Children’s summer camps and wilderness programs for boys and girls in the United…

June 27, 2017

The Best Summer Camp in America (8) – An Overview of Summer Camp Accreditation

This is the eighth article in a series of ten on Choosing the Best Summer Camp in America.

CP-bestsummercamp8Accreditation Helps Confirm Credibility of a Summer Camp

When looking for a camp it’s important to know how the program is evaluated and improved over time. Many camps are members of organizations that provide standards for the industry and educational opportunities for staff. Accreditation is a snapshot of how a facility has performed against a set of standards when reviewed by a peer group. In general, an organization that has been reviewed successfully on multiple occasions is attempting to live up to those standards, but it doesn’t mean the camp is perfect. Nothing replaces doing your own research, checking references, and asking questions.

Do Your Homework When Reviewing Camps for Your Child

Once you make a list of locations to consider, find out what organizations accredit the programs and ask about the accreditation. There are numerous organizations that grant accreditation to camps — the ACA, AEE, CCA, GSA, BCCA, and the list goes on (see below). The standards of each of the accrediting organizations reflect the focus of the organization. The ACA, American Camp Association, is by far the largest accrediting organization for summer camps. Their standards cover a broad spectrum of summer camp programs from day camps to sleepaway camps with sessions up to eight weeks or longer. The AEE, Association for Experiential Education, on the other hand, focuses on adventure programs that may take wilderness trips far away from a base camp. ACA accreditation is an appropriate choice for many traditional camps that have a broad range of activities primarily based at one location. For programs that often travel to remote areas to rock climb, mountain bike, backpack, or go whitewater canoeing, AEE accreditation would be an appropriate choice.

camppage-3waysstaffcanadjustwhencampendsOngoing Evaluation and Improvements Indicate a Successful Program

Accreditation is an expensive and time-consuming proposition, and only a fraction of organizations are accredited. Numerous camps have membership in an association but are not accredited. Many excellent camps choose to not be accredited but should be prepared to tell you how their program is evaluated and improved in an ongoing fashion.

Summer Camp Associations

The list below shows most of the major associations. If the association does offer accreditation, there should be a commentary about accreditation on the association’s website that outlines the focus of their accreditation services.

Alberta Camping Association –

American Camp Association –

l’Association des camps du Québec –

Association for Experiential Education –

The Association of Christian Camps and Conferences –

British Columbia Camping Association –

Camping Association of Nova Scotia –

Canadian Camping Association –

Children’s Oncology Camping Association International –

Christian Camping International / CANADA –

Diabetes Camping Association –

International Camping Fellowship –

Manitoba Camping Association –

Mennonite Camping Association –

New Brunswick Camping Association –

Ontario Camps Association –

Saskatchewan Camping Association –

Southern Baptist Camping Association –

There are nine more considerations to take into account when searching for the best camp for your child:

  1. Family decision
  2. Philosophy
  3. Program
  4. Cost
  5. Consider the Location
  6. Camp size
  7. Camp staff
  8. Standards & accreditation
  9. References
  10. Facility

When you’ve decided the best-sized camp for your kids, can help you choose one of the many in the United States and Canada.