Spa Kids

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Taking a Break: Allison Bereswill,12, awaits her treatment at SPAhhhT

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Not everyone is heralding this era. "Teens could do a lot better by quitting the fast food and chocolate," says Caren Penland, 23, who visited her first spa in Arlington, Texas, last year. "I think it's teaching them that instead of taking care of yourself, you can have someone do it for you."

Many spas argue that they are trying to teach youngsters how to care for themselves. Says Elaine Sauer, who helped develop a Just for Teens package for the chain of Mario Tricoci spas in the Midwest: "We came up with a very informational facial. We really take the time to educate them about their skin."

The Julian Krinsky Canyon Ranch Young Adult Summer Program takes its educational mission seriously. A joint venture between the ultra-deluxe Canyon Ranch spas in Arizona and Massachusetts and the Krinsky chain of summer camps, the program is in its second summer of operation. Staff members say the camp, located at Bryn Mawr College, outside Philadelphia, is intended to help teenagers learn how to live healthy lifestyles, and so stress-busting classes like Cardio Kickboxing and Pilates are offered, along with nutritional advice that's dispensed in a Hands-On Cooking course. "This camp changes the way you think," says Genna Epstein, 15, who is back for her second summer. "When I left [last year], I was happy with myself. I like who I am." The base fee for a three-week residential stay is $3,900, but the dorm rooms are air-conditioned, and a chef prepares meals from Canyon Ranch — approved recipes. Says owner Tina Krinsky: "Now when these kids are in a restaurant and they see dill sauce on the menu, they'll know what it is, and they'll know enough to say, 'Could you make mine this way instead.'"

Not exactly learning how to make a fire with two sticks, but perhaps just as useful.

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