Like most other summer programs, camps that focus on health are packed with fun activities for your child to enjoy. But unlike more traditional summer options, these experiences also contain classes and training that teach your kid how to make good choices and habits regarding food and exercise that can have benefits for years to come.
The following are 10 specific benefits of sending your child to a health camp:
1. Enhanced overall health
Kids that attend health camp will likely enhance many areas of their overall health. For example, at the Pritikin Family Camp, researchers at UCLA found that after just two weeks, children attending the program decreased LDL (bad) cholesterol by 27 percent, total cholesterol by 24 percent, and triglyceride fats by 40 percent. Attendees also eliminated Metabolic Syndrome, a pre-diabetic condition.
2. Improved academic performance
While improving your child’s health is important, the benefits of a health camp aren’t limited to the physical. Spending a portion of the summer improving his or her health may help your kid academically as well. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found evidence that children who eat healthy are more likely to develop higher reading comprehension levels and earn better test scores. The students in the study who made poorer dietary choices exhibited slower reading progress over the two years they were followed, regardless of other factors such as socio-economic status and level of physical activity.
3. Learn to connect with others
To succeed when they’re adults, kids need to learn how to connect with and relate to a variety of people in different settings. Going to a camp grows your child’s ability to form relationships with other attendees, especially when they may not otherwise have much in common. It’s an experience that will translate well both in the academic and professional sectors.
4. Development of a healthy metabolism
You probably already know that your metabolism tends to slow as you get older. But that doesn’t mean that a child’s metabolism is always functioning optimally up until adulthood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 20 percent of school-aged children in the U.S. are obese. To avoid the health complications of excess weight gain, kids of all ages need to learn to fuel their bodies properly and remain active to keep their metabolism working well.
5. Gain exposure to new hobbies
During childhood, it’s important for kids to try new things. Not only does this keep them mentally sharp, but they may discover an activity that they will be able to enjoy for a lifetime. At health camps, kids can try activities that they may not normally participate in, such as tennis or water aerobics. “Here at Pritikin we have children who discover a passion for healthy cooking,” smiles Kimberly Gomer, MS, RD, Director of Nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center. “They return home and become the new family chef, preparing nutritious snacks and meals for the whole family!”
6. Establishment of healthy habits
A couple weeks at a health camp is a great way to jumpstart weight loss, develop a healthy metabolism, and learn necessary lifestyle changes, but the true benefit comes from the establishment of healthy habits. By learning how to make nutritious snacks, stay active, and make other healthy strategies a natural part of everyday life, your child will begin to live a mindful lifestyle that can continue for years to come.
Be sure to talk with your son or daughter about what he or she learned at the camp. You might be able to incorporate some of the healthy habits with your family at home to help your child continue these changes for a lifetime. At the Pritikin Longevity Center, adults learn right along with their children.
7. Time away from electronics
According to a report by Common Sense Media, U.S. teens spend eight hours a day using media. Children between the ages of 8 and 12 are not much farther behind, at six hours a day. Too much time in front of computers, video games, and other screens can equate to hours spent sitting with little movement. This lack of activity can develop into a habit that extends well into adulthood, wreaking havoc on your child’s long-term health. A health camp forces kids to step away from the screen and discover how much fun a healthy, active lifestyle can be. They may even discover that they enjoy yoga or swimming more than their favorite computer game.
8. Expand taste palate
If you are the parent of a picky eater, you know how exhausting it can be to try to introduce him or her to new foods day after day. So why not have someone else give it a shot? Sometimes kids are more willing to take advice from strangers than their own parents. Learning about the nutritional benefits of lima beans or quinoa and trying these nutritious foods in specially prepared dishes may broaden your child’s palate and make him or her more likely to try new foods at home as well.
9. Development of responsibility
Though parents play an important role in teaching their children healthy habits, at some point kids need to learn to take responsibility for their own health. A health camp gives them this opportunity. By learning about and establishing a healthy lifestyle through their own daily decisions instead of being forced to do so by a parent, kids may begin to take more ownership for their nutritional choices in the future.
10. Family bonding
If you want to send your child to health camp, there’s no reason that you can’t go too. At the Pritikin Family Health Camp, the whole family can bond while learning about how to make good dietary and exercise choices. Your family’s stay isn’t just about weight loss. It’s also about discovering just how fun and rewarding a healthy lifestyle can be. Whether you are at Pritikin for days or weeks, your kid will gain a number of benefits that he or she can’t get anywhere else.