For most of human history, we lived in rather small tribes gathering the bounty of an abundant, relatively uninhabited planet. Our ancestors spent most of their day playing, grooming, cuddling, napping, conversing…and having casual sex. For safety and perseverance, human groups thrived on sharing and bonding. Touch was the social glue.
My experiences at Network for a New Culture Summer Camp is a remembering of this natural human state.
In the lush, cool Oregon woods, about a hundred people camp for ten days every August. NRNC camp is modeled after the Zegg Community in Germany. Camp is about expressing your authentic self and exercising choice. Each day starts with Forum, a magical hour, masterfully facilitated, which celebrates our communal human experience.
After Forum, the camp day slides into chatting, cuddling, reading, eating together in the make-shift Lounge under a huge oak tree–complete with couches and rugs. Campers often shed clothes as the day warms (sometimes all of them!), hike in the woods, swim in the stream, and take hot outdoor showers. People can attend a multitude of workshops offered by their talented peers such as contact improv, compassionate communication, Thai massage, etc. Or, you can choose to do nothing.
In the Transformation Tent campers may dress up in costume clothes, wigs and props, which adds to the zany and playful atmosphere. Some campers play with ‘gender roles’ for fun and frolic. Before evening events the tent is often full of ‘transforming’ campers busily zipping up each other and playing ‘dress up.’
The Aphrodite Temple of Love, situated in the woods close to camp is decorated with flowing silks, satins, and sexy lighting. The new culture camp invites sexuality to be a natural, shared part of the whole community experience–for those who choose. People who choose to go to the Temple attend an orientation where we acknowledge our natural desire to witness and be witness by others as sexual beings, and our desire to participate in exploring our sexuality in the presence of others. Temple orientation covers taking care of yourself with a working yes and no, how to have safer sex, hygiene protocol, how watching and being watched can be done respectfully, and rules for inviting or being invited into sensual/sexual play with others.
The Temple taught me that we’d all be better lovers if we could learn sex the way we learn everything else–by watching, experimenting, being witnessed, failing, laughing, and being together in a supportive environment. I had no idea how much my Temple experiences would transform me. I no longer saw my tribe in the same way–friends who share safe and conscious sexuality together, experience a deep communal bond. Hearing the sounds of others, so like my own, seeing others, so like myself–made me feel natural and good.
My shame, isolation and separateness shattered. I was hurled toward a new astonishment. Being alive and human was a thousand times more fascinating than I’d ever expected. The integrity, attention and care people exhibited for one another astounded me. Sexual communities bond on a deep level by sharing their most fragile, transparent, vulnerable and celebratory moments together.
So you can see why NFNC Summer Camp is way more fun than camp was as a kid–more consciousness, compassion, hugs, communication, touch and LESS drama. And can you believe that I was the only one there from Texas? We got to change that. Maybe if some of you experience camp, someday we’ll have our own Texas Summer Camp and do it even bigger and better. See you can’t squeeze all the old culture out of the girl!