So You Want to Be Accredited?
You have read or heard about ACA Accreditation and now you are interested in potentially pursuing Accreditation for your camp. You have come to the right place! ACA accredits over 2,400 camps in the United States and Puerto Rico, nearly 400 of which are located right here in New England, and we would like your camp to be part of that! ACA New England wants to make it as easy as possible for you and your camp to take part in the Accreditation process. We take pride in your success.
Quick Links for Camps Interested in Becoming Accredited
- Learn about the steps to becoming Accredited
- Accreditation 101:an introduction video
- Top 10 ways to make your visit successful
- Find a Standards Course near you
- Shop at ACA’s Online Bookstore
What is ACA Accreditation?
The American Camp Association is the only nationwide organization that accredits children’s camps.
The ACA Accreditation process is a voluntary commitment by camps to the highest standards of health, safety, and program quality.
One purpose of the ACA Accreditation program is to educate 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. The standards establish guidelines for needed policies, procedures, and practices. The camp is then responsible for the ongoing implementation of the policies.
The second purpose of ACA Accreditation is to assist the public in selecting camps that meet industry-accepted and government-recognized standards. ACA’s Find a Camp database is a helpful tool that assists the public in finding an ideal summer camp.
In addition to these two primary purposes, the ACA Accreditation program:
- Has 50 years of history in developing and administering the standards program. Experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Red Cross, etc., continually work with ACA to improve and develop ACA's camp standards program
- Accredits over 2,400 camps in the United States and Puerto Rico (nearly 400 of them here in New England)
ACA standards have been recognized by courts of law and government regulators as the standards for best practices in camp.
Accreditation vs. Licensing
Unlike inspections by state licensing bodies, ACA accreditation is voluntary. The ACA does not have the authority to close or otherwise penalize an entity for not meeting its accreditation criteria, except for the removal of accreditation status. Licensing focuses on the enforcement of minimum standards. Accreditation focuses on education and the evaluation of camp operations, using standards that go beyond the minimum requirements of licensing.
Focus Areas of Accreditation
- Site: fire protection, food service, sleeping quarters, and bathing and toilet facilities
- Transportation: procedures for drivers, vehicles, and traffic on site
- Health and Wellness: staff qualifications, facilities, record keeping, medication, contact information, and health forms
- Operational Management: safety regulations and emergency procedures and communication
- Human Resources: staff qualifications, training, supervision ratios, and procedures
- Program Activities: aquatics, adventures challenge, trips, horseback riding, and special programs
Types of Accredited Camps
We categorize our camps in one or in a combination of the following ways:
- Day Camp: Sessions are operated and staffed by the camp. The campers go home to a parent or guardian each night, except for an occasional overnight.
- Overnight Camp: Sessions are operated and staffed by the camp. They may take place at a base camp or involve travel to various locations.
- Short term overnight programs run by the camp: Sessions are generally three nights or less, run and staffed primarily by the camp, and include weekend retreats, short environmental programs, skill-training weekends, parent-child programs, etc. The camp staff for these programs is sometimes supplemented by adults from participating groups.
- Rental or lease programs run by rental group: Other camps, groups, or programs rent or lease the camp’s facilities – and perhaps some services – to operate their own camping programs or retreats.