Preparing for your Accreditation visit is a great opportunity to educate junior team members on the inner workings of your camp, reevaluate your program's policies and procedures, and ensure that those who need to be informed about certain things are (i.e. parents, staff members, etc.). By starting your organization early, these things can be accomplished!
Educating Junior Team Members
In looking at your team, there are those that can be identified as EPICs (Emerging Professionals In Camping), and you role as supervisors is to present them with opportunities to gain knowledge. An impactful and useful way to give them this knowledge is to allow them to assist in the preparation of your ACA Accreditation materials. Start with a small section, such as Core/Foundational (CR) and let them gather the documents necessary to verify compliance with these Standards. This section is a great place for them to start as it focuses on the fundamental ideas behind your camp's program, allowing them to become more familiar with those will help them be able to better communicate with stakeholders in the future. From there, involve them in other areas as well. Administration (AD) focuses on a lot of the "this is how our camp operates" Standards. Everything from hiring policies to transportation safety can be found here. In terms of whole program education, a lot of it can be completed here. If using one of your EPICs is part of your preparation strategy, make sure to delegate early so that there is room for the educational piece.
Reevaluate Program Policies
It is a known fact that to be ACA Accredited a lot of documentation needs to be presented. So much of this documentation comes in the form of policies and procedures that range from loading a vehicle for an out-of-camp trip to how communication with the media is handled. Your camp's ACA Visit Year is an amazing opportunity to take a look at the policies that are currently in place and to gauge their efficacy and applicability. Our programs are constantly growing and evolving, so it's important that the rules that govern our decision making do as well. Staff hiring is in full swing, and this presents you with a great place to begin. Analyzing your hiring policies are very important. Are all of your staff completing their Voluntary Disclosure Statement? Have your year-round staff been background checked within the last 5 years? These are important things to check into to ensure that your camp is consistently complying with ACA Standards.
Dissemination is Key
How frustrating is it when you hear from someone "Oh, I had no idea. Did you send an email about it?" We want to avoid confusion for our stakeholders (staff, parents, campers, etc.) while eliminating unnecessary frustrations for ourselves. Believe it or not, the key to doing that is proper communication. By identifying who the intended audience to reach is, what needs to be communicated to them, when that information needs to be received by, and how that information will be presented will ensure that the possibilities for confusion or frustration will be minimal. A good strategy would be to create a communication calendar for camp and share it with those that need to know. Put dates of emails that will be sent , dates that reminders will be sent, and make sure to include who is getting these emails. Our goal should be to be proactive rather than reactive. "Did we remind staff about their medical forms yet?" will be a question that is no longer asked. Simply take a peek at our communication calendar and know that the reminder will go out next week.
ACA Accreditation is designed to be a positive learning experience. We want you to be successful, and you will be! Please take advantage of the resources below as you prepare:
- Resources by Section of Standards – This is still being updated to reflect the 2019 revision, but it is still a great resource if you are looking written documentation that is already created.
- Standards Requiring Written Documentation – This document will help you prepare for the Written Documentation Review that will need to be completed with your visitor, once they are assigned, by May 1st.
- My Accreditation Portal – The online system where you can create custom reports and upload documents that support specific Standards. This can be used as a tool to complete the Written Document Review with your visitor.
If you haven't yet attended an Accreditation Process Workshop or submitted your Camp Information please do so as soon as you can. Early preparation makes for a happier Camp Director. We are beginning work on Visitor Assignments! You will receive more information on who will be visiting your camp this summer by the Tri-State CAMP Conference.
Posted on Tue, January 8, 2019
by Kyle Medeiros