This paper contrasts the objectives that underlie the development of government-funded holiday camps for family vacations in Belgium with the socio-spatial practices of their initial users. Drawing on oral history, archival material, photographs and site plans, we argue that holidaymakers did not just experience the holiday camp as an environment where they could reconnect with their family and pursue authentic experiences in close contact with nature – as their initiators had intended – but that they also embraced these sites as places where they could recreate a romanticised version of “traditional” community life and experiment with facets of a middle-class, modern suburban ideal. To substantiate our narrative, we focus on two holiday camps in the Campine Region: Zilvermeer and Hengelhoef.

Janina Gosseye, Hilde Heynen, “Campsites as Utopias? A Socio-spatial Reading of the Post-war Holiday Camp in Belgium, 1950s to 1970s”, International Journal for History, Culture and Modernity, 1: 1 (May 2013): 53-85. DOI: 10.5117/HCM2013.1.GOSS

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