I waited for so many years and it’s finally a reality: I am officially a member of an AANR club.
Ever since my first visits to places where one can be socially nude (in a non-sexual atmosphere), be it AANR-affiliated clubs or other nudist/clothing optional locations, one thing always made a difference for me and my wife.
Did we feel welcome?
Were there people who greeted visitors? Were there individuals who noticed if we seemed unfamiliar with the grounds and helped direct us to the pool, the clubhouse, or any other areas of interest? Did the population overall seem happy to see visitors?
Or was it a place where people seemed standoffish? Given the reason these places exist is for people to be clothes-free in a social setting (and there are freaking few of these places as it is) it would seem odd for folks to be avoidant of engaging in simple conversation with people who are unfamiliar with them.
I acknowledge there may be a few valid reasons regular participants of the naturist/nudist way of life may not be engaging with others. Perhaps significant social anxiety, maybe the individual is going through a difficult time I know nothing about, and there may even be those who treat visitors or newcomers with suspicion based on a negative experience where new people equated being socially nude with being sexually open and adventurous.
Yet one can make the argument that visitors to Oakwood Club (or any AANR, TNS, or other naturist location) should strive to make newcomers feel welcome. I’ve met many people at Oakwood and I have yet to hear one talk about being raised in a naturist/nudist environment from as far back as they can remember.
This means….practically all of us were new to this at one time. I’ll bet many folks (me included) had that awkward moment where we had the first visit somewhere and felt quite nervous going through a gate or checking in with staff, knowing that taking off our clothes and being around other nude people was but a few minutes off. (Note to people who have not yet tried being socially nude: That anxiety wears off very quickly, so please don’t let that put you off. Also, Oakwood allows you to get unclothed at your own comfort level and speed, which is not always the case at other places.) If people are greeted warmly and are around others who seem happy to have visitors it may have long-lasting positive results.
Who knows? The person you do not know, but greeted with eye contact and a smile might just wind up becoming a member that has a significant positive effect on the entire club. Maybe they have skills, gifts, or talents that fill a particular need. People who engage in social nudism are few in number, and those who are willing to go outside their comfort zone and move beyond their fears and insecurities to give naturism a try should be encouraged and supported.
During the Memorial Day weekend, I had a chance to talk to a couple who were visiting. At one point in our conversation, I did indeed ask: Are you being made to feel welcome?
Their answer? A very emphatic “yes.”
If all Oakwood visitors have a similar response for this season of 2022, then our members can take pride in creating that welcoming environment!