One of the greatest aspects of being part of the American Camp Association (ACA) is our opportunity each year to join with other camps in our region — Virginia and West Virginia — for a local mini-version of the annual ACA Camp Conference.
This ACA Virginias Conference happens every fall, just a bit after Camp Alleghany is closed up for the season. It’s a great time of year for us as we get a chance to reinvigorate our professional development as we look ahead to the next summer season.
For the second year in a row the ACA Virginias Conference was held in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, a small and charming “Main Street America” city just up the Valley from us by about 100 miles or so.
I love this location because a) it’s not too far, b) it’s in the West Virginia part of the Virginias, so those of us with camps in WV get some representation, which is nice :), and c) it’s close to the northern Virginia and DC area, which means we often get attendees from the Chesapeake section of the ACA to join us, which is also nice!
This year the Camp Alleghany conference contingent included me, Sam, and Louise, a nice little family getaway with lots of learning thrown in!
The keynote speaker was Joanna Warren Smith who specializes in camp consulting and marketing. She brought inspiration and vision with her deep respect for an experience in the camp industry.
Checking in with her provided us with a lot of great marketing ideas for marketing as well as affirmation of the many things we’re already doing right (and well), too!
Some of the breakout sessions provided even more opportunities to look at marketing, going beyond inspiration and into the real nitty-gritty. The theme of this conference was marketing, and it sure did deliver on that front.
But there were other valuable breakout sessions as well. I particularly enjoyed attending one on what motivates people (super helpful in building a strong staff) as well as one on positive youth development.
The youth development session made me very excited for planning new staff training options that are designed to understand this new generation of workers and the way they learn and develop the most effectively. Cultivating a great staff of workers means nurturing even more skilled and adept counselors, and that’s a good thing!
As always, my favorite part of the conference is the networking and community part . I of course love the educational sessions. But I love the chance to confer and share with other camp directors. Inevitably I walk away with new insights and ideas just from the casual conversations with other camp directors!
This is such a valuable and important part of our on-going efforts to stay up-to-date, inspired, and creative at Camp Alleghany. Ultimately, the greatest benefit of our attending these events fall to camp itself, which is made ever richer as we grow in our professional capacities.
— Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls