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NSB seeks input on standards development.

As ACA continues to move forward toward a world that recognizes the lifelong lessons children and adults can learn through a positive camp experience, the National Standards Board (NSB) recognizes the critical contribution an enhanced program of best practices can make. Utilizing results from the public opinion research, camp outcomes research, new professional development initiatives, and collaboration with outside resources, the NSB is working on development of a new tiered program that facilitates the progression of camp programs and camps toward measurable and recognizable levels of competence and excellence.

This project is in the concept stage, with goals to:

1. Determine a set of minimal health and safety standards for all camps and camp programs. These may include requirements of the current mandatory standards -- and/or basic licensing requirements that local and state governments expect of camps. This level would provide a simpler entry into ACA for camps and camp programs and would likely be a written self-assessment process (as opposed to an on-site visit process).

2. Validate a set of care and well-being standards for camp accreditation based on existing standards. These may include the "core" of current standards that go beyond basic health and safety, with achievement of level one as a prerequisite. The process would be similar to the current model, and would continue to be called "Camp Accreditation."

3. Identify a set of measurable quality indicators of best practices in camps. These indicators may utilize quality measures, based on focus group and outcomes research. This is a step above what we currently administer to distinguish camps and camp professionals that choose to go to that level.

4. By 2005, design and field test a process that is a multilevel program of education and recognition. The process and "labels" would be different for each level. Implementation could begin no sooner than 2006.

The public, the camp profession, and ACA will all realize significant benefits from this work. Camp programs that now see the current standards as beyond their means or vision will find an agreeable and useful entrance to recommended practices and to the larger community of ACA. Our current accredited camps who are already comfortable with the system will continue to benefit through access to an expanding knowledge base, while the process and "accredited camp" recognition we know so well will remain largely unchanged. Finally, those camps that see the current accreditation as a starting point will find useful information and education about how to achieve a level of distinction that includes measurable quality. The public will recognize the various levels of training and recognition available to a broader collection of camps and camp programs. Membership in ACA will grow as individuals and camps find expanded options for resources, education, and recognition.

More details are available from NSB members, and on ACA's Web site (www.ACAcamps.org/accreditation/02standards.htm). The NSB welcomes comments and input on this draft concept. An Open Hearing will be held at the ACA National Conference in Denver. Other comments may be sent to accreditation@ACAcamps.org.
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Title Annotation:National Standards Board
Publication:Camping Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2003
Words:506
Previous Article:Common good!
Next Article:Opportunities to learn and serve.
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