New Year Camps in Denmark
Their make up is all messed up. That is probably because it has been painted on their faces by a couple of blindfolded teenagers. It sounds silly, and I guess it actually is. But even a silly and seemingly pointless activity is meaningful for 50 young people, all under the age of 25. They come from different backgrounds, but they are smiling, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. It is a place of happiness, peace, and God’s loving presence.
For about 10 years now, the Danish Methodist Church has successfully implemented New Year camps. This program was in existence 30 years ago, but it slowly died out. Thankfully, a handful of young adults decided to relive this tradition, where New Years Eve and the days leading up to it, are spent in an old army barracks an hour from Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark.
It started out with 33 participants, a good program, and a lot of hard work. With God’s blessing, the camp is bearing fruits now. Today we have developed a number of qualified leaders. More than 50 young people spend their New Year’s Eve in the camp called Solborgen (Sun Castle).
This program helps change the lives of these young Danes. Everyone is accepted for who they are. Some of them are trying to escape from the struggle of pretending and wanting to fit in. In the camp, that is not the case. Those who stutter are encouraged to sing; those who feel rejected are at the center of positive attention while teens with insecurities start building confidence.
It is not rocket science, but a mix of fellowship, bible studies, board games, coffee and a genuine interest for young people make the New Year’s Camp a place where you can feel the spirit of God.
We cook meals together, sing together, worship together, and focus on creating an alternative to the dominant perception of how young people should act. When they go back to their homes and local churches, they share the message of Jesus. Through this program, young people share their doubts, faith, hopes and dreams, which is a truly inspiring experience, and hopefully this will continue for many years to come.