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Lake Poinsett and Wesley Acres gain accreditation

The American Camp Association has accredited Lake Poinsett Camp and Wesley Acres Camp and Retreat Center.  The accreditation process, which took over several months, identifies the camps as some of the highest quality in the nation.

The American Camp Association is a community of camp professionals who, for over 100 years, have joined together to share knowledge and experience and to ensure the quality of camp programs. Because of the diverse 11,000 plus membership and exceptional programs, children and adults have the opportunity to learn powerful lessons in community, character building, skill development, and healthy living — lessons that can be learned nowhere else.

Keith Shew, director of the camp and retreat ministry for the Dakotas-Minnesota Area explained. “The American Camp Association’s (ACA) primary purpose is to educate camp staff and leaders on the most important aspects of the camp’s operation with great attention to overall program quality and the health and safety of campers, guests, and staff.   ACA accreditation ensures camps have established guidelines, procedures, policies, and follow industry best practices.“

The accreditation process involves a self-study, documentation and an on-site review.  There are eight categories examined: site and food service, human resources, program design and activities, transportation, health and wellness, operational management, aquatics, travel.  Each of the categories has 20-40 standards accessed during the review process.

Christy Heflin, director of Lake Poinsett Camp, explained how she approached the process.  “We set up a binder for each of the categories and put needed documentation for each of the standards into the correct binder.  For example, one of the standards for site and food service is that you have a utility map.  The process can be intense.”

The documentation is reviewed 60 days before the site visit.  ACA assigns a two-person review team, a lead visitor, and an associate visitor.  The visiting team comes on site,  during a day when camp is in full session,to observe standards in action.  After the site visit, a final report is made based on the documentation and the site visit.  ACA then reviews the reports and determines the accreditation status of the camp.

“Special praise is due to your Dakotas camp directors,“ explained Shew. “Preparing a camping operation for a first-time ACA visit requires a tremendous amount of effort on the part the camp directors. Christy Heflin at Lake Poinsett and Paul and Brenda Lint at Wesley Acres directors, during an already very busy time within the camping ministry, prepared their site and led their staff through the in-depth and detailed process. Their efforts led to the successful accreditation of both Wesley Acres Camp and Lake Poinsett Camp.

Annual costs for ACA membership and accreditation are $1,450 for the Dakotas camps. That is a small price to pay for a high-quality camp experience.  ACA also provides: access to professional resources like seasonal and year-round job postings, staff continuing education and networking opportunities, staff training tools, discounted movie licensing, research and assessment tools, and access to on-demand marketing tools.

“Being accredited assures our guests that we are meeting the highest standards of safety. It also guides our employees to help maintain high-quality standards,” said Heflin.

Accreditation identifies United Methodists camps as the highest quality in the nation.  Lake Poinsett and Wesley Acres join the Minnesota campsites Koronis, Kowakan and  Northern Pines. Storm Mountain Center will seek ACA accreditation in 2018.

“ACA accreditation takes your already great Dakotas and Minnesota camps and makes them even stronger, elevating our campsites and staff to a level of professionalism and distinction shared by the country’s best camping operations,” said Shew.