MCHS, YMCA offer Camp Wabi for kids

Published 9:43 am Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Registration is open for Camp Wabi, a typical summer camp, with a slight twist, according to a press release.

The camp is for children entering sixth through 10th grades who struggle with their weight. In addition to swimming in a lake and singing by the campfire, Wabi campers also receive healthy lifestyle coaching for one hour a day by specialists in nutrition, behavior therapy, psychology and exercise physiology.

Children also participate in traditional camp activities, such as canoeing, fishing, kayaking and choose from hobbies, such as arts and crafts, archery, basketball, cooking and dancing.

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Parental involvement is essential to help children overcome weight issues, said Mayo Clinic Health System pediatrician John Plewa, Camp Wabi medical director. Before camp starts, parents learn how to help their camper live a healthier lifestyle at home. After camp, parents receive materials to keep kids on course. Camp staff is available throughout the year and parents and campers track progress at two reunions.

According to a press release, Mayo Clinic Health System and the YMCA of Eau Claire joined together in 2011 to offer Camp Wabi on Long Lake, near New Auburn, Wisconsin, as a way to address the growing childhood obesity problem. In the United States, obesity has quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2012, nearly 21 percent of adolescents were obese, up from five percent in 1980.

On average, campers lose about 8 pounds in the time they are at Camp Wabi, but it’s not a boot camp. Campers eat three healthy meals and two snacks a day for a total of 1,800 calories.

“We work with each camper as a whole person,” said Plewa, who lives at camp with the campers and counselors, and joins in with everything from tetherball to Zumba.

“Wabi is a positive, nonthreatening environment where campers will be active, make friends, eat well and learn new skills to live a healthy lifestyle.”

Camp Wabi dates are July 31 through Aug. 12. For information, call 715-836-8460 or go to Financial assistance is available.