In part one of this post I covered the stigmas attached with being over weight or obese and the difficulties the children had to deal with on camp and during their everyday life.
In this post, I want to share the progress and changes they made within two months and how rewarding a job like this really was (There's a reason I went back a second time).
Being on camp, each and every child inspired me (and that's honestly no exaggeration), however, there were 2 scenarios which to this day still keep me motivated when my day doesn't quite go to plan.
The first girl who inspired me was 11 years old, a shy, lonely introvert. When she came to camp encouraging her was tough (I honestly questioned what I'd signed up for). Even getting her to be up and ready in the morning was a struggle. She clearly didn't want to be there. Day after daay after day things didn't seem to change. A week in and I got one word responses to my questions (result, she'd stopped refusing to speak to me) . Each day seemed to carry on like this, the moans were every other minute and to be perfectly honest I felt extremely sorry for her. What 11 year old wants to spend their summer on a weight loss camp miles away from their family with contact time of 10 minutes a week?!
One morning we had a gym session, I gave the group the instructions of what the session was about and they carried on as normal. I remember very clearly in our first session attempting to get this girl on a cross trainer was like squeezing blood out of a stone. It just wasn't going to happen... EVER. However, this particular morning I won't forget these words "I'm not stopping Jenna, I won't get off, not until I've reached my target". This was literally as though I'd just seen a pig fly! Proud just doesn't cut it. It was as if a switch had just been flicked. What a step. Bear-in-mind this was the same girl who told me she'd consume a whole cake, 5 bag of crisps, 3 chocolate bars and 3 bags of sweets after school (which after learning how to read labels she vowed to never do again, I can only hope she's a changed girl). From this point on it was as though her personalities had been swapped, she was smiley, responsive and enthusiastic. Sometimes one push makes all the difference.
Another scenario I can't not write about was from a girl who is now a friend (She's given me he go ahead to post this). She was my age, to the day. Each week everyone did the 12 minute cooper run (you run or walk for 12 minutes to see how far you get). Week one came and she said "Jenna will you run with me?" Absolutely, I would. So we began, picking up the pace was tough, I think we managed a slight trot before she stopped and said "I can't run, I'm never going to do this"At which point I promised her by the end of camp she'd be running the whole thing. She laughed. Well 2 months later the last run came around. "Jenna will you run with me?" Absolutely, I would. This is the part I will never forget, with 30 seconds to go, having run at a really fast pace (no exaggeration) the whole way, she puffed "how much longer", "30 seconds just 30 seconds, don't you dare stop". 30 seconds passed, the horn went and she fell on the floor in tears. She'd run the whole way. Writing this I'm welling up, because to many of you this may not sound like much but seeing the struggle, determination and pain she'd gone through, she persevered and she got there in the end. These words get me through the last track of a spin class or the last sprint in a HIIT session. Today she super fit and has totally turned her life around. She is such an inspiration.
Whilst everyone's changes are relative, every single child made major progress, grew and developed as people. They made life long commitments and many of them have changed their lifestyles for the better. This was the most inspiring experience of my life and I can only thank every person who was involved. My words will never express the difficulties that went on and the struggles these kids were put through but I have SO much respect for anyone who commits themselves to improving their health.