'Girl Talk' summer camp tracks being active
A new summer camp gives middle school-age girls a full week of healthy activities and education this summer—at no cost to families.
Rachelle Acitelli, a doctoral student in the University of Georgia College of Education's kinesiology department, is hosting "Project Girl Talk," a camp for rising sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. In the process, she will collect information from the girls about their activities and exercise level as the school year starts. The information she gets from the students will turn into her doctoral thesis exploring why young women's activity levels drop precipitously in the years before high school.
The camps are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday during the weeks of June 15, June 22, July 13 and July 20. Each week will accept up to 25 girls, and activities will take place at the Ramsey Student Center for Physical Activities on the UGA campus.
The only requirement is that each camp participant have access to a mobile phone that can receive text messages, and a Facebook account. That's because after the camp is over, Acitelli plans to keep in touch with half of the girls to monitor and encourage their activity levels into the fall semester. This involves occasional text messages and membership in a private Facebook group to discuss their experience.
"This is something I've always wanted to do, because this population is most at risk for decreasing activity levels," she said. "I'm really excited and I'm looking forward to doing this kind of hands-off intervention. Nobody's done it yet."
The girls will spend the week playing different kinds of games or learning new sports, and in between activities, Acitelli plans guest speakers to talk about other healthy subjects.
As the girls grow more confident in their ability to exercise or do a sport, Acitelli says she hopes they will be more likely to keep up with the activity as they get older. But it's not necessary for girls in the camp to already be physically active, because Acitelli is curious whether the camp has longer-term effects. "The question is, does learning activities and having fun influence how active they are?," she said.