History of the campsite

The archives gathered by the former camp managers give an interesting picture of Danish camping through the years, which can give food for thought on many levels.

In case some of our readers have old articles, papers or pictures, please send us a copy of these in order to preserve them for posterity. I have gathered below a number of information and quotes from the “old dusty archives”.

Good reading.

Thomas/Campsite Manager

The beginning of the 20th century saw the mechanisation of the industry, giving the Danes more free time. At the same time, a whole generation of young people from the cities had opened their eyes to outdoor life and wanted to go out into the wild and practice this new hobby. At that time you could not buy tents, you had to buy canvas and make yourself your own tent.

The following are quotes and excerpts that very graphically tell the story of the Danes' initial interest in camping life.

“Copenhageners went to the Øresund coast, where the possibilities for camping were very limited, or down along Køge Bay. You could also go further North to Bornholm to have a holiday there. Køge Bay area north of Køge, between the Store Vejleå river and Cordozavej, was almost roadless, scarcely built-up, and therefore cheap. Gammel Køgevej was just a couple of wheel tracks, and land on the coast was worthless. It was an Eldorado to practice primitive camping in. On Saturday afternoon and evening, Køgevejen was full of cyclists heading south with their tent on their rack to secure a tent pitch for the weekend. Those who came first could choose their spot; those who came last had to get back on their bike and look for other options. On Sunday night, cyclists went the opposite way and almost caused traffic chaos on Toftegårds Plads”.Quote from LFD's 60th anniversary book.

“The farmers along the coast soon found out they could make money out of the interest shown by campers in their beaches, and it soon became common practice to pay 25 cents to camp for a weekend. On the other hand, camping enthusiasts could expect the place to be kept clean, they could get water and get rid of their waste”.

 

Quote from LFD's 60th anniversary book.


Hundige Strand Camping - Denmark's oldest campsite

Hundige Strand Camping dates back to 13 December 1926. At a meeting in an apartment on Fælledvej no. 27 in Valby, it was decided to found the Camp Club Denmark (LD), which would find a suitable area for camp life and organize the few camp clubs that already existed. In addition, the goal was to help and support new camp clubs in Denmark.

The following excerpt from LFD's 60th anniversary book describes how Hundige Strand Camping was laid where it is today, and shows the importance of our lovely location, which has been instrumental in the fact that Hundige Strand Camping, the oldest campsite in Denmark, stayed at the same spot.

“In order to speed up the development and his business, cavalry captain Lemcke founded the twenties “Danish Camping Club” in the 1920s, launched the magazine “Friluftsliv” (“Outdoor Life”), and began importing tents and equipment from England. They were not cheap, but could either be bought or rented for a reasonable payment and deposit. Lemcke secured a large beach plot at Karlstrup Strand – current Karlstrup Strandpark from the Gammel Køgegaard estate, who owned the land. They asked that the land should only be used for tent camping with free access. As an ex military man, Lemcke ruled his club all by himself. He decided to cordon off the area and to charge an entrance fee, which is why the estate had the area protected and converted to a public park with camping prohibited. Camp Club Denmark, who also had its headquarters there, found a new place on farmer Jens Peter Hansen estate in Hundie. It had a beach plot where they used to extract sand from and to store cabbages and beets in the wintertime. He didn't mind tents alongside the rest, but the guests should pay to stay and overnight on the plot. In return, he helped with the daily waste collection, that was then burnt on the site. For night waste, you had to dig a hole in the ground. If you needed kitchen utensils, you could rent some for a few pennies. You could also buy some straw to sleep on. Jens Peter used to sell potatoes, eggs and whatever produces were available on his small farm. There wasn't much money, prices cheap and Jens Peter made sure everything stayed decent”. 

The following comes from a story called ”The man who discovered Hundie” , from the October 1935 issue of Lejrsport:

In the spring of 1928, when the club was looking out for a campsite, the chairman of the committee found the site in Hundie. We asked Mr Kjort: You're the one who found the campsite in Hundige. Could you tell Lejrsport how it happened?

I had discussed the need for a permanent campsite several times with President Topholm. I was given this task and was lucky enough to find one. However, everyone was mad at me when I came back because I had agreed to pay 25 pennies per day.

The minutes state that the site owner would only lend the place for payment. Was it normal at the time for the campsites to be left at disposal free of charge?

Yes, it was common, but there was a man in Vallensbaek who began to rent out his beach plot with a day fee. That’s why Mr Hansen wouldn't have us staying for free. On the other hand, the club was granted exclusive rights on the site. It was right before Pentecost, so we suddenly got busy. We installed a flagpole and toilets. It was very basic. 6 circular sticks were stuck in the ground and wrapped in sack cloth, and when the Pentecost came along the tents were neatly set up with the women’s tents on one side and the men's tents on the other. The chairman had pitched his tent in the middle.

Which other campsites did you have at your disposal?
We had Runde Bakke, close to Nærum. Lynæs camp, located near the Fort, was too far away and was only used during the summer holidays. We also used some land from Køgegaarden, just like Lemcke, everyone could access to it. In Hundie, however, we were by ourselves and could turn away those we didn't like.

Why was Hundie the site of choice?

 

It was right by the water, only 17km from Copenhagen’s Town Hall Square, and it was just ideal.

Drinking and immorality

In some cases, the eager campers became a bit TOO eager when they were on holiday and settled on the new sites for tents. This resulted in a desire for more orderly relationships with rules for the different sites for tent camping:

“This whole random confluence of tent campers created problems pretty fast. A few places soon became infamous due to drinking and immorality. Some people would join groups wanting to decide for themselves who they would live with. They made firm agreements with the landowners so that they could return to the same place again and again. Many places started to organize themselves and took control of the place for a fixed fee.” Quote from LFD's 60th anniversary book.

 

“Næstved Harbour Committee has allowed tent camp at Karrebæk Strand, and this year in particular it has degenerated into an outright sex shelter, as a father expresses it, where young people of both sexes stay in tents. They dress and undress together on the beach and go all the way to the grocery store and back dressed only in swimsuits, either walking or by bicycle at rushing speed, with cigarette in their mouths , nearly running us down, especially when passing the bridge. They sleep together and behave in such an immoral manner that it is a scandal for the whole area.” Excerpt from Lejrsport 1932

Further development of Camp Club Denmark

LD's purpose was to organize and develop, as well as to support, camp clubs throughout the country.

Meanwhile, the club had been renamed Camp Club for Denmark with the express aim of creating a truly nationwide organization. We had also come up with a slogan, "A camp sportsman is always a nature conservationist" and negotiations were held with the Danish Society for Nature Conservation to get campsites all over the country.

Getting campsites over the whole country proved difficult to begin with. The landowners, including the state, were very sceptical and hesitant about accepting an invasion of all kinds of tent campers. The wide newspaper coverage of unfortunate behaviour at the first tent sites made one reluctant. The LFD then proposed to the Society for Nature Conservation that members of the LFD should bring credentials from the club in the form of a camp passport accompanied by a complaint card in order to gain access to private or state-owned areas. If the complaint card came back with criticism of the passport holders' stay, it meant immediate exclusion from the club.

The Society for Nature Conservation accepted this arrangement and started to help us in this area. The idea has proved to be right, but it took many years to get the scheme to settle in the minds of the club members and the general public. Excerpt from LFD's 60th anniversary book, quote from ca. 1930

The papers show that LFD has started up several camp clubs and helped and supported other clubs. Several are active campsites to this day.

The following facts are ascertained:

·       1926 Creation of Camp Club Denmark without a fixed camp area

·       1928 Campsite in Hundie is established

·       1936 Skodsborg Camp is established by Anton and Elna Jepsen as a subdivision of Hundie Camp Club

·       1937 The camp is moved to Strandmøllen

·       1937 Kirsten Kimer's newly founded camp club on Amager is helped to start (the building from this period was bought by Hundige Strand Camping in 1985 and preserved as a living room to this day)

·       1939 Strandmøllen becomes an independent club, dissatisfaction with the board sitting in Hundie

·       Brundbyøster Camp Club (no further information)

·       Nivå Camp club (no further information)

·       Lynæs Camp Club (no further information)

After reading about the history of camping in Denmark, you will probably think that camping has changed a lot over the years – but not really. Campers still look for the same thing: the sun and summer in Denmark, to be close to each other and close to nature and experiences.

Have a nice vacation!

Hundige Strand Camping