In the Netherlands, camping is firmly part of the country's DNA. No wonder, then, that there were also efforts here very early on to create as many campsites as possible that are affordable for everyone. The best example of this is the SVR, the Stichting Vrije Recreatie, which has been promoting sustainable camping for more than 50 years.
The whole idea of the SVR came about through Wim van den Bergh. As a farmer, he enjoyed inviting tourists from the cities to his farm to enjoy country life. However, this was still forbidden in the Netherlands in the seventies. Van den Bergh did not let this stop him and invited a family with 6 children from The Hague to his farm. They gladly accepted the invitation and made their way to the farm, together with the mayor and the police as well as the regional press, who were anxiously following what was about to happen. Van den Bergh received a summons to appear in court, but it was still to be a positive story.
Camping on farms, the so-called farmer camp, was legalised. Eventually, this gave rise to the SVR, a non-profit foundation that aims to bring camping fans and sustainable campers together. The Netherlands is still known as the 'motherland of camping'.
A total of 8 people work for the Foundation on a daily basis, including Corine van den Bergh, daughter of Wim van den Bergh and first Chairperson of the Foundation Board. In addition, there are other employees in the areas of membership services, administration, finance, content management and marketing.
The team's tasks also include looking after the more than 2,000 campsites throughout Europe that are part of the SVR network. These are mostly farm-run, as only small campsites with up to 50 pitches - 80% of the sites even have only 5 to 25 pitches - are included in the foundation. Great importance is also attached to the aesthetics of the campsites as well as to the character of the campsite operators. The campsites are located in exceptionally beautiful landscapes, and the campsite operators are very customer-oriented, friendly, obliging and empathetic.
All SVR members who stay at an SVR campsite receive a member discount as well as telephone support from the SVR, which is even available on Saturdays until 12 noon. The benefits package is rounded off with 2 magazines per year, sent by post and digitally, in which members receive a full overview of the community.
The prerequisite for using the benefits is the annual membership fee. This amounts to 15.00€ per family, regardless of how many heads a family has. In the meantime, more than 150,000 camping fans have accepted this promising offer and obtained SVR membership. These sales are used to finance four domestic fairs in the Netherlands, where members enjoy free entry. At international fairs, campsites within the SVR network are invited - the SVR pays the stand costs. If a campsite is affected by floods, fires or other disasters, the SVR will help financially or provide legal assistance.
Every SVR campsite is special in its own way, but the 9 campsites of 'Fien and Teun', which can be found all over the Netherlands, offer especially many highlights! The two fictional farmer children invite especially the youngest campers to exciting treasure hunts across the campsite, photo opportunities at giant postcards and fun nature tasks in the adventure books. Depending on the location, the children can also feed deer, brush the ponies or roast marshmallows at the campfire.
For many years now, the SVR has grown beyond the borders of the Netherlands and this should continue. The goal is to create a community throughout Europe that unites the same values of sustainable camping and carries on the idea of Willem van den Berg.
Camping is almost a national sport in the Netherlands, and so every German camping fan should have come across the SVR campsites at least once. We can warmly recommend it and hope for many more offers.