For the third year in a row, De Buurtcamping is popping up in parks across Amsterdam and Utrecht. De Buurtcamping, which translates to The Neighborhood Campsite, invites neighbors to share a mini-holiday together in a park close to their house. This year’s edition will be taking place from 24-26 July.
Since the first edition in Amsterdam’s Oosterpark in 2013, De Buurtcamping has proven to be a successful concept for creating sustainable, social connections in urban neighborhoods. What makes De Buurtcamping so special is the presence of all sorts of different people. A banker borrows toilet paper from his homeless neighbor, an old widow is invited for a BBQ by the huge family. On the campsite they’re all equal.
Camping culture is huge in the Netherlands, with many families spending their summer holidays in a tent or caravan. This project refers to their collective experiences. On the campsite social relations are different — everyone wears short pants and flip-flops, and it’s sometimes easier to talk to your one-week camping neighbour than to your actual neighbours in your apartment block. This is the atmosphere that the Neigbourhood Campsite wants to set, according to co-organizer Jesse Jorg. “It’s funny how you can be neighbors for three years and never get to know each other. And once you’re camping together, it takes less than three days.”
The initiative’s founder Roderik Schaepman thinks that this social aspect of the campsite is really important in our modern urban setting. “Even though I love the city and will never leave it, I miss two things from the small village I grew up in: the nature and the sense of community. These are essential elements that form a campsite. You spend the whole day outdoors together and help each other with little things. Your income, social status or believes aren’t important.”
As the Neighborhood Campsite concept is able to transform every regular park into a lively camping place for a weekend, the phenomenon expands quickly from one campsite in 2013 to three campsites in 2014 to seven parks this summer. There are even plans to launch the concept in other countries as well.