Smyth County Community Hospital | News Article

Monday, August 28, 2017

HealthTrust's inaugural wellness camp for kids a big success, thanks to help from Compass One and others in the community

MARION, Va. – The Smyth County Hospital HealthTrust last month held its first-ever “Stepping Out” summer camp, teaching local elementary kids about healthy lifestyles.


The hospital’s food and nutrition services department, Compass One Healthcare, teamed up with the HealthTrust and others to make the camp at Hungry Mother Lutheran Retreat Center a big success.


“It was a good start for our camp and we were excited to have so many organizations that wanted to be involved with it,” said Gary Peacock, chairman of the HealthTrust and one of the event’s main organizers. “That’s what made it successful.”


Click here for a few more photos from the camp.


During the past five years, the Nutrition Action Network, a community collaborative that is part of the Smyth County Hospital HealthTrust, has been developing a model to provide health education to the community. The committee included representatives from community organizations such as schools, the hospital, the local health department, the local wellness center, United Way and a community garden.


Compass One’s Mary Riggins, clinical nutrition manager at Smyth County Community Hospital, is part of the committee.


“Initially we met to find out what was being done to address childhood obesity, and we offered family fitness challenge classes in rural communities,” she said. “Now when we have an event, we include each other and support each other by sharing staff and resources with the goal of more effectively addressing the health of our community.”


Fourth- and fifth-graders in Smyth County schools were invited to attend the five-day, four-night camp. Ninety children registered to attend the camp, divided into two sessions.

Every morning campers rotated through three classes, which included a one-hour nutrition class/activity/cooking experience, a one-hour craft session and a one-hour activity such as hiking or gardening. The afternoon events included swimming, bicycling, hiking, fly fishing, gardening, food preparation and a mud run – the Hungry Mudder Run. Height, weight and BMI were taken and a physical and nutrition survey were completed at the beginning of the camp, and the kids were measured again at the end of camp to see the difference in their numbers.

The Smyth County Community Hospital provided support, local schools registered students, Emory & Henry College students and Lifetime Wellness Center staff directed daily physical activities, and the community garden manager helped the children harvest vegetables used for tasting and meals. At least 14 team members from Compass One Healthcare at both SCCH and Johnston Memorial Hospital assisted, overseeing the planning of healthy menus, ordering the food, teaching daily nutrition lessons and giving a cooking demonstration. Brieanne Hamm from SCCH Compass One coordinated the counselors and activities.

(Photo contributed by camp facilities included a dining hall, bunkhouse, cabins and large picnic pavilion where the families joined the kids midweek for an evening meal. Chef Jeremy Dennison, the executive chef at Johnston Memorial Hospital, provided a cooking demonstration of a healthy meal they could easily prepare at home. The community garden was also housed on this site and was used to teach harvesting and planting.


The camp is located a half-mile from Hungry Mother State Park where the campers especially enjoyed swimming. Trails for hiking, a creek, large playing field, and beautiful rural setting made this an excellent site for the program.


“I want to thank everyone who helped with this,” Peacock said, “from all the people who donated or helped raise money to those who helped plan it or gave their time at the camp itself. We really appreciate it. I think this was a good experience for the kids and their families, and a good first step toward teaching people about living a healthy, active lifestyle.”