The Last Nude Day

My trailer at Seminole

The last nude day at Seminole Health Club was April 15. All our snowbirds are gone, as they would normally be by this date. The sad part is that many of them are not coming back. Some of these folks have been wintering at Seminole for a quarter century.

When the management gave us the news that our nudist camp was turning into a Kampground of America (KOA) he said that his announcement would affect us "a little." He had no idea the profound effect asking nudists to wear clothes would have.

The camp restaurant manager insisted many of our Canadian guests would return. "They are only nude forty percent of the time," he said. "They've been coming here for twenty-five years. They will continue to come." From what I have heard from the snowbirds he may be in for a bit of a shock next winter!

It makes me wonder how a person could manage a nudist camp for five years and not know the first thing about nudists!

The question we need to ask now is this. How did this happen, and how can we prevent this from happening in other clubs?

I believe that for Seminole the seeds of its ultimate demise were planted twenty years ago when the then-owner did not support the inauguration of Haulover Beach, fearing that a nude beach would hurt her business. At that moment she should have built a good relationship with the beach organizers and begun co-promotions. Since she refused to do that, Haulover did take a chunk out of her business.

The second problem is that other area nudist camps refused to support Seminole. In most places where there is more than one nude resort there are inter-camp days and co-promotions. Since the new (non-nudist) owner took over at Seminole there has been little or no effort, either from Seminole’s manager or the managers of any other local groups, to work together.

Given the lack of support from either the beach or the local clubs, the new management decided to turn Seminole into a swinger's club. This resulted in an apparent boycott of Seminole because of the policies of local and nation nudist/naturist organizations.

It is understandable that nudist/naturist organizations can't support open swinging, even though swinging happens at virtually every campground, nudist or textile. But here's what I don't understand. The Naturist Society seems to openly support tantric work. Tantric workers offer sexual stimulation in exchange for money at Naturist Society events. I don't understand why that is ok, but swinging isn't. I guess the swingers need to get better at chanting "om."

When Seminole returned to family naturism it wasn't particularly welcomed back into the fold. I had thought the announcement that Seminole was no longer lifestyle would have encouraged naturist organizations to support the club, but that didn’t seem to happen.

I was thrilled that the Naturist Society agreed to publish an article about Seminole in the prestigious N Magazine, but at that point it was too little, too late.

I am sure that if the owner of Seminole had tried harder to work with the local and national organizations he might have made some headway. But between his lack of effort and the organizations' lack of support, we've lost another nudist resort.

What can we do in the future to prevent this from happening to other clubs? I think all nudist and naturist organizations need to work together to preserve nudism. I think clear lines of behavior need to be drawn. If open sexuality is not permitted, then that needs to be true across the board. While tantric eye-gazing may be appropriate in the nudist environment, professional tantric massage might not be.

Overall, an atmosphere of cooperation rather than competition needs to exist between nudist and naturist organizations. The demise of Seminole was probably set in stone that very moment twenty years ago when a nudist club owner chose not to cooperate with the formation of a nude beach. Everything that happened after that was simply more encouragement for a heritage nudist camp to become a textile RV park.

Normally at this time of year my husband and I would be enjoying the sunshine and the peaceful quiet of a South Florida spring. Instead, we are packing our belongings and moving to Lake Como, a large, established co-op with a rich history and a wonderful reputation. We are happy to be welcomed to this new community.

But when we leave Seminole, we will leave a part of ourselves behind. We will always wonder what could have happened instead, if more people had made the choice that we made, the choice to invest in Seminole.

Seminole was a small club, with just a few residents and a lot of snowbirds. But with the right promotion, Seminole might have continued to be a great nudist option in South Florida. Being only half an hour away from Haulover should have been a blessing, not a curse.

Many nudist/naturist organizations, local and national, landed and non-landed, have proven time and again that working together is the way we get things done. I believe this with all my heart.

If we can find our obvious common ground and work together to preserve and grow our options for nude recreation and community maybe there will never have to be another last nude day anywhere.

Comments

It really is a sad ending, but one which could probably have been predicted the moment a non-nudist purchased the club.  As you said, he managed it for five years, but still did not understand nudists.  Although his money was invested, its hard to believe he was personally invested. And from what I've seen, and heard, running a nudist club is pretty much always a labor of love.  If its just a job for the owner, then either their ownership or the club, or both, is on borrowed time.  As the average age of nudists continues to increase, this could become more and more common.  Without young people, families as well as singles, to replenish our ranks, clubs will become increasingly unsustainable.  The way to change this is simple and its been done in another context.  When Cadillac and Lincoln both saw that their average buyers were soon going to be too old to be interested in new cars, they knew they had a problem.  So they reinvented themselves to appeal to a younger demographic.  Did they turn off some of their "traditional" buyers?  No doubt.  Did they set themselves up for a healthy future?  Also no doubt.  The difference was, they have stockholders who demanded they change.  Nudist club members have to decide to change themselves, and that's much harder.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment.

I have seen a few clubs run very successfully and profitably by non-nudists. The difference is those owners are smart business people and learn their market. The owner at Seminole did not. Likewise, I have seen nudist-owned clubs fail, not because of lack of love, but because of lack of business acumen.

I agree that clubs and organizations need to do a much better job marketing, especially to younger people and families.

Every time I go to Haulover I am struck by how many nude young people I see there. Obviously young people are happy to be nude. We need to make our clubs more appealing to them.

As Robbe White, founder of FYN famously says, young people are not really interested in playing bingo.

I think it is a chicken-and-egg problem, too. If young people would support the clubs they could organize and run events they enjoy. At most clubs, the events are designed by and for the population who is present.

On the other hand, a lot of older people don't enjoy the noise and activity that comes with younger people. I think in the interest of our movement a lot of older people need to be more tolerant!

Sorry to hear what happened to Seminole! I am not a nudist but workin there I met a lot of great people. I was hoping I would have been able to make it the place it should be for the guest. Good luck Chistiana to u and your husband in your future adventures.

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