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GIRLS BATH BEACH


When we were growing up, my parents sent me to a science camp out in the Central Oregon desert. In the middle of the day, the temperatures would often soar well above 100. The camp was "rustic" at best; none of the ramshackle cabins and outbuildings had air conditioning or plumbing, so the counselors took us down to the river for our daily bathing.

I think it was much more common back then to separate boys and girls. In school, we had boys PE and girls PE. Co-ed sports was totally unheard of. Perhaps because of this, there was never any thought group showering in the locker rooms.

In the case of camp, that sense of shared group shower carried over to the river. The river didn't seem as much "swim time," as it was the only shower we'd get at camp without indoor plumbing. So, the river time was really shower time, and boys and girls were separated.

Being so hot and dusty, everyone gladly stripped down and jumped in. Normally, the water would be freezing, but in the mid-day heat, it felt refreshing. No one complained about bathing in the river. Maybe there was "body image" anxiety back then, but I can't recall it. Media hadn't told us we should be concerned, and so we weren't. We considered some girls pretty, and others maybe not as pretty, but that was usually a combination of face and personality. No one ever focused on another's body. Tighs, hips, chest, it was all just as "God made you," we'd been told. And so who were we to question God.

Maybe in some ways we really were ignorant in those times, but then, it seemed a lot healthier, a lot less stressful, and a lot more fun.

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