I’m heading out to a camp with my family this week, and it has me dreaming about summers past. Before pandemic times, this would be the time of year that my friend Sarah and I would be heading out to facilitate a Peer Education training for with youth from a few First Nations in Treaty 2 & 4 territory (Western MB) at a summer camp on the edge of what is now known as Riding Mountain National Park.
(It’s worth noting that as with most National Parks, the development of the area has everything to do with a long and ongoing history of land theft and white violence which is not usually mentioned in the brochures…)
Doing an intensive, 4 day sexual and mental health Peer Education training at a Summer Camp (or running “Sex Ed Camp”, as I like to think of it) was always exciting. Being at a summer camp meant we could work closely with a part of earth that the youth and their ancestors had relationships with throughout their histories. We would find any way we could to include our stunning natural surroundings, incorporating all the nature we could! We filled condoms with natural items like rocks, pinecones, lake water, and more to make a feeling guessing game that also reminded us that you can TOTALLY feel all kinds of sensations through a condom. We had circles and games outside under a big beautiful tree. We made elaborate scavenger hunts where we hid birth control methods in all kinds of trees, on the beach and more to build a little excitement before we showed how they work.
We sat in grass and talked about “in the pants” body parts, how they work, that they are yours to call whatever you want; and that you get to decide what, who or even if something goes into your body’s openings. Our conversation about the clitoris and how it creates feelings of pleasure must have been particularly exciting- we had a young black bear drop in on that one!
With all the changes these past 2 years have brought, my summer has been quite a bit different this year. Even though it is not the same AT ALL- I am missing Sarah and the youth so much- I can’t wait to head up to a camp this week. I swear that when I look off the dock to the lake, I will hear the splashes and laughter of a group of youth tipping canoes and being totally present with one another. I’ll have coffee by the lake and feel the peacefulness of Sarah and I’s morning chats before gearing up for a full day of facilitating. I will not be able to help but notice places that would make a great spot to hide an IUD or pack of birth control pills (old habits…). Most of all, I will remember the magic that was created through bringing youth together in a beautiful place to have conversations about life, sexual health, mental health, and everything in between.
In a future where we could gather safely, would you enjoy attending a sleep away sex ed camp? Parents, would you like that to be an option for your 13-21 year old? Let me know what you would want at a Sex Ed Summer Camp in the comments!