The future’s bright, the future’s YBN?
Last January, Channel 4 screened its latest offering in a series of documentaries over the years about the naturist lifestyle: My daughter, the Teenage Nudist directed by Amanda Blue.
For those who missed it, it features, Molly, 18, spending her last summer of “childhood innocence” with her friends, including best friend, Clare (also 18) before leaving home for university. It also featured four other young people; Alex (female), Jess (male) and Luke, who together blog as Naked Vegan Cooking, and Daryl Jones, BN’s Youth Officer. Daryl was very much the lynchpin of this documentary and he has a self-imposed goal of signing up 10,000 people under 30 to YBN and just watching him expend boundless energy to reach it, made me tired. What surprised me though, was seeing the input made by BN’s Executive Council members, something I believe those of the past would have been reluctant to make. In fact, British Naturism played quite a significant part in the production of this documentary, and I think I detect Andrew Welch’s hand here. While he and I have not seen eye-to-eye on everything in the past, I congratulate him on doing such a marvellous job on this 50-minute film, which is probably the best of its breed.
It is a pity, therefore, that his efforts have not been rewarded with better reviews in the press, although they were by no means negative.
Journalist and broadcaster Tom Sutcliffe – a reviewer and commentator I normally like – possibly summed up the reviews best when he wrote in The Independent that he felt Blue’s documentary was less about the worries of the teenagers, and of their parents, as they ventured into public nudity for the first time, and more about the fact that older naturists weren’t being replaced in sufficient numbers to keep the membership up. The problem Sutcliffe describes isn’t new of course; it has been known for years that all naturist organisations are struggling this way and all the more credit to some in BN for trying something out of their experience, to reverse the trend.
British Naturism isn’t the only organisation to try this strategy of engaging with the younger generation, however; both AANR and TNS in the US are trying something similar, getting their respective youth groups to talk to their peers about naturism and persuading them to join. Is it not the Jesuits who say ‘give me a child at seven and I’ll give you the man’? I have seen