Sex talk on a Canoe Trip

In 1994 I was a tripper at an Ontario summer camp and led a canoe trip with six 14-year old girls and two of their 17-year old counsellors. I was 24 at the time.canoe trip

Since the mosquitos were on a feeding frenzy, one evening all nine of us squished into a 4-person tent to pass the time. Perhaps not surprisingly, after not too long the conversation turned to sex. These 14 year olds were seeking insights and advice about sex from their ‘elders’. Elders, in this case, hardly older than them.

I found myself unable to contribute. At one point I declared that I was there to learn too. It’s not that I was inexperienced – rather I feared my experiences would have freaked out the group even though there is nothing particularly freaky about what I might have reported. The campers sought a step by step (or blow by blow) guide to giving good blowjobs and there was a discussion about having sexy pictures taken for your boyfriend. I offered a few comments but they were not likely memorable to my underlings.

So with almost 20 years since that summer, I think back to the information that these young women were hungry for. I was hungry for the same information at 14 and at 17 I was even hungrier. An open and honest (and vastly more experienced) 24 year old would have felt like a godsend.

So what happened? Did I think I would be judged? Or be misunderstood? Perhaps I feared providing too much information? Maybe I thought the cone of silence that had been invoked would have been disregarded once we returned to camp and that my stories and experience would make for great campfire storytelling? Or maybe I was filled with shame – and couldn’t imagine sharing my experiences – no matter how fulfilling some of them were.

It’s amazing to imagine that evening if I had risked some honest sharing. Sure, we could have done a deep dive into the fine art of fellatio. But I could have told them about cunnilingus and the power of their partners tongues too. I could have talked about mutual masturbation. I could have described sex with the lights on and eyes wide open. I could have reflected on discussing pleasure with a sexual partner and negotiating sexual exploration.

Would it have blown them away a bit? Probably. If I were 14 I would have been blown away. But gratefully so. I would have been gratefully blown away.


My next post will cover the sex stuff I learned as a camper many, many moons ago and ways to dig into the topic with your kids when they return home from their camp experience.

This article has 4 comments

  1. Wow, this “talk” is a far cry from my teen days 55 years ago. Great taboo to talk about ANY of this in my day and most of us were full of shame just thinking about it.
    What time and joy lost.

  2. As an Early Childhood Educator for 13+ years and having 2 young daughters, I have always talked to them all openly about their body parts. Whether she/he is an infant/toddler during diaper changes or 3/4 yr. olds asking questions, I’ve always talked to them or answered questions honestly. I believe once they know, they won’t be constantly asking and it ends the curiosity. What they do in private, at home, in the bath, or under the blanket at nap time is fine. Glad to have read this and knowing there’s others that agree with me on this issue.

    • I agree that so often kids just want real answers to real questions or an understanding of things they find curious. Sounds like a whole lot of kids are lucky to have known you.

    • I agree that kids often just want real answers to real questions or an understanding of things they are curious about. Sounds to me like alot of young people are very lucky to have known you…

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