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AMERICAN MOSAIC - Summer Camps for Adults / Leonard Bernstein / Fast Food Film - 2004-06-11

Broadcast: June 11, 2004


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.


This is Doug Johnson.

On our show this week: Summer camps for adults, and a question about the musical life of Leonard Bernstein. But first, we have the story of a man who went on a diet no one should copy.

Super Size Me



What would it be like to eat fast food for every meal? A young filmmaker decided to find out. His new movie is called “Super Size Me.” Shep O’Neal tells us about it.


Health experts are concerned that two out of three American adults are overweight. There has been an increase in diseases linked to obesity. Many Americans eat foods that have too much fat and sugar. And they do not exercise enough. Reports say that at least twenty-five percent of American adults eat fast food every day. And McDonald’s is the largest fast food company in the world.

So filmmaker Morgan Spurlock wanted to find out the effects of eating nothing but fast food at McDonald’s three times a day for a month. He followed three rules. He could only eat what was sold at McDonald’s. He had to eat every food at least once. And he would order the largest size French fries and soft drink only if the server offered.

McDonald’s called these foods “supersize.” That is why Mister Spurlock named the movie “Super Size Me.”

Three doctors and a nutrition expert examined Mister Spurlock before, during and after his eating experiment. They did many tests of his blood and the workings of his major organs. At the beginning, he was in excellent physical condition. He traveled to several American cities and many McDonald’s restaurants. He ate Egg McMuffins, Big Mac hamburger sandwiches, Chicken McNuggets, French fries, soft drinks and other foods every day. And he did not exercise.

The doctors became very concerned about Mister Spurlock’s health. At the end of the month, he had gained more than eleven kilograms. His blood pressure increased. The cholesterol in his blood was too high. And his liver was damaged from eating too many fatty foods.

Mister Spurlock’s film also appears to have had an effect on McDonald’s. The movie won an award for directing at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

Less than two months later, McDonald’s said it would stop selling supersize meals. Recently, it started selling special Happy Meals for adults. These include a salad, bottled water and a pedometer for measuring how far a person walks.

McDonald’s also issued a statement about “Super Size Me.” It said the movie is about one person’s decision to act irresponsibly by eating too many calories a day and limiting physical activity. It said McDonald’s offers many kinds of high-quality food choices. It also said McDonald’s is working with experts on nutrition and fitness.

Summer Camps


The summer camp season opens in the middle of June for most of the United States. Many children will spend the coming weeks at traditional camps by lakes in the mountains. But there are camps for all interests: horseback riding, rock climbing, art, and science, to name a few. There are even camps to learn how to be a clown. But why should kids have all the fun? Faith Lapidus reports.


Many Americans have happy memories of going away to camp as kids. Singing by the campfire, swimming by moonlight. Well, grown-ups can relive those times.

In Oregon, for example, adults can spend a week at a snowboarding camp at the base of Mount Hood. The mountain has snow all year. Snowboarding is a mix between skiing and skateboarding.

At the High Cascades Snowboarding Camp, the campers spend most of the day on the mountain with coaches to teach them. In the afternoon, they return to camp for other activities. Some ride bicycles, others swim or play volleyball. The adults share cabins and meals just like kids at camp do.

Environmental organizations also have summer camps for grown-ups. The Audubon Society, for example, operates ecology camps in several states. In Hog Island, Maine, adults can learn all about birds during five days along the coast.

But, for some adults, the best camps are the ones where they can be with their kids. For instance, there are Parent/Child Space Camp programs in Alabama, California and Florida. These weekend programs are for children ages seven to eleven. Parents and kids learn about the history of space flight. They build small rockets together.

And they use equipment that makes them feel like astronauts in space. This includes a gravity trainer, to learn what it feels like to walk on the moon.

Leonard Bernstein



This is called "Mass: A Theater Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers." It was written by one of America’s greatest musicians. Leonard Bernstein died in nineteen-ninety in New York. One of our listeners in South Korea, Lim Chae Hun, would like to know more about him.

Leonard Bernstein composed many classical pieces, like the one you just heard. But he also wrote popular music for the theater. In fact, one of his shows is on Broadway again right now.

Here is a song from the current production of “Wonderful Town.” Donna Murphy and Jennifer Westfeldt sing “Ohio.”


Leonard Bernstein was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in nineteen-eighteen. He began playing piano as a boy. His talent was clear from the start. Yet, he became so famous as an orchestra leader, it is easy to forget what a great pianist he was.

Here is Leonard Bernstein with Mozart's Piano Quartet in G minor.


In nineteen-forty-three, Leonard Bernstein began to conduct the New York Philharmonic. In nineteen-fifty-eight, he became the first American to serve as its musical director.

Leonard Bernstein was known for his hard work. He taught other musicians in summer programs at the Tanglewood music center in Massachusetts. But he also learned from others. These included his friend, the composer Aaron Copland.

We leave you with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic performing Copland's “Fanfare for the Common Man.”



This is Doug Johnson.

I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC. Join us again next week for VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

This program was written by Shelley Gollust and Caty Weaver. Paul Thompson was the producer. And our engineer was Tom Verba.