Am I Wrong?

19 Jan

This was first posted in the Farm and Wilderness Facebook group discussion about Fifth Freedom at Farm and Wilderness.

They have decided to disallow nude swimming at SaltAsh Mountain Camp. As part of an “information gathering process.”

“Seriously, all the things going on in the world, and this is what I stay up at night thinking about. How long is a Facebook post allowed to be??

I’m really glad that Farm and Wilderness is looking at why they bury suitless swimming in the FAQ of their website (and don’t mention it anywhere else). I hope that this information gathering process finds a good answer to that, and I hope that the answer involves advertising the many reasons that Farm and Wilderness is for and allows nude swimming.

Right now, the website talks about “adding depth” to each camper’s self understanding, encouraging them to build up their spiritual life, and acknowledging the “life of the spirit within each of us.” The mission statement mentions working to create a more just and humane society and states that Farm and Wilderness enables people to “increase self-confidence” and “grow in the awareness of oneself as a spiritual person.”
In my experience (and if experience isn’t the great determiner of human knowledge, I don’t know what is…) suitless swimming, and nudity in other places at camp, is one of the most important ways that Farm and Wilderness does these things.
I realized in composing this that nudity at Farm and Wilderness, and suitless swimming at Farm and Wilderness, are two different things. If SAM campers aren’t allowed to swim naked are they allowed to shower naked? Are they allowed to see each other naked in their own cabins when changing clothes? There’s no privacy in those buildings, so if they’re not, what happens then? What does that teach them about shame, and about their own bodies? If they are allowed to be naked in their cabin and in the shower, why aren’t they allowed to be naked at the waterfront? If boys at TL are allowed to be naked in the shower, their cabins, and the waterfront, but boys at SAM aren’t, what does that mean about the presence of girls? Do boys at TL learn that being naked is ok as long as there are no girls around? What does age and gender have to do with being naked? Campers are smart, and some of them will think of these questions. Others will just walk away confirmed in their belief that their body is something to be ashamed of, particularly when someone of a different gender is around.

Suitless swimming was an important part of my time at Farm and Wilderness, but it may well have been a stumbling block for others. The same could also be said for mandatory camping trips, chores, kybos, mandatory swimming lessons, etc. But this works both ways. If you get rid of suitless swimming in order to get rid of a stumbling block for many people, you also get rid of an immense draw for many others. The result is a change in the target audience, and thus a change in the basic personality of the camp community.

Farm and Wilderness’ mission statement is to create a more “just and humane society” which implies that Farm and Wilderness has answers to a few key questions. Why does a just and humane society include nudity? (Or, perhaps, why doesn’t it?) Does a just and humane society place importance on skin color? Does it place an importance on diversity? What does “diversity” mean and why is it important? Who provides the money for a just and humane world? Etc. How does disallowing nude swimming at SAM help answer these questions? How does this information get gathered?”

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2 Responses to “Am I Wrong?”

  1. s0starryeyed January 20, 2007 at 5:34 am #

    i’m not belittling your experience with nudity, but just to speak regarding my own experiences, everytime i’ve skinnydipped its been in a sexually charged environment. i dunno- sometimes i think that the inherent purpose of being naked is to be sexy-ish. then again, embracing one’s body could lead to a healthier view of oneself. 🙂

    • junorhane January 21, 2007 at 8:35 pm #

      That’s exactly it, really. Nudity, the way it was at Farm and Wilderness, actually de-sexualized nakedness. Which not only aids with self-confidence, but it also makes being “sexy” a bit more substantial. Everyone has bodies, so everyone could be sexy, but to really be sexy you have to be an interesting individual. Nudity isn’t enough (anybody can be naked). You have to also have a healthy view of yourself, and be confident that you are, in fact, sexy.
      That’s my experience anyways, and that’s what I learned from living at a camp where nudity was as acceptable as wearing clothes, and questioned just as much.

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