Every year I have a conversation with the parents of the participants of our student beach camp. It’s my 13th year to have this conversation. It used to be a problem, but it really is an issue that I am not budging on and my talk is a tradition. I remember the first year I had to deal with this. I called another girls minister that I had just connected with. She told me they just avoided the beach altogether and went to areas to go snow skiing. “Bathing suits aren’t an issue on a snow skiing trip!!”
We laughed and I tried to figure out what I was going to do. At that point I had not figured out how to do the following talk, but we’ve had some fun with it through the years. Here is a video I did for our summer camp a couple of years ago.
Swimsuit Address for Beach Camp from BBC Student Stuff on Vimeo.
Some of the highlights of my swimsuit talk are:
“Here at (INSERT CHURCH NAME) we want to apply a biblical approach to swimsuits. We have researched the Hebrew word Shalom and it essentially is talking about ONE PEACE. We believe that this approach can apply also to our swimsuits. We want our swimsuits to be ONE PIECE so that there will be PEACE within our camp. Now it must be addressed that while we are enjoying our time on the beach, there are other tribes that will be swimming and recreating around us. Those tribes are from the KINI tribe. Our shalom tribe looks nothing like the KINI tribe. The KINI tribe can be found in the form of TAN KINI, BI KINI, and MONO KINI. Shalom is clearly not KINI and although I have met some very modest members of the KINI tribe, it will help us keep the PEACE by you buying a SHALOM one piece suit.
Should you not have the time or resources to buy a shalom suit, we ask that you bring a dark oversized t-shirt to wear over your swimsuit.
We will have some extra black over size tshirts to help should you find yourself in a KINI tribe with no way out. Just come tell us that your name is Anita, “Anita Onepiece.”
What are the conversations you have to help create boundaries and at the same time, have fun with the families that are in your church?
We live in a beach town, so meeting up at the public access is not a matter of IF but WHEN and HOW OFTEN. Personally, I’m pretty modest and many suites worn (by both genders) on any given day are not garments I’d choose for myself, nor would I choose for my students. However, we discussed it as a leader group, and decided that being authentic and welcoming was more important than being a tribe of modesty. We don’t turn away a girl with a belly shirt on our regular services so why would we turn away (or embarrass with an oversize dark shirt that would quickly get uncomfortable in the ocean and sand) a girl who wears a two piece to the ocean? Aren’t the ones who are showing too much skin the exact ones that we are most seeking to reach and love on?
I appreciate the example your students are setting and hope more teens will catch on. Certainly not criticizing the way your group does things, just offering my opinion.