What were they thinking?
A group calling itself Calgary Nude Recreation forms in November 2017, rents a public pool facilty and posts a Meet-up notice inviting the general public to attend a nudist event there on Jan. 14. Everyone was welcome, they said, especially parents and their kids because the group is family oriented. Tickets were $20, and the event was to be held at the Southland Leisure Centre.
If you are a naturist who belongs to a traditional naturism organization, you probably would have been cringing had you seen that post. No traditional naturism organization would publicize their events in such a way and invite people to attend without some sort of screening process in advance. And they would never, ever broadcast to the general public where a particular swim is being held.
But Calgary Nude Recreation doesn’t appear to be a traditional naturism organization. They seem to have been thinking outside the traditional box, “pushing the envelope,” as the head of one respected naturism organization told me. Calgary Nude Recreation, perhaps naively, seemed to want to reach a broad audience very quickly to establish itself.
They may or may not have been expecting some media attention — and I suspect they were expecting it — but they probably weren’t expecting a public outcry and, worse, a petition calling for the cancellation of the event. And even more worse, threats of violence.
The problem for April Parker, who started the petition against the event on Change.org, was the fact children were being invited to attend. She didn’t have a problem with adults being there. She even wrote that it might be fun. But she was opposed to children attending because such a public event could attract pedophiles and voyeurs. And almost 23,000 people agreed with her and signed the petition.
The city cancelled the event not because it agreed with April, but because authorities had security concerns amid the threats being made against the swim’s organizers. But April and her petition signers see this as a victory. And no doubt, we haven’t heard the last of them thanks to all the media attention this situation has garnered.
Indeed, the media have already turned to traditional naturism organizations for comments about the Calgary story, and have also asked some pointed questions about the presence of children at naturism events in general. They’re hearing that these traditional organizations are self-regulating: they vet and screen new members, and their events are private. Children are invited to attend with parents or guardians, and everybody looks out for the kids. Any impropriety would be dealt with swiftly.
At least, that’s how it works in theory, and it works very well in the organization in which I am a member.
But as the media begins to dig deeper into all of this, they will soon see that there is no government oversight of naturism organizations. There are no government officials at any level looking in. Anybody can start a naturism group, rent facilities and invite people to attend. You don’t even need a licence.
Of course, you could say the same about a lot of social organizations in which no government inspectors are looking in. But those groups don’t have naked children running around with naked adults.
All of a sudden, thanks to the Calgary uproar, the innocence of good, trustworthy naturism organizations is being questioned by the media. And you can expect to see more in-depth, investigative reports asking about the possible negative effects of social nudism on young children.
Government will probably be asked to regulate naturism organizations and provide oversight.
And don’t be surprised if young children are barred from attending social nudism events, no matter who is running them.
Photo: A public naturism facility in France.