Schedule at a Glance - Upstate New York & Keystone Regional Camp Conference


*Speakers and sessions will be added as they are confirmed.

Thursday, November 12, 2020
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Pre-Conference Community Connection Social and Networking

Free and open to all! Connection BEFORE content, teambuilding guru Dr. Jim Cain shares his favorite methods and activities from bringing a group together virtually.  Come join the fun and connect with other ACA members and camping professionals.  RSVP Please

Tuesday, November 17, 2020
9:00 am - 10:00 am

Creating a Safe Culture for LGBTQIA+ Staff - Chris Rehs-Dupin

All staff deserve the right to be safe and affirmed as their authentic selves at camp.  LGBTQIA+ staff face unique barriers, including lack of representation and understanding as well as insufficient support in addressing issues surrounding sexuality and gender identity with campers.  Let's examine how you can make a safe(r) space for your staff starting today by learning about the top 5 things that camps are doing that they shouldn’t be- and the top 5 things that they should do that they aren’t.

Connection Without Contact - 6 Feet Apart but Full of Heart - Dr. Jim Cain

Connection without contact - six feet apart and full of heart.  Techniques for creating social connections while maintaining physical distance.  The next reality for summer camps.

11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Science and Nature Education - Jeff Peneston

Camp has always been a great setting for engaging young people with a wide range of sciences.  Natural history, biology, and ecology are obvious in the outdoor laboratory of summer camp, and nearly every science curriculum objective from kindergarten to graduate school can be more effectively presented outdoors rather than in school.  In this workshop, Jeff will review why and how camps can develop or enhance their science education programs during summer camp and likewise develop programs that attract and serve public school students that come to camp during field trips. Jeff will discuss experiential learning, intentionality of lessons, the power of teachable moments, how to assess the educational resources of your property, and how to hire and train your educational staff. He will also describe how he creates and uses short educational videos to digitally serve kids as well as a list of his favorite science and nature camp activities.

Introduction to Trans Inclusion at Camps - Chris Rehs-Dupin

Before we get to the cabin assignments, the bathroom, managing disclosure, creating inclusive forms, and even pronouns, we need to investigate the urgent nature of creating safe(r) spaces for transgender youth.  In this session, we will do an overview of terms (and not get stuck there!), and then start identifying microaggressions in your traditions, and resources that you can use to speak with your board, parents, and stakeholders about creating inclusive policies that will make kids of all genders feel more comfortable in your camp’s environment.

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Advertising for Summer 2021 - Kelley Freridge

Welcome to the new trendless era of advertising impossible to forecast sentiment, plan for cultural shifts, or tap into consumer insights. When the house is always on fire, it’s hard to get anyone’s attention.  So, let’s walk the line between outright promoting your program like it’s 2019 and being sensitive to the culture of COVID. Let’s forget the hype, lean into market position, connect with consumers digitally, and focus on share of voice.


Business of Camp During Normal and Uncertain Times - Andrew Zwerman



The Hidden Curriculum: Inclusion Starts With Us - Jack Schott

At camp, we build culture quickly and better than almost anyone. It is powerful and the cornerstone of what we do. We create an experience where campers feel like insiders and fall in love with our programs. On the flip side, having insiders means we also have outsiders. Let’s explore the Hidden Curriculum of our camps and how we can more quickly make more campers feel like they belong.

3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Panel Discussion - Alternative Camps

Summer 2020 was challenging. Thousands of camps across the country were not able to run in-person camps. Hear from several Upstate NY and Keystone Regional camps that adapted, evolved, and met their community’s needs through innovative programming and ideas.


John Quinlivan - Camp Stella Maris

Nancy Grimes - Cradle Beach

Allison Klee - Camp Stomping Ground

Emily Dobmeier - Lake Luzern Music Center

Peter Swift - Camp Susque

April Beattie - Girl Scouts Camp Mosey Wood

7:00 pm - 8:00 pm Evening Social & Games
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
9:00 am - 10:00 am

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Empowering Young People, Inspiring Action - Gemini Murray

What is Diversity without Equity and Inclusion? Today’s high school and college-age teens are growing up in a culture where Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are critical aspects in creating a better world. With the obvious racial climate in our country, young people are at the forefront of the movement to bring awareness and condemn racism, intolerance, and injustice.

This session will focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion especially as it relates to High School and College Age workers who are lending their voices and leading the charge in a movement to bring about change. We will engage in thought-provoking discussions about the benefits of diversity, the struggle to achieve Equity, and what it means to be truly inclusive. The question becomes, what transformational strategies can we use to empower people to be more empathetic, self-aware, and motivated to act despite systemic policies and practices that create obstacles to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

Best Practices in Virtual Programming - Jim Cain

This past summer Jim Cain and 29 other teachers, trainers, facilitators, and group leaders combined forces and formed the virtual facilitation practice group.  Working together, in just four weeks, they authored a new book for the ACA bookstore (and donated all future royalty proceeds to ACA for future virtual programming).  The Learning Curve - Navigating the transition from facilitating in the real world to facilitating in a virtual one.  Random thoughts, helpful insights, half-baked ideas, suggestions and other useful information.  Jim shares the most helpful insights and lessons learned from facilitating 25 virtual events this past summer.

11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Pennsylvania: United through the Pennsylvania Camp Association

PA Camp Association (PACA) came together in 2005 as a grassroots effort of the Owners, Directors, and other vested individuals in the Northeastern PA camp community. The goal was to provide education and understanding to the legislature in Harrisburg related to issues affecting all camps in PA. PACA is comprised of camps that are ACA members from the New York/New Jersey and Keystone sections.

Following the development of PACA as an organization, PACA leadership has formed an excellent relationship with Triad Strategies, our government affairs firm. Triad has provided excellent representation and resources to speak with our elected officials as laws concerning the well being of our business are being considered and passed. Without this representation in the past, the Pennsylvania camp community had no voice.

Over the past 15 years, the Association has raised awareness to our state legislators on many key issues for camps on topics as wide-ranging as building codes to background check regulations, serving as the primary input our government officials will receive when it comes to how their determinations will effect the camp community at large.

Join us and meet with members of PACA to discuss current issues affecting the camping industry in Harrisburg.

New York: Working together to ensure camp openings in Summer, 2021

In this session, Dan Weir, President, New York State Camp Directors Association, and Susie Lupert, Executive Director, ACA, NY and NJ, will discuss strategic priorities in ensuring camps open in Summer 2021.  There will be a Q&A opportunity at the end of this session.

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Camping in COVID Times: Effective Health and Wellness Measures - Dr. Tracey Gaslin

The difficult summer of 2020 has required a great deal of work, innovation, intentionality, and grit. For those camps who provided services this summer, we have a great deal to learn from them. This session will outline research information gathered from camps who operated this summer and discuss decision-making criteria and nonpharmacologic interventions (NPIs) that helped camps provide a summer experience to youth across the US.

Camps and COVID-19: What We Know, What We Don't, and Where We Go From Here - Dr. Laurie Browne

Are you curious about the impact of COVID-19 nationally on camp programs, businesses, and participants? The ACA research team will present what they learned through various studies conducted in Summer 2020 to help you prepare for 2021. ACA’s Director of Research will share new findings and answer your questions in a live Q and A.

3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Panel Discussion - Running Traditional Camp Programs

The challenges of 2020 were met in many different ways this summer. As you plan for anticipated challenges, changes, and unusual circumstances in 2021, hear from a panel of camp directors that ran in-person camps in 2020. Participate in honest conversations about what worked and didn’t work, how they navigated local laws, regulations, and specific situations, as well as have the opportunity to ask questions.


Kelly Peneston - Camp Talooli

Michael Garcia JCC Camp Centerland

Pat Foster - YMCA Camp Cory

Steven Bernstein - Camp North Star of Maine

Jud Miller - Stone Mountain Adventures

Mike McElhinney - YMCA Camp Kresge

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Closing with ACA's Chief Operating Officer - Henry DeHart

Henry will reflect on lessons learned from COVID-19 this past summer and our current assumptions for summer 2021. He will also share highlights on ACA's strategic plan, data collection, and updates to the Field Operations Guide.