The Plunge

Nancy and George Volak are the former owners of Rock Haven Lodge

George and I were living in the Florida Keys when he "informed" me that he was a nudist. This was a fact that he had not shared with me until then because he did not know how I would react. I gave him a look that told him this was not something I was at all interested in and he dropped the subject. About a month later he brought it up again and explained to me how much he enjoyed social nudism, what it was all about, and that he would miss visiting nudist parks ever again. I wouldn’t even discuss the subject with him. In my family when I was a child, if the house had caught on fire I believe we would have gotten fully dressed before running outside to safety.

Another month went by and friends visiting from Canada left their Volkswagen van with us for safekeeping while they flew over to the Bahamas. On a Sunday afternoon George suggested it would be fun driving up towards Miami in the van since it was the same type of van I used to drive in the ‘60’s. Off we went and before we knew it we ended up in Loxahatchee at the gates of Sunsport Gardens. (Surprise, surprise!) The gates startled me but George explained that it was to protect the people outside so that they did not inadvertently see nude people if they did not wish to. He talked to someone on an intercom and the gate was opened for us.

Well as luck would have it Sunsport was hosting an All Florida Days weekend, and the volleyball courts just inside the gate were being actively used in tournaments. The spectators were everywhere. When I saw all those people jumping up and down, WITH NO CLOTHES ON, I fainted dead away! Yes, that’s right, I fainted.

When I came to I told George that he’d better take me home right away since this nudism thing apparently was NOT for me. In a panic that his "plan" was not working as he’d expected, he stretched the truth a bit and told me we had to drive through the entire park since all of the roads were one way. I know now why he did this. When we drove around, the natural beauty of the grounds had a calming effect on me. Someone had two beautiful tropical birds, there were flowers everywhere, and the sun was brightly shining. George said, "See? Isn’t this a great place?"

"Yes" I said, "but I still want to go home."

"Okay" he said, "do me one more favor and I will never ask you to try nudism again. Just take off your clothes and put them beside you and see if you don’t feel wonderful."

So I did.

"There now" he said, "Don’t you feel free and exhilarated?"

"No," I said, "I feel like I am sitting in a Volkswagen van stark naked!"

Again he saw his plan was not working so he did the only thing he could think of at the time that might persuade me to try nudism. He PUSHED me OUT OF THE VAN and LOCKED the DOOR! I looked in the window and gave him my "you will soon die" look, but he was laughing so hard he didn’t notice. Not wanting to share my predicament with the entire place I casually walked over to the pool and plunged in. That felt exhilarating! I had never skinny-dipped in my life and the feel of the water rushing past my body was great. While in the pool George joined me and gave me what I call one of his ‘Dr. Joyce Brothers’ moments. He told me how great it was that I was trying this and how much it would strengthen our commitment to each other, and how thankful he was that I trusted him enough to try this. In a very few words George knew that I was not having a ‘Dr. Joyce Brothers’ moment so he left me alone to "cool off."

Well I stayed in that pool for FIVE HOURS. Yes, five hours. But—and this is a BIG but, while I was in the pool I found out what social nudism was all about. The people were great. Friendly folks chatted with me, some figuring out this was my first time and sharing their stories, while others thought I was a regular visitor and talked with me like an old friend. When I tried to put it into words it dawned on me that I felt like I was back at Grandma’s for Sunday afternoon dinner with all my aunts, uncles and cousins with that wonderful feeling that "I’m okay, you’re okay, and the whole world is okay!" I thank George to this day for hanging in there and "convincing" me to give social nudism a try. I can honestly say it has changed my life for the better! In fact I quit my job as a vice president of the largest bank in Florida, George sold his construction company, and we bought Rock Haven Lodge in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, which we still own and manage today.

Thank heaven I took the plunge!

After the Plunge

Author’s Note: According to the AANR office, the response to my article in the May Bulletin has been so overwhelming that they have asked me to write a follow-up. This, plus the personal responses I have enjoyed from visitors to Rock Haven and members who have visited other nudist resorts, has been quite gratifying to me. Because of the article, we have had visitors from as far away as Colorado, Indiana, Illinois Arizona and Florida, who stopped by to see what had been going on in my life "after the plunge." This experience has certainly proved that nudists do indeed read the Bulletin, and take great interest in what others have to say about our lifestyle.

Well, life does go on after the plunge, and in fact gets better and better.

After my two initial visits, we started going to Sunsport Gardens every other week, and even bought a travel trailer. It was great fun.

We also became members at Sunny Palms, and that was the beginning of yet another chapter in our lives. While there, the owner, Reed Suplee, found it necessary to dismiss his manager, and he asked George and me if we would run the place until he could find a replacement. What an intriguing idea, we thought.

I was a vice president with Barnett Bank at the time, and George owned a construction company in the Florida Keys. He had just finished his most recent commercial project, and had the time to stay at Sunny Palms all week. We moved there with our travel trailer and jumped in with both feet.

Our first step was to call Jim Hadley (the legendary developer and owner of Cypress Cove) and ask for his help. He came through, as he had done for so many others, and with his advise we were doing quite well…so well in fact, that we made an offer to buy the place.

While we thought the deal was going through, the owner accepted a deal from Dupont to sell the property for a paint-testing lab! Can you imagine? All that beautiful property was going to be a paint-testing lab. We were heartbroken that our dream would not be coming true.

The day after we got the bad news about Sunny Palms, a friend of ours from Indiana pulled into the camp and advised us that there was a nudist camp for sale in Tennessee. We were not sure exactly where Murfreesboro, Tennessee was, but the next day we drove there to see Rock Haven. And, we bought it that night.

It was a Friday night at 9:00 PM and we could hardly see a thing, but we bought it anyway. On the way back to Florida, George told me that we were probably out of our minds to buy the place so quickly, but I just knew it was the right thing to do. When we got back to Florida, I gave my notice to the bank, we gave away a ton of stuff, and a month later packed our things in a rental truck, put the dog into the car, and off we drove! When we stopped that night at a hotel, I asked George, over dinner, what he knew about Tennessee. Well, the only thing he knew was that Elvis Presley, George’s favorite person (next to General George Patton), lived in Tennessee. In fact, we had been to Elvis’s house in Memphis. I told him that I hoped Murfreesboro was a nice town and that we wouldn’t have to drive too far to get supplies.

March 15, 1984 was our first official day as owners of Rock Haven. We met many members and told them of the different things we had planned for the camp. Looking back, it seems like only yesterday. I can’t believe it has been more than 15 years.

Since then, we have added decks onto the pool, installed a hot tub, redid the tennis court, added two new sand volleyball courts, built two petanque courts and an outdoor snack bar with dart board area, relocated the parking lot and done substantial landscaping. The showers were redone, and next spring we are constructing an entirely new bathhouse. We have upgraded our rentals and are quite proud of them. Monday morning email is filled with compliments from folks who have stayed in the rental units and wanted to tell us of how much they enjoyed their stay. We even have a miniature remote controlled raceway! You have to see it to believe it.

The best part of life after the plunge are all the wonderful people I have met. The Rock Haven members are my dearest friends and second family. They have been so wonderful to George and me, and have done some really fabulous things for us. Like one weekend the members took over the running of the club so I could be "Queen for a Day". On another occasion, they re-enacted World War II, complete with General George Patton, for George’s 50th birthday. Every spring, the members organize a "cleanup weekend," in which they rake, paint, clean, build and help to get the club ready to open, all on a volunteer basis.

Rock Haven had turned out to be something of which George and I are very proud. We have seen it evolve from what it used to be to a charming getaway for all the thousands of people who have graced our gates. And Murfreeboro is without a doubt one of the best places in the world to live.

I shudder to think how different my life might have been if I had never taken the plunge. Thank God that I did. And thank George for his patience and perseverance, and for never giving up in convincing me to take that plunge. And thank you, the visiting nudists who have shared our growth with us and have made Rock Haven what it is today.