By Mikkel Hyldebrandt
Photos courtesy of River’s Edge
It was a first for me, and admittedly, I was a little apprehensive about the whole nude gay camping thing. But after three days in the River’s Edge compound, all my trepidations were replaced by something entirely different.
A nude, gay campground? Before venturing the 110 miles to River’s Edge, I imagined enforced nudity and a sexually charged atmosphere that would be difficult to deal with for an entire weekend. For me anyway. Also, was I even going to make it roughing it in the wilderness?
The weekend I chose to visit River’s Edge was the Deep South River Rave weekend – a getaway experience arranged by the queer undergoing DJ collective – and that did give me some comfort because I would be there with a lot of familiar faces.
After my a little over two hour drive (Atlanta traffic!), I arrived at the campsite and was greeted by the friendly staff who got me checked in and gave me a map so I could found my room in the main cabin. Keys in hand, I rolled down to the cabin, which was nicely air-conditioned and had a bathroom, shower, and kitchen with the essentials. So no roughing it here, just a simple but functional room and cabin that provided sufficient shelter and main modern amenities. After getting settled, I made my way to the pool area centrally located on the compound – and that’s where my experience really took off.
Sure, there was plenty of naked people, but the vibe was more ‘wind down’ than turn on and turn up.’ Even though River’s Edge is clothing optional, no lewd behavior is allowed in any of the public areas. So, I immediately let my initial apprehension of almost enforced nudity go and allowed the feeling of having left the city entirely wash over me. Not even a thunderstorm lasting for the better part of the night could shake my sense of succumbing to the relaxed atmosphere.
Next morning started slow and quiet after a surprisingly early night with a little (instant) coffee and a shower at the adjacent bathhouse. The rest of the day was spent at the pool where a lineup of DJs were spinning delectable beats, drinks were flowing, and people simply lounged, laughed, and hung out in the sun and the water. It was glorious, to say the least. As the sun went down, people scattered to regroup, refresh, and get ready for the big dance party in the woods – a massive tent erected in the more deserted part of the grounds with a full-on sound system and disco lights. And then we danced the night away.
Sunday was definitely more chill and was spent at the pool with even more beats by Deep South as guests checked out and stopped by the water for a last dip and to say bye before leaving for the city. I actually decided to stay another night, so got to experience the quiet side of River’s Edge too before leaving early Monday to get back to work.
It is needless to say that I will return to River’s Edge. This was a brief retreat from the real world, but nonetheless, it gave me exactly what I needed: an escape from stress and leaving the ordinary behind. All of my apprehensions evaporated, and I realized that they were all about taking myself out of my comfort zone – but that part was so easy because of the friendly and kind atmosphere! Who knew embracing the unknown and experiencing new things could be so much fun and so relaxing!
A special thanks to Deep South for an amazing and well-organized weekend rave. A select few people filled this weekend and my life with music, compassion, dancing, and love – you know who you are. Thank you!
About River’s Edge
River’s Edge is a private membership only facility, which means you pay a membership fee the first time you visit. The campground lies about 110 miles outside of Atlanta and caters primarily to men, but women are always welcome too. River’s Edge is clothing optional and offers a variety of cabin rental, tent sites, and RV sites along with an extensive pool area and common areas. Check out availability, rates, and more at camptheriversedge.com.