Western Naturist Gathering at Lupin

The Naturist Society is holding its Western Naturist Gathering at Lupin Lodge today through the weekend. A lot of people are coming and Lupin has raised its price of admission for the event.

It is early, and the group that is here, will by definition be a group more committed to organized naturism than most naturists. But one thing that is striking is the age of these attendees, which, on the whole, appears a bit younger than the usual Lupin crowd.

A recognized problem of organized naturism is that its membership is aging, both in Canada and in the United States.

Membership at Solair for people over forty runs $500 a year. Members under forty pay $300, and college students are charged a $150 fee. In spite of the price concessions for younger members, the average age at the resort is 55. This mature age average was emphasized by Sam Miller, a medical student from Riverside, California, who is 32 years old and a member in a California nude resort. “If a young person is enlightened enough to go to a (nude) beach or resort, they’ll find that they’re outnumbered by people who are not like them. They may go once or twice, but going back becomes a lonesome kind of endeavor”.

One of the arguments I’ve made is that organized naturist rhetoric goes beyond the slogan of “nude is not lewd” to prude, and that prude is inconsistent with body acceptance, leading young adults to conclude, I suspect, that organized naturism charges too much money–typically including several hundred dollar initiation fees for membership–for too much of the same old sexual hypocrisy.

In Northern California, the age difference between attendees at Red Rock Beach, who must be in sufficiently good physical condition to get down (and back up) a steep trail, and even attendees at somewhat-easier-to-access Little Beach (the north end of Muir Beach) with the members at Lupin is striking. Both Red Rock and Little Beaches are in Marin County, a county with the highest number of clothing optional beaches in California. Santa Cruz County has the second highest and is just over the hill from Lupin.

Santa Cruz appeals to a health-conscious and progressive market, as can be seen downtown, where a theater was among the first to show Michael Moore‘s Sicko, and Bookshop Santa Cruz prominently features a “Bush Countdown Clock.” Organic and sweatshop-free clothing stores can be found here, along with an independent organic grocery. Kiva Retreat House is located nearby, offering “a gathering place for people to come and reclaim their natural self,” including hot tubs, a sauna, cold plunge, and massage. Santa Cruz also features an extraordinary number of alternative medicine practitioners.

Lupin, located near Silicon Valley, then known as Lupin Naturist Club, took a hit in membership beginning with the dot-com collapse. An unwise choice of manager caused membership to plummet. Since evicting this manager last year, Lupin membership has rebounded somewhat, but the membership is, on the whole, old enough to raise serious questions about the club’s long-term viability. The club has done little to appeal to its market just over the hill in Santa Cruz and has been reluctant to improve restaurant offerings to include organic, vegetarian, and vegan fare.

And today, it appears that Lupin membership may be old even by the aging standards of organized naturism.

Author: benfell

David Benfell holds a Ph.D. in Human Science from Saybrook University. He earned a M.A. in Speech Communication from CSU East Bay in 2009 and has studied at California Institute of Integral Studies. He is an anarchist, a vegetarian ecofeminist, a naturist, and a Taoist.

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