The Best Weight Loss Camps for Kids

campers rowing a boatA traditional summer camp gives kids many more opportunities to be physically active than they have during the school year, but for some simply being active is only a part of what they hope to get out of camp. Each year, thousands of children are enrolled in summer weight loss camps, where they not only enjoy swimming, hiking and boating, but can also learn about healthy eating and weight management.

Picking the program that’s right for your child is key to a successful summer. Although there are few boot camp style programs that are aimed at children, it’s important to know a camp’s philosophy towards weight loss. “I know we’re bombarded with all kinds of fads and new plans,” says David Ettenberg, who founded Camp Shane along with his wife Ziporah Janowski. “Everyone is looking for something very easy, but the bottom line is eat less and exercise more.”

Camp Shane, the oldest co-ed weight loss camp in the United States, doesn’t eliminate particular foods from the menu, but works to teach kids about making better choices. “We try to deal with reality,” says Ettenberg.

The controlled environment at camp is great for weight loss, but teaching kids how to continue losing weight and maintaining their weight loss is the hallmark of a good camp. The best camps offer follow-up programs in a variety of ways, including take-home materials, online support groups, and opportunities to return to camp for a “refresher” visit.

Location is often a major deciding factor for many families, but parents should also take a few other factors into account. In particular, families should talk with the camp about any mental or physical health concerns their child may have, recommend Janowski and Ettenberg. For instance, not all camps are equipped to deal with issues like diabetes. “If that comes out in a conversation, we can make other referrals,” says Janowski. “We really encourage parents to be open with us and tell us about their child.”

Below is a look at some of the top weight loss camps around the United States.

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