The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Camp Accreditation Program (NCAP) is to help councils elevate camps to new levels of excellence in delivering Scouting’s promise to youth. Councils will engage in a rigorous review of camps and properties, continuous improvement, and correction or elimination of substandard practices.
The NCAP achieves this purpose through the following:
- National camp standards
- Application and Authorization to Operate review
- Council and Camp Sustainability Analysis
- Continuous Camp Improvement Program
- Annual camp assessment process
Only camps that successfully complete all five aspects of the NCAP are BSA accredited camps.
National Camp Standards
The BSA’s national camp standards are established to do the following:
- Ensure that each camper and leader has a fun, high-quality program consistent with the BSA brand.
- Ensure the health, safety, and well-being of every camper, leader, visitor, and staff member while participating in a BSA accredited camp.
The local council is responsible for maintaining the BSA’s national camp standards. The national camp standards are the foundation of the National Camp Accreditation Program, which assesses council and camp conformance with the requirements set forth in the national camp standards. The national camp standards consist of standards, which are mandatory when applicable, and recommended practices, which represent best practices recommended for all camps.
Application and Authorization to Operate
The BSA’s Application to Operate process is used to ensure that local councils operating a BSA accredited camp have carefully studied the needs of local youth, designed a fun, high-quality program, and have committed the necessary resources to ensure the success of the program—all while minding the long-term success of Scouting in their community. As part of this process, councils develop commitments to help them achieve these goals.
The Authorization to Operate represents the BSA’s conclusion that the local council is prepared to operate a fun, high-quality, and sustainable program. The Authorization to Operate formalizes this recognition, emphasizes the commitments to program quality and safety by the local council, and provides clarification on the application of the national camp standards, if needed.
Council and Camp Sustainability Analysis
Councils will be asked to complete sustainability analyses, which is a process designed to help council management and council executive boards to better understand the impact of their camps on their Scouting program and on the bottom line.
- Council Sustainability Data Sheet
- 1 submission for council finances and membership
- Camp Sustainability Data Sheet
- 1 submission for every camp/property to be authorized for operation
- Camp Facilities Evaluation Tool
- 1 submission for every camp/property to be authorized for operation with detail for each building
The sustainability analyses and review provides tools to council boards and management to assess program quality, staffing, facilities quality, and the financial costs and benefits of the camping program. These tools will assist the council in recalibrating its camping program to achieve a fun, high-quality program that ensures the success of Scouting in the communities the council serves. Where improvements are needed, the resulting “improvement plan” will be incorporated into the Authorization to Operate.
Continuous Camp Improvement Program
The Continuous Camp Improvement Program provides camps with a structured approach to identifying areas of strength and areas for improvement. The program sets measurable goals (success criteria) for these areas and monitors progress against the success criteria. Because the annual accreditation process reviews only whether councils are participating in the continuous camp improvement process—not the council’s achievement of its success criteria—councils are encouraged to set (and meet) challenging success criteria that will significantly improve their camp. Covering program, facilities, finances, staff, and attendees and participation, when implemented fully, this program will enable councils to deliver a program that is exciting, dynamic, and appealing to today’s youth.
Annual Assessment Program
All BSA accredited camps undergo an annual assessment process.
- Resident, trek, and specialty-adventure and high-adventure camps go through a third-party assessment process coordinated by the responsible BSA area.
- Day camps and family camping programs are subject to a thorough self-assessment annually and are reviewed during the Application and Authorization to Operate process.
Based on the results of the annual review, each BSA camp—regardless of type—will receive an individualized accreditation decision. Accreditation is the mark that the camp program provides a fun, high-quality, and safe program consistent with what the public expects of Scouting.
National Camp Accreditation Program (NCAP) Authorization Cycle for NER Area 2 Councils
Please contact the area 2 NCAP team for information at area2NCAP@gmail.com.