Surviving Midwinter Naturist Festival 2013 at Sunsport Gardens

Naturist woman

Each year in February a flock of nudists gather at Morley's Midwinter Festival held on the grounds of Sunsport Gardens.  I experienced four of these festivals during the time that I lived there on lot 4A adjacent to the volleyball courts. This provided me with a good view of the goings on and I feel well-equipped to share some advice that may be helpful if you are planning to attend.

The festival features many workshops of interest to anyone who enjoys social nudism and several of interest to the new age community in general. You might want to check the credentials of the person presenting a particular workshop before attending. Morley seems to like volume over quality and some workshops I have attended seemed to be filled with misinformation. Several were presented by members of the  Naturist Society who were well versed in the information they presented and handled questions with ease. I would also recommend classes presented by the South Florida Free Beaches association.

Morley's vision of a free and loving community sometimes makes me a little uncomfortable. While at the festival be prepared to be hugged. Young women are mostly targeted as recepients of these hugs. The long-haired, over-fifty spiritual men of Sunport feel that you should receive their nude bear hugs without complaint. If you do protest you might be accused of being prudish or insensitive. To help you adjust there is a workshop about social nude hugging! See "Hugging is a Touchy Subject" presented by Darrell and Nancy Casey on Friday at 2:30PM. It is billed as "Experiential with music and laughter."

Mixed in with children's activities like puppet making and ice cream socials are several tantric workshops. In the past there was very little preventing a child from being exposed to this kind of topic. From my deck on site 4A I often saw things occur in these workshops that I would not care to share with a child. Tantra is a spiritual way of life that began in India no later than the 5th century CE. In the West it has become associated with sexual activity. The tantric workshops at Sunsport seem to be focused more on the sensual aspects of tantra. "Tantric Breathing for a Better Love Life" presented by Alice and Dunbar Susong promises to teach a breathing exercise that is "guaranteed to enhance pleasure in a loving relationship." This workshop is scheduled Monday, 11AM. Another class "Tantric Massage for Lovers" also presented by the Susongs offers "Full body massage and the ecstatic pleasure it creates." Check it out Monday, 3:30 to 5:30PM.

Then we have the polyamory workshop. I audited one of these workshops presented by Morley Schloss and his polyamorous partner at the time, Sandra Reamer. Wikipedia defines polyamory as "the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved." This year the workshop is "Polyamory - Are We Talking About Sex or Love?" is presented by Sugandha and David Webster and is scheduled for 3:30PM on Sunday. I believe polyamory is a lot like swinging, defined in Wikipedia as "a non-monogamous behavior, in which singles or partners in a committed relationship engage in sexual activities with others as a recreational or social activity." As we all know, swinging is prohibited by most official nudist organizations. Apparently polyamory is not.

There are several workshops that I am not familiar with. Check out "Hippie Love-In" presented Maryann Jha on Tuesday 9AM, Thursday 2:30PM and Sunday 2:30PM. This one promises to teach us "How to love self & others via dance, touch, exercise & manifesting." Goodness! More touching! You might like "The Secret Life of Harems & Middle Eastern Mysticism" by Kira Fleischman. Here we are tempted to "Learn about murder, jealousy, drug addiction, and authentic recipes you can make, female mystics and respectable nature pornography." Pornography? Is this a misprint? Serious followers of tantra and yoga might like "Ipsalu Tantra Kriya Yoga" by Gabriele Germann scheduled for 9AM on Monday. I checked out the website http://ipsalutantra.org/ and discovered this is an "earth/body centered" practice that is used to "Discover your true nature" and "Generate Spiritual / Sexual Energy." They recommend you bring something comfortable as you will be laying on your back for 20 minutes during the session.

I believe some of the workshops are actually worth attending. "Earth Celebration Service" by Roger & Love Byrd to "Celebrate Nature honoring Mother Earth, Father Sky and the Four Directions on Sunday at 9AM. The scheduled time might offend some dedicated pagans but I think the workshop is worth getting up early on Sunday to attend. I like the "Ecological Nature Walk" by Tex Reutter and Mitch Flinchum. Tex is a long time resident of Sunsport and Mitch was on the board of directors when I lived there. The "Psychadelic Uber-Cool Nature Walk for All Ages" on Sunday at 4:30PM presented by Kira Fleischman looks like a lot of fun. "Florida Ecology: The Everglades" on Sunday at 1:30PM by Paul Friederich and Ruth Lefler should be quite interesting. I would also make time Saturday 3PM for "Haulover Beach's Political Scene" by Richard Mason and Norma Mitchell. Richard and his wife Shirley are the mother and father of Haulover nude beach in Miami and Norma was a resident of Seminole Health Club here in Davie. "Florida Naturist Groups: Sharing Information, Developing Strategies" scheduled Sunday 11AM should be mandatory for any serious nudist.

There are 280 advertised workshops on the schedule I viewed on the Sunsport Gardens website. Look it over carefully if you plan to attend. The location of the workshops used to be decided during the festival. In the past it was sometimes difficult to locate the exact place to be if you wished to attend. It would be wise to expect schedule changes and cancellations.

Facilities like showers and bathrooms were always quite busy at Sunsport Gardens during the festival. I would expect that to be true for the upcoming event unless improvements have been made. There were a pair of bathrooms in one of the recreation areas, and another bathroom area near the outdoor shower by the hot tub. These bathrooms used to feature a curtain as a door, offering very little privacy. There were also several port-a-potties available for use. I would recommend attending in your RV or staying at a local hotel if bathrooms and showers are important to you. There were a couple of showers, one near the office and another near the tennis courts, that received less use and had good hot water if the usual ones are busy.

The restaurant is promoted as "healthful" but violations were found during the Florida state health inspection done 11/1/2012, 5/24/2012 and 10/13/2011. I assume these problems were addressed and corrected. Still, I would choose to bring my own food. The facility is small and the crowd is large and, in the past, the wait for a meal could be a little long. There are facilites provided to wash your dishes if you choose to stay in a tent.

If you do plan to attend I suggest you bring lots of sunscreen and bug spray. Florida sun can still burn in the winter! Warm clothes may be needed and don't forget your raincoat. You might want to bring condoms if you plan to explore the more sexual aspects of the festival.

The naturist festival at Sunsport Gardens is not for everyone, and in my opinion, it is best to leave the children at home. I believe this is especially true for first-timers. Some new age families are completely comfortable with open sexuality around children, but I for one am a little old fashioned and did not approve of some of the things I witnessed as a resident. To be fair, erotic displays of affection are officially prohibited, but much is left to interpretation. One person's erotic display may be another person's loving gesture. Be prepared for a unique experience that is unlike any other!

Some References

Comments

I am more than a little confused by all the allegations that my wife and I left Sunsport Gardens on unpleasant terms. We had our site cleaned up and pretty and all our bills were paid. I even gave my trailer to a deserving group of young people living in camp.

We moved to West Palm Beach so we could provide a temporary home to my niece. She was not a nudist so living at Sunsport was not an option. After a year in West Palm Beach my wife and I moved to Seminole Nudist Resort in Davie to be closer to Haulover Beach.

We have no personal issues with Sunsport or Morley Schloss as so many people seem to believe. I do have many communications from residents and visitors to the park that describe several disturbing events that occured there. I have shared some of the information with representatives of TNS and it was determined that I have no real evidence to support the allegations described in those documents. The information in these documents and several events we witnessed led to the opinions we express on this site. All documentation is made available to law enforcement agencies and to official representatives of nudist and naturist organizations upon request.

In the future I may publish these documents in a redacted form on this site so visitors can decide for themselves.

I have been told that my wife and I are no longer welcome at Sunsport primarily due to the negative comments on this website.

It is our hope that the policies and practices at Sunsport Gardens that have hurt so many people will eventually be changed.

It is interesting that speaking one's truth is equated with "negativity" or "personal issues."

From my perspective Sunsport does have a highly sexualized environment, especially when one considers how much Sunsport claims to encourage families with children. My examples of this include:

People having sex in the hottub, sauna and pool in full access of children - something I witnessed more than once.

Seeing the Sunsport nature trail listed on gay cruising websites as a great place for a hookup.

Having a strange man knocking on our trailer door late at night looking for a particular camp member by name because he wanted drugs and sex (his words) from her.

Being touched by men in the group showers and hot tub.

Inviting female friends to Sunsport and having them complain about being touched by men.

And the incident I mentioned on my Facebook post, having my sacred Brigid ritual tainted by someone whose entire experience of what was a deep meditative personal growth experience for everyone else be that I "looked sexy."

Does not wanting to deal with this kind of stuff make me negative? Does it suggest I have "personal issues?"

I'm thinking that the people who do want to deal with this and who do feel this is a fair representation of naturism are the ones with personal issues, or at least with their heads in the sand.

A naturist/nudist club should be vigilant, especially in protecting women and children.  My experiences suggest that one should expect no such protection at Sunsport during the festival or at any other time. Obviously I have not actually been there in a year and a half so it is possible they have cleaned up their act since my time there. I sincerely hope they have, and would welcome any reports to that effect. I would like to see Sunsport be the place I know it can be.

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