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    Why don’t we open the gates to potential new members?

    If Ascot can do it, then it’s good enough for us – Let’s have a Ladies Day, says Roni Fine.

    A common complaint among naturists is that there are too many men, particularly single ones: I beg to differ: the truth is there are not enough women, married or single! So what can we do about this? We need to take naturism to women, to catch their eye and interest. I have always thought the fact that BN magazines feature photos of their members is a wise move.

    Prospective naturist ladies are often put off by the posed pictures of young models with slim, shapely bodies that they see in other publications. This often makes them feel inadequate. Even when magazines include ladies of all shapes and sizes, women can still be reluctant to strip off, as they think they will be judged on their looks before anything else. How wrong they are!

    The naturist community is one of the few places where people are generally accepted for who they are, not for what they look like.

    Anyway, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we all rate different aspects of the opposite sex when deciding if they are attractive or not, which is just as well as there would be a lot of lonely people out there if they were all waiting for the “perfect” body to make an appearance! “Love the one you’re with” is a good motto “Accept the body you are”, could be another one!

    Blackthorns, like many clubs, have far more applications from men than women, but we still like to keep an equal balance of the sexes amongst our membership when we can. We are very fortunate that our numbers are made up of all ages so we have a nice, varied mix of people which goes to make an interesting social atmosphere, but we would very much like to attract more female members. So what can we do in order to achieve this?

    I believe word of mouth is still the best advertising campaign (and the cheapest!), and I encourage members to broadcast what they do and where they do it and, most importantly of all to the inquisitive, why they do it! Once we get across to them the liberating feeling of being naked in the warmth of the sun, we are halfway to creating converts.

    But reaching women, particularly single women, is the hardest challenge. The majority of female members have been almost dragged along to a club or event by their partner and though some will give it a go just to humour them, most will not adapt or even try to.

    I understand how they feel; I told my husband when I first met him and found out he was a member of Blackthorns: “Well, don’t ask me to go there, because I am not going to!” And I meant it! But now I have a simple plan that all clubs could try out: A Ladies Day.

    Think about it: there are already groups that encourage like-minded worriers and strugglers to rally together and gain in confidence by the encouragement they give each other. Alcoholics Anonymous, Weight Watchers, Keep Fit or, rather, Get Fit classes. The list goes on. Their success stems from the members helping each other through their emotions and achieving their target together. So, my simple idea is a day when I shall invite women along to give naturism a try in the company of other women who will be there to support and encourage them to find out why men are so keen to get their kit off!

    I will not be closing the club to our members, because it wouldn’t be fair to stop them enjoying the sunshine, but I must admit I am lucky to have suitable grounds at Blackthorns to enable me to meet the hesitant ladies at the gate, direct them to the car parking area and then lead them through the trees to a secluded glade where men will have been asked to avoid, just for that afternoon.

    Give your club layout some thought and see if you can do likewise. The ladies won’t need to see a naked man all the way there, or more to the point, a naked man won’t see them! I am also lucky to have the perfect Spring setting with primroses, violets and bluebells in abundance; I am always thrilled to show off our picturesque grounds, as the reaction is always a good one.

    Of course, a good trick would be to ply them with a glass of wine to relax them, as they do at time-share seminars! However, most of them will be arriving by car, so I can’t do that; I will have to ensure my sparkling, bubbly personality will be intoxicating enough!

    Enrol the help of other ladies who are good at conversation, to give advice and relay their initial worries they had to overcome when they first joined; a bit like the “Loose Women” programme on the telly. If you can include ladies of all ages, shapes and sizes, you will illustrate that we are not all super-models and of catwalk quality but everyday women, just like them. We will soon put them at ease and laugh together and I hope the self-confidence with our own nakedness, and a little warm sunshine, will encourage them to disrobe and find out what Gok Wan did for his ladies – they always felt heaps better once they had relaxed under the spell of his compliments and camaraderie. If he can do it for them, then we can do it for ourselves!

    Then if they find that it just isn’t for them, they can retrace their steps back to their cars and exit the grounds without having to explain themselves to anyone! And for those who enjoyed the afternoon’s experience, there would then be the opportunity to explore the rest of the grounds and maybe even meet other naturists, including males, on our clubhouse patio by the pool and indulge in a swim or sunbathe on the lawn. For some, that might still be too soon and another visit might be needed before they feel able to mix.

    The choice will be theirs with no pressure on them to do anything they don’t wish to, but with lots of encouragement to feel good about themselves. I am going to make this available on one afternoon in the week and again on a weekend, to cater or women who go out to work, or have children to care for. I want no excuses for them not to come!

    Of course, I will still be methodical and ask all visitors to contact me to book their visit and to bring ID with them, just as I always do with any prospective member visiting our club.

    So what do you think? Is this a simple idea that you could reproduce at your club? I do hope so. Give it a try and report back to me how it goes and I will mention your results in my next article, when I am telling you how successful I have been with my Ladies Day!

    Now, if you don’t think you need to target the ladies in particular, why not hold a general open day at your club – perhaps to coincide with the Great British Skinny Dip? I frequently find people want to explore the world of naturism but are beaten by nerves time and again. Some even make an appointment and then chicken out; seasoned naturists don’t always understand why. They have forgotten, or maybe never experienced, the nervousness that can be the downfall of recruitment. You need to make your club available.

    My current form of enquiry usually starts with a phone call or email and I reply promptly to make applicants feel important. I engage them in friendly chatter whilst answering their questions and finding out about them at the same time, without them even realising I am doing so! I then book them in for a set time at a weekend when Deane (my husband) and I will escort them round the club, showing them the site and facilities and introducing them to other members along the way, keeping it all very informal. Of course, I always insist they bring some ID to satisfy me they are who they say they are and I even clarify their appointment by post and ask them to bring the letter with them, to prove their home details are correct.

    You could advertise an Open Day which people can attend at set times for a tour or a group meeting in a secluded part of the club, as I described for my Ladies Day. By bringing new people together for their first visit, they may well find strength in numbers and their common link might give them confidence to talk about their hopes and fears and discover they are worrying for no good reason. You could hold a question and answer forum and if no one dares to ask anything, suggest a question and supply the answer.

    Once you gain their trust, I am sure they will join in. They share the common denominator: a desire to take their clothes off! Again, turn it into a social event with drinks and nibbles or, if you are lucky enough to have some good weather, ice creams all round!

    I always show people round whilst clothed so that they do not feel the odd ones out amongst the naked members on a particularly hot day. I let them undress when and where they feel comfortable and then I do the same. My aim during their visit is to put them at their ease. I don’t abandon them after the initial tour but keep myself available for the remainder of the day whilst they try out the facilities, so that they know they can come back to me at anytime and always have a friend to hand so that they do not have to summon the confidence to ask a stranger. They might be grown-ups but we can all feel like a child on our first day at school when put in an alien environment for the first time and we just need a friendly teacher to hold our hand to get through that first day!

    By the time you read this, it will be March and, hopefully, the warm weather is almost upon us and you have time to put these ideas into practice. Place an advert in your local newspaper; contact them as they may wish to run an article for free! Be prepared to show the reporter and photographer around your club and pose for photos.

    Deane and I did this for our local press and it gave us a free half-page advertisement including an article by a reporter who had glimpsed what life in a naturist club was really like. Why not invite them to give it a try themselves! Use any free magazines that are delivered to the door in your neighbourhood and to pubs, shops, libraries, garden centres etc in your area.

    The cost of advertisements in these publications vary but the good thing is they reach a wide community of could-be naturists not actively looking for naturist news. Contact your local radio station as they also love anything involving nudity and a topic that makes people tune in and listen. And we all have the perfect body for radio, so don’t be shy, conduct the interview in the nude – I always do!

    So get organised, get busy and let me know how you get on.

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