Part 1. The Front Seat

Cory’s Perspective:

My psychiatrist, Doctor Betty Miles, suggested I visit Camp True Touch and do a little Nude Touch Therapy to help me overcome my anxiety. She claims it could enrich my life, get me out of my boring daily routine, and maybe inspire me to enroll in college. The thing is, I like boring routines. They’re safe and comfortable when everything around you could hurt you. My name is Cory, and I’ve been blind since birth. People think I simply live in darkness, but on the contrary, I experience the world from a very complex perspective. Sound, touch, smell, and taste enrich my mind and bring me pleasure in indescribable ways. Did you know the morning, afternoon, evening, and night have vastly different sounds, smells, and feelings? I have vivid impressions of each part of the day. Thanks to my unique position in a complicated world, most people struggle to understand me. How do you comfort a depressed, lonely, complicated twenty-two-year-old blind man that lives with his parents? Doctor Betty thinks she knows how, and maybe she’s right. That’s why I decided to give this potentially uncomfortable program a try. When I’m depressed, life gets stale. If Nude Touch Therapy can awaken my senses again, then it’s worth the anxiety and discomfort.

How am I remotely comfortable with the concept of a nudist camp, you ask? Well, the first obvious reason is my lack of vision. I don’t get to enjoy what everyone wears anyway, so I don’t care what they wear or what they look like. The only reason I wear clothes myself is for warmth, comfort, and skin protection. Secondly, my awesome parents took me to their favorite nudist camp every summer while growing up. I enjoyed nature in the buff just as much as they did, and they were there to help me deal with everything else. My father’s declining health ended those fun trips. We haven’t been back in five years now. My social life revolves around my parents. I’m extremely anxious without them. I also know they won’t be around forever. That thought is my driving force to overcome my anxiety. So, after a lot of paperwork, questionnaires, waivers, and packing, Doctor Betty personally volunteered to drive another anxious patient and me to Camp True Touch the first week of June.

Jenifer (another anxious patient under Doctor Betty’s care) was in the backseat while I sat in front with the good doctor. Betty was trying to encourage conversation in the car, but she was working with two very difficult and extremely shy patients. My first impression of Jenifer was her smell. It was easy to separate her scent apart from Doctor Betty. I had experienced my psychiatrist’s familiar smell for years and could partially ignore her deodorant and perfume. Jenifer smelled like a warm summer day in the woods, and I honestly loved it, but it wasn’t overly unique. Some people, especially women, often smelled incredibly good. I had experienced those smells often while camping with my parents in the nudist colony. I would ask my mom to describe who was giving off the lovely scents, and it was usually younger women. I knew I was experiencing pheromones at that point, and Jenifer had good ones, but I couldn’t start a conversation with that topic. It was too embarrassing. My mother had often teased me when I blushed, so I knew the sighted could tell when I was embarrassed. I never took offense to my mother’s playful teasing, but it opened up another door of anxiety I didn’t need.

“Oh, what a gorgeous loblolly pine,” whispered an enchanting voice from the back seat.

It was the first thing Jenifer said since we started the one-hour drive to Camp True Touch, and the sound of her voice made the hairs on my neck stand up a little.

“Wow, it’s huge! It looks like a giant,” Betty added, jumping right into the conversation. “Do you like trees, Jenifer?” she pressed.

“I do. I brought my field guide so I can identify the ones around the cabin,” she whispered.

Her speaking voice was low even to my sensitive ears. I often spoke softly to avoid unwanted attention. I thought it was sweet that she did it too. Then I wondered why she did it. That was another topic I wouldn’t dare bring up. Starting a conversation with a stranger was absurdly difficult.

“Wonderful, perhaps you can take Cory with you when you go out. You’ll be in the cabin connected to his, so you’ll be close to someone you’ve met already,” Betty explained.

My stomach sank at that revelation. I didn’t like being randomly offered up for companionship.

“Uh, Betty, I wouldn’t be much help identifying trees,” I noted.

“That’s not true. You have a keen sense of touch. I bet you could identify every tree in the forest just by touching the bark after Jenifer tells you what it is. I would seriously put money on it.”

I smiled at Betty’s enthusiasm. She was a smart and crafty woman. I wouldn’t tolerate her prying into my emotions otherwise, and I couldn’t turn down an easy challenge.

“Okay, you win. I accept the challenge if Jenifer is willing to tolerate my presence on one of her outings,” I offered.

I really liked saying her name, and I was excited to be participating in the conversation, but the silence from the backseat left me nervous. I just put Jenifer on the spot like an inconsiderate dolt. I hated it when my parents did that to me, and I turned around and did it to someone else.

“Okay,” whispered her pleasant voice from the backseat, melting my anxiety for the moment and making me smile, but my anxiety doubled when I realize I had just committed myself to a naked date. Doctor Betty was a crafty woman indeed.

Part 2. The Back Seat

Jenifer’s Perspective:

The moment I got into Doctor Betty’s car, I wanted to call the whole thing off. It happened every time I tried to do anything new that involved people seeing me. I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths, attempting to calm the anxiety before it could turn my stomach sick. I knew Betty was watching me in the rearview mirror, calculating when I would lose my breakfast to the floorboard. My anxiety medication would have been helpful at that moment, but Betty took me off of it a month before my trip to Camp True Touch. She didn’t want me numb for my first nudist experience. God, why did I agree to try Nude Touch Therapy? What in hell convinced me to say yes? I was in a terrible car accident when I was twelve. It left me disfigured. The right side of my body had been burned, including parts of my face and hair. My right breast was gone, and most of my right ear was destroyed. I’ve had countless reconstructive surgeries to smooth out the damage, and I had more surgeries scheduled in the future. I knew I looked shocking, and I hated to subject people to my presence when I didn’t have to. My self-loathing was interrupted by the most beautiful pine tree I had ever seen. I spotted it out of the car window as we drove over a hill.

“Oh, what a gorgeous loblolly pine,” I whispered in amazement.

It was absolutely massive. It towered over the forest like an ancient king. That’s why I had agreed to the therapy. My love of nature encouraged my boldness, not to mention the high success rate of the program. My mom also offered to buy me a car if I could last an entire week at the camp. She was desperate to see my mood improve.

“Wow, it’s huge! It looks like a giant,” Betty added, reminding me that I had spoken out loud. “Do you like trees, Jenifer?”

“I do. I brought my field guide so I can identify the ones around the cabin,” I whispered while looking between Betty and Cory in the front seat.

Cory was blind and quiet like me, apparently. He had dark hair that was short and a little messy. Betty didn’t tell me much about him. She simply said he struggled with anxiety as I do. I didn’t understand how. He looked pretty normal, but I couldn’t judge what it was like to be blind. I assumed it had to be scary for him.

“Wonderful, perhaps you can take Cory with you when you go out. You’ll be in the cabin connected to his, so you’ll be close to someone you’ve met already,” Betty explained.

My anxiety flared up after that suggestion. Socializing made me extremely nervous.

“Uh, Betty,” Cory began, sounding insecure, “I wouldn’t be much help identifying trees.”

“That’s not true. You have a keen sense of touch. I bet you could identify every tree in the forest just by touching the bark after Jenifer tells you what it is. I would seriously put money on it.”

I watched the side of Cory’s face as he smiled at her comment. He kept his head and eyes down almost constantly. I suddenly felt sad for him. He couldn’t see all the beautiful trees around us.

“Okay, you win,” he said a second later. “I accept the challenge if Jenifer is willing to tolerate my presence on one of her outings.”

I was stunned he had agreed to it. The thought of spending time with a stranger scared me, but Cory was an exception. I didn’t have to worry about him staring at me in disgust.

“Okay,” I agreed, hoping I wouldn’t regret it later, but I instantly did. I hated making commitments that required me to socialize.

We arrived at the cabins around noon. Betty helped us settle in and answered all our questions. Our duplex cabin was on the west side of the grounds and fairly isolated from the rest of the visitors. A gorgeous valley lay between the oaks and pines that allowed a view of the sunset. A small pond shaded by a willow tree was less than a hundred feet from our front doors. The simple cabin rooms had everything a person would need to be comfortable alone for extended periods of time. There was a bathroom with a shower and tub and a mini-kitchen with a refrigerator and microwave. Our meals would be delivered, so we didn’t have to worry about starving. Betty helped Cory familiarize himself with his room and the yard, then she gave us each a digital tablet that would guide us through our Nude Touch Therapy sessions. The sessions started early the next morning, giving me plenty of time to dread every aspect of it.

Part 3. Camp True Touch

Cory’s Perspective:

After a lousy night’s sleep in my new cabin apartment, an aromatic breakfast arrived at my door. A BLT sandwich, buttery hash browns, fresh fruit, and some hot coffee added flavor to my morning. Then I stepped onto the front porch to enjoy the cool air on my naked skin. I had missed that wonderful sensation. I relaxed in the cushy patio chair to feel, hear, and smell the waking world since it was my favorite time of day. The ‘dawn chorus’ of the birds had begun. It was a phenomenon that I was keenly aware of. Birds sing throughout the day, but in the cool stillness of the morning, their songs are louder and more energetic. Sound travels better in cool temperatures and the calm air currents of dawn. The birds and I enjoyed it together.

My nude basking was interrupted by the soft squeak of a door hinge to my right. Jenifer was awake and stepping onto her side of the porch to observe the morning. I gulped nervously and listened to her movements. The thought of her seeing me naked unsettled me more than I anticipated. In the past, being nude in front of women didn’t bother me at all. Why was it different with Jenifer?

I heard her soft steps hurry back into her cabin, and I knew she had observed me. I suddenly laughed. Either my skinny body scared her off, or she was instinctively retreating from my presence because she forgot I was blind. I assumed she was nude by that point. It was against camp rules to wear clothes once you were officially settled in, and no one else was supposed to be close enough to observe us. I figured I would be considerate and ask if she was alright.

“Uh, Jenifer, is everything alright?” I called, knowing she could hear me through the screen door. She hadn’t closed her inner door after her hasty retreat.

“Um, yes. I’m okay,” she called softly.

Her raised voice sounded like a normal speaking voice. Her quiet meekness made me smile again. My new neighbor was apparently a mouse.

“You can join me if you want,” I offered, even though I enjoyed my solitude. I didn’t want to be rude to a neighbor. My parents taught me better than that.

“Oh, right… thanks,” she sighed and took a deep breath.

I heard the door handle shuffle as she placed her hand on it. She was taking her time, hyping herself up to step onto the porch again. The poor girl was seriously nervous about being naked in a blind man’s presence, and it broke my heart a little. Her anxiety was apparently ten times worse than mine. I listened as she took another deep breath and pushed the door open. She stepped onto the porch and hesitated. I knew she was observing me again, but I didn’t feel embarrassed anymore. I was anxious for her to overcome her fear. I wanted her to be comfortable so she could enjoy the morning too. It would upset me for the rest of the day, knowing she was upset. My excess of empathy had sprung to the surface, and I was determined to put Jenifer at ease if I could. That was my first challenge of the morning.

“Thanks for joining me. I was feeling a bit lonely. Would you like to sit down?” I offered as I patted the cushioned seat that was attached to mine.

I had discovered the double chairs yesterday evening. Betty helped me build a touch map of my surroundings before she left. I took my cane all over my new apartment, the porch, most of the yard, and around the pond twice to get a feel for things.

“Sure, thank you,” Jenifer whispered and carefully sat down.

I could tell she was a small person by how little her weight disturbed the double chairs. Had my dad sat down, he would have knocked the wicker chairs six inches back in his wake. He was a hefty guy. I smiled as I thought about my dad. I missed him and my mom already, but I lost my train of thought when Jenifer’s amazing smell filled my nostrils. Her scent was ten times better without Doctor Betty’s perfume overpowering it.

“So, what trees are around us? I know there’s a willow tree by the pond. I got tangled in its tendrils yesterday.”

She chuckled softly and took a deep breath. It sounded more relaxed.

“I see pines, oaks, maples, hickories, blackgum, sweetgum, wild cherry, a dogwood, and some cherry blossom trees on the edge of the lawn.”

“Wow, that’s a lot. Um, which is your favorite?”

“The water oak,” she said thoughtfully.

The way she said it made me think she was talking about an old friend, not a tree.

“Why is that tree your favorite?” I asked.

“Um, I love climbing them. There were two big water oaks in my backyard when I was a kid. The one to the right of the back porch was the biggest and easiest to climb. If my parents couldn’t find me, they knew to look in that tree. I spent countless hours climbing and sitting in the branches. I built a platform between its biggest bows one summer so I could lay down and stare at the clouds through the canopy. I loved hearing and feeling the wind blow through the leaves around me. It was almost magical.”

My heart felt light as I listened to her reflect on the fond memories. The idea of climbing a tree was scary to me, but hearing her talk about it made me want to try it.

“I love the sound of wind blowing through leaves. It’s more enchanting than the roar of the ocean. Don’t get me wrong, they’re both pretty amazing sounds, but I prefer to sit under a tree and smell the forest. It smells alive.”

“How so?” she asked curiously.

“Well, I can smell the earth breathing,” I blurted before I realized how dumb that sounded.

“You can? What does that smell like? How does the earth breathe?” she asked in fascination.

“Um, I think the smell is water transpiration from plants. On hot summer days, when the air is still, I can walk near a big tree and the most amazing scent will be in the air. It smells like life itself. I just want to stand there and inhale for hours. It doesn’t always happen. The conditions have to be just right. I researched what might cause the smell, and transpiration seemed logical.”

“I think I know what you’re talking about. I’ve smelled something like that before in the summer. I didn’t realize it was plant breath. We’ll have to try and find the smell when we’re exploring trees later,” she suggested.


We were making plans to hang out together, and I liked it. It felt natural. How did that happen so fast? Suddenly, chiming noises within our cabins alerted us to our first therapy session. We each had a therapy tablet gifted to us by Betty.

“Hmm, I didn’t realize our sessions would start this early. I guess I’ll talk to you later, Jenifer. Good luck,” I said and climbed out of my comfy chair.

“Good luck to you too, Cory. Do you need help with anything?” she offered before I could escape.

“I’m good. Betty helped me discover the lay of the land. I’m pretty capable once I know all the trip hazards. Thanks for asking.”

“You’re welcome. I’ll talk to you later,” she said and escaped back into her cabin.

I searched my backpack and found my wireless earbud. With that in my ear, no one else could hear my tablet instructions.

“Good morning, Cory,” spoke the female electronic voice. It reminded me of Betty. “Collect your cane and report to the blanket under the willow tree by the pond. Once you have located your therapy partner there, tap the screen twice for your next instruction.”

“That’s easy enough,” I sighed and grabbed my cane.

I casually strolled across the lawn towards the pond, counting my steps and swiping the grass. The willow greeted me with gentle strokes to my face as I stepped under its canopy and tapped the blanket. Then I smelled Jenifer. She was my touch therapy partner. I smiled big and shook my head. I felt like a complete idiot for not realizing Betty had planned that all along. She never even hinted at it. She spoke like we would be meeting strangers.

“Hello again, Jenifer,” I chuckled.

“Hey, Cory. How did you know I was here?” she asked softly.

“Your smell,” I confessed and carefully sat on the edge of the blanket, placing my tablet beside my leg.

“My smell?” she asked in surprise. “Is it… bad?”

“Not at all. You smell wonderful.”

I felt my face burning after that comment. I knew I was blushing, and that realization reawakened nervous fluttering in my stomach.

“Oh, thank you,” she whispered.

“Well… let’s get started,” I announced and tapped my tablet screen twice. “Let’s see… the electronic voice says to sit and face my partner and don’t speak while we hold our hands together for two minutes.”

“Mine said that too,” Jenifer agreed.

“It said it? You didn’t read it?” I asked in confusion.

“I’m wearing an earbud like you. I’m also blindfolded. I was instructed to do that after I placed the blanket on the grass,” she explained.

“Oh… why?” I asked in confusion.

“The instructions said it will give us a similar therapy experience.”

“Well heck, that makes sense,” I said in approval. It was also a big relief. “Shall we begin?” I asked and held up my hands.

“Okay,” she said softly.

I listened as she shuffled on the blanket. She stopped when her knee bumped into mine. I smiled from the accidental touch. She quickly readjusted so our knees wouldn’t touch. She was still very close. I could feel her warmth and smell her delicious scent. Then she fumbled for my hands and bumped my forearms instead. She was a clumsy blind person. I’m glad she couldn’t see the silly grin on my face. Once we had our palms together. I told the tablet to start the timer. Then we sat in peaceful silence. The first thing I noticed was how incredibly soft and warm her small hands were. Each hand felt different. The skin on her right hand felt extremely smooth and had unfamiliar ridges. Her left hand felt normal and a little sweaty like mine. Her breathing was a comforting sound, and it allowed me to smell her sweet breath. I was beginning to think she couldn’t smell bad if she tried.