Making sure we run the safest overnight camp we can with an ACA visit

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My blog is going to be shorter than usual today because my attention was a bit diverted. Every three years we are visited by accreditors from the American Camp Association, and today was the big day! 

An ACA accreditation visit is really the standard by which all camps are measured across the United States and Canada. It’s a checklist of about 300 different criteria that measure safety, operations, state and federal regulations, and overall camp management. It’s essentially an audit of all that we do here, run by people who know and run camps themselves. It’s unbelievably thorough, and the leadership team and I have been preparing since January. The paperwork alone was about 1,200 pages.

In case you are wondering, here are some of the aspects of camp that our visitors were looking into today:

  • Staff supervision ratios in bunks and activities
  • The temperature at which our dining hall dish washer cleans and then rinses
  • If our overnight trips have proper protocols to store and handle food safely (and if we follow them)
  • That all of our water ski boat drivers have professional licenses with the State of New Hampshire, and have been trained on the contours of our lake and beaches
  • That each of our ropes course staff have, at a minimum, gone through 40 hours of professional training each summer
  • That every top bunk bed has a guardrail and how much space there is between each bed (a yard stick was used!) 
  • How our bunk counselors are trained on the medical and emotional needs of each individual camper
  • The qualifications, training, licensing, and ongoing supervision of every single activity counselor this summer
  • Checking the hard wired smoke detectors we have in every bunk and lodge
  • If our staff training successfully prepared our counselors, specialists and support staff for their tasks and responsibilities this summer
  • How often our medical procedures are reviewed and updated by a qualified expert
  • That every single vehicle camp is using this summer passed a full mechanical evaluation in June, and how each vehicle is safety checked before each usage
  • That a criminal background check was performed for every single seasonal and year round employee (including directors) before the start of the summer
  • The way our wood shop counselor trains campers and counselors on the operation of power tools before they are allowed to use them
  • What systems Chef Keira uses to keep our gluten free, egg free and dairy free eaters safe
  • Our storage of flamable and hazardous materials 
  • What percentage of our bunk counselors have 1st aid and CPR training (hint: it’s all of them)
  • How we drill our staff on crisis management procedures before and during the summer

RELATED: Finding A Safe Summer Camp For Kids With Allergies

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Doctor Betsy and Head Nurse Maundey were ready for today’s ACA visit!

These just scratch the surface of what they looked at. And while it was a bit exhausting we were thrilled to have them take an objective look at everything we do and how we do it. It was particularly exciting at the end when we were told K&E was “the most organized camp we’ve ever seen”, and that we scored a YES on every single standard that applied to us. I want to thank the entire 200 people K&E team for making this ACA visit as successful as possible!

Now it’s done and we can get back to focusing on the experience of our campers, and helping make sure that they have happy, fun, physically and emotionally safe summers. 

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