I’m feeling a bit contrite this morning.

Yesterday was Episode Two of Simply Naked, where a bunch of us naturist influencer types bantered for an hour about our personal projections as to what naturism will look like in 2021 and beyond. It was a great session, with real-time brainstorming happening right before a “live cyber-audience.”

I guess it was inevitable that at some point, we’d roll around to that weary trope that permeates nearly every thread on reddit and Twitter about the current state of organized nudism. What can we do about the “old, white, naked RV guys” that are often the predominant regulars at the local nudist park?

I’m keenly attuned to the irony of this post, in that I suspect my title likely describes the majority of the readership of my blog! And it also bears mentioning that I just had another birthday, (dammit, another one!) and depending on your benchmark, I’m rapidly approaching one of those milestones that definitely places me in that demographic, so I’m feeling sheepishly hypocritical.  And while I’m in the mode of full confession, not only do I meet all the criteria of being a privileged white (aging) male, but I’ve also been incredibly fortunate that my wife and I have enjoyed naturism together since we first met. That doesn’t make me any less old, or less white, and we don’t have an RV, but you really can’t argue with the facts. One of those facts is that ageism is most certainly a phenomenon in organized social nudity, and it’s a double-whammy for those who have to go it alone.

Why was this a recurring source of banter for yesterday’s session? Well, because it’s a thing! During a recent visit to New Cambium in the Dominican Republic, I had an interesting chat with one of the female residents there who has come to social nudity relatively late in life. She was so taken with the sensation of swimming and sunning naked that she and her husband plunked down a significant chunk of cash to make that a year-round, everyday option. But in the same breath, she noted that when the gender balance gets too far out of whack, she reaches for a pareo or a shirt. She’s one of the tough ones – when others would simply say, “This is uncomfortable,” get in their car and leave, though that takes a bit of forethought on a Caribbean island.

I’ve written before about the male proclivity for social nudity, once in an autobiographical sort of way (SEE: My Obsession with Nudity), and since then, with musings about gender imbalance in regard to nudity around the house. (SEE: The Man is Always Naked) Given all of our travels to naked places all over the world, one constant has been the resilience of the male to be naked whenever humanly possible. A chilly morning walk to start the day – the woman is likely wearing sweats, and the man is completely buck naked. What is it with us dudes?

But our lively dialogue in yesterday’s session was even more specific in maligning a specific subset of the population, “The old, white, naked RV guy!” Perhaps he’s single or widowed. Or perhaps he’s in a committed relationship, but his partner simply says, “I’m not doin’ that!” and sends him off to the nudist park for the weekend by himself. While there is the occasional story of the creepy guy with wandering eyes, or even those awkward vignettes where a dude delivers an inappropriate compliment or advance to an unsuspecting female, I think most of the “old, naked RV guys” are simply trying to blend into the scenery to enjoy social nudity for exactly the same reason that young females enjoy social nudity. It just feels good. And to that end, they (We!) have a right to do so just as much as anyone else.

Brendan from Get Naked Australia (GNA) provided an intriguing insight about the evolution of his movement for social nudity, which amazingly, also has a trend with gender imbalance – that is, there are more women participating than men! (Yes, you read that right.) How did that happen? Well, that’s an interesting story. (You can hear him tell it in yesterday’s episode of Simply Naked.)

Essentially, GNA started out as a group of his friends, for whom he arranged outings to remote places where skinny dipping would likely occur, and clothing would be optional during the wilderness trek.

It was totally a word-of-mouth campaign. Two people invite two or their friends, who invited two of their friends, and as it happened, there turned out to be a preponderance of women who were most willing and eager to enjoy social nudity – among friends – within a known and safe environment. Brendan goes on to explain that he recently put a call out on social media, beyond his friend group, to see if there was general public interest from others wanting to join the group. The response was predictable: about 700 men and perhaps a couple-dozen women. (Brendan gives the exact numbers in the interview.) He knows that if the next outing is heavily dominated by men, women will be hesitant to embrace their right to clothing optional recreation, and more than likely, will never return to another GNA event.

At least here in the United States, this is further complicated by the simple economics of running a nudist park in an increasingly paranoid and prudish society. As someone stated in our online meeting yesterday, simply the cost of maintaining the pool at a nudist resort is a major expense – an expense largely borne by, you guessed it, “old, naked RV guys.” Somebody’s gotta pay the bills!

Sam and Aleah from Our Natural Life have long been involved with the Florida Young Naturists (FYN), a group that has often made deals with local nudist resorts to do a takeover event for the weekend, bringing in literally hundreds of people who don’t necessarily consider themselves naturists, but are most willing to enjoy a weekend of lively social nudity among friends. I think it’s the closest thing we have going in the States that captures the spirit of Get Naked Australia. Some resorts have embraced these collaborations, knowing that it will not only promote the concept of naturism, but will help put their resort on the map for many would-be naturists. But amazingly, other venues have rebuffed them, claiming such an event would go against the values of the establishment, (whatever those might be,) or cause too much inconvenience to the full-time residents (those folks paying for the pool maintenance). Really? Is a once-or-twice-a-year weekend event too much to sacrifice for the potential of cultivating a new generation of naturists?

If you’ve hung in this long, you might also want to read another post I wrote a couple years ago in homage to those who have kept the nudist/naturist ideal alive up until now. (SEE: In Praise of Aging Nudists) It seems with but a few exceptions, American nudist resorts are seriously on the struggle bus trying desperately to stay afloat. Some have sold out to weekend parties that extend the definition of social nudity to… ahem… “VERY social nudity,” while others are trying to figure out how they can rent their camping spaces to textile folks who are willing “to deal with” the naked people now and again for a place to park their RV all year round. That doesn’t seem helpful to the naked, old guys either, or anyone else for that matter.

The fact is, it’s time for a new business strategy, and that lies in the hands (and on the naked shoulders) of those of us scattered across the country who are hell-bent on preserving and promoting nude recreation. Brendan is definitely on to something with GNA, and it’s encouraging to see similar initiatives pop-up around the United States. Florida Young Naturists, Just Naked in NYC, and the west coast based Skinny Dippers are but a few grass roots movements that found their genesis in the passion of a few dedicated individuals who said, “We’re gonna do this!” But we need a lot more of these types of initiatives, and sadly, my own personal profile is more closely aligned to the “old, white, naked RV guy” than the thirty-something folks who could actually chart the course into the real future of naturism.

That doesn’t mean I’ve given up. Our involvement in Simply Naked, blogging about the virtues of holistic social nudity, while doing what we can go help populate Google and social media threads with content that seeks to normalize and demystify social nudity represent our efforts to create a naturist environment on this side of the Atlantic that, until now, we could only find in Europe and beyond (and those efforts go back twenty years now). In fact, I suspect there are a good number of us old, naked white guys – whether owners of RVs or not – who are eager to embolden the cause, as that can only make things better for everyone in the long run.

Please comment on this blog. Let your voice be heard. Help us make connections that can build a new GNA – “Get Naked America.” It’s hard to fathom what the nudist pioneers from Germany were able to pull together nearly a hundred years ago when the idea of social nudity first landed on American shores. Imagine what we could do today, equipped with the internet and a renewed national resolve for tolerance and inclusion. Maybe the next big event in Washington should be the Million Naked Human March. If a million of us showed up, all of us old, naked, white guys would probably end up making a lot of new friends.

53 thoughts

  1. I think a huge part of the answer is in public spaces. I’m lucky enough to to have a nearby c/o beach (Blind Creek), and younger folks are trying it out, and the local government has figured out that it’s a tourism bonanza. Hopefully, Florida’s parks will be next, designating clothing-optional areas, or dare we wish, entire parks? Blind Creek is our most highly visited beach: as much as the next two combined. It works!

    1. I was at Blind Creek yesterday and counted about 185 vehicles in the parking area, while Walton Rocks Beach, two miles south dad 45, and Frederick Douglass Beach, three miles north had 20. Obviously clothing optional beaches are popular with beach goers, but alas there were a lot of old white guys there.

      1. I think the idea is not to attract fewer older white guys, but more of everyone else! 😀 Seems candid discourse like this might just create the synergy needed to spawn such a phenomenon.

    2. We are SO incredibly envious of our friends in Florida who have so many options, including those on public beaches. I find it astounding that with nearly 100,000 (!!!) miles of coastline in the United States, we can only chalk off a few precious spots where nudity is permitted. When I think of those long, empty beaches on the Outer Banks where one wouldn’t dare risk nudity, it makes me wonder, WTF??

      But we totally agree. The future is in establishing greater acceptance and tolerance in public spaces. Blind Creek is a beautiful example of just how that can happen.

  2. Sorry. I am an old, white naked guy but I don’t have an RV. I use a tent.

    I truly regret not being a young naked black female, but I can only be what I am. Perhaps I should just crawl back under my rock as “persona no grata” for the world of nudism tomorrow.

    1. No Fred. Stand up and be counted !
      Be proud of being authentic & true to yourself.
      No regrets. Life is not a rehearsal
      We salute you.
      Enjoy your life YOUR way 🙂

    2. Hi Fred.

      First of all, I am SO happy to see you posting more these days. I have SO enjoyed the musings on your own blog, along with your responses to various posts here. Your writing is always so thoughtful, and your perspective so forthright and real.

      I’m hoping there’s a smack of sarcasm in your comment, and that you know that I am most certainly NOT advocating that you, nor anyone else, should assume the identity of “persona no grata,” but I was certainly aware of that subtext as I was writing the post. Personally, while watching these recent years unfold with such deep division defined by alternate belief systems, I have been among those who have found escapism in simply NOT talking about sensitive issues in the face of being shut down by people with alternative facts. If we’ve learned anything in the last six weeks, it would have to be that wishing something away doesn’t make it GO away.

      I think we are seeing new possibilities emerge in the future of naturism. Who knows how that will turn out. But we’ve certainly encountered a good number of well-intentioned people in the old guard of nudist places and organizations who are simply in denial to the point where they aren’t particularly interested in considering alternate roads forward. Constructive discussion and debate is shelved at the risk of agreeing to disagree.

      I reiterate, what I love about your writing is your ability to speak to deep values with true conviction, which is exactly the kind of exchange that’s needed right now. I suspect you know that since you actually took the time to reply to this post instead of unfollowing the blog. But I think that sets a path forward that’s so much better than flat-out denial of “what is.”

      Anyway, please don’t crawl under a rock. Or if you do, please save us a couple places, as we may need those sooner than later. 🙂

      1. I could probably make a tidy sum if I could get a dollar for every time I heard someone bashing “old white cis-het males” for all the problems of the world.Not just figuratively but literally. And now we are why young people don’t become involved in nudism. It gives it a “bad” image.

        It is kind of true though. Birds of a feather and all that. Young people want to mix with young people and the existing clientele does not look encouraging to kid in college. Then resorts use ads with beautiful young people in them and draw in more old white males. Wonder why that is?

        I believe it was my 2nd time doing the “Bare to Breakers” when I got interviewed by a young female reporter for some outlet or other. I was going to talk to her about the freedom of nudity and having choice in clothing and how great it felt but the only thing she wanted to do is ask pointed questions about why all she saw were… you got it… old naked white guys. And then a dig about how many were uncircumcised. I countered with, “Why do you care? What does it matter?” but then she was off to harass another old naked white guy. Would probably do that until she got the answer she wanted or she ran out of guys to interview.

        The fact is that in US nudism, most of the “regulars” are going to be older, they’re going to be white and they’re going to be male. I could write many pages on that subject but it boils down to a hostile culture and old white males have the least at risk.

        And I’m saddened to think of myself as part of the “problem” whether I want to be – or am – or not.

      2. Hi Fred. Given my work in academia, I am well acquainted with the current trend to put all the blame on the privileged cis-gendered white male, as I have certainly been on the receiving end of such accolades (Guffaw!) on many, many occasions. Your comment, “It is kind of true though” is multi-faceted and complicated, however. That’s not really about old, naked guys at nudist parks, but about where we’ve come from as a species over the past 100 years.

        In an effort to find a positive spin on that, by the time my wife and I married in the 80s, my betrothed was fully employable and could have well enjoyed a fruitful career as a single woman with many opportunities for advancement. (Albeit it with lesser compensation in many cases, but that’s another thread.) That’s a long, country mile from the fact that women didn’t even have the right to vote until 100 years ago – a drop in the bucket in the evolution of societal norms. Our (my?) forefathers from the European Aristocracy did a pretty good job of setting up a global design of dominance by the white male, beginning with international trade routes, and working through centuries of exerting (supposedly God-given?) privilege over the rest of the globe.

        While I’m not particularly proud of much of what has gone before me, I’ve given a good deal of thought as to how I can ameliorate that in a meaningful way, be that with my children, my students, and my friends and acquaintances – including those I encounter in an environment of social nudity. Ironically, I don’t really blame us naked, old RV guys for wrecking the nudist parks, but maybe instead, everybody else who bailed on the cause and caved to societal pressures. The most common concern I hear from women is that they don’t want to be objectified. How does ANYONE counter that in a societal structure that seeks to objectify (if not outright threaten) women in every part of everyday life? The “guys at the nudist park” thing is simply a symptom of something much larger at play. I think that was your point in the lead out statement in your comment.

        I can’t single-handedly alter trends in the objectification of women. And I can’t NOT be an older white guy at a nudist park. But I CAN strive to be a positive influence when and where I can to provide a platform for rational discourse like that we’re engaged in right here. I’m standing by my previous statement that if we can populate the social media threads with more thoughtful discussions like this, we ARE assuming a role as part of the solution; not part of the problem. Those are small steps in the shadow of a big problem, but I’d like to think that small incremental changes amass into a meaningful contribution.

      3. You are right. There are immense social forces at work. Forces that cannot be controlled.

        I like to think of it as evolution. The social ideas and systems that work best for a given environment will slowly crowd out those that don’t work well. Best case scenario is that moderation wins out and we pull back from the brink. (Humans are prone to brinksmanship.) Worst case scenario is a case of political golbal warming where everyone gets overheated and things fall apart.

        The big driver of evolution is the environment. I really beleive that the times create the opportunity for a leader to step in to organize a movement that just hasn’t realized it was a movement yet. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. Hitler and Trump could only becaome leaders if the underlying conditions were met. The same thing is true of Gandhi and King.

        The biggest factor in the environment (IMHO) right now is technological change. And the biggest technological change is the internet. Without the large ideological bubbles that the internet makes possible, I don’t believe that Trumpism could have reached a critical mass.

        But he is also a symptom of another powerful force, the gradual decline in real wages and standard of living wihiich is also caused by technology. It makes people fearful and fear makes them irrational. They start to look for people to blame and heroes to sve them. It is an important tool in every demogogue’s chest.

        Did you read my blog post on Why We Hate?


      4. Thanks, Fred. I had NOT read that until just now, but I think it’s a very insightful piece, and I “enjoyed” reading the comments as well.

        We’re totally on the same page regarding technology and the internet. Strangely enough, what the internet has done to naturism (create accessibility while crushing it at the same time) is merely a microcosm of what it’s done to society at large.

        Very much in line with your blog post about hate is this excellent piece from the NY Times from a couple months ago. (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/09/opinion/trump-social-status-resentment.html) Edsall really tapped into your last point about the decreased standard of living, and how that is causing immense levels of anxiety amongst those searching for a cause to explain their misfortunate, EVEN IF their misfortune has been relatively inconsequential. Turns out that paranoia is a much stronger elixir than actual pain and suffering.

  3. Very thought provoking. Thanks for posting Dan.

    Probably 3 main factors to consider:
    (i) Internal- Individual motivators for wanting to be naked
    (ii) External- Conditions, environment, vibe & location of the opportunity
    (iii) Age- Very young (unconcerned), teens/20’s (too self aware & self conscious), 40+ (self confident, don’t care, more accepting of others)

    Plus of course what other people are doing around you

    OMG!! Older, white naturist couple looking at an Airstream Atlas 🙂

    1. Thanks, friends! Great to hear from you. 🙂

      Good redux of the situation. Though I think to the average 20-something, it may be a good bit less complicated. In my experience, they simply want to hang out with friends, and not deviate too far from what is socially acceptable in their peer group. Not sure that’s changed appreciably in the last 100 years.

      I think that’s why I find such inspiration in the GNA project. Almost overnight, they established a new norm, and people took to it like crazy. We have visited some of the “resorts” in Australia that are having the same problems places are having here in the US. Maybe worse! But GNA simply came out of the woodwork, and BOOM!

      You just never know…

  4. I’m with Fred. Another old naked single white guy without an RV, but I do have a dog, but that’s another discussion. I would love to see nudism, naturism, or whatever you want to call it, grow and flourish, but there isn’t much I can do to help that happen. Younger people have to understand that nudism will be whatever they make of it. There is no natural evolutionary process occurring here. Change will occur only when people make it happen. For generations we nudists have been too timid to bring nudism out of the shadows. I’m hopeful you young folks will not do the same.

    Enjoyed the podcast Dan, well worth watching.

    1. Thanks for watching, Bill.

      I largely agree with you, especially about the “too timid” part, which is a complicated discussion given that many fear retribution for coming out on matters like these. That said, having grown up near San Francisco in the 1970s, it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come with
      LGBTQIA rights since that time. It’s evident that social norms can change – significantly – over a relatively short period of time. In fact, people forget that when social nudity first evolved in France, less than 100 years ago, there were similar issues of the stigma of deviant behavior. Now, I suspect most French people at least KNOW someone who frequents a naturist place.

      I think we can ALL be a proactive part of the cause simply by generating thoughtful banter like this to fill up those Google search pages instead of a page full of links to pornography. To that end, every comment on a naturist blog helps bolster that presence. Thanks for doing your part. 🙂

  5. I am also a old white naked guy but without
    a RV and here in South Africa we find that the
    youngsters actually are better off financially than many of the oldies. The youngsters are therefore the reason that the pub, restaurant, shop and accommodation make good profits.
    That is why we have resources to maintain and improve the resort.
    Unfortunately there are other old white naked guys who do not enjoy or accept loud music if there is live entertainment or a dance.
    Funny enough, the old white naked guys don’t come to the resort on quiet weekends, they prefer to be there on party (noisy) weekends.

    1. Thanks, Lofty.

      I think you know we’re BIG fans of Sun Eden. (Would be there right NOW if it weren’t for that pesky virus!) And I count your place as one of the few “traditional nudist parks” that’s making a concerted effort to turn perceptions around by embracing social media to attract newbie naturists to your beautiful place.

      And I get it about the long-timers who don’t like the loud parties “when the youngsters” show up. (I went to one of those parties during one of my stays at Sun Eden, and while the music was loud, it was anything but rowdy, and I had a chance to chat with some really interesting people. Made me wish that Sun Eden was not exactly half a planet away!)

      Interestingly, my recent visit to New Cambium on the Dominican Republic presented a similar, parallel narration, where some of the original owners are eager to keep the place isolated and serene, while a few progressive folks are thinking, “You know, we could really make something happen here.” This probably represents the primary issue at most landed clubs – when the stakeholders/shareholders can’t agree on the best way to preserve and/or promote their own paradise.

      And oh… when I went to that gathering at Sun Eden as a 50-something single guy, (my wife wasn’t with me on that trip,) some of the most interesting conversations were with people at least 20 years my junior. If they weren’t enjoying the banter as much as I was, they were damn good at faking it. LOL

  6. The answer is to be found in finding and maintaining a balance.
    If the large majority of naturists at resorts had been young black women, you would find much fewer old white naked guys there. We believe that the dominance of the old white naked RV guy has grown with the times. Naturism started booming at the end of the sixties, early seventies. Times when there still was much more gender inequality than there is today and when naked men were a bit more socially accepted than naked women. Since then, resorts and organizations have been mostly focusing on maintaining their current public than on trying to attract the public that was missing. Hence, you create an imbalance.

    Examples of this can be found in Thailand, where organized naturism only exists for about 10 years. As we mentioned in the show, the federation members are dominantly young people. But also, due to the current COVID-travel restrictions, the naturist resorts in Thailand are seeing a growth of local visitors. Why is that? Because before, these resorts have been mostly focusing on the international public. If a Thai couple visited a naturist resort in their own country, they could be sure to be surrounded by Americans, Europeans, and Aussies. They would be the minority.

    We absolutely hate discrimination of any kind, but we do believe that quota at resorts is a good thing. Not just to make the place agreeable for everyone today, but also as a foundation for the future. If everyone feels welcome and comfortable in naturism, naturism will grow. And of course, groups like GNA and FYN have to be praised. A young couple might be reluctant to visit a resort that is dominated by the white male, if they can go in a group of their own demographics, it will be much more comfortable. Which also helps to naturally reestablish the balance.

    If you, as a white dude, want to learn more about becoming a naturist as a minority, we highly recommend reading Excuse My Nudeness (https://www.amazon.com/Excuse-My-Nudeness-happiness-believe-ebook/dp/B08PVV18ZY/). It’s the personal story of a young black Christian guy in South Africa, who starts questioning society and becomes a naturist.

    1. Morning Nick and Lins!

      First of all, thanks again for including us in the Simply Naked project. I think the concept of getting several of us together and bantering about this stuff is super timely and is a really creative way to populate the airwaves with more rational information about social nudity. We’re honored to be a part of that.

      I love your example about Thailand. We’ve (Naked Wanderings and Meandering Naturists) both visited several of those properties and like you, noticed that it was mainly westerners with an occasional brave guest from SE Asia. It hadn’t occurred to me that with us in absentia, the locals are now more comfortable trying it out. That totally makes sense.

      Charlotte and I were thinking about your comments about how things have evolved since the sixties and seventies. It occurs to us that one component of family dynamics that has changed since that time is what we call the “Mad Men,” effect. (Do you know that show?) Don Draper was not only the bread-winner but also the one to make the decisions about family priorities and agenda. “OK, kids! You don’t need your swimsuits. We’re going to a family nudist park.” I doubt Betty Draper had much collateral in that decision, except to “be beautiful” and go along with the plan. That is, of course, until Betty said “enough of this BS” and took the kids and left Don to fend for himself.

      I think that series was so successful because it documented the dissolution of the family unit of the post-war era, just about the time that American nudist parks started falling on hard times. (Coincidence?) Family structures are different now, as is the decision-making process about family values. Just food for thought.

      I didn’t know that book, but I’m on it now! Thanks for the recommendation!

      1. We know Mad Men, but didn’t really watch it.
        The thing is, lots of people think that the sexual revolution in the late sixties made such a difference. But it didn’t. Instead, it was the (much better prepared) counter-revolution afterward that has created the foundations for our society of today. Sad but true… If only our pot-smoking free-sexing grandparents had thought this thing through 😀

        Vonks had sent us his book for revision. It put us in a weird situation. On one hand, we thought that he definitely had to ask money for it because it’s very well written. On the other hand, we would wish that he published it for free because so many people would benefit from reading this story.

      2. Agreed on the sexual revolution thing, with an interesting caveat. It seems to me that Europe has largely moved away from organized religion, which (IHHO) has left most Europeans with a “live and let live” ideal on issues that used to be “regulated” by the church. (You could start with pre-marital sex and abortion and work your way out from there.) All the while, the US is much divided on this point. The conservative religious folks are more so than ever, while Millenials and younger are largely walking away from religion altogether. Our pot-smoking grandparents have either doubled down on “this is NOT how GOD wanted this to go,” or they’ve moved completely in the other direction in an effort to re-establish a value system that has evolved since the writing of the Old Testament. The gap in between those two groups is immense!

        As to your book revision, good luck in sorting that out. 🙂

    2. Hmmm… In my experience, a naked male was – and remains – a sexual threat in the eyes of many textiles. Doubly so around minors. The naked female is just viewed as overly sexual. Male nudity was the last taboo for the silver screen to overcome.

  7. another good post love the idea of everyone trying to figure out how to get more involved i amd one of the old white guys but i also am lucky to have a wife who goes to the nude beaches and a resort and spends time nude at the places but as was mentioned she is more likely just take her clothes off and enjoy the sun but i am more likely to take a walk and have conversation with others. She seems to be more at ease than a few years back when we started going to nude beaches. i agree seems most ladies seem more reserved she did go for a long walk at playlinda a few weeks ago looking for shells. thanks again enjoy all the discussions

  8. I got the notification for the zoom on that day and it was too late to change my previous commitments to attend it. Could notification be sent out sooner? Is there a way to listen to a recording out there? Jon Michael

    1. Hey there! Sorry about that. With so many people involved in so many time zones, this sometimes remains quite fluid up until a day or two before the event, especially since we’re all squeezing these sessions in around our professional lives. But for sure, I know more folks would attend if they had a bit more notice. Working on it. 🙂

  9. It was certainly exciting to read about the successes of Get Naked Australia. It’d be interesting to learn more about the mechanics/tools underlying their success and if any of them can be applied here in the USA, which I suspect is a bit more prudish & paranoid than Australian society.

    More generally it’s nice to know that social nudity is being picked up and encouraged by younger people. That their methods might not be what some of us older folk would employ really isn’t relevant. We should encourage them 🙂

    Alternative facts and reality denial: The very biased opinion of my friends and me is that this is a spreading phenomenon and one need not be discussing a sensitive issue to encounter it. Pre-Covid, my work gave me access to all sorts of human services/mental health professionals; I couldn’t count the number of ears I’ve bent on this topic. Every single one told me the exact same thing: Constructive discussion is impossible and attempts to have one are wastes of time and energy. My personal success rate of zero supports this. Shut down is inevitable so I think of avoiding such situations less as escape and more as declining to engage in a task that’s on the same level as trying to empty the Atlantic with a teaspoon.

    But back to point: In South Africa, Australia, and other countries in which social nudism seems to be faring rather better than in the US, are they drawing people SOLELY from those who went skinny-dipping as teens and are now older? My gut says no, so how are they positioning/presenting/advertising themselves differently than their counterparts in the US? Might this be something worth looking into?

    1. Wow. Super interesting comment, especially pertaining to constructive discussion. Maybe I’m just more attuned to this given all the chaos in Washington DC in recent years, but I think the concept of “agreeing to disagree” has been badly damaged by the previous president of the USA. If nothing else, that dude treated FORMAL DEBATES as bullying sessions to push through his agenda by simply talking over and shouting at his opponent(s), right up to the very last minute of his presidency. Despite the bureaucracy inherent of a government the size of ours, I think most US citizens have always held our national leaders to a standard of accountability and civility when discussing serious societal concerns. In the last four years, this has all gone to hell in a hand-basket, with people applauding this NEW construct for discussion as some sort of revelation that will make things better. Yet, at the same time, I’ve personally been involved in more discussions over the past six months that led out from the Black Lives Matter movement and quickly evolved into myriad other topics. It’s a very strange dichotomy, and I suspect the US is not the only place where this is taking place.

      Having visited South Africa AND Australia, I don’t know that they’re more accepting of social nudity than the US. (I think the UK is a bit, but still much more complicated than on the European continent.) The difference in SA and Australia is that a few folks are stepping into the mainstream through social media to make things happen, and it seems to be working. If they have an advantage, it’s that they really DON’T have the stigma associated with the legacy nudist park like we do here in the US. (There are small nudist parks in Australia, but I suspect 98% of the population doesn’t even know they exist) Here in the States, you have to FIRST convince people that the people who go to “the nudist colony” are not crazy, then begin working on the marketing angle to make a case for why you might want to imbibe. “Uneducating” is a lot more difficult than educating. 🙁

      Thanks for weighing in.

    2. Some very good thoughts here. In fact, GNA could as easily be Get Naked America.

      But there are really several different America’s out there. There’s Bible Belt America, like Arkansas where it is illegal to even talk about nudism. Yup. That’s the law, even though it is clearly unconstitutional.

      And there’s the America of the West Coast where World Naked Bike Rides can really be naked. LA had about 500 participants in 2019. Portland had almost ten thousand. I’d roll it out on the West first and maybe a few of the more favorable areas in the East and then see if it can percolate into the interior.

      1. An interesting part of the GNA story is that nudity is very much illegal in Queensland as well. There are several authorized nude beach in Sydney (NSW), and a couple great spots near Byron Bay, but you get north of that and you are taking quite a risk getting naked on a deserted beach. But as the organizer says, Australia is a big place, and it’s not too difficult to get off the beaten track and find a lonely trail or isolated lake. We would need to have a similar gameplan.

  10. Yes, “agreeing to disagree” allows both parties to move onto other topics and search for common ground without capitulating on the point of contention. If A,B, & C are on the table and they disagree on A, they move on and possibly find agreement on B & C. Now the stance seems to be “If we disagree on A, that means we disagree on B & C and the fact they are not connected is irrelevant.” So discussion is shut down. It doesn’t help that people who reject “agree to disagree” seem to ALSO be in the “talk over and shout” camp rather more often than chance would suggest.

    1. My reading is that political parties are collections of special interest groups. They are closely balanced enough that losing a major SIG places the other party in the dominant position. Agreeing on A and B and dealing with C later outrages the supporters of C enough that they’ll blow up everything rather than be left out.

      So does giving a group only half of what it wants in exchange for half of what the other side wants. Whoever gets halved sees a glass that is half empty and sees that the other people got a glass half full.

  11. ” … while Millenials and younger are largely walking away from religion altogether.”

    I wonder if the conservative religious folk are aware of this and know that time & shifting demographics are not on their side. Might this knowledge be fuelling their fervor and escalating volume?

    1. Actually, I think they ARE aware, and in fact, this is actually a catalyst of the current “winner takes all” position, on the foundation that if God is on your side, then you are clearly going to be the winner. (A position that has deteriorated into many periods of war and destruction, regardless of who people claimed their “god” to be!)

      My wife and I were both raised in the church, and I really don’t mean to go down the rabbit hole of bashing organized religion, but when that sort of ideology gets wrapped into a political agenda, there’s NO WAY we can be the land of the free with liberty and justice for all. While this may all seem off-topic on a naturist blog, I think it’s anything but, as the judgment about social nudity as a deviant behavior is largely derived from SELECTED Biblical writings, and even more so, how those have been interpreted through the ages. In fact, if I have it right, I think people used to be baptized, NAKED, in the river up to just a few generations ago.

      So the short answer, yes, I think they recognize the impact, and are likely praying for those souls lost to naked ignorance, which simply creates a deeper and wider chasm. 🙁

      1. We’ve been slowly slipping away from traditional religion since the Renaissance. The slip is accelerating. This frightens traditionalists and fear leads to irrationality and resistance. Science explains things that were once mysteries. Technology allows us to do things that only Gods could once accomplish. Don’t need them anymore to understand things or to pray to for survival.

        The biggest technological triumph has been reliably severing sexuality from reproduction. Without that modern feminism could not exist n a large scale.

        Consider that 200-400 years ago, the most conservative/reactionary elements of religion left Europe to come to America for religious freedom. Puritans and Pilgrims and Lutherans and Calvinists and militant Protestants and Huguenots and whatnot. It made America religiously cantankerous from the start while subtracting those influences from Europe. The two cultures evolved along different paths because of it.

      2. “Consider that 200-400 years ago, the most conservative/reactionary elements of religion left Europe to come to America for religious freedom.”

        I think about this ALL the time. Not only are we a nation of migrants, but we are a nation of zealots who were so pissed to the depths of their core that they would risk a trans-Atlantic crossing to get to the empty (at least, at first) expanse. One would think a couple centuries would help take the edge off, but it seems… one would be wrong.

  12. I’ve only done cursory research but it seems most of the born-again, evangelical, theologically conservative christianity in the US comes from the disintegration/dissolution of the Millerite Movement and the resultant Great Disappointments (yes, plural). Jesus was coming so thousand of the faithful sold their homes, businesses, etc. and left friends/family for some spot in Missouri (?). Jesus was coming and would bring them up to heaven. Well, apparently Jesus never got the memo. So you had thousands of people with no lives to go back to standing around saying, “Now what do we do?”

    I can’t help but wonder if some of the emotions (anger, disappointment, embarrassment at having been duped, the need to justify what in hindsight was clearly a major mistake) have been passed along the generations with the actual reasons behind them long forgotten. What I read suggests the events were rather well documented; they are quite convoluted, at least to me.

    Another thing that strikes me as odd is that nearly every evangelical/born again/etc. person I’ve ever talked to seemed completely unaware of ANYthing regarding the history of Christianity from the Ascension to some time around WWI. Even more odd is that they were also unaware of the history of their own denomination. Quite honestly they seemed to think it odd that *I* would ask anything about that and they found it odd that I was (comparatively) knowledgeable of my own denomination’s history. Whenever I think about this there’s an itch in the back of my brain that says this lack of knowledge/curiosity is important but for the life of me I’ve no idea why.

    1. Interesting thoughts about the Great Disappointments. It seems that the events at the capitol on January 6 may be just another manifestation of the most recent Disappointment. Of course, in the eyes of many Evangelicals/Christian Zionists, the end of time is eminent, and that’s why it was important to, for example, move the American embassy to Jerusalem. And so you see Jim Bakker hocking survival food on QVC (or whatever), though ironically, those buckets of freeze-dried food may have been useful during the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020.

      1. Indeed, this all weaves together. Interestingly, I was working on a cultural arts project in Israel in 2017, the intent of which was to bring Israeli and Palestinian kids together through music. All the while, the news headlines were loaded with news of moving the US embassy, (with all the implications thereof.) You know, the irony of this is that I spend hours and hours blogging to provide evidence that naturists aren’t bat-shit crazy, while at the same time, TV evangelists and politicians are promoting Qanon, QVC, anything else they can think of to push their agenda forward. What if we simply all agreed to live and let live?

  13. We can only ever see the world through our own eyes, and so, after a few years in the scientific world, I often default to scientific analogies. So….here I go with my analogies. Naturism is a complex system, and to simplify it, it is easy to think of it as a static entity, but, it’s not static. It is in a constant state of evolution, and always has been. But it is also dizzying when you consider society as a whole and how that impacts naturism….it very much reminds me of an Aerotrim (I had to look that up). If you’ve ever ridden one, Aerotrims are rather uncomfortable. It is much easier to stick to a STATIC position, unchanging, unwilling to spin, to move, to vomit. It is human nature to not want to change, and this is reflected in the naturist community, on both micro and macro levels. The problem is that if you don’t spin, and flip, and get uncomfortable, then you CANNOT see all angles and therefore cannot adapt to the change that is inevitable.

    Here is the important part…..change happens from within. So, despite the element of the status quo not wanting to change, not wanting to feel disoriented on the Aerotrim, there are those within the ranks who DO SEE the value of adopting and adapting to change. They want to shake things up, to see the system evolve to outgrow them, so that they know that everything they have loved about Naturism will continue to be loved by the next generation. They are the ones who advocate for inclusivity, for handing over the reigns, for playing a supportive role to help new leadership take charge. So, if you look at it that way, the “Old, White, RV Guys” are the ones holding the keys to change. They can either play the role of a catalyst or an inhibitor for change. They can either join forces to usher in a glorious new day. Or they can remain obstinant and watch their RV kingdoms get conquered by the new generation anyway. We all have a choice. 😉

  14. Having gone to at least 4 different nudist clubs in recent years and comparing to when I was a kid, it saddens me at the scarcity of families. Obviously my perspective is different as an adult now vs as a child in the 60s and 70s. But maybe that’s the point.

    In the 60s and 70s nudism in the US like the rest of society at the time was child centric. The success of the ASA at that time period was its appeal to outdoor activities, with emphasis on sunshine. Then came the obsession with skin cancer in the 80s and 90s. The first thing any doctor says nowadays when going outdoors is put on sunscreen. Kind of defeats the purpose of being natural. They sucked the life out of being in the sun with their fear mongering. Yes, skin cancer is serious but not to the point of vitamin D deficiency as many Americans now have. There has to be balance.

    The other point of child centric is the lack of investment in things a family wants to do. Have you seen the KOA campgrounds? Its all family oriented. Parents need a place where they don’t have to continually organize some outing just to keep the kids interested. When I was a kid, we played all day and our parents had to tell us to come back to the campsite. Back then parents could actually relax without the pressure of being a cruise director. My opinion is that the AANR lost focus on what’s important. Family is the cornerstone of sustainability for any future at all. Take a page from KOA and Great Wolf Lodge playbook.

    1. These are days when children simply aren’t allowed unsupervised play. I know it is a cliche but when I was a child we were told to get outside and play and don’t come home until dinner. Today it is called free-range-parenting and many benighted people consider it neglect or abuse. In some states, it is technically illegal. Utah even felt it had to pass a law to allow children to walk to school alone or play outside without supervision.


      Among textiles, clothing is seen as a partial defense against casual molestation. Childhood nudity is seen as an exciting factor for a pedophile. We live in a world where textiles make the rules.

      There is the subtle – and sometimes not so subtle – perception that the nudist resort is a place of exceptional vulnerability for children. There is no way for a club or parents to differentiate a child molester from a person who simply loves kids so the default is suspicion. It feels just too easy for a sick person to declare themself a nudist and join a club to have access to more vulnerable children. Precautions have to be taken to a level that would have been thought preposterous when I was a kid.

      For a club or an organization to encourage family nudism is a risky proposition in the current climate. They fear having what happened to Scouting and the Catholic Church happen to them.

      1. I see, after posting my reply to Dan, that Fred had already said it better and more succinctly than I.

    2. Let us not forget the ascendancy of the Boogeyman. Back in the salad days of my youth (I am early Gen-X), I remember playing outside for hours on end, riding my bike a good distance away from home, and there being no instant means of communication for my parents to check in on me. Boomers were even less supervised in their childhoods. There seems to have been an inherent sense of safety and security, such that there were no concerns with, for example, taking the kids to a nudist camp and turning them loose to run far and wide while the parents relaxed by the pool. Statistically, children are much safer today than they were then, but now we live in an era of perceived danger and insecurity. Parents rarely let their children wander out of the line of sight, fearful that some predator might abuse or harm the little ones in some way. And then apply that developed sense of paranoia to today’s nudist resort, and you can start to understand that parents would never turn the kids loose and unsupervised because they are fearful of the ever-present boogeyman (naked boogeyman, in this instance) and what the pervert might do or might just think about doing to their offspring. Why, the risk is just too great, in the eyes of today’s parents. (Heck, even Dad wraps a towel around his waist when he changes out of his swimsuit at the local Y, somehow fearful that something bad might happen to HIM if anyone spied his junk.)

      Sadly, both generations were wrong. We have learned now that the parents of yesteryear should have kept a closer eye on their children and should have been more wary of even the most-respected authority figures, such as priest or scout masters. Likewise, parents of today grasp their children too tightly and don’t allow them the freedom to make mistakes and learn independence. What is needed is balance between these two extremes, but unfortunately, boogeymen sell newspapers and drive web traffic, so he is probably here to stay.

  15. About the only thing I can do not to contribute to the problem of an excess of Old, White, Naked RV Guys is to not have an RV. Or maybe if I do get one, to keep it fully dressed.

  16. Forgive my late intrusion into this thoughtful discussion, but I’m completely new to nudism. I feel like my ears were burning when I read this piece and the comments because I’m white and in my 50’s, and I can imagine that my wife of 30 years might decline to participate. Thus, I’m in the target audience for this discussion. Feel free to use me as your anecdotal guinea pig (N=1).

    The Venn diagram overlaps on me: I am a new person who has discovered a keen interest in naturism (Hooray!), but I’m also a naked old guy (Boo!). And when I started researching places to go to exercise this new freedom, I quickly learned that I am not welcome in many places. What a disappointment! Does the industry want my participation and my money or not?

    Now, it seems to me that the easiest way to fix the gender imbalance is to punish the single men, and that’s just what many nudist destinations have done. “Hey, old man—you’re not welcome here. Go out and find a woman to join you and then we’ll let you in.” Well, how is that supposed to work? If my wife isn’t ready, then how do I go about searching for women who I can take along? Surely we can see how creepy it would sound–“Hey Lois, wanna go get naked with me? No, it’s not sexual and yes, I’m married, but my wife won’t do it so I’m looking for someone who will.” And as if my wife would be okay with me soliciting other females for this activity.

    I’m glad to hear that the gender imbalance seems to be moving in the other direction with the younger generation. I really like Stephane Duchene’s recent approach on a recent episode of The Naturist Living Show entitled “Single Women in Naturism.” He interviews women who come to Bare Oaks by themselves, even some who have husbands or boyfriends. Let’s find ways to attract more of the people we need rather than driving off those whom we have too many of.

    Another thing that occurs to me is that you could plan separate activities for men and for women. Resorts could have ‘men days,’ when single men are encouraged to come, and then they should have special days or events designed to attract more women.

    Those are just a couple of ideas. I really like the concept of GNA—seeking out small groups of people who want to try naked hiking, for instance. Then build from there.

    Thanks again for letting me share my two cents.

    1. You might try the bucket list approach. Quite a few people become nudists after trying. My wife said it was liberating to be among a group of like minded people who didn’t judge her on her real woman’s body shape. Women are truly bothered by other women’s cattiness more than some guy potently leering. Its bad enough when they are dressed judging each other, you know…she’s too old for that short skirt, her pants are too tight,, etc.. The point is clothing is actually more about sex than being nude. Take away the clothing and you take away the cultural sex signaling.

      As far as the fear of leering, let her know there are strictly enforced rules that will cause immediate removal of said offender. Every person and not just women are entitled to not be objectified. If she believes in feminism that women are entitled to wear anything they want and not be leered at, cat called or accosted (objectified) even if they choose to be naked, this belief can only be realized in a nudist camp and has been practiced for over 100 years in the US. Try that in any city of any size… Only in a nudist camp can you be truly accepted as you really are.
      A nudist practices what feminists only dream of. And it applies to men and children as well. Isn’t that the kind of like minded people you want to surround yourself with?

      Once my wife the saw pictures in the AANR Bulletin and various nudist club websites showing real women, not the air brushed models she was put at ease. Self acceptance is a big issue for women in the era of the perfect body. You know its a joke to go to a nudist camp to see models, right? As a comedian once said, you don’t go to a nudist camp to see perfect bodies.

      The important thing is to find out what the real objection might be. Is it simply cultural? Is it religious? There are good answers to both objections. As a Christian or Jewish person, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden directly overcomes this issue since God Himself set up the perfect living circumstance for them and fully expected them to live that way tending His garden. God said it was good. A dirty mind does not invalidate God’s original (perfect) intent. The potential for evil (as in them being ashamed) does not bar us from living according to God’s perfect design. From a religious point of view, being a nudist is practicing a Godly life overcoming the shackles of sin.

      1. Thanks for this thoughtful reply to Bill. Indeed, if it’s a matter of body confidence issues, visiting a nudist place in the US should ease that concern pretty quickly. In fact, I am one among many who have admitted to feeling MUCH more awkward and uncomfortable in an ill-fitting swimsuit than completely naked. That was a real epiphany for me back at the start, and remains true to this day.

  17. So I don’t forget: resort buddies, female and family safe spaces, and advertising by gender. Elaboration to follow.