In my previous article I explained how volunteers have helped shape our off-grid, clothing optional eco campsite in Montenegro. I also wanted to thank everyone who had ever been a volunteer at Camp Full Monte. In this post I’d like try to persuade other naturist venues that they would benefit from offering volunteer roles in their operation.
The practical advantages are self-evident. Volunteers are a great source of extra help to businesses with limited budgets. I’ll talk more about the costs and the process of identifying and recruiting volunteers later. It’s the wider benefits that I’d like to focus on.
But first here’s a few more volunteer pictures from our archives.
It’s my belief that hosting volunteers opens another door to the promotion of nude recreation in wider society. A door that is bigger than you might first think.
In our experience, many volunteers are young, enthusiastic, open minded and ready to to challenge their attitudes and preconceptions. They’re eager for new experiences and are often socially influential within their age and peer groups.
Many volunteers are travelling, moving from host to host, meeting other like-minded people along the way. Volunteers rely heavily on the internet and develop a good number of virtual friends on social media platforms. Their sphere of influence is considerable.
They are all extraordinary individuals in one way or another but beyond the occasional skinny dip, most volunteers don’t have much experience of non-sexual public nudity. If their experience of being hosted in a clothes free environment is a positive one, then it’s likely they will share their story via their networks. More to the point, for those of us working to promote clothes free leisure, these networks are difficult to access.
Getting the right balance.
Although many of our volunteers are young travelers we get applications from individuals, couples, small groups of friends and even families of all ages, genders and nationalities.
This gallery highlights the diversity of volunteers that we have hosted at Camp Full Monte over the years.
Achieving a good age, gender and nationality balance at a small resort like ours can have a positive impact on the guest experience. Whilst not essential, it helps create a better atmosphere and sense of community on site. Of course, we have little control over who chooses to visit us and when. If we have space, then no guest is turned away but strategic use of volunteers can play an important role in ensuring the overall balance of people on site improves the guest experience. It’s always best to match volunteer skills to the areas where help is most needed but most volunteers have flexible availability dates. So, volunteers can not only help you with projects and day to day tasks but you can time those projects and tasks according to the overall visitor balance you would like to achieve.
Creating a customer focused team
As I said in my previous article, running our venue can sometimes feel like the “Steve & Den” show. We work tirelessly to engage with our guests and ensure they enjoy our facility and also the wider Montenegro. Understandably, we get the same questions. What made you come to Montenegro? What were you doing before this? How did you find this place? We try our best to make the answers seem fresh every time but it’s not easy. Having extra hands around to field these questions in their own words keeps it fresh. Many are keen to engage with both long time naturist guests and newcomers alike adding their own perspective on clothes free recreation and listening to that of others. They are also in a position to directly and indirectly illicit feedback from guests.
A few pictures to demonstrate how our volunteers have added to the guest experience.
A clothing optional approach helps
We have no way of quantifying this other than anecdotally, but in our view, a clothes optional policy vs. compulsory nudity for volunteers is key. Some volunteers arrive and will quite literally say out loud “OK let’s do this” and are keen to experience being clothes free. Most will wait (but often not long) before taking their first naked morning walk to the shower block or breakfast table. Some volunteers feel the need to dress before starting their first day of work. I’ve long since got used to doing all kinds of work without clothes but for some putting on working clothes is part of the volunteer ritual. However, during breaks or at the end of the working day they’re more than ready to get out of those clothes.
Not all our volunteers will adopt our clothes-free lifestyle. Some choose to remain clothed for their entire stay, some wear less than ‘usual’, some go topless or bottomless. In our opinion – it’s their right to choose. Our policy is clear, volunteers and guests can choose to wear as much or as little as they want, provided they don’t make those around them feel uncomfortable if their choice is different from their own.
The result is that volunteers continue their travels with a positive view of social nudity.
Here’s a few more pictures from our archives that show the extent to which our volunteers have immersed themselves in a clothing optional environment, often for the first time.
Every little helps
In summary, volunteers are more than an extra pair of hands for your business. They can positively impact the guest experience and recount their experience of clothes free living long after they’ve moved on.
How it works
So how do we attract volunteers? In addition to the volunteer page on our website, we list ourselves as potential hosts on three main websites: helpx.net workaway.info and wwoofinternational.org They all operate a similar approach but the latter is more specific to volunteering on organic farms. We tenuously fit in that description because of our organic gardens and eco approach.
The principle is simple. You register as a host (for free) and create a profile that describes your volunteer needs. Volunteers pay a small annual subscription (so there is some commitment already) to access this list of potential hosts. Volunteers will then contact hosts offering their services and availability. In return the host promises to provide a free bed and full-board during their stay. This is the extent of the costs incurred by the host. All communication can be done via the website or by e-mail. Hosts and volunteers can leave feedback enabling both to do some research before making a commitment.
As mentioned earlier, volunteers are generally looking for new, different and challenging experiences. Living and working in a clothes free environment is therefore appealing. If our experience is anything to go by you will not be short of applications. We have to decline far more applications than we accept.
Where’s the catch?
It would be a lie to say that all of our experiences with volunteers have met our respective expectations. During the seven years of hosting volunteers I could still list the not-so-great experiences on one hand. In all those examples we must take at least equal responsibility, if not more, for not reading the warning signs.
In my next post I’ll give our top tips for maximising the chance of a win-win outcome for you and your volunteers.
For now, I hope I have encouraged venues and organisations who promote clothes free living to consider engaging volunteers. In our experience they have a positive impact on our business. Most important of all, they can help present acceptance of non-sexual social nudity in a positive light to a wider audience.
Please feel free to post comments and questions.