Learning healthy values through the camp experience

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While having fun and playing sports are all part of the summer camp experience, children are also learning about how to live a healthy lifestyle.

Daily physical activity is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Sara Hokin, director of operations at Game On! Sports Camps 4 Girls, with camps in Lake Forest and downtown Chicago, said that summer camps could teach healthy habits with caring attention to the program and environment, as well as a staff of role models. The camp’s multi-sports program promotes an active lifestyle by encouraging girls from age 4 through 10th grade to appreciate physical activity through sports and fitness for life, regardless of skill level.

“It’s about building confidence and empowering through quality instruction, with solid fun as the essence,” she said. “If campers can thoroughly enjoy and really experience the rewards of physical

activity, they won’t wish to live without it.”

Hokin explained how they take the time to teach the values of persistence and progress through sports.

“We offer a program that shows our campers how to work toward and measure their progress,” she said. “As they learn the thrill of skill improvement and achievement, their motivation to keep going only grows stronger.”

Lifelong, positive habits can be promoted though sports, including but not limited to maintaining a healthy body through feeling the rewards of a healthy diet and exercise; learning the benefits and feeling the pleasure derived from being a part of a team; time management; mental fortitude; persistence and more, Hokin said.

Exercise and fitness takes a front seat at Jay’s Camp in Long Grove. The camp has two tennis courts, two full-sized pools, bike trails, two sand volleyball courts, a professional batting cage, four tetherball courts, basketball courts, two enclosed trampoline games and more on the camp’s 12 acres of peaceful, secluded grounds. According to Jay Sherman, camp director, the camp is unique and highly personalized, and it provides every child building blocks, such as self-esteem and

self-confidence, to help motivate them to become productive human beings.

In addition to exercise and fitness, summer camps can help promote healthy eating. At the North Suburban YMCA in Northbrook, parents are encouraged to pack healthy meals and snacks for their children. Donald Langley, director of program services and innovation, explained that they try to build health lifestyles by starting them at a young age.

He noted that parents are encouraged to send foods and snacks that will help give children energy throughout the day, without loading them up on sugar.

“We try to teach kids why being active and being on the go is healthy,” Langley said.

The YMCA also provides water so that the kids can remain hydrated and learn about water’s healthy benefits. In addition to swimming four times a week, the camp also provides a healthy hot lunch for the children on Fridays.