Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Review: Sun Ray Hills

We have never been to a clothing optional resort before, and during our recent vacation we decided to try one that was along the way. Sun Ray Hills is a secluded 164 acre resort that is near Burlington, Wisconsin. (A bit south of Milwaukee.)

It was easy to find since they have a sign along the main road. We traveled down the long driveway, which has several signs warning that it is private property and that there are naked people ahead. I was impressed with the camp security -- there was a 7' fence and an electric gate. We didn't have the code to open the gate, so we pressed another button for assistance. (This pages the owner to come let us in and get us registered.) They had all the typical rules: no cameras, no sex, be good or be thrown out. Tent camping and 1 day of being there was $55. That's cheaper than a motel (only slightly), but more expensive than a state park.

We got to our site, got out of our clothes, and got the tent all set up. The rest of the night, people kept telling me that they couldn't believe how small it is. (I'm talking about the tent, by the way.) It's small, but it has an air mattress and a thick almost-2-person sleeping bag. We cuddle up and everything is very comfortable.

We were starving by this time, and were a bit disappointed. At the resort is a nice bar (open 7pm onward) and a snack shop with seemingly random hours and not much for snacks. We left, got a good lunch in Burlington, and came back. Supper was at the bar, which only offers small frozen pizza's. With a little luck, the bartender won't burn it too bad. Food is the only part of the resort that was seriously lacking.

After we returned, we were quickly attacked by the "newbie hunters" (as I like to call them). They were a very fun and friendly couple who were probably in their 30's. The guy was a little eccentric from being in the army, but certainly good natured and fun to be around. They were nice enough to give us the grand tour of the place.

It's a county all by itself. It has the bar (complete with pool, big TV, jukebox, etc.), the swimming pool (with outdoor showers, a water-slide, bathrooms, snack shop, and plenty of lounge chairs), the recreation area (volleyball and other games), the "city area" where there are numerous RV's and campers, a "rural area" where the campers are nestled into the woods and completely private, and the large field which has an RC plane landing strip. It's a big place, and they have something for everyone. Also, the entire community runs on golf carts. It seems that everyone there owns and uses a golf cart for travel around the resort.

Part of our grand tour was them showing us several properties for rent. The thought occurred to me: $1325 for full membership per year (incl. water & electric) is really cheap compared to what we pay for rent! If I had a job in the area, I'd certainly consider moving in!

Everyone there is wonderful! Seriously, the best people you will find will be at resorts such as this. However, one thing I noticed is that they were all older than us.

I asked a guy what other places there were for being nude in the area, either resorts or beaches, and if he recommended any of them. His reply was simple, he said that he goes to Sun Ray Hills. In other words, it's the best place to be in the area. I realize that too, and am already planning a return visit. This resort gets a 9 out of 10, with the point loss because of food.

Update 2/13/2010: In retrospect, this resort ranks lower than I initially thought. I enjoyed it mostly because it was a new experience. It's an AANR-only club which really doesn't have much for younger people to do. The bar is the main attraction. It also seems to be a bit of a swinger hangout -- the groups who I would call swingers that go to the VVRC parties are always from Sun Ray Hills.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Redefining Stereotypes

"The people complained as the nudists strolled down the beach."

Stereotypes are great, aren't they? At the mention of a single word, you get all sorts of ideas and emotions that stem from your knowledge of that word. This makes communication much easier since you don't have to describe all the details, but instead convey a general concept. Once key words are spoken, people can make all sorts of assumptions about the topic. These assumptions sometimes get validated, and the stereotype becomes stronger.

Despite the usual definitions, I consider a stereotype to be the extra baggage that comes with a word. This extra baggage varies from person to person, because it is formed from experience. For example, police officers might see college students as troublemakers, but professors see them as smart, creative, and powerful future leaders. (Or smart, creative troublemakers at the very least.) Everybody should have unique stereotypes based on their unique experiences, however, far too many of them share one form of input -- mass media.

Even though there are hundreds of TV channels, magazines, and radio stations in the US, they don't offer much diversity for stereotypes. Part of the reason is because they are mostly all owned by only 5 companies. The other part of the reason is because stereotypes are used as shortcuts in the plots. Smart people are always nerdy looking, jocks are always dumb and wearing sports shirts (or carrying equipment), and everyone always looks picture perfect. Of course, there are many many more. If any type of media goes against these stereotypes, it takes some extra effort on the part of the writers to explain why. Sometimes, this is even the basis for the entire film or TV show. (ex)

So the media has stereotypes and uses them as shortcuts -- how is this a problem? It's not, unless you happen to be an exception of the stereotype. Are there people who are not picture perfect? Or non-nerdy smart people? Smart jocks? Perhaps almost everyone is an exception with stereotypes like these, which makes me question why the stereotypes exist in the first place. It's because they have always existed, since they were first observed, by a feedback cycle that confirms itself with every true instance. That girl did something stupid, and she happened to be blond, so that reinforces the "blond" stereotype. (If her hair was another color, she probably would've been ignored.) With reinforcement like that, the "blond" stereotype will never go away unless all blond girls become geniuses. The same is true with the typical "nudist" stereotype, as long as there are perverts occasionally found near nudists. And sex sells, so the media is more than willing to reinforce this one. The reinforcement cycle for stereotypes is a tough one to break!

The stereotypes tied to medical terms have always bugged me. When someone says they have [insert medical term], others always seem to think that they are "broken" somehow and need medical attention. This isn't so bad with serious illnesses, but now there are medical terms for anything slightly abnormal. We don't seem to understand that people are all different. I have nyctalopia, transient insomnia, border-line scoliosis, some pectus excavatum, and many more -- feel sorry for me yet? You shouldn't, it means that I can't see well in the dark, sometimes can't sleep, and look a little different. The point is that the medical terms strike up thoughts of me being ill or handicapped, when I'm not; I'm merely different. Sometimes an illness pushes people to be better than most, like Lance Armstrong and many others. Do you think people confuse terms like "nudist" with some sort of illness? Perhaps people think that nudists have a mental condition (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?) that makes them want to commit the perversion of being naked. Maybe I should've added "nudism" to my list above.

Using the terms "nudist", "naturist", and "nudism" only strike up good thoughts with people who practise them and know them well. To outsiders, these terms make us appear slightly abnormal and possibly even ill. For this blog, I intend to fix this issue by using alternative terms that have different stereotypes attached, so that any type of reader gets the correct idea:
  • Person (and People) -- The natural form of a human. No clothes, no accessories, and without unnatural modification. This renders the phrase "naked people" obsolete, since people are by default naked. If people happen to be wearing clothes, then they are "clothed people".
  • Textiler -- People who have a compulsive desire to wear clothing, and expect that everyone else also wear clothing. (This may be linked to OCD or garment fetishism?)
  • Beach -- A place with water and sand where people like to go to relax. A beach is by default a "nude beach" simply because beaches cannot wear clothing. The textilers can go to the "textile beach" if they so desire.

"The textilers complained as the people strolled down the beach."

Thanks to the stereotypes attached, the first quote (at the top) makes us think the nudists are the abnormal ones. The revised version makes us think the textilers are the abnormal ones. Which do you think has the favorable impact?

Update 2/13/2010: I didn't follow through for very long using these terms. Should I? A few months down the road I was using the typical language again.