Fat Camps – Helping With The Emotional Side of Teen Obesity

They used to be called “Fat Camps” and they might as well have been called “Detention Camps”, as they used military-like exercises, starvation dieting, and punitive jibes and commands to keep their campers’ noses to the grindstone.
Couple this with the fact that some of the campers were teens mixed in amongst the adults of all ages, therefore assuring it was the parents who locked their kids up demanding they lose weight…or else… and you had an all-around recipe for weight loss disaster.

Kids came out pounds thinner, but far more traumatized and with even lower self-esteem than when they went it.

Thankfully times have changed. Now there exists reputable weight loss camps specifically designed for teens that addresses their weight issues from a far more well-rounded approach–dealing with the body and spirit of the teen and considering the emotional side of teenage obesity.

Counselors at such reputable weight loss camps have been given sensitivity training and have been taught how to gently coax from the teens deeply buried feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem to the surface.

Bullying, jeering, or mocking are discouraged and exposed for the negative behaviors that they are. Campers are encouraged to share their feelings with other campers, many of whom have faced the same problems and challenges.

Shy kids are coaxed carefully and with great patience and not rushed to reveal too much until they are ready. Positive reinforcement makes that time come all the sooner. Teamwork–and more importantly–team support is given for individual efforts as well as efforts undertaken as a team (and everyone makes the team.)

Overweight teens often learn to make excuses for their obesity (“I am big-boned like my mother” or “My dad was fat when he was in high school.”) These excuses are understandable, but not allowed to stand at weight loss camp. Rather they are brought out in the open so they can be dealt with. Once teenagers learn the nutrition, exercise, and healthy lifestyle choices they need to lose the weight (and keep it off), the excuses are no longer necessary and fade away.

Soon the layers of shame and humiliation every obese teen is wrapped in begin to peel away too. What stands in their place is a slimmer, confident, and prouder young person–one who has a plan to take the weight off, keep the weight off and live a healthy life–one in which they are in control. Their future looks much brighter.

Why is Camp Shane NOT a fat camp?

Camp Shane is based on the model of a traditional camp, with all the fitness activities, sports and special events that the best-equipped traditional camps have. We don’t obsess over dieting, the emphasis is on friends, fitness and fun! We work on learning or improving physical skills so that campers can continue to be active after camp, learning about nutrition so that campers can make healthier food choices at home, and working on self-esteem issues that help campers build confidence in their ability to succeed.

Camp Shane is not a fat camp because we promote improving health for the long-term, not losing as much weight as possible in the shortest time possible. Fat camps do not mind if the weight returns; in fact, they are happy to get repeat business.

At Camp Shane, we do not care if you are 0, 10 or 50 pounds overweight – in fact, we have many campers who have achieve weight loss results but return for the good times and good friends. The fat camp mentality is part of a culture that demands makeovers – the faster and more extreme the better. But Camp Shane works to internalize the changes that make losing weight about better health choices…NOT thinness at any cost.

We encourage our campers to want to look their best, which we define as healthy and fit. We discourage trying to achieve the impossible perfection of the teen supermodel, which can promote psychological problems, including eating disorders. Often, children don’t want to tell their friends they are going to Camp Shane because of the fat camp stigma, but when they return home, healthier, more confident, and yes, thinner, they love to share stories of the great time they had and are proud of what they have accomplished.

Fitness Exercises to Lose Weight

Helping Overweight Teens Gain Control of Their Lives

Adolescence is a scary time (think back to the endless waiting for the invitation to the big dance or what to do if your friend is driving drunk or to hoping your college of choice will accept you). Every day teens are faced with situations they never faced before and lots of choices to be made with no guarantee their decision is the right one.

Double the terror for the teen who is overweight. When it comes to teen weight loss, they think the deck is stacked against them. They are the kid not asked for the date, the one either made fun of or reduced to always being the jolly fat kid –the class clown, rather than the star athlete–always the best friend, never the girl or boyfriend. They hear the whispering in the hall when they pass and they face trying on new clothes for school with a dread a skinny kid can’t imagine. Trying out for sports is an exercise in humiliation and watching everyone else get ready for the prom is a lesson in shame.

Weight loss camp can put an end to these miseries for the overweight teen and teach them a truly vital lesson in living that can be applied to every situation in their future: You can take control and change your life. Nothing is et in stone and your life can be happy and fulfilled, not ruled by hiding, shame or embarrassment about the body you inhabit. That body can be changed and that successful, confident, and happy person inside can come shining through.

At weight loss camp, everyone is treated with respect and support. The entire staff is trained to help a teen overcome the obstacles in their way–starting with shyness (isolation is one of the coping techniques of an overweight teen), low self-esteem (teens are taught to accept where they are as a starting point and build from there) and avoidance of risk (at camp, everyone is encouraged to try and everyone makes the team, shares the glory, and is recognized for their own special talents and abilities.)

Positive reinforcement is the order of the day and bullies and trash-talkers are immediately taught that type of negative behavior doesn’t fly at weight loss camp (Counselors do understand that some teens put others down to build themselves up. They then help the kids learn a new way to build their self-esteem).

Kids are given the tools to change the way they eat: nutrition information, cooking classes, instruction in how to make healthy choices–and once given the tools, make better decisions.

No one is treated like a child at camp, All the teen contribute their creative ideas and suggestions to the group and all are praised for their contributions. Teens flourish under such encouragement and their outlook about themselves and their bodies starts to change. They leave camp with more information, a better outlook, and much more confidence. Such increased self-esteem helps them face all their trials in life-not just those connected to weight. Just one summer can change their entire lives for the better.