Monday, May 22, 2017

Summer Camp

 Summer Camp is a great time to experience the freedom of going shirtless. For one, simply because summer camps consists of mainly outdoor activities in the hottest time of the year, so shedding the shirt is simply more comfortable. But it is also part of the experience. It embodies the care-free nature of the camp experience, as well as the freedom and self-confidence we want young men to develop. It promotes a sense of comfort and confidence with one’s own body, and a sense of camaraderie with their fellow campers as a shared bonding experience.

It has been a part of the camp experience for generations.

Whether engaging in sports, outdoor activities, or wilderness camping, shirts are not necessary for summer camp.

Staff and camp counselors should not be required to wear shirts, either. Joining the campers in going shirtless promotes bonding and makes the staff more relatable.

Of course, this is only one tiny aspect of what summer camp is about. A well-designed summer camp program should teach some skills, promote health and fitness, and build character. But incorporating a healthy body image and positive bonding experiences with friends and role models can be one aspect of that experience. So, whether you are a camper, counselor, or in administration, I want to encourage you to get out there and make the most of summer camp!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Hot Yoga

As this wrestling team learned, hot yoga is not just a good excuse to peel off your shirt, but a great way to become more attuned to your body, to condition it and push yourself to new extremes. And after all, this is what it is all about. Developing confidence and getting to know your body. And there is perhaps no better way to accomplish this than through the challenging poses of yoga.

This is no easy-going, relaxed activity. As Moody said, “Yoga is not a joke. Yoga is tough.” “It’s more intense than I thought it would be,” Colin adds. And the conditioning aspects have great carry-over value for sports like wrestling. “You use a lot of core strength,” adds Micah. “I’m down with anything that makes you more flexible,” points out James.

So, if you can find a class near you, I would definitely suggest giving hot yoga a try. You will develop strength and flexibility, inner toughness, as well as self-respect and an increased awareness of your own body.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Naked Gunner

PBY Blister Gunner, Rescue at Rabaul, 1944

Nudity is typically a bit off-topic for this blog, so I apologize if the naked butt offends anyone, but I promise it is not superfluous. You see, there is a story behind it and I hope that with this piece of history we can honor a hero and — hopefully — learn something about ourselves and our culture at the same time.

I had seen this picture being shared a few times and wondered, “What the heck? Why is this guy naked? Is this for real, or is this photograph staged?” It turns out this an authentic World War II photograph, taken by Horace Bristol in 1944. Bristol was part of the U.S. Naval Photographic Unit under Captain Edward J. Streichen, commissioned to document the war. But why was this man naked? Well, this man was a crew member aboard a seaplane called in to rescue a downed marine at Rabaul harbor. The marine was in the water and had been badly burned and temporarily blinded, so to get him on board this brave soul stripped off all of his clothes and swam out to pull him from the water. They were under fire from the Japanese the entire time, so as soon as the marine and his rescuer were safely aboard, they took off without taking time to get dressed and the rescuer returned to his station at the machine gun to defend his crew. And now you see why I called him a hero.

So, apart from honoring a heroic veteran on Veteran’s Day (for my U.S. readers), why is this germane to this blog? This blog is clearly not about nudity. But I think this story can teach us something about attitudes about the body in general. While he may have pushed aside some reservations about nudity to accomplish his heroic act, I think people from this era also had a somewhat more relaxed attitude toward the human body. When it was necessary to save a life, he stripped off his clothing (which could have hindered his rescue, causing both him and the marine to drown) without a second thought. And his priority upon returning to the plane was returning fire to cover his crew rather than covering his body. I imagine that many men today — more inhibited about their bodies — would find it difficult to put aside their bashfulness, even in the face of life-threatening circumstances. There is nothing wrong with having or conforming to certain societal norms about clothing, etc, but when these inhibitions are so deep-seated we (subconsciously) prioritize them above life and safety, that is a problem and also indicates an unhealthy self-image. This blog attempts to promote a healthy body image and a sense of freedom and security, things we could learn a lot about from previous generations.

I hope that you have enjoyed our history lesson today. Allow me to sign off with a salute to all of our brave men and women in uniform who have fought for freedom. Thank you!