Until next summer, campers!

Posted 08/05/2014 | By HealthCorps

The last two weeks have flown by at Camp Pennbrook. As I plan to head out and the campers prepare for their last week together, we’re making sure to get the most out of HealthCorps University. Last week, with our lesson “Taking Care of You,” we learned that taking responsibility for our personal health and hygiene is vital to our wellness. Hygiene is a crucial piece of success, especially at Camp Pennbrook, where we’re getting much more exercise than we’re used to, and the sweat is certainly flowing!

We learned the functions of each of our body parts, and then shared ways to keep our skin healthy, our teeth healthy, our reproductive system healthy, in addition to our ears, eyes, hair, nails, and spine. After the lesson, campers of all ages were showing off their broad spectrum SPF, and bragging to each other about how their sunscreen was the strongest of them all! We all know that it can be a struggle to encourage teens to use sunscreen, but data from a new study helped: a research team in Australia found that daily use of sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher can slow or even prevent the development of wrinkles and sagging skin (Hughes, Williams, Baker, & Green, 2013). I told the girls, if we’re worried about how our skin looks as a teenager, always seeking that perfect tan, then we’ll most likely be worried about how our skin looks as we get older, seeking out that fountain of youth! SPF 15 or higher still allows us to get a tan, but protects us from multiple types of skin cancers and from the damaging premature aging effects of the sun.

Campers of all ages asked meaningful questions and shared tips with each other on multiple personal health topics; reinforcing our lesson’s message that good self-care is crucial to our well-being.

Zen Masters Brooke and Gigi relax during our guided imagery.

Zen Masters Brooke and Gigi relax during our guided imagery.

Finally, in our very last week, we tackled challenges in our blend of the lessons “Challenge: Bring it On!” and “Managing Stress.” These topics are essential to cover with our youth these days, as we get busier and busier, and our resumes are expected to be overflowing with activities. We learned that even though hard work is important, finding a balance through stress management techniques is essential for a successful, purpose-filled life.

Firstly, we addressed challenges: most people think of challenges as something we should try to avoid. However, in reality, when we face a challenge head on and overcome it, we experience personal growth and unforgettable life lessons. Once we realize that life is a series of challenge we have to navigate, we can approach each of them with confidence and fearlessness. To demonstrate this, we reflected on personal challenges in our lives, and played a “keep it up” game with balloons.

At first, the girls were resistant to playing, and felt like it was just a childish game, or were resentful that they had to stand up after a morning full of cardio. But once they got into it, and saw that I was progressively adding balloons as Katy Perry’s “Roar” played in the background, they started having a lot of fun, adding a little friendly competition, and laughing their way through! See, girls? If we rise to the challenge, we are bound to be rewarded. One teen camper added that this game is just like life: sometimes we drop the ball, but if we learn to laugh at ourselves, we’ll have a lot more fun!

After more personal reflection, we learned that we can’t all be positive ALL the time. It’s natural to feel down, disappointed, or overwhelmed. For that reason, we all have to develop a repertoire of stress management techniques to pull out during our times of need. These include deep breathing and visualization, yoga, a good quality of sleep, and prioritizing time management with good scheduling and planning. We shouldn’t be afraid of a little positivity or sense of humor, either!

This has been such an amazing summer partnership between HealthCorps University and Camp Pennbrook. I hope the girls have learned as much from me as I have from them! Until next summer, campers!

Teen campers' take-home motivational quotes!

Teen campers’ take-home motivational quotes!

Sources:

  • Hughes, M. C. B., Williams, G. M., Baker, P., & Green, A. C. (2013). Sunscreen and prevention of skin aging: A randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 158, 781-790.
  • Pfahlberg, A., Kolmel, K.F., & Gefeller, O. (2001). Timing of excessive ultraviolet radiation and melanoma: epidemiology does not support the existence of a critical period of high susceptibility to solar ultraviolet radiation-induced melanoma. Brit J Dermatol 144(3): 471.
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