Put your money where your snack is!

One of the nice things of living in Omaha is the variety of great summer camps available for kids. In the course of the last eight years here, our kids have been attending a huge number of really exciting and worthwhile camps.

One of the best of these camps is the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) series called “Aim for the Stars“. Run by the physics department, it has a natural bias towards the sciences, and over the years we have found the kids participating in such weekly camps as: adventures in chemistry, advanced zoology, advanced geology, art in science, amusement park robotics, go green, get your game on: strategies of the mind, mathemagic, engineering, patterns and percussions, physics with toys, science fiction, totally cool math and science combo, and the list goes on.

I wish I could take a sabbatical and participate in a lot of these camps!

Having done many of these camps, this year my daughter decided to add a new one to her repertoire: Fitness.

In fitness camp, the idea was not simply to run the kids around a track until they fall off their feet–instead, to combine a reasonable amount of exercise with some academic understanding of nutrition, anatomy and physiology and fun. For example, they spent a good deal of time discussing the “food plate”–a term that has now replaced within my day was known as the food pyramid. Here is a great example of a little project but she did with her friend showing what a dietitian’s work might be like graphically.

At the end of the week, my daughter can now join Henry in calling herself a “Celebrity Nutritionist.”

Having said all of these good things about the camp, where the counselors explained calories, fats, complex carbohydrates and so on, I found it extremely amusing–if not actually sad–when my daughter explained to us the first evening after camp how her first day went.

She told us about what she learned, what the counselors had imparted about health and diet and food–and so on–and that she was upset to find that when it came to snack-time, they handed out a packaged snack known here in the US as “Little Debbies“. Information on the nutritional value is found at this link.

If 13-year-old kids see the irony of this type of “do as I say, not as I do” education, then I think it’s time for the camp to reevaluate its nutritional policy and put their money where their snack is.

About Steve Caplan

I am a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska where I mentor a group of about 10 students, postdoctoral fellows and researchers working on endocytic protein trafficking. My first lablit novel, "Matter Over Mind," is about a biomedical researcher seeking tenure and struggling to overcome the consequences of growing up with a parent suffering from bipolar disorder. Lablit novel #2, "Welcome Home, Sir," published by Anaphora Literary Press, deals with a hypochondriac principal investigator whose service in the army and post-traumatic stress disorder actually prepare him well for academic, but not personal success. Novel #3, "A Degree of Betrayal," is an academic murder mystery that is now in press! All views expressed are my own, of course--after all, I hate advertising. http://www.stevecaplan.net
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