Creating Exceptional Teen-Sex Education
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One of the things I did while teaching teens about sex during the 10 years I was the director of a summer camp called Wondercamp* was to have an all day Girl/Boy Teen Talk Marathon. I lead the girls discussion while my male staff lead the boys. What happened every year was remarkable! I assure you, they looked forward to this day more than any of the whole summer.
Our Teen Talk Marathon was based on two I know things teens love to do:
2. Have freedom to say anything.
For the girls, the first (and just about only topic) was boys. The younger girls (8-11) listened to their older sisters with rapt attention. By the way, the day wasn’t called Sex Talk for Teens; it was called Boys Talk- Girls Talk and set up as a day to about anything.
Without exception however, no matter where we started, within 5 minutes it was always about boys. This was yet another time I regretted (for a moment) not being a boy, for I always wanted to be a fly on their wall. But no girls were allowed to enter the boy’s cabin, and in fact we were not supposed to talk to anyone of the opposite sex the whole day. Spys did tell me they smuggled in lots of food, and that while it was often awkward getting started, eventually the boys too got around to the topic foremost in their brain, i.e. the girls. Although I grilled my male staff afterwards to get the details, I often got rather ‘male’ versions, such as, “It was GREAT”. (So sadly, I do not have as insightful views on the Boy’s Talk.)
We spent the whole day in their cabins, sitting on the beds because it was cozy and set the stage for intimate talk. I began by saying only, “the day is yours to talk about whatever you want to. The only rule is strict confidentiality*. Then I kept quiet and directed my staff to do the same because I wanted to downplay my(our) authority as camp director. That way, we could bond as girls, sisters and women.
Interestingly, the girls rarely talked about sex or what it was like to have it, even if they had. What girls are really fascinated about at these ages is boys- what they do and what they say. What they really talk about is what they make up about boys. They giggled endlessly about every single guy at the camp. They notched each one up and joked about who liked who. Every year, they would hook each other up- the shy girls were matched up with shy boys and the saucy ones were paired with the more flamboyant guys. It was the ultimate teen dating game.
They were enthralled by the stupid things boys did and deigned disgust over gross and daring things, like stealing underpants and hoisting them up the flag pole, or who snuck out at night into the kitchen to steal food. Much to my surprise, (I’ll never know if this was because staff was there) they were quite kind. Although they made fun of boys, they never made cruel remarks. The game was all about liking them; and either admitting or hiding who they liked.
5 Things To Know When Teaching Teens About Sex
Get their Game: kids need to talk openly and honestly with boys only and girls only. So start by having a girl talk and a boy talk separately. By doing this you are creating a ‘mini tribe’ of mixed aged teens. Kids are too often segregated into groups their own age. This is not natural. What happens when you mix older girls with younger ones, is they start to teach each other.
Do not overly structure their conversations, impose too many rules, or set an agenda of what is supposed to happen. Set the stage where it’s okay to talk about anything. It’s about creating an atmosphere where you and teens can talk freely, without any consequences from an authority figure.
Then create the rule that what’s talked about in the group stays with the group.
Now, dare to be honest. Authentic talk from you and with you, and with each other, is what they need, want, and respect. Your own authenticity is what generates transformational education- where kids are not taught a set of conditions or even your ideas about sex. In fact, the game is to get involved with their discoveries.
If you do this, you will be amazed by how transformational sexual education begins by being honest.
These are some of the steps I believe are essential to creating an exceptional introduction to sexuality for teens.
To be continued, for sure.
What do you believe is essential for an exceptional introduction to sex?
In beauty, Amara
Sex and Intimacy expert Amara Charles’ new book The Sexual Practices of Quodoushka is available for pre-order on Amazon. To find out about sexuality workshops for singles and couples please go to our workshop page.
Our Next Touch for Two Couple’s Night is in Phoenix March 25. email us to inquire.
*Promise you won’t Google this! After I let the domain go, it became a campy porno sight!
*One year, I had to break this code of secrecy, because I believed one of the girls had been abused. So with her permission, I asked her if I could talk with her parents after camp, to which she gratefully agreed.