Future of Accreditation

Update – March, 2017 – Future Accreditation Model

Over the past six months, the ACA National Standards Commission has been working hard to address the first recommendation of the 2016 Accreditation Task Force which charged this group (along with support from others) to develop a foundation of standards and definition that apply to a broader audience now seeking ACA accreditation. 

Please keep reading for additional information.

Who Should ACA accredit — a starting spot for some definitions 

  • Resident camp — Program is operated and staffed by the camp and the supervision of individual campers is a camp responsibility. Campers stay overnight at least two nights and camp is responsible for campers 24 hours a day. This includes trip and travel camps.
  • Day camp — Sessions are operated and staffed by the camp and camper attends at least (timeframe to be determined. Potential time frame might state campers attend at least 3 of 5 days or campers attend at least 3 consecutive days). Camper goes home to parent or guardian each night, except for an occasional overnight.
  • Camp must be US-based camp and have at least one program that takes place in the US or territories (Note: ACA does NOT visit US based programs that occur outside US.)

Modes of Operation

  • Day camp. Camps operate on both owned and non-owned sites
  • Resident camp (will include current short-term residential program as well as trip/travel camps).  Camps operate on both owned and non-owned sites
  • Camps that rent to others

ACA will highlight and pro-actively share those standards that are applicable to all camps to be accredited by ACA. 

  • May include a few standards that do not focus on health, safety, and risk management
  • May or may not be mandatory standards

The model includes a re-alignment of standards looking at the topic and who’s responsible.  The NSC believes this better allows for the elimination of redundant standards. The sections of Standards being considered are (actual placement of standards still in review):

Introductory Standards/Who We Are

  • Goals/Objective
  • Social and Youth Development
  • A standard related to inclusion and diversity

Staffing: Training, Qualifications, Supervision

  • All standards related to staff training currently located throughout the standards
  • Staff qualifications for various positions at camp
  • Supervision and observation (both campers and staff)
  • All standards related to ratios


  • Site/Food Service
  • Transportation
  • Some standards from program and aquatics related to facilities   


  • Current Operation Management and some Human Resources (staff screening)
  • Standards from other areas which address policies & procedures (such as contact with local and emergency officials, transportation policies to be shared with parents, program eligibility requirements, etc.)


  • General Program
  • Specialize Activities
  • Horses
  • Challenge
  • Aquatics
  • Trip/Travel

Health and Wellness - under review

The new model will include improvements to the administrative process to ameliorate a number of barriers that have been identified.  Some of these administrative challenges take place during visits, and specifically with operators of multiple camps. 


March 2017 – Evaluate what learned in Focus Groups. Identify areas of accreditation to include in the pilot study.  Initiate several work groups related to the new model.

April/May 2017 – Identify camps and visitors to be involved in the pilot study and provide necessary training. Additional work related to the actual standards: placement in re-aligned sections, revision of standards, determination of need for additional standards, what standards to combine and/or delete, etc.

Summer 2017 – Pilot test various parts of both the revised standards and the identified administrative changes to the process.

Fall/Winter 2017 – Debrief from pilot visits, identify gaps, make recommendations. Invite input from both internal and external audiences on the proposed model (to include the standards)

Winter/Spring 2018 – Evaluate and refine standards for publishing, identify potential opportunities to “test” specific aspects of the process.

By August 2018 – Training revised/developed to reflect standards as presented. All systems in place (to include updates/revised technology

September 2018 – Begin training for 2019 Visits.

There will be opportunities throughout this process for input from members.  At any time, please feel free to contact Rhonda Mickelson, ACA Director of Standards (rmickelson@acacamps.org )with questions, thoughts, ideas AND/OR to volunteer to be a part of the process.  

Update — September 2016

After evaluation of the implementation of the Operational Change that occurred in nine of the twenty-three local areas in ACA in 2016, it was determined that all additional local areas would be included in Phase 2 of the implementation, which occurs in 2017.  This means that moving forward (2017 and beyond), all currently accredited camps will either have an on-site visit OR must complete the Annual Accreditation Report.  Information about what is required of your camp is being shared via email from your local staff and volunteers.

Please keep reading for additional information. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Past Accreditation Process Updates