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Over 4,000 young people should have gathered for a youth camp at Oslofjord between Christmas and New Year. However, restrictions from the authorities on December 13 made it clear that it would no longer be possible to have a camp, and it unfortunately had to be canceled at short notice.

The slogan in BUK is #whateverittakes to facilitate activities and offers for young people throughout the entire corona period, and although the cancellation meant minimal Christmas holidays for both employees and many volunteer mentors, just a few days after the government press conference a digital alternative was already ready – «Romjulscamp* Online 2021».

*“Romjul” is the Norwegian word for the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

BUK Sandefjord rigged up some of the camp areas at Oslofjord on December 8 in snowy weather and minus degrees.
Kristen Vedvik (22) and Madelen (17) from BUK Sandefjord rigged up for the camp, which unfortunately had to be canceled.

A unique international collaboration

A turnaround operation like this would never have been possible without the several thousand dedicated mentors who once again are planning the best possible camp locally. This, of course, depends on what can be done according to the national rules and restrictions where one lives.

For several years, all local BUK groups around the world have had a BUK contact person who regularly receives information and updates from BUK central about camps and activities. The BUK contact person then passes this on to the mentors and young people in their local group, and in this way contributes to everyone receiving equally good information and follow-up.

This collaboration has never been more important than during the pandemic.

BUK’s general manager, Peter Tischhauser, held a webinar on Zoom with all the BUK contacts worldwide on Tuesday December 14.

Hannah Solberg (25) is the BUK contact person in the local group in Drammen in Norway and describes the collaboration with BUK central as a great help for them locally:

  • I think this collaboration is so valuable for us who suddenly get the huge responsibility of creating a local camp for our young people in the middle of a pandemic. BUK central facilitates everything with online broadcasts and arrangements for activities, which we can make part of the local event. This makes our work locally so much easier, which we greatly appreciate, she says.
Hannah Solberg, BUK Drammen

Elias Siow (31), who is the BUK contact person in Melbourne, Australia, also expresses great thankfulness for being part of the international cooperation in BUK:

  • The content that comes from BUK central for us to be able to carry out the local camps has really been a driving force in these times where we have not been able to get to the camps in Norway. And the importance of this cooperation between all the local BUK groups has only been strengthened now during the pandemic. It has clearly shown that it is very valuable to work together rather than each one alone, he says.
Elias Siow, BUK Melbourne

Read more about the important work the BUK mentors do here: A good place to belong.


A digital camp package

Right now, the infection situation, restrictions and measures are very different from country to country, and there is therefore a huge difference as to what each local BUK group can implement. Therefore, the Romjulscamp Online 2021 will be a 100% online offer from BUK central, where local BUK groups can arrange local camps if desired – and if possible. All local BUK groups have now received a digital «camp package» with information, programs, material and tips for implementing four different local camp programs.

This is the program from BUK central.

In a few days, the local BUK groups will also receive an exciting package in the mail with, among other things, the participants` wrist bands that should have been used at the camp in Norway, graphic material and other material to be used in connection with the online activities.

The wrist bands are part of the package that is being sent express post
to the local BUK groups in the next few days.
We are working full speed to prepare a digital alternative before the camp starts online on December 28.

A positive consequence of the camp being broadcast online

The team behind the online camp is now working around the clock to be ready with the digital alternative by December 28, when the online camp starts.

Project manager for the camp, Miriam Hartje (31) has put thousands of hours together with her team into the now canceled camp, but despite this, it is an optimistic and smiling Hartje who says:

  • Many in the project team have in recent months spent large parts of their free time outside work to make the Romjulscamp as good as possible, and we were just about ready to carry out the camp at Oslofjord when the new restrictions came. Therefore, it is all the more impressive to experience the goodwill and willingness to work in order to digitalize the entire concept within just a few days before the start of the camp, she says.
Miriam Hartje, project leader for the Christmas Camp Online 2021

But it is as they say: every cloud has a silver lining. And Hartje is happy after all, that there are now 2000 more young people who get to experience camp during the Christmas period:

  • Even though it hurts to have to cancel the Romjulscamp, I am convinced that the now around 6000 young people who can join the digital alternative will have a fantastic experience with their local BUK groups. I wish the local BUK groups great success in implementing the camp locally, and we at BUK Central will support them all we can just to make their job as easy as possible, she concludes.