Meet Doug VanDeCamp.

Doug is a 19 foot long, 3.2 ton white Mercedes Benz Sprinter camper van.

Inside, Doug has 4 seats, two queen-sized beds, plenty of storage space, and a Sportsmobile pop-up roof.

He lives in Northern California … and, for one weekend, the Goodman Family called him home.


Doug VandeCamp - a camper van rental from GoCamp

How the Goodman Family met Doug VanDeCamp

It all started when a friend tagged me in an Instagram post by a company called GoCamp Rentals. They were looking for photographers to take photos of their camper vans in exchange for a free two-day rental.

It has been about five years since I last had a travel photography-related gig – so, I was overjoyed when I got the email saying they had chosen me. Yay to flexing my creative muscles again!

The morning I picked up Doug, the excitement was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

My five-year-old son, Bodhi, was bouncing off the walls with excitement. His two-year-old sister, Luna, was equally ramped up. Even something as simple as packing up our bags to get ready to go was an effort. It didn’t help that in the middle of the day I had to take a 4 hour drive to pick up the van and bring it back.

The sun had already begun to go down when we finally hit the road – just after 6pm. Years of travel photography taught me that “when the light is good, you take the photo. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.” So, despite a van of excitement, I stopped several times to take advantage of the beautiful golden hour light.

Good thing I did, as that was the last time we would see the sun for the duration of our weekend. While this was a plus for “not having to get suntan lotion on the kids,” it was not the best for getting epic photos of Doug for GoCamp Rentals.


Doug VandeCamp - a camper van rental from GoCamp

Doug VandeCamp - a camper van rental from GoCamp

Doug VandeCamp - a camper van rental from GoCamp

Doug VandeCamp - a camper van rental from GoCamp

Doug VandeCamp - a camper van rental from GoCamp

Doug VandeCamp - a camper van rental from GoCamp

Doug VandeCamp - a camper van rental from GoCamp

Peek inside Doug VanDeCamp

As this was our first camper van experience, the entire family was curious as to what it would be like. So, in case you’re wondering, here’s the scoop.

The front of the van felt quite utilitarian (like a U-Haul rental), which makes sense … since it’s a van!

Behind the front seats was a moveable row of two more seats that feel like they belonged in a bus. This was perfect, as we needed a place to put our child seats to keep our little ones secure.


Doug VandeCamp - a camper van rental from GoCamp

Doug VandeCamp - a camper van rental from GoCamp

The back half of the truck is split into three levels.

On the ground is a large, open space for storing all your gear. Above that is a queen size bed with about 2 1/2 feet of headspace before hitting the roof.

However, once you unlatch three clamps and push a button, an entire third level pops up with another queen size bed. Making the roof go up and down was bt far Bodhi’s favorite part of the van.


Doug VandeCamp - a camper van rental from GoCamp

Doug comes equipped with everything you need for a weekend away.

Chairs, camping stove, water, rug, table, kite, propane, and a 3-level plastic bin with utensils, pots, pans, condiments, coffee, mugs, bags, etc.

There’s also a little portable “Sure Stove” campfire pit – so if you wind up pulling over to the side of the road, you can still have a fire. Bodhi and I had a lot of fun playing with that on our first night there while Luna finished up a nap


Doug VanDeCamp - a camper van on Highway 1 in California

Our Weekend With Doug

The whole idea of a camper van is that you can pull off to the side of the road and set up “camp.” However, with two young kids, we decided that a campsite was a must. Easier said than done …

My dream was to take Doug down California’s Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1). However, it’s practically impossible to get campsite reservations in the summer. After weeks of looking, a single camping spot opened up at Sunset Beach. It was the very same campsite that Carrie took me to 17 years earlier when I came out to California to visit her and meet her parents for the first time.

Having finished my “golden hour photography” stops, we finally arrived at the campsite just as the sky turned from blue to black. Luna was already asleep, so we quietly got the van ready, lit the Sure Stove, had some dinner, and went to bed.


Doug VanDeCamp - GoCamp Van Rentals-26

Where did the sun go?

The next morning, we arose to find everything covered in water. I guess I should have put those chairs back in the van overnight! The skies were gray and the air was cold. So, instead of a relaxing morning by the fire and a day at the beach, we wound up embarking on an adventure with Doug.

Our first stop was a vegan pancake house in Salinas, CA – a 45 minute drive away. From there, we spent the next 3 hours in the parking lot – playing in Doug, and getting lunch from the same pancake house! Amazing, since you could never do that kind of thing if we were just in the car.

Next, we drove around trying to strike a balance between me needing to take photos of Doug and finding places where the family could run free. Without going into details, it was a disaster! By 3pm, The Goodman Family was back at the campsite – ready for a break from our vacation.

Fortunately, our chairs were now dry and I had a large bundle of firewood to keep us warm. As day turned to night, we cooked a meal using Doug’s included gear, had a feast by the fire, played with colorful lights, tried to find a single star behind the clouds, and faded off for a lovely night sleep in the van.

The next morning was as you might imagine. We woke up, had another fire, ate breakfast, packed up Doug, and headed home, dropped the family off, and did a solo drive to drop off the van.

In total, we took Doug for a 228-mile spin. It used 12 gallons of diesel. And it was an unforgettable weekend … for so many reasons!

To book a weekend (or longer) with Doug VanDeCamp, check out his profile at GoCamp Rentals.