A federal judge said Tuesday that a new Virginia law requiring parental supervision at a nudist camp for kids does not violate parents’ rights to raise their children as they see fit.
Organizers of the camp at White Tail Park in Ivor surrendered their permit to operate this summer’s camp, making their lawsuit moot, U.S. District Judge Richard L. Williams said.
“There is no controversy before the court,” Williams said in dismissing the lawsuit.
Rebecca Glenberg, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said Williams’ ruling likely will be appealed.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit in June on behalf of White Tail and the American Association of Nude Recreation-East, claiming the law requiring a parent, grandparent or legal guardian to accompany each summer camp participant violates the right to privacy.
Virginia’s General Assembly passed the law in response to last summer’s weeklong residential camp for 11- to 18-year-olds at White Tail — the first camp for nude juveniles in Virginia and only the third in the nation, according to its sponsors.
The law took effect July 1, prompting camp organizers to move this year’s event to another undisclosed state. The law denies a state license to “any hotel, summer camp or campground ... that maintains, or conducts as any part of its activities, a nudist camp for juveniles” who are not accompanied by a parent, grandparent or legal guardian.
AG underscores state's ‘absolute responsibility’
“Virginia has an absolute responsibility to see to the safety of its citizens, particularly its children,” said Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore. “We know that pedophiles tend to congregate where children are accessible ... and we just think this law is common sense.”
Glenberg disagreed with Williams’ conclusion that the lawsuit was moot, saying the camp organizers want to conduct the event at White Tail Park again in 2005. But she said some parents who want to send their children to the camp are unable to attend themselves, leaving too few participants to make the event practical.
“If there were a law requiring a parent to accompany every child to Boy Scout or Girl Scout camp, you can see what a burden that would be,” Glenberg said.
Although the camp for children opened only last year, White Tail opened in southeastern Virginia in 1984. About 1,200 nudists are there at any one time, including about 30 families who live there all year. Visitors undergo background checks, and the camp has strict rules against lewd, lustful or lascivious conduct.