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Don’t Ban Nudist Youth Camps!
by Marvin Frandsen
9 July 2003

Government should leave the parenting of nudist children to nudist parents.  A response to Esther Hartstein's July 4th column.
Deer Park Nudist Camp


The first nudist resort was planted in central Europe exactly a century ago in 1903. Before many years had passed nudism also became an American phenomenon with nudist camps and resorts springing up throughout the country. Today hundreds of nudist camps and resorts exist in the United States. Over 60,000 Americans are card carrying members of the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR), the largest and oldest of several nudist associations. Beyond the traditional camps and resorts, a burgeoning nude travel business has sprung up which offers nude ship cruises, nude beach tours and even nude airplane rides. In a success story as American as apple pie, U.S. entrepreneurs are satisfying public demand for nudist recreation to the tune of about $400 million a year in nudist clubs alone.

Recently while reading the New York Times, Rep. Mark Foley of Florida learned the astonishing fact that nudists have children and raise their children to become nudists. Rep. Foley read this story because for several years AANR has realized that nudists needed to better inform the American public about nudism. The problem is that, in spite of the growing nudist market, too few people know anything about nudism. In the nudist view this is bad because nudists get tired of bad jokes, bad laws and trying to explain it all to non-nudists.

After the usual period of more talk than action, on the hundredth anniversary of modern nudism AANR swung into high gear and actually got the media to publish a few widely distributed stories. One of those stories was a story about wholesome youth doing wholesome things in the century-old setting of a nudist camp.

A few weeks before he discovered nudism in the New York Times, the Honorable Rep. Foley, a self declared conservative and candidate for the U.S. Senate, had a political problem. Some folks who said they had reason to know said that Rep. Foley is a homosexual. Rep. Foley’s response was that he would not dignify such an accusation with a response except that they should mind their own business. Rep. Foley’s response was a great response. He should have left it at that. But he did not. Instead Rep. Foley had a Eureka moment and embarked on a crusade to protect his endangered candidacy by persecuting a group more vulnerable than homosexuals - families. In this case, nudist families. As a Florida Republican voter, I don’t care whether Rep. Foley is gay or not. But I do care about a couple of other issues. 

First of all, as far as I can tell Rep. Foley has never married and has never fathered or raised a child. As a married heterosexual parent I am occasionally amused or annoyed by certain single people who believe they have found the absolute truth about marriage and parenting by theory alone, without having any actual experience. Usually this is a temporary phase that ends when theory collides with experience and no real harm is done. 

Unfortunately Rep. Foley, as a single man, doesn’t just believe he knows better than parents how to raise their children. Rep. Foley wants to force his theories on parents with all the power of the government. Rep. Foley justifies his crusade to have the government parent nudist children rather than the parents of these children with the famous “Theory A” of why nudism must be bad. Theory A posits that nudism is bad because nudity inevitably causes sexual thoughts and feelings. Because nudity equals sex, and the combination of sex and teenagers is bad, therefore nudist youth camps must be bad. QED. 

The problem with Theory A is that in the technical jargon it is pure bovine excrement. The only people who believe in Theory A are people who have no firsthand experience whatsoever with real life nudism. Real life nudists know that real life experience is exactly the opposite. That is why real life nudist parents take their real life nudist children to real nudist camps. They know that what they and their children will experience will be fun, family friendly innocent freedom and a chance to relax and recreate. Sex is not a part of this picture. 

American psychologists - those who actually study nudism instead of just talking about stuff they don’t know about - have known that nudism is not erotic for a very long time. The first American psychologist to figure this out was the prominent Dr. Howard Warren of Princeton University exactly 70 years ago. Dr. Warren went native among the nudists to perform professional observational science and concluded a number of things, including (1) It is amazing how fast people get over the nudity taboo, and (2) that “social nudism does not in any way foster eroticism - that it tends if anything to promote a saner sex outlook and more natural relations between men and women, even during the years of early sexual maturity.” (Rep. Foley, note that last conclusion.) A few years later, a research team led by Professor William E. Hartman of that not exactly bastion of liberal secular humanism, Brigham Young University, studied nudism with modern scientific statistical methods, wrote a thick book, and concluded the same thing. A surprising number of people understand very well that common nudity does not foster eroticism. Since some of these people think that, regardless of the facts, nudism must be bad anyway, they create “Theory B” as to why nudism is bad. 

Theory B is exactly contradictory to Theory A, and more than a little bit weird. Theory B posits that because nudism is not sexual, nudists will lose their sexuality. Theory B predicts that nudists will get so turned off by seeing too much nudity that they won’t want sex anymore. In other words, nudists will become a bunch of asexual drones. Because turning an innocent teenager into a sexless pod person is bad, therefore nudist youth camp is bad. QED. 

Unfortunately Theory B also suffers from a collision with the facts. One of those facts is that nudists - including nudists who grow up as nudists - get married, have children, send them to nudist youth camp, and thereby offend the people who believe in Theory A. Hundreds of thousands of nudists past and present have not experienced the prediction of Theory B that they will become sexless pod people. We fall in love, get married, have sex, and produce children at absolutely normal statistical rates. No psychological or sociological study has ever found that nudists become asexual.

The boring truth is that although nudism is not erotic, naked people are neither sex fiends nor sex drones. We’re just normal. Please retire both Theory A and Theory B. (Well, OK, research does show that nudists are psychologically healthier, less likely to commit sex crimes and more likely - especially nudist women - to live by conservative family values than other people, but that is another story.) That brings us back to Rep. Foley and parenting. At this point, let me describe my parenting. I am a nudist. My wife is a nudist. My daughter is a nudist. This year we almost sent our daughter to the famous nudist youth camp that bothers Rep. Foley, which is not too many miles from our home. Instead we decided to sign her up for a Shakespeare play and maybe a summer camp at Kennedy Space Center. Next year maybe she will do the nudist youth camp thing if the government hasn’t stamped out freedom by then. 

We highly resent Rep. Foley’s belief that he knows better than we do what camps our daughter should attend. These kinds of private decisions are our business. Neither Rep. Foley nor the government has the wisdom or the right to dictate who our daughter will associate with or the conditions of her association. That is my and my wife’s job as parents. Rep. Foley might also recall, however dimly, that this land is governed by the U.S. Constitution. A long time ago the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that parents have the right to decide how their children will be educated, not politicians with a campaign problem. 

If we don’t like how the nudist youth program is run then we will pull her out of it. If some butts need kicking, we will kick them. If perchance criminal charges ever need to be filed then we will make sure they get filed. In the meantime we have full confidence in the people who run the nudist youth camp. If we ever change our minds then it will be by our judgment. We don’t want or need Rep. Foley or the government’s crusading do-gooder “help” to run our lives. Thank you but no thank you.

That brings me to the second issue that bothers me about Rep. Foley. Rep. Foley is Catholic. I personally don’t care about Rep. Foley’s religious affiliation but it matters here in two ways. First, Rep. Foley happens to belong to the church that is experiencing the worst child abuse scandal in United States history. Oddly Rep. Foley is not calling for investigations or special laws to stop child abuse in the Catholic Church. Why not? The churches, schools and the youth organizations Rep. Foley likes best are where my daughter is most in danger. Not nudist camps. Second, in the Bible Rep. Foley’s God commanded him not to judge others when there is a mote in the other person’s eye but a beam in his own. 

Rep. Foley should obey his God and stop judging and crusading against other people when he needs to fix his own house.  Whether or not his own house ever gets fixed, Rep. Foley should leave the parenting of nudist children to the nudist parents. Neither he nor his government are qualified to do my job as a parent.

Marvin Frandsen is a physicist living in Melbourne, Florida. Marvin is a Republican who votes in all elections. Marvin does not plan to vote for Rep. Foley. Marvin’s daughter plans to run for President in 2028 so she can stop the adults from doing all the stupid stuff they do in government.


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