Santa Camp, where all Santas are welcome

Santa Camp is real, and it's where all Santas are welcome. The HBO Max documentary, which debuted in November, chronicles the laughter and tears inside New Hampshire's Santa Camp, where Santas, Mrs. Clauses, and Elves all learn how to be their best selves.

From The Independent:

When British filmmaker Nick Sweeney discovered New Hampshire's Santa Camp, he felt almost like a kid on Christmas morning.

"I heard about this actual summer camp for Santa Clauses, where Santas from all over the place get together, sleep in bunk beds, go swimming in a lake, like sit around a campfire … and I just thought, 'Oh my God, I can't believe that this exists. How has nobody done a documentary on this? This is so surreal and absurd,'" he told The Independent in an interview last week."

While we can all get behind the eye-candy images of a red-and-white-striped-longjohn-clad Santa doing cannonballs into a New Hampshire lake, there's more to this heartwarming story–Santa Camp is challenging Santa norms and disrupting strictures of Santa representation. Again, The Independent:

The story that Santa Camp…tells is a fun, good-natured tale of the camp's history and attendees. It unpacks how the camp is evolving with the changing times, particularly as communities diversify and create a demand for Santas that reflect those identities.

When Mr. Sweeney first started speaking with the organizers, he found that "they were starting to have these discussions around diversity and representation … these discussions that were happening all over America – and they were also having more and more requests for Santas from different backgrounds from their clients and customers."

Mr. Sweeney says that when he "heard all of these things, I was just kind of like, 'Wow, not only is this visually completely wild and surreal, but on top of that they're actually dealing with these bigger issues – but they're all dressed as Clauses.'"

Santa Camp follows a Black Santa, a disabled Santa, and a transgender Santa on their journeys into what has historically been a space populated by older, white, cis-het, non-disabled males. Check out the trailer, and be prepared to re-think what it means to be Santa.