The Case of the Disappearing Nudist Children

[It takes me a while to actually get to the point on this one, but eventually, this post is going to be about the absence of children at most naturist places in the US – or at least my perception that this is the case – and what that may or may not mean for the future of naturism in America.]

I’ve been ruminating on this post for quite a long time. In fact, since my oldest daughter just turned 31 a few days ago, maybe for about thirty years. The subject matter? The ever-controversial topic of children and social nudity, and simply what to make of it all.

The blogosphere is a strange place as people don’t typically read a blog in any sequential sort of way. Maybe one finds a link on Facebook or Twitter and clicks through. Or perhaps you’re even a follower of a particular blog, and if the timing is right, you’ll read posts as they are released in succession. But personally, I find the digital age to encourage rather impulsive behavior. “Oh… look at that! I think I’ll read that, or maybe part of that post, or maybe I’ll bookmark it for… I don’t know when.” All that said, if you’re a regular reader, I apologize for the redundancy here.

I’ve already written a lengthy piece about our own personal naturist journey, and another post that has gotten a good bit of airtime about taking kids to “a naked place.” But I’m not sure those actually capture the essence of my desire for having a presence on the web in the first place.

My first efforts related to internet advocacy for naturism date back to 2004 when I bought some space on a remote server to launch a full-blown website called P and C Naturist Travel. I had little to no experience with web design and the result was pretty rough around the edges, but the mission was clear. We had taken our children to Domaine Naturiste La Jenny for the first time in 1999 after several attempts at finding a suitable place for family naturism in the United States, and I was hell bent on starting a campaign that would contribute to the efforts to normalize family naturism in America! By then, we had made several trips (with kids) to Europe and had discovered a plethora of places where children were not only welcome, but plentiful. When our kids went on nakation in Europe, they essentially thought it to be a holiday resort on par with any large family campground or resort. Similar demographic. Amenities you would expect in a large summer seaside village… but no clothes required at any time. Natural in every sense of the word. That first webpage was simply a series of trip reports about our naturist travel.

A subsequent effort led to the creation of a “community” called the Naturist Family Network. It occurred to me that the United States of America is a big place, and there must be others like my wife and myself who were eager to cultivate the ideals of French naturism in this most diverse nation on the planet. Surely… there would be others who were in a similar conundrum as ours, fully enthralled with social nudity, and wanting to create a safe and enjoyable space for their children when seeking a summer vacation destination. I stayed with that project for a year or two, met a few interesting people, (one who would eventually take over the project) but also encountered a lot of trolls or lonely single guys (as are prevalent on Facebook and Twitter today) feigning an interest in family oriented naturism for who knows why. That message board was handed off to several entities, and as I do a quick Google search at this writing, it seems the last remnants of that project have finally disappeared. It was a valiant effort.

I suspect I’ll receive a number of messages and comments in response to this post, as I did during the years that I maintained those two websites, that I have missed the boat, and that family naturism is alive and thriving in the United States. Which brings me back around to the title of this post as I have found myself wondering time and again about the Case of the Disappearing Nudist Children. I keep hearing about them. I’m told there are places where they are plentiful, but when visiting those places, especially on a weekday even in the summer, they are scarcely to be found!

We have visited perhaps two to three dozen naturist (nudist) places in the US over the past thirty years, and indeed, a few times have found children – mostly preadolescent – to be present. But then we have stories of a visit to a place in Pennsylvania where the senior citizens (the predominant age group at this place) were reminiscing about the party the night before, still in something of a drunken haze the morning after. No kids around.

Or a couple places in Florida, both advertised as family naturist destinations, the first of which was highly charged with sexual energy, while another led to an unfortunate incident where our children – the only children on the premises that day – were chewed out by a not-so-friendly owner when their ball bounced out of the pool. And then there’s Desert Shadows (now Desert Sun) Resort in Palm Springs that was going to be the ultimate family naturist destination, but ultimately, a change in management resulted in the banning of all children from the premises. Had you purchased a retirement property there in the early days, you would later find out that your grandkids would never be allowed to visit you!

There will be those who are quick to tell me that my aim is poor and my timing is bad. And, in fact, I’ve written about quite a few naturist places the world over – most recently in South Africa – where children are, indeed, part of the mix, but maybe only on the big Saturday BBQ and pudding toss festival day! (I’ve always thought the “pudding toss thing’ to be a funky idea at naturist places… just sayin’) This leads to yet another interesting phenomenon when it comes to naturist places outside of Europe, and that is, most of them lack Europeans!

Europeans know how to do vacation, and are allotted the time to do a week in a mainline tourist destination, but with one, two, or three weeks left over for a relaxing stay in a sprawling naturist resort (or wherever) with all the amenities one would expect at a Disney resort. Such a place can’t exist if the critical mass isn’t there to fill the place to capacity. Especially when social nudity is the main attraction, and even in the warmest corners of Europe, (let alone North America) that’s a season of five or six months at best. So even if you find a place with a great family vibe going over the weekend, which is tricky to do in the first place, what happens on Monday morning when everybody has gone home and back to work?

This got me to thinking about my friend Addie who has contributed several posts to my blog over the past year, including one about dating and finding a naturist soul-mate. Turns out she is quite well traveled as well, having visited several naturist places in Europe, and even Paya Bay on Roatan. Would she have the fervor for the naturist cause had those not been her first defining experiences?

And what if she is successful in finding that naturist-friendly soulmate and they start a family? Won’t they find themselves in the same conundrum we did thirty years ago? Most young families are stretched for resources to begin with. Will they have the time and resources to take the kids to France or Croatia for the annual nakation? Or alternatively, even if they are fortunate enough to live within an hour or two of one of the few resorts in America that have a vibrant family naturist weekend scene, will two or three weekends a year sustain a lasting culture of family naturism? We have been several times to Gunnison Beach in New Jersey where there are typically a few kids amidst the crowd, but you can’t really compare that to the demographics of the large naturist beaches on the southwest coast of France where most everyone there is there with children.


My hunch is that Addie will figure it out, and in all likelihood, will have the wherewithal to do so, but if there truly is a generational divide related to the future of naturism in America, I think this is it! There most definitely appears to be a counter-culture resurgence amongst the millennials that is funding a social nudity renaissance of sorts in the pre-family demographic, and AANR is quick to fire off statistics that nudism is on the rise, due in large part to endeavors like the Big Nude Boat that is capturing the discretionary income of the empty-nesters. But what about that twenty-year stretch in the middle, when the kids are young, the parents are strapped, and the family traditions are being carved into stone? Most of the naturist families we’ve met in Europe are multi-generational… “Yup, I’ve been coming here since I was a child when my grandparents bought that little house over there.”

Who knows… maybe the millennials will pull a rabbit out of the hat on this one. In the greater context of time, the huge naturist centers of Europe are not really that old. France’s naked city, Cap d’Agde (a questionable exemplar for family naturism, to be sure) has only really existed since the 1970s, and the sprawling resorts in Croatia opened not that long before that. But could the American culture of paranoia or highly sexualized perceptions of nudity be ready for the open-minded twenty-somethings who are ready and willing to bare all? And is there a capital venture entrepreneur who is prepared to put down the money to build it so they will come? (Seems that was the plan for both Caliente in Florida and Desert Shadows in Palm Springs, but maybe it just wasn’t time yet.)

We’re counting on you, millennials! Drop your clothes, stand, and be counted. Now is your chance to create a body-positive environment for your own children, and all those in the generations to come!

Photos for this post were found on internet sources such as Twitter and Google. If you find an image that belongs to you and should be removed, please let me know and I will respond accordingly.

NAKED RESEARCH 2019 – Part III: Naked Africa

So…. Africa seems like a good place to get naked!

Think about it. Europe is great in the summer. You might even get a few chances at naked autumn or spring in the South of France, Spain, or Italy. And if you’re really adventurous, you can find your way to the Canary Islands, which are essentially due west of the Sahara Desert.

Sun Eden Family Naturist Resort

But Africa!? A continent that straddles the equator. And until all the westerners showed up, they thought naked was the way to go. (“Thank you kind and thoughtful missionaries who taught us to pray and wear clothes – except for the wearing clothes part!“) Few issues with laundering clothes. Temperate climates much of the year. No bizarre religious convictions to make one ashamed of her breasts. From what I can gather, a loin cloth seemed like the perfect attire for any formal occasion back in the day.

Truth be told, once Western Europe finished cutting Africa into neatly packaged countries, it seems a bit ironic that about the only place one might consider going for social nudity is at the southern tip of the continent – South Africa. Ironic because this is a huge expanse of land where the Dutch (We LOVE public nudity!) and the Brits (Ahem… please don’t offend the Queen.) decided to fight it out with the indigenous people to lay claim to the natural resources that rest just beneath the soil there. Most know what came of all that, the legacy of Nelson Mandela, and perhaps even a bit about the chaos in the wake of what one friend refers to as “centuries of Social Engineering gone awry.” In layman’s terms, read any post about visiting Johannesburg on Trip Advisor, and it will likely lead out with the words “Be careful!” Good advice.

“Moonrise” at Sun Eden

As it turns out, there are several naturist places dotted about the country of South Africa – seemingly the only country on the continent that recognizes social nudity in any organized sort of way. I/we have visited two. My wife and I spent a week at Harmony Nature Farm back in 2013 (Literally, the week that Nelson Mandela died), then I recently made a quick trip that accommodated a weekend visit to Sun Eden Resort just east of Pretoria, then a return visit to Harmony Nature Farm to visit some of the friends we had made there years ago.

In the middle of summer – January on this part of the planet – the weather was literally postcard perfect for a naturist outing. Days were warm and sunny with low humidity, and evenings remained naked friendly without being oppressively hot! I rented a car at the Johannesburg airport, plugged Sun Eden Family Naturist Resort into Google Maps on my phone (couldn’t find it on Apple Maps), then sped off on the well maintained motorway to the north, past Pretoria and off to the designated exit. So far, so good!

Morning at Sun Eden

What I didn’t expect, however, was once having left the motorway, I took a hard right into the African bush, only 18 kilometers to go according to Mr. Google, which created the illusion I would be at my destination in a matter of minutes. That idea vaporized just a few hundred meters later where the asphalt ended, and the well maintained, but bumpy, dirt road started chopping away at the suspension system of my little rented car. Signage? None. Other humans? Occasionally a Toyota Forerunner would speed by. Civilization? A few remnants of something that might have once been a market or restaurant, and a gate now and again that seemed to lead to someone’s cattle ranch tucked just over that rise in the distance.

But sure enough, after about fifteen kilometers of trying to avoid the potholes that would blow out my tires, there was a right turn, then a short distance later, a sign appeared on a small road named “First Street,” (Indeed it was!) which took me to the gate of Sun Eden Resort.

Wildlife at Sun Eden

Having not been to a naturist camp or resort in Great Britain, I can only speculate this would be quite similar. A nice pool complex with a bar and a little store, several trailers (caravans) and small houses scattered about, many of which could be rented, and a few large attractive homes that would dwarf some of the McMansions I’m accustomed to in the eastern United States. Spread out over about fifty acres, nothing seemed crowded, and even walking the fenced perimeter road seemed completely viable given the few signs of life outside of the resort – other than impalas and other wandering creatures of the landscape. (I was warned to watch out for the snakes, which I did, but I never ended up meeting one.)

While one could certainly rent a cottage or home here for the entire “summer,” this is most definitely a weekend destination. I didn’t arrive until Saturday around noon, by which time there was plenty of conviviality around the pool and the bar. For those who frequent some of the more traditional nudist places in the US, the entry process felt very familiar, the long-timers running the front desk who provided a thorough introduction to the honor system in the camp store while making sure I knew the rules about sitting on a towel. “Got it!”

Near the pool complex at Sun Eden

The weekend crowd was quite mixed though, with one or two families with small children, a good number of 30/40-somethings, and a few more folks in my current demographic of 50 and above. I earnestly enjoyed the music and banter in the bar on Saturday night where the bartender was pouring some purply shots that tasted a little like medicine I had to take as a child. “NO! One is enough! Really! Thank you.”

The store had a nice selection of meats (but essentially nothing green, I might mention) and all the supplies one needs like charcoal and fire-starters, which made for two very pleasant “braai meals” outside my little cottage. Turns out my meal plan was particularly fortuitous as come 3:00 pm on Sunday afternoon, the party vaporized into their cars and disappeared down that long dirt road back into their clothed existence. Walking around that evening, I found a few “residents” who would remain in the silent serenity of the expansive grounds, but even of those who remained, many had a tendency to get dressed. I used the opportunity to wander around for a while to snap a few photos, with a stop-off to chat with the owner of one of those nicer homes. He also runs a naturist travel agency based out of South Africa. He rents his place, and it was lovely. I suspect that will turn up in a future blog post, as I would be delighted to stay there.

Harmony Nature Farm. Wow!

On Monday morning, I packed up, settled my bill in the market, and headed off to see Piet and Piet (father and son) at Harmony Nature Farm. You can read a little more about our previous visit here in an earlier post, though I suspect I could write a whole book about this incredibly gorgeous stretch of land pressed against the African bluffs, once again scattered with caravans and – shall we say – less luxurious rental homes. We stayed a week in one of these little rustic cottages on our previous visit where the highlight included zebras begging at our door for food each morning, and being awoken early one morning when a baboon jumped from a tree onto the tin roof of our house. Startling, to say the least.

Our little house at Harmony Nature Farm

Once again, this is a weekend destination, and it seemed that I was the only guest on the grounds during this Monday lunchtime, though there were a few other residents meandering about, some clothed, some not.

Suburbia at Harmony Nature Farm

It was good to see Piet and Piet again, the father/son duo who are “somehow making ends meet.” Piet senior had told me the story during my last visit of his European naturist experiences when he was young, and how he was eager to recreate such a place in South Africa. Compared to Sun Eden, the place is looking a bit tired, but when sitting at the Sunset Bar perched on a steep hill overlooking the rest of the continent, or when walking the grounds under a bright blue sky in and out of the shadows of the towering bluffs, it reminded me how amazingly beautiful this part of the world really is, and how amazingly special it is to be able to enjoy that in a clothes-free environment.

Oh… Those pesky zebras at Harmony!

It is worth noting that both of the naturist places are located within a short distance of nature reserves where one can make a day-long safari with a remarkably high chance of seeing at least four of the Big Five. Didn’t bother with that this time, but it occurs to me that when we return to South Africa, which we undoubtedly will, I think I would spend a long weekend at Harmony Nature Farm, perhaps venture out during the week (Maybe even to neighboring Zambia to see Victoria Falls) then return for another long weekend at Sun Eden. Neither location is able to provide the amenities of one of the super resorts in France or Croatia, but then again, the list of “nakation in January” spots is pretty limited. I can deal with a dose of rustic and a dash of quirky, knowing my driveway at home is coated in snow and ice, while here I have to wonder if I should bring along a t-shirt in case it gets chilly after the sun goes down.

Such is life in the naked African bush.