Summer Camps Offer Support, Entertainment, Enrichment
By Doug Boyd
East Carolina University’s new summer camp to help girls lose weight wrapped up in August.
But losing weight isn’t all the approximately 60 girls who attended Camp Golden Treasures accomplished. They also learned about nutrition, exercise and ways to keep the weight off. They made new friends. They gained confidence. At least one decided she wants to attend ECU.
|Ebony Harris was one of approximately 60 girls who attended Camp Golden Treasures, the ECU healthy weight camp for girls. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)
Losing the most weight was Monica Ware, 16, of Greenville, who took off 43 pounds at camp and called herself “the biggest loser.”
The six-week camp helped girls age 10 to 18 get a jump-start on losing weight and improving their long-term health, said Dr. David Collier, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Brody School of Medicine and director of the ECU Pediatric Healthy Weight Research and Treatment Center. Attendees were from Pitt, Jones, Guilford, Lenoir, Onslow and Yancey counties, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New York, South Carolina, Virginia and the Bahamas.
Directing the camp was Ira Green, who has led similar camps in the past.
While the goal of the camp is to lose weight and help campers learn to keep it off, broader goals are to reduce the chances the girls will develop health problems later, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and joint disease, Collier said. “We’re much more interested in the long-term success than the six-week success,” he said. “This is a disease-prevention effort through intensive lifestyle intervention.”
The college environment meant concerts, plays and other cultural and entertainment events were available. Camper Katie Parr, 13, of Randleman, said she’d never heard of ECU until coming to camp. But after seeing a show on campus, she wants to attend ECU and major in theater.
“I was just fascinated by the plays,” she said.
Katie has attended Green’s camps for four years, losing a combined 30 pounds. Keeping it off is a different story, she said.
“Oh my gosh, it’s so hard. It’s hard to keep it off, but with support, it’s a lot easier,” she said.
Support is exactly what a group of girls from Jones County will receive. The Harold H. Bate Foundation paid camp expenses for up to 10 Jones County girls. Back home, a 4-H Club just for them will help them keep the weight off and continue healthful habits.
“I think rural and urban youth alike need guidance when it comes to achieving a healthy weight,” said Erin Morgan, 4-H director in Jones County. “It is very important to have guidance, as there are so many temptations out there that can and will cause youth to make unhealthy decisions, such as drinking too much soda, eating too much fast food. Guidance is what helps keeps all of us on the right track.”
Trenton’s Melendez Bryant is one of those Jones County girls. She lost nearly 35 pounds and plans to try out for her high school basketball team this fall and enroll in ECU next fall.
“I’m going to eat healthy, count my calories and pray,” she said.
While this year’s camp was for girls only, next year’s camp will likely include boys, Collier said.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 percent of adolescents 12 to 19 are overweight. The same percentage of children ages 6 to 11 is overweight.
Elsewhere on campus, rising 10th graders learned about health professions during the 14th annual Ventures Into Health Careers Institute June 17-29.
The two-week program, sponsored by the Eastern Area Health Education Center, gives students an opportunity to explore medicine, nursing, physical therapy, medical laboratory work and other health-related careers. The program includes observation of health professionals at work, seminars and workshops on academic preparation for health careers, and personal development and self-awareness activities.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Kofi Monney of Greenville. “It has highly exceeded my expectations.”
In its second year, the ECU summer science camp filled all 237 of its slots. Ninety-one slots were funded through a grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation. Last year, that group gave $30,000 to provide scholarships, transportation and other support for campers from tobacco- dependent or economically distressed families in Pitt, Craven, Lenoir, Greene, Beaufort, Wilson and Martin counties.
Another pair of camps sponsored by ECU took place at Camp Don Lee near Arapahoe. Camp Hope and Camp Rainbow are for children with cancer, sickle cell disease and other blood diseases.
|Participants in Camp Rainbow/Camp Hope set sail with a Camp Don Lee counselor at the tiller, June 14 near Arapahoe. Seated in the boat from left, Nicole Keehnle of Washington, Rachel Grubbs of New Bern and Jimmy Parks of Goldsboro. The summer camps, led by the Brody School of Medicine, are held for children suffering from cancer, hemophilia, sickle cell disease and other blood diseases. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)
“Everyone here is the same as I am,” said camper Tonio White, 17, of Greenville. He has sickle cell disease. “We all share the same thing. I love the food. I love sailing, swimming, being with all my friends. Everyone loves you here.”
White said his friends at school sometimes think he’s limited by his disease. But he plays football and baseball at Farmville Central High.
“They think I can’t play like a normal kid,” White said. “I have to explain I’m just like they are. My blood cells are just a little different.”
College students and graduates also had a camp of their own at ECU. Twenty-seven of them studied biochemistry, physiology and other medical fields to learn if they have what it takes to be medical students.
That program began two years ago, said Verna Perry of the Academic Support and Enrichment Center at the Brody School of Medicine.