We just completed our first YEAH! summer camp, and here's what Dr. Mindy Gaddis, a wonderful St. Luke's pediatrician and the mastermind behind so much of the YEAH! initiative, had to say about the experience:
St. Luke's Children's YEAH! Bogus Basin Camp was a tremendous success. As our first camp, it exceeded our expectations. It is powerful to bring young people together in nature, away from electronics and the distractions of our culture. The kids were engaged in activities about healthy nutrition, physical activity, and self-esteem.
It was a great example of multi-sector community partners coming together for a great cause. It takes a village to make a difference in the childhood obesity crisis. I loved the creativity, passion, and tremendous effort that the student organization, One Stone, contributed to the week. Everyone worked so hard and put their heart and soul into the camp.
I could not be more proud of the efforts and talents of all team members involved.
Sue Peterson, R.N., our nurse coordinator for YEAH! and Marla Covey, who works with St. Luke's on YEAH! and is an exercise physiologist, took the time to share their impressions. Their report follows:
The week was EPIC! All our lives were changed. We had 18 YEAH! campers from Nampa and Boise, all previous participants in YEAH! programs.
The camp was a partnership with Bogus Basin, Boise Parks and Rec, and One Stone. Campers rode by bus from Fort Boise up the mountain to the Frontier Point lodge at Bogus Basin and back down each day for five days. The program focused on living a healthy life through nutrition, physical activity, and a healthy mind.
The Bogus staff helped us adapt their camp curriculum and were with us every step of the way. One Stone is a student-run, not-for-profit organization that combines service and charitable giving with exceptional learning to fulfill community needs in a way that transforms both the recipient and student providers of the service. We cannot thank both of these groups enough.
Heading up to camp by bus from Fort Boise. Each camper had a One Stone mentor.
The One Stone group helped plan and facilitate the entire week and mentored each YEAH! camper. The physical and emotional impact the One Stone group had on campers will be felt for the rest of their lives.
Each YEAH! camper and staff member chose a word they would like to become over the course of the week. It was very powerful! The campers were reminded daily of their word and how they were striving to become that word, so if, for example, your word was "courageous," you were encouraged each day to do more courageous things, and reminded when you were courageous. Participants learned how to turn negative self talk into positive self talk, and through fun group behavior modification activities, the kids learned trust.
Some of the camp highlights: daily active games that everyone learned to play, an "Iron Chef" contest, a scavenger hunt, and a special guest. Kristin Armstrong rode her bike up to camp and shared her story with the kids, who also got to hold her gold medal! Her message? Believe in yourself.
One Stone wrote and performed the Fruit and Veggie Dance dressed in fruit and veggie costumes. A hit!
On the last day of camp, everyone of the kids made the three-mile hike to the summit on the Mores Mountain Interpretive Trail. This was an incredible accomplishment. It was not only their physical ability that carried them to the top; it was their ability to believe in themselves and rise up to the challenge before them. Many of the campers had not thought they could complete the hike but they all did. It was a very emotional experience for everyone.
One camper summed it up when asked by Kristin what he liked the best about camp. After a thoughtful moment with arms folded, he looked at visitors and said, "Everything!”
I think about the courage it took for each child to "become" their word over the course of the week and then to share their accomplishment with others. I told the One Stone participants that they may never know when in the future camp participants will need to dig deep and remember that their mentors told them they were important and that they count.
One Stone appropriately named the camp:
They were right on! Camp ended with hugs, tears, and anticipation for next year.
David C. Pate, M.D., J.D., is president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, based in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Pate joined the System in 2009. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.