Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"I just havent built up the nerve"

I get emails from curious people all the time . . . most asking how to get up the courage to get started in nudism. I thought I'd share one recent email and the response I sent:

XXXXX XXX wrote:
> > Rick
> > I really love your website, my name is xxxxx and I have wanted to do
> > Nude Hiking but I guess I just havent built up the nerve to. I bet its
> > got to be very relaxing. I would love to go sometime. Do you usually
> > go in a group? All men? Inform me a little so I can get an idea. If
> > you want I can send you some pics, so that you know that I am not
> > disgusting, haha and that I would be serious.
> >
> > xxxxx
> >
> > p.s. how do people react when they see you walking around nude?
> >
> >

Hey xxxxx,

Thanks for the compliment.

As you surmise, hiking (and many other activities) are just plain more comfortable and freeing when done nude. The hardest part is, as you note, getting up the nerve to do so. So here is my heartfelt suggestion: contact the Sun Lovers Under Grey Skies (SLUGS) an fill out the application form. The SLUGS are
what is known as a Travel Club in the nudist/naturist community . . . that is, they do not own land but get together and arrange events where members can be nude. Membership in the SLUGS is reasonable . . . $20 per year with the option of also joining the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) and The Naturist Society (TNS), both of which I highly recommend. The SLUGS are a Puget Sound-based club but there are also other clubs all around the states.

The real benefit of joining a local travel club is that you find like-minded people . . . many of them approaching nudism for the first time like you. The membership suggests trips like visits to clothing-optional beaches or resorts . . . informally gets together members for nude hikes, and the like. You participate as much as you like because there is no pressure. For example, over this winter season we have arranged with a posh private pool to have nude swim once a month for our members.

The other real benefit is that members are vetted and you can feel safe at SLUGS events.

For myself, I participate in most SLUGS events . . . but I generally do my hiking alone. The main reason for that is that I rarely plan a nude hike . . . a nice day off comes around and I just head out at the last moment. I do participate in group nude hikes and camping but more often you will find me just plainly exploring some corner of the Cascades. I rarely hike nude with someone who is not already a friend or a member of a nudist club . . . because that vetting process is important.

All men? Nope. We have men and women participate in our events. I occasionally will get together with a male or female member of the SLUGS for an impromptu weekday hike. No big deal because we trust each other and the motives behind the hiking.

As far as pics . . . not important at all. The biggest draw of nudism and naturism is that what you look like doesn't really matter at all. That's a hard concept to digest but after awhile being a nudist you realize that no one is perfect. What you look like is not important . . . what you are looking for is. We look to enjoy the freedom that nudism

I used the terms 'nudism' and 'naturism'. To most they are synonymous but there are subtle differences.

Nudists tend to embrace social nudism . . . or getting together to enjoy nude events with like-minded people. AANR and the landed nudist resorts are most often associated with social nudism.

Naturists are those individuals to whom participation by others is not the driving motivation. They tend to want to experience nature in the most natural form (nude). Experiencing nature with others is mostly incidental. TNS, most clothing-optional beach groups, and many travel clubs tend to embrace this approach.

There is a third approach which I call Nude Activism . . . most closely associated with the Body Freedom Collaborative (BFC), the World Naked Bike Ride, and the Nude Bicyclists of the Fremont Solstice Parade. I shy away from most activism because I do not believe in the shock-value of what many participants do. However, I do participate in some of those events when they fit within my comfort zone . . . i.e. being nude in the Fremont Parade is becoming accepted, and fun for all.

The Body-Painted Nude Cyclists at the Fremont Solstice Parade is a highlight

To many . . . there is a blending of the terms. I enjoy nude social events (such as Octoberfest at Fraternity Snoqualmie), I enjoy being body painted for the Fremont Parade, but I especially enjoy that solo nude hike where I may never see another individual.

You finally ask, "How do people react when they see you walking around nude?" Well, for the most part (99%) the reactions are positive from either indifference to smiles to high fives to 'tell me more about it'. I have never had a negative reaction on the trail and I've encountered hundreds of fellow hikers in the past fifteen years. Not one negative reaction! But then again, I do not hike nude in situations where an encounter might lead to a bad reaction. I do not hike nude on popular trails, on weekends and at times when families or children might be sharing the trail. That is just common courtesy.

I hope that answers some of your questions. Feel free to ask any more if they pop up. Better yet, check out the SLUGS. They are a great group of like-minded people . . . very supportive and a great introduction to nudism. And when you are ready we will get you participating. It's such a freeing sensation ...

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