How camping started in Zeeland
Zeeland, that’s camping. Siblings-on-Sea. The Camping Life is very catching, especially near the sea. It was at the beginning of the 20th century that the first campsites opened.
The notion of living, sleeping and spending time out in the open air first became popular in England in the 19th century. In 1912, the Dutch Nederlandse Toeristen Kampeer Club was founded. That its initial members were mainly wealthy young men did not stunt its rising popularity. Grown men and women poured towards the allure of nature. Children were attracted by countless summer camps.
The rules of nature are forgiving, with free play for people. That was the idea. Yet more and more villages and towns wanted to curb ‘freedom camping’. The first Dutch campsite opened in 1925. Others soon followed, like Bona-Fide, on Aan de Hogezoom in Renesse.
Right after the liberation in 1945, ANWB, the Dutch touring club, ran camping courses and annual training camps. In no time, thousands were practiced campers.
In the 1950s, camping became accessible for more people. Tents were more comfortable, more affordable. The mobile home trundled onto the stage too. Zeeland saw its large-scale campsites open.
In the Netherlands, you may only pitch your tent on a campsite. There is an official loophole – paalkamperen. The deal: tents = 3, fires = 0, H2O = groundwater (pumped), hours = 72, metres from official ‘pole’ placed by nature wardens = 10, cost = 0. Get that? Check. You’ll find a few poles cached away in Zeeland, including in Zeeland-Flanders and on Walcheren. Be good.
Modern campsites have more and more facilities. Entertainment teams, indoor and outdoor pools. The tents are fancier. More campers come by car, bringing more stuff. The latest and lushest option is ‘glamping’ or glamorous camping. It is a fusion of life in a hotel – with nature not at your door but at your rain fly sheet – and the freedom of camping. There are numerous such choices in Zeeland, such as sites near the coast, with luxurious tents, mobile homes and chalet.
A trend opposite to glamping is bamping. Back-to-basics camping. Surrounded by nature, with no or few amenities. Your own campfire, sleeping outside in small tent. Catching your own fish. Sustainability fanatics go bamping. Yes, you can in Zeeland. Land of contrasts, land of bamping