COCAcon 2019 November 14th - 17th

Louisville, KY

Register for Conference Today!

Keynote Speaker

Tom Rosenberg
Tom RosenbergPresident/CEO American Camp Association
Tom Rosenberg has a distinguished career in the camp profession and a long resume of service to ACA. He most recently served as the executive director of Camp Judaea in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Prior to Camp Judaea, Tom spent more than two decades with Blue Star Camps in North Carolina, most of those years as a director. Tom is a past national treasurer and board member of the ACA as well as a past board president and treasurer of ACA Southeastern. A founding board member of the North Carolina Youth Camp Association, Tom was awarded the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Camp Industry Leadership Award as well as the American Camp Association’s National Honor Award and ACA Southeastern’s Distinguished Service Award. With an educational focus in business, Tom graduated with distinction from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California with an MBA and from the AB Freeman School of Business at Tulane University with a BS in Management. He is also a graduate of ACA’s Camp Director Institute. Tom melds his experience in the camp profession with business expertise, inspirational vision, successful fundraising experience, professional agility, organizational skills, and strategic focus — attributes that are essential to achieving success as ACA’s President/CEO. We are indeed fortunate to have such a thoughtful, dedicated, and experienced leader who is willing to take his commitment to camp, youth development, and ACA to a greater level. Tom, his wife Pam Sugarman, and their son Daniel live in Atlanta, Georgia.

Grief and Bereavement Pre-Conference

Thursday November 14th 8:30 am - 3:30 pm

Keynote - 8:30 am - 10:00 am

Workshops 10:15 am - 3:30 pm

Andrea Warnick
Andrea Warnick

Helping families, professionals, volunteers, and communities support grieving children, youth and adults

Andrea Warnick is an educator, registered psychotherapist, nurse, and thanatologist. She specializes in ensuring that adults, children and youth have access to caring and informed support when experiencing the serious illness, dying, or death of someone close to them. She has learned through her 20 years of experience that such support goes a long way towards helping individuals of all ages integrate their grief in a way that allows them to thrive in life. Andrea's Web Page Andrea's Bio Media and Publications

Key Note

Good Grief: The Art of Juggling Joy and Sorrow

Grief is a natural and healthy part of the human experience yet in our contemporary society it is an experience permeated by myths and misconceptions. While it can be challenging enough to know how to best support others and even ourselves during life’s windstorms, knowing how to best support children  often proves to be an even greater challenge. Children and youth with cancer are not only grieving the impact of their illness, but may also be grieving other losses such as the separation of parents or the death of a friend who was at camp last year, but not this year. When children and youth come to camp – so does their grief. This plenary presentation will explore ways of juggling life’s joys and sorrows by identifying practical tips for supporting a healthy grief process in ourselves, our colleagues, and our campers. 

Morning Workshop

Don’t Know what to Say! Strategies for Supporting Grief in Children and Youth
This session will build on the morning’s “Good Grief” keynote presentation by diving deeper into strategies for supporting a healthy grief process in campers, as well staff and volunteers. Common well-intended but misguided grief support strategies, such as praising and “story-topping” will be identified. Together we will explore, identify, and practice strategies that do tend to help people of all ages navigate their most difficult times in life including the art of “Bearing Witness”.

Afternoon Workshop

“Grief Soup” is a Camp Activity!

Play and creativity have a unique capacity to help children and youth understand their feelings and to develop skills to help them navigate these feelings in healthy ways. The camp environment provides endless opportunities to make learning about grief fun. In this session a wide range of easy to use (and modify) creative ideas will be shared including activities that foster emotional literacy such as “feelings Jenga”, activities that facilitate understanding of cancer such as “You can’t catch cancer”, and activities that facilitate the processing of grief such “sponge balls”. Bereavement-specific activities will also be shared, including ways to introduce the activities and support the campers through the activities. 


Friday November 15th- Saturday November 16th

(Join in for one or more sessions, or the entire 2 days.)

Spend two days with two of the best, brightest, and most innovative professionals in the camp industry!

Scott Arizala & Sarah Kurtz McKinnon will host COCAcademy, an immersive series of four double-length workshops:

Friday’s COCAcademy

  • Leadership, supervision, & management: Positive Management
  • Can I talk to you for a minute? Difficult management conversations

Saturday’s COCAcademy

  • Staff training: Teach staff how to think, not what to do
  • Camper behavior: Why do they do what they do?!?
What is the COCAcademy?
Something New! Something Just for You!

COCAcademy is an invigorating departure from traditional conference tracks. Each workshop will turbocharge your inner expert by immersing you in challenging scenarios, simultaneously led by two dynamic camp professionals, Scott Arizala and Sarah Kurtz McKinnon..
Who Should Attend?
Directors, Staff, Volunteers, Counselors...  Everyone!
Any and all participants of COCA-I! It is designed to meet the learning needs of both beginners and more experienced camping professionals.
It’s for anyone interested in training and leading staff who will help transform the lives of children with cancer.
What Can I Expect?

Content Designed Just for Oncology Camps!

COCAcademy  workshops were designed after consulting with COCA-I members and the COCA-I directors. They offer cutting-edge content in leadership, emotional intelligence, social skills, communication, and programming. COCAcademy facilitators also make spontaneous decisions to cover novel topics based on a group’s unique dynamics. Interested? Click Here for more detailed information.

11 Medical/CEU Eligible
12 Operations
8 Programming
6 Child Development
5 Fundraising
6 Staff Development
Call for Speakers

Call for Speakers

Speak at a breakout session! Each breakout session is 50 minutes and can be any format you prefer….. a single speaker, multiple speakers, panel discussion, round table, etc. You choose the best way to communicate your message. Our camps are awesome, and everyday extraordinary things happen. Share your insights, experiences with your COCA community.

Breakout Tracks


Topics: Activities, camp, siblings, young adults, family camp, etc.  Share your experience and present your unique and successful camp activities, themes, arts & crafts, outdoor programs. Sports, games, performing arts, animals, nature, cooking, the list is endless. What worked, what didn’t. Which activities are best for specific age ranges, camper capabilities.

Staff Development

Topics: Activities, camp, siblings, young adults, family camp, etc.  Share your experience and present your unique and successful camp activities, themes, arts & crafts, outdoor programs. Sports, games, performing arts, animals, nature, cooking, the list is endless. What worked, what didn’t. Which activities are best for specific age ranges, camper capabilities.


Have you had a great fundraiser lately? Silent auctions, fun runs. Present your fundraising event ideas to create an entertaining and engaging experience for donors. How to put on a successful fundraising event. Whether you’re a small or large camp, share your experience!

Child Development

Child development entails the biological, psychological and emotional changes that occur in human beings between birth and the end of adolescence, as the individual progresses from dependency to increasing autonomy. Do you have intentional programs at camp that help specifically with your campers developing as a person? If you do, please share them!

Medical/CEU Eligible

Camp health care providers can expect to care for campers with any of the medical and psychological issues seen daily by primary pediatric providers. What procedures/protocols/ training do you use to ensure the safety and well-being of your campers.


Every camp faces many of these same operational issues. Insurance, Board development and management, succession planning, marketing and branding, hospital/clinic relations. Share your experience with your peers.

Register to Speak Today!


2018 Platinum Sponsors


2018 Bronze Sponsors


2018 Exhibitors