Are landed clubs still relevant?
I was recently in discussion with a reader over the topic of naturist clubs and venues and how to include people that don’t have access to these in their area.
Part of my response was that I felt some landed clubs had passed their best before date and were too restrictive in their rules and attitudes.
Here in New Zealand, I have visited a few clubs, and I have found that none of them quite fit what I am looking for in a naturist experience. Sure, they have nice facilities and are a safe place to enjoy being naked in a social environment, but very few of them were welcoming to me when I tried to engage as a single male. In addition, membership often requires a commitment of time beyond that which I currently have available in my busy schedule.
Sometimes the internal politics of established clubs and the personalities involved result in closed and insular thinking, which tries to preserve the haven that they have created for their existing members, rather than welcoming new people to the group. And then in the same breath clubs will wonder why their memberships are dwindling and they are struggling to recruit new people.
I have heard from people involved in landed club management that many of the rules and barriers are in place to protect members from unwanted behaviour by people using nudist clubs as a pathway to voyeuristic sexual gratification or to maintain a more balanced mix of genders in the group.
Rather than exclude people for behaviour that they have not yet engaged in, how about including everyone and dealing with inappropriate behaviour when and if it occurs? This means promptly acting on issues as they occur rather than excluding people to avoid having difficult conversations.
As for the gender mix, it is widely acknowledged that many more men take part in social naturism than women do. Limiting membership numbers to maintain a gender balance, excludes participation for many genuine naturists and may create a sense of resentment towards the club.
I may be quite wrong but from my experience, the demographics of naturist clubs do not reflect the communities in which they are operating. Gender-diverse and disabled people are under-represented in the naturist settings that I have attended, and racial diversity appears to be missing from many. Naturists as a group pride themselves on their acceptance and inclusivity, but our clubs do not always reflect those values and ideals
The demands on the spare time of many people and young families mean that the club model does not always suit their lifestyle, and therefore they don’t consider membership to be of any real value. Offering day passes or access to non-members would help make naturism more accessible to many people who simply feel that they don’t have the time to commit to a full membership.
I can no longer claim to be a younger person but my work schedule has me travelling frequently which means that I do not have much time to give to clubs. I would get less value from the fees than if I had more time to spare. My naturism is largely practised at home and in the warmer months at local beaches, rivers and parks. I am lucky that there are plenty of locations and opportunities for me to enjoy naturism in my community without having to join a club. While I don’t belong to any landed club, I am part of several online groups and have connections with naturist friends, both local and around the world.
One of the online groups I belong to used to organise a monthly get-together at a local hot pool, which usually had up to 40 people turn up for a meal and a swim. This was until a change of ownership of the hot pool venue. The new owners were happy for the group to continue using the facility, but banned children from the event.
At that time, no children were attending, but I believe there was a young family who wanted to join in. There were no objections from the naturist group but the position of the venue on the matter created some heated discussion. Between the passionate arguments from the naturist group and the rights of the venue owners to run their business as they see fit, a compromise was not forthcoming.
Added to this mix was the rise of COVID and the lack of any other venue willing to host our group so the hot pool event has sadly not resumed. Despite this setback, the online group does organise other events where people can get together and enjoy each other's company in various settings.
In answer to the question posed in the title of this article, yes I believe that landed clubs are relevant and still have a strong role to play in promoting the naturist philosophy. Such clubs do have a valuable place in our communities, as they provide both a venue and a framework for many naturists to be part of a community that they might otherwise struggle to access.
But many landed clubs do themselves no favours by becoming too inward-looking and often excluding people who may well contribute to their ongoing relevance and future. For many people, online groups offer connections to like-minded naturists without the need to travel any distance or commit time to help maintain facilities.
Landed clubs, how about opening up and making it easier for day visitors, young families and people wanting to use the wonderful spaces you have created?
Yes, it may mean putting in place strategies for dealing with inappropriate behaviour from a small minority, or if you already have such procedures, you need to be willing to put these processes into practice. Surely clubs would benefit from greater numbers using the facilities and potentially attracting new contributing members.
Thank you for reading, have a comfortable day.
From an American's point of view, I can tell you the restrictions are justified. A small number of horny single guys can ruin it for the rest of us. And with the staggering number of child grooming and molestation cases out there I would never take my kids to any naturist club or park now. I don't want to hear it. What families do within the law on their property is not my concern. But if I don't feel my children are 100% safe I have a duty to not take them. Now many clubs are 21+ only and I get it.
But the restrictions are also isolating resorts in smaller towns who can't take chances.
The naturist market is shrinking.
The problem with landed clubs are cliques.
Cliques kill clubs. If you are not in line with the clique you will be pushed out. I've had it happen.
I also noticed once you get yours, you stop caring about the cause. The club I was pushed out of, when I had first joined I mentioned trying to start a nonlanded club as I'm an hour away from the closest club, intending to partner with that club. "That will hurt our business." That's their mindset!
The effort itself died when virtually everyone on the Facebook group were out of the area, despite express statements that it was only for my general area as we have nothing in that region, and they were almost all men.
Cliques with that knowledge don't want everyone.
A seperate club the membership frankly bitched and moaned about everything, didn't lift a finger to volunteer, basically some were there just to drink beer and stare at titties.
God forbid you stick your neck out and advocate for a couple of acres of land in public parks for skinny dipping. We think of only beaches when most of us aren't close to one. There are literally millions of acres of public land in America, and we can't lift a g-damn finger to get some fully committed to naturism? If I could go skinny dipping on public lands I wouldn't bother with club politics anymore. I don't want to hear "grey area" arguments. We need dedicated spaces with dedicated signage like the nude beaches.
I don't expect a church service at nightly dances at AANR clubs. I don't want an orgy at them. I do expect best behavior. I have seen one club have swinger ads on their website. Sorry, not for me.
Big cities with big memberships are not in danger. But isolated resorts in small towns are dying out. The club I went to was three hours away (I ran events there), the owner got fed up with all the drama from the members and just runs the campground with no events. Took down his Facebook page. I don't fault him. The park is likely for sale.
It's the law of diminishing returns.
I wouldn't invest in a naturist club in a small town. Why would I if members think just paying dues is enough for the cause?
It is the consequence of a mentality that says "I've got mine."
Not for much longer.
"The less that you give, you're a taker."--Ronnie James Dio, "Heaven and Hell"
I'm picking up on the points made about new visitors to clubs finding it difficult to engage with others there.
I do not know what the reasons for these experiences are; situations, locations, personalities, expectations etc can vary considerably.
This is not my usual experience from visiting new clubs in the UK. There have always been some people who have been very friendly, not universally, some have been more reserved. I found it to be a similar experience when staying at nudist resorts/clubs in Europe too. Overall I consider the nudist community to generally be friendlier, more open to engagement than in the clothed world, exceptions do exist.