Nudist Camps for Kids Get Mixed Reaction

— Erich and Georgie Schuttauf dress their kids conservatively for church every Sunday, but in their free time they don't bother with clothes at all.

The Schuttaufs have enjoyed nude recreational activities as a family for years. Now that their two girls are getting older, they say there is a possibility that they'll send them off to a kids' nudist camp on their own.

Erich Schuttauf, executive director of the American Association for Nude Recreation, says he believes that being nude helps build kids' self-esteem and confidence.

"The message is self-acceptance and having a healthy esteem for your body but also realizing that it should be respected," Schuttauf told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America.

Erich's wife Georgie, a stay-at-home mom who home schools her children, says being nude has increased her confidence and has made her feel comfortable in her own skin.

No Shame in Nudity

"This is not something we're ashamed of," Georgie Schuttauf said. "As people get to know us, certainly our pastor knows, we are able to share that with them," she said.

The Schuttaufs say a week-long nudist summer camp in Tampa, which admits kids ages 11 to 18, will give the campers an extremely natural and positive experience. There are only two similar camps in the United States, one in Arizona and one in Virginia.

The Schuttauf's two oldest children, 11-year-old Alexandra and 9-year-old Madeleine have been recreational nudists for as long as they can remember. The girls said they didn't see the difference between a nudist camp and a traditional camp.

Meanwhile, government officials in states where these camps have cropped up are expressing concern over the new trend.

U.S. Rep. Mark Foley of Florida, who is the co-chairman of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, sent a letter Thursday to Gov. Jeb Bush asking him to determine whether the camp is legal.

Foley says the camp, which is run by the American Association for Nude Recreation, subjects children to denigrating and dangerous behavior and could expose them to pedophiles.

Erich and Georgie Schuttauf, married 14 years, say their kids' safety is their highest priority and they maintain that the camps are unquestionably safe.

"We recognize what Mr. Foley is saying when he says that protecting children is important," Erich Schuttauf said. "But protecting our rights to assemble is important, too. We keep both of those things in balance."

Schuttauf says the camps employ large well qualified adult staffs at the kid camps and he believes they keep the minors away from any adults with distasteful actions in mind.

Camp counselor Steve Vickers attended the Tampa summer camp for five years before becoming a counselor. He says there's a strict line drawn between nudism and sexuality, and no one would consider abusing the distinction.

'Creepy Old Guys'

Foley says his research shows there is reason to believe that such camps might attract sex offenders and pedophiles.

"Just looking back at some of the case law, they've coined an expression for people that visit these parts," Foley said. "They call them COGs — creepy old guys — which suggests to us that at least there's enough indication that there are people leering and peering into these camps," he said.

Foley's not alone. A spokesman for Virginia's attorney general, Jerry Kilgore, said officials are "very concerned" about a week-long nudist summer program for kids at Camp White Tail in Richmond.

Camp White Tail's managers say being in the buff isn't a big deal for most of the 30 kids who will attend; many of them were raised in nudist families.

Another 30 kids in Arizona are expected to attend camp Shangri La Ranch, a clothing-optional resort in New River this summer.

Foley says he hopes Gov. Bush and Florida's attorney general will look into whether or not nudist camps for kids have are legally questionable before they become a trend.

"I am sorry to interrupt their fun," Foley said. "I still worry about the kids and the dangerous situation they're posed in," he said.

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