June is the month of the four days marches for children in the Netherlands. The four days marches are organized throughout the country; whether you live in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Groningen or Maastricht, you will see large groups of walking children, accompanied by their parents and teachers. The marches have a long history; the first one was organized in 1909.
There are tours of 5, 10 or 15 kilometers in the early evenings of four subsequent days. Depending on condition and motivation, you will choose the distance that suits you most. Due to the fact that all people walk in groups, the pace of the hikers is quite slow, so the tours take more time than the distances would normally take.
Most of the times the children make much noise, so if you happen to be near the march, you will definitely be aware of its proximity. Songs are being sung in order to keep the good spirit, and moreover, children tend to find the four days march very exciting and act as such. The marches are being held during normal school weeks, so the children will get more tired every day. And my experience with tired children is that they even make more noise than they usually already do in groups!
Especially the last evening (always on Friday) is special. In Haarlem, where I live, the children are welcomed in the city centre, on the Grote Markt. All hikers will receive a medal. The medal shows the number of marches that the child has walked already. Most of the children get presents, such as candies and flowers, from their parents as a reward for the tough days. Brass bands are playing and majorettes are dancing; it is a big party for all hikers and their families.
Would you like to walk the four days marches together with your children next year? Please ask their school for instructions.