Friday, 18 September 2009

Members' Meeting

When: Sunday Nov 1, 2009
11 am – 1 pm

It's time again for the annual member's meeting. All members are invited to come and get an update on what's happening at Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park and ask questions. Food and drink will be served.

Photo by liam de burca

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Keeping Bare Oaks' ponds, lakes and rivers clean

As naturists we seek to live in harmony with nature. As part of that commitment, we are doing our best to create as natural an environment as possible.

There has been some discussion about the health of our ponds and lake. You can rest assured that they are in great condition. What you are seeing is the result of a great deal of work and expense to bring the water bodies into ecological balance. That way, all of the plants, animals, insects and amphibians work together to keep the water clean. The proof is that when we send water samples to a lab to test the water quality of Gymnos Pond and Lake Beamor, they both come back well below the limits. In the last test, both samples were at less than 10% of the bacteria level that closes beaches in Ontario. (some level of bacteria is normal) That level is so low that the test results don't report an exact number. They just say that it is less than 10.

The most important changes can be seen in Lake Beamor. We use only natural techniques to keep the lake clean. Aerators, natural bacteria and native plants are some of the methods we employ. We have taken steps to create a naturalized shoreline. (Except for the beach area so that we can all enjoy a freshwater swim.) An ecologically balanced body of water is beautiful to look at, delightful to swim in, and fun to fish.

There are two key parts:
  1. Aquatic plants that grow in the shallow portions of the lake add aesthetic character and provide valuable ecological functions. Aquatic plants stabilize banks, oxygenate the water, absorb nutrients, (which prevents algae growth) provide shelter and spawning habitat for fish and amphibians, and are a food source for wildlife.
  2. A riparian buffer is also important. This is the strip of shrubs and grasses that line the edge of the pond. It intercepts sediments, pathogens, pesticides, fertilizers and other contaminants that could reduce water quality and harm fish habitat in streams, creeks and rivers. It also prevents erosion of the bank and improves habitat for fish by shading and cooling the water.
Preventing shoreline erosion and filtering run off is very important because sediment in the runoff from the land will:
  • slowly fill the pond over time
  • cloud the water
  • reduce water quality
  • serve as a source of nutrients that promotes algae growth
  • harm the fish that live in the water
So everyone can enjoy the rich and diverse nature of Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park in confidence. We can all feel good that we are living by the basic tenets of naturism. Of course, our very presence is having an impact on the environment. But our efforts will help minimize any detrimental effects and hopefully prevent any permanent repercussions.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Final Numbers - World Record Skinny-Dip

On July 11th, 2009 at 3 p.m. 95 members and visitors at Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park contributed to the 13,648 people who simultaneously skinny-dipped in 140 locations across North America for a Guinness World Record. See the video of the event at Bare Oaks:

Friday, 4 September 2009

The closure of Glen Echo

I was very sad to hear that Glen Echo Nudist Park, Ontario's oldest continuously operating naturist club, was closing. In a letter dated August 21st, Mary and Edward Todorowsky (the founders and owners of Glen Echo) announced that the park would be closed effective October 1st. Apparently, the property has been sold to an individual as a private residence.

Several people have asked me whether I'm happy about this. After all, it is well known that I tried to purchase Glen Echo several years ago and it ended in a disagreement between the owners and I. Some also theorize that Glen Echo is competition for Bare Oaks given that they are a mere 30 kilometers away.

The fact is that I am sad that 54 years of naturist history is coming to such an abrupt end. I'm also sad for the hundreds of people who grew up at Glen Echo or who raised their children and grand children there. Many members are being forced to abandon elaborate cabins that have been constructed and expanded over the decades.

It has certainly generated a lot of press. See:
From a business standpoint, the loss of a naturist park in the Toronto area is a bad thing. We are not in competition with each other. There are at least 400,000 people in the Greater Toronto Area, according to a survey by the Federation of Canadian Naturists, who are interested in naturism. If I add up all the clubs in the Toronto area, I only get to less than 5,000 members. Even if I assume that another 5,000 people are visitors and not members, that still leaves 390,000 people unaccounted for. If we assume a huge margin of error (which is unlikely given the methodology) I am still left wondering where the other 90,000 people are.

In my opinion, they are not visiting naturist clubs because of a lack of awareness. When I talk about Bare Oaks to my neighbours I frequently get a surprised reaction that "there are places like that in Ontario." All naturist clubs need to work together to get the word out. If we managed to get another 10,000 people participating in naturism, we would all be completely overwhelmed! That's why we need more clubs than less.

It's true that Glen Echo's membership had been dropping steadily in the last decade. But that's not because there aren't people interested in naturism. The steady growth of young families (who have never tried naturism before) joining Bare Oaks proves that. Glen Echo could have continued to be very successful. But to do that, they needed to improve their offering. People are no longer willing to camp in a tent without water and electricity. That was fine in the 1970's but today they want 30 amps for their dishwasher and microwave. People also work more hours and have less leisure time so when to join a club, they expect full service and modern amenities. Gone are the days where naturist club members would all pitch in to clean, mow the lawn and cut down the trees on weekends. Now, members expect to be served but they are willing to pay for it.

So all this has motivated me to start working with the remaining three clubs in the Toronto area. The Ponderosa was sold several years ago and has spent a lot of money improving the amenities. The Four Seasons was also sold recently to new owners. They have budgeted a lot of money towards improvements. Many changes have already been made despite the fact that the deal has not completely closed yet. All three park owners have met and are in agreement that we are not in competition and that we all have much to gain by doing joint promotions.

Besides, each club is truly unique. While we all share the naturist/nudist label, the application and interpretation of the philosophy varies greatly in each club. Some clubs offer a more urban experience while others are more nature-oriented. Some are passionately naturist while others are more clothing-optional. (click here to read why Bare Oaks is not clothing-optional) We don't even all agree on whether to use the term "nudist" or "naturist". (Listen to the Naturist Living Show titled Naturist or Nudist for a discussion on that topic.) So between the 3 of us, someone will offer the type of naturist experience that each person is looking for.