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“Excellent...if you are photo friendly”

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Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park
Cleveland, Ohio
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Excellent...if you are photo friendly”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 10, 2013

Who's writing this review?: I am a single 45 year-old male who wasn't looking for a date, and who didn't experience more than 1 or 2 negative, "are you one of those creepy guys?"-type looks...and even it/those were fairly subtle; I think and hope that she/they (for what may be excellent reasons) were simply not yet entirely comfortable encountering adult males walking alone. I am strongly introverted, and I made strides and progress towards involving myself in the activities around me; a few of the guest were very helpful to me in this endeavor (Thank you!). Despite my lack of experience with naturism, I didn't expect to have much trouble with the transition, and I was comfortable as I undressed at the campsite. The most relevant point for this review, I suppose, is that I have a strong aversion to being photographed...even in the textile/clothed world. I think the reasons are immaterial, since the Bare Oaks Member and Visitor Agreement states that "You may only take pictures/video of people who have consented..."; my reasons can remain my own business. This was my first attempt at a real vacation in the past 10 years, and I decided to abandon it 2 days early for reasons which have nothing to do with naturism or the quality of the park.

First off, I agree with all of the positive reviews that precede mine, and I find the review entitled “Not worth the trip or trouble.” to be different from my experience. It is a clean, well-maintained, friendly place with fantastic guests and pseudo-residents. For the most part, the staff is very friendly, helpful, and efficient. Food service has somewhat limited hours (luckily with extended hours during part of my stay) and a very limited dinner menu, but the food was quite tasty and the prices were reasonable; I think you'd be silly to skip out on breakfast at their restaurant when it's available. One guest even mentioned to me that they were willing they were to accommodate his gluten-free needs. When needed, you can drive about 20 minutes to find a respectable variety of alternative restaurants with more flexible hours. While some might find naked yoga a conceptually challenging first activity; I found it to be outstanding for internalizing the awareness that you really are free from needing to "cover up"; the class was run very well and you were encouraged to participate only to the level that your body was able...my body was a bit less able than others and that was a complete non-issue. There was hot water and soap dispensers at the showers, a 24-hour sauna, and a pool; the pool was closed for a day or two during my stay, but I do expect that it was an anomaly and that they will have it working with very little inconvenience to the guests. There was also a pond available which people seemed to be enjoying just fine. I saw people from (guessing here) ages 3 to 80...all shapes and sizes, and nobody seemed to care about which age, shape, or size you were. Most guest were Caucasian, and it was good to see that the 3 or 4 who didn't fit that description appeared as welcome and comfortable as everyone else. I would say that having everyone nude was actually less sexually charged than a visit to the mall (and, no...I'm not saying that the mall is more sexually charged than most other places); this was a very positive thing. I'd suggest that you disrobe ASAP when around naturists so that you can start seeing yourself and others more as one species, and less as members of the contrived groups that we sometimes use to separate ourselves.

Hopefully I've given you the sense that it's a nice place with amazing people...it is. There were a couple of minor annoyances, but none really worth whining about, especially given the length of the review. I would have rated them "excellent", and I would have stayed 6 days instead of 4, except for the photography issue, which gave me the impulse to rate them "terrible" (I split the difference). If photography does not bother you, and an establishment not following their own rules does not concern you, then I would skip this part and just go visit when you can.

On Wednesday, the day before the FCN Festival, there was a bus trip to Hanlan's Beach which, of course, permitted us to be free of bathing suites. Before we got on the bus, people were given a blue wristband if they were agreeable to being photographed, and no wristband if they were not. I thought this was a pretty good idea and chose to be without the blue wristband. My understanding of the rules of the beach, as I overheard being discussed between the Bare Oaks employee who became the photographer and the owner of the club, was that Hanlan's Beach no longer permitted photography, but that Bare Oaks was able to be granted an exception to that rule. Not comforting, but why would they bother with the bands if they weren't going to respect them...ok, I'll go. After a very long wait in the bus on the pier, we went to the beach and people did whatever they had come to do. There was a photographer there with an expensive set-up who, as far as I could tell, was good about photographing the large number of people who wanted to be photographed and nobody else. There were also a few of the unofficial folks from the bus who whipped out cameras...and they seemed to be fairly careful as well (a little disturbing for me to have them around, but that's more about me as long as they are respecting my privacy). Then there's this Bare Oaks employee who would frequently pick up the camera and, in my carefully observing opinion, not worry about the backgrounds of his shots. I saw him take a close-up photo of a gentleman who appeared to be sleeping, and I am certain that he had no blue band. The subject of that photo then sat up and seemed amused by the whole thing; maybe they had an understanding of some sort; but he had no band, I had no band, there were a few other pictures taken right after that where I would only not have been in the picture if he were using a macro lens...and he obviously was not. Disturbed by this, I approached the owner of Bare Oaks for clarification and, hopefully, action. When I asked him how this fit with his photography policy on the Bare Oaks website (which is also on the Member and Visitor Agreement that we must read and sign when registering), he first denied that there was a photography policy, switched to basically paraphrasing it, said with what seemed to be an amused dismissiveness that this wasn't a Bare Oaks event anyway, and that those rules didn't apply because this was an FCN event. As I stood there a little dumbfounded that he had offered no concern or suggestion for the actions of what seemed to be the BARE OAKS PHOTOGRAPHER, he gave an "I'll placate you" wave to the photographer and asked him if I was in any of the pictures. The photographer, teaming with an arrogance that seemed to follow him throughout my stay at Bare Oaks, said that he came up with the blue band procedure and that nobody without a blue band got photographed. Even if he meant that only the blue-banded would be the main subject of a given photo, the sleeping guy alone invalidates his statement. Also, the FCN festival didn't start until the next day, and the GTA Skinnydippers appear on the Bare Oaks website as organizers of the outing. The GTA Skinnydippers have the same photograph-only-with-consent rule. So, I meandered around uncomfortably until it was time to leave. Two days later, ironically during an event called "Why do we keep our naturist beliefs and activities a secret?", I'm sitting in the basement of the Bare Oaks Clubhouse, enjoying the discussion...when...FLASH! There's another guy who is obviously heavily involved with operations at the park; admittedly, it is unclear to me whether he was an official of Bare Oaks or of FCN, but my strong impression is that he was from Bare Oaks and co-presenting later that day on "Nudity and the Law". I asked him if I was in the picture. Without looking at the picture (just as at the beach), he went straight to the blue-band answer, saying that if you don't have a blue band, you don't get your picture taken. This is positively absurd in this situation. There was a room of approximately 25-30 people sitting in chairs, most of whom had their hands near their laps. I was only able to see the wrists of about 6 people around me, and only 3 of them had blue bands. I heard another guest ask if he was in the picture, apparently with some concern about it. I decided that there was no point in approaching the owner again, I now understood that he was not concerned and that he would probably pin it on the FCN again (this one actually was an FNC event, but it was on Bare Oaks property...do the rules not apply here either?).

Although I was now irrevocably distracted by the unexpected flash, I had planned to go to another event. Feeling that I wouldn't be able to relax, I instead went off-site to lunch and thought about my options. I realized that I no longer trusted Bare Oaks to respect my privacy or to follow the rules that they make us (rightfully) read and sign at registration. Friedrich Nietzsche said "I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you." Admittedly, I am currently upset about the action and the result. They seemed to follow all of the other rules, but when will those become meaningless? As what is almost an aside...why do they need all of these pictures anyway?

Unfortunately, I do not expect to return to Bare Oaks unless I hear that it is under new management. I had been listening to the Naturist Living Show, and I agreed with probably at least 90% of what was SAID, but I don't think I'll be able to hear the voice without associating the dismissive behavior and apparently disingenuous statements.

As I don't want to misrepresent Bare Oaks, I'll copy the photography policy here. I didn't notice until after the first problem that their response for inappropriately taken photos is meaningless when they are the offenders, since we are subject to "(their) sole discretion".

"Naturists, in general, are sensitive to having their image exploited. Objectification and exploitation of the human body go directly against naturist principles; therefore, the use of photographic equipment (or any other image recording device) is extremely limited. You may only take pictures/video of people who have consented (or whose guardian has consented in the case of children under 18) and then only if there is no chance that someone will misunderstand your intent. Anyone surreptitiously recording images or videos will have their equipment confiscated. If you choose to take photos/videos, you agree to turn over all your image recordings to Bare Oaks management upon request so that we may review them. Furthermore, you agree that Bare Oaks management has the right to decide, at its sole discretion, to permanently confiscate any image recordings that it believes violates any of the above."

Room Tip: I stayed in a tent. Glen Echo Field was very good.
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled solo
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Helpful?
16 Thank John C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BareOaks, Owner at Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park, responded to this review, August 18, 2013
I am very sorry to hear that photography made your stay unpleasant. I do recall our discussion at Hanlan's Point regarding photography but my perception is different than yours. You first asked me about photography being forbidden. I said that we have no policy against photography. I then elaborated that photography at Bare Oaks is allowed under certain conditions. I paraphrased it because I do not have it committed to memory. But for anyone interested, you can find it here: http://www.bareoaks.ca/index.php/about-bare-oaks-family-naturist-park/policies-regulations.html#photo

What you describe as dismissive was my explanation that (1) we were on a public beach where I have no control, (2) the event was organized by the Federation of Canadian Naturists (FCN) and not Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park, and (3) that I was only there with my wife and children as an attendee. I then called over one of the photographers who also happened to be an organizer so that you could discuss your issue with someone who actually was in authority. If that seemed dismissive, I apologize because it was certainly not my intention.

With regards to photography at Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park during the FCN's Naturist Festival, it was actually far more restricted than usual. There were only a couple of official photographers authorized by the FCN and people who registered with the FCN for the festival were specifically identified with blue bands if they were willing to be in photographs. But I do know that the photographers don't usually worry about taking photos of groups where you can't see faces because people can't be identified or where the people in the background will not be clearly visible or recognizable. They take the issue of privacy very seriously because we are all aware that this is a sensitive topic to many.

It is important to make the distinction between the FCN and Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park. The FCN is a completely independent, non-profit association that is the umbrella organization for naturism in Canada. Although I was on the board of directors and president for many years, I no longer have any role in the management or operation. The FCN's festival has been held at Bare Oaks several times but also in other locations. (La Pommerie near Montreal last year) The fact that several Bare Oaks members (and a few staff members) volunteer for the FCN (some sit on the board of directors) does not in any way diminish their independence. This work is done by them on a voluntary basis during their leisure time for the benefit of the movement.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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45 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (13)
Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Montreal, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 6, 2013

In 2004, my Fiancee and I had arrived very early during a road trip through Ontario and Quebec. We had seen signs for the park, and since we were a day ahead of schedule, we decided to visit and spend a night camping.

Since we were new to the park and to the naturalist philosophy, we made sure to understand all the rules and be very respectful. In turn, we were treated the same. We found everyone was very friendly, and that it was an easy transition. Great people, and a great park. It was under different management at the time and I am happy to see that it is operating again and a naturalist park.

Respect the rules, respect others, respect one's self and it is a wonderful campground. We had no issues whatsoever,
In fact, with other parks we had went too, there would often be a loud group (or several) that disturbed everyone else, Further, with other parks there would also be the occasional younger crowd that were not there to enjoy nature, but to be partying all night and all day.

I do not know if it is the naturalist philosophy that provided a more mature group of people, or if it was the park itself along with its regular visitors, but this was the most relaxing time we had on the entire road trip.

I look forward to visiting again, and if the new management maintained or improved their policies and visitors and made improvements or just maintained the park, I would reecommend this to any mature individual, couple, group or family.

As it being the first time we had visited the park, the only difficulty we had was taking the first step out of our tent. Once out, we found a spot in the sun and spent some much needed R&R reading, talking and meeting other people.

Make sure to read and respect the rules and to always be respectful of others and most importantly, respectful of your self.

Excellent Ratings. The park itself was well maintained and very clean.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
11 Thank Jack F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gatineau, Quebec, Canada
Level Contributor
11 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 4, 2013

Beautiful, peaceful, relaxing, wonderful.... Just a few of the words I could use to describe Bare Oaks. I don't even know where to begin... I guess I'll start with

The Room:
Very nice, very clean. It had a nice, cozy atmosphere and just felt comfy. It was a bit small, perhaps, but I wasn't there for the room, anyway.

The people:
Very, very friendly. Every staff member I spoke to was great. Very warm and genuine people.

The environment:
Bare Oaks is a lovely location. It was a bit cool when I was there, but not uncomfortable. It is a beautiful location and well-maintained.

Being nude:
Probably what most people are nervous/ concerned about, with no reason. You don't need a perfect body-- I sure don't have one. Nobody cares what you look like. They care about who you are inside, not outside. I grew up very self-conscious and never would have imagined that I'd spend time naked with strangers, but it was the most comfortable and relaxed I have felt in a very long time. I have had other naturist experiences (La Pommerie, Oka Beach), but this was so much better. It is very family-friendly. In fact, on my next visit, I expect my wife and kids will be with me.

If I have any complaint at all, it is that it is so far away. It's several hours from where I live. If I lived closer, I'd be there all the time. I envy the people who have trailers there. I'd spend the entire season there if I could.

All-in-all, I think Bare Oaks is a wonderful place. I think everyone who has ever considered trying naturism should just go ahead and do it. I can't really explain how much good it does you. It is something that has to be experienced to be understood.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled solo
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Helpful?
9 Thank Craig W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Barrie, Canada
Level Contributor
10 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 22, 2013

My family discovered Bare Oaks last Fall and gave it a shot. While it was a bit cold to get the full experience,we had a really nice time that brought us back this Spring. My wife and I definitely had many talks about what Naturism was all about. There were a lot of concerns, especially since we were discussing bringing our children. There were concerns over people we didn't know being around our kids naked. Heck there were even issues around us seeing other adults naked and how that would affect us. Was this place actually like the website says or was that all just a smokescreen for what most people assume goes on at a Naturist Park?

What I can say after having had the whole family there is that it's one of the most positive and comfortable places I've been. My wife described it as years of therapy packed into one afternoon. What I found most relaxing about it was that in our daily lives, we are under constant bombardment with sexualization . Everything seems to be about sex and it pervades all aspects of our lives. Being at Bare Oaks gave me a break from that. I didn't realize how exhausting all that constant sexualization was until it was gone.

As advertised, the Bare Oaks philosophy of Ethical Naturism really does amazingly positive things for how we view other people and probably even better yet, how we view and accept ourselves.

During our visit, everyone was extremely friendly and we had an amazing time. My son met a whole bunch of kids around his age and they played in the pool for hours. While I thought the pool was a really nice time, I appreciated having a hot tub and a couple saunas to use after I got out of the pool. Honestly I don't even think I could remember all the fun things we did at Bare Oaks because our day was so full.

I think what it really comes down to is that there are a lot of places you can go to do all the fun activities that Bare Oaks has, but what sets the park apart is how relaxing it is being there and even more important how great you feel at the end of the day.

We're all looking forward to a few more visits this summer.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
7 Thank Blake C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hamilton
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 1, 2012

This was our first experience at Bare Oaks and I have to say that I felt safe with my children and the environment was friendly and comfortable. In speaking with members of this establishment, people seemed very pleased with the continued growth of the park.

Looking forward to our return next summer!

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
10 Thank Janice P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Barrie, Canada
Level Contributor
40 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 4, 2012

This was our first visit to Bare Oaks and our first experience with Naturism other than on our own in private. We are a Gay Male couple from Barrie, ON in our 30's and Bare Oaks is about a 50 minute drive for us. We did tonnes of reading on Bare Oaks website before deciding to try it out. I won't lie, nerves were a little high as we turned in the driveway but they seem to subside quickly as you start to see people walking around nude. We decided to take our clothes off at the car before we went to the office to register and I recommend doing so, everyone including the person behind the counter in the clubhouse was nude so if you went in clothed you would likely feel more out of place than being nude. We got registered by a very friendly lady, watched the 10 minute compulsory video on the park history and video tour and we were off to explore the park on our own. It only took a few minutes of walking around before we came across a group of people playing a game called "Pétanque," as we walked by one of the members shouted "Welcome To Bare Oaks!" We walked around the whole park and back to the clubhouse area and grabbed a couple of chairs in the very large yard to soak up some sun for a while. There was a beach volleyball game on the go, the pool was busy, people sitting on the patio of the "Bare Bistro," Lots of people around but nobody looks or stares at you, nobody cares what you look like, nobody invades your space, you can be as "private" or as social as you want to be. It didn't take long to run into another gay couple in the pool, and we noticed what we suspected to be quite a few gay couples throughout the day so it was nice to know we weren't the only ones. After sunning for a while we used the pool, the hot tub, had a bite to eat at the Bare Bistro, went for another walk around the park and repeated that a few times through the day and headed home around 6PM. All in all it was a great first visit and we can't wait to go back. If you are on the fence about visiting a Naturist Park I would highly suggest Bare Oaks for your first time. Everyone was friendly, nobody cares what you look like, free your body, free your mind!

P.S.

Listen to the Naturist Living Show which is available on iTunes among other places for free, it is hosted by the owner of Bare Oaks and is packed full of great information about the park and Naturism in general!

Room Tip: Besides camping there are rooms for rent at the clubhouse for under $100/night and a large park mode...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
8 Thank StevieOntario
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Milton, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 23, 2012

This was my first time experience to naturism and first visit to Bare Oaks.
Very friendly attitude by all the staff member of Bare Oaks. A very goodthing we have observed (me and my wife), you are left alone to make your choice such as talking to a different group of people, it is up you to go ahead and start conversation or you can enjoy by yourself.
First time ever observed complete quietness particularly in the night time. Being vegetarian, Bistro prepared the required food.
Two suggestions: -
1. The treks in the forest, when the road is ending; there should be a sign right at the beginning to indicate that “No Exit”.
2. Reminded board in the beginning of the trek to use Mosquito repellant.

Room Tip: Room # 2 in fornt of wash room, in the night you may be disturbed.
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
3 Thank Vilas S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park

Property: Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park
Address: 20237 Kennedy Road | Sharon, East Gwillimbury, Ontario L0G 1V0, Canada
Location: Canada > Ontario > East Gwillimbury
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Specialty Lodging in East Gwillimbury
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park is a year-round naturist park near Toronto in Canada where the entire family can experience traditional naturist values in a modern setting. We are nestled among the natural wilderness of the Ontario Greenbelt and Oak Ridges Moraine. Our varied landscape includes open spaces, forests, ponds, streams and a small lake. We also have many recreational facilities. Our clubhouse provides year-round amenities including saunas and a whirlpool. Bare Oaks offers day-use memberships and seasonal campsites but also welcomes visitors and travellers.Some might use the terms nudist and nudism to describe us and what we do. But we prefer naturist and naturism because our creed is so much more than just taking your clothes off. It is a life philosophy with physical, psychological, environmental, social and moral benefits. We go beyond a mere recreational pursuit and promote ethical naturism. We endeavour to live a naturist life and nudity is key to body acceptance and an integral part of our naturist philosophy. As such, we are not clothing-optional. Clothing is worn only for protection. We give visitors a chance to adjust but everyone is expected make a decision as to whether they want to be naturists or not.Located between Toronto and the gateway to Ontario's cottage country, it is the perfect location to stay while visiting Toronto. A short drive south on Highway #404 gets you into Toronto in about 30 minutes. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park Hotel East Gwillimbury
Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park Canada/Ontario - East Gwillimbury

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