NLS Podcast Episode 77: Nude Volleyball Super Bowl at White Thorn Lodge, PA
The Naturist Living Show podcast is back! The show was on hold for a few months as host Stéphane Deschênes became too busy with running Bare Oaks Naturist Park and other matters over the course of the summer season.
But now the show returns with a new episode about the nude volleyball Super Bowl at White Thorn Lodge, Pennsylvania.
Now in its 45th year, the nude volleyball Super Bowl is still one of the biggest naturist events in the USA. Stéphane reported that 994 people attended the 2015 tournament, and there were 60 teams. This is a smaller attendance than in previous years, but this may have been partially due to the cold, rainy weather they had this year.
At its peak, in the 90’s, the Super Bowl had 2,000 people and reached its largest number of players with 97 teams.
In the podcast, Stéphane interviews Betty Allwin, who founded the nude volleyball Super Bowl tournament with her husband Wayne in 1971. (Sadly, Wayne passed away in 2012).
Betty explains that she and Wayne were avid volleyball players and originally members of Penn Sylvan. They used to play games at different nudist clubs and had started a volleyball travel club called the “Tri-State League.” Super Bowl was created when they decided to bring the various teams together for one tournament at White Thorn.
White Thorn Lodge is a co-operative club that was founded 1961 (just 10 years before the first Super Bowl). In 1971, the club had only one volleyball court but they added more as the tournament grew and expanded.
The Super Bowl has attracted players from all over the world and has remained highly competitive with talented young athletes. In 2009, ESPN brought a team and reported on the event. Everyone is (and always has been) required to play naked, and the ESPN players went along with that, too.
As attendance increased, it went from being a one-weekend tournament to an event that now spans 10 days.
As Stéphane notes, the nude volleyball tournament also attracts a lot of young adults. Part of the young contingency comes from the Tiki Tombas, a private volleyball travel group mostly made up of people in their mid to late 20’s and 30’s.
The tournament and WTL’s fees in general are very affordable for young naturists. It’s only $175 to attend for the whole 10 days.
During the interview with Betty, we learn the origin of the strict photography policy that I’ve mentioned in previous posts about nudist club photo policies. As I had mentioned, White Thorn lodge does not permit any photography or cameras during the Super Bowl event and you have to go into a designated little tent if you want to use your cell phone for any reason.
Betty said that they created this rule because there were so many outsiders that would come in just for the tournament, such as volleyball teams from local colleges. This was meant to protect them from being secretly photographed or filmed.
She also said that AANR (and its precursor, the ASA) wouldn’t recognize or support the tournament because of this no-photo rule. I found this to be quite odd.
It’s funny to think how this policy originated when it was much harder for an image to be distributed. It wasn’t as if someone could just post a photo online and share it instantly with thousands or millions of people as they could do today.
The club still maintains this photography rule, and surprisingly, they don’t even employ any designated photographers just to document it for themselves.
Thus there are no photos to share here from the 2015 event.
In any case, it’s pretty amazing that the Super Bowl has been happening for 45 years and remains a pretty successful event with hundreds of people attending every year. Stéphane remarks that White Thorn is a co-operative club run by the members, and big events like this often don’t work at co-ops because members don’t want the hassle. But at White Thorn, it works. A lot of the members volunteer and work hard to make sure everything runs smoothly.
White Thorn itself is a beautiful club that I’d love to visit again someday. (If only it weren’t so far, out near Ohio!) The facilities are great, and the people we met during our brief visit a few years ago were very nice.
You can listen to the full interview with Betty on the podcast episode below or go to The Naturist Living Show website. In addition to Betty, Stéphane interviews Tex, one of the original founders of White Thorn, as well as Hippie Terry, a current member who’s credited with making volleyball popular again among the club’s members.
- White Thorn Lodge website
- Naturist Living Show Episode 56 – Michele Rauter: A Pro Volleyball Player in the Naturist World
- Naturist Living Show Episode 4 – Nude Volleyball