May 9, 2018
Boys Hugging in Tuxedo, North Carolina
I doubt that anyone actually wears a Tuxedo there. It's so rustic that you can't even tell that you're in a town. There are no amenities but a Baptist Church and a restaurant called Mike's Chuckwagon. The nearest grocery store is 8 miles away. The nearest drug store is 10.
Camp Mondamin, founded in1922 by "Chief" Andrew Bell, teaches 200 boys aged 6 to 17 "self esteem and community." It offers activities never heard of in the Nazarene camps of my youth, like performing arts, rock climbing, and kayaking.
In many ways Falling Creek is like the Nazarene camps I grew up with: college boys as counselors, daily church services, special musical numbers, a lot of sports. Of course, there are activities we could never have imagined, everything from blacksmithing to lacrosse, plus "warrior ball," a jacked-up form of dodgeball; and rules that we could have never imagined ("campers may not post anything negative about the camp on social media").
The website still features prominently an article in Time magazine from 2007 that praises the camp as "a trip to boy heaven." Sounds like a gay boy's dream.
And the promotional materials show lots of boys hugging.
Of course, it expects the boys hugging to be heterosexual bros. I'm quite sure that the directors at all of these camps would be horrified at the suggestion that any of the campers might gay.
But a hug is a hug. When you are erased, told over and over again that you do not exist, you find meaning anywhere you can.