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ACA Fact Sheet
- The mission of the American Camp Association is enriching the lives of children, youth, and adults through the camp experience.
- Founded in 1910, ACA is a tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service code.
- ACA's approximately 9,000-plus members encompass all segments of the camp profession, including agencies serving youths and adults, independent camps, religious and fraternal organizations, and public/municipal agencies. ACA is the largest association serving the organized camp industry.
- ACA is the only organization that accredits all types of camps, with up to 275 national standards for health and safety that are recognized by courts of law and government regulators. ACA accreditation is a standardized, voluntary system of review with a fifty-year history.
- Of the 2,400 ACA-accredited camps, approximately 14 percent are dedicated to meeting the special needs of campers with physical, emotional, or mental challenges, and approximately 60 percent are resident (overnight) camps only, 40 percent are day camps only.
- More than 60 percent of ACA camps offer coed programs, 25 percent offer female-only programs, and 15 percent offer male-only programs.
- According to ACA's survey of camp directors, females make up 55 percent of total camp enrollment and males make up 45 percent.
- Nonprofit organizations, including the YMCA, YWCA, Camp Fire, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, Woodmen of the World, churches, and synagogues operate approximately 80 percent of all summer camps. The other 20 percent are privately owned and operated, primarily by multiple generations of individual families.
- A recent opinion research study supported by ACA revealed the following details about parents' perception of the camp experience:
- Recreational fun is an important value of camp.
- Personal experiences are the most common source of information for peers and parents.
- Development opportunities dominate the range of benefits.
- Safe and secure facilities, along with positive, fun activities for their children were important.
- Parents assume oversight of all camps is being done. Because camp involves children, they presume someone is checking.
Peg Smith, ACA Chief Executive Officer
Peg Smith Bio
Tisha Bolger, ACA President
Tisha Bolger is the chief operating officer of Girl Scouts of Minnesota, Wisconsin River Valleys in St. Paul. She was involved in the merger of five Girl Scout councils and oversees the operation of multiple camps. She was honored in 2004 with the Frances Hesselbein National Award for Excellence in Management by Girl Scouts of the USA. Tisha has a bachelor’s degree in social work from Carroll College and a master’s in recreation and outdoor education from the University of Minnesota. She formerly served as program director of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation and as CEO of Alpha Youth Care Services in Wisconsin. Tisha is a member of ACA, Northland and served on the section board, in addition to several other nonprofit boards. She has extensive experience in fundraising and training, and she currently serves on ACA’s transition team.
Marla Coleman is a past president of the American Camp Association, the co-author of Crisis Communications: A Handbook for Camps and Other Youth Programs, and the author of the blog, “Campfire Stories for Parents.” She and her family own and operate Coleman Family Camps. Marla is a spokesperson for the camp experience, which provides a community where trained counselors encourage youth to take healthy risks and build on their successes. For more information, or to read her blog, visit www.MarlaColeman.com.
Bob Ditter is a senior level child, family, and adolescent therapist who works with people who work with children. He is nationally known as the author of the Camping Magazine column "In the Trenches," and for his work with Disney, Sea World, the Salvation Army, YMCA Girl Scouts, JCC, and many other youth organizations. He is a special consultant to America's Camp, the camp for children whose parents were lost in the Twin Towers on September 11, and has received the highest awards from the American Camp Association for his contribution to camp over the past twenty-five years.
Linda Ebner Erceg, RN, MS, PHN
Starting with Camp Chinqueka in Connecticut and currently with the Concordia Language Villages of Minnesota, Linda Ebner Erceg has worked as a camp professional since 1969. Currently specializing in camp health services with a keen focus on risk reduction initiatives, Linda is also executive director of the Association of Camp Nurses, an international nursing organization she helped launch in 1990. Linda is an ACA Standards Visitor, serves on ACA's National Education Committee, is a Board member of ACA's Northland Section, and a frequent presenter at regional, national, and international camp conferences. Her publications include The Basics of Camp Nursing and several articles for CompassPoint and Camping Magazine.
Ethan D. Schafer, Ph.D.
Ethan completed his doctorate in child clinical psychology at Case Western Reserve University, where he is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychology. He also works in a private practice in the Cleveland area. He has over fifteen years of camp experience and has been consulting with summer camps for several years.
Ann Sheets is a certified camp director, parent of two children, and a professional with Camp Fire First Texas. Ann is the immediate past national president of ACA and has been an active ACA volunteer for over thirty years, serving also as national treasurer, national board member, standards instructor, and conference presenter. Ann speaks eloquently on the camp experience, and has done so in numerous media interviews and presentations.
Dr. Christopher Thurber
Dr. Christopher Thurber, Ph. D. is a licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in children's adjustment and emotional health. He is nationally recognized as a leading expert on homesickness prevention. A summary of his research appears in the widely acclaimed book for new camper families entitled The Summer Camp Handbook. Dr. Thurber has discussed many aspects of the camp experience on National Public Radio, CBS News, and the Today Show. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard and his Ph.D. from UCLA. During the academic year, he is the school psychologist at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire.
Stephen Wallace, M.S. Ed.
Stephen Wallace has broad experience as a school psychologist and adolescent counselor. He serves as Director of Counseling and Counselor Training at the Cape Cod Sea Camps, Chairman and CEO of SADD, and Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Mount Ida College. Stephen is a researcher, writer, and speaker who focuses on youth development and decision-making. He is a regular contributor to regional and national broadcasts and his bimonthly columns appear in newspapers across the country.
Edward A. Walton, M.D., F.A.A.P., F.A.C.E.P.
Dr. Walton is assistant professor of emergency medicine and pediatrics at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He has been involved in camping and camp health research for twenty years, and his scholarly articles concerning camp health issues have appeared in major medical journals. He consults on camp health issues for the American Academy of Pediatrics and serves on the National Board of the American Camp Association. He has also shared his youth development and camp expertise at medical and other professional conferences, in broadcast and print media, and on the internet.