Police on patrol as AUF camp opens

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The Labour Party’s youth organization AUF, target of a lone gunman’s massacre two years ago, re-opened  its summer camp this week at a new location. It’s not far from where 69 persons were killed at AUF’s summer camp on the island of Utøya, but members said they feel safe with police on patrol.

Membership in the Labour Party's youth organization AUF has grown since it became the target of a terrorist attack two years ago. Now AUF is opening its first national summer camp since the massacre on Utøya on July 22, 2011. PHOTO: Arbeiderpartiet

Membership in the Labour Party’s youth organization AUF has grown since it became the target of a terrorist attack two years ago. Now AUF is opening its first national summer camp since the massacre on Utøya on July 22, 2011. PHOTO: Arbeiderpartiet

Security was a high priority as AUF opened its first national summer camp since the July 22 attack in 2011. The new camp at Gulsrud is being held along the Tyrifjord, the same fjord where AUF held its summer camp at Utøya for many years until the July 22 attack. The future of the Utøya site remains uncertain, with some survivors having no desire to return there for a new camp. Many are, however, keen to carry on the camp tradition itself.

Nearly 1,000 young Labour Party supporters are expected to register for this week’s new camp, with the first ones arriving on Wednesday and more expected over the next few days.

“I couldn’t feel any safer anywhere else in the world,” Sunniva Folgen Høiskar from Aust-Agder told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). She and others have traveled from around the country, some of them on an all-night bus ride, to get to the Gulsrud camp on the Tyrifjord.

All luggage was subject to security checks and Høiskar was happy about that, even though the check-in line was long. “It’s comforting,” she told NRK. “It’s good to know that no one can get in with a knife, for example.”

Now she and other budding Labour activists or future politicians just want to get down to political discussions and have some fun. The camp will run through Sunday and feature debates, entertainment and speeches by current Labour politicians including former Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, who now serves as health minister in Norway’s Labour-led coalition government. Støre was even due to spend the night at the camp: “He’ll actually sleep here,” Kristine Næss, a young camper from Ullensaker, exclaimed. “That will be something!”

There were 564 AUF members attending the camp at Utøya on July 22, 2011, when a right-wing extremist who was unhappy with Labour’s support for immigration decided to try to kill off the next generation of Labour politicians. He failed, and is now serving a lengthy prison term.

Around 750 AUF members registered in advance for this year’s camp, with the most coming from Rogaland on Norway’s west coast and the Oslo area. AUF’s total membership, meanwhile, has swelled to 13,200, many of whom likely will embark on a career in politics.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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