National Camp Accreditation Program

Purpose

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
  • Camp Strategic Analysis
  • Continuous Camp Improvement Program
  • Annual camp assessment process

Only camps that successfully complete all five aspects of the NCAP are BSA accredited camps.

You may direct questions about the National Camp Accreditation Program to ncap@scouting.org.


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. All camps that are operated by a Boy Scouts of America council are required to meet the standards that fit the type of camp being operated.

Resources


Council Authorization of Camps

The NCAP's multiyear authorization cycle begins with the council submitting an application to its BSA region. This process has been described as developing a business plan for your camp(s). The application contains a description of each of the council's camps for which it is seeking an Authorization to Operate. For each camp, the application will describe the program goals, the facilities, how the council will meet the national camp standards, and identify any recommended practices that the council intends to adopt. The application also includes the Camp Facilities Evaluation Tool, an objective assessment of council camp facilities from a brand perspective, and the Strategic Analysis Short Form, an objective assessment of the contribution of the camps, individually and collectively, to the council's financial sustainability. Critically, the application then requires the council to develop program and facilities quality and financial sustainability commitments that the council intends to meet to provide the safest and highest quality program to participants. The application requires approval by the council executive committee or executive board. After completion of the documents, the region's NCAP team will review all documents and determine the length of authorization to be given to each individual camp.


Camp Staff Youth Protection Training

Standard SQ-402B states that Youth Protection training is required for all staff members. We have now replaced Camp Leadership—Youth Protection Begins With YouTM, No. 623-127; and Seasonal Camp Staff Youth Protection and Personal Safety Training, No. 20-138, with Camp Staff Youth Protection Training, No. 430-149. Please use the new syllabus and PowerPoint presentation below instead of the ones listed in the manual.


Templates for Standards At-a-Glance for Each Type of Camp

The following Word templates for the Standards At-a-Glance will allow you to tailor your work on the camp standards to the type of camp you are working with. They will also allow you to delete any standards not appropriate or that do not apply to the operation of the specific camp you are operating. We encourage you to use these to guide your preparation.

Questions about the national camp standards should be directed to the area camp assessment chair or to ncap@scouting.org.


Camp Facilities Evaluation Tool

The evaluation of your facilities needs to be an ongoing process by a team from the council looking at every aspect of the camp and the program it offers. Evaluate the buildings to see if they are sound and can physically handle the wear and tear of the operations of the property. The team also needs to make certain that a building meets the needs of the program that is being offered. A building that doesn’t meet the program needs—and maybe hampers the program—isn’t a good fit for the camp.

Is the camp appealing to the people who come to it? When a parent or community member drives into the camp, do the buildings and grounds meet the BSA brand? Does the camp make them want to stay or does it make them want to take their child, turn around, and never come back? The BSA and your council have an image. Does this camp and its buildings meet the image that you are trying to project?

In the evaluation of the buildings and program areas, items to be considered by a team are:

  1. Is the building/program area in good physical shape (no structural problems)?
  2. Does the building/program area meet the BSA brand?
  3. Does the building/program area meet the program needs?
  4. Are the building’s maintenance needs covered?
  5. Are the grounds maintained, and do the buildings have a fresh coat of paint on them?
  6. Is the sign at the camp entrance inviting?

The council should use the following document at least every other year (if not every year) to assist in this process.

 

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.  


Camp Health and Safety Information

The Health and Safety Support Committee has recently released or updated several resources to help your council and camp meet or exceed camp and regulatory standards. All of these can be found on the Scouting Safely Web page in the Guidelines/Policies/Model Plans section.


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.  


Training Resources

The BSA has prepared several materials to assist councils and camps in understanding and implementing the National Camp Accreditation Program. Please refer to the resources below:


Additional Resources


NCAP Circulars

The National Council periodically issues NCAP Circulars to provide authoritative guidance to councils, areas, and regions in implementing the program. 

Please direct any questions about the National Camp Accreditation Program to ncap@scouting.org.