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!

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.

17 thoughts on “The Case of the Disappearing Nudist Children

  1. davidjwfindlay says:

    My personal thoughts on it is that the best approach is find local similar families and organise things yourselves. A lot of older nudists are happy enough not to have kids around. One local venue banned them after some families were unruly and caused problems.

    We personally are more about ensuring they grow up without body shame and understanding what people really look like rather than the portrayals of ideal in the media.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think that naturism, as defined in this article is dying here. Between the religious right prudes and the political left prudes and the fear of having one’s photos on the internet for everyone to see, it takes a very thick skin for Joe Blow to be a naturist, even as an adult. An “outed” nudist child in a class of textile conformists would end up in social hell.

    Then there is the fear of innocent photos being considered kiddie porn. Plenty of people would hold that the nudity of a minor is automatically lewd and automatically kiddie porn. Nobody wants to refight that fight over and over again. Even if you win, it is a Pyrrhic victory.

    And of course, there is the menace of pedophiles lurking online – or on location – waiting to sneak our children away from under our noses.

    Somehow these aren’t issues in much of Europe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Fred. I LOVE your comments. You’re always to right on point.
      But in this case, the point I was really driving for is that I think the rising millennial generation might offer us some STFU thick skin in this battle, but that will wane pretty quickly if there’s no place to take their children when that becomes part of the equation. In my estimation, that situation has become much MORE restrictive in the past 20 years, when it wasn’t that good in the first place. We were determined to solve it by taking our kids to Europe, at a time when it was beyond our means to do so. Don’t think many have the resolve to do that today.

      Like

      • That was never within my means. Basically, it was only when camping in a remote location and that pretty much ended when they became social. The established camps and resorts out here are too far to drive and cost too much once you get there.

        Affluence helps a lot. Money makes memberships affordable and gives you flexibility of time and freedom to travel. So organized naturism becomes a collection of aging affluent white ex-hippies with new people trickling in.

        I am really sour on the future of naturism out here. People don’t even take showers in the locker room anymore. Many colleges no longer have nude figure models. New nudists are mostly people who stumbled into it because of something they felt since they were very young and had to keep quiet. People like me, who are “born” nudies, aren’t common. If you aren’t a part of a community that is tolerant of such things, it is difficult to get involved.

        There is some interest in nudism among the gay community and I am very happy to see it. It is about the only encouraging thing I see for the nudie movement. The larger clubs aren’t interested in expanding nudie rights beyond their gates. There are non-landed clubs who push for free beaches and whatnot but that isn’t where the money is.

        I’m part of that aging generation of nudies (though not very affluent) and I am discouraged at not seeing many younger people and families. We are still a very narrow niche market.

        Like

      • naturistplace01 says:

        At the risk of repeating myself… It seems to me that the solution is to work with other naturist families nearby and make your own events. Forget about the established clubs… unless you and your friends’ families can go as a group. Fred lives relatively close to good remote places to camp and hike, and that’s another great option for naturist families. Grassroots naturism.

        Like

  3. Bill says:

    Check out Cedar Trails Resort in Peebles, Ohio. The have a week long Kids Kamp that is AANR supported. It is in June every year and is packed with kids all week long.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. greenbare says:

    When my kids were young (1980s) we struggled to support our family. Vacations were camping trips, pitch a tent rather than stay in a hotel. We often camped at nudist camps because they were inexpensive and less crowded than KOA. They were also BORING for our children. Children are ACTIVE and need to be doing stuff all the time. And actually most camps were boring for me too during the weekdays when we were sometimes the only young people camping there.

    Quite often we drove off the camp during the day and went to see local attractions. We would come back, take off our clothes, and spend the night.

    I’m not sure what the economy of nudist resorts is today, but my guess is that the overnight camping has moved to higher prices and more up scale indoor accommodations. That’s good for older nudists who have more money to spend, and probably good for camp owners, but young struggling families would find it a challenge.

    None of my kids became nudists when they grew up either. Don’t know why.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Chuck Goodwin says:

    I think your bad experience with your family at Cypress Cove years ago does not at ALL represent the true nature of of the place. You need to visit there again. We have been wintering there for 12 years and never seen anyone be unkind to visitors regardless of their age. We love kids there. Please don’t judge us by one bad apple!

    Like

    • Hmmm… don’t think I actually named the place, quite intentionally. Though we’ve actually been there several times. You’re right, one grouch local does not a place make, but our timing (usually without kids) has never been right for a kid friendly week end. It’s a nice place. But on the family front, I just keep hoping for a bit more.

      Like

  6. The time now is not good for people who just want to be clothes-free with families including children, nor for the traditional nudist resorts. Yet it’s possible that things can change! Young people are once again seeing the hypocrisy of many of their elders, and not-so-young folks like me are beginning to open up more about our liking for clothes-freedom. But we, me included, need to stand firm if the truth we have discovered is to continue.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Billy Riddell says:

    So glad to see concerned naturists on this issue! 🙌🏻
    Your THOUGHTS (on this issue) is the whole premise of my Tumblr blog (take a look).

    1. The exact reason we lost Tumblr is because of “the children”. The reason we can’t have nude beaches in every state (easily accessible), the children argument” again. It goes ON AND ON..!

    What frustrates the hell out of me daily is WHY every other minority group (with certain interests) has got the green light and countless adovocates in media and among celeb advocates (marijuana, LGBTQ, etc); yet something so innocent as nudity among ANY AGE is considered porn, worse yet, illegal! Where are the liberal and libertarian advocates for our issue!

    How can Libertarians and Liberals not see that nudity among the young is innocent (in pic or person). It’s not CLOTHES that protect them, but loving guardians. The “pedo issue” shouldn’t even be a factor. I’m not going to cower in fear and LOOSE RIGHTS over a few monsters in the world.

    FINALLY, how can anyone think a high school aged teen can’t see nudity online? What kind of ABSURDITY of mind does it take to forget what it was like to be a teen? We infantalize teens nowadays. My great grandmother got married at 16 to a loving man of 30 and from that marriage came generations. We treat them like 10 year olds nowadays, it’s sick. No wonder we have so many snow flakes on campuses needing ‘safe spaces’ for every offense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So much truth here. Sadly, I don’t see naturism gaining “special interest group” status any time soon. But that’s a really intriguing analogy. Interestingly enough, I think sex clubs and prostitution are more widely accepted by society than those advocating for social nudity. Pretty bizarre when you stop to think about it.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s