Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Yoga at The Gathering

The Yoga Team at GNI is introducing a weekend Yoga Retreat at The Gathering.

It is called 'Yoga Foundations for Daily Life'; designed for both people who are new to yoga and those that have previously practiced.

This will be a comprehensive, but not difficult weekend, that will consist of 5 practices.

Each practice will focus on using the power of yoga. We will explore breath, asana, mindfulness, and togetherness. This will be used to develop tools for combating what we have all experienced at some point in our lives: stress, anxiety, distraction, depression, and feeling isolated from the men around us.

At the end of the retreat, participants will walk away with new skills to get in touch with the body, find peace in daily life, and a new sense of connection from within, and with others in the practice.

The retreat will be lead by Colby, who teaches men’s nude classes in Lambertville, NJ.  He also offers retreats throughout the US and Central America and has a 500-hour teaching certificate.  Colby is also certified in IM=X Pilates and is an avid triathlete.

It will be assisted by Jon Poupore, who is the GNI Yoga Coordinator and the movie manager; Michael Lange, certified Power Yoga Teacher, teaches nude (and clothed) yoga in Columbus/Ohio and has been teaching yoga during GNI Gatherings since 2013; and Gene Evangelist, who has taught Nude Yoga Pittsburgh since 2004 and has taught at the Gathering since 2011, he is Marketing Director for GNI.

This rare devotion will be shared with 19 other men (class size is limited to 20).
Cost is $75.

Register for The Gathering now to reserve your spot; they'll go fast! If you've already registered, contact the Business Office to add this package to your GNI experience.
More info is on the GNI web site.

Regular yoga practices will be held throughout The Gathering as well.

Entertainment for 2018 Gathering Announced

Kinsey Sicks - For over 20 years, America's Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet has served up a feast of music and comedy to audiences at performing arts centers, music venues and comedy festivals throughout the US and internationally! Their phenomenal performance record includes an Off-Broadway show, an extended run in Vegas, two feature films and three concert DVDs, nine albums, and appearances in over 40 US states, Canada, Mexico, Europe, and Australia. The Kinsey Sicks' award-winning a cappella singing, sharp satire and over-the-top drag have earned them a diverse and devoted following.

Bobby Jo Valentine – Bobby Jo Valentine is a nationally touring singer/songwriter who grew up on the seaside of Northern California. His songs are both earthbound and mystical, and speak of the gentle, everyday spiritual awakenings of an openhearted life. He has been awarded Song of the Year three times at the West Coast Songwriter’s Association, and has earned a growing following of listeners and supporters with music and storytelling that is compelling and poetic.

Frank Liotti - Frank Liotti is a stand-up comic living in New York City. He just completed filming a pilot for LOGO, titled "Everyone's a Little Gay." In addition, was seen headlining at Caroline's on Broadway, and performs stand-up comedy across America. His sardonic wit and unique stream of consciousness style have won him praise in the prestigious Laughing Skull Comedy Festival, the Boston Comedy Festival, the Laughing Devil Comedy Festival, the Los Angeles Comedy Festival and the Long Island Laugh Off, and he's been a finalist in every festival he's entered to date. As an actor, he has been seen playing criminals on multiple episodes of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Fox TV's Jonny Zero, Canturbury's Law with Julianna Margulies, and others. A graduate of Yale School of Drama as well as SUNY Purchase, he landed the cover of The New York Times Arts and Leisure section for the production of Cats Talk Back — a mockumentary of life as a cast member within the Broadway hit Cats — which was the winner of "Best Overall Production" in the 2003 NYC Fringe Festival. It was also performed at Yale Cabaret, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and revived in The Fringe's 2011's "Best Of" series. He also appears in the 2012 film BearCity 2.

Adam Sank - Adam Sank is one of the most recognized and accomplished openly gay stand-up comics in the country, having been featured on NBC's Last Comic Standing and The Today Show, FOX's Laughs, CBS News, Vh1's I Love the 2000s and Best Week Ever, CNN's @ThisHour, CNBC's Street Signs and truTV's World's Dumbest Criminals, along with countless appearances as both a guest and fill-in host on SiriusXM satellite radio. 

His debut comedy album, Adam Sank: Live from the Stonewall Inn, went to No. 1 on both Amazon's list of Comedy Album Downloads and iTunes's New Comedy Releases, and it plays in rotation on SiriusXM's Raw Dog channel. Adam also hosts his own weekly radio show -- The Adam Sank Show (ASS) -- every Sunday at 3PM ET at www.derekandromaine.com, with replays throughout the week.

Virus-free. www.avg.com

Love Is In The Air: Meet Our Couples!

Brad & Ben at The Gathering
Frederic & Larry, Gathering 2017

Hi there! Mind sharing your names? 
  • Larry and Fred
  • Ben and Brad
Nice to meet you! How long have you two been together? 
  • L & F: 9 years!
  • B & B: 31 years!
Beautiful! Did you meet at GNI prior to becoming a couple? If so, do you mind sharing your story? If not, what was it like attending GNI together for the first time?
  • L & F: We first met in Paris a few years before we went to our first GNI event which was NakedFest in MD in 2015. We had a great time at Ramblewood and it was a great experience being naked outdoors with hundreds of other men. We then attended our first Gathering in 2016.
  • B & B: Our first time attending together was great, and we just keep returning. It has been over ten years now!
What is your favorite thing to do at GNI; either together or separate?
  • L & F: We just enjoy meeting new people and seeing familiar faces 😀 every year. The openness of having fun and participating in all of the activities is awesome. We love the social events and the entertainment. Miss Lace (with Hazel and Trixie hosting, of course) is a lot of fun. Mr GNI Leather and Mr GNI contests are also so fun to watch (and, who knows, perhaps we will compete next year)!
  • B & B: Ben loves to swim while at camp, and Brad really enjoys the disco. 
Is there a spot at camp you find to be especially romantic where you both retreat to in order to just enjoy one another's company?
  • L & F: Laying to together in the shade down by the lake and next to the gazebo or taking a shower together outside by the tennis courts.
  • B & B: Not really, we just enjoy the energy that camp brings and attending together. 
If you could give any advice to couples that want to attend The Gathering together, what would it be?
  • L & F: Just come and enjoy...leave your inhibitions and fears with your clothes on the ground the moment you arrive. Everyone is accepting and there to meet each other and enjoy just being themselves. Attending GNI is a great way to connect with people, to relax, and to have fun.
  • B & B: Nothing to be nervous about! Just come to The Gathering and enjoy yourselves!
Picture It! Opening credits on the big screen, a movie about GNI and your experience together at camp: whats the title of the movie? Any particular song that you would play over the opening credits that encapsulates the energy of camp?
  • L & F: Since I (Larry) am a child from the 70s, the movie Meatballs with Bill Murray comes to mind because of the camp theme....and the motto of "it just doesnt matter." Who remembers that? I take that to mean just be yourself and enjoy...it doesnt matter what craziness is going on outside the camp. Thoughts of my French husband and our time in Europe, and my love for zany comedy, I could also see a scene of hundreds of men running across the camp singing "the hills are alive with the sounds of Griswolds" as Chevy Chase did in from European Vacation (although in Lederhosen). He used to be soooo funny...what happened? :)
  • B & B: Hmm... I guess, Natural Vacation! 😎
Thanks so much for taking some time to answer our questions! (:
Hope to see you boys this year at camp!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Annual Mid-Winter Naturist Festival Feb 15-20, 2018

Six days of fun, growth, and community in the nude
Thursday – Tuesday, February 15-20, 2018
Sunsport Gardens Family Naturist Resort
14125 North Rd, Loxahatchee Groves, FL
(14 miles west of West Palm Beach)
Join other naturist men and women and their families from Florida and the rest of North America for the continent's first regional naturist gathering in 2018. Come for any or all of the days — it's up to you!
This nude gathering features nearly 250 scheduled activities encompassing a broad array of seminars, workshops, sports, music and dance (including nightly drum circle around a huge bonfire), and social activities. There are also a couple of off-site events, which are excursions to Haulover Beach in Miami and Blind Creek Beach in Fort Pierce, FL.

Click above for a video tour of Sunsport GardensFamily Naturist Resort

The Mid-Winter Naturist Festival is one of a series of Naturist Society-sanctioned nude events each year. Diversity is valued, and all are welcome. Pre-registration is encouraged for planning purposes, but not required. (It makes check-in quick and easy.) Proceeds of the Festival benefit The Naturist Society, South Florida Free Beaches, and Treasure Coast Naturists. View pricing and register.
Help get the word out! The Festival has a listing on Facebook. Click on Going or Interested if you will or may attend, and use the Share button to invite your friends, post the event on your timeline and in other naturist groups you belong to, and send it in a message.
Meanwhile, try Sunsport Gardens' nude drum circle, first Friday of every month from 9 p.m. to midnight. Free entry starts at 5 p.m.; visitors must depart by 2 a.m. Includes use of amenities such as the café, showers, pool, spa, and sauna. You must present your government-issued photo ID for admission. Get directions.

Gene's Take on MAL

I'm back in Pittsburgh after a great experience at Mid Atlantic Leather Weekend, in DC!

After a 5 year hiatus, I enjoyed participating in the evolution of 'The Leather Community'. I say 'evolution' because I observed a broadening of dress code, a relaxing of gender normativism, and an openness to generate change within the 'Leather' theme. MAL's openness to change throughout their 33-year history is alive and visible in paving a road for growth into the future.

There were younger to older guys in jocks and harnesses; sports gear, and superhero personas all around. And whether it was from the viewpoint of marketing or desire; I could envision them all naked at The Gathering since there wasn't much of a Puritan gear theme to suggest otherwise.

As you may have heard, the Pocono Eagle threw a Boots and Bourbon Party. It was an overcapacity sell out with volunteers and guests approaching 100. We got full and stayed full, and once guys had their clothes off they didn't want to put them back on. It felt awesome being embraced by that radiating, deeply sensual, body warmth and humidity with 10-degree temperature outside. The group that started as the 'Leather Community' very quickly became the 'GNI Nude Community' at a Leather event and, as a friend from Pittsburgh said: "That was the best time I had for $25 in a long time!".

With the entry being $25, our goal of being self-supporting is getting closer. The cost associated with the party covers a few aspects including travel expenses to various leather events and promoting The Pocono Eagle as well as GNI, our Mr. GNI Leather contest, and our current title-holder Brian Ballone, Mr. GNI Leather 2017. Since initial funding did not come from GNI, I’ll list how the event came to be a success and I will thank individually in a later message: 

  • The help of various volunteers.
  • LeatherWerks
  • Stompers Boots
  • Our Membership (Near and Far)
  • Our Guests
  • Advertisements, Posters, Handouts
  • GNI Facebook/Social Media
  • Publicity on our GNI web site
  • Posting to The MAL Meat N Greet
  • Bourbon
  • Word of Mouth
  • The GNI Board

Also, Dan Marrs has put together a gofundme page:
We are at $1,600 out of our $2,500 goal. 
Contribute if you recognize the effort everyone has put in.

I realize a few of you may be thinking: "Enough with the leather already, GNI is getting invaded by harnesses!"

Here is a word about that: nothing we are doing is designed to change the GNI Gathering foundation. We're naturists.  Becoming 'Leather' is not the goal; introducing ourselves to the numerous sub-groups we are all parts of, and offering an opportunity for those sub-groups to express their inner nudists, ultimately at The Gathering, is the goal.

To expand on that, there are numerous sub-interests within our group. For an example, we have had an active yoga group at The Gathering. Jon, Michael, Colby and myself are now planning to take it to the next level offering a structured retreat-like approach. And there are opportunities for expanding upon other offerings. What about a “Workout Bootcamp”? Can you imagine going home after 10-days, 5-6 lbs lighter and feeling great?

So we are open to any ideas or suggestions for themes and sub-interest development.

We appreciate your help and support for all of what we are trying to do to make this a great experience for everyone.

Keep naked with a smile on your face.



PS: In addition, and don't tell anyone about this, the DUCK IT, NO PANTS! Mr. GNI Leather 2017, Brian Ballone, Travel Fund Raffle is still selling pins. A $20 pin could win a half week at The 2018 Gathering.  A total of 3 will be given away: a general pass, an under 39, and a puppy. 
I could really use the love from a general winner, an under 39 and a puppy, when I win and give these away.  So please don't buy these! I want my odds to be good. But just because I'm obligated to tell everyone, here's the link to the info.

GNI Now Offers Comprehensive Travel Protection

GNI Offers Travel Protection

We've all been through this at one time or another ... your plane has been delayed and you miss your connection. Or when you do arrive at your destination, you find that your luggage didn't make the flight with you; it's been lost or delayed. Flight delays, missed connections, delayed or lost luggage - those are the realities of travel in our times. The majority of travelers take the chance that airline and transfer schedules will all work seamlessly and luggage will arrive and for the most part, the travel industry does a good job. But on occasion, just one small delay in a very large and complex travel machine creates a cascade of misfortune for a weary traveler.

For that and many other reasons, GNI is now offering a comprehensive travel protection plan for all of your travel needs. GNI's Gathering and travel-related costs add up quickly. It's your hard-earned money so why take the chance on having your vacation interrupted for reasons beyond your control?

Click the image to visit the GNI-TripAssure site.
A travel protection plan is a package of benefits and services intended to protect your investment, your personal belongings, and you. Most plans provide benefits for:
  • Trip cancellation
  • Trip interruption
  • Medical expenses
  • Missed connection
  • Travel delay
  • Baggage loss
  • 24 / 7 Worldwide Traveler Assistance
GNI now offers a comprehensive travel protection plan. We have partnered with TripAssure - a leading provider of trip insurance to bring everyone the option of a comprehensive travel package with affordable premiums and a number of plans to choose from. Secure your financial investment for GNI's Gathering or use it anytime for any other travel-related reason, i.e. holiday vacations, testing your luck rolling dice in Las Vegas, surprising your loved one with dinner and a show on Broadway, or taking that long awaited vacation oversees.

The travel protection plans that we are offering is about more than just flight delays, missed transfers, and lost luggage. Depending on the level of coverage that one obtains, we also offer medical / dental coverage, coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, and probably the most important coverage - trip cancellation or interruption.
GNI has a fairly strict cancellation policy when it comes to The Gathering; we've been offering a "Cancellation Guarantee" option for $53 which allows men to cancel their registration for any reason up to August 1 with no cancellation penalties. But what happens to those that have to cancel after August 1 who've signed up for the Cancellation Guarantee or simply chose not to sign up for it at all? After August 1, Gathering fees are non-refundable. Every year though, we have a handful of men who request that we take their specific circumstances into consideration if they have to cancel after August 1. Reasons vary from a scheduled surgery, a wedding, a funeral, aging parents needing assistance, to work revoking planned time off, loss of a job, being hospitalized or just being sick with the flu. 

One of our travel protection plans does cover trip cancellation and interruptions and reimburses a percentage of prepaid and unrefundable trip costs for those that sign up for it thereby offering additional coverage that GNI simply cannot offer on our own. We very much encourage anyone who attends our Gathering to cover the cost of The Gathering and all of their other vacation plans with one of our travel protection plans. You'll be happy that you did if the time ever came that you needed to file a claim. 

Compare our plans, coverage, and benefits and select the plan that's best for you by clicking on the image below or call Customer Service at (800) 423-3632. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Greetings from GNI Marketing Director

New Year's Eve Greetings.

In October, Peter Karlovich gave me a great introduction to the group as the new Marketing Director. This month, I'm reintroducing myself to the group and introducing the work I've done since I started 30+ days ago, and outlining what I'm planning for the future. 

But first, let me start with my own story, and why taking on this project is important to me.
12 years ago I started Nude Yoga Pittsburgh. Through my yoga group, I met Pete Karlovich and Steve Herforth. They began encouraging me to come to the Gathering...and every year they reminded me...finally, after 4 years of their prompting, I went to the website to sign up...It said that it was sold out! Later, at a nude party, Pete told me there were lots of spots left. I wrote it off as bad info from the website. The next year I was able to register, was impressed by the how well run it was, met some great guys, and really enjoyed the experience at the Gathering.

But why did it take me 4 years to try to sign up?
Even though the thoughts of naked camping sounded hot, when I went to the website it left me cold...and when I finally went to sign up....well, you get the idea.

So with my story in mind, the website was my first target for improvement. 

Years ago a basic website that facilitated a registration was all you needed. Today, especially for a younger demographic if it doesn't look cool immediately or has an involved process....you lost a potential camper.

So I made the commitment to change the website subtly without disrupting the current activity on the site. This way updates could be seen immediately. A number of those updates were time sensitive, for example, we wanted the GNI website to have a full representation of the Pocono Eagle in advance of MAL in January. So my goal became to accomplish that by the end of November which I did.

But before I could do that a number of other changes were made to simplify navigation through the site and give the whole site a clean, fresh, more exciting look that shows who we are and what we do a lot better than before. You will now notice a more appealing presentation, easier navigation, and a smoother process. The membership application and renewal pages are easy to find. There are new Activities, Accommodations, Social Hour, Pocono Eagle, Bear, and Yoga pages, and a number of others with more to come.

Web design is a lot like writing a book, you have a vision of what you want to do - then you isolate yourself and design, and after numerous edits and numerous hours, sometimes until 2 am, while everyone is wondering "Gee, what is Gene doing for us?" gradually the changes start to appear, then everyone starts to see the overall vision too. Then positive reactions start coming in and it reinforces that you are on the right track. 

So what have the results been?
We've gotten a lot of positive feedback on the changes that have taken place so far. A number have commented on how much better it looks, that they can find things and that we now have links to prices and registration on every page. And, everyone loves Trae Crowder's video on the homepage, if you haven't seen it yet, check it out; it's good. 

So let me tell you another story:
I have a 25-year-old friend here in Pittsburgh, I tried to get him to go with me to GNI last year, he looked at our website and said: "This doesn't look that interesting, I'm going to The Woods, instead."
Last week I showed him the refreshed website he said, "Wow, I had no idea you had all this going on, this looks awesome...you must have lowered your prices or something...I can afford the full week." He's signing up next week. He's our target market. 
Much more has been done, and I could go on, but I'll stop here, for now, to keep it interesting.
We'll call this part 1.