Monday, August 24, 2015

There Was This One Time...

Are you ready for the summer?
Are you ready for the hot nights?
Are you ready for the fireflies,
the moonlit skies,
and a whole lot of fooling around

Some of the most defining moments of my life took place at summer camp. I attended as a camper three times, once at 6 (far too young, not a great experience) and again at ages 11 and 12. For the last two times, it was a church camp, cabins, a lake, everything you would visualize if thinking of camp. I think what I remember most was the relationship I formed with a female counsellor. I was 11, she was 17. I think this was the first time I was in love, puppy love of course, but the feelings were strong and the feelings were real. She could see I was struggling fitting in and took me aside for long walks and long talks. She began a story with me on my first day that continued all week, with the last chapter happening as I was ran to my parents car to go home. I wrote her after, but never heard anything back.

When I was in grade 11, a good friend and I applied, and were accepted as counsellors at a different camp than the one I attended. Although I attempted to bring things full circle, trying to be there for kids who were not fitting in, but the memories with the most impact had nothing to do with the kids who attended. What I remember most is the time with the other counsellors, the week of training and the two or three days between each new week of camp. It was during those times that I experienced the biggest jolt to my sexual awakening. I lived rather rurally, and most of the other male counsellors were from the city. All but 3 had been at the camp before. They were all comfortable around each other which made it both easy and difficult to be with them. They welcomed me in fully, yet because they were so tight, I felt like an outsider at the beginning of the summer.

These guys, all between 17 and 21 had no issues with being naked, in fact when there were no campers, most swam, canoed and laid out in the sun nude. There were female counsellors as well, but there was a division. Although some of the female counsellors sunbathed nude as well, they did it privately, more discretely in a field or isolated place. While swimming, the girls wore suits, but most of the guys were naked, most didn't seem to care. As the summer went on, the more comfortable I became, with myself and my body. This summer was also the first time I was around openly gay people. It was not a guy, but a female art counsellor, out and happy. By the middle of summer she and one of the lifeguards were in love and spent most of the time holding hands and laying around intertwined. What I was most surprised by was how no one cared. No one judged, no one made jokes, there was just pure and beautiful acceptance. I longed to return the next summer, but had to find a higher paying job with college on the horizon. I look back on that summer as a pivotal time in my growing up and basis for my commitment to not caring nor judging what makes other happy.

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