Contrary to common belief, young people ARE interested in nudism.
Supporting my claims are a long line of very public events which are only getting bigger each year such as the World Naked Bike Ride, Confest and the Sydney Skinny, to mention just one of the many organised nude swims which take place around Australia and New Zealand (and around the world) every year. Let’s not forget also the hugely public one-time displays such as the mass conceptual art projects envisaged by American artist Spencer Tunick, who drew thousands of mostly young people to pose nude in Melbourne in 2001 and on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in 2010.
We’re even making short, commercially available movies about nudism, organising naked ten-pin bowling nights, parties in hotel suites and private houses, laser tag, roller skating and more. Make no mistake about it. Young people are not afraid of getting naked together in non-sexual environments.
Yet despite this, the overwhelming majority of us don’t feel welcome (even if you say we are) at Australia’s organised nudist resorts. That’s why we’re staying away and congregating instead on beaches and in our own small private events. Put more bluntly, the existential future of Australia’s nudist campgrounds and resorts is under a very dark cloud. But there is a ray of sunlight.
Let us introduce the ANF’s new-look YNOA (Young Nudists of Australia). Our focus has shifted away from the Under 18’s the old format lost to instead promote to young people aged 18 to 40.
But forget that “young at heart” cliché. It may not be popular, but a line has to be drawn somewhere in order to ensure the integrity of this group in modern circles, and that for us is 40. End of story.
For too long, the focus of the YNOA program has been on children, mostly those of existing members, encouraging them to continue to embrace nudism as they reach their teenage years and beyond. Put simply, this approach has failed. You can blame modern technology, mass media and social taboos if you like, but if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. It’s failed. And if you think social media is the problem causing young people to stay away, it can also be the solution.
YNOA as it now exists remains a sub-branch of the ANF, but apart from that, it is a completely different organisation. In charge of the YNOA direction today are a group of entrepreneurial, forward-thinking and socially switched on individuals eager to encourage not just their own friends, but young people across the country to change their thinking about what nudist resorts offer and to embrace the lifestyle we all love.
Our fearless leaders in Queensland are Dan Adamik and his partner Natasha Day. Driving this bus of progression in New South Wales is Matt Lennon (found on Facebook as ‘Matto Nudo’), while sitting in the driver’s seat in Victoria is Rebekah Lee. We have representatives in SA and WA as well.
Playing no small part in our change of thinking has been the young nudist scene currently thriving in the United States of America. Granted, the comparison between the populations of the US and Australia create a major imbalance, but the fact remains that the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) and its partner resorts are enjoying massive success in drawing newer, younger crowds. For example, a recent visit by Matto to the first ‘Young Nudist Leaders Summit’ organised by the AANR in Florida saw more than 100 young people in attendance, all under the age of 35, while more than 70% of these people were in fact female. Read that again. It’s no mistake.
The YNOA is largely in effect on Facebook, while we do have a presence on Twitter and Instagram. But in case you’re wondering, we are under no illusions when it comes to the impersonal nature of Facebook. We’re well aware of the plethora of online groups that claim to be based on nudism. So you may be asking: “But how do you know people are who they say they are?”
The YNOA operates a three-pronged effort on Facebook and our other social platforms. Up first is a public group which anyone can in fact “Like” but this is for the most part a very thin façade. In addition to no real information being posted on this page, we scour the profiles of everybody who likes this page and make a determination on whether each person is legitimate. Some are as obvious as a sledgehammer to the head, while some are more adept in the art of disguise. But here’s the inner lining in the fabric of our movement.
The second prong of YNOA is the Secret Group. This is where most of our communication takes place, including event planning. In order to gain access to this section, a robust identification and verification process is in effect, requiring all applicants to submit to us a self-portrait photo and a copy of a form of photo identification. This same form of identification must be visible in the self-portrait photo and assessments are then made. All new members are also sent a copy of the YNOA Code of Behaviour, which clearly lays out what is and isn’t acceptable personal conduct both online and at meet-ups.
The third prong of our strategy is a dedicated group exclusively for women, which is administered solely by Natasha and Rebekah, with no involvement whatsoever by Dan and Matto. Access to this group is for verified members only. On a daily basis, this group results in regular posts, discussions and debates about topics relevant to women as it pertains to nudism, which members can be assured are kept in the strictest of confidence.
So, nudists of Australia, the challenge is now being set to you to spread the word about YNOA. Tell your friends, tell your children. Heck, tell your friends to tell their children and tell your friends to tell their children to tell their friends. Nudism among young people has a very healthy future and if the ANF wishes to share in that for the preservation of resorts and clubs around the country for future generations, YNOA is here to help.