Our very own Gloria, wrote a post regarding her “First Week in Many, Many Years”. Click the link below to open and read.
My First Week at Youth Camp……..
In ummm many, many years.
Phenomenal, Remarkable, Extrodinary, Astonishing, Unbelievable, Exciting, Hilarious, Structured, I am not sure there are enough adjectives to describe this amazing week of the AANR-East Youth Camp.
I arrived at the club on Thursday, just in time to begin the process of setting up camp for the number of campers that would arrive on Saturday. Of course as with any dilemma there is a great deal of discussion about the logistics. Once those decisions have been discussed and decided upon the work begins.
The camp trailer needs to be unpacked which is loaded to the brim, top to bottom, side to side. Now comes the time of understanding the discussions that have been going on. Everything we need first is on the bottom of the multiple piles. The tents!!! Of course they are heavy so they go on the bottom. I wonder to myself how this is possible as we begin to unload tubby after tubby to get to the bottom of the piles. Finally out with the tents, by now we are so hot and tired we decide to take a short break, get the much needed beverages and head to the pool.
After a shower, in the pool we go and once again the discussions begin about the logistics of setting up camp. As I am new to all of this I don’t have much to say, but all the while I am thinking to myself what a wonderful thing it would be if we had a bigger trailer with shelving and cubby spaces to organize all the paraphernalia. It would be fantastic, but of course it all comes down to money, money, money.
As I float around the pool in the cool water my mind wanders with so many thoughts. Why don’t people realize how important our youth are to our organization? Why can’t we get more contributions so that we can make a difference for our youth? I often hear our members ask “what does my membership do for me”. If they only knew, if we could only explain that it is not what we do for them, but what their membership does for all of us, the numerous projects that AANR-East does from fighting for our nude beaches to youth camp and the list goes on. We are the only region now that has youth camp. I don’t believe it is lack of young people. I believe we are not telling our story effectively about our organization and what a difference the effect of each membership can have on our future, but that’s a different story for another time.
We never refuse a child due to lack of funds, we never refuse a child from another region for lack of funds. Some of our clubs hold fund raisers to send their youth to camp, what a joy it would be if all of our clubs raised money for our youth, our future.
I digress, and a big splash brings me out of my reverie. Time to get back to work setting up tents, finding the pegs and setting up the perimeter, stringing the lights around the perimeter of camp and so it goes. Of course that is until this HUGE thunderstorm blows up in a heartbeat. Like little squirrels we scurry to put everything haphazardly back into the trailer so it won’t get wet before we have time to sort it out. So much for setting up tents at this time as I laugh to myself because it is just like camp as I remember it in my youth, one minute the sun is shining and the next minute it is raining. A mad dash to the club house just in time and just like the kids we all laugh and say “well, it wouldn’t be camp if it didn’t rain”.
Our Camp Director is the leader of the pack; his wit and humor keep everyone laughing. The rain has stopped and back to work, finally, the tents are up, the perimeter is up and lighted, the kitchen pots, pans, utensils, dish soap and towels are all in place. Everything is unloaded and just in the nick of time as the kids begin to arrive.
First to arrive is the Nude U, they are the glue that holds all of this together. They have grown up attending youth camp and now they are the counselors. They organize their personal belongings and get ready for the rush. Lanyards around their neck with whistles and a watch, which as I stated in the beginning is the structure that surrounds us at camp as their leadership skills begin to come to fruition. They begin by helping the campers with their gear, find their tents and get them settled. In the club house I listen to a cadence of “Announcements, announcements, announcements. A terrible death to die, a terrible death to die – a terrible death to be talked to death, a terrible death to die! So guess what happens whenever there is an “announcement”?
Next on the schedule is a workshop led by the Nude U which is “Getting to Know You”. It is a get acquainted activity which they planned earlier. The following workshop is “Overcoming the Clothing Experience” which is led by our camp director and the NU. These campers represent all stages of development and maturity and are a special challenge. The goal of the staff is to use positive examples to create body acceptance in kids who have bodies that are becoming foreign to them.
During this time is when a group of the adults go shopping for ALL of the food, but this is only the beginning of the many shopping trips that happen during the week. There is only so much room to store fresh produce and dairy products and of course there are also items to be purchased for the talent show or something that someone forgot to bring.
Meditation followed by our first meal together. Our chief cook and her 2 assistants put together a meal fit for a king and so it goes for the rest of the week. They have a saying at camp that “all of our clothes shrink while we are at camp”. I truly believe this because you absolutely have anything to eat that you could possibly want. Fresh fruits, fresh vegetables from the farmers market nearby. Two or three entrée’s and of course my favorite dessert, Oreo cookie cake, or brownies, chocolate chip cookies, (can you tell I love chocolate?) I don’t remember the rest but no matter they were all delicious and I must say most definitely my clothes did shrink.
Doc, (really is our camp doctor) is a chef extraordinaire, so when he is not assisting our youth with a sliver or skinned knee he is serving up a dish that delights the adults and makes the kids look at it with questioning eyes, but with some trepidation most of them try the delicacy. He even had the brilliant idea of changing the color of our lemonade to match our theme of Mardi Gras. So on some days we had green lemonade and on others we had purple and of course there was yellow also.
Of course, than we have our fearless secretary, Mary Williamson whose dedication to the youth continues with the dreams of her deceased husband Bill. Mary keeps our schedules straight, reprints them when the weather doesn’t cooperate with our original plan. Keeps our workshop schedule in order and is always being asked to print something for us from her computer. In between all of this she keeps AANR-East up and running answering the continual emails, phone calls that come into the office, conference calls for the many committees she is a team member of, sets up officers calls, and continues to function even when she has done her series of night duty for youth camp. What a woman!!!!
We also have an “odds & ends” man named Mac Fleck and on our walkie talkies you can hear throughout the day “Mac, where are you?” Mac, can you get such and such, Mac, we need you at the pool, Mac, and can you bring this to the club house. I heard the NU do a video of the “Mac” scenario and tears rolled town my cheeks laughing as I watched it. Of course than we have our “go-fer” Sandy MacGregor and last I heard he was shopping in the thrift store for a size 18 dress for the talent show. I am not sure where he ended up because I didn’t see him until Sunday morning.
Night duty, that is an experience as there are always two adult staff members present 24 hours a day. One female and one male, during the day it is not so bad but when it came my turn to be at the 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. shift I can tell you that the night is long. However, the fun part of the night was seeing a fox in the early morning light the not so fun part was trying to stay awake at around 6 a.m. That is when the clock seems to come to a standstill. The 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift didn’t seem so bad to me, but I was glad to go to bed at about 4, however I missed a delicious breakfast of fresh blueberry pancakes with fresh blueberries from the nearby bush. How do I know they were delicious? Because every meal that was served was superb and delicious.
After numerous workshops, swimming, floating, using the slip and slide, sitting by the campfire, unless it was one of those nights that we were deluged with rain, it was time for the Friday night talent show. The Nude U and campers have been working on this all week and it was nothing short of FABULOUS!!!!
It began with our National Anthem, a tribute to one of our beloved campers who is now an angel watching over all the campers and then the comedy. One and one half hours of nothing but laughter as the members of the club joined us. So with a club house full of laughter and campers having the “Time of their Lives”, another tribute sung to our host club owners, it was fantastic. To see these campers and NU develop skits and perform them to the delight of all was the most heartwarming time for me. As a retired teacher when you can see “pride” written on every face and the sparkle in their eyes after the performance is an absolute miracle. Youth Camp is worth every dollar we spend as there is nothing more valuable than the future of social nudity shining through from our youth as they depart from camp with a huge smile, waving and yelling loudly “I can’t wait for camp next year”. Does youth camp make a difference? You bet it does!!!! As for me, I’ll see you all next year as tiring as it is I will still see you next year campers.
Bill was a devoted nudist who dedicated his life to ensuring the security of the future of nude recreation. The nudist community mourns the loss of a great leader, friend, mentor, advocate, and visionary- Bill Williamson. Bill’s accomplishments are noteworthy and abundant; he served as the Vice President of AANR, was an AANR-East official, and pioneered the AANR Youth Leadership Camps. His many awards include the 2004 AANREast Man of the Year, the AANR-East Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, and the AANREast 2009 Family of the Year with his wife, Mary Williamson, last year Bill received the AANR Hall of Fame Award posthumously. Bill has unquestionably had a dramatic impact on the world of nude recreation. Yet those who know Bill knew that he never defined himself by his many awards and achievements. Instead, he focused on each person he encountered with respect and dignity, both listening to their ideas and advocating for advancement of his many projects. Discussions surrounding Nude Recreation were never brief but, instead, required the listener to pull up a chair and make themselves comfortable. Bill had a lot to say and his ideas were well-formulated, in-depth, and filled with hope. Light conversation was foreign to Bill and he claimed every opportunity possible to educate others and challenge them to action. To Bill, inaction was simply unacceptable. Instead, he was an example of taking action when needed and establishing methods of making positive strides toward greater acceptance of nudism. He never failed to take a moment to educate, encourage, and assist in the lives of those around him. Always seeing the good in those around him, Bill never failed to acknowledge the efforts of others through personal words of encouragement and nominations for awards within his region.
Bill helped to found the AANR Youth Leadership Camps and was a much-loved presence at as many camps as possible. In a day and age when our youth are many times looked down upon as disrespectful and disruptive, Bill made sure to spend time with the youth around him and esteem them with dignity by listening and speaking to them as his equals. In his eyes, youth are not problems but are the future of Nude Recreation who needed to be loved and taught. Where others saw overactive children, Bill saw individuals with ambition and energy who would fight for our clothes-free rights. With this approach, Bill became a beloved grandfather figure to children throughout the region, especially those who others had given up on. Bill has left each of us with one last challenge: to carry on with the cause with the passion that he modeled to all he knew. In doing so, Bill will live on and continue to impact the future of Nude Recreation