Boot Camp at Bear Cottage

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Bootcamp@bearcottage has been designed to improve the health and wellbeing of the whole family. The camp was the brainchild of Bear Cottage’s Sue Bartolini who on hearing several mums say “I didn’t always look like this”, realised there was need for a bit of self help.

In her discussions with parents Sue heard stories of poor health taking many forms. Diabetes, depression, high blood pressure and weight gain were some of the ailments. She recognised that in helping mums, often the heart and soul of the family unit, there would be a positive flow-on to all family members.

The core team of Sue B, Sue H. and Emma worked with staff from Sydney University’s Boden Institute and specialists in nutrition, fitness and well-being to formulate a six month program. Initially mums come together for an intensive five day stay at Bear Cottage to help them set personal health and nutrition goals. Monthly weekend camps follow, backed up by phone and email support to help maintain motivation.

However daunting it may have seemed at the start, mums were quick to find that lots of different forms of exercise can be not only healthy but also enjoyable.

Each day starts with a walk, a chance to chat and take in the natural backdrop of Manly. Breakfast is a group effort with healthy foods prepared and enjoyed together. The day continues with various exercises and stress relief techniques, including yoga, aqua aerobics, meditation and belly dancing.

Boot Camp has seen wins for all involved. Yes, there has been weight loss but there have also been positive moves towards healthy lifestyles.

“Boot Camp has helped me to refocus on me and my needs, something I haven’t done in a long time,” said one mother. “Not only has it conferred health benefits on my body and mind but it’s helped my whole family. We have found a healthy way to move forward in life.”

“Boot Camp has helped me learn to start living again, without my child, and in a healthier, more positive way,” said another. “This has meant healthy gains for my family. It has reset our focus.”

The camp welcomes all parents, bereaved and non-bereaved. This has seen development of great camaraderie and support as mums help each other along the way. Boot Camp, Wellness Camp – call it what you like – the results speak for themselves; happier, healthier mums and as a result happier and healthier families!

The next boot camp will start next year when it is hoped there may also be a similar event for dads. It all depends on demand.

For more information, contact Sue Bartolini or Emma Hole on 02 99768309.

This article first appeared in the Australian edition of ehospice.

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