St. Louis Children's Hospital Summer Camps Receive National Accreditation
St. Louis Children’s Hospital sponsors five specialized summer camps, all of which just won national accreditation from the American Camp Association (ACA). The next step is finding volunteers!
The achievement is the result of six months of evaluation preparation by a team of St. Louis Children's Hospital and WU staff.
The accreditation means that every St. Louis Children’s Hospital camp meets a demanding set of more than 300 nationally recognized health, safety and program quality standards. ACA has 50 years of experience in administering a standards program developed specifically for camps.
“As a parent, it helps you feel more at ease in allowing your child to attend camp if it’s held up to these kind of standards,” says Staci Scharnhorst, clinical nurse coordinator for pediatric rheumatology and co-director of the Joint Adventures arthritis camp. “Anything and everything you do at camp must be documented, with a policy and a procedure in place. It makes everything go smoother year after year because the documentation backs up what you’re doing.”
Through funding from the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation, the hospital sponsors several medically safe camps for kids who would otherwise miss out on such fun. The summer camps include:
- Camp Crescent, a four-day camp for children with sickle cell disease
- Camp Hope, a weekend long camp for HIV positive and HIV affected families
- Camp Independence, a sports day camp for children with cerebral palsy
- Camp Rhythm, a week-long overnight camp for children with heart problems
- Joint Adventures, a five-day camp for children with arthritis and other rheumatologic diseases.
Accreditation is solid proof of a camp’s accountability, credibility and commitment. It means that the facility and equipment is thoroughly reviewed, staff are trained, go through extensive background checks and are certified in their particular area of expertise.
“Our camps have always had safety measures, procedures and activity programming in place, but now we’re even more organized,” says Jennifer Miros, CP Sports and Rehabilitation manager and director of Camp Independence. “Being ACA accredited is a critical step in advancing the reputation of our camps. We have everything in place to back up that reputation.
The accreditation process took six months. Marcia Barber, a standards instructor from the American Camping Association, says that’s exceptionally fast - a reflection of the team here at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.
“We usually advise organizations that the accreditation process can take up to 18 months to attain because of the volume of documentation required. They should be proud because ACA accreditation is the standard of the industry for camps.”
Each year, staff and physicians from the hospital volunteer to attend or transport patients to the hospital’s summer camps. Medical professionals are present 24 hours a day at St. Louis Children's Hospital camps, and staff members make sure that campers take any necessary medication.
More information on the accreditation process can be found at www.acacamps.org.
Volunteers needed for summer camps
If you’re interested in having fun and helping kids at an St. Louis Children's Hospital summer camp, please visit StLouisChildrens.org. Be sure to specify which at camp you want to volunteer.