By Paul Blascovich - GNI Social Media Member
Showing up to GNI for the first time can be nerve-wracking. You may feel like an outsider in an unfamiliar place where everyone seems to know each other. Luckily, GNI is a great group of men who are welcoming to first-timers. Before you head to the Poconos to shed your clothes, here are some tips that will help you make the most of your rookie experience.
You might not need clothing, but there are other essentials to bring along. The GNI website (gaynaturists.org) has a sample packing list to help you remember what you will need. Pack a few sitting towels (old t-shirts also work) and a lot of sun-block lotion. A zip-up hoodie or jacket will make cool evenings more comfortable, and a pair of boots is also nice to have. Check out the social hour themes on the website before you leave; if a full costume isn't your style, a simple prop can be a great conversation starter. Get started early on deciding what you will be taking so you are not scrambling at the last minute or waiting for a package to be delivered. The campground is a short drive from nearby stores if you forget something, but you won't want to waste a minute away from naked paradise.
Get Your Bearings
As soon as you drop your bags (and your clothes), walk around camp and get the lay of the land. Also, feel free to ask an experienced cabinmate for a tour. Find both pools and the dining hall. Get to know the route to the dance club and back to your cabin (or camp/RV site). While most social hours are held at The Grove, learn the location of the main gym, too. Cross the damn -- don't forget to cover up! -- and take a peek "Across the Lake" (the spot where sexual activity can be had). Finding these places during the day will make it a lot easier to navigate after the sun goes down.
Have a Plan
The daily activity schedule for Nakedfest will be posted online. Take note of items that catch your eye. Some activities are held daily; others are conducted only one time each year. Entertainment options change every night, and there is something for everyone. Read the descriptions, since some classes/events may require registration in advance of the Gathering/Nakedfest. A good goal is to have at least one activity in mind for each day that you are there.
... But Be Flexible
Activity locations and times may change. It's a virtual guarantee that rain will disrupt the schedule, and other unexpected circumstances may arise. Be patient. Activities are planned and run by volunteers. If there's something that really piques your interest, make it a reality by volunteering this year or next.
Follow the Party
The largest parties bring the whole camp together. The salsa party and the bears' pool party are highlights. Every day features a social hour before dinner, and there are late-night soirees as well. Except for a few private gatherings, you don't need an invitation to join the festivities.
|Article author Paul Blascovich (left) with Steve Herforth (right) at a Birthday Suit Social Hour event at Paul's first Gathering.|
... Or Go Your Own Way
Take advantage of the two heated pools and fitness center. Grab a paddle and life jacket and jump into a kayak. Bring your balls and head to the courts for volleyball, basketball, or tennis. Lounge on a pool float, or hang out on your cabin porch. You can choose to do everything or nothing at all.
Thursday morning ziplining is a thrill you won't want to miss! (Be sure to pack a shirt, shorts/pants, and closed-toe shoes.) Maybe you're too nervous to play naked Twister or participate in lube wrestling? Take a deep breath, finish that drink in your hand, and have some fun. See a cute guy you want to meet? Go say "Hi!" If 2020 taught us anything, it is to seize the opportunities that are in front of us today.
Put hundreds of gay naked men together on a campground, and sex is inevitable. With that said, sex is not the purpose of GNI. If it's not your thing, you're not alone. Nudity is not an open invitation, and sex is not welcome in most public areas. Read and respect the camp rules about where sex is permissible (if you have any questions, ask!), and talk to your roommates about what is accepted in your cabin.
And Lastly...Enjoy Yourself!
Everyone is nervous at their first GNI Gathering/Nakedfest event. Take advantage of the chance to socialize and unwind in the buff. You might meet guys who are just like you, or you might find a special appreciation for the things that make you unique. Be yourself, and you'll have a wonderful time!