How to Prepare Camp Staff for an ACA Visit
Families look for camps that are ACA accredited because it means they are high-quality and safe programs. Every few years, the American Camp Association (ACA) visits summer programs to inspect their policies, procedures, and general program. This doesn’t have to be a stressful situation, especially since most visitors are camp peers or professionals who run their own programs.
1) Business as Usual
Summer programs should be authentic and genuine. In many ways, this is like having the extended family come over for a visit. ACA visitors are not looking to find something wrong but want to be support systems for programs. The experience may take the whole day, but this is as much about relationship-building as it is about having necessary paperwork and answering questions about ACA standards.
2) Practice Makes Perfect
Going through practice runs before the visit helps staff and campers get used to questions about the different programs: from arts and crafts to swimming and sports programs. A few run-throughs also means that the actual visit will be less jarring or stressful.
3). Delegate Standards to Other Staff Camp directors should of course be in charge of mandatory standards, but it’s fine to delegate out pieces to other program supervisors. In fact, the ACA recommends this! For example, a Waterfront or Aquatic Directors should know what the swimming and waterfront standards look like and be prepared to handle questions about the facilities and policies and procedures. (http://www.acacamps.org/staff-professionals/accreditation-standards/accreditation/preparing-vis) Transparency means that everyone is on the same page.
It is never too early to prepare for an ACA visit. There are some rich tools on their website that can come in handy. Families should always look for ACA-accredited camps because it means their facilities are safe, staff are well-trained, and policies and procedures are frequently updated. There is comfort in knowing programs are regularly evaluated.