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Nudist club on the hunt for a new place to camp

Wanted: one campground, for quiet bunch of family-minded campers. Must feature: a reasonable drive from Winnipeg, a building to become a clubhouse, and some open space to play games.

Oh, and it also needs a place for campers to strip off their skivvies.

"(Privacy) is a given for our kind of club," chuckled John Kundert of the Crocus Grove Sun Club, days after the province's last nudist organization voted to go ahead with a pioneering decision to buy and operate a new clothing-optional retreat, which could be open as early as the summer.

Two weeks ago, the 40-year-old club's affairs were thrown into disarray when Ray and Susan Ryynanen, the owners of its longtime Crocus Grove home, announced they were closing the campground and reopening it as a conventional, clothes-on spot. But at a meeting on Sunday, the 63-member sun club took matters into its own hands: A near-unanimous vote launched the Legacy Project, a club trust fund that will buy and operate a permanent haven for nude sun-seekers. "It's very gratifying, and very reassuring that people want to keep the nudism alive in Manitoba," said club member and former Crocus Grove groundskeeper Bob Migliore.

Kundert said he doesn't know of any other nudist clubs that have run their own campgrounds as part of a trust. But after the recent kerfuffle, the club didn't want to put its home in private hands again. "It's a close-knit group, and we want to stay together," Kundert said, noting that many members have been friends for decades. "It's difficult to stay together if we don't have a place to meet. And that's what we're trying to accomplish here, to find a new place that we can call our home, so we don't ever have to worry about losing it again."

Where there's a will, there's a wallet: by the end of Sunday's meeting, members had already pledged half the money needed to buy and open a new property, an amount Kundert could not disclose but described as "a substantial sum."

Now, the club just needs to find a home, sweet home. Its needs are minimal; a perfect property could be 10 acres, or it could be 100. All that really matters is that it offers lots of privacy, is about an hour's drive from the city and has some facilities to get the club started. Oh, and sandy soil would be a bonus. Keeps the bugs down, don'tcha know. "Mosquitoes are always an issue... especially for nudists," Kundert laughed.

Hey, who doesn't want folks with that kind of sense of humour living down the road? If any Manitobans are still a bit iffy on the idea of having nudists as neighbours, Kundert assures his family-oriented club won't offend. "We're a quiet group. It's just the fact that we do everything without clothes on, when weather permits," Kundert said, noting that Crocus Grove's intergenerational membership includes grandparents and great-grandparents.

And they're a neighbourly bunch, even if it means giving people the shirt off their backs... or, uh, wherever their shirt was at the time. "We're actively involved in clothing drives."

SOURCE: "Nudist club on the hunt for a new place to camp" by Melissa Martin. This article was published on May 5, 2010 in The Winnipeg Free Press.

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