Years and counting!
The Oakwood Club, located a short drive north of St. Paul, Minnesota, marked its 75th birthday in 2017! Established in 1942 as the Gopher State Sun Club, Oakwood is one of the oldest landed nudist clubs in America. Jim Cossins, one of the founders of the American Sunbathing Association, the forerunner of the American Association of Nude Recreation (AANR), was one of the original founders of the Oakwood Club and its first president. What started as a group of five like-minded families who gathered on an island in the Mississippi River southeast of St. Paul to socialize and soak up the sun has grown into 150+ members!
Its peaceful, wooded setting on the edge of a state park and its convenient location to the Twin Cities means members tend to return year after year – Sam and Karol J, who joined in 1976, recently retired permanently to Florida where they’ve made a permanent home at one of the state’s many local nudist resorts. Karol recalls everyone’s “friendliness and willingness to help in times of need.” Besides the natural beauty of the grounds, members love Minnesota’s premier nudist club for the many amenities it offers. A large clubhouse with a central dining area, commercial grade kitchen, lounge with a large screen TV, movies and books, well-stocked game room including billiards, ping pong, foosball and darts; pool and partially covered deck; a wood and an electric sauna; two bath houses with indoor and outdoor showers; badminton, Petanque and sand volleyball courts; horseshoes, archery and shuffleboard lanes; and biking/walking trails through the woods, mean there is something for everyone!
Central lots as well as more secluded sites offer options for the social butterfly or for quiet contemplation. Camp-wide free WiFi lets you stay connected – although you may not want to! “The moment I pass through the gate I feel as if the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders,” says Randy K. “It is definitely my happy place. Euphoria is the best way to describe it!” There also are visitor sites with hook-ups, tent camping sites and two trailers available for rent. The past few summers a young family from Canada who don’t have nudist opportunities near them have temporarily joined the Oakwood family, and the club welcomes visitors from all over the U.S. as well.
The Oakwood Club is more like the Oakwood family – and in fact, several families belong. “When Kelly & I first came to Oakwood we weren’t sure what to expect,” said John S, who joined in 2015. “We were met with an abundance of kind, helpful, happy people. We immediately felt like part of the family.” And their family soon followed. “Originally we planned for the club to be our escape from children. Then we realized if we were going to spend as much time as we wanted at camp, we needed to consider bringing the kids. We were a little concerned about bringing them but just as quickly as we were welcomed into the Oakwood family, so were our kids.” Now several families with children have formed the Acorn Club, with weekly activities for the kiddos!
The Oakwood Club expanded in the early years such that in 1961 a group of members established a second landed club called Avatan just twenty miles west, north of Minneapolis. Like Saint Paul and Minneapolis, today the two clubs maintain a friendly rivalry while welcoming each other’s members at the many activities both offer throughout the summer. The clubs both participate in weekly volleyball practices, which also includes teams from a couple of non-landed Twin Cities nudist clubs. Several tournaments are scheduled throughout the season. The hotly contested championship match always draws a large crowd and concludes with a potluck barbeque and other activities.
Even if you’re not the athletic type, social activities abound! Individual members often host events and communal meals like continental breakfasts, wine and cheese parties, barbeques, themed group events and potlucks are often accompanied by live music, dancing, karaoke, body painting contests, and more. Oakwood Days in July and the Halloween costume party in September are always big hits and friendly groups often form around one campfire or another. “I don’t play volleyball but I came a couple of times to cheer on some friends from a naturist group I belong to,” said Andi A, one of the newer members. “Everyone was so welcoming that I immediately felt comfortable, and the idea of having a place I could feel the sun on my skin 24/7 was irresistible, so I decided to join.” If you’re looking for a relaxed change of pace in the Minnesota north woods, without having to travel too far north, visit our Oakwood family as we celebrate all summer long! We’re 79 years young and counting, so let’s live it up!