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Parents upset after nudity allegations at Palawopec Camp “sweat lodge”

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Some local parents are outraged after their children told them they had to undress at summer camp, as part of a “sweat lodge” ceremony.

The parents claim it happened at Camp Palawopec, in Brown County near Nashville.

One woman, named Beth, told Fox59 that her 9-year-old daughter attended the camp last summer. Beth said her daughter told her about the incident a few months ago, leading Beth and her family to call the authorities.

“When she arrived at the teepee, that’s when they asked her to disrobe,” Beth said.

“That’s not appropriate for someone to be sitting naked with a 9-year-old,” said another woman who said her daughter told her the same story.

Also upsetting to Beth was the potentially dangerous heat.

“It was on all the registration sheets that she’s extremely susceptible to heat,” Beth said. “So to find out they put her in a sweat lodge with burning coals, she said ‘Mom, I could only stand it for one minute.’”

Fox59 went to the camp director for answers. He claims kids are only allowed in the sweat lodge for 10 minutes as part of an optional activity, teaching the kids about Native American culture.

“It is nowhere on (their) web site,” Beth said. “I wouldn’t have sent my daughter there.”

Authorities told Beth there was no evidence of a crime.

“We looked through all the potential sex crimes, and didn’t find anything that fit,” said Brown Co. prosecutor Jim Oliver.

The camp director tells Fox59 that if there was any nudity involved, it would be a surprise to him.

“There’s nothing they can do because there’s no law against that, because she wasn’t touched,” Beth said. “I’m just furious I trusted these people with my child. They endangered my child. They made my child get naked in front of several other people. She wasn’t comfortable doing that.”

“If it was something that happened, and I’m not saying it was, it was an aberration, not something we promote or condone or anything like that,” said camp director Mike Nickels, who was not available for further comment.

The Department of Child Services told Fox59 they also received a complaint about the camp, but could not elaborate on the details of that complaint.