Fat Camp This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

     Fat camp - for most, this subject is a joke, an issue that is far from their slender lives. For some, though, it is a reality. Amidst a prison of aerobics with bars of tofu and officers of hunger pains, there are the few, the hungry, the deprived - the fat campers. So to the chubby, obese, festively plump, and “big boned,” this is for you. I'm a fat camp alumni.

In my years at fat camp, I've experienced it all and lived to tell about it. Whenever I bring up that I've been to fat camp, I receive a laugh and something along the lines of, “Are you serious? Is it like that movie? Tell me more!” People are usually really curious about the mystery that is fat camp, and I always graciously tell them my stories. They wonder what it's like in an actual chubby acres - do all the fatties hook up? Is food snuck in? Are Snickers black market material? The answer to all of these questions is yes.

A normal day, and I use the word normal very loosely, goes a little like this:

One would be awoken promptly at 7 a.m. to trek down the soul-breaking hill, still in pajamas. After entering the mess hall and waiting in a seemingly endless line, after feeling starved from an unsatisfying dinner and a horrible sleep, you finally get food and then wish you hadn't. You're almost mortified at what stares back at you from your plate, but you eat it. You eat it because it's your only choice, you eat it because it's sustenance, and you eat it because you need to survive. You eat every little squishy bit of powdered eggs, every crumb of soggy cardboard diet toast and carcinogenic jelly.

After breakfast you begin your hike back up The Hill. The hill is meant to physically, spiritually, and emotionally break you. It is steep and must be climbed to escape the dining hall. You must do this three times a day for equally delicious meals. And inevitably, every time, you will see someone stop midway up and exclaim “Dammit!” as their body gives up but their mind recognizes that they have to make it the rest of the way because they can't just sit there for three weeks. Weak or clever, there is always the one who pretends to be hurt in hopes that the golf cart will bring them up the rest of the malevolent hill. Then there's morning stretch and throughout the day you rotate through periods of swimming, arts and crafts, three sports, and one or two aerobics classes. That sounds like summer fun to me, but what else do you expect from a fat camp? Oh, and that's another thing - it's not “fat” camp, no, it's called “fun and fitness camp.” Ha! Because of course when I think fun, I think fitness.

Anyway, after all the day's activities comes the real drama. At night, the camp becomes a chunky love fest. This aspect of camp scared the heck out of me because the guys all thought they were Casanovas when really they were pushy creeps, so I stayed in my bunk and read Harry Potter. If you think that I joke, I do not - a girl actually got pregnant there. Imagine the poor kid who was conceived at fat camp.

Wacky nights aside, there were great parts to camp, like the friendships. Everyone seemed to bond over starvation and the need for food. It became a game to see how much food one kid could acquire during his or her stay. This is where strategy comes in. Many would bring a stash, but inevitably be raided. My technique was to befriend the counselors. Through my connections I received candy, soda, fried chicken, you name it. Also, as soon as one camper left, they would send the others things from home. Packages were confiscated and checked behind a glass window as you watched in pain from the outside, but the solution was to stuff a regular envelope with candy and put as many stamps on it as possible. This is obvious, but the only option.

In the end, through the struggles and triumphs of fat camp, you really do come out with an appreciation for life. Whether you have realized the value of taste, gained friends, or lost weight, no one will ever forget their experiences at fat camp. I hope you now realize that fat camp is no joke - it's a whole other world with drama, hardships, and revelations, foreign to anybody who has not experienced it.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Lily">This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jan. 11 at 3:32 am
i love this so much!
Rose_13 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 8, 2014 at 8:53 pm
I've never heard of a "fat camp" before, but it sounds like it's either fun, or really sucky. I suppose it's a little in between those based on your article. This is great! Thanks for sharing your experiences!
FaeNotMyName This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 19, 2013 at 2:09 pm
Through my experiences at multiple treatment centers for anorexia nevosa, I used to joke that they were my own version of fat camp. I always wondered if they indeed existed, and weren't just imaginary, made-for-movie camps to fear. I really liked reading this, hearing about your experience. Thanks for sharing!
KnitsandPurls said...
Aug. 22, 2012 at 11:55 am
You are hilarious! You are funny without seeming to try to hard, and... I do not now what else to say, but I will rate this five out of five!
redpanda26 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 15, 2012 at 7:35 pm
I really like the way this is written!! You're sarcastic in a serious way and I like that you incorporated anecdotes. Good job!
C.Pearl said...
Apr. 4, 2011 at 9:27 pm
Its great to read an article about an incredibly stereotyped topic, but one that people hardly know anything about.
cheer1018 said...
Jan. 6, 2011 at 12:56 pm
Great piece.  People who make fun of fat camps are just rude.  Thank you so much for posting this because ive always wondered how it actually is. Very mature.
foreverwelsh said...
Dec. 15, 2010 at 11:37 am
This is a fantastic piece. I'm so glad you chose to write this, because hopefully the kind of people who make jokes about "fat camps" will read this and it will make them grow up and realise that it's just not funny.
Fab piece, as I've said before, I'm really glad you wrote it!
BaiLiHua This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 26, 2010 at 7:33 am
This is a truly brilliant, creative, and mature piece. Thanks for sharing your experience ... and I'm going to link to it on Facebook.
Someone_Who_Is_Loved said...
Mar. 4, 2010 at 8:35 pm
Some kids at school say I should go to a fat camp but reading this article I realized that I wouldn't be able to live on cardboard diet toast. I'll just eat whole grain.
Mscaledonia said...
Dec. 2, 2009 at 8:32 am
I've always wondered what it's like! Thanks for sharing your interesting experience!
SilverSnowflakes replied...
Sept. 18, 2010 at 2:05 pm


I've never heard of one of these before. 

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