Our History

Born of a legitimate need for an effective, healthy program to fight childhood obesity, Registered Nurse Jean Huelsing found a disturbing lack of viable options among the available ‘fat camps’ in the marketplace. Most offered only a standard camp experience, with simple dietary restrictions to address the myriad problems associated with childhood obesity. Upon further investigation, an alarming fact became apparent: While campers often lost weight at these facilities, the weight loss was temporary, and not accompanied by any meaningful education on the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle. Likewise, kids developed no tools to take home with them – when discernment in choosing a healthy diet is most important. Perhaps most importantly, kids learned nothing about the root causes of unhealthy habits, often emotional in nature.

Alarmingly, it seemed these programs were designed for the very effect they caused: Temporary weight loss requiring re-enrollment at the same camp every summer to repeat the exact same experience. Jean decided that ‘summer tune-ups’ were not the answer.

Camp Jump Start® was founded in 2003 by Jean and her family. This camp revolutionized weight loss camps for kids with health professional designed programs and licensed professionals teaching on-site. The program is holistic addressing the individual needs of children. Success of these children and families is well documented in consumer magazines and scientific articles, recognized by letters of support from institutions such as the National Institutes of Health and Washington University School of Medicine and award winning as a “best practice” by the Cooper Institute and a national congress in Washington DC hosted by the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality. Camp Jump Start® is positioned as expert in the field for the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity. Yet, Camp Jump Start® is so much more than a weight loss camp — it is the original health camp for kids, healing minds, bodies, and spirits.

The Huelsing Family wanted to spread this success to ALL children because they believed that NO child should have adult disease due to the complications of obesity. They recognized the need for health promotion and disease prevention through education and realized that to reach those that needed it most, a nonprofit model must be used. They founded the Living Well Foundation in 2006 out of their desire to educate ALL people to live life well.

Health is based on a continuum between sickness and wellness. Our motto is “Choosing to live life well”. This motto is on a yellow bracelet and placed on the dominant wrist, so that every time you reach for something — it reminds you to choose wisely!


*Every individual has a purpose in life and brings a unique gift to the world.
*Wellness programs are most effective when linked to desired goals.
*Healthy lifestyles are best achieved when supported by family and community.
*Lead by example.
*The Living Well Foundation’s holistic approach addresses the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual needs of individuals so that each may reach their FULL potential. This approach allows them to be the best that they can be in any of their life choices.

—Fair is not that each individual receives the same treatment, but that each individual gets what they need to accomplish their personal goals.
—People learn best through hands-on learning.
—Education encompasses not just facts, but how to stay committed so that an individual can incorporate the information into their lifestyle.
—Life-long learning is essential to life-long success.

The Living Well Foundation operates the Living Well Village-a camp that houses leadership camps with a health and wellness focus. The Living Well Village has been built on love. The Huelsing Family sacrificed their own home, cashed in many material possessions, sold grandmother’s crystal and worked several other jobs to make this the camp that is not just life changing but life saving for so many people today. For many years they subsidized every participant’s tuition between actual cost and the amount paid.  Additional donors have joined in the efforts and we are now “Changing lifestyles……saving lives together” at an impressive rate!

To date, the Living Well Village participants have come from local, regional, national and international home residences and return to their families creating a broader sphere of education and influence. It is the very definition of a grassroots effort in changing the world one child, one family at a time.