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A community of camp professionals ...

Founded in 1910 as the Camp Directors' Association of America, the American Camping Association is the largest organization serving the organized camping industry. ACA's current 5,500-plus members represent a diverse constituency of camp owners and directors, educators, business representatives, students, and retirees. Members come from all segments of the camp profession, including agencies serving youth and adults, independent camps, religious and fraternal organizations, and public/municipal agencies.

Commitment to increasing credibility

It's been said that an organization is only as strong as the individuals within. Each year, hundreds of ACA volunteers spend thousands of hours working on projects to improve the association and to make the jobs of their peers - other camp professionals - just a little easier.

This year, in response to members concerns about legislation affecting camps, the Public Policy Committee began working with APCO Associates, Inc., a government relations firm with extensive experience in lobbying and coalition building. This relationship will help ACA keep members informed about important issues and give ACA a strong voice in Washington.

The Research Committee pushed full steam ahead in their work to prove that camp gives kids a world of good. Working with several affiliated organizations and Paul Marsh, a graduate student at Indiana University, the research coalition completed an initial meta-analysis of research on camp and self-esteem. Camp directors have king believed in the power of the camp experience, and the findings of this study validate that belief. The research coalition now plans more in-depth research into the outcomes of camp, information camp directors need. Stay tuned!

ACA's Insurance Committee selected Frontier CampPro as the association's endorsed insurance carrier, forming a partnership that will help bring educational opportunities to members and financial strength to the association. ACA also worked with several allied organizations, such as Conservation USA, Hershey, Wild Birds Unlimited, the Sierra Club, Nickelodeon, and Patagonia, to bring programs and other opportunities to members. Overall, ACA strives to increase positive alliances and establish our position as a leader in the ever-growing camp industry.

Commitment to providing education

ACA believes that camp professionals care about the successful development of children. Therefore, the national headquarters and the twenty-four sections located across the country form a seamless link to provide members with the latest information and most up-to-date resources. The more than 200 national and section educational events held throughout the year gave members the opportunity to with other camp professionals and provided training on every aspect of camp operations, from running the business office and staffing to designing dynamic programs and evaluating outcomes.

Several other training resources were created this year, some designed to be used for local training and others for use by camps to train their staff members.

* ACA illustrated its commitment to experiential learning this year with the training game S'mores and Other Sticky Stuff. The game is a part of the curriculum for the New Director Orientation course, which is offered by sections.

* Called "a wonderful reality check," "extremely effective," and "the best resource I have received from ACA in years," the video "Who Will Care When I'm Not There?" was produced thanks to a partnership with Frontier Insurance. This timely and relevant video addressed camp safety issues and reiterated to counselors and other front-line staff the importance of their role in child and youth development.

* The 1999 Salary Study provided a much-needed overview of camp salaries and other relevant information on minimum wage and taxes.

* ACA's "virtual" community continued to emerge this year. The Web site (www.ACAcamps.org) was redesigned and a members-only section launched. Another new feature on the Web site is a link to Amazon.com, which gives members access to a broad selection of books and allows them to order directly from Amazon, with ACA receiving a royalty on items purchased.

* Camping Magazine and CampLine introduced new features and formatting this year as they continued to provide needed information on such topics as youth development, inclusion at camp, searching campers' belongings, and child labor laws.

* ACA provided access to multiple learning opportunities and modalities through two customized products produced to support directors in their efforts to meet the new standards. The Standards Data Manager, a CD-ROM that enables camp directors to track their progress, and the Resource Pack, which contains sample forms and procedures, helped camp directors maintain best practices at their camps.

Camp is more than a place; it's an experience, an opportunity for children to be a part of a tight-knit community filled with caring adults where failure is not an option. Camp teaches skills that help kids cope in the real world. For these reasons, ACA is aligned with America's Promise - The Alliance for Youth, chaired by Gen. Colin Powell. ACA has set a goal of increasing the number of low-income and under-served children who have a camp experience by 15 percent by the year 2000.

Commitment to children and youth

Growing up today is more difficult than in the past. More parents work, more kids grow up in single parent households, and many kids don't feel a sense of belonging. Camp is one of the real and viable answers for children, youth, and families. Camp offers a supervised, positive environment where children and youth can laugh and develop through a variety of activities - all within a set of controlled boundaries.

This year, ACA was challenged by the national media to respond to the public's concern over youth violence and the safety of the camp environment. ACA met this opportunity with a proactive response, citing the long-term commitment to risk management and describing the attributes of the positive camp "community" and the value within - caring adults, safe environments, and learning by doing. Camp does give kids a world of good. And parents agree. When asked why they send their child to camp, parents overwhelmingly respond because camp can help to increase their child's self-esteem and self-confidence. Some parents even feel that their children are safer at camp then in their own community.

For camp to enrich the lives of children and adults, camp professionals must fully understand their role in child and youth development. To facilitate this learning process and ultimately enhance the camp experience, ACA's National Education Council and National Conference Program Committee have worked to ensure that all national education events and training courses include information on camp's role in child and youth development, emphasizing ACA's commitment to the lives of young people.

Commitment to spreading the word

For years, ACA has been touting camp's impact on child and youth development - and parents and the media are listening. Camp enrollment is increasing every year, and more and more camp stories appear in newspapers, magazines, and on television news programs. ACA has established itself as a proactive, responsive resource. This year, ACA worked with the Associated Press and CBS Evening News to showcase camps as safe places committed to enriching the lives of campers and staff. ACA-accredited camps and spokespersons were also highlighted in other national publications, such as USA Today, Good Housekeeping Magazine, American Demographics, and the Los Angeles Times.

In addition to spreading the word to the media, ACA also spread the word to parents by making the process of selecting a camp as easy as possible. The Interactive Camp Database on ACA's Web site continued to provide twenty-four hour access to the list of ACA-accredited camps. The national office and local sections also provided resources for parents. Parents who called the national office were referred to the local section or received free information about accredited camps and a copy of the Summer Camp Answer Booklet. Many of the sections also offered localized directories, free referral services, or camp fairs.

Since Gunnery Camp was founded in 1861, campers have been enjoying fun, adventure, and learning while making memories and friendships that last a lifetime. Although the facilities, programs, and menus have changed over the years, the philosophy of the camp experience and its goals have remained the same. Campers take part in creative, recreational, and educational activities designed to contribute to each camper's mental, physical, social, and spiritual growth. Camp enrollment continues to increase each year, and in 1998, an estimated nine million young people benefitted from a camp experience.

Commitment to making a camp experience a reality for all

ACA believes that camp is for everyone, regardless of age, ability, and economic situation. Each year, camps and sections work to make camp financially affordable for campers who might not otherwise have the opportunity for a camp experience. In 1998, 65 percent of camps gave scholarships to campers. Section programs, such as SCOPE and Title XX, have also helped to make camp a reality for at-risk kids. In all, nearly $10 million dollars has been given to campers nationwide, broadening the opportunity for a camp experience to all children.

As the benefits of the camp experience become more commonly known, so is knowledge about the impact of a camp experience for children with special needs. Many of the more than 2,300 camps accredited by ACA operate programs specifically for the special needs of campers with physical, emotional, or mental challenges. During the past few years, the number of camps specifically for burn victims; children with diabetes, AIDS, or cancer; neglected and abused children; and children whose family members h ave passed away have grown in numbers. In addition to special programs, the number of camps including both campers with disabilities and those without have increased. The National Inclusive Camp Practices study has examined these programs anti the results document the benefits of such a program for all participants.

Commitment to best practices

Safety is a key concern of parents - and ACA. ACA's accreditation standards are designed to address the issues of health, safety, and program quality and to give parents a peace of mind when sending their children to camp. The more than 2,300 camps accredited by ACA have voluntarily agreed to comply with these best practices, ensuring that their program are of the highest quality in the industry. More than anything, ACA accreditation expresses a camp's commitment to those who attend.

To ensure that ACA standards remain a valid reflection of best practices, the standards were revised in 1998 to take into consideration both summer and year-round programs, current public expectations, and changes in the legal and regulatory climate. As difficult as change is, ACA must be current and on the cutting edge of the emerging programs and issues changing the face of the organized camp experience. We must always have the courage to look to the future and be willing to learn lessons and accommodate accordingly.

The National Standards Board accepted this demand and the demands of the huge training effort that follows a change in standards. To ensure that the standards were implemented appropriately, standards instructors and standards visitors had to be trained and updated. Camp directors also received training in the new standards. In all, ACA members took part in nearly 15,000 hours of standards training this year, a meaningful statement to members' commitment to and belief in quality camp experiences.

Commitment to the future

Children and adults have been going to camp for more than 150 years and ACA is dedicated to ensuring that people years from now have that same experience. This year, more than 150 ACA leaders met to discuss the association's future. The participants in this Leadership Summit boldly proclaimed that ACA wants to be a leader in the industry, the knowledge center for camping. The newly formed Resource Development Committee shares that motivation and to that end will mobilize all resource development efforts to profoundly influence the promotion and preservation of organized camping in the twenty-first century.

National and section structures have also changed to support the growth of the association. The reorganization of the national staff has resulted in cross-functional teams and improved communication and interaction among departments and sections. Likewise, the combining of the ACA Central, Eastern, and Western Pennsylvania Sections into the Keystone Regional Section, ACA Cumberland and ACA Mid-South Section into the ACA Heart of the South Section, and the ACA Florida Section merging with the ACA Southeastern Section has allowed section staff to better serve members and support the camp experience by increasing influence and capacity. ACA's renewed governing structures will enhance our position in the twenty-first century, ensuring all people have the opportunity to have a positive camp experience.

In fiscal 1999, the American Camping Association, under the direction of new Executive Director Peg Smith, maintained the stability of its longtime programs and services. The implementation of the new standards (a once-every-six-years cycle) both created and used association resources. A continuing analysis of core values and goals led to a decision to build on the association's strengths to pursue growth in membership and status.

Statement of Financial Position

Cash and cash equivalents and investments combined show an increase of over $100,000. Most of this is due to budgeting for equity and recovering depreciation expense on the computer conversion. For ACA, the difference between cash and investments is the accounting distinction between cash equivalents and short-term investments.

Accounts receivable from the ACA Bookstore rose because of the increased sales over the last three months of fiscal 1999; however, the total was down because the Foundation and insurance royalty receivables, which were up at the end of fiscal 1998, had been paid by June 30, 1999. Inventory, which consists largely of books for resale, was increased due to the six new products that ACA published this year.

Sections payables were down because all sections are now receiving their dues and fees distribution on a monthly, rather than quarterly, basis. Accrued expenses increases are attributable to timing differences. Increased escrow funds are the additional insurance money from the sections to cover the deductible on the association liability policy; deferred income is down because there were no early payments of exhibit booth registrations this year.

ACA's net asset classifications include:

* Unrestricted, which includes the general fund, accumulated "I Believe" funds, equity reserve fund, capital fired (from 1986 building remodeling), and funds of various councils and the Pioneers in Camping.

* Temporarily restricted, which holds contributions for specific purposes (such as the scholarship fund) until donor requirements have been met.

Statement of Activities

Membership dues revenues remain static, while service fees continue to grow slowly. Conference and education registrations were up considerably, due to the new training required for standards chairs, trainers, and visitors and due to training two groups of section officers at the fall section leadership training. Publications revenues were up because the ACA Bookstore had a tremendous year, selling over 40 percent more than the previous year, largely due to new standards products. Contributions and grants decreased because scholarship contributions were down, following a biannual trend. Also, the American Camping Foundation grants to the association were less because of the special grant in the prior year for the executive search. Royalties were down overall, because the insurance royalty was down, but the Sysco program continues to grow.

Nearly 50 percent of all membership and service fees continue to be distributed to sections to provide local membership services, and the distributions to section related to royalty sharing are growing. Member and field services expense was up because there was no section leadership training in the fall of the prior year, compared to two schools in the fall of fiscal 1999. Camping education includes the annual conference, which had increased expenses due to the Chicago location. Additional expenses accompanied the increased registration revenues in other areas noted above. The increase in educational publications expense is the cost of sales and other expenses related to the $248,000 increase in sales.

Standards program expenses were up because of various training classes which were held before the first visits tinder the new standards. Government relations program expenses were down because of transition time between lobbyist contracts. Scholarship grants returned to normal levels after an exceptional fiscal 1998.

General and administration expense was up for several reasons. Increased long distance and facsimile usage combined with a change in allocations to show a $27,000 increase in communications expense under that category. Also, an increase in the vacation accrual at year-end provided for an almost $25,000 swing in salary and benefits expense. Governance expenses returned to normal levels after the executive transition of the prior year. Fund-raising expenses were up as ACA used the last of the Lilly Endowment grant to improve the fund-raising department.
American Camping Association, Inc.
Statement of Financial Position

Year Ended June 30 1999 1998

Assets

Cash and cash equivalents $ 828,057 $ 430,233
Accounts receivables, net of allowance 237,843 261,285
Prepaid expenses 78,965 73,557
Pledges receivable, net of allowance 17,768 27,768
Inventory 225,380 201,578
Investments 295,137
Assets held in split interest agreements 30,559 33,939
Building and equipment, net 1,164,230 1,264,189

Total assets $2,582,802 $2,587,686

Liabilities

Accounts payable $ 98,255 $89,187
Sections payable 162,193 235,725
Accrued expenses 121,288 101,242
Unearned dues 554,904 522,265
Escrow funds 9,752 3,214
Deferred income 175 14,865
Liability under split interest agreements 16,585 18,439

Total liabilities $ 963,152 $ 984,937

Net Assets

Unrestricted $1,369,771 $1,334,856
Temporarily restricted 249,879 267,893
 1,619,650 1,602,749

Total liabilities and net assets $2,582,802 $2,587,686

The consolidated financial statements of the American Camping
Association and the American Camping Foundation are audited by
Olive, LLP, Indianapolis, IN. For a copy of the audited financial
statements with footnotes, write to: Accounting Department,
American Camping Association, 5000 State Road 67 North,
Martinsville, IN 46151-7902.


[TABULAR DATA OMITTED]

Losses and Gains

Bob Schultz, ACA's director of resource development and community relations, recently accepted a new position with the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors' Association as director of communications and public relations.

In his four years with ACA, Bob made great strides in advancing public awareness about the camp experience. He served as the national spokesperson for the organized camping industry and increased media placements by 600 percent resulting in the largest increase in camper enrollment in the nation's history and in ACA being awarded the Public Relations Society of America's strategical alliances for organizational advancement, specifically with Gen. Colin Powell's America's Promise - The Alliance for Youth. He also directed the organization and revitalization of the association's fund-raising activities. ACA wishes Bob well in his future endeavors.

While ACA may be losing one valued staff member, we are gaining another individual with the skills that will help the association grow and prosper in the new millennium. Susan Yoder recently accepted the position of director of field service and membership.

Susan most recently was assistant executive vice president for membership and chapter relations at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in Indianapolis. She was responsible for all aspects of membership marketing, development, retention, and customer services. Susan also developed a strong chapter services program. Prior to her work with ACSM, Susan was a district executive for the Boy Scouts of America.

New Books on ACA's Web Site

The list of ACA reviewed and recommended books available from Amazon.com through ACA's Web site (www.ACAcamps.org) is growing. To view the latest books added, click the Buy Books link from ACA's home page. You will find links to view books available from ACA and only from Amazon.com.

Remember, you can support ACA every time you buy books from Amazon.com if you enter Amazon's site from ACA's Web site, just click Buy Books and then the link to Amazon.com. ACA receives a royalty on every book you purchase through Amazon.com even if we didn't recommend it. Supporting your association in this way helps increase revenue, which increases our ability to provide the services you need and want. What a great win-win situation!

Legislative Update

ACA Shares Concerns about Public Lands Use

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service is currently in the process of rewriting its institutional use policy for public lands. This will impact capacity and permit issues related to commercial and institutional use of recreational resources, the lands on which camps operate. ACA's Public Policy Committee and APCO Associates Inc. met with Alice Carlton of the USDA Forest Service in Washington, D.C., to ensure that the Forest Service was aware of ACA's concerns and views. Various other groups that are interested in the outcome of the agency's current effort were present at the meeting as well. ACA will continue to maintain a dialogue with Forest Service officials as the policy continues to be reworked and redefined.

News on Social Security Numbers and International Students

There has been some confusion surrounding the issue of whether international students with J-1 visas (considered non-resident aliens) need to apply for a social security number while working at camps in the United States. According to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations enacted in 1996, anyone who works in the U.S. and earns a salary, regardless of duration or amount, is required to file an income tax return. To do so, the IRS requires that all workers have a permanent identification number.

A permanent identification number can take two forms. If a student is on a camp payroll, then they are required to obtain a social security number from the Social Security Administration (SSA). If the student is not on a payroll, then they are required to obtain an I-10 number from the IRS.

Theoretically, the SSA won't issue a social security number to anyone who cannot participate in their benefit system. However, non-resident aliens are considered to be potential participants in the social security benefit system since they may return to the United States at another time in their life to work.

According to the Internal Revenue Code, if nonresident aliens earn any income, deductions will be taken out of their gross income. Each person is eligible, however, for a personal exemption of $2,750. Individuals may not owe anything if they make less than this amount, but they are still required to file.

Unfortunately, SSA offices around the country have enforced these regulations in an inconsistent manner. Local offices may refuse to issue a social security number to a non-resident alien with a J-1 visa even though they are required and able to do so. The SSA issues a standard letter when they refuse to issue a social security number. If this does occur, nonresident aliens have two options. They may contest the refusal by asking to see the "Evidence Manual" present in all Social Security Administration offices; this manual states that non-resident aliens with J-1 visas are supposed to receive social security numbers. Or, they may take the refusal letter to the IRS in order to receive an I-10 number.

Non-resident aliens from countries that have tax treaties with the United States may be exempt. However, the existence of a tax treaty will not prevent them from having to file. Although these regulations may seem tedious and confusing, international students are required to comply. ACA is currently working to try to further clarify the details of this process.

Implications of the Volunteers for Children Act

The Volunteers for Children Act, an amendment to the National Child Protection Act of 1993, was signed into law by President Clinton on October 9, 1998. The act gives "qualified entities" the ability to request fingerprint-based national criminal history background checks of volunteers and employees. Prior to this law, in all but a few states, organizations could order only local and state checks. Thus, if an applicant was convicted for molesting children in another state, the local check wouldn't show those charges. This law allows organizations to run an applicant's fingerprints through a national database. While this is an important development in legislation protecting children, inconsistencies in implementation among states exist. Therefore, ACA will be following this issue closely to better understand its practical application.

Defining qualified entity

A "qualified entity" is any business or organization that provides care, treatment, education, training, instruction, supervision, or recreation for children, the elderly, or individuals with disabilities, whether public, private, for-profit, nonprofit, or voluntary. The purpose of this criminal history check is to determine if a prospective or current employee or volunteer has been convicted of a crime that affects their fitness to have responsibility for the safety and well-being of children, the elderly, or individuals with disabilities.

Representative Mark Foley (R-FL) was the original sponsor of the bill, which was included in the larger Crime Identification Technology Act of 1998. The law authorizes a $1.25 billion, five-year technology grant program for states to help local law enforcement agencies share electronic information in national crime databases and improve their crime laboratories.

Because the federal law is voluntary, state police agencies can decide whether or not they want to conduct the checks, and children's organizations can decide whether or not they want to pursue them. The voluntary nature of the law leads to inconsistencies in states' use of the law. According to Jody Gorran, founder and operations director of the National Foundation to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse, Alabama, Texas, and Maine appear to be moving the slowest in implementing the law.

Requesting fingerprint checks

To request fingerprint-based national criminal history background checks of volunteers and employees, a qualified entity should contact their state law enforcement agency. Employers will send fingerprints and other employee information to their state law enforcement identification bureau, which will in turn contact the FBI. No group or organization can request a check unless a set of fingerprints is obtained from the employee or volunteer, and the employee or volunteer must also sign a statement that includes specific information. Inkless fingerprint kits are available from organizations such as the National Foundation to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse. Through the state law enforcement agency, the organization will receive a statement detailing whether or not the individual in question has been convicted of a crime that bears upon their suitability to provide care. "Rap sheets" are not released.

Volunteer organizations must pay a fee to state and federal agencies to access the information. The combined cost is $40 to $50 for each volunteer applicant. The crime bill's grants will help law enforcement agencies purchase scanners that can instantly transmit fingerprint data to be compared with state and national records. With better equipment, the results will be returned more quickly.

Assessing liability

A group, like a youth service organization, cannot be liable for damages solely for failure to conduct a background check. However, for many legal reasons, it should be noted that the effect of this provision may be limited. If a volunteer or employee of an organization sexually molests a child in his/her care, and if it can be shown that the individual had been previously convicted somewhere in the United States of a relevant crime, the organization may be held liable under the legal theory of negligent hiring.

ACA recognizes this as a significant issue for camps. We are working toward a consistent application of the law across the country. We believe uniform enforcement among all of the states and quick and consistent results are essential for this to be an effective method of protecting children.
COPYRIGHT 1999 American Camping Association
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Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Camping Magazine
Date:Nov 1, 1999
Words:4550
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