Recap of the National ACA Conference
The spring has sprung and with that comes our American Camp Association (ACA) conferences! This year the ACA National Conference was in Orlando, Fl and Elizabeth, Stephanie and myself traveled down to the sunshine state to learn, network, present, and enjoy some sunshine!
This was my very first ACA Conference and I had the opportunity to meet with and even stay with other camp professionals. This really widened my perspective as my only camp experience is Alleghnay!
After arriving and getting settled in, we arrived at the conference center a few hours before Opening Sessions to check in, and get the lay of the land Stephanie and I attended the “First Time Conference Center Welcome Session.” We met lots of emerging camp professionals and were given tips and tricks about making the most of the conference.
The Opening Keynote was delivered by Tracy Dennis-Tiwary, Ph.D. who is a professor of psychology and neuroscience, director of the Emotion Regulation Lab, and co-executive director of the Center for Health Technology at Hunter College. She spoke on breaking down the stigma behind Mental Health Concerns in children and adults and how to address these concerns in a camping atmosphere. This Keynote set the tone for the rest of the conference which centered around mental health in both campers and staff.
After the Keynote, our team split up to attend as many sessions as possible. We learned more about staffing, difficult conversations, leadership, teen programming, employing Gen Z, camp marketing, the transition from camper to counselor, building leadership, programming and so much more.
Not only did our team attend sessions, one of us even presented one! Our Director, Elizabeth along with her Mastermind Group- Jalisa Danhof, Camp Newaygo, Anne Izard, Green River Preserve, and Amber Grundy, Camp Tannadoonah. They presented on “High-Level Executive Director Skills” covering skills and concepts needed to master leadership of your camp. They spoke about alumni development, capital campaigns, full-time staff management, and board structure. They provided actionable items and a bank of resources for other camp directors. The highly attended session was very well received and the attendees stayed for 30 mins after to ask questions and praise the group of presenters.
We are so proud of Elizabeth and her group!
The conference season is not over yet! In 2 weeks the three of us will travel to Atlantic City for the ACA Tri-State Conference where we will meet even more camp pros, participate in new discussions, and prepare even more for the summer ahead!