100th Anniversary of the American Camp Association

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Founded: in 1910 under the name Camp Directors Association of America.

By: Alan S. Williams. Originally director of the Reptile Study Society of America, he had visited many camps as a lecturer on natural history and therefore knew many private camp directors. In 1910, an organizing meeting was held at a New York-based YMCA to prepare the natural history camp exhibit for the 1911 annual Sportsman’s Show. Williams served as temporary secretary alongside various camp officials in this meeting, which eventually formed into a group of 20 attendees. The group met regularly over the years, giving time and support to the growing association that came to be known as the Camp Directors Association of America.

Original Mission: To standardize the organized camp experience for the young.

Notable Moments:

• 1926 – Camp Directors Bulletin founded; it was the forerunner to Camping magazine, the official publication of the Camp Directors’ Association. The purpose of the publication, which changed its name in 1930, was “to inform and educate camp professionals and others in related fields so they can successfully serve their clientele.”

• 1955 – ACA built its first permanent home after leasing four acres of land from Indiana University at Bradford Woods. Members contributed $73,000 to the effort.

• 1965 – ACA Bylaws were changed to address race and creed, which were not previously mentioned in detail, allowing hospitality and privileges to be extended to all members of the Association, regardless of background and beliefs.

• 1975 – ACA emerged from bankruptcy after years of financial insecurity.

• 1985 – ACA offered crisis hotline to members.

Changes in name: 1924 – Became the Camp Directors’ Association (CDA); 1935 – became the American Camping Association Inc. (ACA); 2004 - became the American Camp Association.

Mergers: 1924 – With the National Association of Directors of Girls’ Camps.


Mission: Enriching the lives of children, youth and adults through the camp experience.

Location: Martinsville, Ind.

How Many Employees? (FTE): 26 full-time, one part-time at the ACA national office, and various staff members at 24 local offices nationwide.

Volunteers: Several hundred, at both the national and local level.

Youth Served: Approximately 5.1 million children and youth attend ACA camps annually.

Yearly Budget: Approximately $4 million.

Anniversary Celebration: Was at annual conference in February; will continue next year to celebrate the 150th anniversary of organized camping in the United States. Website features a 100-year history video and photo tribute.

Top Officials: Peg Smith, CEO; Peter Surgenor, national president.

Contact: 765-342-8456, http://www.ACAcamps.org.