Answers to Parents’ Most Frequently Asked Questions About Camp Accreditation
What’s the difference between state licensing of camps and accreditation by ACA?
Accreditation is voluntary and ACA accreditation assures families that camps have made the commitment to a safe, nurturing environment for their children. If a state requires licensing, it is mandatory; licensing requirements vary from state to state. ACA standards are recognized by courts of law and government regulators as the standards of the camp community.
How do ACA standards exceed state licensing requirements?
ACA goes beyond basic requirements for health, cleanliness, and food service into specific areas of programming, including camp staff from director through counselors, emergency management plans, health care, and management. ACA applies separate standards for activities such as waterfront, horseback riding, and adventure and travel.
What are some of the ACA standards that camps rely on?
- Staff-to-camper ratios that are appropriate for different age groups
- Training for staff to minimize 1:1 camper/staff interactions
- Goals for camp activities that are developmentally based
- Emergency transportation available at all times
- First-aid facilities and trained staff available when campers are present
- Staff appropriately trained to lead program
Does ACA accreditation require criminal background checks?
ACA accreditation standards require a staff screening system, which includes an annual criminal background check on all seasonal staff and at least every five years on year-round staff. When talking to a camp director as you consider enrolling your child, ask what the screening process for that camp includes.
In addition to the criminal background checks referenced above, ACA standards require additional staff screening which includes an application, interview and reference checks upon initial hire (along with a criminal background check); annual checks of the National Sex Offender Public website and an annual voluntary disclosure statement. Staff training and staff/camper supervision are also critical to ACA standards.