UPDATED: The Norwegian Trekking Association (Det Norske Turistforening, DNT) controversially sponsored the “russebuss” of its leader’s daughter – despite having a policy not to undertake any sponsorship at all. The association ended the deal just hours after media reports emerged.
“Russebuss” are minibuses that are bought and redecorated by graduating high school students participating in “Russ,” the annual partying season before the final high school exams. DNT chose to sponsor the bus of general secretary Kristin Krohn Devold’s daughter to the tune of NOK 5000 (around USD 950) in an apparent attempt to engage more with young people.
Appeal to youth
A spokesperson for DNT, Egil Hurum, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that “normally we do not sponsor at all, but we have recently focused on youth and want more members in DNT Youth.” He added that “we thought it would be fun to be involved with a ‘russebuss’ where we had someone present that could be responsible for ensuring that it was an orderly bus.” Hurum also confirmed that other buses had not been sponsored.
Hurum was quick to emphasize that he had made the decision on the sponsorship after direct contact with Krohn Devold’s daughter, and the general secretary herself had not been involved. The exception to the general policy on sponsorship had been undertaken because it was not “large scale” and also because the association “wants to be present in places where young people meet other young people.” He also said that he would have given the sponsorship even if Krohn Devold’s daughter had not been involved if he “knew others on board the bus.” When asked by NRK if people therefore needed personal contacts to receive money from DNT, Hurum said “yes, or in other words they must show us that they are proper people because a ‘russebuss’ is not the first thing I would have chosen to sponsor if I hadn’t known that there were proper people on board.”
Hurum suggested that he would consider sponsorship of further buses next year “depending on what kind of people they have on the bus and in what way they ensure that the bus is orderly.” He confirmed that he would “prioritize sponsoring a bus where I knew someone on board.” Nonetheless, Hurum announced just hours after the news first broke that DNT would now withdraw the sponsorship after receiving “many negative responses from our members” and recognizing that the connection to Krohn Devold was “unfortunate.”
DNT youth and board unhappy
Krohn Devold’s daughter’s buss is called “Cluedo,” and has a number of other sponsors. They now show the DNT Youth logo on the back of the bus, with the slogan “Russ today – walk tomorrow.” One of the participants alongside Krohn Devold’s daughter told NRK that “it isn’t easy to get a company to sponsor a ‘russ’ celebration,” but that they had managed to find some “via contacts and parents.”
Some in DNT were not pleased with the news, including its board leader Tom Ivar Bern, who was not aware of the sponsorship deal. “It is very simple – we do not sponsor, we are sponsored,” he told NRK.
DNT Youth itself was also surprised by the decision, describing it as “the wrong signal to send.” Leader Karoline Burdahl Teien told newspaper VG that “we didn’t know anything about this, but this is not something we would have prioritized.” She would prefer to see the money used on a tour around schools in order to “tell students about fantastic walking experiences.” Hurum also told NRK that he regretted not contacting DNT Youth about the decision.