Naturism and social outreach
Of the places listed in this article, only one is fully clothing-optional and welcomes all naturists: Valley View Hot Springs, which is owned and operated by the Orient Land Trust. However, because of its deserved popularity with naturists and limited facilities, reservations are required for a visit. There’s more information here.
Three other places welcome all naturists, but clothing-optional use is disallowed in some pools or during certain times or days. (As a concession to non-naturists, especially those with children.) Those places are Orvis Hot Springs (more here), Strawberry Park Hot Springs (more here), and Dakota Hot Springs (more here). Note that rules are subject to change.
Two other places may be problematic for naturists. Indian Hot Springs requires suits in its main indoor pool. Other pools are either hourly rentals or inside caves and separate for men and women. Naturists may want to avoid one other place, Desert Reef Hot Springs, because of its numerous finicky policies for clothing-optional use, where non-member single, unaccompanied males are disallowed.
One other place listed is a full-fledged naturist resort, Mountain Air Ranch, which is the state’s only actual naturist resort. It was established in 1935, making it one of the oldest naturist parks in the country that’s still in operation. But it doesn’t have any natural hot springs. Here’s another article about it: Mountain Air Ranch Lays Bare the Benefits, Challenges of a Nudism Club.
Hot springs that may be clothing-optional, in order of accessibility
Hot springs probably not clothing-optional, in order of accessibility
Mountain Air Ranch, which was mentioned above, is the only naturist resort in Colorado, but it’s a very good one, having been in operation since 1935. About it this article says: “the clubhouse and pool are where most of the recreational activities take place, but there’s also an exercise room, miles of trails, an ice cream parlor, as well as the Bikini Bar and Grill.”
The only problem with it, perhaps, is that it’s located on the southern outskirts of Denver. However, most of the developed and primitive hot springs discussed above are in the western part of the state, so a trek over the mountains will be required to visit them. The most accessible developed springs is Dakota Hot Springs in Penrose, “only” 100 miles south, but on mostly good roads on the east side of the mountains.
Steves describes his spa experience in some detail. It includes an initial “industrial-strength” shower, a very hot sauna. a very vigorous massage, a series of mixed-gender soaking pools, and concludes in a “quiet room” for deep relaxation. All while entirely naked. Even up-tight Americans present can realize that any kind of bathing attire would be entirely superfluous. After all, everyone is preoccupied with their own sensations rather than anyone else’s naked body. Wearing anything when bathing alone would make no sense. And that’s just the same in this context, despite the presence of others.
Anyone who hasn’t tried naturism, but isn’t “offended” by others’ nudity – such as at clothing-optional beaches – should consider visiting an actual naturist resort that welcomes RVs. That’s a great way to learn about naturism in a very safe environment. If you’re already a naturist, invite other RVers you know to go with you to a naturist RV resort. They might discover being pleasantly surprised to enjoy “the opportunity to exit [their] RV without any clothes on.” And why not? After all, people there usually aren’t wearing anything.
Most clothing-optional RV resorts aren’t strictly for RVers. Instead, they also welcome anyone who enjoys nonsexual social nudity – day visitors, tent campers, van campers, or vacationers staying at indoor accommodations. Many consider themselves naturists or nudists. But some just like being naked, and that’s fine, as long as traditional naturist norms are respected (i.e. no open sexuality).
The article here gives many more details about what naturist RV resorts are like, although there’s plenty of diversity. But if you’ve visited some or many RV resorts, the only thing different about the naturist ones is that you don’t need to wear anything unless you want to. A naturist couple now living at Laguna del Sol, near Sacramento, California, describes their own personal experiences with it. From my own experience, it’s a great place.
Note that many places that do own land don’t necessarily have facilities for RVs. They may lack hook-ups or parking spaces for large RVs. If you do need such facilities, the list here is useful. But you can check out places that may be closer to you in the AANR directory to determine whether they’d be suitable for your needs.
Strangely, most places listed in the article are in the western half of the country (including Texas). Not surprisingly, Florida has a large number of nudist/naturist resorts, though only 3 are listed here. But there are also many places in the mid-Atlantic states, from North Carolina up to Pennsylvania. If you happen to be relatively new to naturism, you should be aware that some places have special requirements for first-time visitors. Before visiting any place for the first time, calling in advance is a very good idea. Even if they welcome first-timers, they may have special events or few unreserved spots for large RVs, so making a reservation is also a good idea.
Sian, one of the 2000, says “there is a uniquely liberating high in group nudity”. Why would anybody who’s not stoned on some illegal substance do such a thing? She later explains “we’re free and doing something silly in the name of art and something primal none of us could name.” Naturists actually understand pretty well from personal experience. Most, however, would prefer having the experience under more temperate conditions.
People use various faulty excuses for balking at being fully naked unless they must be. One very common concern is the appearance of their naked body. Cultural “beauty” standards are at the root of this. Is one’s body too fat or too thin? Are some parts out of the “right” proportion with other parts? Are there too many wrinkles, scars, stretch marks, or other imperfections? Does one’s body simply not look as “good” as it seemed at an earlier age? These issues affect how people feel about their own bodies and how they think others will judge them.
The article here suggests how to alleviate such concerns by taking four specific steps.
However, at least a decade later, her boyfriend was talking about how he modeled naked for a college newspaper article. He and other friends had also bragged about adventures like skiing and mountain biking naked, and the writer admired them for being “less inhibited, so comfortable in their own skin.” So allowing irrational fears of nudity to be in control seemed wrong, and she resolved to become “one of those naked people”.
It needn’t happen overnight. For most people, becoming comfortable going naked openly may best be done gradually. “A lifetime of prudishness would not be undone overnight.” So, with her boyfriend, it was agreed that “I should design a training plan of sorts, progressing from a beginner-level warm-up (bathe in a nude hot spring?) to some intermediate challenge (wander around unclad at a clothing-optional resort?) and eventually to a graduation exercise (a naked ski or bike ride?). I would become one of those people I had always admired. I would become someone who does naked stuff outside.”
Bonus from earlier:
How To Feel Comfortable Naked Every Day (6/26/16)
A couple of the articles above address getting used to allowing other people, who may be complete strangers, to see you naked. There are many ways to enjoy naturism – camping, hiking, exploring hot springs, visiting naturist resorts, or simply being naked at home. But you won’t be able to enjoy any of that unless you overcome fears of being seen with nothing on.
If you’re naked around friends or relatives there’s not much to be concerned about – provided they’re willing to accept your nudity. Getting used to you wearing nothing may take time, but they’ll come around soon enough if they respect you and you explain your reasons for being naked. Being naked around strangers needn’t be any different, assuming they expect to see nudity, such as in an art class with nude model(s), in a naked yoga class, or at a nude beach. (Obviously, going naked is risky anywhere nudity isn’t expected, although nudity may be legal and possibly OK in little-used hiking and camping places.)
[Tip 1: If someone you know is uncomfortable with your nudity, try wearing just the minimum they can accept. Before long they may relent and decide you needn’t bother wearing anything.]
[Tip 2: Invite the uncomfortable person to accompany you somewhere nudity is acceptable, such as an art class or nude beach. If your nudity’s OK there, why not somewhere more private?]
Two points from this article are worth noting if you’re the one who wants to be comfortable naked. First, you should fully accept your body just as it is. While “improving” it sometimes is possible, or even worthwhile for health reasons, that’s usually difficult and takes time. But if you want to enjoy nudity, don’t put off accepting your body as it is right now.
Second, the best way to do that is to be naked as much of the time as is physically comfortable while you’re alone or with people who won’t mind. Be naked for an hour or more every day that’s possible. And don’t be afraid to look at your naked body in a mirror. Once you’ve been naked for an hour a few times, why stop without a good reason? As the article says, “You may feel uncomfortable at first (or you may love it!), either way step outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself to bare your body to the world.”
[If you’re already comfortable being naked, offer the advice above to others you know who might be interested. The world desperately needs more naked people.]
Arizona, of course, is a large state with many wide-open spaces and much natural beauty. (It also has a reputation for valuing individual freedom.) The Grand Canyon is certainly its best-known natural attraction. Price has “done 11 trips in the Grand Canyon – with as many as 35 other nudists each trip – since 1999.” The trips include rafting and camping at suitable beaches along the river – fully nude. Non-naturists who choose to camp close to a naturist group are “pragmatic” and Price’s policy is “I don’t ask them to take their clothes off if they don’t require that I put mine on.”
This sort of free-range naturism can also include “free hiking” on any of the numerous trails in the state, skinny-dipping in creeks and streams, or houseboating on Lake Powell. Price considers such possibilities to be impromptu nude “beaches”. Currently recognized actual nude beaches have begun when nude use becomes common enough. Unless there are specific local regulations, nudity is usually legal in most U.S. National Forests and Bureau of Land Management areas – such as the Magic Circle (also in Arizona). If you don’t live in Arizona, check out your closest National Forest to find a place for your own personal “nude beach”. (First read about naked car camping.)
If you’ve already enjoyed naked car camping, you might sometimes want to enjoy the outdoors nakedly, but not “roughing it” without homelike amenities (comfortable beds, electricity, wi-fi, etc). You may therefore be considering purchasing or renting an RV or trailer. If so this article will help you know what to expect.
An RV/trailer owner having little or no experience with naturist camps and resorts may want to know what they’re really like, both in terms of facilities and general ambiance. This article provides a better idea about such places, especially the more upscale ones. Some are probably even more luxurious than non-naturist places, with things like swimming pools, spas, tennis courts, gyms, and even decent restaurants.
There’s yet another possibility, variously known as “boondocking” or “dispersed camping”. This is where you park your RV or trailer in a location remote or secluded enough to allow for nudity. There are even online directories like Boondocking.org that provide advice on known sites. In this case, there are no amenities, so you have to rely on just what’s in your rig. A slight variation on that is private properties – especially farms – that allow parking for a modest fee. They may or may not have hookups for water or electricity. And, of course, you’d have to confirm that nudity is OK with the owner. The next article offers one example.
Here’s an excellent example of a naturist campground on a private farm. Such things may be more common in the UK and some other European countries than in the U.S. They tend to be fairly simple and unpretentious, since they’re usually run by people who own a relatively small farm and have typically been naturists for years. There will be, at least, places to park an RV or trailer. There may also be hookups for water and electricity, and possibly showers and toilets too. Of course, the more amenities the higher the price. But that’s going to be considerably less than at a more developed campground. Since the hosts are usually naturists, they and their families may welcome socializing with visitors. Many or most family members may be naturists too.
The Wood family – Colin, Carol, and their daughter Angie – have been naturists for over 40 years. When Angie was only two the family visited a nude beach for the first time. They found the naturists there quite welcoming and friendly. They checked out various naturist groups around the country and found the people equally amiable. So why not go all in, and start their own naturist camp? That dream was fulfilled in 2000 when they established Candy Farm Campsite at their farm near Blaxton in the UK. The camp was a quick success because of all the naturist friends they’d made over the years. It remains popular, and a number of special naturist gatherings and festivals have been held at Candy Farm.
The bit about “daft things people say” simply refers to the misunderstandings and misconceptions most people who’ve never tried naturism have about it.
Owners of small farms who may be naturists themselves are happy for a source of additional income and the opportunity (if they’re naturists) to meet others who enjoy social nudity. The main problem is just finding one, since they’re generally not affiliated with a naturist organization or listed in a typical directory. Perhaps the best way to find such a place is to ask around at traditional naturist clubs and resorts. Another way is through websites such as Sekr that list a plethora of potential choices. But determining which of those welcome naturists may require a phone call.
Amanda, the writer of this article, was invited by a female friend to accompany her on a visit to a nude farm in Wisconsin the friend frequented. Although Amanda expected that being naked among strangers usually meant sex, her friend assured her that the Toadally Natural Garden was absolutely not such a place. In fact, the owners performed background checks as do most naturist places on new visitors. And the owners themselves that afternoon wore only T-shirts, while most other visitors wore less. So with respect to attire, this could have been any typical naturist place. Summarizing her experience, Amanda wrote: “I was surprised at how relaxed I was naked around so many strangers. Everyone had been so friendly, and I felt less self-conscious chatting with them without any clothes on than I often did when I was clothed.”
The article lists 8 German campgrounds to consider – just a small selection out of many, but presumably worthy of recommendation. Of course, you’ll have to rent a campervan over there, but a link for arranging the rental online is provided (and includes means for choosing and reserving a particular campground in Germany and other European countries). The same site also has pages for naturism camping in France and Croatia – where naturism is also popular. So you’re in luck if you enjoy traveling but are discouraged by the limited options in the U.S. for naked camping.
In the article, Barbara admits “All my life I’ve loved the feel of swirling water against bare skin.” Hot springs are the perfect place for that. The water’s never too cold, so if it’s not too hot (over 104°F) you can stay in it as long as you want. They’re often located in places of great natural beauty. And others at the clothing-optional places simply couldn’t care less if you’re naked.
Barbara does offer some good advice about hot springs etiquette. To paraphrase: (1) If others don’t share your preference to be naked, don’t hold it against them. (2) Look others in the eye when speaking to them. (3) Don’t feel too uneasy if others have body “enhancements” like unusual piercings or outre tattoos. (4) You might enjoy alternating between the hot springs and cold water plunges (if available).
Generally, in most remote places on U.S. National Forest or BLM property, there are no Federal rules against nudity. As the article says, “The law is vague. Agencies that oversee public hot springs — the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management — have no blanket prohibition of nudity, yet they often defer to state and county codes.” So do some research to determine the legal situation with local county or state laws that apply.
Even if the legal situation is unclear, the article notes that “in the backcountry, far from policemen with better things to do, such laws are rarely enforced.” Your best bet is to seek advice from naturists who know the general area and have ample experience with backcountry nudity. Others who venture into areas off the beaten path usually have little or no problem with nudity. But there can always be exceptions from unexpectedly irate prudes, so be prepared for abusive comments (or worse), and keep some sort of cover-up close by.
Here are four more stories about hot spring skinny-dipping: (1) How I Found the Courage to Skinny Dip with Two Friends…and a Stranger, (2) Naked with Friends (Part 1), (3) First Time Skinny Dippers, (4) How a Visit to Nude Hot Springs Helped Me Confront My Fear of Aging
Since Laura had no significant negative attitude towards simple nudity, it’s unsurprising she wasn’t that leery of giving it a try at British Naturism’s Sunfolk facility. Even so, she admits having “much pre-stripping nervousness” before arriving. This is very common and normal even for people who are comfortable being naked at home but haven’t yet visited an actual naturist camp or resort. The fear is that the management and frequent visitors will be less than fully welcoming to new visitors. At most contemporary naturist places, the fear is entirely unjustified – but who’s confident of that ahead of the first visit?
Once inside the facility, some uncertainties remained. Laura wondered “Why am I doing this?! What is my mum going to think of the pictures in the paper?! I’m sure this was never in the lifeplan she never actually created for me.” [Laura’s a newspaper reporter and expected to document her story with pictures.] But once those concerns dissipated and the clothes were off, she could “walk across the grass and I feel about as self-conscious as I would if I had a bikini on. Except I don’t.” And when the time came to get dressed before leaving, “it’s with a surprising degree of reluctance.”
If only more people who’ve enjoyed nudity only by themselves at home or in a secluded place outdoors could realize that naturist social nudity with others is just as easy – and even better.
Vermont has no landed or non-landed naturist clubs affiliated with AANR, and only one non-landed club affiliated with TNSF. Besides that, the outdoor naturist season there is short. Nevertheless, Vermont residents tend to be liberal and open-minded, and there are a number of skinny-dipping places on public and private land. An especially popular one is the Punch Bowl, located in a wide place on the east side of the Mad River, near the town of Waitsfield (pop. 1844). Details can be found at SwimmingHoles.org in the Mad River section.
The Punch Bowl is on private land, and its owners intend to keep it open as a day-use public swimming hole. They’ve provided a parking area beside the main road, and there’s even a small picnic area. Clothing is very much optional at the Punch Bowl. Although skinny dippers can be seen from nearby trails, most trail users are fully aware of the status. In fact, the SwimmingHoles.org write-up notes that “Swimsuits are considered to be in poor taste here.”
Sierra, presumably a teenager and regular visitor at Lupin Lodge, on the outskirts of Silicon Valley near Los Gatos, CA, writes about both teenage angst and the benefits of social nudity to teens. She observes: “Many teenagers can’t even imagine having to be naked in front of other people at this point in their lives. They are self-conscious, prone to inconveniently timed bodily responses, or newly introduced to their menstrual cycle with no interest in wandering around with a visible string between their legs in addition to their other self-image issues.”
On the plus side for going naked, there are details most naturists understand. The benefits are both emotional and physical – especially for teenagers. There are health benefits for the immune system due to increased exposure to sunlight (vitamin D) and strengthened immunity due to contact with allergens and bacteria. The emotional benefits are at least as important. Becoming comfortable around others while naked increases body acceptance and decreases socially-acquired shame associated with naked bodies and all their parts. Most people are unfortunate not to receive the emotional benefits of nudity until later in life – if at all.
Bonus from earlier:
Naked Camping: How and Where to Embrace Nature in the Nude (4/12/19)
Several articles above go into various aspects of naturist camping, or simply enjoying natural places without clothes. There are very good reasons why “naturist” is a very apt term for people who enjoy nudity outdoors. According to this article, “Naked camping, or ‘naturist’ camping, might just be the way you roll in the morning when you’re sleeping outside. But more and more people are catching on to “naked camping” as an intentional way to feel closer to the great outdoors.” Hiking or camping naked isn’t just simpler if you don’t have to bother with clothes. An equally important benefit is dispensing with barriers between individuals and the natural world – barriers that are usually unavoidable in “normal” everyday life. Outdoor activities can be uncomfortable on hot days, but going naked allows for natural air conditioning.
This article touches on various aspects of enjoying camping and other outdoor activities without the encumbrance of clothing. Although nudity in/on hot springs, skinny-dipping spots, clothing-optional beaches, and hiking trails makes, a great deal of sense, such natural attractions are often located far from where most people live. Naturist clubs, resorts, and campgrounds are good options that may be more conveniently located, yet can (if they have sufficient natural open space) allow for the same enjoyment of being naked outdoors.
The site as a whole contains lots of useful camping information. The present article briefly covers several important aspects of going naked in nature. The list includes: (1) Why going naked helps to get closer to nature; (2) An overview of naturist clubs and campgrounds; (3) How to visit a naturist campground or beach, with a short list of specific advice; (4) A list of 10 outdoor naturist campgrounds – one is actually a hot springs – Valley View Hot Springs, in Colorado.
However, trends may eventually reverse when extremes are reached. In Europe, the “Romantic” writers lamented the increasing alienation of humans from the natural world. In the U.S., somewhat later, writers like Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau echoed those sentiments. Finally in Germany in 1894 Heinrich Pudor (using the pseudonym Heinrich Scham) openly advocated for naturism in a short tract entitled Naked People. It was optimistically subtitled “A triumph-shout of the future”. 9 years later, the first known nudist park, Freilichtpark, was opened in Germany by Paul Zimmerman.
After the First World War, nudism caught on in Germany, and (partly thanks to German tourists) in France later in the 1920s. Spielplatz opened in England in 1929 – and has operated continuously since then. Mussell traces the further evolution of nudism (and naturism) in the U.S. thanks to people like Kurt Barthel, Bernard MacFadden, and (especially) Ilsley Boone. Boone took over Barthel’s American League for Physical Culture in 1931 and renamed it The American Sunbathing Association. He also bought an existing property, Sunshine Park, in 1935 and located the ASA office there.
Boone was quite a controversial figure. He lost control of the ASA in 1951, and in 1994 it was renamed The American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR). The bulk of Mussell’s historical account goes into many details of the history of nudism/naturism in the U.S. in Boone’s time up to (almost) the present day.
Unfortunately, as Mussell writes, “At AANR, there has been a steady decline in membership over the past decade from a 50,000 peak in 1998 to under 30,000 in 2015.” The number of affiliated clubs has also dropped from a peak of 270 to about 180 currently. Mussell suggests, however, that “even as the number of “card-carrying” nudists may be getting smaller and grayer, nude recreation continues to grow as more people choose clothes-free vacations.” Naturists need to work harder to ensure this isn’t just wishful thinking.
Spielplatz, the British nudist club mentioned above, was established in 1929 by Charles Macaskie and his wife Dorothy near the village of Bricket Wood, about a 40-minute drive from central London. Although it covers only 12 acres, it has about 50 full-time residents and admits naturist visitors during the summer season. Although originally situated in a wooded area, there’s now a small suburban area east of it, and another naturist park, British Naturism’s Sunfolk, next door to the south. Spielplatz is the oldest surviving naturist place in England, and the only one having full-time residents.
The Macaskie’s daughter, Iseult Richardson, inherited the property and managed it until passing it on to her daughter, Beverly Kelly, Spielplatz’s current manager. The place has been a naturist park the entire time. Iseult’s autobiography, No Shadows Fall: The Story of Spielplatz, provides a very personal account of the park’s history. Iseult was born into nudism in 1932 and remained an enthusiast her whole life.
Spielplatz means “play place” in German, and there are many children’s playgrounds so named in Germany. Macaskie intended it to refer to somewhere people could live and enjoy recreation while completely naked. (Related articles here, here, here, here, here, here, here)
“Gymnosophy” was a more “polite” term for nudism – although it was based on the ancient Greek “γυμνός”, which simply meant naked. The initial name of the new club was the “Moonella Group”, supposedly a name associated with the owner of the land where the club met. Sunbeam soon replaced the earlier name to avoid inane puns. Much of the club’s history is unclear, but here’s a very good article based on later research. Apparently, the original location of the club was in use for only two years. Outside of Germany, it seems naturism didn’t really get much traction until after 1930 – when it got started even in the U.S. (by Kurt Barthel and other German expatriates).
With naturist friends, you can enjoy naked activities like camping, hiking, sports, parties, or just watching movies together. But will only one or two naturist friends be enough? They may not always be available when you want to go skinny-dipping, or perhaps none live close enough to visit with often. In general, the more naturist friends you have the better.
The good news is that every naturist friend you have, even if it’s only one or two, can help you find others. Your naturist friends probably know other naturists you’ve never met – so they can introduce you. Even if they don’t know other naturists you haven’t met they may have friends or relatives who aren’t naturists but know one or more other naturists. I’ve written in detail about how this works. Here’s a shorter article with good suggestions. And here’s another article of mine on the same subject.
A young New Zealander relates how she and a friend decided to be brave and try going naked on a local clothing-optional beach. Having a friend along helps with needed self-confidence, even if the friend doesn’t get naked. The result: both became comfortable being naked fairly soon. Although not all nude beaches (or other naturist environments) are devoid of people who don’t know proper naturist behavior, the best way to find out is to visit them. If the atmosphere doesn’t seem right, then just leave without getting naked. If all seems OK after surveying the situation, the best advice is just “Try it, you’ll like it!”
However, after dealing with all that, gathering together enough courage and actually visiting a naturist location like a nude beach, the result is: “That first time, and every time since then, when I get nude at the beach, the world doesn’t stop. The people around me just carry on with their lives, you’re just another nude body amongst a sea of people embracing themselves – flaws and all. People of all shapes and sizes boldly deciding to not be a prisoner to cultural programming that makes nudity out to be a sin, hyper-sexual, or something only reserved for people with movie screen bodies.”
Kelly then offers several pieces of advice that include: (1) Experience being naked at home; (2) Invite an open-minded friend to accompany you in a nude experience; (3) Proceed slowly, one step at a time; (4) Get to know experienced naturists for support and advice.
The writer, Ashley, visited a popular California hot springs with a friend who “felt a radical transformation in herself and her comfort within her own body” after a relatively early experience with social nudity. The friend explained: “It’s like anything—the more you do it, the easier it gets… Especially as women, we can feel guarded, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve also realized this body won’t be around forever. Why not enjoy it while it’s still there?”
Initially, Ashley (although still relatively young) feared going beyond simply topfree. But later she encountered a group of older women, mostly in their late 60s, who were “sprawled out on the concrete, completely nude, sharing blankets and a picnic lunch of fruit and sandwiches.” On returning to her friend, she removed her bikini bottom and tossed it aside. She “didn’t even check to see if anyone had noticed.”
After coming across an AANR article urging clubs to be more welcoming towards people like himself, Scott agreed to be interviewed about his experience. He offered suggestions for specific things clubs should do to be more welcoming – basically the same simple policies any business or organization should follow to make prospective “customers” feel comfortable and appreciated.
Additionally, he suggested that introverts “should be willing to take some initiative and step outside their comfort zone”. (That should apply to women as well as men.) Participating in naturist activities of any sort – nude beaches, hot springs, life modeling, naturist Meetup groups, naked yoga classes, online naturist events, etc. – provides conversational material when getting to know other naturists. That’s an important step to help reduce anxieties about socializing with naturists. Becoming familiar with the policies and available activities at a particular club before visiting would make embarrassing missteps less likely.
The AANR article mentioned in the previous item clearly discourages that sort of thing. The couple should have complained to AANR, even if they weren’t actually AANR members. But perhaps the offending club wasn’t even an AANR affiliate. There’s a happy ending to the story though. They had no trouble visiting other clubs in their area, including the Suwannee Valley Resort, which claims to be “North Florida’s Premier Clothing Optional Resort”.
The couple decided they “needed a club that was inclusive, whether you are straight or gay or bisexual or lesbian, married, single, or married and solo, without regard to race or religion.” So they started the First Coast Naturists, a Meetup.com based non-landed club. It was founded in 2013. and became an AANR-charted club in 2015. This is a great success story. However, Florida teems with naturists, and starting a naturist club in many parts of the U.S. that lack the climate and population density of Florida can be a much more difficult task.
Bonus from earlier:
The Rise and Fall of a Nudist Colony that Scandalized L.A. in the 1930s (9/15/17)
Very recently I summarized an article about the demise in 2000 of a once-popular naturist club, Elysium Fields, in southern California. It was just one of four naturist places in the area that had folded since 1995. Another one of those was the similarly-named Elysian Fields (usually called Elysia). Its story is recounted in the present article.
Elysia was about 40 miles from Los Angeles’ outskirts and nine miles west of Lake Elsinore. The permanent location of the 139-acre camp actually straddled the border between Orange and Riverside counties. At the time both were ultra-conservative areas, and still are to some extent. The location was chosen in the hope of avoiding law enforcement from either county (as long as both didn’t come simultaneously).
The original owners were Hobart Glassey, a nudist who’d moved to California from New Jersey (where other very early naturist places were located), and Irish-born Peter McConville. Their partnership foundered in 1935, after only two years. McConville remained in control and renamed the camp Olympic Fields. In 1954 Wally and Flo Nilson, frequent visitors to the camp, bought it from McConville, who was in poor health, and named the place in his honor.
Unfortunately, according to the article, “the era of nudism as a radical statement and the camp’s lack of amenities, including electricity, caused membership to decline. In 2000, Flo renamed the camp Mystic Oaks, and changed the camp from strictly nude to nude optional. However, membership continued to sink.” The camp closed in 2007, not long after two other troubled naturist places in southern California also succumbed (and it was followed in 2008 by Swallows Sun Island).
In most of the northern hemisphere the naturist outdoor season begins in May and June. So there are some good reports suggesting clothing-optional beaches. And others dealing with general naturist activities.
As a British Naturism spokesperson explains, “There are plenty of beaches that are well-known for being used by nude bathers and it’s great to be surrounded by happy, like-minded people.” The present article has good advice for anyone who wants to try beach nudity for the first time, including a reminder that the British climate is often not ideal for a great naked experience.
The article explains “Nudity has never been as taboo in Europe as it is stateside. Europe has a longstanding social history behind the practice of nudism, and beachgoing au naturel has become a summer fixture in European culture in recent decades.” There are very brief summaries of the history in Germany, France, Greece, and Croatia (where British King Edward VIII and his mistress visited and swam nude in the 1930s). The article describes 9 beaches it considers the absolute best.
The Greek islands, however, provide a somewhat better story even though, as on the mainland, there are no “official” nude beaches. The islands not only attract tourists from all over (and depend on the income generated), but have some popular clothing-optional beaches. Paradise Beach on Mykonos may be the best-known, but there are others. The present article describes some of them. In general, nudity is easiest at the more remote and hard-to-access beaches. Here’s another article on the nude beach situation in Greece.
The real question is the type of nude vacation to take. If your budget allows more than the travel, lodging, and food expenses for the trip, then you have the most options. Otherwise you’ll have to make compromises. If cost isn’t an issue, then a destination in Europe, such as France, Spain, or Croatia is ideal. The only problem is the overwhelming number of good choices you’ll have.
If you’re in the U.S. and your budget is more limited, then Florida may be the best bet. It has the longest outdoor naturist season, four clothing-optional beaches, and dozens of naturist places to stay. California has more nude beaches, but the coastal weather is less dependable. If you don’t need a beach, then there are many naturist-friendly B&Bs and small hotels available. However, if you just want to go somewhere you can for a week or two usually be naked, then there are far more options in both the U.S. and Europe.
Pretty clearly the point of this article is getting into the water naked when it seems like a risqué or daring thing to do. Perhaps it’s done only alone or with very close friends – especially at night or somewhere nobody besides the individual or group is likely to notice. Or it could happen at a clothing-optional beach when a person decides to get into the water naked if many others are doing likewise.
If that goes well, anyone who tries it will probably find it unexpectedly pleasurable. In the words of the article’s author, when he and his girlfriend first entered the water naked, “the feeling of freedom was exhilarating. Wow. It was as though something had been missing, but now we were complete.” Such an experience probably results in a desire to repeat it, which is what happened in this case. Prevailing social attitudes against open nudity may deter people from pursuing the desire to repeat. But the possibility remains this experience could be a “gateway” into other “naturist” activities.
She continues to describe her thoughts and feelings about skinny dipping but eventually admits “Skinny dipping can be a scary thing. It might be the easiest way to get arrested, or worse, caught on video. Someone could see you and tell everyone else.” Scary. That scary aspect is precisely why naturists on social media who write eloquently about social nudity and its many virtues generally don’t persuade many of their readers or listeners to take the plunge, get involved with naturism, and eventually make social nudity an important part of their lives.
Why? In general, ideas that seem risky and scary in the abstract – like going naked around other people – are inherently difficult to accept. But almost always, people are more easily influenced by one or more others they know personally and trust. So they’re more likely to overcome doubts and go on to experience the scary thing for themselves. “Social influencers” online, however, almost never enjoy the same degree of trust when scary ideas are involved.
Elle also offers a good reason that nudity with like-minded others is especially healing and salutary for women: “We felt very in touch with our most natural selves, very female, and very, very powerful. … We were in our element and experiencing the synergy of allowing our most elemental selves to shine through.”
The text following the slide show provides interesting details about SVG. For example, Karl Ruehle, who founded the resort, was an active promoter of nudism as a lifestyle. Unlike many other early nudist leaders, he wasn’t at all secretive about nudism or his resort. He promoted it with press releases and paid advertising. He even appeared on talk shows and TV programs. Personally, however, Ruehle was eccentric and autocratic.
By contrast, a member of a smaller nearby nudist place who wished to be known only by his first name (Graham) is much more secretive. However, to explain their interest in nudism, Graham and a couple of others gave many reasons they enjoyed a naked lifestyle. That provides background for readers who know little or nothing about nudism.
Be sure to pick a time when you won’t be interrupted – not because you’re naked, but just to avoid distractions. You don’t need to meditate in the absence of all external stimuli, as long as they’re conducive to comfort rather than – like clothes – unsupportive of it. Feel free to accompany your meditation with pleasant aromas, soft music, or peaceful sounds like those of gentle ocean waves. Pay attention to your body, especially your skin when in contact with nothing but air.
Elysium was noteworthy because, although nudity was allowed (perhaps encouraged), it was not secretive and promoted itself as a “Human Growth Center” rather than a nudist camp. So it was similar to other “New Age” establishments such as the Esalen Institute. But unfortunately, Elysium was located in Los Angeles County, whose ultraconservative public officials had fought against nudist clubs since the 1930s. Although Elysium finally won the legal battles in 1993, Lange died in 1995. His daughters inherited the property, but for various reasons, such as dwindling interest in New Age ideas, Elysium was no longer economically viable, so it closed in 2000.
The name “Elysium” figured prominently in ancient Greek mythology even before the time of Homer. It referred to a realm of the afterlife reserved for heroes and others favored by the Greek gods to reside forever, enjoying whatever most pleased them in mortal life. An apt name for a contemporary naturist place.
(Similarly named “Elysian Fields” was an earlier, unrelated nudist place in Southern California near Lake Elsinor. It was founded in 1933 and persisted with a couple of name changes until finally closing in 2007.)
Bonus from earlier:
What needs to happen for a beach to become accepted as a clothing-optional beach? There really isn’t any standard process through which nudity on a particular beach becomes tolerated, let alone accepted or even officially designated. But this article from New Zealand gives some idea of what can happen.
It’s important, of course, that nudity in public isn’t entirely prohibited, at least under certain conditions. That’s the case in New Zealand, as well as in Great Britain, and even some U.S. states like California. In those examples, public nudity isn’t illegal as long as it’s not considered obscene, offensive, or threatening. (Opinions, of course, vary as to what those terms mean.) There also must not be stronger prohibitions under local laws and regulations. Still, although those conditions are necessary, they aren’t always sufficient.
Generally what happens is, first, that in a region where the beach is located there should be enough people who actually want to be naked on the beach, or at least a certain part of it. Given that, a sufficient number of people should actually use the beach or some part of it naked on a regular basis. If that usage continues “long enough” without serious objection, nudity there will probably become accepted.
But it usually takes some time – if ever – before the beach becomes “officially” clothing-optional. That generally happens only given certain conditions. For example, if naturists are persuasive enough, local officials favor the idea, or (often) because there are tangible benefits, such as tourism, to the local community.