Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Young Ones!

For a while now, it has been my desire and ambition to speak to young New Zealand naturists and to get our youth involved in naturism.

But how do I, a 40-something person, do this? I feel young - some might say I even look young - but I am not young and that's how the youth or young people view me.

It must be a big priority for other federations around the world currently too because as I researched for this piece, I found that the INF have just held a Workshop on Youth in Naturism in the past weekend, and this coming weekend the AANR are holding a Young Nudist Leaders Summit! So this is exciting...I just might be able to glean some information from those workshops, tailor it for the Kiwi youth, and begin to make a meaningful difference to young naturists here.

I became a naturist in my late 30s. But I do believe it was something that interested me way before I became a participant. If I could tell my younger self something...anything!...that would help me in my middle would be "you don't have to wait 20 years to become a naturist"!

We all know that young people love to have fun - we used to love having fun too! They've had less time in their lives to become involved in, or cluttered by, social and community structures which discourage nudity, and because they have fewer taboos they are more inclined to try new or different things. They love doing daring things and sometimes that includes nudity in public - it might be skinny-dipping or nude rugby! Sure, they might start doing it for a laugh but you can guarantee that for a few it's something quite freeing and they do actually 'get' it. So, back to my question...

Why do more youth not embrace our different, perhaps even 'daring', lifestyle:
  • Perhaps it's money, or lack of it. 
  • Perhaps it's a case of 'antidisestablishmentarism' - maybe young people don't like belonging to a club because of rules and guidelines and youth are trying to make their own way by their own rules?
  • Perhaps they have looked into it but our marketing hasn't captured them as young people - they perceive that it's for older people or families?
  • Perhaps they've visited a club and found no one their age there?

Perhaps a little of all of these are true. However here are some counter arguments to the above list:
  • We can make our membership prices for youth much cheaper than an adult - if they aren't already. And what's wrong with allowing them to have day visits without a long-term commitment? 
  • Perhaps we can't change the nature of a young person, but we can show them that the rules and guidelines are to provide a safe environment for them and so that respect is shown to everyone - they're not there to dampen or be a kill-joy.
  • By asking these questions we are trying to find out what what will "speak" to young people specifically - what engages them and what doesn't - then we can improve our appeal to them.
  • Well, this would change around when our marketing was more appealing.

I believe there is a genuine willingness amongst the younger crowd to indulge in nude recreation. They participate with their friends in streaking, skinny-dipping and politically driven nude bike rides. 

Here are a few ideas that might make naturism more appealing and acceptable to young people:
  • The words "nude recreation" should be used more. Most of our clubs offer miniten, swimming, and volleyball - these are recreational activities that young people enjoy. They like to be active to have fun with friends. 
  • What's wrong with accepting them, welcoming them as you would a new member and including them in activities, without the expectation they will become members? The word naturism could imply an alternative lifestyle or conjure images of a nudist colony - young people don't want a change in lifestyle, they just want to have fun and to let their hair down from time to time. 
  • We need to change our attitudes to young people when they do visit our clubs. They have piercings and tattoos - some in places that might seem strange to us. Talk to them, include them - don't view them with suspicion from afar.    
  • We need an updated image that appeals to younger people. Images showing families with children playing or older couples walking along the beach are not going to appeal to where a young person is now. Images should be relevant, showing examples of nude recreation and also having a relevance to body acceptance and an expression of freedom.
  • Similar to other federations around the world, we could start a Young Naturists group. The co-ordinator of this group would be young themselves (25 years of age or under), energetic and enthusiastic, and able to communicate well to young ones around the country and to organise gatherings and activities.  

These are but a few ideas. But it's a start, something to work on and to grow to something tangible. Hopefully more practical ideas will come out of the workshops and forums currently being held overseas. 

So expect to see this as a continuing theme. Join in the journey with us! Help by sharing your thoughts and knowledge of young people. If you're a young person, your insights would be invaluable in putting a strategy together.

Our website is: and you can contact me by email at:


  1. I'm Martin, I have 26 years old and I'm from Argentina. I been a naturist for almost 7 years and an active one for 4. The thing is that the price are a problem, in general is really expensive to pay the ticket to get into a Club and also get to the please, and then you have other thing that when you go to the different club or places there aren't any people of your age and also you don't have to much activities to do. This is something that I saw in my country in al the club and venues that I went, and I think that gear is something really similar, and I love to see this change. I would love to have some information of reunions or events or something for young people and also for no so young...ahhahaha...Now, my girlfriend (that is also a naturist) and I, we are living in Christchurch until February and then we will be traveling around and we want to visit all the naturist places of the country. Sorry for writing problems but my english is not very good!!

  2. Hi Martin. I could completely understand what you said so no need to apologise. Thanks for your comments which we will keep for reference.
    As each club in NZ sets their own constitution and membership fees, the NZNF cannot change this. But if, through this research, it shows as a hinderance to attracting younger members to clubs we could recommend this is reviewed by the clubs. I hope you and your girlfriend are enjoying living in Christchurch. Have you visited the club in Rolleston called Pineglades Naturist Club?

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  4. I will have about 30 younger visitors attending the Pineglades Open Day on Labour Monday (Oct28), so Martin you are welcome to join in with this group and meet other international people

  5. I ended up replying to Ruby Harfields request for 'young' naturists for her article so it will be interesting to see how that pans out. I'm 31, so hardly 'young' in the traditional sense of the word, but probably at the lower end of the adult naturists demographic. I definitely think that more organised events, advertised and targeted to younger people would help and perhaps more targeted at the naturism rather than nudism (I'm specifically thinking of Rotota here, it's a special place :) offering the chance to truly get away from technology and textiles and appreciate nature. Maybe some acoustic music/small concerts at naturist venues during the day could attract younger people too?

    1. Many thanks for your comments...we will take those onboard.

  6. Hi Donna

    I am 27, and am very new to naturism. The thought of going to a club is rather scary, but going to a nude beach is appealing. It is free, no commitment, and no obligation to socialize. Perhaps a beach meet could be a way of attracting young people.

    Hope that can be of some help.


    1. Hi Mike. Apologies for my delayed reply. That is great feedback thank you. Will add that to the list. Have you come across Free Beaches NZ Inc yet?
      They are looking to implement a page in the near future where you can log a planned visit to a beach, and the hope is that this will be a place people will look and then decide to join and perhaps meet up. That's pretty cool eh.
      Regards naturally, Donna

    2. Hi again Mike. Would you be able to tell us why the thought of going to a club is rather scary? Is it that it's full of older people or is it the rules? We won't mind your honesty - we are trying to look at all aspects of naturism to make it more attractive for young people such as yourself. Many thanks for your time.

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  8. Hi Donna,

    I'm a 24 year old in Auckland and same as Mike, as a newby I find nude beaches much more appealing than clubs. I swam and sunbathed nude at for the first time last summer (at St Leonards) and really enjoyed it but I would have been more relaxed if there were other naturists rather than just my partner and I. So the idea for planning visits sounds great! And perhaps having a section of beach with a sign saying 'bathing suit optional area' or something, just so people are less likely to be offended/rude.



    1. Hi Jess. Thanks so much for your comment. I do know that Free Beaches have flags available with "Fred Bear" which you can stick in the sand to let people know you could be nude. These are free to members or you can order these here:

    2. Also Jess, would you be able to say why you find beaches more appealing than clubs? Is it that you like the beach or is it that some aspect of visiting a club is off-putting to you? We won't mind your honesty - we are trying to look at all aspects of naturism to make it more attractive for young people such as yourself. Many thanks for your time.

  9. Hi Donna

    I have discovered Free Beaches, which I have considered joining. The idea of planning beach visits through the web site sounds like a great. Re visiting a club, I anticipate that turning up by myself could make members question my intentions/motivation, given their are families etc there. I am yet to find a friend who is positive about naturism, so feel like it would be more acceptable to visit a beach alone rather than a club. I hope that makes sense?


  10. A very important topic and I'm glad to see it discussed. I definitely agree with all of your points – except for one: I don't agree that watering down the naturist philosophy to mere "nude recreation" is the solution. In fact, I believe that it is the erosion of values in naturism that has made it less relevant with youth. My observation is that we are at our most idealistic when we are young. That's when we look for new ideas and a better way. Naturism can be that better way. But just getting naked for fun has very little meaning. Yes it is fun. But that's not enough to keep people involved.

    When I purchased Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park almost 7 years ago, I heard all the usual complaints. Young people aren't interested; naturism is dying; naturism is irrelevant today, etc... And looking around the park at that time (and in other clubs in the area) it certainly seemed true. But seven years later, we have no problems attracting young people. We have quadrupled our membership to about 550 members. All 119 serviced campsites are full with a 10 year waiting list. Last summer, we had over 2,200 visits by non-members.

    How? We have implemented many of the suggestions in this article (low cost for youth, no requirement to join anything, lots of activities, etc...) and more.

    I share some of my opinions and strategies about attracting youth in my September 2012 podcast:

  11. Great article Donna and some really helpful comments