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Holiday Camps and Youth Hostels

The standard form of holiday has always been to go to the seaside and stay at a boarding house or in lodgings: and for families with young children this is still the favourite kind of holiday because of the delight that the young mind takes in playing on the sands and in splashing in and out of the sea. Unfortunately the service provided by seaside landladies and boarding houses is not always very good: and this situation is made worse by very high prices and by the fact that many boarding houses refuse to take in children at all.

Dissatisfaction with these contidions is largely responsible for the development of holiday camps in Great Britain. Several of these have been established at the seaside by a certain Mr William Butlin,* who aims at providing within the limits of his camps everything - literally everything - necessary for the amusement of his patrons. Families are accommodated in little one- or two-room bungalows (called "chalets" because the word has a vague association with luxurious holiday making in Switzerland). Meals are taken in huge restaurants. Within the camp are sports-grounds and dance halls as well as play rooms where children may be left in competent hands while parents amuse themselves elsewhere. Cabarets, concerts and competitions are organized for the evenings, and the policy of the Butlin Camp is to ensure that there is never a dull moment for anybody. For this purpose they employ specially trained organizers (one for every twenty-five campers) to keep everybody in a mood of lively good humour. Officials with particularly jolly voices are given the responsibility of telling the campers every now and again through loudspeakers exactly how very, very much they are enjoying themselves.

* (Butlin, Warner, Pontin - the names of businessmen who financed the enterprise.)

At the other extreme is the Youth Hostels Association which, founded in 1930, aims at encouraging young people to spend their holidays exploring the countryside. The rural areas are now dotted with Youth Hostels where for a very small charge members of the association may obtain simple shelter and facilities for cooking food. Members are expected to look after themselves and there is nobody to wait upon them; the hostels are essentially for people on walking tours who will not want to stay more than one or perhaps two nights. But naturally, as the various walkers arrive at the hostel for the night there will be a pleasant atmosphere of easy informal friendliness - less hectic but perhaps more spontaneous than that which is so strenuously cultivated at a holiday camp.

(Pattern of England by C. E. Eckersley and L. C. B. Seaman)

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