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Summer Camp Night

by Danny Fisher on December 20, 2010

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At Camp Vacamas one night, the boys in my cabin discovered that the girls’ shower shed had a small hole in the outside of its wooden wall. My cabin mates and I made an excursion at night, flashlights in hand, to get a peek at the girls’ shower. We were exhilarated and nervously excited – and the girls screamed when they found out we were peeping – but I really didn’t see anything but a blur.


When we got back to the cabin, our counselor, a tall, heavy set guy named Jack, was infuriated with us and felt we should experience the shame and humiliation he believed the girls experienced. He decided he was going to use me to make an example for the cabin and indeed for the entire camp. Why did he choose me? I will never know.

Jack said he was going to make me walk outside to the girls’ shower shed – which was about 100 yards from our cabin – completely naked. He said this would teach me and everyone else what it meant to be humiliated.

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He directed me to take off my clothes. I stripped to my underwear. He said take everything off but my sandals. I removed my T shirt. He told me to remove my underwear bottoms. I hesitated and began to cry of fear, shame and shocking embarrassment. I looked around my cabin – everyone was sitting on their bed, and no one was laughing. In fact, everyone’s expression was stark. Jack shouted “let’s go!” I dropped my underwear bottoms to the floor and now I was as naked as a newborn baby. That I wore sandals made me feel even more naked. Words cannot describe my humiliation – and remorse. I was not angry with Jack, as I believed he was meting out punishment that I deserved.


Jack said he was going to have me practice to prepare for my excursion out in the woods in front of the entire camp completely naked. I was 11. He instructed me to walk up to each of the eight bunks in the cabin and circle each bunk before moving on to the next one. I did so, and completed a naked walk through my cabin, going from bunk to bunk, seeing each of my fellow campers wince at my indignity.

After I completed my round, Jack asked me if I was ready to step outside for the long walk to the girls’ shower shed, a walk of naked shame that would be observed by the entire camp – boys and girls. I just could not imagine going through with it. He opened the door and motioned me to step outside. I walked through the creaky door and out onto the cabin deck. I heard nothing but crickets and I could feel the cool night air on my exposed skin. I noticed nothing but the blackness of night. I stood motionless, staring into the blackness. Jack now called to me, “Had enough? Do you think you now know what it’s like to be seen naked?” I nodded yes. “Come on back inside, then.”

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I was grateful for this reprieve. For many years I loathed myself for what I felt I had done. When I was in therapy in my mid twenties, we were discussing my inhibitions and I recalled this event to my therapist. He was mortified and expressed his view that I had been seriously abused. I was puzzled, as for fifteen years I felt that I was the abuser and was receiving just punishment.

1389.4 Holocaust B

When my mother was in Auschwitz, she was forced to strip completely naked each and every day and stand in the yard with hundreds of other naked women and men. And each day she was examined by Dr. Mengele, the Angel of Death himself, who tapped my mother’s naked body with his wand as he inspected her and would make the selection that very moment as to whether she was going to live or die. This occurred each day of the several months my mother was in Auschwitz.

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Excerpt from a novel I have been writing called “White Sand Falling.”

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