I’ll admit that when I first agreed to go to Camp Bonfire with my husband — who’d been obsessed with going since the first time he heard about it 18 months prior — I was nervous. I love the outdoors… except for bugs, and sunburn, and itchy grass, and hot weather.
You know what else isn’t my thing? Capture the flag. Or running of any kind. Or sleeping on hard beds. Or giving up my cell phone for days.
Suffice it to say, I was super skeptical when we drove up to Camp Bonfire.
When I left adult summer camp two days later, I was an evangelical camper. Just ask the approximately 800,000 people I’ve told about Camp Bonfire since.
What was it that won me over? It was the first time in my life I didn’t feel like I needed to hide myself.
As a larger bodied person, I’ve been conditioned to want to make myself as small as possible. I’m conscious every time I get on a plane, or go to a movie, or walk through a store, or (god forbid) swim at a pool, that the world doesn’t fit me.
Camp Bonfire was the first time I saw lots and lots of larger bodied people just being humans
— eating food, wearing bathing suits, playing games, lying in hammocks, cutting it up on the dance floor. Next to them were people with many other kinds of bodies — trans and non-binary people, people of color, older people. Very few people seemed caught in their own self-consciousness. They were just being themselves, 100%. And I could be too.
I’ve literally never been in a space like that before. It felt glorious, and it made me long for the rest of the world to put in the work needed to truly welcome our diverse bodies and experiences.
In the meantime, I’ll be coming back to Camp Bonfire because it helps me remember that I don’t need to make myself small to be valued.
And yea, the beds were still uncomfortable. But this year I’m bringing a foam topper.