Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing

If you're new to my blog -- you may want to skip this post! I don't normally do this sort of thing! This blog is a written history of my exploration of naturism and everything associated with it, which makes it difficult to skip a story like this one. (Also, don't stop reading the blog because of this post -- it's a "special case" that I don't plan to repeat.)

I'm actually a bit ashamed to be writing about this -- it's a bad topic, but it's a good story. As you read, you'll understand just how different the Sheep and the Wolf can be. Never confuse the two. Too many people already do. We were given a unique opportunity, and we decided to seize it. Read along and you'll understand why.

It all started last fall from an idea I had. As you know from before, my girlfriend is a Passion Parties consultant. It's like tupperware, but for romance and adult products. They talk about things at the parties, but nothing is actually demonstrated on people. It's just a bunch of folks talking about sex and ordering goodies from a catalog. Although I'm not really interested, I'm not against it either. It's her thing. My idea last fall was that I should host a party, which piqued her interest because it's quite unexpected. I was joking at the time when I said we should have the party at Camp NCN during one of their weekends. We got more serious about it in the weeks following, and eventually made the trip during the second weekend in June.

Camp NCN (No Clothes Necessary), for those who haven't heard of it, is a 60 acre adult campground near Black River Falls, Wisconsin. Here's how they describe themselves:
NCN is the Disneyland for Nudist, Exhibitionist, Voyeurs, and Swingers! Whether you’re into swapping or fetishes; Motorcycling or Porn; Sex Olympics or meeting new couples who share the same sexual freedoms; NCN will fulfill every one of your erotic fantasies and more.
Yep, they are the Wolf in this story. (They even tick me off by listing "nudist" first.) Naturists are the Sheep. Too often the Wolves like to dress as Sheep and invade their territory. Mazo Manor S2E02 talked about a pair of Wolves, "Flake" and "Gonzo", and they at one point admitted that they go to NCN. As the title of this post implies, my girlfriend and I are Sheep in Wolf's clothing as we attend NCN's "SPANK" (alternative lifestyles, BDSM) festival. We chose SPANK because there is probably less swinging, more variety of people, and seems to be their biggest event. Under normal conditions I would NEVER go there. The Wolves at the beach really get on my nerves and I'll be surrounded by them at NCN.

To make things worse, I have lots of experience with other "wolves" -- see my stories from Australia here, here, here... Is this what we're getting into? That concerns me!

Our primary motivator was profit. Even though the event is VERY expensive when compared to naturist venues, there's a good chance that we will be bringing home more money than what everything costs. Despite that, I still feel bad for giving them any money because I don't support their cause.

Our secondary motivator was curiosity. My girlfriend thinks the event will be sexy, like some of her romance books describe. Her Passion Parties side-job shares some of the same themes as the event. That makes the event partly educational for her. She was the one that wanted to go, and she understands that it's only this once. Unless we make some serious profits...

I also have curiosity, but not in the same way. I know all about what goes on, and say "no thank you!" I'm OK to go all weekend without participating in anything sexual! I'm true to my name -- Academic Naturist. I'll probably be naked, as a naturist, NOT as a pervert. My curiosity comes from how resorts like NCN can pull in such big amounts of money when the naturist venues are struggling. Is it just the sex, or are there other factors at work? I'm good at reading body language, have great self-control, and have a serious academic interest to pursue. I'm going there for work, not play. "Know thy enemy," as Sun Tzo would say.

I've collected a list of questions:
  • Why do people pay around $300 for the weekend at NCN, when VVRC's Car Show weekend is $100? What are the differences?
  • SPANK is expecting 200 people, and the Car Show usually gets around 400 -- why? Are swingers a minority? Do people love cars more than sex?
  • How do the demographics compare to naturist venues? If more younger people attend, figure out why.
  • How many will actually go naked? I anticipate that full nudity is rare.
  • Do people use towels and such to keep things clean, like nudists do?
  • Do they treat naked people as humans or do they gawk?
  • Is there any other recreation besides sex?
  • Do a majority think naturism involves sex? (It might be hard to ask this.)
  • Are any supporting organizations such as TNS, NAC, or AANR? (This too.)
  • Do these types of campgrounds have any good processes or ideas that naturists can steal? (Already, I'm satisfied with the web presence -- they have a nice website and stay in close contact via email. They also provide a forum for the participants of the event.)
  • Will the event change any of my attitudes? Or my girlfriend's attitudes? Will we ever go back?
The above part was written before the event, and what follows is written after...


Heh... so, a funny thing happened when we got there... To get in, we needed to sign a lengthy agreement. Part of this agreement said that I was not a reporter (or anything like that) and that I would not publish anything about the event at all. Technically speaking, I can't even write this post. If NCN finds it too revealing, I'll delete it.

But, I completely understand where they are coming from. Revealing anything about a person's identity could be disastrous, and even describing what goes on there could be harmful to the venue as well when others get their hands on it. So, I won't go into any details. A majority of what's written is from their website, and the rest is very generalized and probably in their favor. (An independent voice that says "it's not as bad as it's hyped up to be" is probably good for them.)

I should point out that nudist resorts don't have this clause -- they normally invite in the media and allow people to talk about their experience. Consider this a major difference between nudist venues and sex venues.

I'd at least like to address my initial questions, one per paragraph:

The price reflects the quality of the venue. Although we were paying a lot more than the car show, there was a lot more going on than at the car show. There were educational workshops during the day, and interesting events were organized every night. (They even had a CPR refresher course, just in case...) We had a fancy meal included for free, and pizza as a snack most nights. I'm concluding that we didn't pay the extra money just for the sex theme. The extra money went to improve the quality of the event. I'm not sure that they were pulling in extra profits just because of the theme.

The attendance was half of what the car show sees, but that doesn't mean anything about the swinger population. This event was basically a gathering for the BDSM crowd. It didn't seem like there were many attending just for swinging. I have no idea how many show up for the swinger events. It's fair to say that there are more nudists who will spend $100 at an event than BDSM folks who will spend $300 at an event. This was actually a bad question to try and answer, since I'm comparing apples to oranges. Since I don't know the market supply/demand curve, I can't scale the attendance based on price to see which is more popular either.

The question of demographics is an important one. There were more middle-aged people than ones our age, and there were a lot more couples to balance out the male/female ratio. Older people were around too, but they were a minority. It's obvious to see why many couples would want to attend, but you'd think that a lot of single men would want to attend as well. I'm not sure if NCN limits the number of single men. As for age, there weren't a lot our age, but there were more than most nudist events. Why are the demographics different? One guess is that curiosity takes hold, and they want to see what goes on behind that privacy fence. You want to know too, right? That's why you're still reading! Nudist resorts are more transparent in what they do. Another guess is that couples of that age range are more sexually active, and wish to include sex outside of their private room in their vacations.

How many will actually go naked? Full nudity is a little rare, as I expected. Most are dressed up in some way. If women are close to naked, they are almost always wearing bottoms. Men almost always wore bottoms too, and were generally more dressed than the females. It was typical that people would get naked for something and then get dressed when finished. It was clear that many were uncomfortable completely naked, and wished to dress sexy instead.

They aren't very serious about using a towel to sit on, because most are wearing bottoms anyway. I didn't witness any bare butts on public chairs, even though there were bare butts around without a towel in hand. They have special equipment for the event which naked people use without a towel. When finished, the users are expected to clean it with a spray cleaner and paper towels (all provided). There were plenty of condoms available to keep things clean too. All-in-all, they are just as concerned about being clean as everyone else.

Do they treat naked people as humans or do they gawk? I was really expecting gawkers, but I didn't find 'em. Nobody stared at us (or her) any more than any other place. Although nudity is somewhat rare, it's completely accepted. In fact, they accept just about anything there. Although I was calling them "wolves" at the top of this post, the people we met weren't like that. They were friendly, normal people. They didn't make advances toward my girlfriend, and didn't make advances toward me. If characters like "Flake" and "Gonzo" were there, they were better behaved than at the beach. We weren't surrounded by wolves like I was expecting.

Is there any other recreation besides sex? Actually, we witnessed very few sex acts. I'm sure there are a lot more during the swinger events, but this event was more about BDSM stuff instead of actual sex. People used the equipment, but didn't actually have sex. (Does this make sense yet?) They have a volleyball court, but nobody ever used that. The small indoor pool area wasn't popular either. People were busy with workshops and all the other stuff going on.

I couldn't ask if the majority thought that nudism involves sex. But, at least one person knew that there was a big difference between the nudist setting and the current setting. It's a different set of rules, and a different atmosphere. He quickly knew that we were nudists.

That same person is a member of AANR. So there must at least be some NCN people who support the nudist organizations too. This is good because the nudist organizations can use all the help they can get -- I at least don't care where the money comes from.

Do these types of campgrounds have any good processes or ideas that naturists can steal? Yes! 1. Improve venue website. 2. Offer workshops/presentations during events from volunteers. 3. Include some meals as an option for tent campers. 4. Recruit vendors for events. 5. A welcome packet is handy if there is no tour of the grounds. If I think of any more I'll let you know...

Have our attitudes changed? I know my attitude changed. I was previously connecting the undesirables at the beach with the average person at NCN, which I've found isn't the case. The undesirables are just bad people no matter where they go -- nude beaches, adult campgrounds, church events, the local grocery store, etc... The average person at NCN is similar to anywhere else. We even made some friends while we were there.

How about my girlfriend? There was some initial shock at what she saw (and trust me, we saw some interesting stuff), but then she just accepted it as no big deal like everyone else. Her attitudes weren't really changed, but her curiosity was certainly satisfied.

Will we ever go back? (Assuming they don't ban us for this post...) Well, we certainly didn't profit on the deal -- vending paid for about half of the trip. We probably could've done better with vending..but... Our big complaint is it's an expensive event! I don't like to support sex venues either, simply because I know it hurts naturism. But, it was an enjoyable weekend in it's own unique way. We won't count it out completely in the future, but naturist events will definitely take priority because they better match who we are. NCN has a different culture, and a different set of rules, where nudity is merely tolerated like everything else. If the goal of your trip is something sexual and not much more, then NCN is the way to go. If you'd like to have a relaxing naked weekend, with an occasional swim in the pool, a game or two, and some social time with friends, a naturist venue is where you want to go instead.

People always say that we should try something once to know if we like it or not. Well, we tried it. Now, we have a better understanding of this unique group. In the future this may be an advantage for us, whether they be friend or foe.

If any NCN people are reading this -- please stop calling it a "nudist" place. It's not a place that nudists would be interested in. You're only hurting the reputation that nudists try so hard to obtain. If you guys separate yourselves from the nudist venues, I wouldn't have a problem with you at all.


Rick said...

It was an interesting look at the "other side." Maybe we can use this knowledge to help distinguish us from them.

These days, web presence is so important and, sadly, few nudist venues have done a good job of representing themselves on the web.

Academic Naturist said...

It should be noted that we didn't do much at this event other than sit behind a table (naked) trying to sell stuff. We didn't attend any workshops and didn't do anything "special" while we were there. We attended as vendors and nothing more. Most of what I noted above was either observed or from chatting to other vendors near us.

Collin C. said...

We have been intrigued with this place. We are nudists but not swingers. The fact that we could lay out, go for a swim & then have a romp on the beach is enticing.

Anonymous said...

As a member of the NCN volunteer staff I can attest to the fact that some of our customers are nudists only and very much enjoy what we have to offer at NCN.
They are not interested in sex but just want to be free to go nude. ARe we like nudists camps? In some ways.... a person can go nude with out being leered at and enjoy the activities as they please.

We are a mixture of Nudist, Voyeurs, Exhibitionist, and Swingers, joined in one campground and we are LGBT friendly too.

Some of the events we host are
*Gay and bi all male weekends
*Hetrosexual couples and single females
*Open to all lifestyles
*Motorcycle events
*We have non sexual weekends that are devoted to music festivals.
Which include the 3 Gs (Grateful Garcia Gathering), Techno, and Wisconsin Jam

Each event brings its own unique group of people and atmosphere.

Are we totally but we like it like that and nudists are free to do what they want here just as any other group we welcome with open arms.

Maybe you both can come on a regular weekend that is open to couples and singles and then you can see how many run around nude.