I’d like to begin by saying what an honour it has been to serve the ACA as President this past year. I feel very fortunate to not only get the opportunity to work with such an excellent group of people as my fellow board members, but also for the time I get to spend in conversation with camp people from all over the country.
I believe that our association gives us a lot to be proud of. Our members have excellent educational opportunities through events such as our conference and camp tours. Our social media presence and newsletters are extremely well done and effective. We have an excellent website that will only continue to grow as a resource for our member camps. I also believe that our camping standards and accreditation program is one of the strongest in the country. To top it all off, we have an extremely professional and dedicated Executive Director who has worked hard to ensure that our accomplishments endure at a standard of excellence for years to come.
Over the past year the board of directors has taken some time to look inward and assess our own structure and procedures. Our work identified the benefits of letting our Executive Director focus on operations and deliverables, to allow our board to maintain focus on governance and larger issues. This process also created the structure for the association to better engage individuals who are interested in getting involved and volunteering to further the ACA.
It is my opinion that providing opportunities for volunteers to engage with the association will be one of the most important steps we take over the next two years. I believe that we will not only require this to improve the benefits to our member camps, but to maintain our current level of services over time. To accomplish this we will not only work hard to help interested individuals be aware of the opportunities that exist to work with the ACA, but also ensure that their contributions are recognized and honored.
Honouring is important for us. We have all dedicated ourselves to an industry that does a great job in honouring the campers we serve, but faces challenges in honouring ourselves. For all the community that camp creates, at times being a leader of a camp can still be a lonely and thankless lifestyle. The ACA provides the answers to this problem. When you ask another camp staff about their summer at conference, you honour them because you are saying their stories have value. When you go to another camp on the fall camp tour, you honour that camp because you’re saying you believe they have something to teach you. When you pass your accreditation inspection, the entire association honours you by awarding your accreditation certificate. I believe that it is this celebration of each other that first drew me to the ACA over a decade ago, and it is what still inspires me going forward.
It’s my commitment to you as board president to do all I can to help you connect with the Alberta Camping Association and enjoy all the benefits of being a member of this community can bring you.
This past year of 2014 has been a stable year with our association. Our Executive Director has a stable work plan in which her main priority is to serve member camps. With the excellent direction and work of our Executive Director and work through our committees the following have been items to note from 2014:
Our Executive Director followed “Grant Watch” during all of 2014 looking for appropriate grants for our association. Camp Specific opportunities that came up through this were forwarded on to the membership through our Association communication. The communication via the Association newsletter, emails, website, and social media have been a great asset to all facets of the association. An example of how this is working is the fact that the Education Fund is being utilized the most it has in many years for Conference subsidy.
Work has been done on an Association Sponsorship Package. Our Executive Director is currently getting mentorship and consultation advice in order to move this to its final stages.
We utilized Telus Grant money to offer free leadership training through the Outdoor Council of Canada for camp staff. We still have dollars left to continue this initiative in 2015 as it has not been all utilized.
Scott Lister is wrapping up his time as our Accountant/Financial Consultant with the ACA. His contribution as a past board member and consultant for the ACA has been so appreciated! Scott deserves a huge and gracious “Thank You” from all of us on the board, and from the Association! Scott’s guidance and expertise will be missed.
With all ends come new beginnings, and we have hired Deanna Black as a Financial Consultant, and she has begun her work with our 2015 budget.
We have seen challenges with speediness of our financial processes and are in process of fixing these shortfalls.
We are looking forward to a new year with new challenges and initiatives!
Education & Member Services Committee Report
The Committee was downsized throughout 2014. It now consists of three members – Ted Lockie (Canadian Diabetes Association), Todd Seatter (Teen Time Ranch – Edmonton) and Gwen Dell’Anno (Alberta Camping Association). This downsizing was a strategic attempt to streamline the meetings and maximise our ability to enable the success of the Executive Director of the ACA.
In recent years the Education Committee has focused on the organization and execution of the annual conference with a secondary focus on connecting the Alberta camping community through iniatives such as ‘lunch with the ED’ events, roundtable discussions, and camp tours.
In 2014 the Education Committee has moved to a less operational position and focused more on oversight. This means that Gwen has been organizing and delivering the products to our membership and the committee has been focused on helping assess the need for and value of these programs.
The Education Committee will continue to offer ‘Lunch with the ED’ programs in various regions of the province. These events will continue as long as there is adequate interest for our members. In the case of members not signing up for the event the Education Committee has committed to cancelling events prior to the date in order cut down on unnecessary costs associated with the Executive Directors travel. In some areas of the province these has progressed to local area members meeting for lunch or coffee without the Executive Director present. The Education Committee strongly approves of these gatherings and hope that members taking part in these events will keep the ACA informed.
Conference 2014 was held at Goldeye Conference Center outside of Nordegg, AB. We had an increase in paid attendees from 42 in 2013 to 46 in 2014. The feedback from the membership was very positive. In keeping with the plan we are rotating the conference around the regions of the province. The Executive Director took a confident lead on organizing and executing the 2014 conference. This resulted in less confusion leading up to the event and a strong overall conference experience.
The Education Committee is looking forward to an exciting year investigating new areas and types of services and resources to provide to our membership.
Education Committee Chair
Standards & Accreditation Committee Report
The committee has had a fairly slow year, in large part due to the hard work of ED and Accreditation Coordinator. We were excited to see changes implemented to the accreditation process in 2014, and look forward to seeing those processes refined in 2015.
After honing this process last year, we were left with the task of reviewing the standards in 2015. It was decided that instead of taking on this review internally, the best way to ensure that this document is maximizing its effectiveness was to bring in an external auditor. Though this will delay the revisions by a year, it will hopefully provide us with a product that serves the members as well as possible.
As we review recommendations from the auditor, we would welcome any assistance you may be able to provide.
Chair of Standards & Accreditation Committee
Marketing Committee Report
During the fall and winter of 2014 Gwen and the ACA Board re-examined the purposes, goals and structure of the Marketing & Communications Committee.
The Marketing committee’s mandate is to focus on promoting the Alberta Camping Association Accredited Camp Logo and provide a set of internal (for membership) and external (for public) tools and resources. These will include tag-lines, talking points, image files and pdf documents that can be used by member camps for a variety of purposes including: customer meetings and phone-calls; social media campaigns; websites; and displays, tradeshows or other points of contact.
Providing these ready-to-use tools and resources to member camps will exponentially increase the exposure of the “Accredited Camp” logo, messaging, and importance within the association and the province. Providing these tools to member camps will assist the member camps in their individual marketing and communications efforts while at the same time build the brand and value of ACA Accredited Camps in general.
Communications functions have largely been handed over to ACA staff who are doing an excellent job of increasing Web & Social Media presence and engagement.
The next step for the committee is to recruit an active group of individuals and develop a formal plan and strategy to actualize its goals and outcomes. We are looking forward to building this committee over the upcoming year and to providing value added low/no-cost marketing tools and resources to the ACA and our member camps.
Chair of Marketing Committee
Executive Director’s Report
I feel very privileged to be able to serve the ACA as its Executive Director. Building relationships with our members has been quite rewarding for me personally and I have been impressed with the professionalism, courage and tenacity that I have seen amongst you. I am especially grateful for an awesome Board of Directors who have encouraged and challenged me as we work collaboratively to grow the ACA.
This past summer we launched the electronic version of the Accreditation checklist. Clarification of what to look at and where will help us to standardize the process over time as we change personnel each year. The accreditation visitor last year found it very helpful to have documents and policies in advance so that much of the “paperwork” part of the visit, could be done ahead time. This allowed the opportunity for a more thorough tour while on site and clarification of any details that were unclear when perusing the materials ahead of time. There are still a few bugs to work out this spring, and we anticipate even smoother reporting and processing of Accreditation visits as we move forward. As well, having it digitized will be beneficial for the future.
Amy Hancock continues to bring value to our membership with an ACA presence on Social media, including facebook, twitter and our monthly newsletter, which goes out to all consenting members. If you have staff or Board members who would benefit from the information we send, please make sure their names are added to our list of subscribers.
Networking and connecting events continue to meet with mixed success. Conference, of course, is a highlight of our year. Camp tours engage a few folks who enjoy a day of touring behind-the-scenes and sharing lots of ideas. Directors lunches are sometimes engaging, sometimes not. In the area NW of Calgary, a group of Directors meet regularly for coffee and/or lunch. This would be the desired model for ACA to follow. Is there interest among our membership for regular connecting? Or are you just all too busy to take time away?
Funding challenges have once again faced us as an Association. It is challenging for the ACA to find grants that fit, since we do not work directly with youth. Currently we are working with a consultant to help formulate a Case for Support document which will help provide the foundation language and information for grant, sponsorship and donor requests going forward. She will also be helping us with a fund development plan that can be implemented and maintained over the next number of years. We are anticipating that a much more significant portion of my time will need to be spent in this area if we are to maintain our services to our members.
With more emphasis on fund development, there will be less time for other services to our members. And yet, it is our desire to serve you better as we grow. So how can this happen? With the Board and committees focused more on strategic, big picture governance, we are planning to set up a variety of small working groups. We know that our members have a wide range of expertise, talents and experience. We also believe that you are willing to share these for the betterment of the camping industry, both here in Alberta and across Canada. Working groups will be assigned specific, measureable short-term tasks, that will help us achieve our bigger goals. We will be asking what those tasks should be. What is it that we can do to help serve you, the members of the ACA in a way that helps you to meet the challenges you are facing. And, what can we as the ACA do to help support the Canadian Camping Association as they (we really!) seek to do the same on behalf of all camps in Canada. Those are the questions we continue to explore and look to your our members for guidance upon.
As always, I am open to thoughts, suggestions and dialogue as we work together to help the next generation of youth become more active, outdoors and engaged in our communities for a better future for all of us.