From Tish - July 2016

Tisha Bolger
July 2016

I am writing this from Chicago, where I chaired my last in-person American Camp Association Board of Directors meeting. The six years I spent on the board (four as chair) have been an amazing experience for which I will always be grateful. I was able to stretch, grow, and develop parts of myself by being engaged with colleagues who pushed me, supported me, and challenged me to be my best. I met people from around the world who believe that camp can change lives. My work with ACA made me a better executive and, I would say, a better person.

As board chair, what made a defining contribution to how I was able to fulfil my role was the board members’ willingness to give their time and counsel, even as volunteers with busy lives at work and at home. My fellow board members were fully engaged and cohesive — prepared to roll up their sleeves and get to work to ensure the success and long-term sustainability of ACA. And I was able to work with ACA CEOs Peg Smith and Tom Holland, who were smart, strategic, and motivated. Together, the board and the CEO gave me support and encouragement but also sought accountability and transparency. They asked searching questions and were prepared to make tough decisions.

I hope that all of you who share my passion for camp are able to discover opportunities with ACA that will stretch and challenge you. As a result, you and your organization will benefit! Your ongoing commitment to building your portfolio through strategic, professional development activities will help you distinguish yourself and your career. There many options for continuing to grow yourself and your skills at ACA.

This is an exciting time for ACA: A new board chair and CEO will step into their leadership roles in October. RossTurner is the incoming board chair. Ross is a remarkable leader who possesses the skills, characteristics, and business acumen to keep ACA moving forward and thriving. Ross is the president and CEO of Guided Discoveries, which develops and operates outdoor educational, STEM programs and summer youth camps and serves over 50,000 children annually. He is described as an education entrepreneur who provides services outside walls and boundaries in both traditional and nontraditional ways. Ross is the former president of the Western Association of Private Camps (WAIC). I know that his tenure as ACA board chair will be impressive.

Just as impressive is ACA’s new CEO, Tom Rosenberg. Tom is a familiar face at ACA. His 27 years of camp leadership experience spans both for-profit and nonprofit camps. Tom has spent many years as a member of ACA, was on the national board for six years, and held the office of treasurer in both national and regional positions. Tom, who has an MBA from the University of Southern California, has demonstrated success in financial management and fund development. He worked for 20 years for an independent camp and, as the CEO of Camp Judaea, has turned a nonprofit organization that had been operating with a deficit into one that generates a substantial profit. Tom frequently speaks in public as a camp professional and often is engaged as an instructor.

Tom said, “I understand the history of ACA’s successes and challenges over the past 25 years. I am very passionate about the opportunity to lead ACA to serve a greater number and diversity of youth development professionals and program providers by offering more compelling value in our professional education and accreditation programs and delivering them with excellence.”

I have known about ACA for 42 years. I first learned about it as a counselor discovering the importance of accreditation for our camp. As a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, I often referred to Camping Magazine as my go-to resource for research and topics specific to my field of study. To have served ACA as board chair has been an experience that I could never have imagined. I am a donor, a volunteer, and a big believer in ACA’s mission: enriching the lives of children, youth, and adults through the camp experience.