The South Florida Free Beaches (SFFB) Beach Ambassador Program at Miami's Haulover Beach is being hailed as a model for the management of clothing optional beaches everywhere.
Far from being the "beach police," Beach Ambassadors work with both beachgoers and rangers to enhance the quality of everyone's beach experience, help to keep the beach safe and provide visitors with information about the beach and about naturism in general. Beach Ambassadors also help to maintain decorum and minimize complaints by educating visitors as to the nature of acceptable and unacceptable behavior at a clothing optional beach.
(Click here for reaction to the Haulover Beach Ambassador Program by the Miami Dade Parks Department.)
The following are excerpts from the SFFB Beach Ambassador Manual (the full manual is available here in PDF format):
Beach Ambassador Program
BEACH AMBASSADORS are Naturist volunteers, selected by the Naturist organization that has assumed the care and mentorship of a particular clothing optional beach. As a Beach Ambassador acts as a representative of the Naturist organization involved, care should be taken that only those who are committed to working within the established and recognized standards of Naturist philosophy, behavior and etiquette are selected. The Naturist group should also be prepared to revoke the ambassador status of those who intentionally violate its standards, or otherwise show their unsuitability after they have been selected.
Beach Ambassadors should have a distinctive form of identification. Naturally (in every sense of the word), the best choice is distinctive headgear with a design, color scheme, legend (e.g.: “Haulover Beach Ambassadors”) and/or logo which is solely reserved for the use of Beach Ambassadors, and not offered for sale or randomly distributed. Clear recognition of the presence of Beach Ambassadors on the beach can in itself go a long way toward maintaining a friendly family atmosphere at the beach.
The Mission of a Beach Ambassador at a clothing-optional beach is…
• To present naturism as a positive, mainstream, non-sexual and life-enhancing social and recreational activity.
• To assist visitors who are new to clothing-optional activities, both by making them at ease and comfortable with their surroundings, and by explaining the accepted standards of Naturist etiquette and courtesy.
• To actively watch for those individuals who, whether through ignorance or intent, violate the accepted standards of Naturist behavior.
• To take prudent, restrained and legally sanctioned action to counter those who are violating the accepted standards of behavior or the privacy of others.
• To respect the prerogatives of, and to assist, and not hinder, legally sanctioned authorities such as police officers, lifeguards, and other public service officers.
• To help preserve and maintain the environmental quality, appearance and safety of the beach, and to encourage others to do the same.
• To provide information on naturism and Naturist activities and destinations to interested individuals.
• To present him or herself as an exemplary Naturist citizen, by fully abiding by all the standards of Naturist behavior, etiquette and courtesy, and further by not violating any laws, rules, or regulations in force at a particular beach.
It is not our intent that Beach Ambassadors should usurp or interfere with the prerogatives of the police, lifeguards, or other public service officers. Our task is to perform as a citizen’s watch, much in the manner that a volunteer neighborhood crime patrol assists the police in any community. It is recommended that Beach Ambassadors develop a cooperative relationship with the police and lifeguards, and arrange meetings to define the role of the Beach Ambassadors. Beach Ambassadors should carry, or have readily available, mobile phones with which to summon the police as needed.
Beach Ambassadors must be diplomats. While we certainly want to watch for those few individuals who may spoil the beach experience for others, neither do we want to do anything to ruin the experience for the decent and law-abiding majority. Beach Ambassadors should work to ensure the trust and respect of beach visitors by being helpful when needed, and non-intrusive at other times. While watching for potential law-breakers is an important component of a Beach Ambassador’s duties, in practice far more time will be spent on providing information and assisting beach users.
Ambassadors should actively seek the cooperation of all beach goers in bringing any questionable behavior they may witness to the attention of the Beach Ambassadors, the lifeguards or the police, rather than simply tolerating any activity they find offensive. Regular beach users must be made to realize that they must assume some share with us in the task of maintaining a safe and friendly environment at the beach, if only by voicing their objection to those who violate the accepted standards of behavior.
Our experience at Haulover is that a Naturist beach will attract a large number of visitors and tourists, both domestic and international. The Beach Ambassadors therefore often function as a “Naturist tourist bureau”. One of the most frequently asked questions is “Where can I find other Naturist beaches and resorts?” It is helpful if the Beach Ambassadors have some familiarity with nearby Naturist resorts, and with public sites traditionally or formally sanctioned for Naturist use. Naturists groups may also find it useful to have copies of publications such as The Naturist Society’s “World Guide to Nude Beaches and Resorts” and “Nude and Natural” magazine on hand for reference or for sale. Many other useful publications are available from AANR and from local Naturist groups. Visitors also seek information on local attractions, entertainment, dining, and Naturist friendly hotels. The local Naturist organization may wish to seek sponsorships from establishments that aim to attract visiting Naturist tourists as patrons, and offer space for their advertisements in its publications and newsletters.
South Florida Free Beaches, in conjunction with its regular beach social events, provides for health-related services such as blood drives and skin cancer screenings by physicians. Our Beach Ambassadors provide advance notice of such events to insure as full participation as possible. In addition, while lifeguards and police have the primary responsibility for protecting the safety of beach users, Beach Ambassadors function to assist them by patrolling the beach and watching for people in distress, either on the beach or in the water, and alerting the authorities whenever they are not the first ones aware of a dangerous situation, or summoning them by phone, at those times when they are not present. South Florida Free Beaches has also printed water safety information cards that are available to visitors free of charge at our information booth on the beach. Other Naturist groups should consider providing similar health and safety services for beach users at their beaches.
Naturist groups mentoring beaches with no regular lifeguard service might consider providing CPR and water safety training for their Beach Ambassadors. At the very least, they should have all relevant emergency phone numbers to summon the proper help when needed.
Naturists are concerned that beach areas are preserved in as pristine a condition as possible, and Beach Ambassadors should watch for individuals whose actions are detrimental to the beach environment.
· Beach Ambassadors should advise visitors not to intrude into environmentally sensitive areas such as dunes, and not to pick or otherwise damage dune flora.
· Beach Ambassadors should seek to prevent visitors from leaving litter at the beach. Glass containers are a particular hazard and should not be allowed on the beach at all. Other trash should be deposited in trash bins at the beach, or taken off the beach for disposal. Birds, fish and sea turtles can often be harmed if they inject rubbish, and can become hopelessly entangled in items such as plastic six-pack rings or similar items.
· Cigarette filters and other small items are particularly problematic items, as they are not easily removed from the beach. Smokers should be encouraged to dispose of their cigarette butts properly, and not leave them in the ocean or on the sand.
© 2001 – B.E.A.C.H.E.S. Foundation Institute, Inc.
Revised May 2004
For more information visit www.SFFB.com
Click here for a listing of Clothing Optional Beach Etiquette, provided by the Long Island Travasuns.