Michael's account of 'The First Time'
In the early summer of 1998 I was visiting a colleague, as I often do, and we were talking about what we were going to do in our summer holidays. She was going to an island camp, something to do with art, I think; and I asked her a lot of questions about it and got hold of a brochure from the post office about the different camps.
In the brochure there was also an island camp "for those of you who are gay", and I suddenly heard myself saying, "All right, I'll take that!" She thought it was a good idea, but I was only kidding, for that wasn't my cup of tea, I was quite sure of that. It wasn't quite so important that I didn't really know anything about it, for there was nothing wrong about my imagination: it was probably some 70's thing, something to do with getting claustrophobically close to each other and being damn' liberated.
And then of course, there were the sanitary conditions; I was quite sure that there was no hot water in the camp, so how about my shower? However, in some way I felt it might be all right, for I wanted a holiday where you were with other people in some sort of community.
Well, after all, I had to admit to myself that I had been jumping to conclusions, and what would be the harm in trying? I would hardly be forced to take part in something I didn't want to, and if it was completely awful, I could always go home before the week was over, so I hurried down to the post office to book.
I arrived at the camp on the first evening, just as people were introducing themselves, and I soon found out that they were a motley crowd: all ages and all backgrounds. There would no doubt be somebody I could relate to. The evening passed quickly, and if things carried on in that nice way, it would be a great holiday. It was!
The Omø camp is probably one of the best equipped. At least there is running water, which not every camp can boast of, but I must admit that already the first morning I went down to the harbour to get a hot shower, perhaps not quite politically correct, but for me it became a luxury holiday.
So what is an island camp? I've been asked about that many times after I've come home, and every time I've found it hard to pinpoint it exactly, but to me the keywords must be: fresh air, relaxation and being with people whose company I enjoy. The camp had of course a social framework: there were practical tasks we had to do every day; but apart from that it was up to each man to decide what he wanted to do with his time. There were plenty of opportunities to do things with the other men, or, if you felt like it, to be alone and do your own thing. For me it was pure relaxation, and the stress of ordinary life was completely forgotten. The camp was right by the beach, so we went for a swim every day, and we went for plenty of walks, every day ending up at the local restaurant.
In spite of my misgivings the camp turned out to be a good experience. I've met some people I wouldn't otherwise have talked to, and I have been part of a fellowship which was genuine though we were very different from each other, and that probably wouldn't have happened to me anywhere else. From now on a week at the camp will be one of my definite holiday options.
Michael Rasmussen, Haderslev