Two obscure stones are all that mark the gravel driveway leading to the electronic gate into Green Valley, a nudist camp 25 miles south of Cleveland. A buzz of the intercom and I’m through the gates, up a gravel road and through thick woods that thin into a cluster of trailer-filled campsites.
Personalized lots of neat decks, lawn furniture, stacked wood and fire rings are the norm. It’s typical campground U.S.A. — until a flat, bare butt sidles past. It leads to another butt, then lots of butts, then breasts, and all the other body parts that wiggle, jiggle, wag and sag.
Here at Green Valley these parts are unencumbered, confident: free to shine where the sun does shine.
I’m met by Ray, the camp director, who’s friendly, clothed and efficient, and a few other members who are nice, but naked. I try to act like I have casual conversations with nudists every day, but I’m hot, nervous and feel like everyone is looking at me because I have clothes on!
I confide my fears as we go on the tour, and Ray tells me that’s the regular first reaction. Most people experience the confusion of what to do with their eyes, but after awhile, it fades. Nudity, like marriage, becomes familiar, normal, taken for granted. The camp was originally formed as the Green Goose in 1936 and is one of the oldest nudist resorts in the country. It covers 47 acres of campsites and hiking trails. There’s a community room, a swimming pool, hot tub, fishing lake, and courts for volleyball, basketball, tennis and shuffleboard. It’s a self-governed, self-contained area of approximately 220 people from young to old whose simple belief is the recognition of the wholesomeness of the human body. Here, believers can experience the sun, wind and water on their naked bodies without judgment or embarrassment.
“The world’s not made of 10s,” Ray tells me. “We are what we are.” Here people are truly not concerned with body size, shape or condition. But even in this place where members enjoy the leisure of a nonsexual nudity in an otherwise carefree community, they have one major worry: poison ivy.