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Summer Fun, Where Clothing Is Optional

An interview with Ponderosa Sun Club

2020 is a bust! With events, concerts, and even the State Fair all canceled. It almost seems as if there isn’t much to do. Get back into the house before the lights go down Johnny… the last couple of months have pushed me to seek out something new. 

I find that some of us like hikes, or fishing while others prefer the air conditioning in their homes. For me, I look for the most uncommon adventures. Whether it's traveling to less explored countries or seeking and raiding abandoned places, I crave thrills and maybe it's time for me to seek out new adventures.  

Pools still aren't open in Indianapolis as I write this, so I thought of Ponderosa Sun Club. I have visited the campgrounds a few times, and have been poolside most of the time, yet I’ve never been in the pool. So I decided to reach out to Ponderosa Sun Club and chatted with Scarlett Schmitt, owner, and operator. 

Basically to see if the pool was open… but also to find out a little more about the club and campground. 

CHARLIE CLARK:

I am sure many of my questions have been answered before, but I wanted to start fresh, I think people are looking for new things to do and I believe we're all sick of being cooped up. I thought about Ponderosa Sun Club from being out there a couple of times and wanted to know more. 

Could you tell us a little about Ponderosa 

SCARLET SCHMITT:

Sure, so this year is our 55th year running Ponderosa Sun Club and would have been our 45th year for Nudes-A-Poppin'… but we’ll do the 45th of Nudes-A-Poppin' next year. (2021)

CLARK: 

So what year did Ponderosa Sun Club officially open? I had read sometime in 1964? And did it begin with your grandparents Tom and Pinky Schmitt?

SCHMITT:

Right! So that's my Mom and Dad, who are also nudists, but now it's my Mom and I as well as my kids running the family business

CLARK: 

So I've been there about five times now and I know it's a massive campground/resort. Is that how you would describe Ponderosa Sun Club? Is it a resort or campground 

SCHMITT:

I think it's a little bit of both. It’s a campground and a resort at the same time, we have tent camping and I know some of the resorts don’t have that. We just put in new electrical outlets next to our pond. So we have 30 amp and 50 amps for people to plug into. We just upgraded all the electrical over there. Now that we have these big motorhomes are coming in nowadays which is more of a resort right? But we're good about everybody coming out and hanging out.

CLARK:

Oh, are you talking about the little pond area where there's a little bridge or something almost like an overpass area towards the pond? 

SCHMITT:

Yeah, there's a bridge that goes out to the gazebo, that goes over to the motorhome spots. We just upgraded that area for this summer. Oh, we're also going clothing optional this year, which is something new for 2020. We decided that people want more of a choice! Instead of saying you have to be nude to come, we decided to give this a try. I think a lot of people want to come out and try it, and maybe they're a little nervous. So this could be a nice first step for a lot of people. It would seem that everyone in Florida has already been to a nudist place but up here in the Midwest, there's a lot of first-timers.

CLARK:

I remember back in 2010 when I first came to Ponderosa Sun Club for Nudes-A-Poppin', I was a little intimidated. I'll be honest with you I was pretty scared because I wasn't sure if I had to be nude while working and taking photos...

SCHMITT:

No, Nudes-A-Poppin’ is a different experience from Ponderosa Sun Club. That's more of an event, whereas Ponderosa Sun Club is a place to come and relax. You know, people can come and check out the campgrounds, sit by the pool, grill out and just enjoy themselves

We just wanted to try out the clothing-optional this year, because you know many couples will come out and maybe he/she's nervous so they can take her time, get a feel for the area, and don't necessarily have to undress. It's up to how the individual feels.  

CLARK: 

I'm sure that more people will be a lot more open to that idea. Being able to ease into things, where you don’t have to be nude. 

SCHMITT:

Right, which is the old philosophy of nudism was back in the 60s’. Times have evolved and so has nudism. People want choices, whether it's coming here, or other places, they don't want to be told, you have to be nude. 

CLARK: 

That's a good note to get into another question then about the property. I’ve read that Ponderosa Sun Club is on 70 acres? 

SCHMITT:

We have 76 acres! The whole property is open for everybody to walk around and explore, they can wander around and see what the whole campground looks like. The pool area is more centrally located, and then the members' trailers are branched off from that. A lot of times people will come out here to get away from the city and spend a night or two and go for walks, get air in. Get some real peace.  

CLARK: 

So how many nude campgrounds are there across the country? I know that you guys are like one of the biggest ones.

SCHMITT:

Right. Some in Florida, California things like that. But we're the biggest in the Midwest and we're one of the most well-known ones. I think because we will do interviews and help answer questions. 

CLARK:  

That's nice, I know first-timers who would like to experience a nudist campground probably have a ton of questions.

SCHMITT:

Right, people are typically curious or just don’t know... and feel nervous. So it's good to talk about it!

CLARK: 

I was also wondering because Ponderosa Sun Club is in Roselawn, Indiana, you have the massive Nudes-A-Poppin' pageant. It seems like you're drawing in thousands of people over that weekend event, and it's gonna be great for the economy over there.

SCHMITT:

Yeah, people are bummed we're not doing it this year. It’s gonna cut back on the economy and town, stores, gas stations, and restaurants… But we felt it was more responsible and important for the safety of everybody just to cancel for this year due to COVID-19. And, well, Nudes-A-Poppin’ will come out stronger than ever next year! I am already planning it.I won’t put anyone's life in danger because of an event. It was just something I felt strongly about. And the State Fair was canceled too… 

CLARK: 

Yes, I usually spend many days at the State Fair taking photos of my coworkers eating… that is a shame, but what type of activities do you have over at Ponderosa Sun Club? 

SCHMITT: 

With the COVID-19, we have guidelines that Ponderosa Sun Club will have to stick with. The governor established different stages, and so we're opening up with those same types of guidelines.

CLARK:

Is that the campground guidelines?

SCHMITT: 

Yeah! So, we're not doing any events until Fourth of July weekend, and then we're having a HUGE firework show/parade and will probably have our first dances. The campgrounds just opened May 24th so we've only been open again for two weeks. People are coming back, for instance, there were a ton of people at the swimming pool today. So I think people know exactly what you mean, about people wanting to get out of their homes, and do things. A lot of people still have their swimming pools closed but ours is open. Oh and remember, we have got plenty of room for social distancing! 

CLARK: 

Yeah. 76 acres, you know, plus! 

SCHMITT:

One of the best places you could come to, during the pandemic, be outdoors and explore the country. We're practicing social distancing and I have hand sanitizer out in different areas for everybody to use. We don't have to wear the mask because you 're outside and we're able to stay six feet away, but people are more than welcome to wear them. The only other change is that we're asking people to bring their lounge chairs. Just to bring with you poolside, or lounge around on. We want to be as safe as possible. But by the Fourth of July, like I said we'll have the fireworks and everything and we will have those social gatherings again! 

CLARK: 

So what are the costs around the club? Such as a single day admission?

SCHMITT: 

So it's $35 a couple during the week, Monday - Thursday, then on weekends and holidays It's $40. We are open 7 days a week from 9 am till 5 pm.

CLARK: 

You run a grill out there as well right?

SCHMITT: 

Yeah, we got “Grilling and Chilling” and it’s open Noon-3pm on Saturday and Sundays. People are more than welcome to bring in their own food and drinks. We just don't allow Bottles. 

CLARK: 

So, what about the 45th Nudes-A-Poppin' 2021?

SCHMITT:

Right now we're just waiting to see what happens with the world. I'm planning for next year already. You know, everybody is super excited about 2021. So I think that there will be a lot more contestants, and we got a lot more time to work on getting celebrities. Yeah, I just think it's gonna be bigger than ever. We can say that's our 45th year because we missed this year. It's not hard to believe that events have been going on for 45 years!

CLARK: 

How do we keep informed about Ponderosa Sun Club and get more information?

SCHMITT:

People can head over to our website and can see some things we have going on, guidelines, and directions. If people want to ask questions about Ponderosa they can send me questions from there. And yes we will see you soon!

To be a part of the festivities don't forget to reserve your campsite for the 4th of July, visit Ponderosa Sun Club to find out more.