Town staff logging miles per day
Camden — Town employees in Camden are participating in a walking challenge that has each of them wearing a pedometer to track how many steps they take, miles they walk and calories they burn.
The challenge was suggested by the Wellness Team headed by Beth Ward and Theresa Butler in an effort to have greater participation in wellness activities, and the challenge has exceeded expectations, according to Ward. She estimated at 97 percent participation rate among town staff, which are divided into teams by department.
Last year, the Wellness Team sponsored a "Biggest Loser" type of program and Ward said while it was successful and fun, the team hoped to draw greater participation.
"We were looking for something new that would work for all," she said.
"We've been doing the wellness program for a while but couldn't pinpoint what people wanted," Butler said, adding the competitive aspect of the walking challenge seems to have increased motivation, literally.
Currently, the tallies are close for Parks and Recreation, Public Works and Wastewater crews. Public safety and town office and opera house staff also are participating in the challenge.
"Some don't have the option to move as much during the day," Ward noted.
Ward said at first, the challenge was planned to take place during work hours, but the Wellness Team decided to include steps taken outside the normal work day to allow for office workers to be on a more even field with active jobs.
Last week, department averages ranged from the Wastewater Department high of 47.22 miles per person per week to the still impressive 24.43 miles per person per week logged by town office and opera house staff, Butler said. Each week, the totals of all department members are added together and divided by number of participants to get the average. During that same time last week, Parks and Recreation employees logged an average of 43.87 miles per person per week; Public Works employees averaged 42.37 miles per person per week and Public Safety, which includes police and fire department members, walked an average of 35.16 miles.
Butler said within departments, people have been competing with each other.
"We have found it's definitely a male-driven competition," Ward noted.
One male who stood out recently was Dave Morrison, as he logged 45.26 miles in the week leading up to and weekend of Camden International Film Festival — a total of 93,666 steps, Butler said.
Ward pointed out one Parks and Recreation staffer who cares for cemeteries was "disgusted" when he found out the number of miles he traverses each week and said he was better off not thinking about how much time he spent on his feet.
"It's been eye-opening for some people," she said. "It makes everybody think a little bit more."
The pedometers — which town staffers will be allowed to keep — were purchased with a grant from Maine Municipal Association's Health Trust. The competition began Sept. 23 and ends Oct. 11.
Ward said there will be individual winners for most steps, most miles and most calories as well as a department prize for the overall winning department.
"It's a great program, I'm really impressed with the turnout," Butler said.
Ward noted selectmen have requested to be included in any future walking challenges, likely as part of the town office and opera house staff.
Courier Publications Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(207) 236-8511 ext. 302
Stephanie has served as editor of Camden Herald since its return in April 2012.
Previously, she was editor of VillageSoup's Capital Weekly in Augusta and has worked a number of years in the newspaper business from southern Maine to Waldo County.
Outside the office, she enjoys reading, cooking and gardening.
Stephanie lives in Washington with her husband Jeff, four children, a dog named Chewbacca, a rabbit and two chickens.