It does this by supporting you in identifying where you are on a five-stage scale of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) advancement.
As we scale up our internal supports for camp program quality, we are also providing trainings to support continued work on quality improvement for camps. Trainings are currently offered in collaboration with the Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality. If you’re interested in getting involved with camp program quality, please email programquality@ACAcamps.org.