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American Camp Association (ACA)

What is ACA Accreditation, and why is it important?

Day camps in Washington state must be licensed by the Department of Health. While such a license is not required for overnight resident camps, overnight camps in Washington are regulated by the State Board of Health and the Department of Early Learning. Many quality summer camps in Washington and around the country take it a step further, choosing to become accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA)

ACA is the only nationwide organization that accredits children’s camps. Unlike state licensing, ACA Accreditation is a voluntary commitment by camps to uphold the highest standards of programming, leadership and staffing, health care, business and risk management, safety and emergency management plans.

While Washington state regulations focus on the enforcement of minimum standards, ACA accreditation focuses on education and the evaluation of camp operations, using standards that go beyond the minimum requirements of licensing. ACA collaborates with experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Red Cross, and other youth-serving agencies to assure that current practices at camp reflect the most up-to-date, research-based standards in camp operation. ACA standards have been recognized by courts of law and government regulators as the standards for best practices in camp.

As of 2019 there are 49 ACA accredited camps in Washington. Accredited camps are required to pay an annual membership fee and have an on-site visit every five years. During non-visit years, ACA requires that camps complete an Annual Accreditation Report. 

"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness."

John Muir