Saturday, December 18, 2010

Young Nudists Challenge AANR

A fun nude nite out at a Young Naturists and Nudists America event.
"They don't represent, create, they don't get involved."

Felicity, who along with Jordan Blum founded Young Naturists and Nudists America in New York City, is talking about the American Association for Nude Recreation. "And they just don't seem to get it anymore."

Arriving with an Internet spash, including a press release, a Facebook page with about 800 friends, a Facebook group with about 500 members, a Twitter account with about 200 followers, and a website which reportedly already has more visitors than AANR.com, Young Naturists and Nudists America (YNNA) is directly challenging the established national organization by appealing to a "younger tech savvy community".

Felicity says that AANR fails "because they just don't understand the younger generation, and the AANR isn't proactive when it comes to younger people With us, we're young and putting our heart and souls into making something we hope others will appreciate."

So who exactly are Felicity and Jordan, and what prompted them to found a new nudist organization? 

"I lived in a nudist club when I was very little with my family, and then we moved into an outside house while keeping a cabin there", says Felicity. "From then on I was there naked every summer." She later met Jordan at a nudist resort, and they both came to the conclusion that there was a better way for nudism to appeal to younger people. She explains, "The whole thing about body acceptance angered Jordan. He read about tattoos, piercings, transgender and things of that nature and the AANR didn't support what Jordan thought was the essence of the naturist movement..accepting people for who they are rather than what they look like."

Erich Schuttauf, Executive Director of AANR, disagrees, noting that "the American Association for Nude Recreation is working to introduce nudism to a new generation of college students and 30-somethings."

"Perhaps the best example I can think of for AANR’s efforts in 2010 came last July when over 13,000 people turned out to set a Guiness World Record for simultaneous skinny dipping. Many of these were “first timers” and a large contingent of them were college students.  My family and I personally met a lot of these at Haulover Beach in Miami, Florida where we helped set the record."

"Regarding body jewelry, the Association recognizes that the adornment one chooses is a very personal matter.  Within letters to the editor of The Bulletin, our monthly members’ newspapers, people have expressed a variety of “animated” positions on how they feel about the topic. For its part, the Association does not take a position---one way or another---on what jewelry should and should not be worn within our 200+ clubs. Instead, we leave it to those clubs to set policies that work for them."

Despite the perceived differences, YNNA is moving forward with nude social events much in the spirit of AANR, looking to make the parties a "fun positive experience" with security and a zero tolerance for sexual activity. Registration for the upcoming Nude Year's Eve party is open until December 22, a deadline which was extended in order to achieve a "better mix of ages and males/females."

Despite the name of the organization, Felicity says that they "don't have any age limit, we just take the list of registered guests and try to make it as diverse as possible."

When warmer weather arrives, Felicity says that YNNA is hopeful about organizing club visits to nude beaches and resorts "as long as we don't run out of money by then...but we have big dreams." When asked if she had any contact with AANR, she said "we were sending them emails, but no one was really responding."

Erich Schuttauf suggests that his organization might have dropped the ball. "I have to confess that I am not personally aware of efforts that were made to reach out to work with AANR and me. But I will admit that we make mistakes and are not always perfect at responding to those who contact our office at 1-800-TRY-NUDE.  I think it is GREAT that a growing group of young people want to take clothes-free recreation to the next level and would welcome an opportunity to talk to their leadership!"

So what is AANR doing to reach out to younger people? Schuttauf explains, "We recognize that the forms of communication that speak to various ages changes over time. Where traditional print, radio, and television have evolved into the internet and social media including Facebook, AANR has kept pace.  WWW.AANR.COM has a generous portion of space dedicated to messaging that serves twenty and thirty somethings.  YouTube videos about the Guiness World Skinny Dip, Poolside with the (AANR) President, and even Government Affairs have generated views in the tens of thousands.  What’s more, Vita Nuda, a partnership between a dynamic group of young professionals and AANR has garnered YouTube views in the millions...Vita Nuda has held events (e.g. a 5K race and get-together weekends) in multiple clubs drawing a college aged crowd up to those in their early 30’s.  Vita Nuda receives funding and resource support from AANR. Some of its key leadership have worked on the staff at AANR where they have brought ideas to work."

Whatever the differences between the two groups, there certainly appear to be more similarities in philosophy and intent, and the possibility for some sort of future collaboration might exist. The positive for nudists and naturists everywhere is that there are young people like Felicity and Jordan willing to spend much time and money on promoting nude recreation, exhibiting knowledge and enthusiam which is much needed.

Ultimately, though, Felicity says that YNNA is not about AANR, Vita Nuda or anyone else. "We're doing our own thing, not trying to take away from anybody else."

6 comments:

Diary of a Naked Wombat said...

A brilliant post there and spot on the mark 100%.

There is a lot of this judging of others going around. And when many organisation ban singles and young families, you immediately rule out the very people they ridicule for not joining in.

Brain said...

The Vita Nuda web site is pretty much worthless. The only information that I can find on it is basic answers to questions like, "What is Nudism?" and "Who becomes a nudist?"

Their 2010 calendar says, for November & December, "TBA", then "Check back for Updates!"

It's nice that AANR thinks they're working to appeal to younger people, but it would be nicer if they put in a little more effort.

Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park said...

Two observations:

1) Not all young people are the same. They are no more homogenous than middle-aged people or elderly people. Not all young people just want to 'party' all the time. The assumption that young people are all the same is what causes much confusion on how to attract them to naturism/nudism. What naturists/nudists need to do is focus on young people with specific psychographics within the age demographic. What the ideal psychographics are is too long of a discussion for this comment.

2) If we are going to generalize, I think we can definitely say that young people tend to be more idealistic than people who are older. (but not all young people!) Those who are idealistic are much more likely to be interested in a naturist/nudist group that has a strong set of values behind their philosophy. If they see naturism/nudism as just about nudity, I think that would make it appear rather superficial and therefore less compelling to them.

Alonzo said...

For some time now I've thought it would be a great idea for the leaders of the nudist community to pay a visit to and study Harbin Hot Springs to figure out what they're doing right in this day and age.

Harbin, a 2-hours drive north of San Francisco, is a New Age religious retreat center. The negatives (at least as far as I'm concerned) are no red meat, no alcohol consumption, and no socializing in the pools (signs tell you that SILENCE is to be maintained).

In the summer months, Harbin books about 300 people a night on weekday and 500 a night on weekends. While it's not a nudist resort, it is clothing optional. In reality this means that on a typical summer weekday, you can expect to see 100-200 people in the pool area, almost all completely nude. (The number of people in swimsuits generally can be counted on one hand, and that includes women in bikini bottoms and no tops.)

And now, on point to the discussion, are these observations:

1. They routinely attract 100-200 naked people to the pool area every day during the summer, more on weekends. I've been to too many "nudist resorts" where if 30 people show up, it's considered a "big crowd."

2. There is sexual parity. While I've been there at times when it's 60/40 male, I've also been there when it's 60/40 female. And there is no "artificial" creation of this parity, e.g. restricting the number of single men or maintaining a couples-only policy.

3. The average age seems to be about 40, meaning there are just as many naked people in their 20s and 30s as in their 50s and 60s.

4. You don't see that many "lifestyle nudists" there, i.e. people who are nude 24/7 or try to be. There are few all-over tans; most people are either pasty white or have obvious tan lines. And among the ladies, most have pubic areas in their "natural state," rather than the "full body shave." Many, I'm sure, are first timers.

While I would not like to see nudist resorts taken over by hipper-than-though health nazis, there are some things to be learned from the Harbin operation.

Paul Rapoport said...

The main answer to this question is surely: ask young people what they want and then make to work it happen, with some of the work done by them.

Of course answers will vary, but it's a start to find out what they are instead of imagining them or ignoring them.

Pitching to specific youth demographics is one result of finding out the answers.

M said...

I think what YNNA is doing is great.

AANR and Vita Nuda are a Joke...

Vita never hosts events, and when they do they are always at the same resorts all the time, with very little creativity.

They also discriminate against gay people.

In addition YNNA, seems way less discriminatory than both AANR and Vita Nuda..

As I know several people who have been blocked from Vita Nuda's facebook page without reason.

And their website looks like something from the 1990's.

In addition Vita Nuda (FL) works with an organization called Florida Young Naturists which exploits people by posting unauthorized photos online.

YNA keep up the good work!!..