Another trend we are witnessing is the dramatic change in the landscape of the world population. Yet, we cling to a shrinking minority market of people and camps. This kind of limited articulation of our value in the broader context of the world serves as a barrier to those who are impacted both by the global and social issues; those, in fact, that we are well positioned to serve. The time is now to create a 20/20 vision–a vision of commitment to serve 20 million by the year 2020. Today, 10 million children and youth go to camp annually. Yet, we only directly impact 3 million of those experiences. By 2020, we want no fewer than 20 million children going to camp annually with the ACA camp community directly impacting the lives of those 20 million children.
We must advocate for children, youth, and families. Yes, we are camp professionals, but even more importantly, we are advocates for quality, developmental experiences for children, youth, and families. We are responsible citizens in today’s world. Today we must employ the entrepreneurial spirit of our camp ancestors, make the right kind of investments, and use our collective voice and vision to make better tomorrows.
The camp experience is a part of America’s heritage and culture. Since 1861, we have impacted more than 500 million children. Today, many institutions have abandoned children and youth or have left them inside with electronic gadgets. Our society has limited the access to natural environments and reduced the time adults spend with children and youth—and offers fewer and fewer authentic human connections. Children, youth, and families need an advocate. We must not fail to describe what we do as a critical part of the continuum of care for young people in the United States. Our ability to provide a hands-on, experiential, nature-based, community experience is unique.