Camp participants work on the challenge course at the Eastern 4-H Center during last year's Take Off 4-Health camp. Photo by Cliff Hollis
(June 12, 2009)
The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and North Carolina State University are working together to provide a healthy lifestyle camp for overweight youth to be held at the Eastern 4-H Center in Columbia.
The camp, called Take Off 4-Health, will provide a three-week program from July 26 to Aug. 14 for boys and girls ages 12 to 18.
"The goal of the camp is for participants to lose weight, build self-esteem, and learn the tools to a healthy lifestyle while reducing their risks of developing future chronic disease, and, of course, to have fun while doing it," 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 "Through participation in the camp, we hope to reduce the chance the kids will develop health problems later in life, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and joint disease."
Campers will participate in recreational programs including swimming, boating, hiking, archery and team sports. The camp will also feature interactive and hands-on educational sessions focused on healthy eating, increased activity, self-esteem and body image. These sessions will help campers make the lifestyle changes needed to keep their weight off, Collier said.
Team-building activities include the Eastern 4-H Center's challenge course and climbing wall. The three-week experience will be rounded out by traditional camp activities such as arts and crafts, ecology, talent shows and campfires.
"Kids are much more likely to adopt healthy lifestyle habits if see them as fun and ‘do-able.' The camp is a great way to jump start these new habits," Collier said.
Take Off 4-Health will provide campers with three balanced meals a day plus two snacks. The meals, based on menus and recipes developed by ECU pediatric dietitians, will help participants lose weight and meet their nutrient needs. Throughout the program, ECU physicians will provide medical supervision. At the end of camp, campers will receive materials to help them continue the healthy lifestyle habits they learned at camp.
While many healthy lifestyle programs cost thousands, this program is $ 2,250 each, including lodging and meals. ECU chose to work with N.C. State again this year because of the strengths of and potential synergies with State's 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences Department. The department has more than 60 on-campus faculty and staff, 250 county-based field faculty, 34,000 volunteers, 208,000 youth ages 5 to 19 and six camp facilities across the state.
"We are pleased to be part of this exciting collaboration to help young people adopt healthy eating and physical activity habits. The combination of medical expertise from ECU, 4-H's experience working with youth and our experience with nutrition education will no doubt be a winning combination and a model for the nation," said Dr. Carolyn Dunn, a professor and nutrition specialist with the N.C. Cooperative Extension service at N.C. State.
The Eastern 4-H Center is on Bulls Bay and the Albemarle Sound near Columbia. The center hosts groups all year with camps in June, July and August. The facility offers lodging and dining accommodations, meeting facilities, environmental education programs, team-building and other recreational programs.
Camp registration packets and more information for Take Off 4-Health are online at http://www.eastern4hcenter.org or available from Nikki Norman at 252-797-4800 or Yancey Crawford at 252-744-5061.
To find out if your child is overweight and may possibly benefit from a program such as Take Off 4-Health, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/bmi/index.htm and use the body mass index calculator.