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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A Letter To My Humans On Our Last Day Together

We never thought this day would come.
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I didn't sleep much last night after I saw your tears. I would have gotten up to snuggle you, but I am just too weak. We both know my time with you is coming close to its end, and I just can't believe it how fast it has happened.

I remember the first time I saw you like it was yesterday.

You guys were squealing and jumping all around, because you were going home with a new dog. Dad, I can still feel your strong hands lifting me from the crate where the rest of my puppy brothers and sisters were snuggled around my warm, comforting puppy Momma. You held me up so that my chunky belly and floppy wrinkles squished my face together, and looked me right in the eyes, grinning, “She's the one."

I was so nervous on the way to my new home, I really didn't know what to expect.

But now, 12 years later as I sit in the sun on the front porch, trying to keep my wise, old eyes open, I am so grateful for you. We have been through it all together.

Twelve “First Days of School." Losing your first teeth. Watching Mom hang great tests on the refrigerator. Letting you guys use my fur as a tissue for your tears. Sneaking Halloween candy from your pillowcases.

Keeping quiet while Santa put your gifts under the tree each year. Never telling Mom and Dad when everyone started sneaking around. Being at the door to greet you no matter how long you were gone. Getting to be in senior pictures. Waking you up with big, sloppy kisses despite the sun not even being up.

Always going to the basement first, to make sure there wasn't anything scary. Catching your first fish. First dates. Every birthday. Prom pictures. Happily watching dad as he taught the boys how to throw every kind of ball. Chasing the sticks you threw, even though it got harder over the years.

Cuddling every time any of you weren't feeling well. Running in the sprinkler all summer long. Claiming the title “Shotgun Rider" when you guys finally learned how to drive. Watching you cry in mom and dads arms before your graduation. Feeling lost every time you went on vacation without me.

Witnessing the awkward years that you magically all overcame. Hearing my siblings learn to read. Comforting you when you lost grandma and grandpa. Listening to your phone conversations. Celebrating new jobs. Licking your scraped knees when you would fall.

Hearing your shower singing. Sidewalk chalk and bubbles in the sun. New pets. Family reunions. Sleepovers. Watching you wave goodbye to me as the jam-packed car sped up the driveway to drop you off at college. So many memories in what feels like so little time.

When the time comes today, we will all be crying. We won't want to say goodbye. My eyes might look glossy, but just know that I feel your love and I see you hugging each other. I love that, I love when we are all together.

I want you to remember the times we shared, every milestone that I got to be a part of.

I won't be waiting for you at the door anymore and my fur will slowly stop covering your clothes. It will be different, and the house will feel empty. But I will be there in spirit.

No matter how bad of a game you played, how terrible your work day was, how ugly your outfit is, how bad you smell, how much money you have, I could go on; I will always love you just the way you are. You cared for me and I cared for you. We are companions, partners in crime.

To you, I was simply a part of your life, but to me, you were my entire life.

Thank you for letting me grow up with you.

Love always,

Your family dog

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.

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Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.


I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.


I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.


As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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