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April 27, 2006

Over the river and through the wood... But not to Grandma's
By Melissa Burnsed

Just across the state line, along the meandering shores of the Saint Maryís River is a well kept secret. The Hidden River Resort is an 88 acre camping facility that has been open since 1996. While the site has electrical hookups, hot bathhouses, natural trails and a pool, it isnít an ordinary camping facility. Instead Hidden River Resort is a clothing optional campground for naturalists.

Yes, that means just what you think it does. Hidden River is a nudist camp site run by founder Barbara "Billie" Hatten.

According to the web site "You are invited to tune in your mind and body at HRR... where we promote respect for our environment, ourselves and others while experiencing family and social nudism."

Hatten discovered the pristine location while canoeing on the river years ago.

"The natural beauty of this place and the river are just amazing," she said.

She has seen her facility grow in popularity and has recently added more recreational vehicle hookups.

The proprietor faced initial resistance from her neighbors along Georgia Highway 185, when she switched to clothing optional a few years ago. "A few people objected. They thought nude orgies and sin. But they donít know what we do. I promise we donít do anything here that my Presbyterian grandmother would be ashamed of," said Hatten.

Among the activities available to campers are sand and pool volleyball, trail rides, a swimming hole in the Saint Marys and a pentanque court. There is a band stand and pavilion for large group cookouts.

Pets and children of all ages are welcome with their parents. Hatten says they arenít a problem. "Because most are already living the nudist lifestyle with their families. We do have strict rules that we expect everyone to abide by."

Hatten operates her camp ground year round under the American Association For Nude Recreation guidelines, but does have a few unique rules. No lower body piercing, or cameras are allowed. The pool is nude only, however, swimmers must bring a towel. "You are required to use them on the pool deck furniture, because nobody wants to sit where somebody else's bare bottom has just been," said Hatten.

Hidden River hosts special events throughout the year including group events and workshops. "We have had lesbian and pagan gatherings. In fact earlier this month, the Phoenix Fire Pagans were here. They are the original tree huggers and earth worshipers," said Hatten.

This weekend the summer season kicks off with the sixth annual Nudie Blues weekend. On the schedule are a 5K Trail Streak, a guided nature walk, a body painting exhibition, live entertainment on Friday and Saturday night, a dance and drumming circle, where participants will gather around a bonfire in a pagan spiritual ritual.

Later this summer Hidden River will host festivities as part of National Nude Recreation Week in July. The summer season closes with a "Butt Roast" over Labor Day weekend.

Parties interested in checking out the campground can visit Hattenís web site at In addition to camping day visitor rates are available. The Nudie Blues weekend gets underway Thursday and runs through Sunday at noon.

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