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What happens in sex camp…

By March 1, 2020May 22nd, 2020No Comments

Who knew there was such a thing as sex camp? Here, an anonymous contributor shares her experience of attending a rural Irish sex camp, a place where people gather to refine – and even practice – their sexual skills…

In Ireland, there’s a whole underground community of people exploring all the edges of themselves, others and their sexuality.


I was oblivious to this scene before my own recent experience and I think it’s fair to say I was also somewhat naive about what I was getting myself into. 

I’d been seeing a new guy for a few months and the sex was exhilarating. I’d never had sex like it. When he suggested we go to a ‘conscious sexuality’ weekend to learn how to have better orgasms, I expected we’d be watching other people give tutorials and tips. Not dancing naked in a circle with 20 strangers – but more on that later.


Having never undertaken anything remotely like this before I was jumping in blind and brimming with curiosity. The website was vague about event information, so it was hard to know what format the weekend would take, but my boyfriend and I decided that we’d give it a go and if we didn’t like it we could leave. 

I was excited and nervous as we embarked on the three-hour drive to the event. I had no clue what to expect but the one thing I was curious about was: what kind of people go to sex camp? Would they all be slightly creepy older men, looking at me under greasy hair and licking their lips every five seconds, or people who had never had sex and wanted to get close to some? The curiosity was killing me.


The event/experience was on at a rural location, literally in a barn. The space was functional with big mats and pillows everywhere. Nothing about it was sexy. The people for the most part looked surprisingly normal. They were a mix of ages, from 20s to 60s but most in their 30s. They were nearly all Irish.

I was shocked by such an average assortment of people, all gathered for sex camp. There was one dodgy looking guy, he seemed particularly greasy – in all the ways. I didn’t like the way he was looking at me and I resolved to keep my eye on him.

Next came the announcement that we were supposed to participate. It wasn’t said outright (truth be told, very little was said outright – the guy running the event spoke in circles a lot, as if worried someone was secretly recording him). During the break after the intro chat I had an aside with my new fella.

“So, umm, we’re going to be getting naked? With all these people?” I asked with rising panic.

“I think so.” he said and not wanting to seem like a prude I just nodded as if it was all cool and one of my dreams in life was to get naked in a barn in rural Ireland with 19 strangers. 


So I’d gotten myself in for much more than I bargained for. I was annoyed at the website that promoted the event for not being clearer about what was going to happen at it, but then I thought they probably have to be careful what they say. 

The impending horror of communal nudity made me quickly assess my feelings. I couldn’t care less about other people’s nudity, it was mine that was giving me heart palpitations. I’ve always told myself that I like my body and I’m not ashamed of it – so I decided that if that was true then what objection could I have to others seeing my body? I’d backed myself into a corner and if I didn’t get cool with nudity quick, I’d have to admit I’d been  lying to myself about my confident body image for all these years.

Things got naked fast. One minute we were sharing herbal teas and awkward chit-chat and the next we were all paired up and naked. It was weird being in a room with so many naked people, all of whom were about to learn how to be ‘better’ at sex.


Thankfully I was with my sexy new lover – so I just concentrated on him. We were given exercises to do to each other. When it was my turn to receive I was able to lay back and enjoy the slow, sexy attention from my boyfriend – even if it was a bit off-putting hearing the groans and moans coming from the other couples.

I tried to fantasise that I was the star of my own porno, but the guttural noises and – eek – squelching sounds coming from people less than a metre away were profoundly unsexy.

I had to face my own prudishness and uptightness. If I didn’t find a way to get over them, the whole weekend would be excruciating. I tried undoing decades of social conditioning (while also attempting to seem like I was appreciative of my boyfriend’s caresses). I realised I’d been silent for a while so I gave a few small moans in the hope of encouraging my bloke. I did like what he was doing, but I was terribly distracted by the sounds and the smells (so many naked body sex smells!) and I was trying to process all my issues fast. 

Some of the couples were people who had never met each other before and were now kneeling over each other naked, prodding all their bits. I was mortified even thinking on the idea of having a stranger try and bring me to orgasm. I breathed a sigh of relief that I was there as a couple. 


Speaking to some of the women over lunch it seemed they were all wary about Grease Guy. The facilitator had picked random names from a hat but he’d been very clear that if anyone was uncomfortable with who they were paired up with they should speak up. One of the women I’d talked to at lunch was paired with Grease Guy and she said she wasn’t down with it. 

There was one woman at the event – she was in her forties, with huge boobs, Californian hair and pouty lips. She made it known to us all that this wasn’t her first rodeo and she volunteered to be the demonstration person every time. She flaunted her lack of inhibition and we admired and hated her for it. She offered to ‘take’ Grease Guy and the women of the room let out a collective sigh.

That night, after dinner we again assembled in the barn. The man running the event told us to remove our clothes and form a circle.

While we’d all been naked earlier we’d each been focused on the person we were with, so this presented a new challenge. I felt really uncomfortable – but I did it. 

There I was, standing fully nude with 19 other people also naked. Relative strangers, most of whom looked as uncomfortable as I felt. And people were looking. It was hard not to in fairness. What struck me was how soft, vulnerable and beautiful everyone suddenly seemed to me. The way the brown haired man’s belly covered his pubic hair seemed lovely and right. The woman by me with one noticeably larger breast appeared perfect in every way to me now that I could see the totality of her. What society might see as people’s imperfections seemed in that moment to me to be deeply beautiful, luminescent even. I was falling in love with everyone’s vulnerable nudity. 


Until the facilitator told us we now had to each take a turn and dance in the middle of the circle. 

My biggest issue with this was that the music was atrocious. I also felt it was unfair to ask us to subject ourselves to the scrutiny of both our naked bodies and our dancing. Especially when the music was so, so bad. It was that new age slow music you hear in shops that sell crystals. How, I wondered, was I ever going to dance to that? 

When it was my turn I entered the middle of the circle, cast an angry glare at the facilitator, and began to strike some moves that were a combination of my secondary school Taekwon-Do classes mixed with some 80s interpretive dance. You give me ugly music, I’ll give you ugly dance. 


The next day bought a group masturbation scene. The purpose we were told was to get us comfortable with our sexuality. Everyone lay back and self pleasured. 

Everyone but me. 

Oh, I stuck my fingers in my vagina, I went through the motions – but I found nothing pleasurable about it. It was the noises that did it for me. Especially all the thwacking sounds the men were making. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m into masturbation and watching a guy I fancy do it is sexy as hell, but listening to a guy who reminded me of my uncle Kevin toss off? Not so much. And ten Kevins all doing it at once? It was a fuck farm. And we were the battery chickens. Battering away. 

Then there were the smells. Body odour was one thing, but sex smells times twenty was a sensory overload. I can’t bear strong perfume, let alone the ejaculations of a dozen people. 

Maybe I’m a prude, but I found none of it sexy. 


I came away from the retreat much more sexually confident and it became a stepping stone to many more sex-related workshops, but when I look back on that first experience I feel a sense of unease. There were lots of problematic elements, like the facilitator watching us all masturbate and how performative some aspects felt.

I wonder at the sense of deep discomfort I felt with some of the exercises and how, like many times in the past when I’ve felt uncomfortable with what a man was doing, I gave in. It can be difficult to discern where your edges are, which edges it’s healthy to push past so you can grow, and which ones are there to keep you safe. 

I’ve thought too about how participants were not vetted and how all the women knew Grease Guy was there for the wrong reasons. Even in subsequent sex-related events I attended, in any that required nudity there have been problematic aspects.


After attending about a dozen events with various facilitators, I began to seriously question the safety of group workshops of this nature. There are too many variables and too many spaces for danger. I had several scary interactions with other participants (all men), and a few where I felt the facilitator hadn’t done enough to keep me and others safe.

Once I was in the scene, I met other women who had awful stories as well. It seemed to be commonplace, but not acknowledged in workshops or events. I took some time to mull things over and decided that I couldn’t continue exploring conscious sexuality with others, it just didn’t feel safe to me. 

I have conflicting feelings about sex camp. I’m glad I went but wouldn’t recommend it to others and knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t go back. I suspect you’d be much better off learning all I learnt by watching Youtube videos – in the comfort and safety of your own bedroom.

My biggest take away from the whole experience? 

There’s nothing sexy about sex camp. 

Image from Unsplash


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