Proud2Bme | Camping 101: Tips for a Healthy and Happy Summer

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Camping 101: Tips for a Healthy and Happy Summer

By Fran & Genevieve--Camp wasn't a carefree summer escape for Fran: "When I was a teenager attending sleep-away camp, my eating disorder hindered my camp experience."

It's normal to miss home and feel slightly out of place when you go away to camp, and these feelings may be heightened among a group of all new people. We know that being out of your element and away from your comfort zone can lead to changes in eating--like dieting or overeating--that may seem to temporarily relieve discomfort or shift the focus from missing home, family, and friends.

Lots of time spent outdoors in less coverage (e.g. bathing suits, shorts, tank tops, and skirts) may also cause some to pay more attention to body image. Let's face it--there are just more opportunities to compare your body to others when you're living in close proximities, such as a bunk or cabin, with other campers.

While at camp, you might find that you have less supervision than at home, thus making it easier to adjust your eating and/or exercise habits. Fran remembers not particularly liking the food at camp, which contributed to her disordered eating: "It was my sixth summer at the camp, and unfortunately, I had to come home mid-summer because the disorder was not allowing me to take part in camp’s exciting activities."

Do all these risk factors have to add up to a negative experience? No, not if you're prepared and aware of how to take care yourself and look out for fellow campers. So pack your flashlight and your bug spray, but don't forget to read up on these tips too!

1. Be mindful of any unhealthy patterns or habits among both yourself and your friends. Don’t be afraid to speak up and have an open ear for a friend who may be struggling. Please check out How to Help a Friend for tips about how to talk to a friend you think may be experiencing symptoms of an eating disorder.

2. The take-home message is that a temporary distraction from uncomfortable emotions is not the solution. In fact, it may lay the foundation for a much larger problem. If you are experiencing any difficulty adjusting to or living at sleep-away camp or any other summer program, we encourage you to talk to an adult, for example a counselor or nurse, that you trust before eating or exercise changes begin to develop. Remember, people will only be able to offer support and guidance if you open up and share with them what’s going on. In Fran’s case, she was able to confide in a counselor about her struggles, which helped for her parents to be contacted, and for her to get the proper care from an eating disorder specialist.

3. If you are already experiencing any of the symptoms that we listed above, feel free to call NEDA’s helpline at 1-800-931-2237 weekdays between 9am – 5pm or ask a staff member to help you if you don’t have access to a phone.

Happy Camping!!

Love always,

Fran and Genevieve

 

About these bloggers:

Fran is currently getting her master’s degree in social work in New York. Fran has been recovered from anorexia for six years and leads weekly eating disorder support groups. In her spare time, Fran enjoys seeing new movies and playing tennis.

Genevieve is currently a research assistant studying eating disorders and obesity. She hopes to begin her graduate studies next fall and receive a PhD in clinical psychology. She likes to read, shop and spend time with family and friends.

 

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

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