The Sisterly Bonds Forged by Nudism

The Sisterly Bonds Forged by Nudism


Three sisters drifted apart after a tough childhood. A nudist club brought them back together.

To visit the Avatan Nudist Club in East Bethel, Minnesota, about 30 miles north of Minneapolis, you drive through the front gate and check in with a greeter in the office. She may or may not be wearing clothing. You disrobe alongside your car. Then, perhaps in the company of a pair of friendly naked tour guides, you walk the road that encircles the camp. You pass the main lodge, a swimming pool, and the well-kept summer cabins of members. Nude people are playing horseshoes, fixing a roof, riding a golf cart. Most of the camp is quiet. People come and go throughout the summer, some staying for days, others for months. Life here is slow and peaceful.

At the first left bend of the road, a trio of home trailers stand side by side in a clearing. Three sisters occupy these trailers as neighbors every summer—Nanette, 68; Denise, 63 (with her husband, Al); and Juliette, 56. (They asked to be identified by their first names only, because Avatan prohibits members from sharing their last names with one another.) The sisters eat together, help work on one another’s trailers, or pass time with neighbors, such as the physician who has written a book about bird watching while naked.

The sisters are naked, and they are close. One has to do with the other. Twenty years ago, they felt distant and estranged from one another, the result of growing up in the chaos of a family wracked by drinking, cruel words, and bad memories. Back then, Nanette, Denise, and Juliette saw one another only on holidays. They say it seemed best that way.

Today, living together at Avatan most weekends during the summer, they see a lot of one another—more than most siblings do—and they have a changed relationship. Shedding their clothing and living in close company has helped them shed old pain. Nudism, they say, has saved their family.

Denise and Al kept it a secret from their families when they began to explore nudism in their 40s during the mid-’90s. They tried clothing-optional lake beaches around the Twin Cities and then discovered Avatan. “It was like the Garden of Eden,” Denise says.

Within three months of their first visit, they bought a lot and set up a trailer. Being naked in a nudist community freed them from anxieties about their bodies and shyness. “I could get naked right now, and I wouldn’t feel like I’d be judged,” Denise says. “I’ve earned that comfort in myself through nudism.”

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Source: The Atlantic

Original publication 30 September, 2018

Posted on NatCorn 15th March 2021

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