Anti-Fat Camp: Tackling the Pounds One Family at a Time

Wellspring also uses psychological and cognitive behavioral therapies. Each camper is given a food journal and required to record everything they consume at every meal, including portion sizes, calories, and most important of all – fat grams. The point is to help campers become more aware of what they eat on a daily basis, so they can gain a sense of personal control and begin to tweak their habits.

"Keep in mind, we strive for zero grams of fat," said Borgman. "The only reason we count calories is just to make sure that we don't have any more than 800 calories at your largest meal."

For Krista, the biggest hurdle is the daily, two-mile walk at the crack of dawn. The Robinsons are completely unaccustomed to daily workouts.

"Before Wellspring, it was pretty much walking back and forth to the car, before and after school," said Collin. On the walk, he eagerly led the front of the pack, but Krista could hardly keep up with up the group. Later that day, she had a meltdown with her son.

"The first day we got back to the room and he was like, 'why are you crying,' and I was like, 'I was last, I knew I was going to be last in the walk,' and I just hated it," she said.

At Wellspring, eating healthy is just as important as activity. Nutrition and food awareness are step two of the plan. All meals take place in the dining hall, and campers are strictly forbidden to bring any food in or out of the room.

"The way we set things up in the dining room is that there's a controlled meal that the chefs will prepare on a plate, with certain number of fat and calories," said Borgman. "And that comes out to the families, and is written on the white board outside in the dining room."

Every entree is low in fat. A typical lunch is a choice of a veggie burger or a bison sloppy joe (instead of beef), with a side of baked beans.

But not all the campers are sold on it. "She didn't think it was bison 'til about halfway through," said Heather Joyner, whose daughter Maddie is overweight. "She wasn't too happy after that, but she ate the rest of it."

Collin, whose favorite food is McDonalds, decides to give the veggie burger a try and to his surprise, he liked it. "If I had a choice between this and a cheeseburger, I would pick this," he said. "Because it's healthier and it tastes a little bit better."

From Cooking Classes to Aerobics

The days are jam-packed with a wide variety of sports and fitness activities for the children. They start easy with fun games like lawn tag so the kids can get in their 10,000 steps.

Later, they learn about stretches and squats, and then it's time for family aerobics. The goal is to have them try as many activities as they can, so that one might stick and become ingrained in their routines at home.

"I think it was a lot of fun, and it gave me a really good workout," said Collin.

But the whirlwind of new activities left Robinson feeling discouraged. She was on the verge of quitting.

"The first day I was just thinking, there's no way you can do all of this at home," she said. "Like, I can't. I have to work, I have to get him to school and breakfast and everything else. There's a ton of activity every day, and it's just, it's a lot to take in."

Borgman works with the parents in therapeutic classes to help them see that change is possible, and says that resistance is common at the start of camp.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
Grand Prize Winner
Anuar Patjane Floriuk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
PHOTO: Researchers working with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy identified two great white sharks on July 28, 2015.
Wayne W.Davis/Atlantic White Shark Conservancy