Nudist Resort Restores Broken Faith in My Naked Body
December 8, 2016 • 737 views
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It’s 9:45 a.m. I am naked. I am walking through the woods. The coffee is making me more cognizant of my situation. Where am I again?
A leaf crunches. A twig snaps. The smell of dirt and mountain and sun fills the nostrils. Tall grass and plant limbs caress my bare legs as I walk the trail. The sun wraps itself around my skin, my entire body exposed. I begin to sweat. My backpack begins to feel heavy against my shoulders. Up and up and up we hike. Ten, twenty, thirty feet we climb up, marching towards the thinner atmosphere. We take a well-earned break in the shade, letting our bodies regain homeostasis. My hiking mates -Nico and Jenn- lay their towels on a wooden bench nicely wedged into a small ridge and they sit. I remember the camera around my neck and snap some natural and scenic shots. Once we’ve cooled down and feel chipper enough to continue our hike, we move on.
Here, the air is crisp; the sun is plentiful; the surrounding mountainscape is gorgeous. The members are nude and the community is strong. Everyone here knows everyone else on a first name basis (mostly to protect anonymity by not attaching a last name or only using a last initial). Everybody helps everybody. Communal is the weakest descriptor for the residential body: it honestly feels like a family, but so much more.
At Mountain Air Ranch, being is easy. None feel this more-so than manager (and only full-time employee) of Mountain Air Ranch, Chris May, who graciously was able to talk with the three nude Pinnacle musketeers about the resort.
Mountain Air Ranch (MAR) is the only nudist resort of its kind in Colorado. It lays claim to a dozen or so hiking trails, our bare naked trio managing to blaze down a few during the first half of our visit. Boasting a solid membership of around 475 (with plenty of room for new members), Mountain Air Ranch is one of the larger nudist facilities in the region. It is also one of the oldest in the U.S., second only to Sunny Haven, located just shy of 1100-miles away from here, in Indianapolis, Indiana. MAR celebrated its 81st birthday in August.
During our lighthearted conversation, we learned why MAR itself is interesting, even for nudists. For starters, it is a nudist resort, not a colony. Drop that politically-charged term around here and you’re sure to get a number of odd stares. Colonies are for the Red Coats.
Secondly, MAR is a member of the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR), and members of MAR are required to register with the association as well. AANR’s nudist tenants promote a healthy family lifestyle and a desexualization of the human body. Grandparents, children, parents, friends, you and me all have one major thing in common: our bodies are human.
Mountain Air Ranch is also considered a landed not-for-profit social club. What this means is that on top of being tax-exempt (so long as 85% of its income comes from members), the club has land with which they can have members meet and socialize. This is a pretty big deal, as being non-landed would mean that members would have to meet at each other’s houses or at rented-out venues in order to socialize, which can get a bit inconvenient for members.
The resort is currently looking to expand its membership, but with a certain aim in mind: recruiting the younger generations. The truth of the matter is that MAR faces what any other family-oriented organization faces: the families grow older, newer generations come about, and sometimes members fall off. Life happens, as does age. The current average age of the typical member at MAR is actually decreasing, moving from on average between 55-60 years old to around 49 years old. In addition, out of the 475 members, only 6-8 are children. More young couples are reported to be coming to the resort, though, which is a great boon for MAR.
Mountain Air Ranch offers many different membership plans, based on frequency of visitation and level of membership desired. Friends of MAR Membership is the lowest cost, at $50 a year (plus grounds fees, which are paid per visit) while a Full Membership is $460 a year (including unlimited visits to the ranch, plus 24-hour access). Affordability is a concern for many people when it comes to joining or participating in anything, so MAR’s willingness to work out affordable financial plans and options best suited to your naked needs is assuring and encouraging. All rates and rate plans can be viewed in full here.
Besides paying an annual fee, a prospective member must also obtain four signatures from MAR’s Board of Directors, essentially gaining approval from four trusted MAR members. The reason for these stringent measures is to ensure that member safety and conduct is upheld to the highest degree.
And it never fails: on average, every year about two or three potential members are asked to leave and to not return due to their own conduct at the ranch.
In an effort to draw a younger crowd, MAR has been hosting a myriad of events for prospective members and current members alike to engage in and enjoy: from mud volleyball in the summer, to an Oktoberfest dance in the fall, to concerts and potlucks, to hiking and pool parties, to Golf-kart rodeos.
When the emphasis comes to attracting a younger crowd, May implores that “[they] need the younger sounds [to help] create more events to draw in younger people.”
These events are not just for current members – MAR encourages bringing friends to join in the festivities.
One of their most popular events -the New Year’s Eve Dinner and Dance- always draws the largest crowd out of the whole year. This event is pulled together with the efforts of the members and the board of directors. With food, live music, nudity, good friends and dancing, it sounds much better than any other boring clothed New Year’s party one might attend.
As MAR manager Chris May puts it: “When members become involved, everything works better.”
For instance, while we were visiting, we came to find out that a larger trailer was needed to pick up a new golf cart from Colorado Springs. This new golf cart is intended to give more people more tours of the property. When requested, one member will lend other members their trailer to pick up the new golf cart. This community pools its resources together to help the greater good of the whole. It’s beautiful to witness. No hesitation; no banter about equitable exchange; no talk of lending and owing. Kindness and acceptance towards each other are the par for the course.
And when one is here, the social strata of affluence cease to exist. When here, Scott B. is just Scott B., not Scott the journalist, or Scott the student, or Scott the middle-class suburban white college kid. Scott B. is simply me, and I am simply him.
Looking at a naked human body, there is nothing inherently sexual about it. Yet it is the constraints of our society that attaches and socializes sex and sexuality to the exposed human body.
We say “exposed” like it’s a dirty word, as if our bodies are horrible secrets not to be shown in the light of day. The only time it’s ever used is when something that we think shouldn’t be seen is seen: a scandal has been exposed; someone exposed themselves to another; a journalist uncovers some hidden truth -they write an exposé.
We are humans, not secrets. We shouldn’t have to hide behind cloth barriers. Nudism destroys these barriers with the wrecking-ball of inclusive acceptance.
Even among a group of very open-minded friends, I don’t believe I’ve ever felt the amount of body acceptance I experienced while at the Ranch, in any situation, ever. Even with sexual or romantic partners who genuinely praised my body, I could not reach the confidence I felt while at this resort. Typical day-to-day bodily grievances, like a stray tummy roll highlighted by a too-tight shirt, or the exposure of my iridescently pale thighs and buttocks, lost their embarrassing significance. The values that American culture puts on our body’s shape, physique, color, and presentation all melt away in the sun here at Mountain Air Ranch.
For that, I thank them.
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