It’s hard to believe that YBN is ten years old already!
What started out as a way of meeting a few other young naturists has turned into something much bigger, writes Ben Rose.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that the first flyer was being sent out asking if anyone would be interested in joining a naturist group for young people – a group which didn’t have a name or any real plan as to how we were going to develop. The idea was that we would get as many people on board and, between us, maybe we could come up with a few ideas. This seemed to work as we received a dozen or so replies back and a few months later, our first meeting was held at a venue just outside London. From that point on, it became apparent that there was a need for such a group and this – combined with a trip to the International Naturist Federation youth rally – gave us renewed enthusiasm to progress and try to take things forward.
That first trip to the INF youth rally really opened our eyes. Whilst the UK was represented by only Tracey and I, there were 50-plus people from the Netherlands, more than that from Germany as well as people from France, Norway, Denmark and other countries. The rally gave us the opportunity to speak and listen to people from other youth federations which had been going a lot longer than us, picking up hints as to what worked for them – some of these are still used to this day!
Back in the UK, things were starting to gain some momentum and although we weren’t using the internet as much as we do now, a network of people was beginning to build, allowing us to hold our first YBN weekend at TARA.
From there, things grew and grew and from that first event with 12 of us attending, we have held visits to clubs with over 45 YBN members and we even held the INF rally ourselves at Broadlands two years ago.
The main way in which YBN members can communicate with each other is on our own private message board. Similar to the BN forum, it means that we can plan events, add photos that have been taken and chat with other members – the latter being particularly useful in the colder months when it isn’t possible for everyone to get together as easily. The number of registered members on the board currently stands at 139 though this doesn’t take into account couples and many more people have reached the grand old age of 30 and are no longer able to attend YBN events (though there is an XYBN group for those aged 30-plus).
Although we didn’t have message boards when we first started, it became apparent that the group would only flourish if we embraced the internet and also used email as opposed to letters. This meant that information could be sent a lot faster and the message boards created a community that people could really feel part of. This is particularly important to YBN and we have always done our best to include anyone who attends a meeting, never putting pressure on people to undress, allowing them to take things at their own pace. This sense of community and understanding has meant that members have brought friends or family to some events who, whilst not ‘naturist’ in the card-carrying sense, at least go away with a better understanding of what naturism is and the type of people (normal, we hope!) that practise it.
Similarly, we try to get involved with the clubs that we visit and not only enjoy sitting in the bar chatting to members of the various clubs but also challenging the club to some sort of competitive activity as well, usually volleyball. We are always aware that we are guests but like to think that we have something to add to a venue and here I must thank all those places that have allowed YBN to host an event in the past ten years. Without being able to visit these clubs, it is difficult to see how we could have grown to the extent that we have.
YBN is only as good as its members and a massive ‘thank you’ to all who have attended events. We have seen people from South Africa, Australia, America and Holland join YBN and attend the events and through them and our members’ praise on other online communities, interest in the group is growing all the time. It would be great to see more people coming along to one of the meetings that we hold and hopefully this summer will see some of those YBN’ers who haven’t yet managed to get to a weekend break that duck. We are, of course, always looking to recruit more people and continue to use our website and word of mouth as much as possible to promote the group and British Naturism as a whole!!
The success of YBN over the past ten years is also great news for British Naturism as our members have moved on to take various posts on the EC. This helps give a different take on things and also introduces people to the workings of the organization a lot earlier, potentially making them more likely to hold other posts in the future. Not only that but when presenting an image to the media or prospective members, British Naturism is able to say quite confidently that naturism is popular amongst young people, contrary to the ‘Carry On’ image we are trying to move away from.
Here’s to another ten years of YBN. Although I’m in my final year now and won’t be there to see for myself, I’m sure the group will continue to grow in popularity and carry on making the great strides that it already has, both for young naturists in the UK and for British Naturism.
I couldn’t go without saying ‘thank you’ to some people who have particularly helped me with YBN over the years – Tracey, my long-suffering partner who allowed me to talk endlessly about ideas and for coming with me to events, even though I know you hate camping! Colin Pickett and Ian Green, without your lifts to and fro, I’d never have gotten anywhere. Thanks to Debbie and Joel for taking on the YBN mantle and doing such an amazing job and to Leah Thomas for continuing that good work now.