"It was cold. Really, really cold!" Frigg Jørgensen, executive director for the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators, is talking about this year's October swim in Adventfjorden. In addition, she had to pay the water fee when she came shivering up the shoreline to the fire to get warm in again.
To the auction
There has recently been an annual meeting of the Advent City Cool Trawling Association, a girlfriend gang of eight that goes out to a cabin to have fun. During the weekend they must pay fees for everything they do, and firmly set on the agenda are curling (this year it was bocce), ice swimming with planned drills, a sauna and mutton stew. And everyone goes forth with relish.
"There is not so much one can do on these trips without spending money and the money goes to the auction," Jørgensen said.
Svalbard again this year was enthroned on top after the national fundraiser led by NRK was completed. Preliminary figures show a national per-person average of 47.1 kroner in Norway. In Svalbard, the average from a month of pre-auction events was 366 kroner – and could be even higher since several events still remain. Play, fun and madness are probably also reasons why Svalbard always scores high.
"We were at dinner a few weeks ago. Since the theme of this year's fundraising was water, the hosts were certain to introduce water fees," said Trine Krystad, another member of the Cool Trawling Association.
All needed water for various purposes and that meant several thousand extra kroner going directly to the fundraiser titled "Water Changes Everything." The dinner was also created by "Two Chefs," who allowed themselves to be sold at a local auction on the same day as the national telethon by coming and stocking gourmet food in the home of a host with guests. The association's dinner was from last year's auction. This year, Jørn Hansen and Steve Daldorff Torgersen netted a bid of 47,000 kroner.
"It's a fun way to raise money," Krystad said. "When you wonder why Svalbard ends up on top, I think the answer lies in this madness. People are playful, and are thinking unconventionally and creatively, and when you put on a 'little telethon' then suddenly you've raised a significant amount."
Collecting the money
That is also the belief of this year's auction leader.
"It is great that madness is contagious," laughed Anne Lise Sandvik, who was with the telethon the first time Svalbard's share went from being a a normal campaign to being an event. It has since escalated and this year the one million kroner level was exceeded by a wide margin.
For a few years the ladies in the Cool Trawling Association auctioned away their men to perform their trades at a good price, Krystad said. Now it's "invent fees" that ensure money in the cash register, all of which is recorded in a log. After the annual meeting, one of the members is responsible for collecting the money and transferring it into the telethon's account.
Before the telethon there was a relay race with costumes, kindergartens went reindeer hunting and then served dinner, Longyearbyen School has its own auction and dinner, people have knitted and sewn items, and travel and people have been auctioned off.
Both Jorgensen and Sandvik said they think such activities makes it easier to open your wallets because you're having fun.
"I am quite sure that there are many who can play and fool around in this manner," Krystad said. "We would like to be infectious with our way of bringing money in."