Ronna E Krozy Trustee, AANR East; Chair, AANR PR Committee
Motivated by Karen Lahey’s Bulletin article October 2021) addressing the need for clubs to be more welcoming and inclusive, Scott Ross shared his experience as a brand-new nudist. He reported that the club desk staff made his first encounter comfortable and welcoming. Scott’s next visit however was disappointing as the same receptionist appeared to not remember him and folks he had met before seemed aloof and clustered with their friends. The following interview tells his story and shares his suggestions.
HOW MUCH TIME BETWEEN THINKING ABOUT NUDISM AND TRYING IT OUT?
I’ve been a ‘part-time home nudist’ since middle school. I considered becoming a true nudist after graduating college but it took nearly 30 years before my first visit to a nudist resort.
WHAT HELD YOU BACK?
Most clubs seemed to have restrictions on single males. That was discouraging. I felt the need to find a willing partner but worried about being judged by this request. Other women simply weren’t interested. Even with loosening restrictions, I felt some stigma against single males might still exist and people might question my motives.
HOW DID YOU FEEL AFTER YOUR SECOND CLUB VISIT?
My first weekday visit was great but few people were there. I returned on a weekend only to find that people I’d met on my first visit didn’t seem to remember me. A large group of members had gathered and began socializing. Approaching this group seemed awkward and I felt alone and left out. I finally departed earlier than planned, disappointed and questioning whether I would return.
AS A SELF-DESCRIBED INTROVERT, ANY ADVICE TO OTHERS LIKE YOURSELF?
For me, being naked in front of strangers is far less intimidating than talking to strangers. One should be willing to take some initiative and step outside their comfort zone. Before going to a club, ask about their policies or activities. Get involved in nudist activities through a landed club, travel club or online event. Interacting with like-minded people should make it somewhat easier to communicate.
HOW MIGHT A CLUB IMPROVE ITS WELCOMING AND INCLUSIVE ATMOSPHERE?
- Return all phone calls/emails. A message left on my first call never received a response. First-timers are always nervous and it often takes great courage to make that call.
- Always greet every new face with a smile and make them feel welcome.
- Give people the freedom to explore on their own but don’t let them feel alone.
- Document and remember first-time visitors and be sure to welcome them back. Otherwise, an individual may feel unappreciated.
- Inform others when newbies are coming and encourage members to come say “hi!”
- Remind members that in-group conversations preventing an outsider from contributing come across as unfriendly and exclusionary. Newcomers should be asked about themselves and their interests.
- Offer newbies an opportunity to participate in some kind of activity. For people who are introverted, nervous or anxious, participation in something active can help them relax and take the pressure off.
WHY DID YOU JOIN AANR?
I considered this for several years but decided after visiting the resort. I wanted to make connections with other nudists, learn more about the nudist community, and if I visited other clubs, an AANR membership would demonstrate my attitude and commitment.
ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD ASK OR YOU SHOULD SHARE?
Someone you don’t recognize might still be a newbie despite a prior visit and still be hesitant or anxious. The smallest gestures can make a big difference. That solo visitor might represent a great opportunity for growth. A positive experience may foster bringing friends but a negative experience may cause them to never return or to discourage others from visiting.
Stories from other nudists about their experiences inspired me to take the first step. I saw there were other people like me and it helped to visualize the first-time experience. The more stories I hear, the more connected I feel. I encourage people to tell their stories because it changes perceptions and inspires others.