Read A 1980’s Nudist Park Management Guide
Let’s take a trip back in nudie time to the 1980’s … a far more prosperous time for the nudist industry. Many nudist clubs were succeeding and growing. It seemed like an opportune time to open a new nudist club or resort.
Of course, being in a pre-Internet era, people had to rely on books and other sources of information about starting a nudist business or co-op club.
One of these sources was: a printed “Guide To Nudist Park Management” by Jim Hadley and Bernice Goldberg.
We’re not 100% sure when this booklet first came out. That said, the early 80’s, sometime between 1978 and 1986, is our best guess.
This guide to nudist park management is 53 pages long. It was typewritten and bounded together by a metal clasp – Oh the days before everything was cheap plastic!
It seems that in 1986, the authors made it into an actual 86 page hardcover book. It was printed by the American Sunbathing Association (present-day AANR). But we’ve never seen the book and know little about it.
In the introduction there are short bios about its authors, Jim and Bernice. Jim and his wife Lyda founded Cypress Cove Nudist Resort in Florida in 1964. Cypress Cove is still being run today as a big resort and successful family business. (Strangely he doesn’t name his own resort in the bio.) He also wrote articles for nudist magazines and was obviously very involved in the nudist community and ASA.
The nudist park guide offers some insight into what was happening in the industry back then. Some sections consist of basic information that would apply to any business, such as how to set up a business, do bookkeeping, legal considerations, etc. Other sections are more specifically about nudist resorts.
Though some things have changed and some haven’t, much of the advice given here would still apply today. In fact there are nudist resorts that would benefit from hearing some of it!
For example, the guide tells potential club owners that there is “no need to hide in the woods.” They should make themselves easy to find and put a sign on the road. Well, wouldn’t you know, we still get lost trying to find clubs that are still essentially hiding in the woods.
As you can see in the “Nudism Within The Law” section, one of the pertinent issues for nudist clubs at the time was the illegal practice of charging single men a higher entry fee than single women. Some clubs were sued for discrimination in the 70’s, so the authors strongly advise against doing this.
But as far as policies and memberships go, they generally avoid telling clubs what to do. Instead, they try to present options, and this is where the “Membership Screening” goes into a murky area:
“…in the light of constantly changing social values, it is important to examine your own views and prejudices. A club owner or manager has to come to terms with himself and what he can live with, but he also has to consider the makeup of the membership in order to determine what would be acceptable to it. Then both considerations must be weighed against what is good and bad for the business. Consideration, for instance, must be given to the word “couple”. Does this apply only to heterosexual married people. What about the couple that is not married? Unmarried couples shift and change and with knowledge of their status you may want to give a membership to one while the other retains the right to be a non-paying “guest” for the duration of their relationship (or membership!). What happens when a couple divorces…who gets “custody” of the membership?”
This fretting over unmarried couples sounds pretty silly today, but what about the “heterosexual” part? Are they condoning a policy of only permitting heterosexual married couples to join? Or is it an ill-considered way of asking people to consider their “prejudices”? We don’t know how many clubs officially (or unofficially) didn’t allow LGBT people back then, but sadly have no doubt that some didn’t. Sadder still is the fact that some clubs may still be practicing similar forms of prejudices today.
On a lighter note, the ASA conducted general surveys of nudists in the 70’s. The excerpted answers in Appendix III are also interesting. When asked about their occupation, the greatest percentage answered “housewife,” and 54.3% were over age 50.
The booklet is fun to look at and can be read in its entirety below. (All misspellings and underlined words are replicating the original.) You can also click here to read the original pages in a PDF format.
[As a side note, there’s a mention of “Family Jungle Ball” as a sport under “A look at facilities.” Anyone have any idea what this is??]
Nudism Within The Law
Consult The Professionals
The Organization of The Business
Locating The Property
Determining Property Value
Meet The Competition
A Look At Facilities
How Do You Keep Members?
Accounting and Business Management
The Co-Op Club and Travel Club
Appendix I – A Poll of Club Managers
Appendix II – Comments From Managers
Appendix III – Excerpts From ASA Surveys
Some nudist parks are operated as cooperative, nonprofit ventures. Others are started by individuals or groups simply to enjoy a life style, with little or no thought of making a profit. But for some owners, a nudist park is the sole source of income for the family. This booklet is primarily aimed at those interested in operating a nudist park as a profit-making business.
We are addressing ourselves to dedicated nudists, having little or no business experience, but with a burning desire to open a nudist park. It’s a primer, designed to help in the development of the kind of park where members want to enjoy weekend recreation and vacations, or even develop a permanent residence. No one has all of the answers nor does any one answer apply to all of the clubs. We are attempting to lead you to the path of success. We are hoping to guide you in setting up the business, purchasing or leasing the property, developing facilities, building membership and handling local public relations.
Although the decision to open a nudist park should be viewed as a commercial, money-making venture, it is far from a “get rich quick” scheme. It requires dedication, hard work and attention to detail. It requires step-by-step short range and long term planning.
The failure of many new businesses is often unnecessary. If you look before you leap, that is, if you enter into a business situation with full awareness of the responsibilities involved and with adequate preparation, you have programmed yourself for success. So, rule number one becomes, prepare and plan before starting and make sure that you have all of the facts and figures needed to make responsible business decisions each step of the way.
The future can be managed by being aware of the mistakes of others and avoiding them yourself.
Many successful club owners gave input to the writers. We are grateful to them and have tried to pass some of their experience on to you. See Appendix I for some of their comments.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS — Jim Hadley has been involved in nudism for 29 years. During the late 1950’s and 1960’s his photos and articles appeared in most of the nudist magazines of that period. Currently he owns and operates one of the most successful family nudist resorts in the country.
Bernice Goldberg, an educator by background, has also worked as a script writer for radio and television. Her most recent work was a study guide, designed for potential real estate associates and brokers preparing to take the state examinations. She has used her talent to pull together in one package facts, pieces of information and comments from experienced people.
The authors hope that this booklet will help you in planning your park.
NUDISM WITHIN THE LAW
There are very few places where a nudist club cannot be located if the property is properly zoned and privacy fencing insures that no irate citizen will scream “indecent exposure.” This means that you should examine the obscenity laws in your state and make sure that you do not violate them.
ASA offers legal counsel and help on a cost sharing basis if a club is in compliance with all ordinances and licensing requirements for similar facilities not practicing nudity and is being hassled due to the practice of nudism or establishment of a nudist park. Remember, the practice of nudism does not require a license but the operation of a business does!
Nudist clubs are being bothered less and less by the local authorities. If you follow the steps outlined in this booklet and start with good public relations there should be no problem.
Traditionally nudist operators have discriminated against single men, mostly by charging higher fees. A typical fee structure might be: Family — $50, Single man — $75 and Single woman — $25. This price discrimination seldom encouraged more single women to join our ranks nor did it limit the number of male applicants. Over the years this practice simply became “the way we do it.”
Apparently this differential based on sex must stop! Sol Stern, ASA legal counsel, forwarded this writer a letter from Don Dennison, ASA attorney, dealing with a Civil Rights suit against three New Jersey nudist parks. I quote from Don’s letter: “The State is interested in insuring that the facilities named above have changed their fee schedule so that prices for single males are comparable (to those) for single females. I am not sure as to whether these practices are still going on, and foresee that with the push for equality in all areas of the law price discrimination will eventually have to cease in the nudist movement.”
Sol adds, “I concur with Don’s opinion and have been counseling our clubs and leaders to comply with the law and thus avoid legal problems.”
The case above concerns discrimination based on sex which, other than a change in fee schedules, should not materially affect any nudist club. But do nudist clubs restrict membership in other ways? Of course! That’s what private club membership is all about. Without a restrictive admission policy you might as well open your gate as a public facility to anyone who will pay the fee.
Your policy may restrict membership to families, with no single people allowed membership. Or membership may be restricted to singles if that is the policy you elect. The point is that you and your club members have the right to determine the composition of your membership, a right constitutionally guaranteed by the provision of the First Amendment protecting freedom of association and privacy.
The history of nudism is filled with stories of raids, arrests, prosecution and even persecution of nudists simply because they practiced nudity — even though their practice of nudity was confined to private and secluded places. The legal climate has changed along with public acceptance of the idea. Occasionally we hear of a State Legislator proposing anti-nudity legislation but so far the ASA has done a fine job of blocking these proposals.
In summation, meet all of the ordinances and licensing requirements of a similar facility not practicing nudism, check the obscenity laws in your state, examine your fee structure with regard to discrimination because of sex and practice Nudism Within the Law.
CONSULT THE PROFESSIONALS
The Attorney: States have varying laws about nudity on the books. Your first step should be to consult an attorney away from the area in which you plan to locate, but within the state. If you choose an attorney from your own backyard initially, he may have some personal or political reasons for discouraging you.
Having cleared up the legality of your decision, find an attorney in your local area and totally involve him in the setting up of your business organization and your real estate purchasing. As your relationship develops into a warm, friendly one, he will find it very hard to be negative if you say something like, “By the way, the campground is going to be for nudists. I don’t see any problem, do you?” He knows you. He likes you. You have met all of the legal requirements for operating such a campground. He will have to agree that you are operating within your legal rights.
Real Estate Broker: Whether or not you care to tell your real estate broker that you plan to operate a nudist park, you must tell the broker that you are planning to operate a swim club, campground or whatever. This will allow the broker to investigate the zoning for the properties he would like to show you.
City Hall: Find out about the licensing requirements in the area you are considering. What are the health regulations for operating a swim club? A campground? Find out about the building codes and restrictions. This might also be a good time to find out about the fencing requirements for a pool and whether or not a lifeguard is needed. Have everything clearly spelled out before you buy a specific piece of property. Without this knowledge you might buy property which would be impractical to develop or which might involve unpleasant interactions with local authorities.
THE ORGANIZATION OF THE BUSINESS
A profit-making business may be set up in any one of several ways and making a decision as to how you will set up your business must precede the purchase of any property!
The Sole Proprietorship exists when one person owns the business and is personally responsible for all of the debts and losses but also receives all of the profits. This person may or may not actually operate the business.
When two or more people engage in a business venture and agree to share the profits and the losses we have a General Partnership. The amount of ownership does not need to be the same, nor is money on both or all parts essential. One or two partners may put in money and Others put in skill, time, labor and/or experience. Each partner is personally responsible for the debts of the partnership and each partner shares the percentage of profit agreed to when the partnership was formed.
When one or more general partners and one or more limited partners enter into an agreement we have what is called a Limited Partnership. A certificate must be filed with the Secretary of State and a certified copy must be recorded with Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county in which the business is located. A limited partner is actually an investor. He may not be involved in the operation of the business! The amount of his investment is recorded in the certificate and the limited partner Cs) is only liable for losses up to any unpaid part of his agreed-to investment. This investment may be in the form of cash, real estate or personal property. The general or working partner (s) are personally responsible for debts as in the General Partnership (above).
The Unincorporated Association is usually informally organized and is the form taken by many condominium associations. It can incur debts and liabilities and members are liable to creditors and others individually and totally. This may not be a good route to take because of excess personal liability. Example: A visitor trips on a hole in the road and breaks a leg. The “association” does not have enough insurance. Each member may be personally sued.
In the Corporation for Profit a proposed charter, called Articles of Incorporation, is filed with the Secretary of State who issues a Certificate of Incorporation. This is legal notice of the filing and acceptance of the charter. While historically a corporation meant that more than one person was involved, a corporation may now be formed by only one person. The advantage of setting up a corporation is that a corporation, by law, is considered an artificial person.
That means that you, Mr. Real Person, cannot be held personally responsible for the debts and certain acts of the corporation. The disadvantage is that corporate profits are taxed and then, when dividends are paid the person receiving the money must pay income tax on it.
In the Sub—Chapter S Corporation profits are distributed among the stockholders and losses incurred by them in much the same way as a partnership, but, the Sub—Chapter S Corporate Structure limits the liabilities as in the Corporation for Profit.
If you are going to organize as a Sole Proprietorship all you need is the proper licensing and you’re ready to go! If you are going to operate as any of the other business entities, see a lawyer!
LOCATING THE PROPERTY
If you look at your property as an investment that will appreciate in value apart from the business aspect, you will have less trouble with the financing. An investment in real property in an area of population growth increases at a rate of 4 times the population increase!
There are four basic considerations for the purchase of any property: Location, price, quality and timing (is this the right time to buy in the area under consideration or have prices already inflated to a prohibitive degree).
Considering the use of the property for a nudist park suggests additional items which must be considered.
1. Is there water for drinking and sanitary purposes?
2. Is there natural water for swimming? Is it unpolluted?
3. Is there privacy screening courtesy of Mother Nature or is it feasible to fence off the developed portion for total privacy.
4 Are there good roads leading to the property? Do any public roads bisect it?
5. Is there enough level ground for athletic fields and courts?
6. What is the availability of electricity and other utilities?
7. If the property is on a lake is the entire shore line being purchased? If not, what is planned for the lakefront areas not included in the purchase.
How will the property be used? To put it another way, what type business will you operate? Will you run it as a daily recreation area like a swim club? Will you want overnight tenters? What about trailer hook—ups? Will you have rental units? Will there be permanent residents? Will you be erecting permanent structures or will you want mobile homes?
After deciding upon the type of facility you will develop, draw a circle on the map with the center being the largest city in the area from which you expect to draw. Within the circle the population should be at least 50,000. Your park could be located anywhere within the circle. Day visitors will probably not drive more than an hour, so a park depending heavily on day visitors should not be more than 45 miles from a center of population. If you are planning to provide facilities for overnighters you can wander further afield. Weekenders will generally travel one and a half to two hours, so you can widen your circle to a 90—mile radius. If you want to attract visitors to stay for a week or a season distance is not the factor. The consideration is that the area be one of scenic beauty or tourist attractions. This may add some circles to your map.
Now, as you begin to search and find a piece of property that may be suitable, your next step would be to check the zoning.
DETERMINING PROPERTY VALUE
You have found the property you want! It is properly zoned. The next question you need to ask yourself is — is the property worth what the seller is asking? You can employ a professional appraiser or you can learn a very easy, fundamental way of appraising property.
Determine the Land Value — your real estate broker will advise you of comparable acreage recently sold and how much it sold for per acre.
Determine Building Replacement Cost — If there are any buildings talk to a local builder and determine the square foot replacement cost.
Determine Depreciation — Find out when the buildings were built and decide how many more years you can expect to get out of them. Example: A building costing $10,000 to build and expected to last 10 years depreciates at 10% or $1,000 per year.
Then — Land Value plus current or Depreciated Value of the Buildings equals Total Value of the Property.
This method will give you some yardstick so that you “won’t get taken,” especially if someone decides that because of the “special use” it’s worth a lot more than it really is.
Zoning — Restrictions placed on the use of property for certain businesses or types of residences in certain areas.
Having located an ideal piece of property just the right distance from the city — DON’T BUY until you determine the zoning is appropriate.
Does the zoning permit the use of the property for the purpose you have in mind? This does not mean nudity! It means that if you want to operate a Mobile Home Park, it will be permitted. The same applies to recreational use of other types such as swim club, campgrounds, etc. If the property almost, but not quite, meets the zoning code you might want to apply for a variance. A variance means a slight bending of the zoning. If you’re way out in left field but you love the property you may want to apply for a special exception. This means you would like the rules broken! Example: a campground in an area zoned residential. This may not be a good idea as you could start out by causing a furor and you don’t want to antagonize neighbors.
Many clubs which have gotten into legal problems felt that they were hassled because they were operating a nudist park. Not so! Usually it is a zoning violation.
The world of finance is a complicated one, so a banker, accountant and/or attorney should take you by the hand! It is wise, however, to have a smattering of information, which we are attempting to do. Let’s start with a vocabulary list!
Interest: the cost or price you pay to borrow money.
Principal: the amount of money you borrow.
Amortization: the part of your monthly bank payment that goes to reduce the principal.
Closing: The time when funds are exchanged and the title to the property is passed from seller to buyer.
Cost: What did it actually cost to build the building, improve the property, etc.
Market Value: What’s it worth? (Cost and market value are not necessarily equal.)
Land Contract: A purchase agreement. The future buyer possesses the property and makes regular payments but does not get the title until enough payments have been made to equal the agreed upon down payment.
Bond or Note: A security given for money loaned with a promise to repay at the end of a specified period of time and with regular interest payments made to the lender until the bond (note) is redeemed.
Title: Legal record of who owns the property.
Mortgage: A legal note given as a pledge of repayment of the money borrowed, with the property being the security.
Some Types of Mortgages:
Term (Straight term) Mortgage: Only the interest is paid during the term or years of the mortgage with one large payment of principal at the end.
Balloon Mortgage: Smaller payments during the term of the mortgage with part going to amortization and one large payment at the end.
Participating Mortgage: Mortgage is owned by a group of investors.
Open End Mortgage: As the mortgage is amortized money may be re— borrowed up to the amount of the original mortgage.
Your attorney friend, working with your banker, can help you to negotiate the type of mortgage you need. Individuals, unsophisticated in the world of finance, usually apply for a mortgage as they would a car loan and then cross their fingers and wait for the “verdict”. Nonsense! It is the business of banks to lend money! They will lend you money if (1) you can offer adequate security. (They may lend 60 to 70% of the secured value!) (2) your personal credit rating is excellent, showing no defaults or late payments and (3) your business proposition is a sound one. Remember to shop around. A request for money to operate a nudist park may sound like a hair—brained scheme to one loan officer and a money—making opportunity to another. It’s the loan officer who represents you to the board and his attitude often determines whether or not the money is forthcoming. Sell yourself, the property and the business! Bankers lend money to people and situations they know. You may have to educate your banker about the nudist park business. Then take a look at the “finance vocabulary.” It discusses several types of mortgages in addition to the conventional one…and there are more. Make sure to get the type of mortgage which will work best for you.
Mortgage money is available from Savings and Loan Associations, Mutual Savings Banks, Life Insurance Companies and Mortgage Companies. You might want to consult a mortgage broker, who for a fee of I to 2%, locates institutions with the funds and desire to take your mortgage. Individual investors and groups often take mortgages on good property. Remember, initially it is the value of the property and your credit that is being examined, not the expected income from your business.
It is always better for the buyer to purchase property subject to mortgage. This means that the seller, or holder of the original mortgage, remains responsible in case the buyer defaults. If the buyer purchases subject to mortgage he cannot be held responsible and can only lose what he has spent in the down payment and monthly payments to date. If the buyer assumes the mortgage the buyer is the first person responsible for the mortgage satisfaction because he accepted it.
When a buyer does not have sufficient cash for a down payment after placing the mortgage, the owner of the property or other lending institutions may take a second mortgage for the deficit amount. If, at the closing, there is a difference in the amount of money required and the amount that the buyer has, a “Purchase Money Mortgage” may be given by the seller and recorded with the deed. This would be for the amount of the difference and would be handled like a second mortgage with regular payments being made to reduce the amount of indebtedness.
Money can also be raised in other ways if there are people interested in your project. You might sell bonds at a good rate of return to the buyer. If this is done make sure that it is a financial transaction only, that they will be paid off, and that there is no obligation on your part to continue a membership for a bondholder if such member becomes undesirable. You can raise “front money” or immediate cash by guaranteeing no increase in rent for a specified number of years if the rent is paid in advance. Life membership, at 10 times the yearly rate, is another good way to raise money. Considering that statistics show that only 28% of all nudists remain club members for 10 years or more, the cards are stacked in your favor. Any of the above methods will serve as a hedge against inflation for the individual and will give you money for immediate use.
If you haven’t a mortgage commitment at this point and you have found the property that you want (and it’s zoned right and the price is right) possibly the seller will consider a “land contract”. This is a situation where the seller retains the title, applying your payments to a pre-agreed selling price, and turning over the title at such time as you have sufficient equity. The negative factor to such an arrangement is that when you actually take the title it may or may not be a clear one. The seller may have borrowed against it, have liens against it and so forth. Get good legal advice to protect yourself if this is the road you have to take.
What is needed in the present is a plan for the future. A master plan is essential in developing any parcel of land. It is particularly important in building a nudist park because buildings and game courts will be constructed as membership increases and money becomes available.
Your comprehensive plan should include all the facilities you would like to have. Dream! Plan as though you had unlimited funds. Make a list of facilities, sketch the placement on a large sheet of drawing paper and take your drawing to a Civil Engineer.
Here, again, you must shop for the best service and price. You’ll discover a wide range in the amount engineers charge for their services. In addition some are more talented than others. Make sure the engineer you select understands your ideas and can give you what you want before signing a contract.
Plans for layout and dimensions of sport facilities are available at the ASA office. But where will they be located? Will there be one or two courts? Will the first restroom be near the courts or in the camping area?
The office should be right at the gate. This placement increases your cash flow since no one can “slip by” and it also protects the privacy of members and offers the security they seek. At the initial stage a camper may have to serve as your office, but it should be placed where you eventually hope to erect a more permanent structure or install a large mobile home to serve as an office. If you are planning on one set of showers and restrooms at the start, it might be convenient to put them in the middle of the property, but this placement may not be the best one for future growth. The middle of the property may be the spot where eventually you will want to place a club house! So — place that first restroom where your comprehensive plan says you will have a restroom forever and ever!
These are the things you will decide. Your engineer will determine stability of the soil, drainage and all those things only a professional can do.
Find out about the local building codes and restrictions. Determine the insurance rates for various types of buildings! For instance, a wooden weatherboard clubhouse in a wooded area will carry a higher insurance premium than a clubhouse of concrete block in the same location. Determine the insurance rate for different types of activities. If you allow skate boards or mini-bikes your liability may increase. Determine the effect of the various types of structures on the tax value of the land.
Before opening day certain basic requirements are:
1. An office where you can meet and greet members and visitors. This might also serve as a place where folks can get in and out of the rain.
2. Bathrooms and showers.
After opening day growth can procede in stages:
3. Pool or swimming facilities. Initially the members will tolerate the fact that the pool is not ready yet, but it had better be underway if there is no lake or pond available for swimming.
4. Volleyball. The court need not be hard or lighted at the beginning, but volleyball is the nudist sport and will bring folks back week after week.
5. Food — snackbar or restaurant. People will be happy to bring picnic lunches in the beginning but a food facility should be placed on your priority list.
With a comprehensive plan for future development you are ready to start building.
One final word. Don’t depend on volunteer help alone. Have a contractor do the work. It’s better and sometimes cheaper.
MEET THE COMPETITION
Time was when an overnight or a vacation at a nudist park was a cheap way to go. People put up with lack of conveniences and amenities in order to save money. Then too, park owners could not invest large sums of money in facilities because (1) the demand was not there, and (2) the sheriff was likely to raid at any time. And if such a raid did not close the park down, it certainly dried up the stream of potential members, i.e., revenue. Few, if any owners today expect to be raided — so that no longer hinders development.
The demand from the public for places to be nude is here — NOW!
Low cost — or no cost — places to be nude are Free Beaches, mountain streams, some national parks and other secluded areas. We can’t compete with these places.
But nudists are not cheap! They will pay for good accommodations. Nudists who travel across the country seldom stop at nudist parks because of inadequate facilities and rising costs.
A questionnaire sent to ASA club owners indicates the average ground fee is $ 6.00 and the average hookup is $ 3.50. That means the average nudist camper would spend $ 9.50 a night —— very close to the cost of campgrounds in destination (or vacation) areas.
How does your park compare with public campgrounds?
A KOA campground in Charleston advises the camper that he can expect air conditioned bathhouse, fiberglass showers, swimming pool, children’s playground, convenience store, full hookups and a teen recreation room. The KOA organization makes regular inspections for appearance and performance, and affiliated campgrounds are expected to meet high standards. They take the posture that “one bad apple spoils the barrel.”
There is more competition for the traveling nudist’s dollar. Budget motels offer clean rooms, good beds, private bathrooms, T.V. and many have swimming pools. After a long day on the road, would you settle for less?
Check your local competition. Compare their facilities with yours. Read the yellow pages, you’ll learn a lot. Then meet the competition head on!
A LOOK AT THE FACILITIES
When organized nudism was first introduced in this country a clearing in the woods where nudists could take off their clothes was sufficient for a gathering of the clan. This is no longer true. Fine nudist resorts, nude beaches, nude cruises — all have contributed to the fact that nudists now want some egg in their beer! Travel agents are sending clients to Naturist Resorts in France, Yugoslavia and the Caribbean, as well as booking nudist cruises. The time has arrived when nudists want the luxuries and are willing to pay for them! But, they also want value for the money they spend so this calls for quality facilities and equipment — well maintained!
Some people enjoy rustic facilities, in a natural setting where they can retreat from the hustle and bustle of modern society. But “rustic” doesn’t mean “shabby”, “rundown” or “uncared for.” Know the difference. Look at your park with a critical eye — your members will!
The first consideration is your sign. There is no need to hide in the woods. Announce yourself by your sign on the road. Make it easy for people to find you. Put up a nice sign but be careful of the wording! A high fence and locked gate are forbidding enough to the timid “first timer.” Don’t add a sign “NO TRESSPASSING. VIOLATORS WILL BE SHOT. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.” A simple, professionally done “PRIVATE CLUB — MEMBERS ONLY” sign shows class and lends prestige. “No Tresspassing” signs should be of the type that can be purchased at any hardware store and they should be spaced around the property in accordance with the state tresspassing law. Remember, a crude sign does not say much for what will be found inside and a forbidding sign may discourage potential members.
To most nudists “cleanliness is next to godliness.” Restrooms and showers should be immaculate. Provide separate indoor facilities for men and women with at least one indoor shower each. The floor should have a drain for easier maintenance, since wet floors are difficult to maintain at best. Outdoor showers will deter or limit the use of the indoor facilities. Nudists love to shower outdoors with the sun helping to dry! A waist high hedge gives ideal screening. Placing showers near the game courts is a good idea. These may be only cold water showers and no soap should be used unless the waste water drains into a septic tank or the park’s own sewer system. Soapy water will not readily soak into the ground and within a few weeks the area will be a stinking mess!
Waste disposal is a problem often overlooked in the initial planning stage. Don’t overlook it! Grounds should be policed regularly and many receptacles provided for the disposal of butts and other trash. Plan to place refuse containers convenient to areas where people congregate. Screen these areas with hedges so that garbage cans are not the predominant feature of the landscape. Then plan how this waste will be removed. Will it be done by the municipality, the county or a private company? Will they collect it inside the campground or will you collect it and move it to a location outside of the grounds? Look into the various services offered in your locality.
Volleyball has traditionally been THE nudist sport and while some think that tennis (or miniten) may be taking over, a volleyball court can certainly be installed at less cost! Although a hard court is preferable, and members of gung-ho volleyball groups will want it, a grass or sand court is also acceptable at the beginning. Hard courts tend to promote competition through the hosting of tournaments — and that brings in more business. You’ll have to weigh hard court versus grass or sand court on a scale, balancing the cost of installation with the revenue gained from attracting more visitors! You might also consider your membership in light of your plans. Volleyball, except for Family Jungle Ball, is more appealing to young people than tennis. The average tennis player is leaning toward middle age. The average tennis court costs in the neighborhood of $ 10,000. Thus the composition of your membership and your cash position will be deciding factors. Essentially volleyball, tennis and swimming are reasons for spending many days at the club.
P.S. — there’s also horseshoes, table tennis, billiards, badminton, archery, decktennis and shuffleboard…all considerably less money…all designed to keep members actively involved!
Where have all the children gone? To the playground, of course. Parents will not return as often if bored children demand to be entertained. Provide enough to keep the children busy! In the area of the playground maintenance and durability need double emphasis. Don’t go to the discount store for a backyard swing set! It will not stand up under constant use and cannot be kept in good shape. Order from a manufacturer who supplies schools and public playgrounds and your maintenance will be limited to replacing a seat in a swing after several years of use.
If you do not have full food service, a machine for dispensing soft drinks, an ice-cream freezer and plenty of cold drinking water are essentials to those traveling and then spending long hours in the sun. A quality park will maintain a snack bar if day visitors are expected. You may only open it on weekends at the beginning and expand the hours of operation when you begin to attract weekday visitors. You, Mr. Businessman, must watch the development of your membership and decide which way your food operation should grow. Occasionally parents with two or three children buy hamburgers for the family, but most often they’ll picnic. Singles and working people, planning a “lazy day” in the sun, will be your prime customers. Weekenders usually fix their own meals.
There is no question that you will sell lots of soda pop and ice-cream. Therefore, you must decide how it will be dispensed. Will you buy or rent coin operated machines or will you sell it through a snack bar and defray salary expenses with the money saved by not purchasing or renting a dispenser? Either way the products must be refrigerated so the cost of refrigeration and the space to accommodate the appliance must be a consideration. Plan ahead. It might be wise to hire an architect to design a one person operation that has growth potential. Then, at the start, consider the snack bar a retail store with one salesperson. That person may also be cook, waiter and cashier. You may wish to expand the items you sell to include shirts, towels, candy, suntan lotion, ASA jewelry, park guides, hats, etc. and have the beginning of a camp store. A snackbar, restaurant and campstore are not usually moneymakers. Regard them as conveniences for those who do not care to bother with picnic lunches, bar-b-ques or stopping on the way to buy bread and milk.
Swimming was given top priority by majority vote on a recent questionnaire sent out to many ASA member park owners and managers. If your park is located on lakefront property — some rowboats for fishing, some canoes, a paddle boat or two and a raft for sunning make a nudist’s day. They congregate on the grass at the lakefront. Pools are a whole different ballgame! It would seem that “the bigger the better” should be the rule and an olympic size pool would be the best of all. That is not necessarily so! Consider the cost and the maintenance. Consider the fact that it’s hard to circulate water and difficult to heat by conventional means, although some parks have had fine results with a simple solar system. A hired employee to vacuum and maintain the pool is almost a must. Since the pool is essentially a meeting place, the square footage of the deck and lawn area is equally or more important than the square footage of the pool. So, talk to the pool builder. Determine a feasible size for maintenance and decide on the smallest possible size to accommodate the visitors you expect to gather on a Sunday afternoon at the present time — and in the future. Then don’t be talked into anything larger! Consider a wading or toddler pool and limiting the use of the big pool to those over a certain age. Be sure to check the fencing requirements in your locality. A pool is considered an “attractive nuisance” and involves tremendous liability unless you are in strict compliance with local ordinances.
To encourage visitors on less than perfect days, you’ll want a wind screen. At the beginning this can be nothing more than a sheet metal wall on creosoted posts. Later on you may want to go to a glass wall of sliding patio doors. Or you may want to start someplace in the middle with an idea of your own. Keep in mind that there must be plenty of space between the pool and the windscreen or nearest building. Remember that you may want a whirlpool or sauna in this area at some future date. Include these ideas in your forward thinking.
Good planning can save money in future expansion and careful buying of furniture and fixtures will save many dollars in replacement costs.
Most nudists have a lounge chair stashed in the trunk of the car. The club must provide a few, however. Do not go to your nearest discount store where you did not purchase playground equipment and buy lounge chairs. They are not made for daily commercial use. Contact a motel and hotel supplier for good quality, commercial outdoor furniture.
Establishing policies and creating rules is a necessary part of the club owner’s job. Everyone wants boundaries that protect them from chaos. People are happier when they know the rules. Experience would indicate that there should be a minimum of rules but that the rules that do exist should be enforced to the maximum. When you have formulated your policies it’s practical to print or mimeograph the “Rules and Regulations.” Avoid poor reproductions! It may be necessary to have it professionally done by any one of many such professional services. Once in print, make sure that everyone has a copy. This will serve to indoctrinate newcomers and will eliminate many questions and/or inappropriate behavior. It’s much easier to point to a policy manual or rule sheet when a question is raised than to deal with each case individually. You’ll have enough of that when you’re called upon to deal with things you never in the world could have anticipated! Some of the items that you might want to consider are listed below:
Photography: How freely can pictures be taken? Will you develop a policy restricting it to certain areas or to certain conditions (i.e..:
supervised, campsite only, etc.) or will you not allow the use of cameras anywhere at any time? Some nudists like to collect albums of nudist friends for nudist friends. Some nudists object to being photographed. Others couldn’t care less. You’ll have some of each variety. How will you handle it?
Clothing Optional: This is a much misunderstood concept. A nudist park is a nudist park. Anyone who never is nude obviously should be in another type of campground. Technically, a “clothing optional” facility is a place where some people take off their clothes at every opportunity while others never take the opportunity. They remain clothed when it is steaming hot and sunbathe in a swimsuit. But what about the nudist who does appear without clothes but prefers to ride a bike with a pair of shorts on for reason of comfort? Or the nudist who feels more comfortable playing tennis with clothing but following the set removes the clothing and heads for the shower? Do you stick with a policy of nudity at all times, physical conditions and weather permitting, or do you allow for “optional clothing” at times? Establish your policy at the onset.
Alcohol: Most operators now feel that it is unnecessary to forbid the use of alcohol around the tent and camping area. Opinions are varied as to the use of alcohol in the recreation areas, club house, etc. Should it be forbidden away from the immediate home or campsite? Should it be permitted in the clubhouse for parties and special occasions?
Should it, in fact, be controlled by managerial policy at all or should management just deal with offenders whose behavior cannot be tolerated?
Parking: There is usually no problem for those who live on the grounds or rent a campsite. Their vehicles will normally be parked at the site. Day visitors need parking near the recreation and picnic areas. Unless you provide for orderly parking that follows the normal flow of traffic, you’ll find cars parked on roadways and at odd places throughout the grounds.
Quiet Times: Undoubtedly some residents and/or overnighters will want to party. Others will have young children needing sleep. Some may be older retirees who go to bed early. In a residential park some people have to get up to go to work. How can you protect the best interests of each group? Will you establish an evening hour when noise must stop? How about a morning hour when normal activity begins? Will teenagers have a curfew or will you find them wandering at 2 AM? What about motor bikes and mini bikes. Will they be allowed. If so, will they be allowed at any hour? One successful park does not permit any gasoline powered vehicles at all, only electric carts and bikes.
Pets: Some parks do not permit pets on the grounds at any time! Most do, but with certain conditions clearly spelled out. A policy of keeping a pet on a leash is often not enough considering the fact that people walk barefoot much of the time. In addition, some people have a real fear of animals. Others may be allergic to animal hair and will not appreciate an animal strolling by, even on a leash, or an animal sharing your towel in a sunbathing or recreation area. The best policy, if animals are to be allowed, seems to be to establish a dog walk area and insist that animals be taken there and back (and nowhere else) on a leash. The rest of the time animals should be kept at the “home” site. Consider your policy about pets carefully and enforce it rigidly.
This just scratches the surface of the many things that each individual park owner must consider, depending upon the type and size operation. Think it through carefully. Is it worth a rule? If it is, and you’ve used discretion in wording it, enforce it!
HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR MEMBERS?
We have considered some basic requirements for recreation. Now let’s talk about management attitude. Will the person greeting and meeting new members and visitors be warm, friendly and helpful (especially to new nudists)? The owner of a large resort that attracts many vacationing nudists says that it is difficult to be pleasant all of the time….”But,” he says, “I’m trying and I’m learning. The only time I get angry is when someone calls at 3 a.m. and starts out by saying ‘Did I wake you?’” That might be an excuse for being less than warm and friendly but at all other times the “front man” should have an engaging personality and exude warmth and friendliness. The big job is to make people feel good and feel welcome.
As the park grows you’ll need other employees who should also have these characteristics. This might be a good time to talk about how a nudist park hires employees. The first step is to look to your membership. You know how responsible each member is and whether or not the member needs money or wants to work. What about when membership possibilities have been exhausted? Most nudist parks are located some distance from town. Folks from town often don’t want to come out, not because it’s a nudist park but because it’s too far to travel. So, ask at your local convenience store, beauty parlor or barber shop. Ask at the gas station and ask your neighbors. Let the word out that someone is needed to do a particular job and chances are that a good neighbor will unearth someone for you or even be interested in the job himself!
Interaction and involvement in group activities make one feel part of a club and creates the desire to return. People get involved in many ways. One way is by athletic competition — tournaments in volleyball, tennis, etc. These can be carried on as elimination tournaments involving several weekends. Use your members’s special talents. Maybe someone can conduct an exercise or dance class or lead a discussion group. Arts and crafts and other special interest activities can play a big role. Try an Art Show or a Flea Market. Involve members in planning bridge nights, bingo nights, slide show and movie nights. Pot luck suppers are usually very well attended but don’t build your reputation on them. Vary the activities. Monthly dances with a theme as well as weekly “Happy Hour” get togethers (bring your own cheer) help in the mixing and mingling that makes for return visits.
How to get it all done? Repeat! Involve the membership. A barbeque dinner, cooked by the men, followed by an amateur show that requires six weeks or more of rehearsal prior to the real thing, involves many in rehearsing and preplanning — even on a weekly basis! While it is important to delegate authority and responsibility for these entertainment ideas, it is just as important to cooperate and lead actions and events in the way you want them to go. Don’t abdicate! For example, one club owner gave an okay to an amateur show and took no part in planning the program. He was subsequently upset when the feature act turned out to be a strip tease. He didn’t feel it was appropriate since there were children in the audience….and neither did several of the members! Result? Loss of several members and the end of member planned activities.
A wonderful article, “Promotions” by Deborah J. Walther, appeared in the “Club Management” magazine in April, 1978. It contained some of the thinking of Michael E. Hurst, Associate Professor in the School of Hotel, Food and Travel Services, Florida International University and President of the Marina Bay New River Storehouse Restaurant, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Mr. Hurst feels that you must have an image of what you want to look like and then stage a fun event. You advertise such an event by word of mouth, hoopla, flyers and teasers. To get started it is important to develop a mailing list of all members and visitors. Keeping your membership and your image in mind, you must plan a promotion that will give the members good value. There must be something given free to those attending. Promotions are not staged for direct profit. The result of having so many in attendance will result in an indirect profit. Example? Would it pay to give everyone a free hot dog for lunch if it increased your ground fee, encouraged several in attendance to become members and you doubled your usual sale of ice cream, soda, etc? You bet it would!
Mr. Hurst further suggests that you do not repeat or standardize more than one or two events. You must keep staging the new and the unusual. He uses Chases Calendar to find crazy days such as “Chicken Flying Contest Day.” You can obtain a copy of the calendar by writing to Apple Tree Press, Box 1012, Flint, Michigan 48501. The cost is $7.95. You may be able to come up with some ideas of your own. Why not try a Turtle Race with free ice cream to those under 12?
Make sure you deliver what you say you will, either in your paid advertising or your promotional material. Enthusiastic word of mouth advertising will guarantee the success of subsequent events. Paid advertising which does not live up to the promises made may give your club a bad name. It’s hard to rebuild a name once a reputation has been destroyed. It’s easy to sell softly when something of value, fun and/or excitement is being offered.
Members and visitors are the lifeline of your business and getting, keeping and increasing membership and visitors must be the pursuit of your business. Any or all suggestions, if adopted, will encourage people to return time after time and to maintain a real interest in their club.
If you, Mr. Potential Club Owner, are a responsible, respected citizen….and if you are established in a trade, business or profession….you can capitalize on your fine reputation if you open a club near your home. If you are opening in a new community more ground work must be done.
Whether you open in your own backyard or somewhere else, you must be open about your nudity, but never defensive or offensive. Remember, the community out there cannot see behind your fence. You are “Mr. Nudity” and the impression you create will be the impression the community holds about all nudists. Dress carefully when meeting the public. Don’t plaster your car with stickers and other such attention-getting material.
Then, before opening day, call on the law enforcement people and invite them out! While constant and regular “neighborly drop-in” visits may not be desirable, advise the law that you will cooperate with them in every way. Assure them that they may feel free to drop in whenever they have business with you. Show them the privacy screening you have provided to “protect” the public from viewing anything that might be offensive. If this is done and the authorities receive a call from an irate citizen: “Do you know what’s going on out there? Are you going to permit it?”….an informed law enforcement person will be able to answer in the affirmative.
Do business with local merchants. Open charge accounts so they will know who you are. It’s important to pay by check and it goes without saying that payments should be made promptly. Refer members and visitors to local gas stations, barber shops, beauty parlors, etc. Ask them to mention the club, if convenient. This will indicate to business people that your facility will increase their business.
Most newspapers now accept paid advertising from nudist organizations. Inquire at the national and regional ASA offices about cooperative advertising programs. Mentioning your affiliation with national and even international associations in your paid advertising increases your credibility. The following ad is one that is in good taste and tells the story.
Leave no stones unturned just prior to your opening. If there is a local newspaper pay a visit to the editor just before opening day. The same applies to the radio and television stations that service your area. In addition, a big city paper often has a section devoted to your region or community and a larger radio or television station may devote time to happenings in your area. Warning! Don’t be a pest! Following your initial contact make sure that you drop in only when you have an item of real interest. Busy people do not often have time to chat!
You might want to plan an Open House. Why not invite the neighbors and the community to one. Make it a social event, anything from coffee and cake to a barbeque. At such an event it is wise to advise all members and guests by letter, bulletin or other means, that clothing will be worn. Love thy neighbor? Maybe. Know thy neighbor? Certainly. This would also be an ideal time to invite the press and local law enforcement personnel as well as the town dignitaries
A second Open House can be more widely advertised and held for potential members. In this case members should be dressed until a certain specified hour at which time they may return to nudity and visitors are invited to participate or to leave — their choice.
Remember, first impressions are lasting. Make sure the buildings are clean, the grounds well cared for and the members friendly and accommodating. Then, three to four weeks before the event prepare and distribute the first news release. A week or two before the event a second release should be sent out. On the day of the Open House packets containing nudist literature, club maps, rules, etc., should be distributed to all guests. Following the Open House a third press release should be sent out telling of the success of the event.
Other ways in which to interest the media? If you have talent available you may want to stage a show. Nudist pageants usually result in much publicity. Read your newspapers, listen to the radio and watch TV for comments related to nudism. Then use them as an opportunity to write a letter to the editor or call a talk show. Be alert! Some “happenings” are naturals. If you are having an open house, putting on a play or the local blood bank is coming out to the club, by all means submit it as a news release. But — some happenings are prompted by items in the news and have to be staged. Examples? Some time ago when the streaking craze swept the country, a Florida club staged a “Reverse Streaking”situation. Nude members watched two streakers, dressed in long underwear, fur coats, etc. rushing by. A writer and photographer were there and the event was well covered (pardon the pun). Another staged event took place when a frost hit south Florida and the migrant workers were ill prepared for the cold. A local nudist park held a clothing drive and collected several cartons of clothing for the migrants. The result was a picture of a “nudie cutie” standing alongside the boxes of clothing and free publicity of a positive, community acceptable variety for the local nudist park.
Whether it is a natural or a staged event, communications sent to the media should be written in a certain way. The first paragraph must tell the reader WHO, WHAT, WHY, WHERE and WHEN. Example: The Sunny Day Nudist Park (who) is holding an open house (what) to allow families and couples to see their facilities (why) on Pleasant Hill Road (where) on Sunday, June 10th from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m, (when). The full names of any person mentioned should be used as well as an indication as to whether or not the general public is invited. The body of the article should not ramble on with lengthy background material.
Use the media well….but don’t allow the media to use you. Irresponsible reporting, raunchy accounts written by unqualified representatives can do a lot of harm! Make sure that the reporter who visits you has the proper credentials and the media he represents is one that you feel is responsible and well thought of. An account of nudist activities in “Hustler” magazine would certainly place us in a poor light! Recently a reporter tried to arrange a visit of a rather notorious call girl to a nudist park for an on site interview. An alert park owner said “nay” and then notified the ASA so that other camps would do likewise. When last heard from the interview and subsequent report did take place — from a nude bar in Texas!
When you are certain that the reporter has proper credentials and represents a responsible publication fill him full of information ….more than he needs or can use. This will negate the necessity for “creating a story” from his imagination and should generate an article with a positive thrust.
Send releases out on all special occasions but don’t submit the same items again and again. If the boy scouts meet every Wednesday it’s fair to announce once that you have a boy scout troop — and then drop it. Make sure your releases are news….not reviews….and be sure to include the name and telephone number of the person responsible and authorized to answer any questions. Type or legibly print your releases and make sure the information is received in time to be news — not ancient history.
ACCOUNTING AND BUSINESS MANAGEMENT
Whether or not you seek the advice of an accountant at the beginning is up to you. It might be wise to do so before deciding upon the organization of your business (i.e.; partnership, corporation, etc.). He can point out the tax advantage and disadvantage of each. He might also set up an accounting system for you to follow. With tax forms and tax laws getting more and more complicated, it’s almost a certainty that you will see him at the end of the year or at tax time. For those who want to wait for that “must see him” time, we suggest a simple system of bookkeeping, bill-paying and check-writing, which if followed, should contain all of the information needed for your accountant to fill out your tax return and make up a financial statement.
Remember the first commandment…….Thou wilt pay by check and pay on time! Paying on time also often allows you to take a discount. A 2% discount, for payment within a specified time as stated on the bill, yields a 24% saving annually. So, while you are building a fine credit reputation you are also saving money. This fine credit reputation will help when you attempt to borrow money.
Get two accordian files and a bunch of labels. Label one file “Bills to be Paid” and the other one “Paid Bills.” Starting with the “Bills to be Paid” file, label a few sections “1st – 7th”, a few more 8th – 14th – etc. Since our creditors no longer have a uniform “10th of the month” billing system, bills arrive all during the month. Therefore they should be filed according to when they must be paid.
After the bill has been paid it is alphabetically refiled in the file labeled “Paid Bills.” This makes it easy to refer back to past purchases and expenses.
It is important to understand that all of the money your business takes in will be paid out in one form or another. Income will be generated by memberships, ground fees, site rentals, products and services, ASA dues, etc. If the expenses do not exceed income you will be operating “in the black” and there will be a profit. Profits will be paid out to you as a salary and/or bonus and to your investors, if any, as dividends.
Keeping accurate records from the beginning is essential. A $20 day will become a $200 day or a $2,000 day in the future. By keeping records of income and expenses you’ll not only have an accurate record of profit and loss for tax purposes, but you’ll also have an accurate picture of the areas of profit and loss within your operation. Unless you know this you cannot make responsible decisions in regard to such matters as expansion, fees, etc.
At the start you will probably only take in money on the weekends and Monday will be bookkeeping and bank deposit day. As you grow, bookkeeping and banking will be done on a daily basis. You will want to record all money that comes in and where it came from (i.e.; ground fee, membership, vending machine). Your local office supply store has books and pads that have up to 30 columns. Get one with enough columns to adequately itemize all sources of income.
Here’s an example of how to enter the weekly totals. As the business grows it’s easy to change weekly entries to daily entries and continue using the same system.
Notice that each column is totaled and that the total of all of the columns equals the total deposited in the bank! If it does not, there is an error in addition and it can quickly be located and corrected.
As the business grows and others handle money it will be necessary to have a system of receipts for every transaction. A good cash register can do the job and is an excellent cash control system. But, even as your growth may require a more sophisticated cash control system, your ledger entries as outlined will be basically the same.
The final step is to account for all money going out. This can be done using the same column system as for income, but heading each column with expenses such as taxes, salaries, telephone, repairs, maintenance, etc. You will also need a miscellaneous column for unclassified petty cash items. This simple type of record keeping calls for a separate check book for paying bills and recording deposits At the end of the month your bank balance will correspond to your bank statement. Don’t forget to enter bank services charges in your journal under the “miscellaneous” column, just as if you had written a check.
Again, crosschecking to avoid errors is simple. The expenses recorded as paid (or money disbursed) must equal the total of the checks written.
Here’s an example of how such a page would look in your journal:
As with the income ledger use as many columns as you need to reflect a true picture of your outgo. Again, to cross check your figures the totals of the distribution columns will total the amount column.
There is, however, a simple pegboard accounting system which records the date, who the check was written to and the amount at the same time you write the check. As the check is written you put the amount in the appropriate column. Pegboard receipts are available for recording income. This system will grow with your business and will save your accountant considerable time since you will be turning over accurate and complete records. This, in turn, will save you money! To find a pegboard accounting system look in the yellow pages under business forms.
At the beginning most parks are operated by husband and wife teams. There is a temptation at that time to “short cut” on bookkeeping systems. Don’t! Your business will grow, employees will be handling money….and old habits are hard to break. Start right and you won’t wind up spending hours correcting mistakes that didn’t have to be made, and learning new procedures that could easily have been learned at the start.
What will your members be like? In the beginning you, the owner, will probably do all of the screening and the membership will be determined by your personal likes and dislikes. An owner might decide that he will accept only couples under 35 years of age, making $100,000 a year or more! His screening would make anyone not meeting his requirements totally unacceptable! With the growth of the operation office employees will become the first point of contact for a new applicant. These employees will not necessarily use the same criteria as you did, so some subtle changes will take place in the profile of the acceptable applicant. As the membership grows and the members tend to make known their likes and dislikes, we will be dealing with still another element, often even greater and more subtle than those already mentioned. Peer pressure. For members to function in this capacity they must have the confidence in the management which tells them that if they report any questionable behavior or activity their report will be strictly confidential and the reported action will be looked into impartially. They will also need the assurance that they will not be questioned along with the offender but that the report will simply serve as a “red flag” for an applicant or visitor. You will then want to watch that individual carefully to determine how and if he fits into the group.
There is no standard way to interview and screen members. Mistakes will be made, even with the most careful screening. Some clubs insist upon a home visit. This may be helpful but may tend to intimidate, or “turn-off” good potential members. Many have a fear of revealing their interest in nudism to anyone in the home community because of the possible negative effects to business, etc. Other clubs go to the opposite extreme and push an application into a visitors hand, along with an impassioned plea to join, even before the gate has swung shut. This aggressiveness might raise some doubt as to the desirability of joining such a non-elite group.
The policy that seems to work best is a conservative one, someplace in the middle of the two extremes cited. Usually an inquiry is made and information is exchanged by mail or phone. Then, one sunny day the “couple” shows up. They are greeted at the office and given a membership application which they fill out. The club does not countersign or offer membership until several visits have been made. During these visits potential members are observed and if their behavior is appropriate and no complaints have been registered, they are accepted. This is the negative screening or “you’re innocent until proven guilty” approach. It seems to work well and diminishes the possibility of having to ask someone to leave after accepting a membership from him.
Too often the interviewer is suspicious of the motives of some of those he interviews. When a young married couple and their children appear, they seem to fit the profile of the “desirable” members and allay our suspicions, but we tend to be overly suspicious of singles. 99.4% of those visitors who have “done it right” — that is, made inquiry, read literature and so forth are good potential members. If, however, in spite of careful screening, you find you have made a mistake, you have to face the situation. Discuss the problem with the member and if it remains unresolved you must eventually cancel the membership, or at the very least, not renew it. Owner-operator clubs have less problem in cancelling memberships than cooperative clubs.
Then, in the light of constantly changing social values, it is important to examine your own views and prejudices. A club owner or manager has to come to terms with himself and what he can live with, but he also has to consider the makeup of the membership in order to determine what would be acceptable to it. Then both considerations must be weighed against what is good and bad for the business. Consideration, for instance, must be given to the word “couple”. Does this apply only to heterosexual married people. What about the couple that is not married? Unmarried couples shift and change and with knowledge of their status you may want to give a membership to one while the other retains the right to be a non-paying “guest” for the duration of their relationship (or membership!). What happens when a couple divorces…who gets “custody” of the membership?
At the beginning, with limited cash flow, it is important to exercise special care. There is a temptation when money is scarce and members hard to come by, to take too many singles or to look the other way when rules are being abused. This can have a lasting and far reaching affect, so hold out for the type of members you really want. It’s truly better in the end.
THE CO-OP CLUB
We asked Ray Connett to share some of his experience with us. A long-time nudist, Ray and his wife Mildred have been active in the formation of three successful clubs. Sunny Trails in Vancouver, Canada; Olive Dell Ranch in San Bernardino, California; and Glen Eden Sun Club in California.
Glen Eden is one of the largest and most successful clubs in the country. It is a co-operative or member-owned club.
Ray is always eager to help new clubs and club owners. He has served as the “President’s Assistant to Beginning Clubs” for several years.
SO YOU WANT TO START A NUDIST CLUB?
By Ray Connett
If you have been a member of an ASA affiliated club for at least one year, you are qualified to start an ASA affiliated club. If you own or plan to purchase or lease 10 to 40 acres of suitable land, at least 100 miles from any existing club, the ASA will give you every encouragement in starting another camp. The outstanding need of nudism today is for more facilities to accommodate more members.
If you are a husband and wife working team, with some available capital and good credit, you should be able to find suitable land and start a camp which will be privately owned and profitably operated by you after the facilities are in and members have joined. Glen Eden, the second largest club in the country, had beginning assets of $2,500 in cash, good credit, some good management and phenomenal luck! It was started as a partnership 15 years ago and has since become a cooperative or member owned club.
Perhaps you have friends who would share your dream. Two or three couples can provide needed capital easier than one. And more hands make lighter work and shorter hours in the early years when everything must be built from scratch. But there are definite drawbacks to a partnership operation. If only one couple has to make the sacrifices and the decisions, the chance of eventually having a successful camp is much better. If you do go the partnership or corporation route, spend your first money with a lawyer — and be sure you have talked over every possible eventuality before you go to see him. Will you all share in the work? Both the outside construction and maintenance and the inside office work? If not, those who work more must be paid, either in cash or in investment credits.
What about the future? Will you all continue as partners or stockholders or will some decide this dream has become a nightmare and want out? This happens. More often than not one couple ends up carrying the whole load, of work and money, with another trip to the lawyer needed to sort things out. A provision should be included in your original agreement for repayment of partners who wish to leave. All should agree that in this event repayment may not be required in less than five or ten years, in order to avoid financial embarrassment to those remaining. Some form of time payments should be stipulated when the obligation does come due. The investment should bear interest, but no share of future profits should accrue to those who drop out, though the value of their investment should be increased if there have been recorded work contributions.
There need be no limit on the number of investors you enlist, but if you solicit investments, you should see the Securities Commission before they send someone to see you if you appear to be violating their rules for raising funds. Even nudists have been bilked by sharp operators in past years.
If you have been unable to find enough money to organize your own private nudist club, organizing a member-owned or co-operative may be the answer.
To start a Co-Op club you need no more than a dozen friends. After you have held a formal organizational meeting, chosen a name, elected officers, adopted a constitution and set the wheels in motion, you can apply for an ASA group number, enroll more members, and begin to grow. But the actual beginning can be two or three couples who designate from among themselves a President, Vice President and Secretary Treasurer. The rest can come later.
Be businesslike. Keep minutes of your meetings. Move, second and pass motions. Hold a formal election, even if you merely record that So – and – So was elected by acclamation, being the only nominee.
A constitution and bylaws can be worked into shape during your first year. You are not required to incorporate until the size and success of your club appear to justify it. As an unincorporated society you can rent a post office box for your mail, set up a bank account, collect membership fees and place ads in the newspapers.
To own property you must incorporate, unless you or one of your members can be entrusted with the responsibility of owning land for the club. In such instances a lawyer should be hired to draw up a Trust Agreement so that it is a matter of legal record that property being purchased, or leased with option to buy, is merely being held “in trust” for the club by the individual. Our nudist history is a record of misunderstandings, and even misappropriations which have occurred in such cases.
Your local library can provide you with books which detail how to set up a club, but you will need a lawyer to draw up your Articles of Incorporation and prepare a set of bylaws. He will want an outline from you of the purpose for which your club is being formed, requirements for membership, number and authority of officers and directors, date of annual and other meetings, address of the club and how to amend these in future. Do NOT clutter your constitution and bylaws with mere rules which may be subject to frequent change. Fees, and rules of conduct should be in a Rules Sheet or Procedure Manual, never in the bylaws.
Based on problems which have occurred in clubs in the past, here is a basic rule. DON’T use anyone’s personal address or bank account for club business. Have a club mail box with keys for at least two officers. The club bank account should have three signing officers, with checks to be signed by any two of them. Having mail addressed to someone’s home is unsatisfactory because they may move, lose interest, get sick, or even die. With a permanent mail box the only problem is failure to pay box rent. This way you always have the same address for your members, directory listings and the nudist world. The same reasons apply to bank accounts. You may trust your present officers implicitly but if club money is in someone’s personal account there may be problems in your future.
In the beginning a President and Secretary Treasurer can get a club going, and there have been husband-wife duos who have made a success of running a Co-Op club. In general, however, and for the sake of appearances, it is better not to have more than one office held in the same family. Later you will want a Board of Directors, which in most clubs means the Officers and several Directors, with combined authority over most club matters.
Across the nudist nation you can always find an argument favoring private ownership over member-owned clubs. It is true, that many of our member-owned clubs remain small, with ten or twenty families making up the membership, and the work being done by a handful, after the majority talks the project to death. We see privately owned clubs which are models of efficiency, money has been invested, projects completed and rapid progress has been made. But this might not have been accomplished without free labor and donated cash and materials. Members will often work more willingly for a private owner whose word is law than for elected officers where it is difficult to tell who is boss.
Many clubs have a general membership meeting each month, but members get turned off by “politics” when a sunny day or a whole evening must be spent with tedious discussion of small items of business which might more efficiently be entrusted to the Board. In turn, as the club grows, the Board should learn to delegate authority so that the President, or a hired manager, or committee chairman, can purchase tools and materials needed for work projects and club progress. In general, Committee Chairmen should have authority to spend up to $25 per month on their phase of club activity, and expenditures up to $100 might be permitted with approval of the President.
Some clubs meet only once a year to elect the Board, and trust it to conduct the club’s business. From the standpoint of member interest and enthusiasm it is very desirable to permit members to attend and observe Board meetings. This prevents any suspicion about Board decisions and helps prevent misinformation or total lack of news about club progress.
This reminds us of a basic need in any club. Communication! Anyone can start a club, but to make one grow and succeed you must have a newsletter. If the members get something in the mail every month they are more apt to turn out for meetings, parties — even Work Parties! — and special events. Mr. Quick or PIP will print your newsletter if you don’t have a member who “can get it done at the office.” If you think you can’t write, or type, get a member who can, but don’t leave them to look for news. Every Officer and Director should be able to provide a paragraph each month to let the members know what is going on. Try to get in all the personal news about members that is fit to print, with emphasis on THANKS to those, by name, who have helped in various club projects or contributed in any way to the club.
Remember in any club, that many hands make light work. Each Director should be a Committee Chairman, and there can be additional chairmen who are not on the Board but report at each regular meeting. All Chairmen should be supervised by the President in a friendly manner to see that they understand and are carrying out their responsibilities. Equally important is his sincere interest in what they are trying to do and his help in seeing that they have the tools, equipment and workers to carry out their projects. It is essential that all chairmen cooperate, sometimes working together, and at other times being certain that they never organize work parties which conflict with each other or compete for available volunteers.
Committee Chairmen should understand what a committee is. All too often it is one man, plugging away, doing all the work because he lacks the leadership ability to get four or five members who will regularly consider themselves a part of his committee. It is surprising how much more enthusiastic casual members become when they are made to feel needed and appreciated as a part of club progress.
THE TRAVEL CLUB
If your search for land or finance has proven discouraging you may consider forming a Travel Club. This is another form of Co-Op club and most of what we have written will apply equally to helping a Travel Club succeed. And if you go on looking for land, setting aside a portion of your club dues for Land Purchase, you would not be the first Travel Club to eventually become proud owners and operators of a camp. Meanwhile you can form a club, advertise for members, obtain a charter and serve an area which does not have an ASA camp, taking your members on outings to existing camps on long weekends, spending many happy hours of sunning while looking at potential land sites, providing you ask permission of the land owner and take care not to attract attention to your nudist activities. Remember, this word of caution, the ASA Legal Fund is not available to protect nudists whose activities take place outside the grounds of ASA chartered clubs.
Whether you form a Co-Op club for the purpose of owning land purchased with members’ money, or for the mere purpose of gathering together a group of friends with compatible interests who can visit existing camps and seek other opportunities to enjoy the sun, effort expended in “politics” can be rewarded with many more members for the movement, and more monetary income for camps they visit.
Do explore all the possibilities. If you succeed in founding another ASA affiliated sun club you will be providing happiness for many people through the coming years and you will be carving your own private niche in nudist history.
A questionnaire was compiled and was sent out to 150 ASA member clubs in the early part of 1978. The instructions read: “Please answer these questions as if you had to do it all over again (knowing what you know flow) or as if you were advising someone opening a new camp, based on your learned experience and valuable judgment.” 24 owners or managers replied. Their answers are compiled below.
1. How many acres does a park need for present use and future development?
Range — 10 to 100 acres. Average — 35 acres.
2. How many of these acres should be immediately developed?
Range — 3 to 30 acres. Average — 11 acres
3. What kind of fencing or privacy screening should be provided?
Answers varied. Consensus seems to be a combination of natural growth and commercial fencing, wood or barbed wire.
4. Do you think that a natural lake is important enough to pay extra money for the property?
65% answered yes.
5. As it relates to your property:
How is it zoned?
Majority — Agricultural and/or recreational.
Do you have a variance or non—conforming use?
List licenses required to operate.
The list was too long and the licenses too varied to include. We strongly suggest you check the local requirements.
6. Which would you advise telling that you intend to begin a nudist park?
Lawyer 100%. Sheriff 79%. Realtor 50%. No one 0%.
1. Do you suggest campgrounds for overnight campers?
Yes — 96%.
2. Do you suggest trailer hookups?
Yes — almost 100%.
Should they include sewer?
Yes — 50%.
Yes — 96%.
Yes — 83%.
Dump station, picnic tables, fireplaces, good spacing, good roads, showers and toilet. One answer indicated that these amenities should be for permanent campers only. Another suggested that every site with sewer will be grabbed up by full-time members for permanent vacation spots.
3. Do you suggest installing rental units?
Yes — 76%.
Yes — 65%.
Yes — 73%.
Yes — 75%.
4. Is a recreation building necessary? Yes — 96%.
What should it include?
Ping pong and TV — 36%.
Card tables and chairs — 32%.
Pool table and library — 27%.
Music — 23%.
Comfortable furniture and and snack bar — 17%.
Games and fireplace — 14%.
Heating, air conditioning, a picture screen — 4 1/4%
Restrooms, stage, cooking facilities, pinball machines — 9%.
How many square feet?
Range — 120 to 3600. Average — 1700.
5. Would you suggest a restaurant?
Yes — 59%.
Yes — 38%.
Yes — 93%.
No — 100%.
Pot luck dinners?
Yes — 93%.
6. Would you include lots for Mobile Homes or Cabins for permanent and seasonal residents?
Yes — 90%.
7. Do you recommend a camp store?
Yes — 65%.
Yes — 81%.
8. Below is a list of possible indoor activity items. Please number them in order of preference and add any that are not included.
Other items mentioned:
Games, dance floor, stage, kitchen, nursery, TV, coin-operated machines.
9. Below is a list of possible outdoor activity items. Please number them in order of preference and add any that are not included:
10. Should a charge be made for use of indoor or outdoor equipment?
No — 100% except for coin-operated pool, billiards, record player and whirlpool.
11. Should plans for future development be provided for at the very start?
Yes — 100%, although one answer indicated that it is not necessary but would be helpful.
12. In planning a new facility a reference source suggests that you consider shelter, washing and sanitary facilities, sports, swimming and food. Please place them in your preferred order.
13. What other items should be considered at the inception?
Fresh water, well, community kitchen, fence, gate, office, camper-trailer facilities, roads, parking, electricity, advertising, public relations, ecology.
14. Which of the above facilities (1—12) do you feel should be readied before opening the gate?
Answers too varied to quote. Hopefully the statistics in this survey analysis will help you to decide on your own priorities.
1. Do you suggest a liquor license? A wine and beer license? If a facility does not have a license do you have any suggestions for obtaining one? Can beer be dispensed to members without one? Do you feel that drinking should be permitted on the grounds? If yes, list any reservations or restrictions you would suggest.
Answers overwhelmingly NO to any licensing or dispensing (75%). Most felt that drinking on the grounds is permissable, although one answer indicated in privacy of room or camper only. Almost all answers indicated that those who drink must be able to handle it or be asked to leave.
1. What would you suggest the yearly membership fee be?
Range — $50 to $200. Average — $135 although many indicated it would depend upon the facilities, the months of operation and whether it was being run as a cooperative or a profit-making camp.
2. Should single men be charged more or the same as single women?
All camps responding are aware of the legal implications of differentiation and charge the same fee for all singles.
3. How much should ground fees be?
Range $2.50 to $10.00. Average $6.00.
4. Camping fees with hook-ups? (65% separate camping fees from ground fees).
Range $1.00 to $20.00. Average $4.00.
5. If rental units are provided what do you feel the cost should be per day?
Range — $4.00 to $15.00. Average — $10.00.
Range — $25 to $85.00. Average — $35.
Range — $55 to $200. Average $125.00.
6. If permanent mobile homes are part of the plan what do you suggest as a monthly lot rental?
Range — $20 — $100. Average — $45.
What should the charge be to guests of residents?
Almost all felt that there should be no charge for a visit to the home and that regular ground fees should be charged if the guest used the facilities.
Many noted that questions 3 – 6 also depended upon facilities offered.
POPULATION AND DISTANCES.
1. Are you open all year round?
Yes — 79%, although some indicate that the club is only open to members and that the activities change to seasonal activities For those who are not open year round most are open May to September, with a few opening as early as April and staying open through November.
2. How often does the average member visit the camp?
Impossible to accurately tabulate the answers but it would seem 12 to 24 times per year is about average.
3. What percentage of your visitors are “day people”?
Range — 10% to nearly all. Average — 48%.
4. What percentage of your visitors are “weekenders”?
Range — 10% to 90%. Average — 52%.
5. What percentage of your visitors are “vacationers??
Range — 1% to 50%. Average — 12%.
6. In miles, how far do visitors travel to get to you?
Range — 10 to 100 miles. Average — 48 miles.
7. What is the population of the nearest town? (Avg. distance 11 miles away).
Range — 400 to 800,000. Average — 56,486.
8. What is the population of the nearest big city? Range — 50,000 to 12,000,000. Average — 270,000.
How far away?
Range — 22 to 90 miles. Average — 39 miles.
9. Are there any tourist attractions or areas of great scenic beauty in your area?
Yes — 95%.
10. How far are you from access to a major highway?
Range — I to 20 miles. Average 10 miles.
1. Would a manual for business procedures help new club owners?
Yes — 82%.
2. Would a standard bookkeeping and accounting system be desirable?
Yes — almost 100%.
3. Do you advocate a fact sheet or rule sheet for visitors, campers, etc?
Yes — 90%.
Policies unique to each operation, screening procedures and the discussion of a clothing-optional policy cannot be statistically analyzed and much of the information which the questionnaire yielded is included in the body of this manual.
The information indicated no legal or community problems. Some of the information received, again, is included in the body of this manual.
What percentage of income do you derive from:
1. Ground fees:
Range 3 to 50%. Average 17%.
Range 20 to 75%. Average 52%.
Range 2 to 30%. Average 12%.
4. Rental units:
Range 5 to 12%. Average 8 %.
Range 4 to 12%. Average 10%.
Range 1 to 25%. Average 12%.
7. Campstore, laundry, etc.:
Range 3 to 25%. Average 11%.
Please note that of those responding, not all answered all questions. In particular, under facilities, answers to questions #8, 9 and 12 should have added up to 100% going across each column. But without 100% response it is impossible to add up to 100%. This made accurate statistics difficult to compile but we have done our best and hope that it is of help!
The authors and ASA are grateful to those clubs that took the time to respond to our questionnaire. Some club owners, in addition to simply responding to the questions, added some very astute and pertinent comments. We’d like to share them with you.
SCREENING OF THE PROPERTY.
The ideal screening is natural growth such as brushland, fenced in with barbed wire with frequent NO TRESSPASSING signs. Thus a club located in the midst of natural brush attracts little attention from snoopers. If the land is to be used is already cleared, hurricane fencing or high wooden fencing will be needed around the immediate activities area with a planting of thick future hedge growth such as laurel, cedar or multiflora rose around the outside of the property. Remember that such a hedge will not give adequate coverage in less than 3 – 5 years and then only if watered and cultivated. Some clubs which have a lot of moisture have been able to bulldoze earth to form a burm or bulwark around the property with laurel or bamboo planted on top of it.
Your future lake can be some farmer’s unwanted slough. Money spent later, when you can afford it, for the dredging and drainage will create the lake. Remember, the best possible land for nudist use is often land which nobody else wants. The wooded pasture with a creek flowing through is almost useless to a farmer and priceless (but cheap) for a nudist club.
The question of whether it is worth spending more for lakefront property requires more than a yes—no answer depending upon the circumstances. If the lake is to be used for swimming purposes, then the differential between the cost of a swimming pool and the lake must be evaluated.
Sewer hookups are desirable for trailers but not essential. You will find, as your club grows, that every site with sewer will be grabbed by full-time members for permanent vacation spots unless you are able to keep expanding facilities.
All of these facilities are expensive to purchase and maintain, so they are something for the third year or later unless you start as a well—financed resort operation.
Facilities for a caretaker couple should have top priority. Others are desirable for future but many pitfalls must be avoided. Residents must NOT be given carte blanche to build at their own expense. Mobile home sites must be on a lease basis. Cabins must be limited in size and value with a clause stipulating sale at a named price within one year to club or approved member if owner’s membership is terminated.
CAMP STORE, LAUNDRY, ETC.
These items are required in established resort clubs, but are not needed in the beginning of most clubs.
We have given a ‘yes’ answer to each question although you must certainly be aware that our club does not offer some of the items listed or only a few of some of the others such as rental rooms, mobile homes, etc. To have all of these facilities would be the ideal but unfortunately very few nudist parks ever reach this plateau. The reason for this is the lack of capital and the present high cost factor of capital improvements. Need I mention the reasons for the shortage of capital? (1) Except in the southern parts of California and Florida the season for nude activities can be from four to six months which severely limits income. (2) Nudism has not reached the acceptance level that would result in thousands of people embracing its benefits with resultant increase in funds. (3) Investors are not anxious to place their money in ventures which produce little or no income.
Items 1 – 4 (pool, badminton, playground, sauna) should be completed in the first year of operation. The others (volleyball court, horse shoes, whirlpool, shuffleboard, tennis court) should come along one a year, or every two or three years, as the income permits. It is better to grow, one goal at a time, giving members something to work and contribute for unless some rich man wants a tax write-off by providing all ahead of opening and relying on a depreciation factor with IRS.
COMPREHENSIVE DEVELOPMENT PLAN.
It is easier to get one big future plan approved by the local zoning board than to go back repeatedly for additions to the original. Plan bigger than you even dream you can ever accomplish because if you never complete the whole plan there is no penalty except in some counties which require that the plan must be completed within a certain time, normally 5 years. But it is easier to get this time extended than it is to expand on a plan which was too small in the beginning. It is much easier to get the original plan approved if there is no previous mention of nudism. If they think a big tourist operation is coming in with money for construction and purchasing materials in the community they will cooperate much better.
It is not desirable for a club to obtain any type of alcoholic license because having one prohibits consumption of any other type of alcohol and renders the club liable for any incidents or accidents which result from consumption. The common practice in clubs which do dispense alcohol is to let it technically be on a “donation” basis, with everyone understanding that nothing less than a certain donation will be accepted, and even this subterfuge is NOT legal.
The fee structure should be sufficient to pay for the overhead of the park plus the owners’ living expenses. There should also be enough profit to put money aside for future capital improvements.
Fees must depend upon facilities and activities offered. Each club owner should visit other parks and study their fee structure and facilities. In the beginning you will probably want to charge less than the competition, and you will certainly hinder your growth if you charge the price other clubs do but offer less in the way of facilities. It is better to start low and increase each year as you add facilities.
Each club should seriously consider the separation of annual membership fee from annual ground fee instead of having one combined fee which often discourages prospective members. A low membership fee of no more than $10 – $15 per adult (plus ASA dues) will attract more members who will pay more ground fees and contribute more money, materials and muscle to a beginning club. Then charge a daily ground fee with a special annual rate of possibly 20 day visits. Thus a club with rudimentary facilities might charge $2.00 per day ground fees, or $40 per year, increasing this to $5 per day or $100 per year when the facilities are comparable to other established clubs. Thus a prospect more readily pays the low basic membership fee and after a few visits saves up for the annual grounds fee when the bargain becomes apparent. But one total price might have prevented that member from joining.
All of these fees should be based on competitors’ rates, both nudist and non-nudist facilities. Any extra charges for use of facilities within the park should be low, remembering that the Visitor or member has already paid a ground fee.
FEE FOR GUESTS OF A RESIDENT.
Guests of residents, assuming they paid a day fee for the use of the grounds, should pay perhaps $1,00 for overnight use of a rental which has already been paid for on a permanent basis. But there must be a strict distinction between guests who do and who do not use the club grounds and facilities. Day visitors who only visit the hosts’ trailer should pay no fee. Abuse of this privilege should endanger the hosts’ lease.
Selected items from ASA surveys taken within the last 10 years:
Age of those answering:
54.3% over 50
Marital status of those answering:
Married 60%. Single 40%.
Status of membership in general:
Married 77.8%. Single 22.2%.
Where and how did those answering hear about or receive an introduction to nudism:
48.2% Magazines or media
45.5% Family and friends.
4.2% ASA pamphlets
1.9% Free beaches.
Occupations of members taken from applications:
Sales, Sec., Acct. 15.3%
Unskilled or Semi 14.7%
Teacher, Social Sci. 9.2%
Managerial, medical, police 11.8%
How long has each respondent been a nudist?
47% 5 years or less
25% 6—10 years
28% 10 years or more
How many clubs has respondent visited other than home club?
22% 16 or more
Has the respondent personally introduced members to nudism?
47.8 yes. 34.5% no. 17.8% did not respond.
Highest grade completed by those responding:
45% 12 years or less
26% 16 years or more
29% 13—16 years
Average education — 13 years.
Income of those responding:
20% 0—$10,000. 65% 10,000—15,000. 15% 15,000 or more.