Strip Down and Be Counted: Wreck Beach Skinny Dip 2012

The annual Wreck Beach Skinny Dip was held this year on Saturday, August 4. The Wreck Beach Preservation Society (WBPS) really picked a great day this for it (after a bit of a false start July 21, a Saturday which began quite cloudy). The air was warm, the sand was hot, the sun was bright, and the water was…well, the water was cold. As usual.

Besides being a little more crowded, the Skinny Dip is, for the most part, just another beautiful day at the beach. TC and I ate Skittles and apples, drank plenty of water, and I started in on a paperback of Kevin Wilson’s excellent but problematic novel, The Family Fang (many people compare this story to the Wes Anderson film, The Royal Tenenbaums, but I disagree with the comparison because the Tenenbaums love each other, and I am not sure that the Fang parents love their children, at least not beyond what their kids can do for their artistic careers. But my opinion on that is maybe for another time).

The only real difference between the Skinny Dip day and any other Wreck Beach day for me is, of course, the part where I go swimming totally in the buff with a lot of people. This year, I was one of 595 people posing for a big (nude) group photo and being counted by a notary public. According to the WBPS, a donor named Roger Proctor, CEO of Genex Capital, agreed to donate $5 to the Society for every registered naked bather in the water (we had to sign up beforehand to be part of the official “Dip” in order to be counted).

I guess participating in the Skinny Dip is a way to financially support the WBPS (through their donor), but for me, it’s a way to support Wreck Beach and everything I love about it by participating in some “naturist” swimming. I don’t mind sharing the beach with “textiles” (i.e. clothed people), or anyone who is being respectful, but that said, I do think respect is a key part of enjoying Wreck Beach and ensuring everyone else enjoys it too:

  • Respect for the environment: Wreck Beach does not have any garbage receptacles. This is not because you are supposed to throw your garbage in the bushes or into the sand. This is because you are supposed to take all of your garbage away from the beach with you. If everyone takes responsibility for their own garbage, no one will need to take responsibility for everyone’s.
  • Respect for privacy. Obviously, at a clothing-optional beach, taking photographs (except with permission of the subject) is not okay.
  • Respect for personal space and comfort. Visiting a clothing-optional beach is not an invitation to be hit on, gawked at, photographed, ridiculed or in any other way sexualized or objectified. Like any other beach, people go to Wreck to swim and sunbathe, not to pose for Playboy or be harassed.
  • Respect for each other. This one is pretty obvious. Be polite, share the space, don’t mess with things belonging to other people, and look out for each other. The “regulars” at Wreck Beach are always happy to come to your aid if you feel unsafe or harassed in any way.

Generally speaking, most people at Wreck stick to the principles outlined above, which is one of the many reasons this famous naturist beach has remained so beautiful, unique, and inviting. It’s one of Vancouver’s hidden gems and I hope it never changes.

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