Tom Rosenberg is passionate about introducing summer camp to every boy and girl across the United States. In his new role as CEO of the American Camp Association, Rosenberg’s goal is to get every child to camp for a week.
Rosenberg is a 30-year veteran of Jewish camping. He served as the executive director of Camp Judaea and spent 20 years at Blue Star Camps in North Carolina.
Rosenberg graduated from Tulane University and the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. He is a distinguished award winner in the field. He commutes from his home in Atlanta to ACA’s home in Indianapolis.
His extensive camp leadership covers for-profit and nonprofit camps. His past involvement with ACA includes roles as national treasurer and board member and board president and treasurer of ACA Southeastern.
ACA has more than 10,000 individual members and nearly 3,000 member camps.
Rosenberg knows that partnerships with organizations and government entities make camp a possibility rather than a dream.
“I feel passionately that camp is essential for every boy and girl to live a more successful life,” he said.
He cited Oregon’s Measure 99, which was approved Dec. 13. Also known as the Create an Outdoor School Education Fund, the measure is designed to provide fifth- and sixth-graders with a weeklong outdoor school program.
Camp gives students the opportunity to study natural sciences, economic development and career opportunities.
Most areas of the country need more camping facilities and opportunities, Rosenberg said. “Many children don’t have the resources to go to summer camp, and there are not enough programs. ACA is trying to expand camps, increase the number of camps, help directors attract campers and market to parents.”
ACA is the leader in providing research for camp outcomes to tell the story of how camp can be transformative for children. As the national accrediting body of day and summer camps, ACA works to improve standards: to advocate for youth development, perform background checks, expand programs, maintain licensing and make a commitment to safety.
Rosenberg said thousands of volunteers make ACA successful. “A lot of my work is engaging volunteers. We want volunteers to understand what we do and why camp is essential. In the Jewish community, camp has been around for 100 years. In other cultures, it’s not as well known.”
Research 360 is ACA’s new strategic arm that focuses on research and evaluation to improve camp experiences for youths. Research 360 is working with universities in general research that aggregates outcomes in the field.
“We have a lot of anecdotal information on what the camp experiences provide. We are now moving to empirical research, which points to specific outcomes,” Rosenberg said. “For example, career readiness, life skills, confidence and skills to prepare for college, work and life. Having a camp experience away from parents gives kids grit and information to see what they need, the ability to try new things. Most research has been in one niche.”
The goal is to create a bigger, louder voice on the positive outcomes of camp.
Advice on Summer Camp
Shopping for summer camp can be intimidating. How expensive is it? What type of camp does your family need? Do you have restrictions around ability, location and dates?
Here are Tom Rosenberg’s tips on sending kids to camp.
- Tap into local resources. The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, synagogues and other Jewish organizations offer scholarships. Don’t rule them out. Call camps and tell them how important camp is to your child. Most directors will bend over backward to make it happen.
- Shop around. There are so many types of camp — day camp, overnight camp, camps that excel in science, sports, dance, Lego robotics. Determine what your child loves and go from there.
- Ask for help. Today, many grandparents and other family members will contribute to a child’s camp fund.
- Take a tour. Think your child isn’t interested in camp? Show him the whole picture. Call ahead to several camps and take the tour. Once he sees the facility, he may change his mind.