Summer is just around the corner. With the warmer weather upon us, we’re all itching to get outside and explore—while following safety guidelines and protocol, of course. Since we’ve not been able to take “getting away” for granted in recent times, we at York Durham Headwaters think now is the perfect time to try something new and unique that perhaps you and your family haven’t thought of before. We’d like to make a suggestion, but before we do, we have a question… have you brushed off your birthday suit lately?
Welcome to Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park in East Gwillimbury. This wholesome family location, nestled amongst the natural wilderness of the Ontario Greenbelt and the Oak Ridges Moraine, is many things: a park; a campground; a restaurant; a holiday destination; a country club; and a day-use attraction (to name just a few of its facets). But what makes this park different from anything else you’re likely to find is that it is, of course, a naturist park. Be gone, pesky clothing. Patrons of Bare Oaks enjoy their getaway in the buff—exactly as nature intended!
Visitors at Bare Oaks come from all walks of life, all age ranges, and all personalities. They may have embraced naturism for decades, or they may be brand new to the concept. At a park like Bare Oaks, everyone can relax in nature while exploring all that naturism has to offer. “Bare Oaks is a place for people to enjoy naturism and all of our facilities exist to support the experience,” says owner Stephane Deschenes. “People come to Bare Oaks for the experience. Of course, that is true of most consumer-oriented businesses, but it is even more so for us.”
If you’re not familiar with the concept of naturism, let us first tell you what it’s not. Unfortunately, a search on the Internet or misrepresentations in media (both mainstream and social) might leave you with the impression that it is about showing off one’s body, or that it carries with it certain thrills that are better left to the 18+ crowd. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. At its core, naturism is a value system. It’s about accepting oneself as one truly is, not as one appears when decked-out in image-altering fashion. It’s also about recognizing and appreciating the fundamental truth that all bodies are unique.
“While most people think naturism is about being nude, it is not,” Stephane explains. “Nudity is a tool, not the objective. Naturism is about accepting others as they are and showing them respect by presenting your true authentic self. It’s about living in a more natural way. Being clothing-free may not be normal, but it is natural.”
There are many parents who choose to raise their children in naturism. For those who do, Stephane points out that this way of life provides an important lesson about body image and self-esteem. Naturism also teaches children that there are other ways to view the world. As outlined on the Bare Oaks website, “Children raised in naturism learn to accept the human body and recognize that everyone is unique. Comfort with nudity combined with naturist values lead to a healthy self-image and strong self-esteem. Although good parenting is by far the most important factor in raising children, naturism helps to promote their confidence and understanding about their bodies (for more on this and other information about naturism, please click here: BareOaks.ca/about-naturism).
Now that we’ve outlined what naturism is and is not… let us tell you about all the wonderful things to do at Bare Oaks. You may be surprised to learn that the park is open all year round. For obvious reasons, though, most of the activities centre on the warmer months. There is no typical visit, since the clientele is so varied. With different tastes, preferences and level of physical activity, there is something for everyone. “For some, it is floating alone in the lake while others prefer the social aspect of a drink with friends at the Bare Bistro,” Stephane says. “There are a variety of options if a person is looking to be more occupied, and we organize special events to further enhance that experience.”
For the sports-oriented, there are ongoing volleyball games and two major tournaments. “That’s a naturist cliché for the general public,” Stephane laughs. There is also the annual nude 5K run that makes it on many people’s bucket list for the summer. For the younger set, a family weekend is organized where the schedule is aimed at children. And every Saturday there is the Big Rock Kids’ Club—fun for the kids and a break for the parents. Of course, there are many other smaller events throughout the summer, so no matter when you visit, you will find something to enjoy.
If you are interested in dipping a toe into the waters of naturism—or if you’re already skinny-dipping and want new waters to explore—check out Bare Oaks Naturist Park. Learn what it is to truly be with this unique location, a place of “traditional naturist values in a modern setting.”
Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park
20237 Kennedy Rd.,
Story by Katherine Ryalen