Summer of 2007:
The Fresno City Parks, After-school Recreation, and Community Services Department offered a free special camp this summer for 24 kids. It was filled with typical fun and games and one important goal: to help camper’s live longer and healthier lives.
The camp was called “Healthy Lifestyle Fitness Camp.” Working with Sequoia Community Health Centers and the community, twenty-four youth were identified to join the eight week program. The camp targeted overweight kids and those at risk for developing obesity-related illnesses.
The Camp took place at the Pinedale Community Center, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. The children were constantly kept moving and learning about fitness and nutrition. The program was more than about losing weight, it was designed to be fun. We knew if it wasn’t fun, we would loose the kids quickly. We are proud to say we didn’t loose any youth over the eight week program. The children swam, rode bikes, and participated in sports, healthy cooking classes, crafts and environmental science. The youth also experienced lots of field trips. They visited Wild Water Adventures, Santa Cruz, Magic Mountain, The Cat Haven near Kings Canyon National Park, and Boomers. They went bowling and canoeing, there was a trip to the movies and Chipotle’s Restaurant. There were also field trips to the grocery store. At the grocery store the youth were to take a recipe and make it economical and healthy.
On their last day at Pinedale, the youth and staff went about the neighborhood for a final exercise in community service. Then, it was time for sit-ups and running. Over the seven weeks, the youth had built up their endurance to where they could all finish a mile in less than fifteen minutes, some finished under ten minutes.
The eighth week of camp was spent at the Yosemite Ridge Obesity Camp at Wawona in Yosemite National Park. The five day overnight camping trip included swimming, horseback riding, archery, high ropes, rock wall climbing, hiking, arts & crafts, nature education, team building, camp fire skits, cooking and nutrition classes.
During a six week period the children lost a total of 134 pounds and learned a lot about staying healthy. The campers will continue to meet at least weekly to keep on track, participate in activities and continue their new made friendships.