Saturday At The Nudist Club

Saturday At The Nudist Club

It's like summer camp, but naked.
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If I hadn’t been looking, I might have missed it. A tiny sign along the fence marked the spot off to the left among the trees. We turned into the driveway and my cousin reached out of the driver-side window to push the intercom button by the fence.

“Mackenzie Lowry, here reporting for Nomads. I spoke to Patsi via email?” I leaned over her toward the intercom.

“Come right in.” The fence before us moved aside, welcoming us to Pine Tree Associates Family Nudist Club.

When I initially told my roommates how I would be spending my Saturday, they were a little confused, but not entirely surprised.

“A nudist club? Do people, like, live there?”

“No, it’s more like summer camp, but naked.”

The club started back in 1934, on the Keyes family farm, uniting people under a common interest of walking around in their birthday suits. At the time, Pine Tree was considered a “secret society” and kept on the DL. After a while, however, membership grew and the club became more official. Members must apply, be approved by the board, and pay annual fees to use the grounds. Today, Pine Tree is a proud supporter of the American Association for Nude Recreation – yes, that’s a real thing.

Even today though, the member’s last names, occupations, and other details of their day-to-day life are kept separate from their lives at the club. Many members end up getting nicknames based on their personalities or accessories, such as “Cowboy Steve,” who always wears a cowboy hat. This helps to keep their open lives at Pine Tree apart from their professional lives at home. The individuals at Pine Tree are definitely not ashamed of their nudist status, but they know that many outsiders aren’t accepting or understanding of it.

Nicole* described it well: “Nudity in their mind so is linked to sexuality, but when you separate nudity from sexuality, you are free.” Nicole and her husband Geoff*, both in their late-50s, have been members of Pine Tree since 2009. The couple, who were our tour guides for the day, first experienced nudism at a naked island in Greece. Since then, they’ve visited a number of different nudist establishments, but Pine Tree has been their favorite.

On the other hand, Patsi, General Manager at Pine Tree, had to get used to the nudist life. She married into it and was a little bit apprehensive at first, especially being a woman. But once she got into it, she fell in love with it. Naked, people aren’t all that different from one another.

“That’s the fun part,” she says, “once people take their clothes off, everyone’s the same.”

Patsi sent us off to explore the grounds with Nicole and Geoff. Although clothing is normally forbidden on the premises, chilly weather prevented us from doing nude exploring outdoors. The couple began our tour in the camping area. Nicole and Geoff pointed to one trailer home, recalling the couple, both man and wife firefighters, who had built it just a few years ago. “The woman was out there, naked with a tool belt, hammering away,” Nicole smiled, recounting the sight.

The way the club is set up, members can pay to rent a lot. They’re allowed to add semi-permanent extensions as long as they start with a trailer and then expand upon that. Members of Pine Tree are free to live at the facility up to six months out of the year, but most just come stay Memorial Day to Labor Day.

“We call them ‘snow birds’ because they go south for the winter,” Geoff laughed.

In addition to campgrounds and cabins, there are a number of other facilities at the club. The have both indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, gardens, a gym, and a playground for the kids (it is a family-friendly establishment). There’s a sauna, tennis, visiting food trucks, and Pétanque, which Geoff describes as “a cross between bowling and shuffle board.” The club even has it’s own library, a little secluded room filled with that worn-book smell. After Memorial Day, they start having barbecues, pool parties, yoga classes, a visiting masseuse, talent shows, and Farmer’s Markets. It’s all the fun of a seasonal summer village like Lake Geoff or Ocean Beach, but in the nude.

Geoff and Nicole took my cousin and I through Keyes Hall. They waved at a few men in the indoor pool and stopped to point out the framed photos of the smiling naked board members. Downstairs in the changing room, we hung up our clothes and rinsed in the showers – club rule – before jumping into the hot tub. Naked.

I anticipated weirdness, discomfort, or at least feeling awkward for a little while, but I was actually completely at ease. I stood naked with my cousin and these two people we just met and a few other strangers who we were never introduced to, but it didn’t feel weird at all. No one stares; no one acts any differently. It’s business as usual, but without the burden of clothes. It feels completely natural.

If you turned to a younger version of myself and told her that she would one day be getting naked at a nudist club in Maryland for a story, she may have laughed at you. Yet here I was, with no qualms about it. It was just how Nicole described it: freeing. It felt like a chance to let go, not only of the literal weight I was carrying, but also the weight of nudity as something to be ashamed of. In reality, it’s only natural – it’s how we were all born. Once it’s separated from the negative ideas the world sticks to it, I begin to wonder why we don’t all spend more time naked.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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