Create active summer programs
Many researchers blame the childhood obesity epidemic partly on inactivity and too much screen time. Healthy summer camps like the basketball camp at Charleston’s Martin Luther King Center can make a huge difference.
WVU Extension operates Energy Express summer camps all over the state.
About 3,000 West Virginia children take part in WVU Extension’s Energy Express program every summer. Lincoln Primary Care Center helps run the West Hamlin camp, so they teach kids to care for their bodies. All camps do not emphasize healthy eating or keep kids moving as much.
Look at your local summer camps. Are kids active most of the time? Are they learning what foods help them and which hurt them? If not, how can that change?
The state’s eight YMCAs also offer active summer programs, as do 4-H, many churches, and most Boys and Girls clubs.“Summer camp is an opportunity, no matter who runs it, to teach kids how to take charge of their own health,” said Jeff Allen, director of the West Virginia Council of Churches. “It’s the only way we’re going to beat childhood obesity.”
Want your summer camps to promote healthy living?
Here’s a great smorgasbord of healthy camp activities: www.healthykidshub.org.
- Call a meeting of your area summer camps to share ideas from www.healthykidshub.org. Brainstorm about ways camps can help prevent childhood obesity. Include WVU Extension agents and others who might help camps pump up their healthy offerings.
- To start an Energy Express program, contact West Virginia University Extension: http://energyexpress.ext.wvu.edu/.
- Do your church camps teach kids how to care for their bodies? Church camps and vacation Bible schools can help kids see care of the body in a spiritual way by emphasizing nutrition and physical activity. There are excellent church curricula available. See the churches page.
- Sports camps: Read about the Charleston basketball camp that gives kids specific lessons on the way physical activity and good nutrition protect their bodies, in “Off the couch and off the streets.” http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201307130050 To contact the organizers, call the Martin Luther King Center.
- YMCA, YWCA, 4H, or Boys and Girls Clubs:
- 4H Healthy living materials. Great stuff: http://www.4-h.org/youth-development-programs/kids-health/
- YMCAs: Type “YMCA West Virginia” or “YWCA West Virginia” into a search engine. The YMCA of Southern West Virginia in Beckley is a great model. They give every seventh-grader free membership. West Virginia YMCAs all offer a cardio-workout program for kids.
- Boys and Girls Clubs of West Virginia: http://www.bgcwv.org/wv-area-council
- Youth voice, youth choice: a healthy living curriculum. http://www.4-h.org/youth-development-programs/kids-health/programming-resources/health-nutrition-fitness/youth-voice/
- Health Rocks: Hands-on, experiential healthy living curricula for kids ages 8-14 from 4-H. Combines healthy living with anti-smoking and anti-drugs message. Highly rated. Can be incorporated in camps. Includes teachers manual, etc. http://www.4-h.org/youth-development-programs/kids-health/programming-resources/preventative-health-safety/health-rocks
- Leadership camp example: McDowell County’s “The Sky’s the Limit” program aims to develop leadership and decision-making skills, healthy relationships and lifestyles, and civic-mindedness, free of charge. http://www.wvsbha.org/blog/2013/01/16/guest/the-sky-s-the-limit-in-mcdowell-county
Useful resources and models:
- Here are some healthy summer camps with useful Web sites:
- Healthy Kids’ camp handbook (Kansas) http://rosedale.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/healthy-kids-camp-handbook.pdf
- “Deliciously Nutritious” camp (Tennessee): http://edgewater.patch.com/groups/around-town/p/healthy-food-choices-staple-of-local-summer-camp
- Healthy church camps:
- Art of Healthy Living camp:
- My Healthy Church Web site offers a kit for starting a “Mega-sports camp”: http://myhealthychurch.com/store/startitem.cfm?item=330101
- The WVU College of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences offers a Healthy Kids Camp each summer. Check for listing in spring at http://cpass.wvu.edu/lap
- YMCA of Southern West Virginia (Beckley). Wide variety of summer camp offerings. http://www.ymcaswv.com