EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Lifestyle

April 7, 2013

A camp for every kid

Accreditation organization helps take guesswork out of choosing a summer getaway, while ensuring parents their child is getting the very best care

The idea of summer camp brings up great memories for most people: jumping in a cool lake, conquering the ropes course, late nights talking to new friends.

Before those memories can be made, however, parents have to go through the often stressful process of choosing a camp for their child: Day camp or overnight? Co-ed or single sex? The camp that you loved growing up, or something new? Adding to the pressure is the fact that many popular summer camps are opening registration earlier, meaning it’s important for parents to make these decisions long before drop-off day.

The good news is that there is a national organization that’s taking some of the guesswork out of picking a camp. The American Camp Association, or ACA, accredits camps around the country. With more than a century of experience working with camps and 50 years of offering accreditation, the ACA defines the industry standard for quality summer camps.

“The ACA accreditation helps in so many ways,” said Nancy Hartmann, the director of Brooks School Day Camp in North Andover. “It makes sure we are intentional with our programs. And that purpose filters through everything we do.”

Unlike state licensing, ACA accreditation is voluntary. Camps choose to participate in the rigorous program, which regulates everything from human resource standards to protective headgear. Being part of the ACA also gives camps access to professional resources and networks.

“We just ran the largest professional conference for folks who work in camps,” said Lucy Norvell, director of Public Information for ACA New England. “The sessions are designed to talk to professionals about the most important issues in our field in any given year.”

Although that may sound a bit boring compared to the raw excitement of summer camp, skills learned at ACA conferences often have a real effect on campers.

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