Summer camps are commonly a place for kids to unwind with their friends while participating in fun group activities. However, for the 12 children who attend the Largo Fit Kids Camp in Tampa Bay, Florida, camp is all about breaking a sweat.
The Tampa Bay Times reports the kids who attend this camp spend their days running drills on the athletic field of the Southwest Recreation Complex. The exercises included everything from speed ladder exercises to jumping hurdles as well as cross training workouts and swimming. The two-week long camp is an extension of the 15-month-old Fit Kids afterschool program started in the area in an attempt to help teach area youngsters how to work out and stay healthy.
Currently, 33.1 percent of children aged 10 to 17 in Florida are overweight or obese, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This places the state higher than Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine, among others.
Brandon McIntosh, a Largo recreation program leader, reports the program is meant to "increase the overall health and fitness level of children in a fun, positive and motivating environment."
For Noah, a 12-year-old in the program, the results have been significant. Noah started the program back in March and went from weighing 138 pounds, to a healthy 119 pounds. Staying fit is something that is important to the 12 year old, as he knows what it was like to be unable to play with friends or try out for sports due to his weight.
"I'm here in the camp because I want to maintain my fitness level,'' Noah told the publication. "I remember when I first started working out with Brandon. It was hard to do any sports, hard to do anything. I was really overweight. But then after a few months, people started telling me how I looked different. It's given me confidence and I like to play basketball and football.''
McIntosh is encouraged by Noah and his success proves other kids can change for the better as well. Part of keeping kids coming back to exercise is ensuring the activities they're offered are fun. Youngsters don't want to be serious in their free time, so the team of trainers tries to teach them how to be healthy kids
in a light-hearted manner.
"Kids love relay races. We make up silly nicknames for each team,'' McIntosh told the news outlet. "And we also keep a running dialogue about fitness going for the four-hour camp, but we are never too serious. Everybody gets to tell jokes."
Although fitness camps are a great way to help children get in the 60 minutes of daily exercise as recommended by the Let's Move! initiative, signing kids up for sports teams or bringing them to the park to use commercial playground equipment
can also keep them active.