Teen Weight Loss Camps: A Judgement-Free Environment
As adults, there are times where we’d like to stand out, to grab extra attention and be noticed for being unique…and therein lies the difference between us and teenagers.
From adolescence right up until well into college, teenagers often just want to fit it, to belong to a group, to find safety and acceptance in numbers. Stepping out alone can be terrifying, which is why the idea of being shipped off to a “fat camp” is not something most kids are looking forward to–even when they need to lose weight and just such a place may turn the tide of their weight gain. They don’t yet realize that a weight loss camp, specifically for kids, is full of other teens going through the same challenges and who are therefore able to offer each other special support.
Here’s what we’ve learned after more than four decades of creating weight loss camps for teens: An obese teen is an unhappy teen and cliques of kids at school or on sports teams are often the cruelest to that kid who already feels like he or she isn’t worth much. Name-calling, shunning, mocking get to be second nature to the kid who is different in any way and obesity makes kids different from most of their peers. The weight gain often comes as just the time that teens are particularly body conscious (and perpetually exposed to images of anorexic models and steroid-enhanced athletes) and, combined with hormonal changes, an overweight kid is in for a rough ride.
Even well-meaning parents can add to the pain. Criticism, spoken or just perceived, can make teenagers feel even more down on themselves, which may lead to emotional overeating, which means more weight gain and less self-esteem–and the cycle continues. A good weight loss camp, with a proven history of providing a safe and judgment- free haven for kids to work on their weight problems, is one way to break the cycle.
At Camp Shane, counselors are trained to immediately nip any bullying or cruelty in the bud, encourage campers to concentrate on helping one another face (and conquer) their weight issues, and provide a safe place to learn new habits and make new friends. At such a camp, teens can open up and talk to each other without fear of judgement and a problem shared truly is a problem halved.
Together with the staff and “a little help from their friends” overweight teens can start down the road to a healthier and happier life and weather the inevitable storms of adolescence.