The last decade has certainly been interesting for British Naturism. We are a venerable organisation with a rich history, and over the last ten years we have been modernising to ensure we are relevant to naturists of today. In 2018 we launched a short-term strategy to pick up the loose ends that had accumulated. As a result of all the work, we now have a reputation for professionalism that brings respect from other organisations. We have a strong and modern image. We have a portfolio of activities from small to festival-sized in scale. We have strength in depth in our team of campaigners who are working to promote naturism, both with the public and with the authorities. As a consequence of the efforts, we are recruiting new members, expanding the organisation, and can look to new horizons.
The strength of our current situation provides both the opportunity and obligation to think of the future. Our strategies have tended to be 3-year plans, and the 2018 strategy mopped up even more urgent requirements. But what is our 10-year plan, our 15-year plan, our 20-year plan? We can’t have a tightly defined plan for what we will be doing in 20 years, because both personnel and circumstances will change. But to truly succeed, we should have a vision for what we would like Naturism and British Naturism to look like in 20 years and then plan actions that will take us toward it.
An often-discussed priority is the need for sustainable development as we think about our legacy. The tenure of an Executive Committee member is normally only a few years, but as stewards we have a responsibility to think beyond that. Financial security is clearly important, but the big challenges are ensuring that the recognition and participation in Naturism continues to grow. The second major consideration when planning for the future is how we ensure we remain appealing in a world that is changing around us.
With these ambitions in mind, we have convened working groups comprising Executive Committee members and other volunteers. The working groups have been tasked with developing strategies to address three main areas.
All of our actions should have the aim of advancing our core values. Once an Overall Strategy is in place, decisions on whether to take any particular action become simple, but without a strategy it is easy to pursue whatever is put in front of us in piecemeal fashion. On the spot decision making is inefficient and in worst cases results in actions that contradict one another. We are not in a bad place; we are already aware of the broad goals of British Naturism and have a good definition of Naturism:
"Naturism is a way of life in harmony with nature characterised by the practice of
communal nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and
for the environment".
Defining our strategy will build on the good things we have.
To structure our thinking, the strategy will have several layers. At the top sits a Vision Statement; a vision of what we believe Naturism and British Naturism should look like in 10 and 20 years. Beneath that is a Mission Statement, defining the broad actions that will fulfil the Vision. At the base lie the planned actions to define specific activities that will achieve the Mission. Those actions will be SMART; specific, measurable, attainable, resourced and time-bound, to make sure they move forward. We would expect the actions to change over time as they are completed and new ones added, but the Mission and particularly the Vision should remain largely unchanged as it represents our guiding ethos.
There are some important considerations. First is that this should be the strategy of British Naturism, not just a handful of EC, and this is where recent activity comes into play. The forum provides a mechanism for members to share their views, so thoughts that have been raised in the many online discussions are having a major impact on our thinking. The Vision Days have provided a much more dynamic opportunity for members to express and discuss their opinions, and those contributions will also be incorporated. Second, the fact that the Vision should largely stand for the next 20 years means that it should not be a major deviation from what we know, we are not attempting to re-write the purpose of British Naturism. This aspect has been very pleasing; working group members have independently written their own visions, which were then compared with versions in previous strategies and discussions. The good news is that when the various sources were compiled, they were very similar, giving great encouragement that the Vision will appeal to everybody and stand the test of time. This is just the beginning, work on the Overall Strategy will continue and should make us a much more effective and efficient organisation over time.
The Relationship of Clubs and British Naturism
Naturist clubs are the foundation of British Naturism, it is they who founded CCBN. Today, clubs are not the integral part of British Naturism that they once were and, indeed, many club members no longer choose to join British Naturism. This is a shame. We should be proud of our history; the longevity of organised Naturism in the UK is a powerful weapon in our campaigning arsenal and many members do enjoy the community they find within clubs. At the same time there are problems. While some clubs flourish, some very old clubs are struggling to survive and we risk losing the considerable potential they hold. Members of British Naturism can often feel frustrated that clubs are not accessible enough and have not changed as the world has. This last point is important, society has and is changing, we are more of a service society, willing to pay for use of facilities rather than maintain them ourselves. The relationship between clubs and British Naturism is very delicate to manage because unlike Overall Strategy, opinions differ wildly on what should be done. We need to support clubs centrally, so they thrive, whilst helping them to engage with more people for mutual benefit. There will be ways that everybody will gain, and we are committed to finding some of those.
Policies & Procedures
This certainly sounds the least exciting strategic item but has value in that it underpins everything else. If the Executive Committee need to convene to discuss every action that we take, the organisation moves very slowly and struggles to react to threats or grasp opportunities. Having clear procedures for most common activities will make British Naturism far more professional, efficient and effective, and allow us to focus effort where it is most needed. The even greater opportunity regards succession planning and opportunities for people to become involved. Although we often discuss the need for more volunteers, it is often unclear what the tasks are so volunteers do not make as much impact as they could. We often have great people putting themselves forward and struggle to find ways to use their full potential. Effective volunteering means identifying the key tasks and then finding the best person to do them. This is particularly true at the higher levels of leadership, we have gaps in both the Directors and the Executive Committee. I have only been on the EC for a couple of years but have found it hugely rewarding and challenging in a fascinating manner. Better definition of roles, what tasks involve and where people can make a difference will help skilled members make a significant contribution. If you are thinking you would like to be involved, now is the time. The applications for Director positions are now open and opportunities to become involved in the EC are open year round, just let us know you are interested.
With that I will sign off. British Naturism is in a great position, and because of that we can be stronger still. So here’s to the future!