Since the age if 4, I have been part of many ‘caravan park’ communities. These communities have shaped who I have become and many of my strongest childhood memories include the people and places in them.
My parents took my sister and I to caravan parks in Phillip Island then to Inverloch (Victoria) – which we revisited for the next 10 years! Same camping site by the beach, same group of families, same 4 weeks of the year (and the same F&C’s and ice creams at Dutchies).
To these caravan parks (which are scattered widely along Australia’s endless coastline) strangers come together to their ‘favourite place’. A home away from home where everyone is equal … income brackets and suburban postcodes exclude nobody from communal activities. The problems and struggles that people leave behind diminish and the time-out from home rituals provides a new perspective. I can even remember times (during those adolescent years) when I felt like I could become a new person and leave behind the parts of me that I didn’t like.
These annual pilgrimages to distant places allow us to ‘connect’ with others and feel a sense of belonging – for me a sense of ownership and sense of place is a big part of the experience.
And here in Yamba 2010 …
I have my own family now and we are self confessed caravan park ‘campers’. Whilst we don’t visit the same park with the same people at the same time, its the connection with other people that makes any place special.
We are a social species and we seek connection with others (deep down whether we recognize it or not). This herd like behavior has been on show in our children (and in all the children here!).
Children are inquisitive and playful and they are drawn to each other. When you really watch them (and I mean really notice their interactions), they rarely say no to other. Nearly every offer is met with a resounding yes – which leads to adventure!
During this 2 week stay at a caravan park in Yamba (nth NSW), our kids are scootering, climbing and playing together. If they had it their way they’d hang out all day together … and on some days that’s what happens.
Through our children, we parents are drawn together and share stories of our lives. We find things in common and share stuff with each other … photos of our kids together, that can opener we left at home, surfboards and left over food when we pack up and leave.
Yesterday, our 3 boys (7, 5, 2 yrs) were drawn to talk with the 3 girls (15, 13, 10 yrs). These initial, tentative steps lead to playing games and sharing stories of home. Before we knew it, the eldest girl offered Ingrid and I their babysitting services so we could grab a meal together – we kindly accepted their offer and ate at the local Thai.
We then got to know their mum and grandparents, contact details were shared bw the kids. Our boys were sad to see them leave and they talk about these and girls and their family with great fondness. All that love and trust was built and shared in 48 hours in a Caravan Park. It is social interactions like these that make a place so special.
Geoff, signing off from a Caravan Park in Yamba.