by Mel Kanner
Number 7 in a series of articles examining the changes that I have observed to the practice of nudism over the years and our society’s view of nudity.
One of the things that I like about nudist parks is that most of them are communities. Particularly the smaller parks with fewer than a couple hundred members.
Beaches can be very enjoyable. One usually goes for the day, enjoys the sun, sand, water, meeting with friends, and returns home. And although there may be clubs that meet at the beach often, like the Blacks Beach Bares, they are not communities.
The parks, in contrast, can be like small towns. Enclaves with gates and fences. We know everyone and their names (at least their first names. In the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s everyone was on a first name basis because of concerns that our activities could affect someone’s job if their full identity was known). We greet each other or wave when we pass each other on the street. We are concerned about what happens to others. We inquire about each other’s health. We watch out for each other’s kids. We gather in small and large groups to share meals and camaraderie.
Many of the parks are co-ops. That is, each member is a part owner of the club and has some responsibility towards its operation and maintenance. Most of the management is done by an elected board; most of the maintenance is done by volunteers. Even the proprietary clubs, with paid staff, have volunteers — for entertainment and events.
Many of the clubs have permanent residents, living in cottages, cabins, mobile homes, park models, trailers and other RV’s. Some (like Sun Meadow) have separate residential areas with elaborate custom built homes.
And many have part time residents — that is, members who choose to spend their weekends, and other free time at their park. Often also in RV’s that end up surrounded by decks, fences, flower beds.
Even many of the larger clubs with many hundreds of members and visitors, are like larger towns. Although one may not know everyone by name, nor socialize as one large group, they can be close knit communities. They often have a large number of permanent residences, some in elaborate mobile homes and condos.
At Cypress Cove, a large proprietary club/resort in Florida, where we often snowbird, we do not know everyone by name, but we still wave to each other when we pass on the street. We make friends with people who participate in the same activities we choose, or are staying in our neighborhoods. We get together for meals or social events. There are people to help us when we need it.
Some nudist parks/resorts are not communities at all. Some are like beaches where you share a space to enjoy some time without the encumbrances of clothes. But these parks without the community essence are not the norm.
In the past we have spent some time at one of the non-community nudist resorts, and have visited many others, both large and small, but have found them to be very unsatisfying. Our nudist participation now is almost exclusively at parks that have this community feel.
This sense of community is not unique to nudist parks. Many small towns, church groups, retirement living centers, have the same community focus. Even some neighborhoods in large cities are moving toward this. And some new developments are being designed with community in mind.
I consider this community aspect to be an important part of the nudist community. More later.