Photos by Mark Orphan. Reproduced with permission.
By Gary & Patty, Rolf & Cynthia, Ricc, Tony and Arlene
September, 2010: This month it was The Naturist Society’s turn to gather at De Anza Springs for its annual Western Gathering of members and club leaders. Unlike AANR, TNS has no middle-levels to its organizational chart – only the 25,000 members and the half dozen people who run the office in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Nicky and Carmen came out this year, and it is always a pleasure to chat with them. TNS is famous for listening to its members directly, hearing new ideas, and acting on them immediately without having to go through a committee. This Western Gathering was no different.
The other nice thing about a Gathering is the workshops, which are developed and run by individual members. Over the 3+ days of this meeting, there were 61 hour-long workshops, many not related to social nudity at all. SCNA member Ricc Bieber hosted two events, one on how to play a ukulele and another was an evening Drumming Circle. Rolf Holbach, SCNA treasurer, did one on the history of the Comic Book, for example. There was also a Yoga class each morning, a belly dancing class, a class on brewing your own beer, a couple of classes on different ways to be more “green” in one’s life, and another on creative grilling at the beach. Lloyd Johnson of the Black’s Beach Bares brought out his 10-inch telescope and did an amazing stargazing workshop on Friday after dark. One of the better attended workshops was on how to fight a traffic ticket in California.
Of course, there also were more serious topics: SCNA’s president Gary Mussell moderated a panel on the status of all the nude beaches, hot springs, and hiking trails in Southern California, and a second hour devoted exclusively to Bates Beach. Attorney Allen Baylis devoted another whole hour to San Onofre Beach. Bob Morton of the Naturist Action Committee (NAC) ran several workshops focused on the status of nudity on public lands around the country, and on the status of specific legislation in different states that threaten our way of life. Nicky Lee from the national TNS office ran a workshop on using social media better (specifically Facebook), and another with all the club and SIG leaders to discuss ways to improve membership.
The annual Town Hall Meeting is always productive, with everyone invited to offer suggestions for improving TNS. Alicia Sacks from Camping Bares hosted a workshop Saturday morning on how to improve club newsletters. You get the idea.
Of course, there was a lot of fun time worked into the schedule as well. Dave Cole of Black’s Beach Bares organized several “DumAss” Olympic Games scattered throughout the Gathering. These competitions sound really stupid (hence, their name) but, to give one example, try tying a lady’s nylon around your waist with a tennis ball in its toe and using only your waist swing it in front of you to hit a series of coke bottles on a course. It is much harder to do – and funnier to watch – than we can adequately describe here.
On Saturday, the Camping Bares hosted a fundraiser for NAC, a balloon toss where you had to buy the balloons (6 for $5) you were going to throw. They raised several hundred dollars for their efforts! Nice job!
Of course, one of the highlights of the Gathering was the Pudding Toss, hosted by Ricc Bieber and SCNA. Ricc brought a dozen 1-gallon cans of chocolate pudding (and 1 gallon of vanilla), and at the appointed moment, about 30 adults and kids let fly on each other. It was all gone in about 10 minutes, but it sure was a lot of fun!
The weather at this year’s Gathering was certainly not predictable. Almost all the weather reports called for 85 degrees and partly cloudy skies with thunderstorms to the north. Well, the thunderstorms changed course and landed on DeAnza three nights in a row about 3:30 am, knocking out power and making everyone a little sleep deprived. The storms brought some amazing lightning strikes on and near the park accompanied by ear-shattering thunder. On Thursday, one lightning bolt struck a hundred yards behind the convention buildings, knocking out two transformers and the Internet tower. It also poured for about an hour on two of the afternoons, forcing several of the workshops off the clubhouse lawn and onto the covered patio. But true to our nature, those in attendance simply adjusted, and except for spending more time in the pool some of the days, everybody carried on with a smile and a hug.
De Anza Springs has a remarkable staff, and they are veterans of hosting these types of multi-day events. The registration desk couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful, and Frankie, the head chef, came up with a nice variety of excellent meals for us every single day. Our sincere thanks to Dave and Helen Landman, and everyone there who made us feel welcome.
For more information about DeAnza Springs Resort, Call (619) 766-4301 or visit their website