- The Washington Times - Monday, June 23, 2003

Bug spray — check. Sunscreen — check. T-shirts and shorts — not necessary.

The packing list for Camp White Tail is slightly different than those at most camps because the 30 adolescents converging there this week are nudists.

“All of them are children who are already at peace with their nudity,” said Bob Roche, manager of the Ivor, Va., camp. “What we’re trying to teach them is social interaction with other people.”

The campers will play volleyball, swim, tie-dye shirts, take workshops and participate in other typical camp activities. But critics fear they could also be subjected to pedophilia.

Such gatherings are legal in the state as long as they take place on private property and include no lewd behavior, said a spokesman for Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore. However, law enforcement officials will keep an eye on the camp, he said.

“We understand there are folks who pursue a lifestyle like this,” said Tim Murtaugh, the spokesman. “We also understand there are some very real concerns for children to be in that environment.”

The southeastern Virginia camp is in its first year and follows successful nudist camps for 11- to 18-year-olds in Arizona and Florida.

Another is in the works in Texas and could open in the next couple years.

Richard Grizzard, commonwealth’s attorney for Southampton County, where the camp is located, said he has no plans to pursue questions of legality.

“Nudist camps as such are not prohibited by law,” he said. “If parents drop off their children there, there isn’t [anything] I can do.”

Mr. Grizzard also said the sheriff’s “hands are pretty much tied.”

“Unless somebody’s breaking the law, there’s nothing he can do,” he said.

In Florida, U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, Republican, wrote last week to Gov. Jeb Bush, Republican, and the state’s attorney general asking them to determine the legality of the original nudist camp and to consider more rigid statutes against such activities.

Mr. Foley’s letter stated, “Obviously I have no way of knowing whether illegal behavior is taking place in this camp, but the situation clearly raises legitimate issues that should be addressed given that it involves minor children.”

He also stated that there are reported instances of men making their way to the camp pool to look at the children.

Mr. Roche said the counselors, who are ages 19 to 25, are well-trained. He also said there are 1 counselors to each camper and that each goes through a background check and has to be recommended by a national administrator.

Susan Weaver of the American Association of Nude Recreation said there have been few instances of outsiders trying to sneak looks at the children and that camp officials are always prepared to remove them.

“We want [the adolescents] to have a very safe and enjoyable experience,” she said.

“That means doing everything from making sure they have enough sunscreen on to making sure the environment is as safe and secure as at any other camp or at their own homes.”

She said the 73-year-old nudist organization has offered to meet with Mr. Foley, who is co-chairman of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus, to give him details of what goes on at the camp.

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