My Story of Value

Tom Holland
March 2016

My Story of Value 

In my role I am often asked, “What is the value of being a member of the American Camp Association?”

And while I can rattle off the countless opportunities that exist for a camp or an individual — through accreditation (become a standards visitor!), professional development (attend a local conference or webinar), business development (have you signed up with Trinity HPSI to get great deals?), research (just look at the opportunities through the Youth Outcomes Battery), and by way of many other great opportunities — for me, being a member has always been the connection I needed at the most important times of my personal and professional life.

Never was this truer than six years ago when I was directing a not-for-profit camp organization. This was at a time when I, too, was searching for the value of ACA membership. It was also at a time for all of us camp directors when our excitement and vulnerability level peak at the same time: staff arrival day. On this day, my two-year-old daughter suddenly became very ill at camp requiring us to take an emergency flight to another state for immediate surgery. We were told that if all went well, we would be gone for between three to four weeks with her in a hospital that was thousands of miles away from our camp program. Our time away from our program would go into the arrival of campers and potentially through the whole summer.

With just moments to make plans for the next four weeks without me being present at camp, I called the camp’s board president, had an emergency meeting with my management team, and I called ACA. With a foggy brain from little sleep, I did not know what questions to ask. I could not think of the course of action I should take. At the other end of the phone, two amazing employees from the association received my call with ease. They said they would be happy to take the ball from there. They connected my management team with some seasoned camp directors who would check in on them. They connected the dots for me. They were there when I needed them most.

A month later when I got back to my program, ACA called to check in on my daughter and me. She was fine, but I was even better because ACA played an important role for me at a most critical time.

I recognize that many people search for value in terms of dollars, and an ACA membership can, in fact, be quantified. But I know, for me, the value of ACA is unquestioned. While we at ACA have always been and will always be advancing the cause of camp, we also serve the needs of each and every camp director in their times of need. Thankfully, many camp professionals never have emergencies to the extent I did that clearly proved the value of being a part of this great organization. But rest assured, when you need the ACA, we will be there for you too.

Knowing the powerful impact that ACA’s support has had on me and on others, I am proud to be a part of this association. The value of membership means something different to each and every member of ACA, but we look forward to being there for you in the challenging times and the good times to advance your organization.