6th Annual Canadian Obesity Network Summer Boot Camp

One of the flagship activities of the Canadian Obesity Network, is its annual training Summer Boot Camp – an intense learning experience offered to a small and select group of young researchers and new professionals working on a wide range of topics relevant to obesity prevention and treatment.

Seven years ago, when I first floated the idea for this camp as part of the original NCE application, it was not hard to convince my friends at the University of Laval and others, that such a ‘camp’ would be a game-changer for the future of the landscape of obesity professionals in Canada.

Loosely modeled on similar training initiatives that I had attended during my own training years, I developed the concept and recipe for this camp:

– Find 24 of the brightest and most promising young Canadians with an interest in obesity from across institutions and disciplines.

– Put them in an all-expenses paid, comfortable but remote location and expose them to over 70 hours of teaching by some of the best faculty we can find.

– Challenge their thinking and open their minds to the full complexity and richness of the problem they are trying to solve – from cell-biology to city building – from health promotion to bariatric surgery – from ethics to career development.

– Include enough intense social interactions and activities to create new bonds of friendships that will last a lifetime.

This investment is now paying rich dividends.

Many of those, who attended the first camps, have begun emerging as independent researchers, dedicated health professionals, or occupying other important positions within government, NGOs, industry or health authorities.

I predict that each of them will leave their mark in their area of work and that this mark will bear the distinct stamp of their camp experience – ultimately benefitting all Canadians at risk of or suffering the consequences of excess weight.

Across the board, campers describe their camp experience as the single most important and rewarding professional experience in their still young careers – they continue to benefit from the insights, the friendships, and the mentorship emanating from this experience.

These views are shared by the dedicated faculty, who continue to happily take several days off their Summers, to deliver the best possible learning experience to the campers.

I certainly look forward to a long week of intense learning and fun with the 2K11 cohort of campers.

As usual, I do not anticipate a dull moment.

Dushesnay, Quebec