[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!
EDITORS NOTE: Since writing this post, we’ve traveled to La Jenny in France, and RelaxNat near Barcelona, where there seems to be a noticeable upswing in young families fully embracing naturism. Literally hundreds of children at La Jenny participating in the Kids Club. If you can find a way to travel, there are most certainly places where family naturism is thriving!
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.