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Camp Asker ligger på Bergvang gård, i idylliske omgivelser rett ved Semsvannet i Asker.

Boys and girls with different needs for help and support can come here. Some live at home with their biological parents and some live in foster homes. They can come here and get coping experiences, activation and help with their own development process.

At Bergvang farm there is a bustling animal life. The farm is home to both horses, pigs, birds, llamas and alpacas, cows and not least a whole bunch of huskies. Camps are organized here throughout the year. The children arrive on Friday afternoon and stay until Sunday afternoon.

The children at Camp Asker mainly come to us through a referral from the municipal child welfare or health service. The children themselves often need coping exercises and practicing social skills, as well as having a break from their normal life.

Competent managers

There are four different groups at Camp Asker, each with its own leader and staff. Those who are managers have child welfare or equivalent education. In addition, they receive guidance should the need arise. Amongst the staff, you will find, among other things, child protection students, pedagogic students, pre-school teachers, art students, carpenters and many other different professions. For many of them, this is an exciting extra job in addition to their studies or work. Everyone who works at Camp Asker has received training in trauma sensitivity through Familiehjelp’s collaboration with RVTS.

In addition, there are often youth workers involved, who could have been at Camp Asker themselves as participants, but instead are offered to work there at the weekend as part of the management group. In this way, the home is relieved, while the young people experience mastery.

Engaged

Nini Karine Torp is team leader at Camp Asker. She is a clinical child protection educator, specializing in infants and toddlers and attachment. She herself has seven children, she says: Five of her own, and two foster children. The roles of mother of seven and leader of Camp Asker do not need to be separated, she believes. Instead, they are united in their desire to make the world a better place. Her children are also getting quite big, and her foster children are soon adults. And several of the children are also involved in working at Camp Asker.

– There are a lot of people, and animals, in my life. It is because I am happy that things happen, I have a lot of strength and energy. And I am a committed person, who likes to do several things at once. This is what I want to spend my life doing. I think it’s nice.

As a rule, there are around six leaders present on a weekend, somewhat depending on the needs of the children who participate. Nini Karine says that she has deliberately employed managers with different personalities at Camp Asker. This is because the children should see that there are many different ways of being an adult. But regardless of age or personality type, everyone enjoys working there, she says.

– Firstly, these are people who are passionate about being able to make a difference for the children. So I think it’s a lot about the fact that this is a very good place to be. They look forward to coming to work and have a great time here. In a way, each group has its own culture, which is created by those who lead the group, and the children in the group. The groups build their own system, even if they are based on the same basic ideas.

Whispering in the night

There are usually around ten children who take part in a weekend at camp, in an age range from around six to thirteen years. When the children arrive at Camp Asker, the first thing that happens is that they eat taco dinner together. That is, after everyone has cooked dinner together. Then they run outside and play hide and seek in the dark, feed animals, kick football or other outdoor activities. Friday evening is cuddle night, where they either watch a film, play games, read or do something else pleasant. When they go to bed, they lie in the bedroom and whisper with their friends. And it’s more special than you might think.

– These are children who do not whisper as much at night as other children. They don’t often make overnight visits, or have friends who stay overnight with them. So we think it’s important that they get to do it here. But, you are not allowed to get out of bed until seven o’clock the next morning. On the other hand, they can stay up until nine o’clock if they want to.

The next day starts with buns and cocoa, before there is a shared breakfast. Then everyone will go out and do activities. At Camp Asker, one of the philosophies is to make a lot out of little – meaning that they do simple things, but make sure to do them in a very pleasant way. It can be things like spending time making a fire, and then sitting around the fire together. Or go for a long ride on a horse, try dog ​​sledding with the many huskies that live on the farm, go for walks, swim in Semsvannet in the summer or visit the ice rink at Risenga in the winter, and much more.

– This should not be a big circus, but rather simple activities that are done with joy, enthusiasm and playfulness. Another important point is to ensure that everyone  masters , in one way or another. If, for example, you are very afraid of horses, you will not be forced onto the horse. Then you get help feeding it, or for example cleaning a hoof. Everyone should leave the activity with a feeling of «I did this», so we build them up.

Exhausted by experiences and a sense of mastery

On Saturday, there is a joint dinner and cozy evening again, in the same way as Friday. And the weekend stay with lots of fresh air and outdoor activities can take off, says Nini Karine. The children tend to fall asleep very late on Friday, but very early on Saturday.

On Sunday morning, they like to sleep a little longer, before a big breakfast of eggs and bacon is served. After another pleasant activity and some more food, it is time to go home. And then everyone is completely exhausted, after an exciting and eventful weekend. Including the adults, says Nini Karine.

– Everyone knows how good and important it is to have something to look forward to. I am very moved when I think about it, because I know it means so much to many of the children. Having a place where you both know that you are loved and wanted, and where you feel that you get things done, that is the most important thing.

Working with change

But it’s not just idyll and harmony at camp. On the contrary, difficult situations often arise. The children are challenged and try unknown and difficult things, and this can lead to clashes. The children can become unfriended, they have to wait their turn, they lose in games, have to put up with others being better than them at certain things, and they have to do things they really don’t dare. But then they dare to try, and then they grow from the experience.

– These are children with trauma, who may have a short fuse. And they are triggered, but we want that to happen when they are at camp here. The children have to deal with difficult situations, because that is when we can work on change.

A weekend at Camp Asker can therefore be very good for the children who come here, in several ways. In addition, the families have a little peace of mind when the children live with them, knowing that the children are safe and well. Nini Karine emphasizes that they do not call the children’s homes unless absolutely necessary, or if you have expressed a desire for an update along the way. This means they can take that weekend off completely, and then see you again on Sunday when the children have finished camp.

– The key word here is security. It should trump everything else.

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