Gateway to a New Lifestyle

by Jeremy Chance

Hello everyone!

I will be posting twice (soon): this post will be my actual written update of the past two or three weeks, and I will be uploading a bunch of pictures I’ve taken so far. Enjoy checking out both!

It’s hard to believe I’ve only been here almost a month. It feels like I’ve been here so much longer than that! The rest of staff training went really well. It was just a lot of protocol and procedures and whatnot. By the end we were just all ready to get the campers here so we could put all of that training to practice!

The kids started arriving Sunday, May 27th, and it’s been pretty much nonstop ever since then! That day was pretty cool. We only had five boys to start, and I was in charge of being in the cabin and getting them settled in and everything. One funny thing from this was when one of the parents asked me where I was from. I told her I was from Indiana, and she was kind of taken aback. She said she thought I was from somewhere exotic…I don’t think Indiana falls into that category. I did have my sunglasses or my headband on, so I guess maybe my hair had an exotic look? Regardless, it was kind of funny.

It was interesting though to see the kids say goodbye to their parents. I had never gone away for a whole summer; and I had definitely never gone away for a whole summer when I was just a teenager. A lot of these kids are from all over the country, and we even have a few that are from outside of the US, so a lot of them are a long way from home. Having to say goodbye for a summer at such a young age had to be pretty hard, so I tried to give them their space.

We keep them pretty busy all day, every day. Here’s a rundown of a typical day at WAC:

  • 6:30: Wake up
  • 7:00: Stretch circle; set goals for the day
  • 7:10-8:00: Morning walk; walk around the large driveway/track that goes around camp
  • 8:00: Morning circle; announcements, cabin of the day raises its flag
  • 8:10-8:45: Breakfast
  • 8:45-9:15: Cabin chores; each camper has a chore around the cabin
  • 9:15-10:10: Activity 1
  • 10:15-11:10 Activity 2
  • 11:15-12:10 Activity 3
  • 12:15-12:45: Lunch
  • 12:50-1:55: Siesta; this is supposed to be an hour of quiet time; the kids either take naps or write letters home
  • 2:00-2:55: Activity 4
  • 3:00-3:55: Activity 5
  • 4:00-4:15: Afternoon snack
  • 4:15-5:10 Activity 6
  • 5:15-6:10 Activity 7
  • 6:10-6:15 Dinner circle: announcements, appreciations, quote of the day and a “motion”
  • 6:15-6:45: Dinner
  • 6:45-7:15: Evening chore; each cabin has a chore around campus
  • 7:15~8:00: Evening activity
  • 8:00-8:15: Evening snack
  • 8:15-8:45: Cabin meeting
  • 8:45-9:45: Showers, getting ready for bed
  • 9:45: Lights out

Repeat the next day…and the next…and the next. The only day it’s different is Sunday. Sunday doesn’t get started until 9, so we all get to sleep in a bit. The activities are a little less intense. Evening Activity is “Ceremony.” The kids get recognized for bumping up in the level system. There’s a campfire. We have fat-free s’mores. It’s pretty cool.

Saturdays are a lot of fun too. For dinner we grill out, and after dinner there’s a themed dance. Last Saturday the theme was WAC-y Tacky. I have pictures of our cabin, but for privacy reasons I can’t post those here, unfortunately. The dance wasn’t as awkward as I thought it was going to be. Everyone danced and had a good time. We were told as staff to dance a lot to try and get the campers to have a good time, so I was definitely going hard with the dancing! Granted, most of my dancing was just jumping around and waving my arms. However, they all had a good time! This Saturday’s dance is the Twin Dance, so I’m looking forward to seeing some good twins!

You can definitely tell how busy these days are though! The activities are mostly different sports: volleyball, basketball, soccer, ultimate Frisbee, etc. Most Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays they’ll have one activity that’s a “boot camp.” They’re definitely intense stuff too! I mean, I don’t think I could get all the way through all of the different exercises going all at it! But a lot of what I do is kind of hang back and push those kids who are struggling and get them through.

It’s really inspiring actually how hard our boys push themselves through. I can’t really get into too many specifics about these kids individually, but they all push themselves so hard!

All of the campers inspire me in one way or another!

There have been a good handful of frustrating times here as well. For anyone who has worked with kids can probably relate to where I’m coming from. My main frustration comes when kids don’t want to participate to their fullest potential. For example, during a lot of the sports activities, when we play them in bigger groups, there will be a handful of people who just kind of patrol the middle and walk a short distance back and forth, but never really fully get involved.

All of these kids are in such a perfect situation: a super low-fat, controlled diet, activities all day; it’s the perfect recipe for losing weight. WAC has the highest success rate across all of the camps of kids losing weight and maintaining that weight loss. But I worry that some of these kids are going to miss out on a perfectly good opportunity because they don’t push themselves. And that’s what frustrates me. I’ve come to care about these kids so much, I want them to get as much out of their experiences here, and when I see them just kind of coasting by, it gets to me. One kid said to me, that WAC is “a gateway to a better lifestyle.” He’s absolutely right, and I just wish everyone would realize that and push him or herself to that level!

I just hope when each of these kids leaves at the end of their session, they can think back of something that I said to them or something that I did and emulate it.

These kids really do inspire me every day, and I really feel blessed to have this opportunity. I truly believe this exact field is where I’m supposed to be. I know it’s far away, but I would love to work here next summer in the personal trainer/counselor role. It would work for the internship I need for me degree. Then the summer after that work here again, and since I will have earned my degree at that point, I would love to start working at the Wellspring Academy. There’s one nearby in Brevard, and there’s also one out in California. The Academies are basically boarding schools for kids who need the continued treatment. I would love to do this full time as a career.

I’m so stoked I made the changes I made in my life that have led me here, and I really hope when I’m done with school I have the opportunity to continue to work with Wellspring full time. The more time I spend immersed in the Wellspring Plan, and after reading Dr. Kirschenbaum’s (basically the founder of Wellspring) book, The Wellspring Weight Loss Plan, it’s become something I truly believe in. I really believe the Wellspring Plan is a scientifically based, successful way for individuals to lose weight and better themselves.

So that’s my update through the first two weeks of camp. I’m still very happy to be here. The shining moments of my kids pushing through a rough time totally overshadow all of the little frustrations.

I will say this: despite my joy in being here at camp, I’m still very much looking forward to being home at the end of July for Jon and Kate’s wedding! As I’ve mentioned, I’ve never been this far from home for this long, especially with not being able to communicate as frequently as I would normally be, and it’s harder than I expected. Being able to celebrate an amazing occasion with my family and a lot of our friends is something that I am definitely looking forward to!

Did you expect anything less than a novel? I hope your reading of this didn’t take too long, and I hope you enjoy hearing about my summer in North Carolina. I know I said I’d try and post weekly, and that’s still my intention…let’s just hope for better execution!

Thanks for reading!!