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Conference/retreat center standards to come before Council of Delegates.

The Council of Delegates will be taking action on the proposed conference/retreat center standards in Pittsburgh. This will culminate a five year process to develop a new accreditation designation in response to member needs.

Why Conference/Retreat Centers?

First, many current ACA members have facilities and services that have been designed for the needs of adult groups in adult-oriented facilities. Their facilities are often called "conference centers" or "retreat centers"...not "sites" or "camps." Those members wanted a designation to serve their retreat/conference business, and the ACA Approved Site designation does not meet all their needs.

Secondly, we want to see growth in membership, and one way to gain members is to provide services. Accreditation is one of our top services. We do it well, people respect us for it, and it attracts members. While other professional organizations such as the International Association of Conference Center Administrators (IACCA) continue to meet some of the needs of conference/retreat centers, accreditation is not among them.

Finally, in 1988 we entered into a contract with Christian Camping International/USA to provide accreditation for their camps. They also indicated a need for an accreditation program for the conference center portion of their camp operations. Upon entering into that contract, the ACA National Board of Directors agreed to "research, develop and implement accreditation standards for conference/retreat centers."

What will happen to site approval?

Site approval (SAP) will continue to be available either as a stand-alone designation, or in combination with camp accreditation. It is designed for camps that use their camp-style facilities for rent or lease to groups who retain the responsibility for most of their own programs.

Based on a survey completed in the summer of 1992, we learned that about half of those who currently have SAP more appropriately fit the conference/retreat center designation and wish to seek that new designation instead.

The ACA National Standards Board is seeking ways to incorporate the site approval visit with the camp accreditation visit for those who want both. Most of these visits will occur in the summer months. Conference/Retreat Center (CRC) visits can occur at any time of year, and it is anticipated that most will occur from September to May.

How are SAP and CRC different?

An Approved Site is a residential facility designed for youth, family, and adult groups seeking a rustic setting for retreats, outdoor education, youth and family camping, and other organized activities. Such a site is generally a camp-style facility adapted to support group activities in two or more seasons of the year. It provides lodging, food service or kitchen privileges, and outdoor recreation/program facilities for group use.

ACA's Conference/Retreat Center designation is for residential facilities designed for adults and other groups who come together for meetings, training sessions, and educational or inspirational programs. Such a facility generally operates at least three seasons of the year. It provides dedicated meeting space, food service, hospitality and support services, access to facilities or environments for release and diversion during free time, and appropriate housing.

Both designations are designed for facilities that utilize the natural environment. However, an Approved Site is more likely to use the outdoors as a program focus, while the conference/retreat treat center utilizes the outdoors as a "release" from the focus of indoor training.

It is not the intent of the American Camping Association to serve for-profit conference centers such as hotels, resorts, or centers existing as part of a major corporation such as Johnson and Johnson. It is highly unlikely, if not impossible to imagine, that those programs would want accreditation from the American Camping Association. Neither our standards nor our accreditation system has been designed with that type of operation in mind.

How will sections handle the new designation?

For the first several years, visitors with conference/retreat center experience will be asked to volunteer to conduct visits. Our target goal is to accredit approximately 400 conference centers in the first three years. One half of that number will come from operations who currently have site approval.

This goal requires an average 12.5 visits per section over three years, or four visits per year. We recognize that some sections will have more visits than others. However, the timing of visits in seasons other than summer will greatly help the administration of this program.

The addition of centers from Christian Camping International/USA, and from IACCA, will provide a new pool of persons from whom to draw visitor personnel. Some of these persons may also have camp experience and be willing to assist with camp accreditation visits.

What will it cost?

While figures and procedures are still being developed, we envision a service fee system for conference centers similar to our current system for camps. A minimum and maximum service fee will be established based on a sliding scale. This fee will be calculated separately from the fee for camp accreditation. Such a process recognizes that a "conference center" is a separate business from a "camp."

When will it be operational?

The first visits should occur by April 1994. Once the ACA Council of Delegates takes action on the standards, books and training materials will be developed in the spring and summer. Training will begin in the fall of 1993.

Further questions may be addressed to the Standards Department at ACA.
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Author:Scanlin, Margery M.
Publication:Camping Magazine
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Previous Article:ACA National Board elections.
Next Article:American Camping Association strategic plan: 1993-1996.

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