"It is absolutely wonderful that so many participated in Night of Nature in Svalbard," said Lill Haugen, a communications advisor for Norsk Friluftsliv ("Norwegian Outdoor Life"). "It is exotic for us southerners hear about polar bears and temperatures near freezing in September. Svalbardites must be among the nation's toughest."
70 of 50,000
A Night in Nature in the great outdoors was a success in Endalen during the winter and the success was repeated in Bjørndalen last weekend.
"We had 27 tents and about 70 people in the camp, including two who slept outside under the open sky," said Silje M. Hagen, project leader for Aktiv i Friluft.
On the plain next to the river in Bjørndalen, a few hundred meters from where the road ends in the valley, a large grill was set up and a bonfire lighted. While a group was guided up the Fuglefjella bird cliff, the children sat and enjoyed themselves with reading provided by Roy Martin Kristiansen from Longyearbyen Library.
The 70 who slept out in Bjørndalen contributed to Norsk Friluftsliv successfully reaching the goal of 50,000 people camping out nationwide.
The aim of Night in Nature is to raise people's awareness of the outdoors and nature. Norsk Friluftsliv also want to get the theme up to the political level, since outdoor interests often lose out on issues concerning development and business.
Two that are definitely aware of the qualities of getting daily rest in the outdoors are sisters Tiril and Ronja Hermansen.
"We have been out on the balcony since April, " Tiril told Svalbardposten while her family was eating dinner in Bjoerndalen.
"We tried it one time and since it has just been so that the kids take their sleeping bags out on the balcony and settle on some thin mattresses we have there," said Maiken Hermansen, the sisters' mom.
'Thanks for your help'
Hagen didn't stay overnight in Bjørndalen herself, but noted the event was a huge success.
"I am very pleased and we could not have had better help," she said. "The Red Cross provided toilet tents and other equipment, and we had many volunteers that contributed to this being a success."
Translated by Mark Sabbatini