The Biggest Loser - Camp Jump Start

Like many things in life, we need to stop thinking so much about something and just start. Whether it be a diet, exercise or writing a blog….just thinking about the issue at hand can paralyze us. So today I decided to begin my journey in the world of blogs. No more thinking about it. I am now doing something about it and I challenge you to do that which you have been thinking about longer than you should. Just start….
I hope from the stories and thoughts that I share in this blogosphere, you will find something worthwhile. After all, life is about sharing our journey with the hopes that our path makes it easier for someone else to follow. My life has never been boring! After 30 years of working with kids, I guarantee that you cannot make these things up that I will share in future blogs.
Today though I am thinking about the show “Biggest Loser”. I have never been fond of the name but no one asked me. I do admit that a lot of good has come from the show. It has brought attention to a health crisis in our nation. It has inspired many to take action in their own life. It has educated those that judge that maybe it is not so easy to just lose weight and exercise. It has shown us that in the United States of America malnutrition is in abundance.
Several years ago I met with one of the successful participants on the “Biggest Loser”. We met at a Starbucks in Chicago at his request. He wanted to know what we did at our weight loss camp for kids that was different from what everyone saw on the “Biggest Loser”. I explained that our camp was not just about diet and exercise. We dealt with emotions and issues like divorced/separated/blended families, adoption, loss of a loved one and anxiety to name a few. We taught stress management along with nutrition classes. We were active and had fun at summer camp letting kids be kids. Kids had the opportunity to grow from mistakes in a safe, structured environment while adults supervised and intervened as necessary. Today kids lack this support system in many cases. We developed individual plans for home so that kids could maintain success and the entire family could live well. He told me that the “Biggest Loser” only pushed contestants for diet and exercise. It was all about the numbers. After all, it was a television show and ratings were the driving force. It was not about a mission to change and save the world. It was about business.
No wonder this man gained his weight back.
I do not like the idea of young children on the show this coming season. I am certain that there will be drama and the cameras will capture all the vulnerable moments that will be etched in America’s minds. People will be talking and judging. Great for ratings but not great for kids! Some may be treated like celebrities for a time while others will be openly ridiculed. Then the season will end, the show will close and they will be forgotten on the set, but the children will never be able to leave it behind. Reruns will pop up when least expected and it will live forever on the internet.
My concern is that this show will exploit kids. I believe that life is hard enough already for these kids and a child cannot give informed consent to this scrutiny. I understand that desperate parent’s will do desperate things if they think it might help their kids. They simply do not know what else to do. I know that this is not it!
As I write my blog, I too will share stories about kids. But it will NEVER be about one kid. All stories will be true events just mixed up because I never want a child recognized by what I write. Truth is many stories are similar and people who have never been to camp may feel like I am telling their personal story. Childhood is a sacred time and we as adults need to honor this age of what should be innocence. Adults are put in a child’s life to protect them.
In our society today parents are searching for answers. I can tell you that this crisis is not the child’s fault nor do I think that it is the parent’s fault in most cases. We, as a society, have created this catastrophic event and it is up to ALL of us to make the necessary changes. While many people continue to talk about this, I actually believe the children are our future. This is why we have been DOING something about this health crisis. The time for talk is over if we are to save this generation of children! Watching kids get yelled at and struggle on national television is NOT the answer.
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