Anyone remember MTV’s Fat Camp circa 2006? Well this week we’re throwing it back to the TV series that documented summer at Camp Pocono Trails, the only weight loss camp accredited by the American Camp Association (you know you’re a big deal when you’re accredited by the American Camp Association). This is my stunning friend Arielle Kaplan. She made the decision to attend CPT when she was 14. She has returned from camp every summer with a new sense of self. This camp changed her life, and after six consecutive summers (going on her seventh) of being both a camper and a counselor, she has generously offered to give Spooners the inside scoop on the lessons she has learned over the years.

fat camp

Photos courtesy of Arielle Kaplan.

It’s not about the number on the scale.

The number of pounds you lose doesn’t correlate with improvement made. Muscle will make you weigh more, so if you’re becoming more toned from exercise, then the number on the scale is not as crucial. Also, you can lose inches without shedding any pounds. What’s really important is how you feel.

Handing snacks out late will result in camper riots.

Courtesy of VodkaandVibrators on Tumblr.

Snack time is a critical time at any camp. The last thing you want on your hands is a bunch of hangry middle schoolers. One evening, Arielle and her fellow counselors were taking a while to organize the goods. Her campers began to chant, “We want snacks! We want snacks!” She recalls, “The Head of Girls-Side picked me up and pretended to throw me into the crowd of screaming girls and a camper actually bit my arm.”

“You control the remote to your life.”

Part of the daily schedule at CPT involves an activity called, “Be Your Best with Bobby.” Bobby meets with campers and teaches them how to deal with their anger and insecurities. This was her motto.

You’ll get creative with smuggling food.

Smuggling food into “fat camp” is seriously an art. These kids gets super creative, and I’m not talking about hiding food in your pillowcase, that’s amateur shit. When one of Arielle’s friends wasn’t chosen to be General in the Color War, she was absolutely devastated. So how did they cheer her up? They stole raw pasta and butter and used hot water from the shower and a dirty shaving bucket to make spaghetti.

Photo courtesy of Arielle Kaplan.

Weight Loss is Just the Beginning 

“You can’t just lose weight and automatically start loving yourself,” says Arielle (she discusses this issue in depth in her recent article for The Odyssey). “You’ll leave ‘fat camp’ in the best physical and mental shape of your life, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end point, it’s just beginning.” Keeping the weight off takes a lot of motivation. You leave this utopia that tells you when and how to exercise and controls your portions for you. Then, you go to back school and your peers are partying with Chester the Cheetos Cheetah and chilling with your old friends Ben and Jerry. These are the moments when God tests us. Basically, if you want to keep off the weight and stay healthy, it takes a lot of will power.

Check out these other articles:

All About That Bass Might Actually be Bad for Female Body Image

The Problem With College Body Image

 Body Shaming to Food Shaming: It’s all About How You Look