'Fit as a Firefighter' Camp Helps Kids Lose Weight

Filed under: Nutrition: Health, In The News, Nutrition: Big Kids, Nutrition: Tweens


Louisiana firefighters are saving kids' lives, but not in the usual way. Image: sxc.hu

Firefighters don't just fight fires. In Louisiana, they battle childhood obesity too. In Slidell, a local "Fit as a Firefighter" camp for children -- overweight or obese -- ages 7 to 12 has become so popular that there's a waiting list. "They are so comfortable in an environment of their peers," says camp Program Director Taffy Morrison.

Kids in the camp learn lifelong healthy living tips: Nutrition, portion control and the consequences of a diet rich in sugar and fat. But they also have classes in rock climbing, karate, square dancing, CPR and first aid. Unlike most summer camps, these kids learn from a unique group of adults -- local firefighters, state police and Louisiana National Guard's Blackhawk Helicopter and Boot Camp.

Weight loss summer camps aren't a new idea, but Slidell's "Fit as a Firefighter" program is definitely innovative. The firefighters focus on diet and exercise, but they tackle a third area that's often forgotten in traditional summer camp programs: Self-esteem. The camp knows that overweight kids often suffer -- or even overeat -- because of stress, poor self-image or teasing. "We try to teach on all the issues that they're dealing with right now," says Morrison. "They are very sensitive children."

It's a formula that seems to be working. Camp leaders say that kids often come back to camp the following year trimmer and more fit.

Diets don't work -- especially for kids -- which is probably why the "Fit as a Firefighter" camp is so successful. Instead of breaking kids down or taking away their favorite foods, Slidell firefighters appear to be focusing more on showing kids how to enjoy exercise in a safe environment and teaching them good nutrition.

If your child is or was overweight, would you consider sending them to a weight loss camp?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.