By: Chris “Topher” Aderhold
Likely, if you’ve been out to Camp Gray before, or even if your only connection with Camp Gray is that you somehow providentially stumbled across our website, you may have observed that we’re accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA). We’re extremely proud of this accreditation, but you may be wondering, “What is the ACA?”
The (ACA) is “a community of camp professionals who, for over 100 years, have joined together to share camp knowledge and experience and to ensure the quality of camp programs.” With over 9,000 members, and 2,400 camps ACA-Accredited, there are many people and camps to learn from! While there are many, many people involved in the ACA, this is a reflection not of it’s simplicity in being accredited (there are over 300 standards for health, safety, and program quality), but rather a reflection of the terrific resources and support the ACA provides.
The ACA is divided into numerous regions, with Camp Gray falling into the Midstates Region. Midstates encompasses hundreds of camps from eight midwestern states. Each region annually holds a conference, which brings together representatives from the many regional camps. Because the Midstates Conference is held in nearby Chicago, we’re able to bring a plethora of our year-round staff, as well as members of our Summer Camp Administrative Team. There are numerous workshops, and keynotes given by camp professionals that give our crew a continuing education on the most effective ways to provide fun, healthy, and developmentally appropriate experiences for every person that visits Camp Gray. Prior to last year’s trip to the Midstates Conference – which is held each year in mid-March – many of us at Camp Gray had never heard of “Panda Ball.” But behold, there in the exhibit hall of the conference, a game of epic proportions stood, beckoning our staff to come and play. So, while there is an abundance of knowledge gained from attending the conference, there’s also a multitude of toys gained from attending the conference.
In addition to the annual regional conferences, there is also a National ACA Conference. The National Conference pulls camp administrators from all over the country each year in an attempt to continue bolstering the fun and safety of each camp. The location of the National Conference changes from year to year, but because it is typically held in a city further away from Camp Gray than Chicago, attendance is less frequent. This year’s conference is being held in Atlanta February 21st (today!) – 24th. It’s been a few years since Camp Gray was represented at the National Conference, so Jeff and I are excited to attend this year’s event (in fact, I’m writing this blog post in route, 30,000 feet up, while sipping on my customary air travel beverage; tomato juice – Jeff prefers orange juice).
While Camp Gray has been a thriving camp for many, many years – thanks in large part to our overwhelmingly supportive camp family, we know that there are always areas to improve upon, to ensure that our campers have the best camp experience possible. Knowledge gained from attending these conferences, and the high safety standards required of being ACA–Accredited, ensure that campers leave Camp Gray better than they arrived.
We’ll be tweeting up a storm this week about all the great “knowledge bombs” that’ll be landing on us at the conference, so if you’re not yet a follower of our twitter feed, remedy that (click HERE)! Oh, and because it’s standard for attendees at the ACA Conferences to receive loads of free camp swag, we’d like to pass along free goodness. At some point in the next few days, one of our loyal twitter followers will have the chance to win free Camp Gray swag!
Thanks for tuning in, friends! Questions for the quarterly Tuesday’s with Topher mailbag? Email! Thanks to those that have already emailed over questions!