BY TONY SPARBER
As summer is fast approaching, you are probably beginning to think about how to keep your kids occupied. If your child is struggling with weight (whether it’s 10 pounds or 100 pounds), wants to get in shape, and increase their self-confidence, you may want to consider weight loss camp.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that childhood obesity affects approximately 12.5 million children and teens in the United States (17% of that population), and Georgia is one of four states where it affects more than 25% of our children. Weight loss camps attempt to revise this statistic and help end the childhood obesity epidemic that is destroying our youth.
How Being Overweight Affects Children
Not only are obese children more likely to develop serious life-threatening conditions later in life, such as heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes, but they also suffer from social and emotional issues, such as ostracization from classmates, stigmatization, and low self-esteem. The psychological stress of being heavy can often be as harmful as the physical repercussions. Being overweight can lead to discrimination, depression, and bullying from classmates. If this sounds like your child, you should discuss with them the idea of attending a summer weight loss camp to have fun, get fit, and meet like-minded kids their own age.
How to Know If Your Child’s Ready for Camp
In most cases, children shouldn’t be forced into attending weight loss camp against their will, as their own motivating factors are essential to being successful in the long-term. They should be made to understand that it’s not about “punishment;” any reputable camp will motivate and encourage campers in non-judgmental and positive ways. Weight-loss camp should be an exciting adventure rather than a place of dread. It should be a place where your kids can have fun, meet new friends, and most of all, enjoy themselves.
It’s important to keep in mind that there are many different types of weight-loss camps, ranging from those operated on private camp facilities to those that are hosted on college university campuses (which sometimes house multiple summer camps concurrently). Also, certain weight-loss camps are more clinical and severe in nature, focusing primarily on numbers, whereas others offer a more mainstream camp environment that is more well-rounded. The most important factor, though, is a well rounded program that includes fun camp activities along with the weight loss process. In other words, is your child going to have a good time and come home feeling proud of themselves and their efforts?
Here are some important points to keep in mind when choosing a weight loss camp:
How is the facility structured and run? Are there separate facilities for boys and girls? A different swimming pool for each gender to ease discomfort?
Conduct interviews with several different camps to see how they compare.
Ask the director for references from former campers.
What activities does the camp offer? Pay attention to your child’s interests and personality (are they into sports, drama, singing, are they outgoing, etc.).
How many children are in your child’s age group, as different camps vary tremendously in size?
How many camps does the company run? In other words, is there a personal touch at the camp? Does the director/owner personally interact with the kids?
Does the camp have an ACA accreditation? An ACA accreditation ensures that the camp has regular, independent safety audits that go beyond regulations in most states. To be accredited, camps must first comply with up to 26 mandatory prerequisite health and safety standards and must demonstrate substantial compliance with up to forty additional standards in ten operational areas. ACA standards cover all aspects of camp operation, including: programming, personnel, health care, management practices, site/food service, and transportation.
What is the ratio of counselors to campers?
How much “downtime” are the kids given to socialize and unwind?
As a parent, it’s best to have a clear understanding of the education provided to your child, the levels of activity expected, and the goal setting techniques used to track progress. If you feel uncomfortable with any aspect of the camp or feel that it doesn’t match your child’s personality, keep searching. It is also important for you to understand the role your family will play when your child returns home. Parents are responsible for upholding the concepts kids learn and should set good examples upon their return home. #
Tony Sparber is the founder/owner of two ACA Accredited New Image Camps: Camp Pocono Trails, PA and Camp Vanguard, FL. For additional information call 1-800-365-0556 or visit newimagecamp.com.