When you combine the ease and affordability of fast food with the ability to literally record days worth of TV to be accessed at any time, your result is kids who are eating junk while watching junk. They are spending more time in front of a screen than they are playing outside. Sometimes the only body part getting a workout is their thumbs from playing video games or their index finger from pointing and clicking all over a computer screen for hours at a time. Lack of exercise and accessibility to unhealthy foods is what has caused childhood obesity to skyrocket in the last 30 years.
According to the Center of Disease Control, more than a third of kids and teenagers were overweight or obese in 2012. The physical risks of childhood obesity are endless; joint problems, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and it leaves them vulnerable to various types of cancers as they get older. Not only can early obesity lead to a lifetime of bad habits that are very hard to break, but the effects on a child’s already very fragile self esteem and body image are devastating. Children who are overweight and self-conscious are less likely to participate in team events or sports, try out for a new sport or activity, or be proactive in making new friends. This is can be a lonely and scary time for kids and teens, and it is absolutely preventable.
At Camp Weequahic, we take the health of each camper very seriously. We have been known to sneak exercise into the daily lives of campers by giving it a new name: FUN. We’ve also found a top secret, patented way to keep campers from eating unhealthy foods all the time: We don’t give them access to calorie filled foods all throughout the day. It’s novel concept, we’re very aware.
The menu at Camp Weequahic varies by the day. There is always fruit available, and a salad bar is always an option at lunch and dinner. Piping hot soups, vegetarian options and plenty of healthy options are always available. Whether your child needs a menu that is gluten, dairy, soy, nut or shellfish free, or they have other specific food allergies, a menu of delicious options can be created for them so they can enjoy everything camp has to offer with a full belly and no annoying or even worse, life threatening allergic reactions. Parents are encouraged to contact the specific camp your child is attending in order to discuss his/her dietary restrictions.
Even if campers do splurge on mac and cheese, shaved steak sandwiches or get creative at the pasta bar, they will easily work off all of those delicious calories in the endless physical activities the camp has to offer. A game of flag football, an afternoon of kayaking (talk about an arm work out!) an early morning mountain biking adventure, an impromptu basketball game vs. the neighboring cabin or an hour dancing away in a fitness class are just a few ways campers can keep their heart rates up while having fun with new friends. Exercise disguised as fun means campers stay active all the time! When campers are so busy running (sometimes literally) from activity to activity, they don’t have time to mindlessly munch on snacks.
Camp Weequahic does not offer soda as a daily drink choice, which is a major culprit in the childhood obesity epidemic in our country. Plenty of water keeps campers hydrated as they tackle another day of go, go go!
Although Camp Weequahic is not specifically targeted towards weight loss, it is a common benefit that occurs naturally when campers spend the summer here. If weight loss is not a concern for your child, they will still benefit tremendously from the constant activity and plenty of healthy food options provided at camp.
Camp Weequahic wants the best for each camper on every level, including their physical health, which is why we are focused on instilling positive attitude towards healthy decisions. A mindset focused on healthy food choices and staying active is an excellent core value to instill in children, and could literally save their lives. By encouraging them to eat right and exercise daily, they are creating habits that will benefit them as they grow, and allow them to live long and healthy lives.