Bummed out? A nakation can be freeing, naturally
Riddle: What is a vacation experience you would probably not want to share even with your closest friends on Facebook, and be even more reluctant to revisit via streaming candids on your 55-inch plasma screen?
Answer: A two-week stay at a nudist resort: a nakation.
“An outrageous idea!” you proclaim. Well, think again. A lot more people are discarding their attire during their holiday than you think … and I’m not just talking about skinny-dipping on a designated beach.
Naturism is a sophisticated business, a $400-million segment of the global travel market, specializing in all-inclusive resorts, B&Bs, recreational vehicles and campgrounds, nude beaches and special worldwide events, including World Nude Gardening Day and World Bike-Riding Day. If you’re drawn to the wide-open seas, nude cruises on (very) big ships, tall ships and yachts should fit the bill.
You might be glad to know that some land-based centres specialize in nudist weddings and vow-renewal ceremonies with licensed, ordained ministers. And if you’re on the ocean, cajole the captain into performing your nuptials.
Tim, a Montreal accountant, said he and his wife, Sarah (not their real names), tried out naturalism 20 years ago because they were curious. They had been spending their summers at an RV camp in Vermont when they heard about a nudist campground nearby.
“The very first time we went we stayed mostly by ourselves, in a secluded area. I guess we felt a little uncomfortable, but the friendliness of the place and the family atmosphere really impressed us.
“Our preconceived attitudes about nudity… that it was taboo… quickly dissipated. It became the most natural thing in the world.
“The next time we went, we integrated immediately and ended up going there every weekend until we bought a little place and stayed for entire summers for almost 10 years.
Now in their 60s, Tim and Sarah credit the feeling of freedom for adding nakations to their traveling experience. They’ve enjoyed nakations at several American clothes-free resorts.
According to the Federation of Canadian Naturists’ (FCN) publicist, Stéphane Deschênes, about eight per cent of Canadians answered “yes” to a federation survey asking whether they had attended a nude event.
“What we are finding,” Deschenes said, “is that people who attended nudist camps on weekends in the ’70s and ’80s continue to do so today. When you factor in the aging population, you’ll find quite a few retirees in their 50s and 60s are spending their entire summers at naturist grounds.”
The FCN umbrellas nudist resorts and campgrounds in nine provinces. It promotes naturism as “a way of life in harmony with nature expressed through social nudity, linked to self-respect through tolerance and respect for the environment.”
The FCN publishes a bilingual magazine four times a year called Going Natural/Au Naturel (fcn.ca/going-natural-magazine, $50). The publication provides club listings and activities, acts as a forum and reviews nakation destinations in the U.S., Canada, Europe and the Caribbean.
Quebec has the dubious distinction of being the only province in Canada to prosecute naturalism—you guessed it, during the Duplessis era. Today, it’s a different story.
Quebec has “more and larger” clubs, as well as more “free” beaches than any other province. There are at least seven naturist centres, in La Plaine, St-Antoine-Abbé (Ormstown), Drummond, Montauben, Rouyn-Noranda, Drummondville and Rimouski.
In the U.S., the American Association for Nude Recreation has been active for 75 years and represents 50,000 card carriers who attend 270 clothes-free or clothes-optional resorts, clubs and campgrounds. Many resorts provide luxurious and pricey accommodations.
The best part about a nakation is how little you have to pack. All you take are two towels (one to sit on), toiletries, a warm outfit for chilly nights and lots of sunblock. The experience affords a new way of looking at people. You’ll judge your new friends by what they’re not wearing, rather than by what they have on.
But keep in mind: leave your camera at home.