Have you wondered how it came about that in 1981 a club was formed by, and for, Single Naturists?
The answer is in, that then, it was much more difficult than now for a single person, especially without family connections to be accepted in naturism.
It was in this atmosphere that two single men brought up in naturism by their respective families were serving the Central Council for British Naturism in a voluntary capacity, in the now defunct position of Assistant Supporter Reps. They therefore received complaints from single persons (i.e. mainly men) that they were unable to join a naturist club, there often being a ban against single members. Thus the idea of a club for single naturists was born.
The summer edition of the CCBN journal British Naturism carried a letter by one of them headed 'Singles' Club' asking what support this idea would have, and inviting those interested to write to him. The response was not overwhelming, but enough to establish that the need was there.
At the first gathering in September 1981 a Steering Committee of three was chosen (two of these are still SOC members). A Draft Constitution was drawn up, the Club was to be called "SINGLES' OUTDOOR CLUB" A General Meeting was called for 16th January 1982 in Slough, a bitterly cold snowy day and information put out by the media was for travellers not to set out. Fortunately for SOC a room full of people ignored the advice, and under the help and guidance of CCBN representatives, discussion took place, and the Constitution was approved. Within a few days SOC had submitted it to CCBN together with their application to become a member club.
Throughout our 21 years of existence we have always been, and still are(*), a club with 100% individual membership of the Central Council for British Naturism, who were, and are still our parent organisation.
As springtime 1982 approached, support and patronage increased. Our Committee worked hard to plan and arrange, over a wide geographical area, beach visits, and events at clubs that were willing to accept members of a newly formed club which was unique in naturism. A news sheet of events was issued to members at one or two monthly intervals as more activities were arranged.
Early May Bank Holiday saw the first camping weekend with a visit to Pilchards Cove, in Devon. A Bedfordshire Club undertook the responsibility, over the late Bank Holiday weekend to host what is now the CCBN Members' Meeting and at which SOC members arranged a summer holiday in France. An event in June was a visit to Fraisthorpe Sands in Yorkshire where the inclement weather was greatly outshone by the hospitality of our Northern hosts. Two of the visits in July were Fairlight Cove, near Hastings and a return visit to Leicestershire where the very first SOC gathering was held.
In August, four adventurous members (two of each sex incidentally!!) set forth in a caravanette- destination Arnaoutchot a naturist seaside resort on the South West coast of France. A glorious and memorable holiday.
On 5th and 6th September our first AGM and Birthday Party. The Bedfordshire Club kindly allowed us to return for this lovely celebratory occasion.
The Autumn and Winter editions of 'British Naturism' carried photographs and articles on our activities throughout the year. Our Club policy was also reiterated in that we were not, and are still not a girl finder club, or a marriage bureau. Nevertheless we have had single members who have subsequently married and are still members of SOC. Now married naturists who wish to join as members are welcome to participate in out activities, and they do.
1983 January 1st opened with a membership of 87, and with an increasing number of events planned which SOC members were able to attend. These included the CCBN events of the Leukaemia Sponsored swim, and the Swimming Gala. Other events in the year were geographically spaced as far apart as Northumberland, Chester and Devon.
In the next few years U.K. beach visits declined, as our site club visits increased. We were gathering momentum as more clubs actually invited us back for re-visits and friendship.
Our second Continental holiday was to Cap D'Agde in France. Subsequently our group visited Punta Skala in the then Yugoslavia and Costa Natura in Spain.
One of our hard working lady members took a step forward in 1987 by clinching a deal with the local council to run a swim for naturists in the Midlands area. By 1988 this was well established, and was the forerunner of SOC members attending other swims run by, and organised for naturists. Swims are still our bonding element during the cold winter months, fulfilling a need and increasing our strength. Other swims are held up and down the country, which single persons may attend. However, don't take this for granted though on seeing an advert, make contact, and establish if your visit will be welcomed.
1993 was the year the SOC Naturist walking programme was introduced. Walks are on average a distance of 10 miles in relatively unpopulated areas. SOC in no way wishes to challenge the law or offend other persons so discretion is the key to success. Naturist walking is a flourishing and innocent activity and has featured in a television programme. Here again first make contact and be prepared to establish your naturist credentials.
SOC remains an un-sited club within naturism which is beneficial to us, as, being a national club even two or more clubs would not cater for our geographically distributed membership.
SOC having been established now 21 years, is accepted and respected in the Naturist movement. It is known that members new to naturism first become provisional members, attending at least three events before gaining full membership status. We are now more readily accepted as genuine naturists and are regularly invited back as guests each year to sited clubs up and down the country. Also in this time naturism has become much more accepted as an innocent and pleasurable leisure activity.
Most Club officials in naturism like our own Committee and organisers are all volunteers (there are some commercial clubs) and give their time and skills for the benefit of the club.
One of our able members produces and circulates a bi-monthly SOC newsletter, giving information of forthcoming events and persons to contact. Administratively Singles Outdoor Club has a Committee of six.
Over the 21 years many single persons have become very good members, and remained with us, eight who joined in the first year are still members. Others have joined and passed through us, and by virtue of having been a member of SOC have been invited to join their local club and are staunch, enthusiastic and hard working members.
Others have offered their talents and enthusiasm, and have served, and still do serve British Naturism at National level. Thus Singles' Outdoor Club has evolved for many as a gateway into Naturism, enabling them, and others to make many friends and to have a happy and fulfilled lifestyle.
(*) Note: at the AGM meeting of 2004 it was decided to drop the requirement for members to also be members of CCBN, and now any genuine naturist is welcome to join SOC, although CCBN Membership is recommended.