May 10, 2024 2 min read

History of Nudism and Nakation Vacations in America

Hi Travelers, I’ve been writing to entice you to take a Nakation℠ vacation this year.

Nakation vacationing recreation
Skinny dipping and "air baths" are part of Nakation vacationing recreation

 And knowing how much more enjoyable a trip to a new place can be with a bit of background knowledge on its history and other anecdotal tid bits, read on to discover the history of nudism in modern America…

Did you know that early New England settlers – 16th century Puritans – with their non-pleasure, morality-enforcing ways were so afraid of nudity and the lust it could foster, that they refrained from bathing?

Long forgotten were the robust ways of the ancient Greeks, who performed feats of strength and skill during the first Olympics, which of course was the earliest documented form of nude recreation.

However, as the colonial era gave way to a free and independent United States of America, "radical thinkers," including Benjamin Franklin and Henry David Thoreau, publicity lauded the benefits in daily naked walks, or as they were called, "air baths."

Other nudists of note included President John Quincy Adams, who regularly bathed nude in the Potomac River, as did the much beloved fictional characters of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn who skinny dipped with joy and abandon along the great Mississippi.

But these so-called radicals continued to remain a very small minority of the population until the dawn of the 20th century brought more formal nudism to America.

Kurt Barthel, acknowledged as the founder of American nudism, was acquainted with other German nudists late in the 1920s and had allowed his name to be used as a local New York contact.

On Labor Day of 1929, Kurt led a small group of individuals to a picnic in the buff in the Hudson Mountains near Peekskill, New York and organized nude recreation in America was born with his dues-paying club, called the “American League for Physical Culture” (ALPC). The first official nudist club opened soon after on June 21, 1930, near Spring Valley in Rockland County, New York. By 1931, ALPC had welcomed over 200 new members and moved to an area near Dover, New Jersey.

In October of 1931, Ilsley Boone, the ALPC’s Executive Secretary replaced Barthel as leader of the ALPC, in the newly renamed American Sunbathing Association. The ASA grew to nearly 50,000 members throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. One last name change occurred in 1995 when the ASA became the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) – to better reflect the activities of its membership.

Boone’s concept of the nudist lifestyle was that quote: “a nudist is one who believes and practices that one may freely go without clothes unless for some specific reason – such as bodily comfort or social requirements.

This definition contemplates that there is nothing shameful in nakedness per se; that there is no need for discrimination between the several parts of the body as regards their respectability and acceptability; that for many forms of outdoor and indoor work, for outdoor sports, for swimming, possibly for life within the home, nudism offers a much more wholesome and healthy way of life than does clothed society.

Nudists do not advocate a clothesless social order in the twentieth century, though such an eventuality is not inconceivable.” Interesting stuff, eh?

Well, after more than 90 years, nude recreation continues to reach new enthusiasts, who choose clothes-free and clothing optional Nakations as a relaxing yet rejuvenating vacation. To find a club, resort, or campground to Nakation in this year just click:

Yours Naturally,

Thank you for reading and make sure to subscribe. We're constantly exploring new destinations and share our stories, tips, and the beauty we discover along the way.

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