Since the pandemic has cancelled our summer plans for traveling in the U.S. (camping in Maine, going to Canada, and seeing family and friends) we decided to explore the Netherlands instead. Staying safe, traveling responsibly, and keeping in line with the recommendations from the Dutch government was important to us. After looking at tons of different vacations in NL we decided to take two separate breaks. We just came back from our first “vacay” with eight nights camping in a tent. It reminded me of my childhood summers with my family.
We spent the first four nights in de Lemeler Esch at a beautiful “natuur camping” in Overijssel. We had some sun, some rain, fun in the pool, local ice cream from a dairy farm, hikes in the woods, many hours at the multiple playgrounds, and tons of fun! We all took on some nicknames during this trip. The Jaap (the Kampeer Meneer) held everything together taking care of us along the way, Thibault (the Camp Champ), Flora (the Early Girl), and for lack of creativity myself (the Kampeer Mevrouw).
I will fondly remember this beautiful hike to the thee huisje in de Lemelerberg where we came upon this incredible speelbos. Huge pine trees, hammocks, tree houses, ropes, etc. It was a beautiful playground in nature. Since it took the kids almost two hours to walk there, we decided one of use should go and pick up the car. I had a 30 minute walk in the woods by myself. It was heavenly!
We swam in the “heated” pool, ate ice cream every day, got dirty, survived the rain, and had a blast. My absolute favorite quote of the entire trip was when Thibault woke up on the second day (after a long night’s sleep), unzipped the tent, poked his head out and said, “I love this place.” Thibault was the Camp Champ. He was born to spend the majority of his life outdoors, picking flowers, and sleeping in nature. Sitting in sand, picking leaves off branches in the campsite, picking flowers and making stunning bouquets. This is his life and he was in his element.
At the Landal Park in the Hoge Veluwe life got a little bit easier. We met up with friends, everyone had a playmate, the campground had a lot of built in activities, a good market to shop at, and it felt a little bit more luxurious. Our site was a lot bigger and we were pleasantly surprised with the campground. We had lots of trees and more space. I can’t say that the whole campground was the same, but I thought our section was again, the best in the campground.
I kept hearing the words of my father throughout the entire week. I can remember these things he would say while we were camping and his spirit was everywhere. Memories of my sister and I fetching the water, making sure we are all properly dressed, applying bug spray, tips for the rain, how to keep things dry in the tent, breakfast at the campground, etc. It makes me a little sad writing this because I miss him so much and it’s hard to think about when the next time I will see my parents. At the same time, I kept thinking how grateful I am that my parents took us camping. All children should be so lucky. There’s something so satisfying about being outdoors for an entire week. Sleeping outside made me physically feel so good. I also felt like Jaap and I were fulfilling a family tradition that’s important to me, so it was just a feel good trip.
The thrill of roasting marshmallows (even if it has to be on a gas stove) is ageless. Who doesn’t love roasting marshmallows? Well, the tradition lives. Camping is a part of our family now for a few summers. I hope we can keep it going. My kids are nature lovers and I hope we can celebrate that every summer.
More fun at the Openlucht Museum in Arnhem. What a great museum. I think we need two days to explore this place. We were only able to see half of it. The highlight for me was the live music session with traditional instruments from NL, Syria, and Europe. Thibault sat attentively the entire time. It was a great moment.