Young Nudists at Sunsport Gardens Naturist Resort Reveal More Than Bare Asses (NSFW)
The drive out to Sunsport Gardens, a family naturist resort near Wellington, was an exercise in endurance. Finally off the Turnpike, one thunderstorm later, and somewhere near the Everglades, I passed a sign for a gun show, drove by a Starbucks and Jamba Juice. You know, swamp necessities. Not long after what seemed to be the last Publix on the Earth, I made a right turn onto a well-kept dirt road that led to the place where naked people play.
Loxahatchee Groves is, surprisingly, quite lovely. Where you'd think trailer parks squatted on gnarled plots of land, there are mostly plant nurseries and ranch-style homes with groomed but voluptuous greenery. The area is also about a million miles away from wherever it is that you live. After what felt like three hours, but was realistically two miles, I reached their gate, monitored by surveillance cameras. Behind it, I was the weirdo in a bathing suit with hangups trying to score a conversation with younger nudists here for the annual Florida Young Naturists' Spring Bash.
- Young Nudists at Sunsport Gardens Naturist Resort Talk About Intimacy, Hairy Pits, and Freedom (NSFW)
The truth is, I'm not weird about nudity. I consider myself quite nude-friendly. A trip to Haulover Beach isn't going to phase me. But walking into a trailer, with a half-dressed receptionist -- who, by the way, was running a check to see if I'm a sex offender -- her boobs swinging carelessly, was a bit shocking. After she took my ID, I turned to meet my guide, principle Sunsport owner Morley Schloss, a thin 72-year old man with his tanned manhood right there, looking at me, or I at it. Just looking.
Morely, a former Rochester school teacher, first enjoyed a bare experience in the buff behind the stage at Woodstock, while bathing in a pond. In the present, the man with glittering blue eyes, combed white hair and beard, wearing only two beaded necklaces, made sure I knew that I could take photos and do interviews, but I could absolutely not take photos without him present. He's clearly the protector of these people, their undressed elder. When I first contacted him about the photo policy, the word was, we could shoot, but there was one rule: We couldn't pixelate or black out any parts. You know, like parts downstairs.
For the past five years, three times annually, about 200 people, aged 18 to 30, strip down to take part in just about every outdoor activity you can think of -- volleyball, hooping, poi, swimming, yoga -- in the nude, thanks to the Florida Young Naturists. The organization was created by Vero Beach native Robbe White who I was immediately introduced to but was too busy to talk until later. Robbe's almost 30, and works as a produce manager at an organic market. At work he gets asked a lot, "Are you the nudist guy?"
"When I first came here, it was really rare to see young people here," he told us later. So he formed FYN to encourage young folks to get natural. After incorporating as a nonprofit in 2010 with the help of South Florida Free Beaches -- the org that runs Haulover Beach -- they've grown a healthy membership. Each person pays $15 per year for reduced or free entrance into three resorts in the state. The best part? To close out each of these weekend bashes, the group heads East to Lake Worth sushi place, Mara, for a time honored tradition: Naked Sushi.
Liz Tracy Robbe is third in on the right.
But before I made my way to chatter with younger naturists, I was whisked off to meet Sandy, who's like second in charge and runs the resort's youth programs. When we got to her trailer, everyone was naked except for photographer Christian Lopez-Miro and his assistant. They were shooting an au naturel family portrait. Sandy and her husband, their youngest son, and her grandson, stood still, barely breathing, waiting for their cue to move again.
Her husband disappeared inside their trailer, and her son retreated to the computer, while Xavier, her angel-faced, tow-headed grandson continued to talk in a squeaky voice about how his name starts with an X. He played with two of their cats, Moose and Pokey, that walked lazily across the wooden porch. Sandy ended up being really awesome, so laid-back, and easy with a laugh. She introduced me to the term "textile world," which is where we all live, not them. A phrase I now want to find a way to slip into every conversation.