June, 30th 2018
Since we already did some weekend trips with couchsurfing hiking group I was really excited to go for a camping trip with the group. It was the very first time we organised a trip including camping and hadn’t have any experience which challenges might wait for us. So we decided not to go that far away. For me it was important that there was a lake nearby for having the ultimative summer camping experience. We decided to go to Haltern am See, which is very close to my place. I called the campground and made a reservation for 30 people. They told me the lake would be next to the campsite and a public beach (where you need to pay) as well. They also told me about a festival on this weekend. Since they also offered breakfast it seemed to be the perfect choice. I joined the group in Recklinghausen, which was just 2 stations from Haltern. The plan was as follows: the people coming by car come to Haltern station, load our heavy stuff and drive it to the campground, while the others would walk there. After merging both groups at the campground we would go for a hike together. I was a bit worried that there might not be enough drivers for all the stuff or that people are stuck in traffic, because in summer the highway to Haltern is extremly crowded, because lot of people going to Silbersee or Haltern am See for swimming. Luckily all the drivers already arrived in time and we had around eight cars in the end. So, a part of the group went to the campground by car, me included, while the others were walking there. The staff at the campground were really cool and easy going. They showed us a nice place where we had enough space to pitch all our tents. They were even some people of us who already arrived the day before. While waiting for the rest of the group we made a circle and started to play volleyball with a very light ball. We had fun and were laughing, when one of the camper started complaining about us. I have to explain that it is very common in Germany to have a permanently caravan at a campground, especially in this area. It is also common to make this place like a second home with a huge installed tent and a lovely prepared garden. It is more like a holiday home but the people insist to be a long camper. The people usually spend there the weekends and their holiday, some of them every year for decades. Interestingly the cities they live in are quiet close. Anyway this camper, obviously, wasn’t used to people having fun, especially foreigners. He came out of his caravan angrily and shouted at us there is siesta from 1 to 3 pm. I was the only native speaker and tried to appease him. We would be calm now. It didn’t worked I could hear him talking and complaining to others. Anyway we continued playing in silence. He didn’t like it as well and called the staff. They came and told us we can play at a playground nearby, because our neighbour is afraid of his flowers hit by our ball. The staff was very cool and apologised. I don’t understand the camper’s behaviour, he could have told us and honestly his flowers never were in danger, it was might a cultural problem, which I even don’t understand less. The rest of the group just arrived and after getting all the sheeps together we went for the hike. The trail guided us on sandy ground along the lake through forests and fields. It was sunny and really enjoyable. We made a break next to the lake and I created a list for BBQ. Everybody should mark what they were like to eat and the amount. Back at the campground I immediately left for shopping with Sam, Jan and an Indian guy. We choose Edeka and it worked out better than expected. I more or less coordinated the guys who brought stuff from the list and marked it. It was always a decision by feeling to take the right amount. We also bought some bowls to prepare salad and cutlery, because hardly anybody brought it. In the end we had two shopping ventures full of food. We also bought two beer crates and some bottles of wine. It took us more than a hour and back at the campground the tents were already pitched in a circle and we could made our BBQ in the middle of it. It looked like a tribe. It was lively and everybody took his part. I was collecting the money, which was with around 7€ much higher than expected. I went to the Kiosk and camping staff to get some coins for change. Next time I will do it defiantly before! It took around one hour collect all the money Jan paid in advance. It was a nice and relaxed atmosphere at the BBQ and I really enjoyed it. Sure not everybody got exactly what he “ordered” (because there were also things written down like “Ritter Sport Schokolade Traube Nuss”) but in the end everybody seemed to be fed up. It was very important for me to avoid leftovers especially meat. It worked out, we had hardly any leftovers in the end. Sun was setting and we decided to go to the lake (unfortunately it was a misunderstanding, there was no private shore, but there was a river nearby), also to avoid more trouble with our beloved neighbour. We left around nine and hidden in the forest there was the river ending silently and we were settle down, some went for swimming and playing in the water. It was already dark, we drank beer and some played the guitar. We had hardly any light, but the stars were shining. Everybody seemed just happy and enjoying this beautiful evening. It was a special atmosphere I cannot describe. I was watching stars while listen to Sam playing the guitar and I could feel pure happiness. Yes, this was my moment of summer and exactly how I expected this trip. The wood was swollowing all the noises. More and more people were leaving and around midnight I was leaving with a small group as well. When I was laying in the tent, I fell asleep happily. I was one of the last waking up in the morning. I forwarded the task about preordering the breakfast to Sebastian and it worked out very well. We could just go to the Kiosk and get our breakfast. It was run by an old couple and it took a lot of time for them. In the queue there were a local couple at my age hearing some of us talking in English. They said something like “look our English neighbours” and I explained to them, that they are from India, the Netherlands and Germany. Then the guy said something which made me really laugh. “Oh India”, he said “but don’t they have any campgrounds in India?” Of course, they do have, but why should they go for camping in India, when they are in Germany, hm. Anyway the situation itself was really funny to me. After breakfast we remove tens and the summer heat has already arrived. Since there was no fixed plan for the second day (because usually a lot of people suffer from hangover) we decided to go to Silbersee and spend the day there. There is a really huge sandy beach at Silbersee and in former times this artificial lake was an insider tip, but by now it’s very crowded. Anyway it is nice there and we spent a nice day at the beach together. By time people were leaving in small groups and in the afternoon there was just Sam, Ole, Olaf and me. We walked back to Haltern and had our obligatory ice cream. I went back to Recklinghausen by train, while the others drove with Olaf back to Düsseldorf. Thank you for this amazing trip!
There are some improvements for the next camping trip, especially reducing to cost:
- Choose a cheaper supermarket chain like Lidl or Aldi
- Remind people to bring their own cutlery (also to avoid the high amount of plastic waste)
- No soft drinks and snacks from group budget
- Bring some common stuff from home like: paper, detergent, garbage bags, sponge etc.
- I’m excited about to improve next time and hope to see you there!