11-year-old Gerald "Gerry" Garner lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina, and he's overweight. Gerry's parents Maury and Mrs. Garner decide to send Gerry to Camp Hope, a camp for overweight boys. The camp is owned by kindly Harvey Bushkin and his equally kind wife Alice Bushkin. When the Bushkins declare bankruptcy and decide to step down as the camp's owners, the camp is bought by a wacko named Tony Perkis. Tony plans to force the campers to lose as much weight as they can, and he also intends to document the marathon shedding of weight and use it for an infomercial for his slenderizing program. In the eyes of the campers, Tony has made Camp Hope a living hell. As Gerry and counselor Pat Finley lead the efforts to overthrow Tony, the campers prepare for the Apache Relay against arch rival Camp MVP. The Apache Relay is a kind of race in which Camp Hope has never defeated Camp MVP before.