Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, Volume 8, August 17, 2005


Sex Camp

Click on the cover to buy this book from Amazon

Brian McNaught
AuthorHouse, Bloomington, IN 2005
446 pages, $ 25.45

Reviewed by David S. Hall

Have you ever been to camp? To a Sex Camp? Sound interesting? Here is your chance, for a very low price!

This delightful, interesting and very educational book is the story of 32 fictional people who arrive at a religious retreat center in upstate New York for a week of sexual exploration. They are led by a group of very real and well known sexuality educators who are part of an ongoing team who have led these session since they were founded by Dr. Sol Gordon about 30 years ago. Unfortunately, the retreat center has closed, and a new site has not yet been found, so if you want to go to the "Annual Workshop on Sexuality at Thornfield", better known as "Sex Camp" you will have to read this book.

This week is, basically, a Sexual Attitude Reassessment process which has been used by many organizations involved in sex education, and prepares sex educators, therapists, counselors and sex coaches for their work. SARs are often as short as two days, but for those of us who did a week long SAR in our training, this book will be like reliving history. I also am glad I have had the opportunity of knowing and learning from several of the staff, including Sol, Bill Stayton and Pam Wilson.

The "participants" in this Sex Camp are an interesting and very typical group of people involved in sex education, coming from diverse backgrounds, diverse sexual orientations and gender expressions, and they become very real to the reader as the "week" progresses. They work on their "issues", they come to know and appreciate each other, and they have the same hang ups many of us share. The staff, however, are very real people, like the author, and other names you will recognize if you are involved in the field. Their participation in the week is to provide the lessons and the support for the growth of the participants.

If you are a sex educator, as you read this book you will see many lessons from the leaders that you will want to incorporate into your own teaching portfolio, and you will see the ways the staff deals with problems the participants have that could be useful for you in your work. You might even have a button or two pushed.

If you are just curious about what happens at a sex camp, you are in for a fun read. It is suitable for high school and up, for anyone who loves, or wants to love, their own sexuality and is willing to think about their sexual values and respect those of others. Bishop John Spong says the book is for the "courageous and radically open." You will get to face the three obstacles to sexual health - ignorance, secrecy, and trauma - and find ways to move past them if you are willing.

I strongly recommend this book and suspect you will relate to at least one of the participants and will share their learning experiences. Even if you don't relate, you will laugh, cry and learn.

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