Thursday, August 31, 2006

GNI -- I love you

To continue the adventure theme: the third week was the best of all. That’s when my friend Jason and I attended the Gay Naturists International annual gathering. GNI is a longstanding organization promoting naturism and more.

As S. said to me as we stood in the dining hall, “I don’t know why you waited so long.” S. knows something about him and knew all along this would be something I love – but he never pushed. A characteristic of this movement – it’s all in your own good time.

Truly, after I got there, neither do I know why I waited so long. It was a fantastic experience and I’ll make some plans for next time.

We arrived at the Pocono retreat in the early evening. The place was idyllic. Beautiful rolling green fields, a lake, volleyball courts, two pools, and men, men, men – all nude and all friendly.
Being a first timer at this event, my first glimpse of the scene had the feeling of fantasy about it. I spied men walking in the distance, no clothing between them and the wind. Men sitting under trees having lively conversations. Men moving from cabin to cabin, strolling about the grounds, just standing about. None of them wearing a stitch. And the peaceful air of contentment which pervaded the place was hypnotic.

When Jose helped us with directions to our cabin, I was hooked. He was adorable and his deep brown eyes never strayed from mine as he spoke to me. The scarf around his neck and his name tag was all he wore – that and a pretty smile.

The temperature was perfect, the guys looked great and so I knew this was the place for me. If only it were a permanent settlement!

We made our way to the assigned cabin and, my heart fluttering just a little, climbed the steps to meet our cabin mates. We were greeted even before we reached the top of the steps. J. our cabin coordinator and the others welcomed us warmly and made us feel comfortable immediately.

After all of the preliminaries, including dragging our bags, choosing our bunks, and removing our clothes – we were ready for the first night. And what a night.

The opening parade of organizations, introductions of GNI staff, and Carol Channing to entertain – while all of us sat there, bare as babies and feeling good.

All the butterflies had left my stomach and flew somewhere else, all my tiny trepidations scattered to the wind. I have to say that I approached the GNI gathering with just a little nervousness. Not being one of the gym-sculpted elite (not yet anyway), I imagined fields of such men and wondered how I’d feel among them.

It will suffice to say that although I’d been bopping around various clothing optional venues over the years and seeing men whose bodies were less than the standard gym-bunny physique, I still had issues with myself. At clothing optional places you still have the comfort of knowing that you can cover up if you want. Was I ready to throw that safety-towel away? Would I be able to love myself the way I should?

Finally having the courage to attend a GNI gathering, due in no small part to my best friend Jason, proved to me that I am ready. Probably have been ready for longer than I even knew myself. It just took the gentle push that Jason gave. And there I was, cock to the wind, a smile and a badge.

I have to say that GNI ranks up there as one of the best things I’ve done for myself. Yeah, yeah, I know – going to a nudist camp one of the “best” things. But really. You have to learn to love yourself. You have to force yourself to know that you are worth as much as anyone else.
I listen to and read a lot of Louise Hay’s work – and as encouraging as she can be, it’s still tough implementing her lessons. But when you do, it’s worth all the effort.

GNI is like that – maybe there’s a bit of hesitation, maybe the butterflies are as big as tanks, but once you cross that line there’s no going back and you learn that it is easier to love yourself than not.

Well, there’s more to the GNI story and that’ll be in the next post.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Life Gets Interesting

Life just keeps getting more interesting. And the past three weeks have been quite fun. I’d have to say that some of my experiences in that time have been enlightening and even empowering. Some of it was just beach-bumming and relaxing in cool summer breezes, but much of the time was an eye-opening jaunt.

Especially the gay nudist days. I mean, spending time with about a thousand other gay men, all of us nude, is an experience not to be missed. But more about that later.

The first week of this August adventure began in the Poconos at The Woods, a great, relatively new, gay campsite. I’d been camping in Plein Bois outside of MontrĂ©al and this was similar in organization and feel.

While Plein Bois is a clothing optional camp, it has a rather large section where nudity is required. You can pass through that sector but if you’re going to stay for any length of time, you’ve got to shed the outer trappings (and I mean that in a lot of ways). Besides, one of the two pools is located there and all these delicious nude gay men are hanging around. Why not lose the clothing?

Both camps are also mini gay villages. In addition to the campsites (both primitive and with electricity and water) there are cabins, and permanent sites with permanent residents. These perms go all out in most cases – big trailers, cable TV, elaborate front yard, even more intricate decorations.

And friendly?! All these guys are exceptionally nice, welcoming, and willing to help.

The Woods is purely clothing optional – your choice of attire. And the Woods is co-ed! But lots of guys choose to let it all hang out. While I was there, a lesbian couple staying in a nearby cabin, chose the hardly-any-clothing route. I kind of liked the spirit of those two – it couldn’t have been easy when everyone else there was male.

And, yes, I did say cabin. Though I have a tent and like using it, I was not in the mood for setting it up and worrying about cooking meals over a fire. There were a number of guys there who did just that but there were far more who opted for cabins or who had their own trailers. And many of them went off site to eat!

The weather was gorgeous most of the time and the nights clear. I remember staring through a stand of pine trees at the moon, full and bright, bathing the whole place in a silver light. The hum and echoing drone of insects created strange, almost otherworldly, background music.

I couldn’t help but wonder about what things would be like had some other line evolved into intelligent life forms instead of primates. Would we be the ones swinging in trees making night noises to lull the snake people to sleep?

Oh yes, the clothing optional part. Many of the campers chose to gad about sans clothing. Especially around the pool and clubhouse. But Occasionally I came across a totally nude guy out walking his dog (yep, pooches are allowed but they’ve gotta be leashed). There were trails that led into the woods and here, too, one could find a naked brother hiking.

Weekends are supposed to be more crowded and I’ll find out some time this Fall.

After this, it was home for a few days then off again for a bit of time at the beach in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. A great town with a big gay presence. Staying at a clothing optional, gay hotel was just part of the fun. Again, two hot tubs graced the Shore Inn. It was a bit of a walk to get to the center of town, but then, I need the exercise.

Hitting the beach is one of my favorite things – it’s only recently that I’ve come to appreciate a vacation where one relaxes and rests. Though I still like sightseeing, the pleasures of lolling on a beach or lounging by a pool are more appealing than ever. And when that beach or pool has a clothing optional policy, even better.

After a few days of sun and sand, it was back home to do laundry and prepare to trek out to meet up with hundreds of nude gay guys.

More on that next time.