According to British Naturism there are around 4 million naturists in the UK. But according to The Urban Nudist website, only 10,000 of them are members of BN. So who are all these people?
Renewal numbers at BN are down, perhaps because of the aging demographic of existing BN members. But new memberships have fallen drastically as well. Even so, at its height, BN still only numbered just over eighteen and a half thousand members. That’s still a lot of naturists missing from the UK’s premier naturist organisation.
The Urban Nudist suggested that “financial constraints, the reluctance to spend money on leisure purchases, and the accessibility of online information about naturism and naturist events are partially responsible for BN’s declining membership numbers.”
But are these the main reasons for the decline? Naturism as an activity is not something you can do just anywhere or with anyone, and surely being linked to a well-recognised organisation with other naturists would be a useful addition to any naturist’s social calendar?
What if the younger generation of naturists don’t need the umbrella of an organisation to show them the way? What if they are self-motivated and arranging their own events, using free social media to develop their own network of friends?
Perhaps they are like myself and my boyfriend. We are active naturists in so far as we help organise and attend events with naturist friends, visit our local swim as often as we can, and try to stay in touch with what’s happening in the wider field via the internet. You only need an internet connection and a grasp of social media to open up a whole new world that doesn’t require an expensive membership.
Maybe this is how the next generation of advocates of naturism will manage their interests? Maybe you cannot herd them into one place to become a useful statistic. As a couple, we don’t belong to any affiliation, primarily because of our location, which seems to be a million miles from anything club -most of the time. We aren’t members of any naturist clubs, although we have tried one or two. Generally we have found them considerably older generationally, a bit unapproachable (many have very cloak and dagger style websites) and offering little or nothing for anyone under retirement age.
If clubs want to attract younger members to keep their numbers up, they have to change what they provide and alter their pricing structures. Given the British weather, an annual subscription of several hundred pounds simply cannot be justified by your average young Brit.
Joining an approved, in-advance, free membership list and then paying a small amount for a day visit however would be far more attractive to people like us, provided what was on offer, and the clientele, matched the age group.
Andrew Welch, spokesman for BN, said of his organisation: “There are benefits to the individual too, such as access to the largest online naturist community in the UK and a full-colour quarterly magazine - and all this for less than £3.50 a month, it’s a no brainer!”
But is it? Most of the news items that appear in BN can be sourced via other social media, and there are some very vibrant UK naturist organisations and newsfeeds on the internet for free. Additionally, naturist clubs that are embracing the younger generation are using social media as an effective advertising platform and communication tool, and making themselves far more accessible whilst retaining the privacy and security of their members.
At some point things will change. We are running out of older naturists, that is a fact. And there are thousands and thousands of naturists out there who are clearly active in some way, enjoying beach visits, skinny dips and local swims as well as making the most of secluded back gardens and overseas resorts. Touching base with them isn’t that difficult, and it doesn’t take an approved organisation to do it.
From the blog The Naked Imp