Friends of Cougar

Objections to Hoodoo webpage page implies (unintended)

change 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 Terwilliger page at
"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 Clothing Optional"
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 you."
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.

President, Friends of Cougar,


Reply from Chuck Shepard, owner of Hoodoo; subj: Re: No change at Terwilliger is on my mind! 5/6/05 11:52am:

Dear Greg:
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. each summer.
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 anything.
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 offends someone."

President, Friends of Cougar,


Reply from Chuck Shepard, owner of Hoodoo; subj: Re: No change at Terwilliger is on my mind! 5/6/05 12:56pm:

Alternative, 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 way.


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