New Nudism And Younger Nudists
Guest Nudist Blog “New Nudism” by KFFB – Kingston-Frontenac Free Body Society
We often see articles from established, traditional nudist organizations lamenting the scarcity of younger members and, at times, forecasting the imminent death of naturism unless something is done about it.
Perhaps this is a good time to look at what established clubs, groups and parks can do to support and encourage potential new, younger members.
Support Nude Friendly Clothing-Optional Public Places
We know very few young people who got into nudism and naturism by saying “you know, I think we should drive to an expensive private park to hang out naked with people who have nothing in common with us.” A far more common scenario is that there happens to be a clothing-optional beach nearby that’s a good place to hang out, or someone suggests skinny-dipping one hot night on a camping trip and it becomes the norm for the week. Only once this sort of thing has become common do people start thinking about making naturism part of their escape from daily life.
People only go to naturist campgrounds, parks and resorts once they’re already convinced that it’s a good idea. That initial introduction needs to happen in a casual, relaxed, youth-friendly public space – Wreck Beach in Vancouver is perhaps the continent’s best example – where comfort zones can be adjusted gradually, incrementally, without pressure.
The creation and protection of public, clothing-optional beaches and parks is the single biggest reason for groups like FCN and AANR to exist, and the number of such sites created, maintained or lost is perhaps the only valid quantitative metric of the success of these organizations. Without a large number of excellent free, public clothing-optional sites to introduce new people to the nudie life, private parks will indeed begin to die off.
New Nudism: Promote Nudist and Naturist Values
Equality. Respect. Honesty. Living in harmony with nature. Open-mindedness towards new ideas. A community completely free of crime.
These things are at the heart of what naturism is about, and they are very relevant – and very appealing – to the millennial generation. The clothing-optional nature of the resulting environment is a natural consequence of these values.
Sometimes, though, the deeper and more important aspects of naturism get forgotten, and you’re left with just “that park where everyone’s naked.” That can work for a short while, but the most successful nudist venues always have a strong focus on their core purpose and values.
New Nudism: Recognize Cultural Differences
The emotional need to belong, to fit in, is an important part of the human psyche. As a rule, millennials don’t feel like they fit in with baby-boomers. The age difference is often not that big of a deal, but the cultural and socioeconomic differences can be overwhelming.
These differences aren’t only about superficial things like musical taste or popular trends; issues like that have been causing generation gaps for centuries. This time around, they seem to go much deeper – perhaps culminating in the widespread belief among young adults that the now-retiring generation, having had an easy run with strong economic growth in a simpler world, is leaving today’s young adults to clean up the environmental, political and economic problems they created. Whether you believe this view to be more true or less true, it has an undeniable chilling effect on cross-generational relations.
If an environment is dominated by baby-boomer culture, then (whether nude or textile) it will not attract twenty- and thirty-somethings in any significant numbers. Businesses hoping to attract a younger generation need to recongize that these cultural differences are a make-or-break factor. It’s not necessary to chase away the older crowd, of course, but there do need to be events, activities and facilities suitable for the demographic a club is trying to attract. This includes choosing staff, event planners, DJs and so on who come from that demographic, engaging with the communication channels they prefer to use, and paying close attention to the issues that they are treating as important.
New Nudism: Understand the Economic Situation
It is part of human nature to look at everyone else’s circumstances through the lens of our own experience and position in life.
Consider a naturist park that charges a grounds fee of $20 per person per day, plus $5 per person per night to camp. For a couple to spend a weekend here, they’re looking at $90 plus tax just for access to the park, plus perhaps 200 to 300 km of driving – another $70 to $100, at typical cheap-student-car running costs – to get there and back. While a $200 weekend might seem quite reasonable to someone with a good income, land ownership and a pension plan, it’s a prohibitive sum to a graduate student or a retail worker who’s already struggling to afford rent, bills and groceries.
Naturist business owners hoping to attract a younger demographic need to realize that the economic reality facing today’s young people is far more precarious than it was thirty or forty years ago. A park whose business model is based on trailer lot rentals and annual membership fees will have a virtually impossible time attracting anyone under 40 – this demographic simply cannot afford, in time or in money, to patronize such a business.
Student and young adult discounts – specials like “$25 for the weekend with a 1980 or newer ID” – are a prerequisite for attracting this demographic. They just can’t afford it otherwise, and will reject the entire lifestyle and culture as “for old rich folks only.” We might also suggest offering more flexible, cost-effective membership schemes that are suitable for young individuals and couples who would be willing to come to your park five or ten days a year, but can’t justify or afford the costly annual memberships intended for folks who spend half the summer there. Parks near university towns should seriously consider arranging (and advertising) shuttle service from the student life hub on a few special weekends, such as spring break and the end of exams, that coincide with the student population’s rare blocks of free time.
New Nudism: When Practicing Naturism – Always Be Respectful
Respect is supposed to be at the core of what naturism is all about. While we have found that the people at naturist parks, resorts and beaches are generally much more polite and more respectful than their counterparts in similar textile environments, there’s usually at least one exception – and often more.
Respect is not just about being polite, friendly and supportive. It’s also about recognizing when people are uncomfortable and when they would prefer to be left alone. The millennial generation does not, as a rule, welcome conversational advances from outside existing peer groups. Most of them were taught as children to assume older strangers are dangerous, and that conditioning is still very much in effect.
When a group of twenty-somethings is approached by an older man who fails to recognize that his polite attempts to join the group are not welcome, they will begin to perceive that man – and anyone who appears to belong to the same group – as creepy and disrespectful. In textile environments, this is not a huge problem, but naturist environments frequently have that one guy who, with good intentions but completely failing to understand youth culture, promotes a strongly negative image of the entire community.
If a naturist community wants to welcome new and younger members, the existing members need to be aware of this issue and willing to take quick, decisive action to correct it when necessary. Everyone will open up and socialize when they’re ready to do so; attempting to rush the issue will only push people away.
The Dawn Of New Nudism: The Challenge Is Set
Will any naturist resorts or parks take on the challenge of attracting and welcoming younger members? We hope so. The Kingston-Frontenac Free Body Society is going to try to organize a trip to every place within driving range of Kingston, ON that expresses serious interest in solving the “generation gap.” Although I can’t speak for YNA’s leadership, I suspect they’ll do the same for New York.
Let’s get the conversation started.
This guest post by About New Nudism And Attracting Young Nudists Was Written By Our Canadian Friends – Matt & Katy of KFFBS (Kingston-Frontenac Free Body Society) For: Young Naturists & Young Nudists America YNA