By: Nick (Board Member)
We all know how great The Gathering is, in fact, we all enjoy it so much that we have a hard time selling it to outsiders. Over the past ten years, I’ve tried every angle possible to bring more people to camp. In that time, I’ve brought a grand total of (drum roll please) one person. Admittedly there was a time that I felt that maybe bringing people to GNI wasn’t my forte, so I decreased my efforts for a year or two. I didn’t give up advertising GNI, I would still talk about naked camp and there seemed to be some slight interest, but no actual interest that resulted in front gate passes. After a while, I realized that my enthusiasm was getting in the way.
I’m sure everyone has experienced this before, a knock at the door to sell you something, someone stopping you on the street to get you sign something, or that one friend who is trying to push weight loss shakes on you like their selling drugs. We can almost feel their enthusiasm, and it can be a bit unsettling. We say, “no thank you,” before we even hear what they have to say and continue with whatever we were doing. After experiencing that more than a few times in my life, I realized I was probably doing something similar when talking about GNI.
The Gathering has been a life changing event for me. Not just my first year, but every year that I attend. For me, that’s what makes camp unique and it’s something that I want other people to experience. The problem is, most people don’t need that much enthusiasm up front when hearing about this great place/organization. There are probably many reasons for this, but the biggest one I think is that if I wasn’t so enthusiastic about this organization, then I wouldn’t go every year and I definitely wouldn’t be talking to a stranger about it. I had to figure out a way to advertise GNI and not evangelize people to GNI. After I realized this, I started to come up with ideas that would be appealing to people who didn’t identify with being a Naturist. When that idea turned into a successful group, I started to put other lessons I’ve learned over the years to try and create a better approach for GNI advertising.
- Talk about GNI to people who have an actual interest in the lifestyle: While casting a wide net to advertise is always good, you don’t want to waste your time on someone who would rather be checking their Facebook than listen to you talk about some naked place. What I do is casually mention naked camp. From there, you can see if the person is interested or not because they’ll ask, “what’s that?” and then you only have a few minutes to actually talk about what it is.
- Have your elevator speech ready: You’re going to want quick phrases that completely sum up what you’re trying to talk about. People’s attention span only lasts for a few minutes, sometimes seconds, so you don’t have a lot of time to sell camp. The best way to practice this is to talk about what you like about camp in one sentence. One that I use often is, “it’s like adult summer camp with booze and no clothes.” I have a few more that I use, but that one seems to sum it up enough to where I can expand on it if needed. The elevator speech should spark enough interest that the listener will give you more time to expand on the topic. At this point the listener will either change the topic or ask a million questions. It’s important to listen to the person’s body language, because to them we are basically telling them we want to see them naked. This means that if they change the topic, then drop it and move on to something else.
- Start them out small: Surprisingly enough not everyone feels comfortable just going on vacation to hang out with hundreds of strangers. It’s really important to see it from their perspective, how did you feel when you decided to go to your first gathering? Did you go with a few friends? Did you just show up without knowing anyone? Did you go to a few smaller events in your area before you decided to go to camp? Try and draw on your own experience to try and make your audience more comfortable. The easiest thing to do, especially people who’ve never experienced social nudity before, is to bring them to a local event. If you live somewhere that doesn’t have that, then all it takes is four or five people to have a get together. The best way to prevent it from turning into a small sex party is limitations, an after work social that’s two to three hours max. This gives people the opportunity to try something new and have an escape option if it’s not for them.
- Tell them what they get out of their investment: Of course camp is expensive, all-inclusive price, but still it’s expensive. It shouldn’t be a deterrent since we all know most people will drop three grand easy at Gay Days or on an Atlantis cruise. The biggest reason why guys will say, “I don’t know, that’s a lot of money,” is because they don’t know what they’re getting. This investment doesn’t have to strictly be about money. I think the bigger investment when it comes to taking a vacation is the investment of one’s time. When people look at a new destination, they’re really asking themselves, “do I want to spend my time there?” yes they’re looking at cost and such, but amenities are a dime a dozen. Time is a precious thing and we don’t get a lot of it to indulge on ourselves. This is why it’s important to communicate what they will get in return when they invest their vacation time at GNI. To me, this is where the enthusiastic speech comes into play. At this point, guys want to hear why you go every year, why it’s so important to you, and why you want them to experience it too. The reason why I do this at this point and not at introductions is because at this point, I know they’re actually interested. GNI not only has resources to help communicate what guys get out of camp, but are always coming up with newer resources to emphasize this point even more.
Although using these tips will help you talk about The Gathering easier, they’re not fool proof. It’s really easy to talk about camp to a thousand people and get only one person who wants to go, but backs out last minute. I wish there was a recipe that I could use that would bring more guys, but there isn’t. The most important thing to take away from this article is that GNI can’t be our best kept secret anymore. It’s up to all of us to talk about the gathering all year and not just in July. You may talk to a thousand semi interested people about camp, but I can promise you that those people will tell other people about some camp where a bunch of guys hang out naked. In the past, that loose description might not have been useful, but today that description is only a google search away from GNI. Whether you manage to bring someone or not, getting our name out there is the most important thing to do.