As our country continues to battle a rising obesity rate, it seems everyone is taking a shot at how to help. Having worked in the weight loss and health industry for a number of years, I don’t believe there is a magic bullet.
No one thing will “fix” the challenge our nation faces in this epidemic (and yes it is classified as an epidemic). However, I am a firm believer that if we can all make positive changes in the way we impact the world and those around us, as a nation, we can change the course that we’re on.
As a Christian Camp owner, I believe that camp is an incredible opportunity to make a positive impact on the health of today’s youth. Overall health is more than a number on a scale. It’s the combination of physical, emotional, and spiritual components.
My life was spiritually fed by the Christian camps I attended as a youth and now I believe there is an incredible opportunity to purposefully feed the whole health of our campers as well as continue to have men’s CrossFit health and wellness retreats.
Research has shown that attending summer camps can have a positive impact on a child’s mental health and well-being. Studies have found that campers experience increased self-esteem, independence, social skills, and resilience.
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3 Healthy Ways to Help Your Campers
Take a look at the food you serve.
It takes a little extra effort, but it is possible to provide healthier meals, or at least provide healthy options. Consider having a salad and/ or fruit bar at every meal.
Have the calories and fat of a given meal easily available for campers to see. Lastly, consider some tweaks in your meal plan. Bake instead of fry foods. Look at healthy alternatives, like applesauce in baking recipes, or a cooking spray rather than butter.
Talk about health and how it relates to spirituality
I know the theology of health can seem a little daunting and even controversial. Nowhere in the Bible does God command a specific body mass index (BMI).
We are called, however, to spread the word of God here on earth. In terms of what we can actively control, our health can help or hinder that calling. We are also called to be good stewards of the things the Lord has given us. God chose to give us physical bodies and with that gift comes stewardship.
It’s a tough topic to broach, I know. I am a firm believer that my Christian faith helps guide my decisions and gives me the strength to take action on the callings God has on my life, and that is something I can share with other Christians.
Faith gives many people strength with the challenges in their life, and for some, health is one of those challenges.
I know, I know, too easy right?! Most camps have no problem with this one. The very nature of camp is active games, sports, walking all over campus and more.
The one thing I do encourage is awareness of the kids who may be a little timid to jump in. Sure, it’s healthy to be active physically, but it also acts as a great social ministry for kids.
So keep an eye out for those sideliners and make a point to find ways for them to participate. I always start with “why,” when I have a camper who doesn’t want to participate. From there I try to help them find a way in which they can participate and feel comfortable.
A Quick List of Spiritual & Physical Examples for Your Campers
- Spiritual health:
- Daily devotions (for boys, for girls), prayer, or Bible study sessions.
- Worship services or hymn singing.
- Small group discussions centered around faith and spirituality.
- Journaling or quiet reflection time.
- Engaging in service projects or volunteer work.
- Nature walks or outdoor activities that allow campers to connect with God’s creation.
- Physical health:
- Structured physical activities such as hiking, swimming, or team sports.
- Organized fitness classes or workouts for kids.
- Educational sessions on healthy eating habits and nutrition.
- Skill-building activities, such as archery, rock climbing, or canoeing, that require physical strength and endurance.
- Fun challenges or competitions that encourage campers to stay active and engaged.
- Team-building exercises that promote physical activity and encourage cooperation and teamwork.
It’s important to note that many activities can promote both spiritual and physical health, such as outdoor activities that allow campers to connect with nature while also getting exercise. Additionally, providing healthy meals and snacks throughout the day can help support both physical and spiritual well-being.
A Healthy Ministry
As Christian Camp owners, directors, and organizers we have an incredible opportunity to minister to the minds, bodies, and spirits of our campers. Take a little time this spring to look at your camp schedule, programming, and food as a whole and find ways you can be a healthy change in the lives of your campers this summer.
This post was a guest article from Frank Shipley who organizes annual healthy youth camp programs in Texas.