Source: Flickr CC
Source: Flickr CC

When I was little, I was sent off to fat camp. For those of you who are wondering if I was a chunky kid, the answer is no – not even a little bit.

In my parents’ defense, it was something of an accident. They didn’t exactly realize it was fat camp until I’d been gone a few weeks and by that point I was loving it so much, there was no way they were going to lose their deposit drag me home and away from my new friends. In fact, I had such a great time, I returned for a second summer of fanatical dieting and overexercising the following year.

I was such a weird kid.

Lest anyone doubt this story, let me provide the lyrics from one of our campfire singalong songs right off the bat. Ahem.

Show me the way to reduce, for I am fat and I want to grow thin
Bum bum bum.
Had a little bite about an hour ago and it went to my triple chin
Bum bum.
No matter what I eat, be it chicken, duck or goose – goose goose!
You will always hear me singing this song
Show me the way to re-
I don’t wanna re-
But I got re-duce.
Gotta watch those caloriesssssss.

(jazz hands)

Ya know what? I’m going to do you one better… totally recording a video so you can all FULLY appreciate this.

So yeah.

Maybe, mayyyybe you could argue that the lyrics to that song were just a silly camp joke. That the hundreds of girls who attended each summer didn’t fully grasp the ridiculousness of a song urging calorie restriction among nine-year-olds. But then, when you factor in all the other bizarre rules, it’s pretty hard to see it any other way…

For instance, we had weekly weigh-ins by bunk. I distinctly remember clocking in at a scrawny 75 lbs about halfway through the summer while the chubby girl in line behind me was 179 lbs. At nine years old, my camp friend was more than 100 lbs more than me. Childhood obesity! It’s for realzzz in the deep south.

Another thing – no sweets allowed on the premises. At all. No excuses.

Parents couldn’t send chocolate or candy or food of any kind to their daughters. And our meals were all dessert-free too. The biggest treat of the summer was that one group of campers was awarded with root beer floats on the final night if they were the Clean Cabin Winners. After 42 days of perfect behavior, 6 oz of flat root beer with a thimble-sized scoop of vanilla ice cream was the grand prize.


Despite the restrictive meal plan, weekly weigh-ins, and fat shaming campfire songs, we did manage to have a good time. The schedule was jam packed with up to eight hours of sports and activities each day. Horseback riding, swimming, canoeing, tennis, diving, gymnastics, the list goes on!

We also learned every song in the handbook, perfected our proper southern lady manners, and practiced good posture throughout the summer. My second year, I was named “posture queen” and got a crown and a badge. It was pretty much the highlight of my life to date.

So anyway, fat camp was awesome. I don’t regret going for a second and I kind of think it helped mold me into the kooky and totally rad person I am today. I mean, how many other “posture queens” are there in the world, anyway? That’s a title that’ll stick with you 4 lyfe.

Who knows – maybe one day I’ll send my daughters to fat camp too.

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