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Fat Camp

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Mr. Prince: We'll see you when you get back from image enhancement camp.
Martin Prince: Spare me your euphemisms! It's fat camp, for Daddy's chubby little secret!
Mr. Prince: You promised you wouldn't make a scene.

A summer camp where overweight and obese children are sent to lose weight. Of course, the children's parents are oblivious to what actually goes on in fat camp: Drill Sergeant Nasties are everywhere, pushing the kids to their limit. The children constantly have to run up hills and the food is scarce if not so unpalatable that the kids outright refuse to eat it and often try cheating with candy and junk food. Treatment is so bad that the kids will eventually plan a Great Escape, in which the camp counselors will use the same methods that prison guards use to recapture escapees.

This is not true of real fat camps, of course, which always use positive reinforcement, and attempt to teach the children healthy eating habits, instead of starving them. And, just to avoid rubbing it in, they are now called Fitness Camps or Weight Loss Camps, and also allow teens and adults to attend.

Some of the stereotypes of fat camp are Truth in Television, however. Especially the running up the hill part.


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    Comic Books 
  • Autobiographical Comic example: Aline Kominsky-Crumb, wife of Robert Crumb, was sent there in her youth by her weight-conscious mother, despite being not at all overweight. The camp wasn't run that well, as all the girls were able to smuggle in lots of junk food. At the end, she weighed ten pounds more than before.
  • The graphic novel Dead Weight from Oni Press takes place at one of these. The title is a Punny Name foreshadowing: The plot revolves around the murder of one of the camp's counselors.
  • Inverted in Judge Dredd: Since being fat in Mega-City One is desirable for a lot of people (eating contests are Serious Business, and really fat people are known to get endorsement deals), fat camps have become a place for the young to gain weight. Played straight during the aftermath of the Apocalypse War arc, when the destruction caused by the war with East-Meg made resources, especially food, too scarce to indulge this sort of behavior, and the Judges were forced to institute a maximum weight law that essentially led to the fattest people being put into extreme versions of fat camps to reduce the strain on food supplies.
  • Robin (1993): The first Tim Drake used his Alvin identity was to attend a Ninja Summer camp he thinks is behind some recent criminal activity in Gotham. While there, he meets and befriends a kid who states he's only there because otherwise his parents were going to send him to a Fat Camp and Ninja Camp at least sounded cool.

    Comic Strips 
  • Peanuts: Inverted. Sally attended "Beanbag Camp" where kids sit on beanbag chairs, eat junk food and watch TV all day. Sally comes back having put on weight.

    Fan Works 
  • * In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, the Guild of Assassins School will do this to pupils who are inattentive and careless enough to gain excess weight, or, if a good prospective pupil is assessed as having potential whilst being overweight, will "politely request" that Special Measures are taken. In practice, Special Measures mean that the pupil is expected to attend classes as normal, but is placed on a corrective diet whilst attending compulsory additional PE lessons. The School's PE Master, Mr Bradlofrudd, administers the extra physical activity whilst its Domestic Science teacher, Dame Joan Sanderson-Reeves, advises on a diet that combines the maximum necessary nutrition with the least number of calories. As Dame Joan says, it's a damn short diet book with only five words:
    Move around more. Eat less.
    • Air Watch commanding officer Captain Olga Romanoff had to ask Assassin advice when she took her first, reluctantly accepted, draft of recruit wizards, some of whom had settled into typical Wizard ways of eating even before graduating. An inferred detail of The Price of Flight is that there had to be a Fat Camp for some of her Wizards.
    "Let me get this straight. I want no excess weight on my air vehicles.''

    Film — Live Action 
  • Camp Nowhere is a double subversion for Gaby, the chubby teenage girl. The first subversion is that she, like all the other kids at camp, are plotting with Dennis to create a fake camp to have their parents send them to thinking it is the exact type of camp the parents want, in Gaby's case a fat camp, while they spend the summer having fun. The double subversion is that Gaby actually tires of eating junk food, and between eating healthier and exercising more has lost a considerable amount of weight by the end of the film to the point that both her mother and love interest Mud compliment her on it.
  • Fat Camp. No, Fitness Camp!
  • In The Goonies, one of the things Chunk confesses to when caught by the Fratellis was being sent to a fat camp and getting kicked out for pigging out. Actor Jeff Cohen admitted in the DVD commentary that, while he himself did get sent to one as a kid, he wasn't kicked out; another kid at the camp was.
  • Disney movie Heavyweights. The camp is actually quite fun, until it's taken over by an overbearing fitness trainer played by Ben Stiller.

  • One of the short stories in E. L. Konigsburg's Altogether, One At A Time is about a girl who's sent to fat camp.
  • The Well Farm project in Fat that Grenville attends towards the end of the book. It becomes the victim of one of his rampages.
  • Jaine Austen Mysteries: It's quickly shown that luxury spa The Haven from Pampered to Death is really just one of these, and a grueling one, too.
  • About half of Robert Kimmel Smith's Jelly Belly takes place at one. While it's not the sadistic kind, and protagonist Ned would actually like to be thinner, he hates the place and befriends kids who have no intention of losing weight or keeping it off if they do.

    Live Action TV 
  • Many a Reality Show has been built around this.
    • MTV had a show called Fat Camp.
    • An adult example is The Biggest Loser.
    • As well as a (D List) celebrity variant, Celebrity Fit Club.
  • Short-lived teen show Huge.
  • Monica Geller on Friends attended fat camp as a child but didn't seem to be very effective as she was overweight well into her teen years. Apparently one incident at the camp involved her getting caught in the fence while trying to reach a squirrel. Monica claims she was trying to free it from the wires, Ross claims she was trying to eat it. She eventually decided to lose weight on her own, without the aid of the camp, after overhearing Chandler insulting her appearance behind her back.
  • On Frasier, Daphne visited one of these off-screen. In Real Life Jane Leeves was on pregnancy leave which led to a cute in-joke when Niles reported back that she'd lost 9lbs and 12 ounces, the weight of Leeves' baby.
  • One episode of The King of Queens revealed that childhood Doug spent at least one summer at Fat Camp, but up until that reveal he had always been led to believe it was "Football Camp".
  • One episode of Laverne & Shirley has the duo, neither of whom are even remotely fat, attend an adult version. They were supposed to be counsellors in order to get a free vacation, but end up as clients themselves.
  • Hanna of Pretty Little Liars spent several summers at fat camp. Looking at her now, you'd never guess.

    Western Animation 
  • An episode of The Critic has Jay's son Marty sent to Exercise Camp. It's right next to the Exorcise Camp. Unlike the usual comedy use of this trope, the camp is actually quite nice and their methods fairly effective, including not just exercise and proper nutrition, but also counseling and meditation to help deal with the underlying psychological causes of overeating. Marty ends up losing 30 pounds and becomes quite popular. Jay manages to lose a measly two pounds, which he is elated over, referring to it as his "college weight". Humorously, infamous yo-yo dieter Oprah Winfrey is one of their repeat visitors.
  • Connie from Doug was revealed to have gone to Camp Make 'Em Overs between the Nickelodeon and the Disney episodes. Doug initially didn't recognize her once he saw her newly svelte physique. When Doug ended up gaining some weight, Judy suggested they send him to the fat farm.
  • Family Guy: After Lois lost her memory from Stewie's attempt at matricide, she works at a fat camp and tries to keep the kids from eating each other.
    • In "Killer Queen", Peter and Chris are sent to a fat camp and soon discover that someone is killing the campers. Its hinted at that its Lois's brother Patrick, the Fat-Guy Strangler, a serial killer who targets obese people due to a psychotic compulsion, but he's actually framed by the real culprit, a competitive eater who Chris defeated in a hot dog contest.
  • In Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, it's revealed that Madam Foster regularly stages a rescue for food based imaginary friends created by hungry kids at fat camp before they get eaten.
  • In the Hey Arnold! episode "Weighing Harold", Harold goes on a fat cruise which was pretty much a fat camp but on a ship. Unlike most examples listed here, the "Kid's Cruise to Lose" was actually pretty nice; with caring and encouraging trainers, fun exercise programs, and an all-you-can-eat salad bar. Unfortunately, Harold was so nervous that he ate to calm down, and left the cruise even fatter than he was before.
  • The Simpsons:
    • When Bart went to Kamp Krusty, Martin and others went to "Image Enhancement Camp." He and the others were liberated by Bart after his takeover of Kamp Krusty.
    For you fat kids, my exclusive program of diet and ridicule will really get results!
    • "The Heartbroke Kid" had Bart sent to a fat camp after having a heart attack due to a steady diet from the schools new snack vending machines, alongside other Springfielders like Rainier Wolfcastle, Apu and Kent Brockman.
    • As a young teenager, Homer was accidentally stranded at a fat camp while trying to meet up with a young Marge at summer camp. He eventually manages to escape by conquering the camp's ultimate escape preventer — a slight incline leading to the unlocked gate.
  • South Park: Cartman was sent to a fat camp, and came back skinny but it was really another kid he paid to show up and steal snacks he could sell to the other campers. Cartman is banned from the camp at the end when the other campers feel guilty over ruining the counselors' hard work and admit to their cheating.
    • Unlike in many other examples, the counsellors are upbeat, friendly, and try their best to help the children lose weight, and feel that they’ve failed them when Cartman’s scheme stops the children from losing any weight.
  • In Time Squad, Larry reveals Tuddrussel's academy yearbook to Otto. To embarrass Tuddrussel, he points out that Tuddrussel used to be incredibly overweight, and even dragging this humiliation far enough to recite a particularly painful note from a classmate of his that read, "Have a rad summer at fat camp."
  • Zeke's Pad: In "You Art What You Eat", Zeke is sent to a fitness camp to whip him in shape and lose the Balloon Belly he gained after eating a room full of pancakes.

    Real Life 
  • Inverted in several African countries, where an engaged woman is sent to camp to gain weight.