One Friday in August, I met White and Phillips at Sunsport Gardens, "South Florida's most scenic family naturist resort."

A former tomato farm that was converted into the resort in 1965, Sunsport is located in Loxahatchee Groves, in northern Palm Beach County. It includes a host of amenities on its 40 acres: sprawling orchards and meandering trails, RV hookups and pool tables, tennis courts, a heated swimming pool, a library, a café, and a fitness center. It's both technologically forward (Wi-Fi!) and ecologically sensitive (solar panels!). Activities include tarot circles, game nights, and a youth camp. During peak season, in January and February, some 150 families call Sunsport home.

As the sun set and mosquito clouds emerged from muddy puddles, White and Phillips, already disrobed, seemed as free from shame as Adam and Eve before the Fall. I extended my hand. They responded with enthusiastic, full-body hugs.

Anna Phillips and Robbe White head the Florida Young Naturists, for 18- to 30-year-olds.
Michael McElroy
Anna Phillips and Robbe White head the Florida Young Naturists, for 18- to 30-year-olds.

White said that when he was growing up, his parents taught him to be afraid of the body — that it was sinful, something to hide. He never understood that, he said. As a teen, he went on a mission trip to Jamaica. His Christian group went to a beach. A local family, who was also at the beach, went into the water naked.

"They just seemed so free, and I thought: Why can't I do that?" he said.

"When I finally ventured my way into the naturist world and didn't keep my love for being naked a secret anymore, I realized that something was missing: young people. They were few and far between. When I did come across a young person in the naturist environment, almost always the conversation would be about the fact that there aren't more of us around. What I realized is that young adults are actually very interested in social nudity but feel more comfortable when there are other people their age around. There just needed to be some organized planning to get these people to one place at the same time. So I started FYN on Valentine's Day in 2009."

Club dues for FYN are $15 yearly. There are several hundred card-carrying members, hailing from many states and Canada. Their next event is a winter gathering December 9 to 11.

"It originally was just going to be a small group of friends," White continued, "but those friends invited friends, and they invited more friends. I was shocked that the first event had 60 young people come out. Since that time, FYN has attracted close to 500 young adults when you combine the events. At the End of Summer Bash this year, we tallied the guy/girl ratio, and it was almost exactly 50/50."

Phillips said that her interest in naturism stems from a cousin. He kept encouraging her to come to naturist gatherings in Florida, and one year, she decided to take him up on the offer. Immediately, she was hooked by the sense of liberty.

Phillips and White met at FYN's Spring Break Bash in 2009 and now live together in a modest apartment in North Palm Beach, where they have a picket-fenced yard that's overgrown with sunflowers. Phillips works at a chiropractor's office and White at an organic grocery store. For extra cash, they both model nude for art classes.

"You should see the looks they give me at the Gardens Mall," White says. "It's like, everyone judges everybody on their clothing."

As we chatted, a sinewy, white-haired club manager, whom I later learned was Sunsport owner Morley Schloss, pointed at my sarong.

"If you're at the pool, you can't wear anything," he said. "Not until it's dark or if it's under 70 degrees; then you can wear whatever you want. Until then, if you're on the deck, you're expected to be naked."

Off came the sarong.


Since at least 1385 B.C., people in the West have been using their birthday suits as their gym clothes. Back then, Akhenaten, an Egyptian pharaoh, and his rather attractive wife, Nefertiti, were said to have swum naked in the royal pools, according to Aileen Goodson, author of Therapy, Nudity & Joy. But the old guard of Egyptian priests wasn't down for the poet king's alleged cult of the body. After Akhenaten died and his son, King Tut, took over, nude sport fizzled out in the West for hundreds of years — and wouldn't take hold again until the rise of the Spartans.

As it turns out, the wily, warring Greek city-state gave us nude running, a practice that persists to this day. At the Streak Sunsport Gardens' 5K run at 7 a.m. Saturday, August 27 — said to be South Florida's first clothing-optional race — it was apparent that the simple easygoingness that Spartans saw in exercising au naturel is probably just as simple and easygoing today. Other nude sporting activities include swimming (in 2010, the AANR organized 14,110 swimmers to set a Guinness world record in skinny-dipping), volleyball (the nude national championships are a big deal), and surfing (you can get lessons at Black's Beach in California or a beachfront nudist colony in France).

Of the 50 or so participants who showed up, some appeared health-minded, others entertainment-minded. Hard-core runners with shoes the price of a car payment stretched their muscles, while Hashers (a group of distance runners who describe themselves as "a drinking club with a running problem") swigged beer at dawn.

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68 comments
smithd493
smithd493

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Mindy Songfer
Mindy Songfer

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exbisonman
exbisonman

My reaction is a big YUK! However, if they stay on their own turf, and well out of sight of the rest of us, then let them do as the please.

Diana Hanks
Diana Hanks

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Michael McCormick
Michael McCormick

Help save nudists. Fight for freedom. Try to think about how things were prior to the Victorian age. Try to think about how God wanted us to be according to the book of Genesis. One should  know that there is a time and place for everything but, one should also remember that when there is shame, the heart is not right in acceptance. Let's work together for this cause.

Dana
Dana

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Patricia Beach
Patricia Beach

This is the best article I've read about a first time nude experience at both a naturist resort and a nude beach. I read an article about where to go for your first outdoor nude experience.http://beachnude.org/nudebeach...The author's experience bears out what I read in the article. Make your first time at a first class nudist resort. I happen to love going to a nude beach, but I always go with my husband. We witnessed some harassment of a single woman at Haulover. She was there by herself. Three clothed guys put their towels down near her and kept trying to engage her in conversation. She got up and left. We not only need more legal nude beaches, they need to have the same level of protection and services that textile beaches do. I noted in her article that a policeman did show up at Haulover.

sarababe
sarababe

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Michael McCormick
Michael McCormick

I am beginning to resemble that remark because of my age. However, I am behind you a 100%. If I could go back about 20 years, I would. Thanks for being honest. That only tells me I am not in shape and yet, there are things I can probably do to get back in shape.

KennyPowersII
KennyPowersII

Pffffft. Take a poll. I vurped because the visual stimulus resulted in that reaction. If my reaction is the thing that is wrong with this country, then maybe one of has our priorities skewed.

 
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