Mayo Clinic Health System, YMCA offer Camp Wabi for kids wanting to achieve healthy weight

March 07, 2019

Mayo Clinic Health System, YMCA offer Camp Wabi for kids wanting to achieve healthy weight


EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — Registration is open for Camp Wabi (pronounced Wah-bee), a typical summer camp, but with a slight twist.

            The camp is for kids entering sixth through 10th grades who want to achieve a healthy weight. In addition to swimming in a lake and singing by the campfire, Wabi campers receive healthy lifestyle coaching for one hour a day by specialists in nutrition, behavior therapy, psychology and exercise physiology. Kids also participate in traditional camp activities, such as canoeing, fishing and kayaking, in addition to choosing from hobbies, such as arts and crafts, archery, basketball, cooking and dancing.

Parental involvement is essential to help children overcome weight issues, notes Mayo Clinic Health System pediatrician Kahlie Begin, M.D., Camp Wabi medical director. Before camp starts, parents learn how to help their camper live a healthier lifestyle at home. After camp, parents receive materials to keep kids on course. Camp staff is available throughout the year, and parents and campers track progress at two reunions.

Mayo Clinic Health System and the YMCA of Eau Claire joined together in 2011 to offer Camp Wabi on Long Lake, near New Auburn, Wisconsin, as a way to address the growing childhood obesity problem. In the U.S., obesity has quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2018, nearly 20 percent of adolescents were obese, up from 5 percent in 1980.

“We work with each camper as a whole person,” says Dr. Begin, who attends camp with the campers and counselors, and joins in activities ranging from tetherball to Zumba. “Wabi is a positive, nonthreatening environment where campers will be active, make friends, eat well and learn new skills to live a healthy lifestyle.”

Camp Wabi runs from Aug. 4–11. For information, call 715-836-8460, go to or stop in at the Eau Claire YMCA, 700 Graham Ave. Financial assistance is available.