ACA salutes Gordie Kaplan.
Gordie Kaplan officially retired from his job at ACA, Illinois on June 30, 2016. Becoming executive director emeritus last February, he stayed on through June to ensure a smooth transition.
Gordie joined ACA in 1959 as a high school senior, already leaning toward making camp his career. By then, he had already spent a decade of summers as a camper, counselor in training, and then junior counselor at Camp Thunderbird for Boys in Bemidji, Minnesota. By 1965, he had graduated to head counselor for 14- and 15-year-old boys, and then to program director at Camp Thunderbird in 1966. And that was still just the beginning.
Gordie Kaplan has spent over 65 years living the camp life in one capacity or another, and his contributions to the industry have been many. To name just a handful:
* From 1967 to 1972, Gordie was a member of the ACA National Standards Re-write Task Group; during this time he also worked with the National Easter Seals Society to help format their standards for camps serving campers with physical and developmental/cognitive challenges to fit within the ACA National Standards.
* In the spring of 1975 he started an office for ACA, St Louis.
* During the summers from 1976 to 1984 he worked for Circle M Day Camp in Illinois, the first summer as a unit director and thereafter as the nature and cook-out specialist.
* Fall 1985, Gordie became ACA, Illinois' full-time associate director.
* He served on the founding steering committee of the Mid States Camping Conference and organized the Pre-Conference Courses for Mid States in 1993.
* From 1994 through 2015, he led the ACA Basic Camp Director Course in conjunction with the Mid States Camping Conference.
* August 1996, he became executive director of ACA, Illinois.
Gordie plans to remain active as an ACA volunteer standards instructor, visitor, and mentor for new camp directors. He will also continue to help plan and conduct the Mid States Camp Conference, staff/co-teach the Emerging Director Skills Lab (EDSL), and lead the Student Camp Leadership Academy (SCLA), a weekend retreat for college students considering a career in the camp field. The Gordie Kaplan Campership Fund has also been established through ACA, Illinois, for which 100 percent of the monies donated will help send economically disadvantaged children to camp.
ACA salutes Gordie Kaplan for his many years of service to the camp industry and for those to come.