Nudist Record-Seekers Seek More Exposure
A nude recreation area near Hixton, Wis., is joining with nudist organizations across the U.S. in an attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the largest single-day skinny dip, according to the St. Paul, Minn., Pioneer Press.
The event, dubbed "It's Hip to Skinny Dip," will take place at 2 p.m. July 10 at Aurora Gardens Retreat.
Co-owner Bob Reinke said Aurora Gardens took part in the first event last year, and about 100 people attended. He's hoping for more this year.
"Excuse my pun, but we are looking for a little more exposure," Reinke said. "We have the difficulty of advertising."
Signs along the road advertising the camp frequently disappear, apparently removed by opponents of the clothing-optional campground. Aurora Gardens neighbors have complained about the campground in the past, protesting the nudity.
Reinke said he has garnered support from local businesses and governments, as visitors spend money at gas stations and other businesses when traveling to the nudist resort.
Membership at the Hixton club has dipped in recent years, as the economy and rising gasoline prices have kept people at home. At one time, Aurora Gardens Retreat had 166 members, a figure that has dipped to 25 regulars, Reinke said.
A normal fee to use the grounds is $55 per day, but for the skinny-dipping event the fee will be $30.
"For every person who is new to it, there are more who will follow," Reinke said. "The people that come have a desire to be nude in mixed company anyway. It's a matter of if you're comfortable with your own body. We don't convince; we don't pressure."
Of the new people who came out for the skinny dip event last year, most were between the ages of 25 and 55, he said.
"We don't have any 'Mr. Atlases' or 'Miss Americas,' " he said. "We have bodies of all ages, shapes and sizes."
Nationwide, 13,674 people participated in the skinny-dipping event at 139 locations last year, according to the American Association for Nude Recreation.
Reinke and his wife, Nancy, purchased the campground in 1994 and turned it into a nudist camp seven years later. Patrons of the resort generally come from the La Crosse, Wausau and Twin Cities areas, but they sometimes travel from farther away. This week, a group is arriving from Colorado.
"Our belief is we didn't do any sacrilege (by opening the resort)," Reinke said. "God sent us to this earth without clothing."
The grounds of the 525-acre campground, about a mile from the nearest road, is secluded, which puts members at ease, he said. The resort also includes a sand beach and 5-acre lake.
As further protection, campers can't possess cell phones with cameras while staying at the resort. Members generally meet on weekends and typically have a large potluck dinner.
Nancy Reinke said the campground is a safe place and noted there hasn't been a sexual assault there in the years she and her husband have owned the property.
"Our campground is like a neighborhood years ago, where everyone looked out for one another," she said.