Some summer camps teach children art. Some camps focus on sports. Other camps are STEM-based. All of these camps help children grow individually.
The same is true for Forever-Fit Camp, a unique, multi-faceted, affordable and fun day camp that is tailored toward children ages 8 to 12 who are coping with weight issues, such as obesity. But the camp — which is held at the Children’s Better Health Institute Fitness Farm in downtown Indy — also helps the campers’ families, too.
Forever-Fit camp teaches children about healthy food and exercise, then involves the entire family with weekly gatherings during the six-week session and additional events throughout the year. The camp is targeted to kids coping with issues related to obesity. The focus is not about losing weight, but about making healthy life choices that will last.
“The long-term goal is really to adopt a healthier lifestyle, healthy eating habits and healthy exercise habits,” says Patrick Perry, president for the American Foundation of Preventive Medicine, which oversees the camp. “Once you do that, the weight will follow.”
Once summer ends, families are sent home with a plan of healthy lifestyle goals and are invited to periodic fitness classes, like kickboxing and swimming, to maintain those goals.
Camp coordinator Elizabeth Ryan feels that this year in particular, Forever-Fit is the type of camp that kids really need.
“Most schools have required kids to be at their computer all day,” Ryan says. “I think with a lot of students not having P.E., it’s hitting folks’ health a lot more.”
Because most activities for the day camp take place outdoors, Ryan said that children will be able to spread out and maintain distance. They will continue with strict sanitization methods already in place. The maximum number of campers will be reduced to 20 children, ages 8 to 12.
There’s an understood expectation that campers attend the entire six-week period. “That way, we really have the opportunity to see the most amount of change and comfort level,” Ryan says.
Campers participate in activities like swimming, nutrition, yoga, Zumba, volleyball and golf. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are included each day because they’re part of the learning component of nutritional choices.
Campers must participate in all activities during the day, which Ryan believes helps boost self-esteem.
“I think it’s easier for kids to be encouraging to each other knowing that we’re all struggling with this,” Ryan says. “That takes out some of the fear of trying a new activity, or trying a new sport, or dancing your hardest during Zumba.”
Ryan has heard that campers are less fearful and embarrassed trying new activities after their camp experiences.
Forever-Fit Camp takes place on the Fitness Farm, an urban farm on a 24-acre property on West 44th Street in Indianapolis. Tending the gardens, collecting eggs, harvesting food and incorporating it into meals are all elements of the camp. During other seasons, Fitness Farm can be visited by campers and their families for walking, bike riding or helping on the farm.
Ultimately the lessons aren’t limited to just the campers, but for everyone in the household to participate and eventually benefit.
“When you’re introducing change into an environment, it ripples,” Perry says. “It spreads out through the entire family.”
Registration is open now through May 14 at foreverfitcamp.org. The camp will run from June 14 through July 22, 2021.