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You can bare it all for a good cause on Skinny Dip Saturday

Bare Oaks Naturist Park invites you to expose yourself to 'a well-established Canadian activity' on Skinny Dip Day July 8 in support of the Fistula Foundation

Stéphane Deschênes, owner of Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park, sees Skinny Dip Day as an opportunity to open minds and give people the chance to experience naturism.

On Saturday, the naturist resort in East Gwillimbury is welcoming those who want to get out of their comfort zone and support a good cause. 

“Skinny-dipping is a well-established and popular Canadian activity,” Deschênes said. “We like to participate in Skinny Dip Day as a way to encourage people to make comfort with the natural human body an everyday thing.”

This year, Skinny Dip Day will be raising funds for the Fistula Foundation. At least one million women in Africa and Asia are suffering from untreated fistula.

Obstetric fistula is an injury that occurs when a mother has a prolonged, obstructed labour, but doesn’t have access to emergency medical care, such as a C-section. She often labours in excruciating pain for days and it usually results in the death of the baby.

“This year, the people organizing Skinny Dip Day are supporting the Fistula Foundation with the event, which is wonderful because they provide a very important surgery to women in the developing world and are such an efficient and highly rated charity,” Deschênes said. 

An event like this can be big in the naturalist community, said Deschênes, since it can bring out new visitors to the park who have never experienced naturism before.

“Events like this are always exciting, especially when people are coming to try it out for the first time,” he said. “This encourages people to try something that they may not do otherwise. It’s even better when you’re bringing people together to raise money for something important.”

Deschênes sees Skinny Dip Day as a chance for people to “expose themselves” to naturism by dipping their toes in and getting a better idea of what it’s all about.

“I particularly enjoy seeing first-timers come because it feels like we’re saving them a little bit,” he said. “There’s so much body shame and so much discomfort with yourself and what you look like in this world. That’s really what naturism is about, acceptance of yourself.”

Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park, at 20237 Kennedy Rd., has more than 700 members and gets a few thousand visitors a year, and event days are a way to build that sense of community within the park.

“It brings people together,” said Deschênes. “We’re doing something together as a group and building those strong bonds while bringing new people in. It’s not a religion, but we feel the world would be a better place if we could convince everyone that they should accept their body in its natural state.”

Beyond owning the park, Deschênes has taught a course about nudity at the University of Toronto, has been hosting the Naturist Living Show podcast since 2008, and is the first-ever Canadian president of the International Naturist Federation.

“The biggest challenge with naturism is showing people it’s not as hard as they think,” he said. “Trying it out and taking your clothes off for the first time at the park is very easy, it’s getting here to the park that’s extremely difficult. It’s like a phobia because it’s an irrational fear, it’s not going to hurt and there’s no danger. The emotional side is what stops people and a lot of it has to do with the fact that from birth people are told that they should be ashamed, embarrassed, and even offended by their own image. An event like this gives them the excuse to push themselves for a good cause.”

Donations can be made here, and when you register at the park office, the donation will be deducted from your day fee. Learn more about Skinny Dip Day here.