Boomers find it's hip to be bare
Nudist group growing, and mostly with members 50 or older.
By Matt Birkbeck
Of The Morning Call
More and more, when Carolyn Hawkins looks at fellow nudists at camps and gatherings across the country, she sees faces framed by graying hair.That was never more evident than among the 3,000 or so people attending a convention and festival of the American Association for Nude Recreation, Eastern Region, at Sunny Rest Lodge in Carbon County this week.Many who checked into Sunny Rest — the convention ends today — were well into their 50s and 60s, bringing to light a dilemma the AANR has struggled with: drawing younger members.''It's something we are really focusing on,'' said Hawkins, a spokeswoman for AANR of Kissimmee, Fla. ''Many of us have been in this a long time and you do see our members getting older.''
While 92 percent of AANR's membership has traditionally been over 35, Hawkins said the majority of its members are now entering their 50s and 60s.The AANR, which claims 50,000 members, has seen its ranks grow over the past decade, from 42,500 in 1992, and has boasted a 30 percent increase in the number of nudist clubs in the United States and Canada, from 170 to 260.Aging baby boomers, having experienced the free-spirited decade of the '60s, seem to have gravitated toward nudist clubs, said Hawkins.
According to Forbes.com, the added interest has raised gross income from related nude recreation business from $120 million in 1993 to $400 million in 2002.Sunny Rest, a 190-acre resort in Franklin Township that was founded in 1945 and is among the country's oldest nudist facilities, bid for the AANR convention last year and eventually beat out two other East Coast resorts, said co-owner Myra Mesher.
While some AANR members such as Sunny Rest co-owner Halsie Mesher, a third-generation nudist whose family has owned the resort since 1978, are born into the nudist culture, most others take a far different route.For many, becoming a nudist takes a certain amount of personal strength, and that only comes with age%2