Think summer thoughts with the Branch County FRIENDS – Health & Nutrition Day Camp

The 2014 FRIENDS Health and Nutrition Day camp is scheduled for July 7-11, and teaches youth fun ways to live a healthy lifestyle.

The purpose of Michigan State University Extension’s FRIENDS Health and Nutrition Day camp is to provide a one week (five day) day camp to children ages 7-11 in Branch County to increase their knowledge and awareness of healthy eating, physical fitness and 4-H participation. With the increasing child obesity and diabetes rates, MSU Extension hopes to help slow this growing problem through education.

Youth counselors (ages 15 and older) will gain leadership and mentoring opportunities. Counselors are responsible for leading games and some craft sessions, as well as overall guidance of the campers. Counselors will be given nutrition information to use to re-teach their campers throughout the week. Youth counselors will meet as an advisory group in the spring to plan, coordinate and evaluate camp activities. Prior to camp, a one day counselor orientation will be held. Agenda items include an icebreaker, team building activities, review of the camp schedule and games that could be implemented during the camp. A large part of the agenda will be devoted to a discussion of the counselor responsibilities, such as being a role model, discipline techniques, using consequences and working through several scenarios that could take place at camp.

Teen counselors will truly be the key to success of the camp. The interaction between campers and counselors is vital. Counselors will be great role models for the campers. In the older age groups, a mentoring time will be built into the schedule so campers can experience a counselor role, in hopes that they will one day return to the camp as counselors.

Campers will develop a healthy and active lifestyle to diminish the chances of developing obesity and diabetes.

Statistics show that Type 2 diabetes and obesity are on the rise. Healthy eating and physical exercise leads to healthy lifestyles that reduce the risk of developing diabetes. FRIENDS campers will make a healthy snack every day to show how they can substitute the high calorie, no nutritive value snacks. Camp will also have many opportunities for games and recreational time so campers can learn new ways to enjoy fitness activities. Other activities include Be Safe, 4-H awareness, nutrition and physical (instructed by MSU Extension staff and various volunteers from the Branch County area) and more.

Camp registration has been modestly priced so that all interested can consider attending. Qualifying campers with limited income will be sponsored by the 4-H Foundation, so they can attend camp for a low, or no registration fee. The 2014 camp is scheduled for July 7-11.

Parents from previous year’s campers will be asked to do an evaluation to help determine the impacts throughout the year, allowing MSU Extension to measure indicators of success. Successful indicators also include children excited about camp, previous campers talking to other children about what they learned at camp and wanting to return to camp. Parents will also be asked to participate in certain activities and information will be sent home as follow up.

If you’re interested in learning more about the FRIENDS Health and Nutrition Day Camp call the MSU Extension Branch County office at 517-279-4311 or check the blogspot.

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