Other campuses: Bill proposed to outlaw nudist youth camps

By Daily Texan

(U-WIRE) AUSTIN, Texas – Nudist Texan youth will have a long way to travel for summer camp if a recently filed bill is passed.

The bill’s author, State Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) said he wants nudist youth camps outlawed in Texas, although he isn’t aware of any currently operating.

Hughes decided to write the bill because he heard the American Association for Nude Recreation was planning to expand into the state in 2005. He said he opposes the camps because they allow nude children to be unsupervised by their parents.

“It’s a real dangerous situation,” he said.

Hughes called the camps “magnets for pedophiles,” and said he is concerned about youths’ own abilities to behave responsibly in a nude environment.

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Edward Moss, owner and manager of Bluebonnet, a nudist resort in Alvord, Texas, said, “The whole idea behind the nudist parks in this country is to promote family unity.”

While the membership at his resort consists mostly of couples, he said there are some families with children.

Moss attribute the recent bill to ignorance on the part of legislators.

“The critics assume if there’s nudity, it’s a nasty thing, an immoral thing and should be banned,” Moss said. “It’s not for everybody, but we should be free to raise kids as we see fit.”

The American Association of Nude Recreation now operates three youth camps nationwide, according to the Rev. JoAnne “Elf” Pessagno, marketing director at Lake Como Family Nudist Resort in Lutz, Fla.

The camp at Lake Como is the oldest of the three, founded by Judy Grisham in 1992. The yearly camp runs for one week in June, during which supervised campers participate in such activities as volleyball, mini-golf, “capture the flag” and campfire sing-a-longs. Pessagno, who worked at last year’s camp, described one game called “pudding toss.”

“Before you know it, everyone is covered in pudding, and then they jump in the lake and rinse off,” she said.

The camp culminates in a spaghetti dinner and a “Sunny and Bare” talent show for parents.

For children raised in nudist families, the camps provide an opportunity to meet people their own age of similar backgrounds and interests.

“The kids love it. They come back year after year,” said Bob Roche, manager and president of White Tail Park in Virginia and president of AANR-Eastern Region. “It gives them a great place to enjoy themselves and meet new friends.”

The camps take careful measures to prevent misconduct, and according to Roche, they haven’t had any problems. The park is secure, he said, and campers are supervised by both a male and female counselor at all times. All counselors have been recommended by a local nudist club, plus an elected official of the AANR. Many are graduates of Nude University, a camp and counselor certification program for 18- to 25-year-olds. After interviews, applicants are subject to police background checks.

– Marie Delahoussaye