How Our Campers Lose Weight: Our Camp vs. “Fat Camp”

We believe every camper deserves to be at their healthiest, happiest weight — and equally important, to be the happiest, healthiest version of themselves possible.

Research and experience tell us that weight loss happens naturally when you focus on consistent behaviors and choices that nourish your body and mind.

Our immersive residential summer weight loss program is designed to build those habits:

  • It's the only purpose-built cognitive-behavioral summer weight loss camp designed specifically for ages 12 - 26 that integrates real-world experience and a curriculum designed by nationally-recognized health and weight psychotherapist Eliza Kingsford, MA, LPC, NCC.
  • Unlike "fat camps" — huge camps that restrict calories and hire college students to put kids through nonstop exercise schedules to produce fast temporary weight loss — our professional, degreed and experienced behavior coaches provide campers with the knowledge, individualized strategies and tools that empower them to break their cycle of weight gain and regain.

It works, too. Our campers average about four pounds/week of healthy, sustainable, weight loss - not through food restriction and constant activity but by learning and practicing new life skills that work at camp and at home.

Three ways Empowered Wellness is different from "fat camps":


Food decisions, not food restrictions.


We don't micromanage calories. We want campers to learn lasting ways to make healthy choices themselves, and provide realistic meal strategies designed to work during and after camp. For example, the Camper's Choice Food Bar provides daily practice at making conscious, intentional choices about food.


Limit calories to around 1200/day — leaving most campers feeling hungry. They look for ways to sneak food during camp, and after camp ends and they have normal access to food, the first thing they do is start eating again. This is approach creates and reinforces dysfunctional food behaviors in overweight teens.


Realistic, enjoyable habits of daily activity.


Sure, exercise burns calories — but our goal is actually something greater: we want campers to build habits of physical activity and movement they enjoy doing and are able to continue at home.

That's why we offer a mix: widely-available camp activities plus special experiences that are new for many campers. Emphasizing only exotic or hard-to-find activities that most campers won't have access to at home defeats the purpose.

We actively apply the principle of "challenge by choice" rather than pushing campers to try things whether they want to or not.

Anxiety about new experiences, the anticipation of failure, and reliance on food as a way of dealing with the unknown is often associated with weight gain for teens.

We work with each camper to find the starting point that feels right for them, and help them move forward from there. We use it as an opportunity to teach specific strategies for dealing with challenges and the unknown.


Keep campers constantly on the move, often with activities that they won’t even have access to at home.

Campers are pushed to do activities simply to burn calories during camp, regardless of whether they enjoy them, rather than focusing on building habits of realistic and enjoyable activity that will last after camp ends.


Professional after-camp support.


Tuition includes twelve months of professional wraparound support from our full-time, year-round staff — the same licensed therapists and child development experts who design, develop and deliver our camp programs! 

We know new challenges arise after kids leave the "camp bubble" — and with support, they can navigate those bumps in the road, stay on track, and come out the other side even stronger!

Our team is still here for you after camp ends, via phone, email and through moderated support groups for campers and for parents.

We also coordinate care with teachers, guidance counselors, health providers and parents if desired, at no additional charge.


Camp fees do not include any professional after-camp support, often resulting in rapid weight regain after camp without any "safety net" to help problem-solve challenges that emerge after camp ends.

For an extra charge, some camps refer parents to an outside contractor. These contractors typically have never met or spoken previously with the parents or family, and have no prior familiarity with your child's specific situation.