My camping experience from the 1960s and 70s: Camping was my first form of travelling and vacationing. Growing up in Norway in the sixties and the seventies this was the name of the game during our summer holidays.
The family would pack the car trunk with everything we needed and the rest was put up on the roof and covered by a tarpaulin. We brought along sleeping bags, inflatable swimming mattresses to sleep on and use in the sea, folded chairs, sunbeds and a table.
Family Tent and furniture (Oslo Museum 1970-73)
With my father behind the wheel we set off, criss-crossing southern Norway from campsite to campsite but always spending most time on the southern coastline of Sørlandet. Here we would roll in and be directed to a free spot. We would park the car and put up the tent next to it.
Our family tent had a blue inner-tent with a waterproof floor and cotton walls and roof. On top of that and large enough to create an extra room without floor we stretched an orange and blue cotton canvas. There were plastic windows allowing the sun to shed some light inside the tent.
Putting all the pieces together was not an easy task, especially the first time in each season. The parents would discuss what pole to put where in the frame and in what order, but it came up eventually.
The job of pitching the tent employed the entire family. After that the children scattered all around the campsite looking for things to do and hopefully to find new friends for the next few days. My mother claims this was the case with my father as well, leaving her to care for wet children, do the cooking and so on. Our summer vacations were not a vacation for her.
I can easily imagine that was the case. On the other hand Statistics Norway tell us in a survey from 1975 that 89 % of Norwegian housewives reported that camping left them with less to do than at home.
My family’s preferences changed during the seventies. We gradually moved into renting cabins in campsites or elsewhere.
Bandak camping – Inside traditional cabin
Of my friends I don’t think any went camping as much as I did. Some of them had private cabins they visited, one of my friends used to drive with his family all through Europe to the campsites in Rimini, Italy (his father had a better job and could afford it), and some would simply remain at home during their summer vacation.
I believe the last time I stayed in a tent on a campsite was in 1979. In the late 1990s I returned to a campsite and rented one of the old plain cabins for an overnight stay. It was interesting, kind of, but not particularly satisfying to walk several hundred metres to go to the toilet, cook food and bring drinking water. I have also during the last couple of decades stayed a few nights in campingsite cabins of the modern type. They were affordable and quite comfortable.
The tradition of pitching a tent on a campsite is something I have not brought on to the next generation. Likewise I have not been tempted to buy a caravan or a motorhome. My travelling preferences are easily seen throughout my travel blog. On the other hand I do look back on the days of camping with nostalgic sentiments.
Here is an article from Norwegian comedian Per Inge Torkelsen describing his camping holidays in the 1960s.
Caravans invading the country. (Scene from the movie Kitchen Stories)
This blog entry is part of a longer article in five sections about campsites in Norway during the last 50 years.
Part (1) The beginning, the classic period of tents in the 1950s and 60s.
Part (2) My camping experience from the 1960s and 70s.
Part (3) Growing competition from charter flights and good incomes in the 1970s and 80s. Caravans are starting to dominate.
Part (4) Decade of rapid transformation, the 1990s. Permanent sites for caravans, more cabins and caravans with high standards, tents out, enter the motorhomes.
Part (5) The last decade, recent developments and further reading.
Les artikkelserien om campingplasser på den norskpråklige delen av dette nettstedet.