What is the Association of Alabama Camps?
For more than 25 years, the Association of Alabama Camps (AAC) has represented the interests of the children and families who attend camps in Alabama, as well as the camps themselves.
AAC was initially formed in 1980 to serve Alabama camps. These camps serve around a quarter million children, parents, young adults and seniors each year. The Association's initial project was to contact the Alabama Department of Public Health and solicit their cooperation in developing the original camp inspection standards for Alabama.
AAC supports in every way possible other camp organizations such as the American Camp Association and Christian Camp and Conference Association. AAC recognizes that every camp is different, each with a different purpose and serving different people for different reasons. The one thing all Alabama camps have in common is that we must operate our camps under the laws and regulations of the State of Alabama – AAC helps insure that camps have a voice in the regulatory and legislative bodies of Alabama.
An Executive Committee of no more than 12 members including the President, Vice-President and Secretary/Treasurer is elected by participating camps through an email ballot and meets as needed to make decisions regarding actions to be taken by the Association. The membership of the Executive Committee represents the different types of camps in the state.
According to the AAC organizational statement, the Association of Alabama Camps exists to:
1. Promote the summer camp experience to the people of Alabama.
2. Distribute information of interest and concern to Alabama camps.
3. Represent camps in Alabama to regulatory and legislative bodies.
Member camps are kept informed through calls, emails and newsletters. To help conserve the time and resources of camp professionals in Alabama, the Association does not hold regularly scheduled meetings. Meetings are called only when necessary to address the needs of the members.
AAC developed, lobbied for and saw passed into law legislation preventing the Alabama Department of Revenue from collecting lodgings taxes from students, children and church groups attending camps in Alabama. Of 1,793 bills introduced in the 1996 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature, our bill was one of only 111 non-local bills that became law. The Alabama 4-H Center and Shocco Springs Baptist Camp and Conference Center had already been ordered to pay not only current taxes, but several years worth of back taxes totaling over $150,000.
(Read more about this)
In 2005, the Health Department contacted AAC and asked us to work with them to revise the camp regulations. We were able to effect changes in their proposals and ended up with regulations that were satisfactory to everyone involved.
AAC member camps are strong supporters of increasing educational opportunities for Alabama’s children. They know that children need opportunities for learning and growth both inside and outside the classroom. Summer camp has been a meaningful and life-changing part of generations of Alabamians’ lives, and if future generations are to continue to have that opportunity it’s critical that we recognize the fact that children cannot have summer camp without summer.
In fact, since 60% to 100% of revenues for the vast majority of Alabama camps is generated during the few weeks of summer children currently have, it is extremely likely that if we suffer a loss of even a few of those weeks we will have no camps at all.
Because of increasing early school start dates in Alabama (which in 2002, before AAC’s involvement in this issue, saw 10 school systems and over 30,000 children back in school during July) AAC has been strongly supporting a campaign by Alabama parents and teachers to stop July and early-August school start dates in here in our state. (SaveAlabamaSummers.org)
There is no data to support the contention of some local school superintendents that there is some sort of educational benefit to these early school start dates, and there is no increase in the number of class days for students. Summer vacation days have simply been shifted to fall breaks, long weekends and extended holidays throughout the year.
The Association is a member of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) and the AAC president is a member of the BCA Education Committee. He also serves as Chairman of the Education Committee on the State Leadership Council for the National Federation of Independent Business (the leading small business lobbying group in the state). Through these and other contacts with legislators and legislative monitors in Montgomery, we keep a close watch on issues and legislation that might affect summer camps in Alabama.
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