As Chief Operating Officer for Kidcam Summer Camps, Melissa Conner knew that to become an accredited member of the American Camp Association (ACA) would be a difficult process. The work done by her and her team has certainly paid off! As an accredited member of ACA, doors have been opened to national recognition, and ultimately allowed the opportunity to secure the 2021 ACA national meeting for New Orleans!
Q: Tell us about the work you’ve done to help bring the 2021 Annual Convention for the American Camp Association to New Orleans?
A: Kidcam Camps is celebrating its 45th year operating day camps across the New Orleans area and throughout Louisiana. In 2017, Kidcam went through the arduous process of becoming accredited by the American Camp Association opening the door to national recognition by our peers, and allowing us the opportunity to collaborate with others who believe in quality camp and outdoor experiences for children, youth, and adults. The annual meeting welcomes approximately 2,500 summer camp professionals from around the world to its convention each year. As an accredited member of the ACA, Kidcam Camps worked closely with the planners of the convention to choose New Orleans as their national convention city in 2021. With more New Orleans area camps becoming accredited by the ACA, and Kidcam Camps having 27 of those camps, it’s important to showcase the city, as well as the summer camp programs our area offers children and their families to other members within the national camp community.
Q: Why was it important to Kidcam Camps to have the company accredited by the American Camp Association?
A: Having a summer day camp accredited through the American Camp Association means that your child’s camp cares enough to undergo a thorough peer review of its operation — from staff qualifications and training to emergency management. American Camp Association collaborates with experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Red Cross, and other youth-serving agencies to assure that current practices at your child’s camp reflect the most up-to-date, research-based standards in camp operation. Camps and ACA form a partnership that promotes growth and fun in an environment committed to safety. It took Kidcam Camps many months to become accredited, and accreditation incorporates over 300 standards that go above and beyond the ’typical’ operations of a camp. New Orleans is a unique camp city with not a lot of overnight camps, however offering many day camps in different environments, like those that Kidcam operates - New Orleans City Park being our largest here locally. It’s fun to showcase our operations and various site locations to people from other areas. It opens their eyes to new ways of doing business and incorporating the special places of a community where our children get to spend their summer days making so many special memories.
Q: Tell us about your personal involvement with the American Camp Association.
A: Being a part of such a unique group of people who are all in this industry for their love of youth, outdoors and summer, is really special. We’ve forged relationships with not just "camp people", but other talented professionals who have helped us expand our programming & curriculum in new ways, and add new & fresh ideas like our Rockstar Band Awards Program. Things that we wouldn’t have ever thought about without the partnerships we’ve made by being a member of the ACA.
Q: What are some of the reasons New Orleans was selected for the 2021 ACA Annual Meeting?
A: Having attended the ACA conferences in the past few years, the feedback tends to be that there’s not enough hotel space to allow everyone attending to be close to the convention and amenities throughout a host city. We are so lucky to have everything we need for our conventions right here within walking distance of the host hotels and convention spaces. Outside of getting to and from the airport, a visitor can eat, sleep, work, shop and play all on foot. They can even sneak out to enjoy lunch or some daytime play during convention hours, and not feel “trapped” as you do in other markets where "once you’re there, you’re there.”
Q: What do you like most about the city of New Orleans?
A: My love for the City of New Orleans runs deep, and I sometimes feel like I’m walking into a huge hug when I’m out and about enjoying our town. The energy and love we all have for our city is obvious, and it doesn’t take long for tourists to feel the same way. We want visitors to want to love our city as much we do, and even though someone from out of town might not “get New Orleans” like we get her, we at least want them to leave looking at their calendars for the next time they can plan to return.