Camp Industry Comes Together: Insights from the 2023 ACA Conference
This year’s 2023 ACA conference had the biggest attendance yet, and was an absolute success. Attendees united with a shared goal of exploring new ways to enrich the camp experience while celebrating the success and accomplishments in the camp community. From addressing mental health challenges to creating more leadership training to overcoming Covid-19 challenges, the conference was packed with insightful discussions and helpful tips. We learned about the power of communicating with parents, and why camp is so important for building a sense of community and acceptance, and creating lifelong memories.
It was a blast to see so many individuals passionate about the camp industry coming together. Here are some of the most important insights we gained from the conference. You can also check out last year’s ACA conference recap here. Let’s get started!
Camping is alive and well: the need for camps is stronger than ever!
At the conference, we saw so many people who were excited to launch new camp programs or properties, which just goes to show that the need for camps is still going strong! Camp is an incredible experience for children. It’s a place where they can truly be themselves, make new friends, and try new things. Away from the pressures of school and other daily responsibilities, campers have the opportunity to grow, learn, and have fun in a supportive and safe environment. The ACA website has excellent resources for anyone looking to start a camp.
The benefits of camp for children are numerous, from building social skills and confidence to discovering new interests and hobbies. And let’s not forget the memories that are made at camp, can last a lifetime.
Taking care of our minds: prioritizing mental health at camp
We had some amazing keynote speakers who shared their expertise. One speaker spoke about the anxiety that professional leaders may face, given the unique challenges that they deal with, and gave some helpful tips to manage that anxiety. Another speaker emphasized the importance of having a support system in place for leaders, summer staff, and campers.
There are so many ways we can support each other when it comes to mental health, whether it’s having someone to talk to or calling in a pro to lend a helping hand. It was amazing to see everyone coming together and sharing strategies to make sure that everyone at camp feels happy, healthy, and supported.
Overcoming staffing hurdles
One of the biggest challenges camps face is… staffing! It can be really tough to find the right people for both leadership positions and seasonal summer jobs. But it’s so important to find enough staff because staffing levels affect how many campers can attend and the quality of their experience.
The good news is that many of the attendees at the conference were under thirty. This shows that there are lots of opportunities out there for both camps and young people looking for leadership roles. We just need to make sure we’re providing enough leadership training programs to prepare the next generation of leaders.
The power of communication
Let’s talk about a topic that’s been on many camp directors’ minds lately – rising expenses and salaries. Some camps have had to make the tough decision to raise rates, which can be hard to talk to parents about. But, fear not! Communication is the key here.
Camps are discovering that when they have open and honest conversations with parents about rising costs, it doesn’t affect turnout. Parents understand that running a camp is no easy feat and that costs inevitably go up. Plus, when parents see the incredible value that camps provide, they’re more than willing to pay a little extra. So, it’s essential for camps to keep the conversation going with parents, while highlighting all the fantastic benefits of attending camp.
Bouncing back strong from COVID-19
Despite all the obstacles thrown our way by COVID-19, it’s amazing to see that many healthy camps were able to bounce back with recovery rates of 90 to 95% or more in 2022, compared to 2019! This just goes to show the incredible resilience of the camp community in the face of crisis.
It’s so inspiring to see how the camp community was able to adapt and innovate, finding new ways to offer programs and support their campers during these challenging times. See our post about budgeting for some helpful tips.
In conclusion, the 2023 ACA conference was a huge success with the biggest attendance yet. Attendees from all over came together with a shared goal of exploring new ways to enrich the camp experience while celebrating the success and accomplishments in the camp community. The conference was packed with insightful discussions and helpful tips on mental health, staffing, communication, and overcoming COVID-19 challenges.
It was amazing to see so many individuals passionate about the camp industry coming together, and we were especially excited to see so many people launching new camp programs or properties. The benefits of camp for children are numerous, from building social skills and confidence to discovering new interests and hobbies, and creating lifelong memories. We’re looking forward to seeing what the future holds for the camp community, and we’ll continue to share important insights and updates. Thanks for joining us on this journey!