In a stunning reversal, older people are now complaining that kids these days aren't running around half naked. America's nudist colonies are an endangered species, and to save them, more young people will have to start taking off their pants.
The Wall Street Journal reports that membership in the two largest nudist groups has been stagnant or declining for years. Now clubs are launching new activities like reverse-strip-poker nights, music festivals, and volleyball tournaments in an effort to attract younger members. Nicky Hoffman, head of the Naturist Society, a major organizations of American nudists, says:
"The whole lifestyle will just disappear unless we attract a younger crowd. The problem is, most of these resorts aren't geared to young people. They've become like retirement homes; they've sort of calcified."
There are still 250 nudist resorts around the country, but they are mostly filled with baby boomers. Younger people seem to see nudism as a practice left over from hippie days, and testimonials like this one aren't helping to change that image:
Morley Schloss, now the 69-year-old majority shareholder of Sunsport Gardens, skinny-dipped for the first time at the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969. "I stood there in front of Mother Nature and all those people and said, 'This is me! This is who I am!'" Mr. Schloss recalls. "It changed my life."
Some young people enjoy the clothing-optional lifestyle, they just do it in public. Places like Austin's Hippie Hollow, San Francisco's Baker Beach, and Miami's Haulover Beach don't require bathing suits, and are popular with people in their 20s and 30s.
During a recent nudist gathering at Sunsport Gardens in Florida, those under 30 were given wristbands that let them enter a separate area of the club. A woman handing out the wristbands explained "no one wants to feel like eye candy." We assume that no one wants to feel like they're too gray and wrinkly for young people to look at their body either. If people of all ages can't come together to enjoy the freedom of standing around and feeling cold and slightly awkward, perhaps it's time to accept that the younger generation's interest in public nudity is mostly limited to occasional bouts of drunken toplessness.
Image via suravid/Shutterstock.