Camp Wabi has record attendance; helping kids who struggle with weight

Published: Aug. 4, 2016 at 6:48 PM CDT
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According to the CDC, adolescent obesity has quadrupled in the last 30 years. That's why Mayo Clinic Health System and the Eau Claire YMCA offer Camp Wabi for kids who struggle with being overweight.

Camp Wabi in New Auburn is your typical camp with kayaking, games and campfires, but it has a twist.

“If you look at obesity in general they numbers are rising,” said Joni Gilles, the Mayo Clinic Health System Employee Wellness Coordinator, R.N.

Gilles says the camp helps kids who struggle with being overweight.

“We don't talk to the kids about weight loss, we talk about healthy lifestyle habits and those healthy lifestyle habits are melded in with different fun lessons,” Gilles said. “The kids do activities throughout the day, like a normal camp, and then once a day for an hour the kids will come in and do a healthy lifestyle lesson. That could be a dietary lesson, we bring the kids into the kitchen to teach them how to cook; we also do lessons for behavioral health, like becoming the best version of myself, which is one of the kids favorite lessons. We also bring up our physical therapist and they do lessons on physical activity and how much physical activity and what’s right and trying to get 10,000 steps in a day.”

Camp Wabi attendance hit a record this year with 60 kids’ grades 6-10; representing four different states including Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota and California.

On average, campers lose about 8 pounds while they’re at camp; but it’s not a fit boot camp, those pounds come from the general camp activities and from the focus of teaching kids healthy habits.

“A lot of things have stuck with me like the steps and how you can relapse a lot,” said camper Alyssa Slowiak of Eau Claire. “That's like the lessons today, was the steps where you can be like, I don't want to do this to I will try.”

This is Camp Wabi's sixth year, offered by Mayo Clinic Health System and the Eau Claire YMCA.

“You really get to see a lot of change in campers,” said Brain Moore, the Camp Director for Camp Manitou, where Camp Wabi takes place. “There’s a lot of increased confidence and sense of self-worth.”

The kids are currently in the middle of camp right now, as it began July 31 and runs until August 12th.

For more information about Camp Wabi, click on the link to the right.