That‘s a question that has a double meaning! I‘ll start with the nicer one:
In 2017 I took over the presidency of the European Naturist Youth (ENY). My most important task is to bring together young people from 18-27 years of age from all over Europe.
The best way to do that (I ask myself this question every year) is to choose a city that is attractive to young people and build a framework around it with activities and places that are suitable for naturism.
Do I always meet the spirit of youth? I am certainly trying.
Here is a short review of where we have been and what we have done in the last few years.
In 2017 we were in Italy in beautiful Turin at the naturist site, Le Betulle. What did we do? It was wonderfully warm at the time, so what could be better than having a really cool pool party that went on until late at night?
We also had a lot of fun with body painting, in which many people who were not part of the youth event participated.
Because we are also open to involving the hosts. We were catered for by the naturist site itself, here again a big thank you to Rosita Dal Soglio.
In 2018, we moved to Vienna, Austria, to the Lobau naturist site. The then chairman Karl Nowotny gave us a warm
welcome and provided us with information about Vienna and the Lobau, so we were able to concentrate fully on our beautiful bike tour through Vienna and let the impressions take effect on us. How did we get from the Lobau to Vienna in the city? Of course by public transport, the poor bus driver was really wide eyed when there was a bunch of young people at a stop where usually only single person get on. Of course, we had to change again to the tram, where there was a small sign
saying that you should not listen to loud music. We had probably misinterpreted the sign and organised a small party in the train with nice music in which, funnily enough, other passengers also took part.
In 2019 we met on the Niddainsel in Frankfurt, the Niddainsel is a small day area with a nice pool and not so many sanitary facilities. So, without further ado we brought along everything from a shower trolley to a mobile sauna barrel for about 10 people, the sauna was heated with wood, I probably underestimated a little that the young people frequented the sauna so much that I soon threatened to run out of wood, many thanks to a member of the Niddainsel, whose company gave us wood to fire the sauna.
Of course, we also visited Frankfurt, where a member from Frankfurt was our tour guide. We also did a small sports unit and a sports Olympics. The young people had to prove their coordination in a double rope jump, their endurance in beach tic-tac-toe and their dexterity in a 4-person ski course. Unfortunately, the weekends are always over much too quickly.
In 2020 + 2021 we were not able to organise an event because we were also affected by the Covid pandemic.
In 2022, as the Covid pandemic was gradually coming to an end, we tried to organise an event that could easily
be adapted to the ever-changing Covid rules.
So I decided to invite the group to Rosenfelder Strand on the German Baltic Sea coast. In retrospect, maybe that wasn‘t such a good idea. Why? It was bitterly cold and wet, we are talking about 3°C night temperatures and 10°C day temperatures. I still admire all the young people who took part in the event and slept in tents in these conditions.
With these conditions, it was not surprising that everyone wanted to spend a day in the Baltic Sea thermal baths to warm up thoroughly.
In the evening we sang our hearts out with DJCabo and his karaoke equipment. We actually managed to catch a sunny spell so we could go archery, which 2 members of the site had organised for us.
2023: Of course I can‘t tell you what we did there yet, as the 2023 ENY Spring rally is yet to take place. From 18th -21st May 2023, we will be in France near Nice, in the small town of Puget-Theniers on the OriganVillage site.
What are we planning for this year, a city tour is obvious, will we do it on foot or by other means? Let us surprise you. We are also planning a canoe trip, sauna, naked hiking and of course the young people should also be able to party.
If you are interested in this year‘s event, just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find the announcement on the INF-FNI website, in the calendar section. https://events.inf-fni.org/event/european-naturist-youth-rally/. The cost for all listed events is 50,00€ for the participants and their travel expenses.
Everything else is included, and is funded by the ENY youth budget.
I could not organise and carry out all these great events on my own, so I would like to thank all those who have actively supported me in the past years, especially my family who supports all my crazy ideas.
I would also like to thank all the young people who come to the events, most of whom have long journeys to make. So, a very big thank you to you!!! Because without you we could not carry out the events.
I would like to tell you briefly from which countries the participants have come in the last few years:
Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Denmark,
Great Britain, Italy, Serbia, France.
From the different countries come different strong groups, it depends on how the naturist youth is structured and rganised in the respective country.
From some countries only single persons come and from others bigger groups come.
I already said in the first sentence that the title has a double meaning. In the last few years we have all noticed that our
membership numbers are declining and that there is a high average age on the club grounds. More and more young people are no longer interested in being a member of a naturist club, why is that?
The question can‘t really be answered in a general way, but there are some points that can be heard from many conversations.
• Young people don‘t have as much time as they used to and don‘t want to tie themselves down to clubs in their
free time through membership.
• The high average age and many prohibitions and regulations are very unattractive for young people.
• Memberships cannot really be utilised because life takes place in many different places.
I would like to ask all federations to pay more attention to the promotion and support of your youth, don‘t make
life more difficult for them than it already is. Because the youth is our future.
Thank you all, have a good and healthy time!
Nice piece, Daniela!
And good job with all the work you do for EYN, I know especially during the pandemic time this must’ve been a lot of work.
To add to this discussion on why there aren’t many naturists of the next generation, here are my thoughts (regarding young adult naturists, not a direct response to Daniela’s piece):
-In this, I’ll refer to them as “young adult naturists”. They are people above the age of 18 and roughly into their 30s, who have resource and desire to participate in naturism, but are generally absent from naturist spaces. Unlike people under 18, they may not have been raised naturist, and are more “self organizing” than the younger demographic. I’d thus call us the “organize with us” demographic and not the “organize for us” demographic.
1. Many naturist organizations do not actively try and include people from this demographic in their decision making processes. I’ve been to many “let’s talk about the future of naturism” meetings etc where there wasn’t a single person in the meeting other than myself who was in their 20s/30s.
2. “Youth-oriented” naturism opportunities seem organized to retain people who were raised naturist, and not attract new naturists. Many people raised naturist view it as something “old” or that they did with their parents, and thus its just exponential loss of people staying in naturism. Clubs seem to thus focus on “retention” over “growth”.
3. I started naturism with associations/formal campgrounds around the age of 25/26. I had just been to beaches/etc. to that point. At 25, I was young, had resource, and actively trying to participate in opportunities. This is a great demographic of people to try and cater to. However – it was nearly impossible to find community, and I was already “too old” and “too young” for naturism in many ways.
4. We are blamed for not participating in naturism, and spoken down to. “Oh, you don’t really understand what naturism is”, “Your generation is just prudish” (false; we are actually more open); etc. We very seldom have naturist organizations speak to us in a way that’s empowering or empathetic. We have very different notions of our bodies than other generations, but with empathy and understanding this goes a long way.
5. Market, market, market. Marketing/communication is typically poorly handled. We don’t need TikTok, whoever keeps saying this is how we get people involved in naturism doesn’t understand this next generation of naturists at all. We are actually making naturism look less attractive in some instances. But again, we aren’t included in this discussion.
6. We don’t necessarily need financial subsidies from INF, but we do need some of the institutional support and resources. We aren’t kids, but some help would go a long way.
7. Current regulations at many naturist campsites is draconian and not friendly to this demographic at all. Set times aside on your calendars at your campsites where more flexible rules are accepted. Ie, a week where quiet hours start at 23:00, and not 19:00, and where there is a designated area of campground set aside for young adult naturists.
8. Why do I like working with INF/organized naturist groups? Ironically, I also like that there are some rules. I like that people are registered with their clubs, and it keeps people from misbehaving. I like that we can enforce standards and keep people safe – it makes me feel safe as well. However, we also have to accept that there are a lot of people who aren’t in INF clubs/federations, and people would find joining a naturist federation and paying the dues prohibitive or even something that they don’t want to do because naturism is something private for them. Keep standards, find ways of keeping people responsible for their actions, and keep people safe.
9. Don’t be afraid to market non-naturist events as well to grow the community. I’ve brought 6-7 naturists into organized naturism by just hosting happy hours at local bars specifically for young adult naturists. That way, they knew somebody and had a friend or two already, making participating in naturism a lot easier for them. I didn’t start with organized naturism till I was 25 or so mostly because I just didn’t know anybody to do it with. Super easy, super effective.
10. We also don’t want a “free for all” with naturism. We also defend it against its improper usage, or its exploitation by bad actors.
11. Keep discussions going. It seems whenever I fight for naturism or have a discussion regarding it and getting the next generation involved, it just sort of goes on and on for months if not years.
12. Simply put, don’t forget that we love naturism. Most of my community in life has a naturist connection, and it’s been super rewarding for me as I’ve travelled and met new people.