2024 ACA Nationals, Recommended Tracks

2024 ACA Nationals, Recommended Tracks

Plane tickets = booked. Camp shirts = packed. Sessions to Attend -- that’s TBD. 

Fear not, self-appointed Camp Conference Connoisseur EmJ has mapped out 4 different schedules for you as you look at what sessions to attend at the 2024 ACA National Conference in New Orleans, LA. The options can be overwhelming to make, especially in the moment. According to Episode 12, "Conferences: Take Notes and Make Arts and Crafts", they recommend mapping out your conference schedule to make the most of the time and people there. Check out the four tracks below and what EmJ would attend if she were in your shoes.


Emerging Leader / New Director 

First time? Welcome! Conferences are a great way to learn more from peers and pros in the industry. This track includes heavy-hitter camp presenters and sessions that cover intro to camp topics. 

Focusing on Camper MESH/Culture Climate 

This is for the attendee who is looking to make a change in the emotional well-being of campers. This track will focus on the science of mental, emotional, and social health at camp and the practices pros use at camps and schools. 

Been Here, Heard That

This isn’t your first rodeo– welcome back, cowboy. Suppose you fear a camp conference becoming another repetitive thing to attend. In that case, these sessions are recommended to give you a fresh perspective on classic content and level up your learning in new topics to this year’s camp conference circuit. (Of course, I’m going to recommend the AI session.)


The never-ending need. Here are staff-based sessions that will leave you with a well-rounded and optimistic motivation to finish getting your team and setting them up for success this summer. This track includes staff hiring, training, and maintaining throughout the summer session. 

Below you'll find sessions according to the tracks.

Emerging Leader / New Directors

  • Group 1: Games That Teach,  Jim Cain (Teamwork & Teamplay)
  • Group 2: Mental Health at Camp For Leadership Staff, Dave Brown (Fence Post Learning & Mountain Camp)
  • Group 3: Make Strategic Decisions, Not Guesses, Jody Oates & Ryan Moore (Kaleidoscope, Inc.)
  • Group 4: Key Systems: How to Teach Staff to Skillfully Handle Undesired Camper Behavior with Confidence, Michael Brandwein
  • Group 5: How to Market When Attention Spans are Now 3 Seconds Long, Dan Weir
  • Group 6: Food is for Everyone: Dietary Needs and How to Create Safe Space in your Dining Hall, Lauren Reichstein (Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee)
  • Group 7: Research You Can Use: Exploring New Camp Research Findings, Rob Lubeznik-Warner (University of Utah/ American Camp Association. Inc) and Kevin Geoghegan (University of Utah)
  • Group 8: From Necessary to (Im)possible: Project Real Job Collaboration Opportunity (Kim Aycock, Kimspiration, LLC.)
  • Group 9: Helping Campers Get Uncomfortable and Guiding Staff and Parents to Let them: How to Build Resilience, Debi Gilboa, MD
  • Group 10: Avoid Too Much, Too Little, Too Late: In-Season Parent Communication Goldilocks Style, Kim Aycock (Kimspirtation, LLC.)
  • Group 11: Rearview Mirror: A Look at 2023 Camp Practices, Themes, and Claims, Michael Brandwein

Been Here, Seen That

  • Group 1: Building a Thriving Camp Staff: Proactive Planning for a New Generation, Arlynn Polletta & Katie Knowles (The Aloha Foundation)
  • Group 2: Pennies on the Dollar: A Lesson in Creative Partnerships, Caleb Seney, Kacie  Whipple, and Landon  Brown (MedCamps of Louisiana)
  • Group 3: Helicopters and Lawnmowers: Working With and Not Against Parent and Caregivers, Chris Rehs-Dupin (he/him) (TQAMP)
  • Group 4: CampGPT: Applying the Power of Generative AI at Camp (and When Not To), Spencer Mroczek (UltraCamp)
  • Group 5: Leveling Up Youth Development: Exploring the Benefits of Esports and Competitive Gaming, Nelson Strickland (TIC Camp)
  • Group 6: Media-Focused Medical Events: Navigating Difficult Situations, Tracey Gaslin (Alliance for Camp Health) and Kelley Freridge (American Camp Association, Inc.)
  • Group 7: A Conversation about the Impact of Antisemitism on Campers and Staff: How to Build a Safe and Supportive Environment that Helps Your People Protect Themselves After Camp Ends, Debi Gilboa, MD
    Group 8: Revitalized Underutilized Spaces for Inclusive Sports Participation, Kirby Van Der Kamp (Musco Lighting)
  • Group 9: How Camps Can Fight Climate Change, Elizabeth Bagley (Project Drawdown), Ozzie Baron (Project Camp), Mikey Latner (Project Camp)
  • Group 10: Leave No Trace Leadership: Empowering Camp Staff as Conservation Stewards, Erin Collier (Leave No Trace)
  • Group 11: Crisis– It Really Can Happen to You – Lessons Learned from the 2023 ACA Crisis Hotline, Andrew Corley (Alliance for Camp Health), Vincent Irving (American Camping Association)

Focusing on MESH and Culture Climate

  • Group 1: Mental Health in Campers: A Roadmap, Nick Teich (Fairwinds Camp Consulting)
  • Group 2: Dealing with Challenging Behaviors through a New Lens – No More Suspensions!, Lisa Drennan (MERGE Diverse Abilities Inclusion Consulting)
  • Group 3: MESH (+): Awakening to an Ecosystem of Care and Connection, Tracey Gaslin (Alliance for Camp Health) and John Hamilton (Alliance for Camp Health)
  • Group 4: Operationalizing Accompliceship: Providing the  Structure for Impactful Allyship and Successful DEIJ Efforts at Your Camp, Simone Gamble (OAARS)
  • Group 5: 2SLGBTQ+ Affirming Practices 201: What You Camp Can Do, HK Gilbert(Camp Fire National HQ), Ben Matthews (Camp Fire National HQ)
  • Group 6: Walking Tall: A Collaborative Approach to Building Resilience and Supporting Traumatized Youth, Michael Ambrose (CampDoc) and Chris Mailszewski (Walking Tall Movement)
  • Group 7: S’Mores: Social, Emotional, Oneness, Resilience, Engage, Support, Jamal Stroud (Camp HOPE America)
  • Group 8: Emerging Issues in Child Safety – Keeping Campers Safe Online and Beyond, Belinda Beltran Swan (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)
  • Group 9: From Fear to Adventure – Empowering Adolescents to Thrive in an Era of Uncertainty, Jeffery Leiken (Evolution Mentioning Intl.)
  • Group 10: Parents of Transgender Campers and Staff Panel, John Beitner (American Camp Association), Erica James (Jameson Ranch Camp), Jack Jameson (Jameson Ranch), Kelly Privitt (Camp Paivika)
  • Group 11: Beyond Workshops and Training: Bringing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging (DEIB) to Camp, Jen “Dusty” Clitheroe (Strength Perspective, LLC) and Polly Williams (Farm & Wilderness Summer Camps)


  • Group 1: Fly Green vs Red Flags This Staffing Season to Drive Retention, Kim Aycock (Kimspirations, LLC)
  • Group 2: How to Level Up Your Returning Staff Experience: Creating a Leadership Council at Your Own Camp, Kelly Shuna (Hidden Pines Ranch)
  • Group 3: Avoiding the Co-Counselor Clash, Roz and Jed Buck (Roz & Jed Training & Consulting)
  • Group 4: Evaluating Your Staff on the Go: Making Time, Taking Time, Deb Jordan (East Carolina University) and Kim Aycock (Kimspiration, LLC)
  • Group 5: Fumble or Fiasco? Teaching Campers and Staff to Learn from Failure, Chris Thurber 
  • Group 6: Anti-Biased Hiring, Leilani Nussman (The Northwest School)
  • Group 7: Identifying, Avoiding, and Addressing Staff Toxicity, Emily Golinsky (Bright Moose LLC)
  • Group 8: Essential Training: Equip All Staff with the Must Have Skill Set and Medic Multi-Tool, Dustin Tizman (Warrior Kid Medic) and Michelle Tizman (Camp SkyWay)
  • Group 9: Take Your Staff Coaching Frustrations from “Why Me” to “Yes Me!”, Kelly Shuna (Camp Hidden Ranch)
  • Group 10: How to Evolve Your Approach to Staffing and Staff Management, Debi Gilboa, MD
  • Group 11: Why Do Staff Burnout? What Can I Do About It?, Mandi Baker (Brock University)

At the end of the planning day, remember that conferences are for you and what is best for your camp. Explore, try new sessions, make new friends, and be sure to take notes!

Members will be at ACA Nationals...

Meet fellow camp professionals in the community when you join membership. Maybe you'll meet them in person during conference season!


EmJ Formal

EmJ Juszczyk
TSCS Content Lead

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