Introduction to Accreditation

Children with disabilities in ropes course gear

Purpose of the Accreditation Program

  • Accreditation educates camp owners and directors in the administration of key aspects of camp operation, particularly those related to program quality and the health and safety of campers and staff. 
  • Accreditation establishes guidelines for needed policies, procedures, and practices. 
  • Accreditation assists the public in selecting camps that meet industry-accepted and government-recognized standards. ACA's Camp Database, called Find a Camp provides the public with eleven separate ways to search for the ideal ACA-accredited camp.           

Eligibility for ACA Accreditation

  • U.S.-based camps with at least one program that occurs in the United States or its territories.
  • Programs with a primary audience of campers five years and older. (NOTE: Many camps offer programs that serve some three- or four-year-old campers. If this is the camp’s primary audience, accreditation or licensure through a different organization is most appropriate.)
  • Program sessions must be at least three days in length, with a specific purpose and goals.
  • Single-day programs and one-night/two-day programs are not considered for ACA accreditation.

Accreditation 101: An Introduction

ACA is the only independent accrediting organization reviewing camp operations in the country. ACA's nationally recognized standards focus primarily on the health, safety, and risk management aspects of a camp's operation. ACA's accreditation is administered through a peer-review process. ACA collaborates with experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Red Cross, and other youth-serving agencies to assure that current practices at the camp reflect the most up-to-date, research-based standards in camp operation. ACA's Accreditation Program is not intended to circumvent the licensure required to operate your primary business.

ACA Accreditation - Is it for me?

Steps and Deadlines for Camps Seeking Accreditation for the First Time

To seek initial accreditation, the following must be completed. Preparing for an initial accreditation visit can take up to 18 months (and for some longer). It is recommended to have a plan in place:

  • Attend the Ready. Set. Go. one-hour webinar to learn more about what to expect. 
  • Review the Accreditation Process information
  • Review the information for maintaining accreditation once achieved
  • Talk with an ACA Membership Staff
Fall/Winter/Spring
No later than March 1
 
Fall/Winter/Spring
No later than March 31
 
Fall/Winter/Spring
Talk with an ACA membership staff and submit the accreditation application and fees Complete an Accreditation Process Workshop. Begin early to review and evaluate each area of your camp operation, using the ACA standards as your guide. Asses your materials and written documentation that are required by the standards.
May 1  Summer November
Submit the written documentation required in the Written Documentation Review. Participate in the peer-review process (the "visit"). Receive notification of your accreditation.

Resources 

Questions? Call us 1- 800-428-2267 Dial option 2.

 

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