|Juniper Woods Report
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Juniper Woods Report, First-Timer's Thoughts.
A week ago last Saturday (26 July 2001) I visited Juniper Woods, New York, (Website: http://www.juniperwoods.com ) in Catskill, New York, and I thought I'd share my impressions. As this was also my first trip to a nudist facility, I'll say a few words about that too.
It may be helpful to know that I was raised in a household that wasn't particularly clothes-compulsive, at least up until my early teens (my parents are sort of aging hippies, and I'm an only child, FWIW). Somewhere along the line in my teens, though, my parents started sending me mixed messages about casual nudity, and, whether that had anything to do with it or not, I became quite shy about even taking my shirt off in front of others. However, I've always believed intellectually that nudity was a Good Thing (I argued strongly and successfully against prohibiting it in an intentional community I was involved with), and I've been wanting to visit a nudist venue at least since I was 18 or 20, when I blundered into rec.nude.
For various reasons, I felt I had some psychological momentum going as regards acceptance of nudity. I didn't want to lose the momentum, so it was about Tuesday or Wednesday when I decided that I should visit a nudist resort that Saturday. If I'd had more time to plan, I'd have tried to find an intrepid friend to join me, but that wasn't possible under the circumstances.
Anyway, I got on the 'Net and quickly found that Juniper Woods was my closest choice (about 90 minutes). I was really looking forward to going -- up until sometime on Friday, when I started getting serious jitters. Admittedly, part of that was the uncertainty from *any* unfamiliar activity. But by 2:00 on Saturday when I arrived (having been delayed by Real Life, oversleeping, ambivalence, and a wrong turn), the jitters had become a cold knot of fear in my gut -- and completely without intellectual reason.
Having corrected my wrong turn (note: Green Lake Road is easy to miss), I found the place easily (I used directions off MapBlast! to avoid Thruway tolls, so I can't evaluate Juniper Woods' own -- and somewhat different -- directions). I would have missed it if I hadn't actively been looking for it. There's a solid wooden fence right by the road that says "Juniper Woods", with a car-size gate set sideways into it. Quite effective concealment.
With my belly now a block of ice, I drove in a few feet -- and stopped dead. Right in front of me were three people with clothes on. I can't really explain why, but this was very disconcerting; I'd have felt a lot better if the first people I'd seen had been naked. As it was, I had to back out, drive about a quarter of a mile, pull off the road, and give myself a pep talk. I reminded myself that there was really nothing to be afraid of, and also thought back to my one and only hot tub experience (at the house of some folx I once stayed with, clothes very definitely optional, lots o' fun). I also took off my shirt to increase my commitment level.
Psyching myself up to get in there was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but it paid off. When I entered for the second time, I was greeted at the office by one of the clothed folx I'd noticed, who turned out to be Olga, one of the owners. When she learned I was a first-timer, she gave me a pretty complete rundown of what was where and what I should know. I came out of the office feeling rather less nervous.
Turns out Olga was clothed because the office is too close to the road for nudity to be an option, else I probably would have undressed right there. Rather, I drove to the parking area and got my clothes off while still in the car.
When I emerged from the car, I was immediately struck by how liberating it felt to be outside on a nice day with no clothes on (since I go barefoot most of the time anyway, the only thing I was wearing was my glasses). Since no one seemed to be around to start a conversation with (there were only about 20 people there that day), I went for a walk around the site. Juniper Woods is a moderately rustic campground -- amenities, besides the expected plumbing and hookups, consist of a swimming pool, a conversation pool, an open-walled pavilion with shuffleboard and croquet equipment, and a lake. I understand there are also hiking trails, but I didn't get to explore them. [Note: I now know I was incorrect about the hiking trails.]
At any rate, the place is in a lovely wooded environment, and the walk around was beautiful -- and by 2 minutes after I arrived, the wonderful feeling of sun, wind, and grass on my bare skin had me completely hooked. Those on this newsgroup [and on NetNude] will know what I'm talking about when I say that it came close to being a transformative experience. It felt natural. It felt *right*.
After my walk, I sunned myself by the pool for a while (something I'd *never* do clothed), and then, finding that there were people in the conversation pool, went there. They turned out to be very friendly folk; one couple were also first-timers.
I spent most of the rest of the day hanging out (poor choice of words?) with the folks I met in the pool and some friends of theirs. As I was about to leave, one of them insisted that I share supper with him and his wife, and then (having been impressed by my recorder playing) took some pictures of me playing recorder. (Juniper Woods generally bans cameras, but this man had special permission to take shots for the website.)
I left about 8:00, wishing I had the time to stay and camp, and vowing to come back. I've been converted to nudism, and I'm proselytizing all my friends (and parents), not to mention getting undressed the moment I come home. I just wish I had done this sooner.
* One woman I met said that on her first nudist experience, she found the clothed staff reassuring. I guess not everyone reacts identically.
* Erection was a total non-issue. This won't surprise the more experienced people, but I thought I'd mention it just the same. One of the most pleasant aspects of the whole experience was how erotic it wasn't (not that I have anything against eroticism, but it's nice to do something that's unabashedly sensual yet non-erotic). Strangely enough, though, I had to keep running to the bathroom because I kept feeling that if I didn't, I'd let go and pee all over everything. Has anyone else ever experienced this? [In the 7 months since I first posted this article, no one has yet answered this question, and I haven't felt this way during any of my subsequent nudist experiences. I guess it was just nervousness...but I'm still curious to know if this is common!]
* Toward evening, one couple I'd been chatting with all day waved me over to their table to play some music for them. They'd put on shirts for warmth (because of the table, they seemed fully dressed); I had not. It suddenly seemed very odd for me to be naked in front of them. I expect this reaction will diminish in time. [Indeed it did. My next nudist experience was a wonderful trip to Avalon on New Year's day. Avalon is CO, and several people I met chose to dress either partially or completely. It didn't faze me.]
* I'm in my mid-twenties, and except for two girls aged about 10-13 (accompanying their parents and having a ball), I was the youngest person there -- by a good ten years, I'd say. This can't be a healthy demographic for a sustainable community. [I have seen a similar age spread elsewhere. I think we must do something about this if the nudist community is to thrive. Thoughts, anyone?]
* Despite my being single and male, I was made to feel very welcome. This should go without saying, but I get the feeling some people think that single males are the devil incarnate. Remember that banning single males could lead to fewer enthusiastic neophytes -- I certainly couldn't have been "converted" had there not been a nearby single-friendly club.
* My mother surprised me by not being particularly interested in the idea of nudism herself -- I thought she'd be intrigued (as always, the people one would expect to be interested aren't, and vice versa). She surprised me again by telling me that I had proposed a trip to a nudist resort when I was 12 or so, and that she and my father had not been comfortable with the idea. I have no recollection of that happening [and neither does my father], but it's not out of character for me at that age.
* The water coming out of the water hookups tastes terrible. You might want to bring a filter if you're going to drink it.
[When I first posted this report, I left out two more important points by mistake. The first was my theory that social nudism improves the quality of interactions by forcing eye contact because it's not polite to look anywhere else. I no longer fully believe that, but I do think that important things are gained from the increased vulnerability level that nudity supplies. For example, at the bowling party I just went to (see below), I had the impression that people were more relaxed and taking themselves less seriously than they would have been if clothed.
The second point is one that I find a vital argument for nudism. On every one of my nudist experiences, I have been pleasantly surprised to find that everyone looks good naked -- even people one would not expect to. I have so far come up with two reasons for this: first, there's no issue of ill-fitting clothes, and second, no one is wearing things that are fashionable but don't suit them. In short, everyone is there more or less the way God made them, and that suits every body!]
Anyway, that's all for now. Sorry if I've rambled on too long; I hope I haven't bored you, and I'd love to hear your comments.
Pawling, NY, USA
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