Friends of Cougar
Objections to Hoodoo webpage
Hoodoo.com page implies (unintended)
in nudity policy
Email from Greg Thorne, Pres. FOC;
to Chuck Shepard, owner of
Hoodoo 5/06/05 2:00am
I have a problem with some of the text you have on
your website. One passage is really rocking the boat. It violates the status
quo -- the long traditional spirit of Cougar. Many Hot Springs have told me
they're upset with this from your
"Currently everyone seems to be
comfortable with the alternate lifestyle that it accepted. If this type of
lifestyle is a problem for you, please come early at a time when others are
not likely to be around. If you are here before others and you are
uncomfortable with the nudity of others you can let them know in a friendly
manner. If your request is reasonable, people who frequent the area are likely
to try to get along with everyone, but please realize that clothes are
optional and nudity is often the norm here."
While you are certainly welcome to your personal opinions, people take what
you say as the future manager of the Hot Springs as setting policy. And so
this page implies a change in policy, which I'm sure you didn't intend.
The long-standing policy at Cougar is clothing
optional, just as the large signs state: "Hot Springs Pools
Nudity has been welcomed at Cougar for decades, and
the clothing optional policy was made official after a day-long meeting
involving the local community and Friends of Cougar, hosted by the Forest
Service Dec 7, 1998.
I believe that suggesting to people that they tell
nude people if they're uncomfortable with nudity while at the Springs is
asking for trouble. In one fell swoop you are implying a break from Cougar's
long history. What is a nude person supposed to do if someone says this? The
nude person probably didn't bring a bathing suit, few of us do. Turn our
backs, hide our backs? Leave?
Nudity isn't tolerated most places. One of the
reasons Cougar is so relaxing is because here it is.
Clothing optional means clothing optional. It
doesn't mean clothing optional unless it bothers someone.
To me, the idea suggested in the quote is like telling
a visitor to the Indy 500: "If you're sitting in the
stands durng the race and don't like noisy engines, tell someone, and they'll
probably throttle-back their engines to accomodate
I'm sure your intentions were to make people who
are uncomfortable with nudity feel more comfortable, but I think it would best
be left alone. How about changing the whole text I quoted to just say:
Clothing is optional and nudity is often
the norm here.
The reference to the alternative lifestyle would
probably offend most people who come to Cougar. Or more likely, they just
figure you don't accept the people there. It's unclear what you mean. Are you
saying that soaking in hot springs is alternative? Or that nudity, dreads,
piercings, baseball caps, tattoos, eating elk-jerky, trail mix, enjoying
nature, relaxing, sharing travel stories, chanting, meditating or drinking
Pepsi is an alternative lifestyle? And why would coming early make sense?
There are usually "alternative" people at Cougar from dawn to dusk.
Cougar attracts a diverse crowd. No one would argue
that. But to call a diverse crowd "alternative?"
After having re-read it several times, my best
guess is that you chose the word "alternative" as a euphemism for nudity. But
some people don't go nude at Cougar. If you meant to say the equivalent of
"Currently everyone is comfortable with nudity at Cougar" I think that is
almost true. I would say Nudity is accepted, and most people are entirely
comfortable with it at Cougar, but surely I wouldn't say everyone. I suggest
avoiding trying to describe people's attitudes at Cougar. They are diverse.
Just state the facts: Clothing is Optional.
Reply from Chuck Shepard, owner of Hoodoo; subj: Re:
No change at Terwilliger is on my mind! 5/6/05 11:52am:
I almost feel like we are starting all over. I will repeat what I have said many
times before. There will be no change in the clothing policy. I almost feel like
you are trying to make a big deal out of nothing. I am a little troubled, you
have expressed concerns about how this fee will be onerous for some. (to which I
agreed) When I came up with a plan to help those people you didn't want to
participate. Now after I have explained the nudity issue to you and to your
members many times over, both personally and in an open letter, you have brought
the issue up once more as if we had never spoken. Please remember I am writing
to mostly an older RV crowd or people with families. Regardless of how you feel,
most people do not sit around nude, nor are they comfortable doing so.
Therefore, I am telling them that they need to know that this is a clothing
optional area. If they want to sit in the pools without having someone come in
nude, they will have to do so at a time when for the most part no one else is
there. If someone does come in later and nudity is not what the first people
want, then I am saying that they could say something to the new person. I
realize that it is up to each individual to respond as they may. It is not a
terrible thing for anyone to prefer not to be around nudity. I would hope that
you and others are open to the feelings of others enough to perhaps wait long
enough to allow them to leave or whatever. I almost feel like I am fighting the
nudity issue of the 70s in reverse. Then the clothed were intolerant of those of
us who went down the river or creek to shed our clothes. Here the nudists appear
to be intolerant of those who might want to be clothed. It is my job to reach
out to everyone under the current set of rules. I have repeatedly expressed that
I realize that this is a clothing optional area and the USFS realizes that this
is a clothing optional area. No change is anticipated or desired. In fact I have
already told you that if the USFS does plan to make a change, I will no longer
manage the area, as I don't want to be part of the hassle. The only place that
the rumor about our not allowing nudity has been present has been on your
website. Lets put this to rest, and work together. I don't read what I have said
as in anyway implying what you say. Alternative means that it is a different
lifestyle than what the people who normally read my website would encounter.
(Personally, I meant it as a compliment. In the past when someone said to me,
"You really lead a different type of lifestyle," I took that in a good way.) I
am getting a bit frustrated. If we come in and do a bad job, then complain. Lets
think of ways that we can work together to keep a resource going that I have
always thought was special and I assume that you do also.
Reply to Chuck Shepard from Greg
Thorne, 5/6/05 12:29pm:
Many people (probably most) reading your web page
are not RVers and families. Your Terwilliger page has already received 450
visitors. Nearly all are from Friends of Cougar. In the future the page will
get more visits from people searching on the Net, since a search on
"Terwilliger Hot Springs" brings up your page before any others.
What you state IS a change in policy. A big change.
This is why my concern is relevant.
Please listen to what I'm saying. If a person who
wants to go nude arrives at Cougar here is what currently happens. They
undress, hang up their clothes and get into one of the pools to relax.
Under your scenario, the nude person arrives, gets
in one of the pools, and a person already there is to come up to them and say
"excuse me, but your nudity offends me." Are you saying the best case scenario
is that our nude person, gets dressed and waits for the other person to leave?
BTW, many RVers and families go nude. Half the
families that come to Cougar go nude, just like the adults. As for RVers,
there are thousands of them staying at family nudist camps across the U.S.
All I'm asking is that you change the page to
accurately reflect policy. Just say "Clothing optional" and leave it at that.
I'm not the only one that doesn't get what you're
saying about "alternative" lifestyles. District Ranger Mary Alison told me she
was personally offended and asked you to change the page a month ago. I don't
know if I'm now looking at that revision or if you chose to not change
You can do what you want, but I am trying to work
with you to make things smooth and peaceful at the Hot Springs and in the hot
springs community that will be visiting.
Again, my main concern is that visitors are not
misinformed about a change in policy on nudity. The official policy is now
Clothing Optional. To suggest otherwise is a change in policy.
"Clothing Optional unless it bothers someone" is
not the same as "Clothing Optional." By way of comparison, the 19th amendment
to the Constitution doesn't say, "Women have the right to vote -- unless it
Reply from Chuck Shepard, owner of Hoodoo; subj: Re:
No change at Terwilliger is on my mind! 5/6/05 12:56pm:
as I said, was meant to be a compliment, but other than referring to the people
who were there before the Friends, like myself, as alternative, I have changed
the word further on to "diverse" as you have suggested as a way to describe the
people there now. I have also made the other changes that you suggested. I am
not looking for a fight. I don't read what I have said the way you do at all. I
do think though that your criticism is not very fair when on your website you
have kept material that you know is not true for people to read. I have made the
changes which you requested, I hope that you will do the same. You are making a
fight out of nothing, however I have no problem with trying to see this your