Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Do The Hustle

When I was a kid, nine years old, my parents pulled the old "Send the boy to camp so we can get divorced" trick on me. They sent me to "Camp Fatima" in New Hampshire which later became ground zero and a half for the Boston Catholic Diocese Pedophile-Priest-Scandal. I wasn't molested. I was bored to tears for two weeks but I assure you if I thought I could get a chunk of the many millions of dollars for having been touched the wrong way I wouldn't be so worried about getting a job now.

I tell you that so I can tell you this. When I was at Camp Fatima it was during the Go-Go 70's (also the peak of the priest molestation timeline) and the big hit song of the summer, playing on every radio in the camp, was "Macho Man" by the Village People (HellOH OH! NOOO Irony There!!!) The camp was about 50/50 New Englanders and French Canadian kids. So many French Canadian kids that every official announcement was repeated in French, which when you think about it is kind of gay. (Just kidding.)

While I was only there for two weeks, most kids spent the whole summer. One of those kids was the unfortunately named "Miles Machio". We (and by we I mean the kids, the teenaged counselors and the priests) constantly sang out "Hey Hey! Macho Macho Man!" every time we saw him. His life must have been a living hell.

Funny thing is, if it wasn't for the song, I wouln't have rememembered his name. I don't remember the names of any kid at Camp Fatima for the two weeks I was there. I remember him because of the song and think about him every god damned time I hear that tune. I Google him about once a year but so far no hits. Lately I wonder if the priests raped him.

Yes, Kevin. Your post featuring The Village People made me remember this.

As requested, birthday present wrap-up tomorrow which will actually be in two days since I'm posting a couple days ahead these days.


Anonymous Adorable Girlfriend said...

Camp is so wrong! I never went to camp. There is no way my married parent were sending me. Not even to get a divorce. No way. My mother thought camp was for kids whose parents didn't love them. Thank goodness she felt that way because I would have hung myself.

Having said all that, gosh only knows what kind of song the kids would have sang about me. Not that I have anything odd about me. Now I am just wondering...

Jun 6, 2006, 12:23:00 PM  
Anonymous PaulMc said...

I never was sent to camp. But one summer my Mom asked if I wanted to go "camping" with her with this other family. So off we went for a week, and I didn't know it was a "Christian" camp until we got there.

I was pissed. Church every morning and prayers and lectures. But there was also canoeing and Coke machines with cold, old-fashioned glass bottles.

One good thing came out of it. One kids from NYC was tossing around a basketball. My sports prowess has always been nil (except for being on a good Little League team one year) and I just kinda shrugged that I didn't want to play and I wasn't very good.

The kid said to me, "So? Don't be a schlep."

I learned then to do stuff even if I wasn't good at it--better that than being a schlep.

Jun 6, 2006, 3:45:00 PM  
Blogger RicketyFunk said...

Is there a book or pamphlet about that? "What to do with the kids during your divorce... tie 'em up in a sack and toss 'em in the barn... bury 'em with lyme... send 'em to camp.

I grew up on camp. It was my bananabread and applebutter. I would wait all year to get carted off to Colorado for two weeks. Dry mountain summer vs. humid midwest doldrum, no contest.

I was a counselor at a camp one summer. We had a kid that nobody liked. He was so straight-laced it wasn't even crooked. I kinda felt bad for him, on account of all the teasing and verbal abuse he took, but I also felt like he deserved it.

Jun 7, 2006, 10:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

camp fatima shaped my life i can honestly say that it was one of the most powerfull experiences of my life. I was NOT molested at camp fatima beleive it or not. I was a camper from 85-92 then in 95 became a counselor. However through the years of being at camp fatima and being an alter boy for almost 10 years i never had even an inappropriate thought or word from any priests. The ironic thing is this , my scumbag neighbor who lived two houses from me couldnt keep his darn hands out of my pants. Now im in therepy for the rest of my life. Thanks Mr Smith for nothing

Oct 28, 2006, 1:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also spent two weeks at Camp Fatima in NH, only I was there in the late '60s.
I never heard of anyone being molested there until the big "priest abuse" headlines of the past few years. However, I do have one very strange memory from my experience.
From the start of my two-week stay, I heard repeat campers talk about "skinny-dipping day." I thought this was a put-on because this was a Catholic camp, and I'd always assumed Catholics had big hang ups about nudity and anything sexual. But sure enough, a week into my stay, a priest announced over the loudspeaker that skinny dipping day had arrived. The experienced campers cheered, ran into the cabins to pull off their clothes, and then ran outside stark naked. The rest of us shrugged and adopted a "when-in-Rome" attitude. Soon the field in the center of the camp was filled with several hundred naked boys, howling, snapping towels, etc.
The priests and counselors marched us down to the lake, and we spent the next two hours cavorting in the buff.
To me, there was nothing harmful about the experience, but I suspect many of the priests and seminarians present were feasting their eyes on the scene. No doubt some were in the shrubbery wacking off.
I sure wish I could get a chunk of the multi-million dollar settlement just for having priests see my ass, but I'm sure it don't work that way.

Nov 8, 2006, 2:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I spent eleven years going to Camp Fatima from the early '70s on. People who don't understand the benefits of summer camp are really missing out. The experience was great and I feel soory for people who are too scared to try and experience the world and stay paralized by fear of what might happen.

I believe that certain inapproproate conduct could have occured, but we knew there were certain odd characters that we generally avoided. This in no way was a pedofile playground. There was usually at maybe one priest at camp at any given time. And none of the permanent resident priests that I remember had anything to do with the aledged incidents. There was one visiting senior priest and one brother that had limited contact with campers but reportedly touched a few campers in the wrong way. These are at best limited incidents that cast a shadow on the enormous benefits that came from summer camp. Also, there were plenty of staff that if had heard of any inappropriate behavior of other staff, the offenders would be dealt with swiftly and the campers would have been protected...probably better than in most situation in the real world.

Jul 3, 2007, 9:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I myself am a camper at Camp Fatima, and have been for the previous five years. Of all my stay, I can quite honestly say that nothing in the molestation category ever went on, and in the corny way most people say it, Camp Fatima has 'shaped my life.' There is no 'skinny dipping day' and most probably, that would be laughed at and mocked and not in a homophobic way.

The counselors are all wicked people, except for some who are kind of obnoxious, and camp has changed from a a 50/50 of french-canadians and americans, to a mix of latin americans, french canadians, and americans. Every summer, if not year, I can honestly say that the time I spend at Fatima are the most anticipated.

Besides our priest is more of a friendly stoner then a pedophile.

Jul 20, 2007, 11:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So interesting. I went to Camp Fatima in the early '60s and had a mixed experience. I liked most of the campers and staff but the God and country stuff was a little thick, even for a 12 yr. old. We awoke to reveille and had to assemble on what passed for a parade ground. Everyone seemed to be Catholic and I really had enough of that from Catholic school. The whole thing was parochial and ethnocentric. I sent my own kids to more liberal and creative (and diverse) camps--not hard to find.

The weirdest part of the experience, in terms of ethnocentrism, was that we were told to call the French-Canadian kids by Anglicized names, e.g., Pierre was to be called Pete, with no regard to the wishes of Pierre or his family. I guess they thought we'd be doing them a favor by Americanizing them. Can you imagine the response of the Quebecois if someone tried to pull that shit even in the '70s?

I'm sure none of these practices remain today.

No skinny-dipping that I recall in the early '60s Camp Fatima and no evidence or rumor of sexual abuse. But it's not surprising to hear of it happening in the '70s. The campers of my time were not from affluent or powerful families, many were from single-parent or troubled families who needed someone else to take care of their kids for the summer, and their parents were probably quite devout--a perfect population for victimization by priests.

Aug 27, 2008, 1:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My siblings and I spent summer after summer going to Bernie and Fatima. 25 years later and I still talk to my friends I made at camp. It was a wonderful experience in forming positive friendships and not caring how you looked, etc. It was about raiding cabins at midnight and eating oreo cookies in bed with your friends listening to the radio on low.

I am DISGUSTED to say that 25 years later my brother informed me of the ongoing sodomy within the junior cabins [the kids were acting out what they had been taught] At one point, one of these bastard preists moved to my town and singled out my family and brother, eventually leading to him 'putting the moves' on my brother. Nothing ever happened [my brother told him to go F himself], but the f'er ended up in jail, and it was proven he had repeatedly molested children in the Boston Diocese and at Camp Fatima.

My very first "boyfriend" was at Camp Fatima for the summer; he came from a 'broken home' His best friend at camp had been pulled from what I remember drug addict parents who moved to Amsterdam. I understand that these 'seasoners', the kids who were there not because their rich parents got rid of them for the summer, but because of charity cases, were most likely molested= easy targets.

I wouldn't freaking put my kid in a over night catholic camp if it were free, at this point. All I can think of is how many injustices occured while the rest of us 'had the time of our life'? Some of these kids were experiencing a living hell...

Jan 7, 2009, 6:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Three years in a row (late 70's) I went there, with my brother. I recall the swimming, the daily activities, early morning revelry, the cabin cleaning, tennis, running, and dances with Bernie.

Never saw or was involved in anything inappropriate from the camp staff.

It looked/felt/walked and talked like a Camp...

Very distressing to hear that people had issues there. I don't doubt it, just never saw it personally.

Jan 24, 2009, 6:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was there at Camp Fatima around that time. Miles Maccio was from my hometown and a bunch of kids all went up to that camp. I think he was a couple years older than me.
I think there was some strange stuff going on around there. I went for two summers then that was it...

Feb 15, 2011, 10:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous MT said...

I went to Fatima from 69 to 71, I believe. Had a good time 69 and 70.

I do remember about once a week a different kid each time would suddenly be freaked out and crying and his parents would come and pick him up. At the time I just attributed it to that some kids were weak and homesick. Little did I know.

In 71 I was 10, I was moved to the Intermediates, and I didn't like it so much, being housed with older kids. Too many jerks and lowlifes like RicketyFunk. I remember one genuinely sadistic counselor "Smiley" who came to the cabin at night and made us all do leg-lifts as a means of causing pain. :)

I do remember being forced to go skinny-dipping, and the car lights. I didn't like it, but what to do? I was surprised when I was told that the priest had ordered it. Contrary to what I have read since, the priest was not the director, a layman was the director (Mr. Callahan). So I wondered what the priest was doing being involved in non-ecclesiastical matters. A speed boat came along, and someone asked who it was. A counselor joked "The Gay Liberation Team." Little did I know. It was also the first time I heard the word "Gay" used as a euphemism for homosexual, and decades before the cunning invention of the slur "homophobic".

One final note. A few years ago, I was viewing heterosexual porn on Usenet. There was a girl with my face (about 9 years old) photo-shopped in. I was stunned and wondered how it happened. Then when I heard about the scandal, I understood.

kamma vipakkha.

Jul 24, 2012, 8:14:00 PM  
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