Nonprofit group hopes to teach children to abstain from having sex

June 23, 1994|By Dana Hedgpeth | Dana Hedgpeth,Sun Staff Writer

Rose Brown read the message in her daughter's yearbook and became uneasy.

One of the 12-year-old's classmates had written, "Have an awesome summer and fall in love with some hot guy."

That note led Mrs. Brown to put her family on the list of those who will attend "A Night to Remember," a program about teaching children to abstain from having sex.

"A 12-year-old doesn't know what love is about," said Mrs. Brown, a mother of three. "Seeing that in her yearbook pressed the issue with me that children need to know how to respond to sexual feelings and [know] that their bodies are theirs to control."

Camp Blaze, a nonprofit organization in Anne Arundel County, will sponsor the program, scheduled for 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. July 9 at the Holiday Inn of Annapolis. The group also sponsors other family programs.

The event, to be set up like a wedding, will feature dinner and dancing. Mary Rose, a Republican candidate for the state Senate, will be matron of honor, and Dr. Alan Keyes will serve as best man. Both will give speeches on commitment.

"Most kids don't get invited to a wedding, so they don't know what they're waiting for when they are told to abstain from sex," said Cheryl Carnwath, vice president of Camp Blaze. "We want to take the positive wedding approach of having mom and dad involved to remind them of what a commitment to someone means."

Teen and family counselors from support groups such as Teen Choice and Love and Action in Annapolis will be on hand before dinner, handing out pamphlets, videos and giving advice on how parents and children can talk about sex, Mrs. Carnwath said.

"Society keeps pumping that it's OK to do what feels right," said Stacey Vandehey, a Camp Blaze assistant. "Young adults need to know the other alternative to safe sex is abstinence . . . and that's the safest thing out there.

"You can't get pregnant, you can't get any diseases, and you don't go through the emotional trauma after having sex and then breaking off the relations with the person," she said.

During the ceremony, all of the adults will give their children a piece of jewelry engraved with the child's initial and the date or a message to symbolize the child's commitment not to have sex until marriage. Adults will promise to help the child and to listen to the child's problems at any time.

"Many parents don't want to think that their little ones are even thinking about boys or girls in a sexual way," said Mrs. Brown, a personnel specialist for the U.S. Postal Service. "They don't want to face reality that many 12- and 13-year-olds are as developed as 18- and 19-year-old women.

"My daughter needs to know how to handle herself and that she has choices to not do any activity she doesn't feel comfortable doing."

Tickets for "A Night to Remember" are $50 for a family of three, $20 each for singles. Reservations are required by June 30. Write to Camp Blaze Inc., 538 Norton Lane, Arnold, Md. 21012, or call (410) 974-0026.

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