ACA’s Camp Hill Days event

Last week, our Buisness Director Sarah took Westwind on the road. As part of a contingent from the American Camp Association (ACA), Sarah met with legislators on Capitol Hill and advocated for camps across the country.

Sarah was one of 80 camp professionals and campers from 29 states who participated in the ACA’s Camp Hill Days event. During the event, Sarah met with Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley’s staff. One of whom was a former Girl Scout camper and they bonded over their appreciation for the camp world. She also met with other Oregon legislators and networked with camp professionals in the Pacific Northwest.

large group of adults pose in front of the US Capital Building.

What Were We Advocating For?

In addition to sharing their passion for camp, they requested support for the Child Protection Improvement Act and Youth Workforce Readiness Act of 2023. They also advocated for the role camps play in supporting the development of school-aged children.

Sarah highlighted the economic and educational impact camps have on their local communities. Camps in Oregon alone employ over 16,000 people, many of whom are young and are entering the workforce for the first time. Westwind hires nearly fifty young people each summer to help run our summer programs. For many summer staff, this is their first job and allows them to learn vital skills including accountability, time management, and communication. In addition, our Teen Leadership programs are geared towards building the same skills. During these camps, Teen Campers communicate with a team, practice leadership skills, and build self-reliance. Support from the Youth Workforce Readiness Act of 2023 would give camps additional funding to grow these programs and help prepare teens to enter the workforce.

As well as advocating for the impact of camps on young people, ACA’s team advocated for improvements to the Child Protection Improvement Act (CPIA). This act protects children and vulnerable populations from harm and abuse. CPIA expands background checks and offers increased protection to help ensure the safety of children. However, recent proposed changes to CPIA fail to meet the needs of camps, particularly the critical issue of needing background checks to be timely and affordable. Camps operate on short, seasonal schedules and any delays to background checks greatly diminish their effectiveness.

Armed with powerful personal testimony and the facts to back it up, ACA’s team met with over 150 congressional offices. It was an inspiring event and a testament to the community of camps.

Read more about ACA’s Camp Hill Days