Enraptured by a special camp
When I was young, I saw a snippet of a program on TV about a “fat camp” for obese kids. The details I remembered were the beautiful scenery, healthy meals designed by nutrition experts, counsellors to help the kids implement healthier habits into their lives, scads of opportunities for hiking, running, climbing, boating and other interesting physical activities, and interviews with campers during and after their experiences.
I wasn’t overweight in those days, but I had struggled with keeping weight off since I was a teen, no matter how well I ate or how much I exercised. I had a metabolism designed for the mother of famines, and it was my worst enemy. I was also aware that modern life was not a friend of the Greek Olympiad body. I was enraptured by the fat camp.
There once was a staff party game
Many years later, I worked for a school system and attended their traditional year-end party at the district director’s house. I was painfully aware that the games we played were more than fun; they were a way for coworkers and superiors to judge my creativity, attitudes, and a great deal more.
The question I struggled with, and which continued to plague me for years to come, was, “What is your dream job?” (assuming there were no obstacles and I had the choice of anything).
In those days, after a recent marital separation almost no one knew about, I was thrilled just to be making my own decisions about my life. My head and my heart were filled to the brim with two passions, speech-language pathology and writing, and I couldn’t think outside of that box yet. I failed the dream job question.
When the answers were read out (they were anonymous, but people had a pretty good idea which answer belonged to whom) I was amazed by the vast array of possibilities. None would have been my dream job, but what, then, was my dream job—the out-there, crazy, creative, amazing job I would do if there were no obstacles? I couldn’t think of anything unusual, fascinating, or completely outside of regular life.
Better late than never: the answer to the dream job question
I don’t know in what year it hit me, perhaps five years after the fact, but I finally had the answer to the dream job question of that staff party game. Unfortunately, the guests from that day will never know it, unless they find this blog.
The answer had been there all along, buried, suppressed, overshadowed like so many of my ideas and desires were in those days. Ideas were unrelated to possibilities for much of my life, which is why it took me so long to connect the two.
If I had another life to live, I would gain access to a lot of land, and hire experts in nutrition, stress management, physical fitness, and psychology. I would employ not only personal trainers, but massage therapists, reflexologists, and instructors for yoga and tai chi. Food would be served tasty, light, and nutritious at regular intervals, opportunities for pampering and meditation would abound, and more intense activities, such as swimming, hiking, cross-country running, wall climbing, canoeing, and taekwondo would be always be available.
My dream job would be to own and run a “fat camp,” but this one would be for teens and adults.
My treatments would go beyond eating disorders and active lifestyle choices. “Fatness” would be considered a symptom of an underlying cause. Campers could seek temporary respite or embrace the camp as a new beginning. The fat camp would be a retreat where people could reconnect with their inner selves, heal, or make meaningful friendships, and where counselling would be available for various life problems. People would have access to many forms of exercise, but also to therapies to help them relax, restore, feel good, or redefine their purpose before returning to their lives.
The camp would have to be isolated and scenic, with serene as well as adventurous places. An extended vacation of sorts, it would not only prevent the lure of inappropriate food, but replace environmental, social, and physical stressors with replenishing activities to restore balance and health. Adequate sleep and recreation would help to lower the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone known to contribute to obesity, and reduce the need for compensatory activities such as too much sitting (too tired to exercise) or eating (wrong food, wrong time, wrong amount, possibly wrong reason). Adequate rest—something many people in our culture struggle with—would be conducive to increasing physical activity and diminishing the need to search for food in order to stay awake. The fresh air would enhance well-being and weight loss for many people, and those who could never lose weight before would finally find success.
How would I obtain start-up funds to buy land or even begin such a venture before I had clientele? Who knows. Perhaps I could fund raise by drawing awareness to the problems that plague so many people in our culture—not just bad food and obesity (the symptoms), but life-encumbering stress in its many forms (the underlying factors). But that is not the point. The point is this is what my dream job would be, with emphases on dream and no obstacles. “Fat camp for adults and teens” is what I should have written on that piece of paper during the staff party game eight years ago.
Why would I want to create a “fat camp” to help others? Because I know it would help me.
My dream job in this life would still include being a reasonably well-known author. But in another life, or perhaps after I sold a healthy number of books, the fat camp could become my next project, which, I’m sure, would inspire a whole new area to write about!
In the meantime, changing lives one student at a time works for me.