Women to host Ohio camp focused on body positivity

A new adult summer camp founded by two best friends aims to celebrate body positivity.

“We want people to live their best lives, no matter what your body looks like. You don’t owe us health. Nobody owes anybody beauty. Just go out there and be happy. We owe ourselves happiness,” said founder Alison Rampa, who started Camp Roundup with her pal, Erica Chiseck.

Both women are natives of Fairfield who met in middle school in the Fairfield City School District.

Camp Roundup, a three-day adult summer camp for plus-sized ladies ages 21 and up will be held in Newark, Ohio at Camp O’Bannon (near Columbus) over Labor Day weekend.

“I’m never going to be a size where I think I’m thin. Of course, we all have that experience, where we look back at pictures and we’re like, ‘I was so thin in these pictures,’ but I didn’t feel it. So, I’ve decided in my adult life, that we are not put on this earth to lose weight and pay taxes. We are put on this earth to enjoy being here,” said Rampa who lives in Cincinnati.

There are plus-sized women out in the world now, doing things, and being amazing, she said, and it’s so much easier to embrace who you are, not going from diet to diet.

“I feel bad that I lost so much time worrying about taking up space, and worrying about being larger than other people, and now I’m embracing it. I purposely try to take up space. I wear dresses. I make my hair big. I find now, it’s so much easier than when I was growing up to find people I can relate to. I follow Instagram models that are plus sized who are beautiful, and I can look at them and go, ‘Yeah, that’s what my body looks like,’” Rampa said.

“It’s not just plus-sized women, or fat women, or even just women, it’s all people, because we’re such a ‘diet’ culture that says you have to eat certain things, or look a certain way, and it’s our duty in society to be this ideal, this beauty standard, and it affects us all. It affects everybody,” she said.

Rampa and Chiseck ate lunch together every day in middle school. They have been friends since the seventh or eighth grade. Rampa said they got married around the same time and they both joined Weight Watchers at the same time. They were also both inspired to start their own summer camp to promote body positivity.

“I had just had a baby. I was up late nights, and I would dream about this idea of a body-positive camp. Like, what if we did a pro-fat camp, or a positive camp where people could go and feel good about themselves and get a summer camp experience,” said Rampa, who served as a summer camp counselor at Camp O’Bannon during her college years.

“I had an amazing experience it was so much fun, and just the thought that there are probably kids out there, and adults out there now, who never had an experience like that because they didn’t feel comfortable in a swimsuit, or they didn’t feel comfortable wearing shorts and running around outside,” Rampa said.

Participants will stay in retro rustic cabins, attend pool parties, dance parties, bon fires, yoga, hiking, and use a giant slip and slide as well as participate in break-out sessions on fat liberation, fashion, media representation and self-care, to name a few. All meals and non-alcoholic drinks will be provided, snacks are unlimited and BYOB is encouraged

“It was amazing that we both had the same idea at the same time. We said, let’s create a summer camp where fat women can come and feel good in their skin. There’s a TV show called ‘Shrill’ that stars Aidy Bryant and there’s this episode where she goes to a fat babe swim party, where it’s all fat women, living their best lives, enjoying the pool, and I was like we could take that experience and stretch it out over a couple of days and what a wonderful thing to bring to the world during this time, so that’s what we decided to do,” Rampa said.

The duo was also inspired by one of Aubrey Gordon’s “Maintenance Phase” podcasts on “fat camps,” starting from the 1950s to today.

“These are camps where overweight kids would be sent because their parents were like ‘you’re fat,’ so go to this fat camp to get thin, but they never would,” said Rampa.

So earlier this year, Rampa and Chiseck put their dreams and ideas into action and started planning for the camp. Rampa reconnected with Camp O’Bannon, asked about renting the camp from her youth, and they moved forward with a plan. In March, they created an Eventbrite page, a Facebook page and an Instagram account to help get the word out.

“I hope that people leave feeling good. I hope it’s something people can look forward to. It’s certainly something I’m looking forward to,” Rampa said. “You can be a kid again. We’re just going to run around and play in the sunshine.”


What: Camp Roundup

When: Sept. 3-5

Cost: Tickets will be on sale through mid-August. Tickets may be purchased on Eventbrite for $250 per person for a three-day, two-night stay. The cost includes meals — breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a goodie bag.

Online: facebook.com/CampRoundupOH

Other: Camp Roundup recently received a shout out from Nicole Beyer and Sasheer Zamada on their “Best Friends” podcast. Camp Roundup has also attracted the attention of “Bust Magazine” and they have booked fat activist poet Rachel Wiley to read her poems around the campfire.

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