Is Accreditation Right for My Program?

ACA Accreditation means that your camp or program cares enough to undergo a thorough (up to 300 standards) review of its operation — from staff qualifications and training to emergency management. The American Camp Association collaborates with experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Red Cross, and other youth-serving agencies to assure that current practices at your child’s camp or program reflect the most up-to-date, research-based standards in camp and program operation. Camps and ACA form a partnership that promotes growth and fun in an environment committed to safety.

The Purpose of the Accreditation Program

The main purpose of the ACA-accreditation program is to educate camp owners and directors in the administration of key aspects of camp and program operation, particularly those related to program quality and the health and safety of campers and staff.

The second purpose of ACA accreditation is to assist the public in selecting camps and programs that meet industry-accepted and government-recognized standards. ACA's Find a Camp Database provides the public multiple ways to search for the ideal ACA-accredited camp.

Is My Program Eligible?

The American Camp Association accreditation program is appropriate for a wide variety of camp and out-of-school experiences. ACA accredits programs sponsored by various organizational entities.  These may include agencies, independently owned, religiously affiliated, therapeutic, city/county, afterschool, etc. Day camps, resident camps, travel programs, some out-of-school programs, and others have achieved ACA accreditation status.

ACA's-accreditation program is designed to serve camps and programs that conduct activities which:

  • Based in the U.S.
  • Utilize trained leadership.
  • Include planned and organized group interaction that contributes to participant’s personal growth, which may include skill development, as well as mental, physical, social, and spiritual growth.
  • Provide a sustained experience with participants attending for an established period of time.
  • Will often include the outdoors and the natural environment as a setting for activities that teach environmental stewardship and recreational skills.
  • Serves a primary audience with campers five years of age and older.  If the primary audience is children younger than five, accreditation through a different organization is most appropriate.
  • Have a commitment to health, safety, and risk management.

Single-day programs and one-night/two-day programs are not considered for ACA accreditation.

Camps and other programs may operate on their own property or on property belonging to another entity. Operations that lease, rent, or otherwise make available their site and/or facilities to other program operators or sponsors, who are responsible for their own staffing and programming, may also seek ACA accreditation.

Camps and other programs from outside the United States are welcome to join ACA. Professionals can benefit from ACA resources including publications, educational offerings, and networking opportunities. Camps not based in the USA are ineligible for accreditation. This includes camps operated solely outside the US and territories.  

ACA’s Accreditation Program is not intended to circumvent the licensure of any kind required to operate your primary business (i.e., daycare centers, preschools, fitness facilities).