Health

Summer Camps Play a Vital Role in Combating Youth Obesity

| by Lynda Fishman

Studies reports that 28% of children in North America are overweight and only half maintain active or moderate physical activity levels. The effects are more far-reaching than you might expect.

Decreased physical activity leads to the development of certain chronic diseases, depression, obesity, laziness, lack of confidence, poor interpersonal and teamwork skills, and some difficulties in relating to school subjects such as geography, history, science and health.

Studies support the positive connection between healthy development and education with increased activity and participation in dynamic, adventurous activities. The documented benefits of active lifestyles and good nutrition include increased longevity, reduced risk of disease, psychological well-being, promotion of social skills, increased school performance and productivity, higher academic achievement and overall health improvements.

Summer camps play a vital role in helping to combat youth obesity and correct this dismal situation, through adventurous physical activities and experiences that are exciting and fun.

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Most camps are committed to promoting healthy and active lifestyles for all ages within safe, well-designed indoor/outdoor recreational programs. Some camps look at what appeals to kids at different ages and offer them lots of choices. Tennis or karate might catch one child’s attention, while another might like the full-range sports programs with their variety. Maybe dance or hiking sparks the interest of some kids. Ultimately, camp programs are known for a combination of physical activities and encouraging social interaction, whereby participants will develop and enhance skills, positive image and self-confidence, support the well-being of others, and maximize their personal potential.

As a camp director, I see our camp as playing a very important role in instilling the values of healthy eating and active living for campers and staff. Older teens struggling with obesity are much better off with a summer job that is not sedentary but instead provides the opportunity for an active, healthy summer, with healthy lunches included, and participation in energetic, exciting activities.

Camps contribute to introducing and encouraging children and youth to add physical activity to their daily lives in simple, enjoyable ways, for the rest of their lives.