March 27, 2007

Camp Calcium turns 10: Registration open for longstanding program

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Applications are now being accepted for Camp Calcium 10, a summer camp at Purdue University that offers a wide variety of activities for youth.

The camp, which takes place in two three-week intervals, is scheduled for June 13 through July 3 and July 11 through Aug. 1.

Camp Calcium allows researchers to study how calcium and other nutrients are absorbed in the body by closely monitoring campers' diets.

Delavau, LLC, a company that provides calcium and Vitamin D to the pharmaceutical, food and nutritional industries, is funding this year's venture.

"We're especially excited this year to be celebrating our 10th Camp Calcium," said Connie Weaver, distinguished professor and head of Purdue's Department of Foods and Nutrition. "It shows that our work has not only made an impact, but that there are still pertinent answers to be found."

Results from previous camps have been used in part to form the dairy recommendations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's food pyramid.

"We've learned a great deal over these 10 sessions about how young people of all races process calcium differently," Weaver said. "We also know for certain that calcium intake during the adolescent years can shape bone health for the remainder of a person's life."

Previous findings of Camp Calcium include:

* Adolescents need 1,300 milligrams of calcium per day to fully optimize bone mass development.

* Adolescent girls have a net calcium retention of about 25 percent compared to just 5 percent in young women.

* Boys utilize calcium more efficiently than girls, but they still need 1,300 milligrams of calcium in their daily diets to build bigger skeletons.

* Blacks use calcium more efficiently than Caucasians and build 12 percent stronger skeletons on average.

This year's camp will focus on measuring the effects of Vitamin D on calcium absorption in Asian, Latino and Caucasian adolescent females between ages 12-14.

"We're also interested in seeing if any of the various forms of calcium are absorbed or used more easily by the body," said Berdine Martin, research associate and director of the camp. "One is a physical difference. Some forms of calcium are larger than others. We would like to look into whether the smaller forms are more easily absorbed by these participants."

The girls will take part in swimming and other sports, arts and crafts, classes taught by university staff, and field trips to nearby locations. Campers are charged $100 to pay for programs offered during the camp but also are paid $10 per day for their participation.

Campers are housed in university residence halls.

"We do our best to make the camp fun for the kids," Martin said. "They participate in educational and recreational activities and have daily access to computers to keep in touch with their families. Purdue's campus has much to offer, and these children experience the range of it."

A total of 60 spaces are available. To learn more or register for the camp, contact Martin at or call (765) 494-6559.

More information, including a camper application, also can be obtained online at

Writer: Tanya Brown, (765) 494-2079,

Sources: Connie Weaver, (765) 494-8237,

Berdine Martin, (765) 494-6559,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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