ERIE – You can play volleyball or attend Bible study at Blue Lake Resort, which bills itself as family friendly.
But the owners have one unbendable rule: You can’t wear clothes.
Founded in 1972, the nudist park is 3 miles southeast of Erie. Its slogan is, “Nudism: The shedding of our clothes, not our morals.”
“Unlike some parks, we are not clothing optional,” the resort says on its frequently asked questions page. “The nudity rule (which is pretty much all the time) goes for everyone in your party, mom, dad and all the kids. ... We are very proud of being a ‘family’ park, not a peep show.”
On a recent day, a woman at the park answered the phone when Sauk Valley Media called. She passed it to her husband, Jerry, who wouldn’t give his last name.
He said the group shies away from publicity. Once, a TV station wanted to do a story on the resort, but gave up on the idea when it realized its crew would have to go nude, he said.
The resort doesn’t promote itself locally anymore.
“We used to advertise in the local paper around here,” he said. “We put fliers out for events. All that happens in a case like that is you have an influx of people who are all single males.”
Blue Lake allows only a small number of single males and females – now, about three or four, Jerry said.
“If we didn’t do that,” he said, “we’d have 10,000 guys in the weekend, and everyone else would leave.”
The rules also state that married couples must visit the park together. And the camp bars photography of any kind.
Visitors can pull up a trailer or get a $25-a-night motel room at the resort.
The camp’s season runs from May to October. During some summer weekends, Jerry said, the resort attracts more than 100 people. Visitors typically come from a 150- to 200-mile radius.
According to Blue Lake, it’s not difficult to go nude.
“Nudity is like going into a pool of cool water. Just jump in!” its website says. “When you arrive, undress at your car, grab your towel and go. Within 30 minutes, you’ll be comfortable and at ease.”
The towel is not for wearing. It’s to sit on – to stop the spread of disease and germs.
Want to bring your children along? No problem.
“Your children are as safe here as they are in your home,” the group says on its site. “As for the child’s acceptance of being nude? Children adjust fairly quickly after getting undressed.”
The American Association for Nude Recreation maintains an online map of nudist camps. According to it, Blue Lake is the only camp in Illinois. There are three in Wisconsin and none in Iowa.
The Chicago area has two nudist clubs that have no property but meet at different places.
Marcia Smith, Erie’s village president, said her town has had no problems with the nearby camp.
“They’re very good,” she said. “They’ve been good neighbors.”
No clothing time
Activities at Blue Lake Resort include volleyball, horseshoes, disc golf, carpetball and shuffleboard. There's also a swimming pond, a playground, and picnic and camping spots.
Clothing is not allowed.
Go to www.bluelakeresort.org or call 309-659-9297 to learn more about the camp.