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What are the Real Problems with Young People and Nudist Resorts?

Monday, May 14, 2007

An article was published yesterday in the Hartford Courant titled “Aging Nudists Have Trouble Attracting Young” by Cara Rubinsky. According to the author, “No one is quite sure why nudity, at least the organized version promoted by the AANR and similar groups, is such a tough sell for younger people.” Since it appears the closest the author probably got to a nudist resort was through a phone connection, I can offer some different opinions.

I’m no expert. I am just a casual nudist participant who would like to see more young people in the under-35 generation like myself participate so that it all doesn’t go away when the baby boomers, well, die off.

If nudism in the US is going to stay, nudist business owners need to understand the market. It is Business 101 that markets change over time and that baby boomers differ from gen X, Y and the millennials.

Why?

Well, the world has changed and become more complicated over the years. The younger generation has different needs from baby boomers. Each individual in the younger generation has to decide such things as “Is nude recreation where I want to spend my time and money as compared to other things like text messaging, cell phone bills and running up credit card debt?” The baby boomers didn’t have this complexity when they grew up.

If you want to understand the difference in complexity, just start listing the issues: the US educational system, US healthcare, culture, religion, economics, law, media, technology, immigration, globalization, etc. It gets complicated fast. In all areas, the younger generation is experiencing a different world. They have different needs. The market has changed.

Business owners need to adapt the business model. You can’t sell a horse carriage to a racecar driver. Many US nudist resorts have failed to adapt or even adjust the business model.

I like Berkshire Vista in Massachusetts as a nice nudist campground that has basic accommodations, sizeable grounds and a good pool and hot tubs. As a member of the younger generation, I do not feel that they cater to me in any way. Their ad in AANR’s The Bulletin monthly newspaper has been the same for years, much like the facility. Sorry, the younger generation wants new, unique and hip.

If you are young and want entertainment at Berkshire Vista, forget it. The DJ Dance is, well, not like going to a night club with techo music. Instead, think classics.

Berkshire Vista does have a ping-pong table in a small rec room, however the rec room is intended for kids. When we visited on a day kids were not in the campground, the rec room door was locked and we were told we couldn’t use the rec room. “Nice! Well, I guess we will leave early then.”

That’s no way to adapt to the market Berkshire Vista. But don’t you worry, I will be back someday as the rest of the place is suitable for nude recreation - but I hope some changes are tested to try to make the place better and attract more people.

The Hartford Courant article mentions Solair Recreation League, called a “nudist camp” by the author, located in northeastern Connecticut. The author interviews Gordon Adams at Solair, probably by phone:

‘"We don't want the place to turn into a gated assisted living facility," said Gordon Adams, membership director at Solair Recreation League, a nudist camp in northeast Connecticut that recently invited students from dozens of New England schools to a college day in hopes of piquing their interest.’ (Source: Hartford Courant, May 14, 2007)

I actually visited Solair once last year and can speak with limited authority, though more than the Hartford Courant author. Solair is a well-kept facility worth a summer weekend visit, but in my experience, the membership policy and first 30 to 60 minutes inside the gate could be considered awkward by first-timers, especially younger ones.

As my wife and I understood it, Solair is a membership club and we could visit Solair 4 times. After the forth time, we’d need a membership. We’re not ready for that kind of commitment. There are 270 AANR affiliated destinations. We want to try them all and not be locked in.

Additionally, during each of the first 4 visits, we were supposed to seek out a person with a yellow hat. The yellow hat people do memberships and tell you about the place. After they do that, they’re supposed to sign your membership sheet.

Nice idea and I’m sure some people love it, but not us. We just went to Solair wanting to relax and get away from the complications of life for a day. We did not want to talk to yellow hat people. Understand the market: Not everyone who goes to a nudist resort wants to socialize every single time, so don't force them or they will not be happy. Then, the younger ones will gets blogs like me and soapbox for the whole world not to read.

OK, so we got through all the paperwork at the front desk (FYI, younger people really hate paperwork and expect everything to be computerized and completed instantly) and then we got back in our car and followed an older naked guy in a 4-seater golf cart to the main parking area.

We were asked to take off our clothes, while the guy waited, and then we got in the back of the golf cart (with our towels) for a tour around the place. To us who have visited several destinations, this was fine, but to a younger first-timer it may be extremely awkward, sorry to say. The tour was nice, but should have been optional. Give me a map. Let me walk around and do it my way...just like the internet...click, click, click... The younger generation likes options and customization.

Solair can do what they want for whatever reasons they want, but they seem to be over-complicating the experience. By comparison, Berkshire Vista and most other places we've visited take only a few minutes at the gate if you show an AANR membership card. Then, you are in and enjoying the place.

Once you get through Solair’s initial steps, the rest is better. Solair's facility is well-kept and spread out with a lot of activities. The pool, though smaller, is is good for lounging and playing water volleyball. A lot of people were swimming in the lake too.

Next to the pool, in the recreation building, there was a hot tub and a unisex, multi-stalled bathroom (which is unique in my limited experience). On the first floor of the recreation room there was an ice cream stand, lounge, ping-pong table and pool table. (The pool table was not free though. Grrrrrr.) There are other nudist facilities on site and recreation options, but I will save that for another post that will cover all of the good things about Solair.

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11 Comments:

At 11:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

very good observations. i think u r right on with ur notes. have u sent this to aanr? they need to read this. yeah, most of the ads in the aanr bulletin look like they are geared for AARP, only naked.
thanks for the blog!

 
At 5:55 PM, Blogger John Henry said...

Thanks for the feedback.

AANR and member organizations have some tough challenges. I wish I had the answers. I will certainly try to help.

 
At 10:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A parallel phenomenon, which may shed light on the declining popularity of nudist RESORTS to young people, is the decline nudist participation by young people at free BEACHES, like Wreck Beach in Vancouver. Yesterday there were plenty of people under 30 there, but they mostly treat it as a textile or topless beach, whereas the real nudists are primarily baby boomers.
Steve

 
At 5:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've commented on a real and complicated problem. I am a devoted nudist and consider myself young at heart, but my driver's license says otherwise. ;-(
I see my children, some of whom were raised as nudist falling away. Why?
1) lack of other children at nudist clubs
2) a culture that given them unrealistic views of what their body should look like
3) a culture which as sexulized the human body
4) lack of experience being naked around other people - I swam naked at the Boys Club and showered naked at school after gym - my kids did not
5) the idea that being around people of your own gender naked is "Gay"
6) the resultant age gap which makes it difficult to enjoy nude recreation

AANR is interested, but it's going to be a hard nut to crack and we are running out of time!

 
At 6:18 PM, Blogger John Henry said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. Enlightening.

On the point about culture sexualizing the human body, this becomes very apparent in movies. I cannot recall ever seeing the non-sexual use of nudity in a Hollywood movie.

On the positive side for the future of nudism is the media coverage on television, newspapers, magazines and the web.

 
At 6:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff. Be informed though that I'm reacting on this post from Europe. (fyi I live in Belgium, with capital Brussels in Europe) It seems like naturism is on the decline everywhere, not only in Europe, as I read above.

My wife (29) and I (37) are doubting whether to keep on working the daily job, or to dismiss in order to initiate an extremely small camp site in France (really no more than 6 places) for only young naturist people to invite in.

Why? Over the past decade we visited numerous resorts (El Portus in Spain, La Jenny in France, Athena in Belgium, Flevo Natuur in Holland) and every time we experienced the same sh*t ... No youngsters around us and 90% of men doing nothing but voyeurism on the youngsters while wearing their mirror looking sunglasses, seating them 3 meters from your towel. Brochures mentionning single men can not enter, while half of the voyeurs around you are single men following the youngsters all around the camp site.

Naturist resorts are not at all about naturism these days, they are abt money, which explains why the very early hardcore resorts such as Montalivet in France have turned into 'clothing optional' resorts these days. It doubles the income as textiles and naked people can now lay side by side.

Another place such as cap d'agde (world fameus as being a naturist city) today has turned into everything but naturism. It's filled with gay people, exhibitionists, etc. who get a kick from having sex within a 5 meter limit from a family with kids aged under ten.

If you are young and you want to try out naturism, you immediately get confronted with these negative aspects. Set a 20 year old girl alone on a public naturist beach, and see what happens in no more than 10 minutes time. Set a 20 year old girl alone in a naturist resort on a chair near the pool, and see what happens in only 10 minutes time.

It my wife's and my belief that young people do not want infrastructures that have adapted over time as you claim should have, but it is the surrounding in which naturism can be experienced without voyeurism, without being felt the only young ones in a resort full of people which is what young naturists are looking for.
Daniel.

 
At 11:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah, the old people just don't get it. we don't want "woodstock" who fricken cares about some ancient concert? and we don't want to cancer fry while sittin' by the pool gettin' drunk. that is so lame.

 
At 5:37 PM, Blogger John Henry said...

Anonymous, Yes, I hear you about the beaches. The law needs to protect the nudist from the voyeurs.

Other Anonymous, I agree that the original Woodstock was for a different generation with different values. Look at what happened at the more recent iterations of Woodstock. It was a different atmosphere altogether.

 
At 9:30 AM, Anonymous C & D said...

My girl and I planned to go to Solair yesterday (we're late 30s). Took the day off to relax and hopefully sit by the pool. Sent an email to confirm that we would be coming and got a response that we were not allowed to visit unless it was a weekend or holiday. Needless to say, we won't be visiting. No big deal, but wow, not a way to encourage the younger crowd. C & D

 
At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband and I are looking for a nudist group where we can spend a couple weeks during the summer. we are mid 30's and fit and we dont want to spend two weeks at a nudist retirement community. Does any have any suggestions...is there any out there who is a member of a community that is age diversified?

 
At 6:41 AM, Blogger John Henry said...

@anonymous Though they are no longer a member of AANR, I've found Paradise Lakes to be age diversified and one of the best nudist destinations in the USA. As a 30-something myself, I don't feel like I'm at a retirement community there.

 

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