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There’s no naturism without volunteerism
A naked rallying cry to organize and act
The situation is clear, and it is dire. Nudists must organize.
We face an array of threats: political challenges, such as in Florida; encroachments from developers, as we've seen recently at Toronto’s Hanlan’s Point; punitive measures from local authorities like those we've reported on at Maui's Little Beach; consistent media misrepresentation, as we’ve revealed in our news reports; environmental hazards to our beaches, lands, and clubs; and ideological opposition from a society steeped in puritanism that would rather keep nudity behind textile cover. Our way of life is under siege.
The options are clear: we either push back or we give up. It’s not enough to merely tweet or blog about it. We must go beyond the superficiality of social media commentary. The time to organize is now.
Meanwhile, our organizational institutions, the cornerstone of our efforts, are facing dwindling memberships and a lack of volunteers. These organizations are our bulwark. They lend legitimacy to our cause and represent our interests to the public and civic sectors. They have the tools to influence media narratives. Yet, without the essential input of committed volunteers, they lose their capacity to function, and we all suffer the consequences.
The bedrock of naturism is volunteerism. Let's be clear, no one has built a successful career purely from nudist advocacy. Our nudist organizations, beach groups, member clubs, are all built on the volunteer spirit. Their efficacy reflects our collective commitment.
A shift in perception is critical. We must see naturism and nudity not just as recreational activities but as a social movement advocating for basic human rights. This is about more than just the freedom to feel the sun and breeze on our skin; it's about authenticity and freedom that everyone deserves.
While using our voices on social media plays a part in raising awareness, it is not enough. We need to go beyond words; we need action. We need to live the values we espouse.
I offer my own example
I currently volunteer for no fewer than four different organizations, each of which champions the cause of naturism in its unique way. This sounds like a lot, but my aggregated volunteer time is about eight hours per month, on average. Still, I’ve been blessed to have the capacity and support to volunteer this time in the first place. Naturally, not everyone can dedicate this much time, and that’s perfectly okay. Some can afford to give more time. However, getting more involved is something we can all do on some level. I started small, and it has grown over time.
At the bottom of this article, you will find a list of national American nudist organizations and their functions. If you are outside the US, please share details of similar organizations in your region in the comments to build upon this resource.
It’s important to clarify that it’s not necessary to volunteer for a national organization. Local clubs, small groups and regional organizations are also vitally important to support. While thinking big and acting big is crucial for organizations of all sizes, individuals can have the greatest impact on the local level.
Volunteering is not easy, and it’s not something that can be done just once like other nudist bucket list items. There are consistent challenges, especially when you consider the state and structure of modern nudist organizations.
Most longstanding groups have an old guard of volunteers who have been involved in committees for years, sometimes decades, who may be unaccustomed to new changes in the social, technological and media landscapes, who don’t especially believe in taking risks, and don’t want “newbies” to damage the consistency they’ve found in their work. A common complaint new volunteers express is feeling pushed away or like they can’t effect positive change in a structure that doesn’t appear to want their help.
Having now done this for four years, I will be the first to echo many of these complaints. Early on in my personal journey into volunteerism—determined to make some positive change—I was actually accused of being a saboteur! (Baffling when you get to know me and my passion for these organizations).
There are challenges and roadblocks in place which every passionate volunteer will face. It’s a common phenomenon of any organizational culture, whether it’s a nudist nonprofit, a European football club, or an Elk’s lodge in Des Moines, IA. People fear change. But change is inevitable, and these organizations are doomed to failure if they can not compete in the rapidly developing world. It’s crucial that they attract new volunteers who won’t be discouraged by the challenges of participation. The more volunteers, the better served they’ll be to work together as allies, despite the conservative forces at work to impede efforts to bring progress.
Perseverance requires thick skin and unassailable patience to battle obstruction and attack in allegiance to trickling, slow progress. Sometimes, the frustrations far outweigh the immediate rewards. A firm long-view and bigger sense of purpose is necessary.
Why should we volunteer for nudist organizations?
Simply, they are the backbone of our movement. They amplify our voices, connect our communities, and guide our path. To function effectively, they need us—our time, skills, and passion. Nudism was built on volunteerism, not wealth or influence. This is our legacy, and it’s high time we upheld it. 🪐
National nudist organizations in the United States:
American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR)
The largest and oldest naturist organization in North America. Established in 1931 as the American Sunbathing Association, it promotes the benefits of nude family recreation and protects the rights of nudists in appropriate settings. AANR serves over 30,000 members in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the French West Indies, the Virgin Islands, and Saint Martin. The organization is affiliated with approximately 200 nudist resorts, clubs, and businesses. AANR engages in political activism by advocating for nudism and lobbying governments to allow it in the US and Canada. With its headquarters in Kissimmee, Florida, AANR uses membership fees to support its activities and publishes The Bulletin, a monthly magazine on naturist activities and issues.
AANR Education Foundation (AANR-EF)
A charitable partner of AANR providing grants and scholarships to support education about the values and benefits of nude recreation. It operates independently and is classified as a 501(c)(3) organization, making contributions tax-deductible.
The Naturist Society Foundation (TNS)
An organization that promotes non-sexual, family-friendly social nudity and advocates for the acceptance and respect of naturism in North America. It has played a significant role in organizing and supporting naturist groups and designated nude beaches. Through its publications and educational efforts, TNS works to provide a comprehensive understanding of naturism and its benefits, challenging societal norms and advocating for the rights of individuals to enjoy social nudity. The organization's founder, Lee Baxandall, was instrumental in establishing TNS as a leading advocate for rational acceptance of social nudity in American culture.
B.E.A.C.H.E.S. Foundation Institute
B.E.A.C.H.E.S. stands for Beach Education Advocates for Culture, Health, Environment and Safety, and their mission is to create and preserve nude recreation opportunities on public lands across North America, and we are the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit doing this work. We tackle political issues surrounding nudism, as well as the practical considerations of partnering with local government and businesses and education the public. Our name stands for Beach Education Advocates for Culture, Health, Environment and Safety, and that pretty much says it all.
Naturist Action Committee (NAC)
A non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for the rights and interests of naturists in North America. It supports responsible nude recreation on public lands and operates with a volunteer board, relying on grassroots involvement from individual naturists and local groups. NAC has been recognized by the IRS as a 502(c)(4) since 1996.
Naturist Education Foundation (NEF)
A non-profit organization focused on providing information and education about naturism. Comprised of dedicated volunteers, NEF aims to raise awareness and promote body acceptance while fostering understanding and acceptance of naturists and their activities in North America.
Naturist Education Foundation Research Library (NEFRL)
NEFRL's mission is to maintain a comprehensive collection of naturist-themed materials, making them accessible to researchers and promoting understanding of naturism's past and present. NEFRL aims to amass, store, catalog, and digitize items of historical and cultural significance for the benefit of scholars and the general public.
American Nudist Research Library (ANRL)
A non-profit organization founded in 1979 dedicated to collecting and preserving nudist history. With a strong collection of nudist history, including magazines, newsletters, and documents, ANRL is dedicated to preserving and digitizing materials.
Western Nudist Research Library (WNRL)
A mission-driven, independent library, collecting, preserving, and displaying materials related to the origin and development of the American nudism movement. Our holdings include books, magazines, newsletters, film, video, photographs, and artifacts, some dating back over a century. WNRL also features an open terminal access- ing the combined digital collections of WNRL and the American Nudist Research Library.