If your teenager is overweight, they may be facing teasing or bullying at school. Their friends may make "fat jokes" about them and they think they are funny, but even if your teen laughs along with them, the jokes may be damaging their self-esteem. If they would like to lose weight, a weight-loss camp may help. It is important that to understand that losing weight is about being healthy and feeling good, not looking good.
Weight-loss camps are sometimes confused with "fat camps." The term "fat camp" typically refers to a camp designed to help participants lose body fat, not necessarily weight. Weight-loss camp participants attend such camps to lose weight and focus on maintaining healthy lifestyles.
Weight-loss camps have been around for decades but have experienced a resurgence in popularity among teenagers thanks in part to TV shows such as the ABC Family teen drama "Huge," which stars Nikki Blonsky and follows a group of teenagers while they attend a weight-loss camp. Reality weight-loss competition shows, such as "The Biggest Loser," have also put an emphasis on healthy eating and weight maintenance that may inspire teens to lose weight, according to some experts, including Evan Nadler, M.D., the co-director of the Obesity Institute at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Each weight-loss camp has its own structure and time length, and some camps offer more than one program option, including boarding school programs and summer camps of varying lengths. Wellspring Camps, located off the Gulf Coast in St. Petersburg, offers summer camps for boys and girls ages 11 to 18. Prices for summer 2011 camps range from $6,000 for a three-week session to $11,000 for a nine-week session; Wellspring offers discounts to help lower the cost of tuition. You can earn a $300 discount for attending a family workshop and a $700 discount if your teen completes certain coursework. Wellspring also works with your health insurance company and offers additional discounts if your insurance pays for part of your teen’s stay at camp.
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Each weight-loss camp offers its own slew of physical activities, with some emphasizing aerobics and others focusing on competitive sports to attract your teen’s interest. Camp Vanguard in Haines City, which is on Lake Pierce between Tampa and Orlando, offers a combination of both. Your teen can enjoy water activities, such as boating, canoeing and swimming. They may also enjoy the camp’s calisthenics, strength training, toning, aerobics, kickboxing, circuit training, ropes courses, paintball courses, biking, weight training, basketball, soccer, softball, football, badminton and Frisbee. Choosing a camp that has the sports and activities that your teen will enjoy is important because it will help motivate him to engage in physical activity while there. Camp Vanguard prices for summer 2011 range from $3,250 for a two-week session to $7,790 for a six-week session.
Your teen may be the only overweight person in your family, or he may be the youngest member of a family that has struggled with weight for generations. Instead of sending your teen to weight-loss camp by himself, you and the rest of your family can join him to establish healthy lifestyle habits together. The Pritikin Family Program in Miami offers year round, one- and two-week sessions at which you can take aerobics and dance classes, swim, play soccer, volleyball and basketball. You also take cooking classes as a family to learn about healthy eating habits, nutritious foods and recipes, and the dangerous effects of unhealthy eating. Family members don’t have to be overweight or want to lose weight to attend, and you can attend parenting classes on instilling healthy habits in your children. Pritikin’s rates vary by season and number of attendees but as of 2010 average about $4,000 per person, per week. Call for details about special offers for your family.