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Camp 101: What Does Summer Camp Accreditation Mean?

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Hey, Camp Parents!

Deciding on the best summer camp program for your child is a difficult one. You want to choose a program that is of the highest quality, well-maintained and provides a safe and healthy environment. One of the best ways to do that is to choose a summer camp that is an ACA-Accredited Camp.

What does that mean? It means the camp has completed a review of more than 300 standards, including staff qualifications, training and emergency management. American Camp Association Accreditation also goes beyond state licensing requirements. Each state will ultimately have different licensing requirements for camps. However, with ACA-Accreditation, the standards are uniform and they are recognized as the standards that all camp communities should meet.

Some of those standards include:

• Having an appropriate staff-to-camper ratio. This number will differ according to age groups with younger ones having more staff available.
• Providing goals for camp activities that are developmentally based. The expectations for campers shouldn’t be age or gender based.
• Having emergency transportation available 24/7. You don’t want your child at a sleep away camp where access to the nearest medical facility is hours away.
• Having a top notch first-aid facility along with a staff that is trained in life-saving techniques such as CPR.
• Implementing a staff-screening process.

If you want to find out if the summer camp that you have in mind for your child is ACA-accredited, then you should visit the ACA’s website. You can also find out by telephoning 1-800-428-CAMP. If the camp that you have in mind is not accredited, then you may want to find out why they decided not to go through the accreditation process.

Another important point to keep in mind is that the American Camp Association works in conjunction with the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as the American Red Cross and other youth-service organizations to keep the ACA-Accreditation standards up to date. Their primary goal is to ensure that ACA-Accredited camps:

• Provide healthy, developmentally appropriate activities and educational experiences
• Employ a competent, caring and educated staff
• Allow for learning through discovery

As with anything regarding your child, information is vital. So make sure to research your child’s camp before signing on. Word of mouth and recommendations are always helpful, but it’s also important to take the research further and explore accreditation. And, as always, thanks for reading, Parents.

- John


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