You might remember back in April we announced - with grand fanfare, may I add - the inauguration of the first Tentsile Experience Camp in Nuuksio, Finland. After months of field testing, negotiations between Tony Tavi, Alex and the Operator in National Park, we had made it! It was big news! We invited the press, we gathered a crowd, Alex even flew out to Finland (I know, hard life, right?), and with great pride, with great aplomb, we cut the proverbial ribbon and declared the world’s first Tentsile Experience Camp open. It was here. 

And it certainly was a proud moment - for all of us! Proud for Tentsile - for taking the first step towards walking the walk in developing a minimal impact camping ground, proud for Tony - for making a dream come true and holding his nerve around the formal negotiating table, and proud for Finland - for displaying to world their progressiveness in marrying up concepts of national park protection with notions of camping and enjoying the outside. And although, disappointingly, we have no official certificate to stick in our cap, our collaboration with Nuuksio remains, indisputably, a coup for minimal impact camping, and a world first. 

Of course, as is often the case, things didn’t go entirely as planned. They rarely do, true? Yes, there were bookings, and yes, the visitors from around the world enjoyed themselves. In fact, in so many ways, it was a success. But what we didn’t take into account was the fact that a building site was soon to appear just down the way from the Experience Camp site. Great for infrastructure, I hear you say. And great for builders and cranes. True. But not so good for people wanting to turn up to the peace and quiet of a nature park and Tentsile their way through the serenity of the Finnish natural outdoors. In other words, it was too noisy. So yes, we had to stop accepting walk-in customers looking for a night’s Tentsile shelter. These things happen, I suppose. We go with the flow. Luckily, Finland has so many pristine sites, it wasn’t too much effort to simply relocate for the season with group bookings only. 

And on the upside, everything is back on track for 2017. With all cylinders firing, with no more building, we’re on; Nuuksio is again open for business and taking bookings. A whole season of Tentsile minimal camping in Finland back on the agenda. And we’re looking forward to it. In fact, we’re thinking of kicking off the season with a party in Nuuksio – live music, food and craft stands, and a whole lot of joy. Finnish Style. So watch this space! 

But the good – no, the BEST news - doesn’t just stop there. Oh no, that would be too easy! Because this year we’ve given Tony a bigger challenge. That’s right, we said “Tony, one Experience Camp is not enough. We want 10! And not just in Finland. We want them all over the world!” It’s true, at first he looked a little aghast, his eyebrows telling me that negotiating one Tentsile Experience Camp with a national park was hard enough, but 10? Yet, after a moment’s thought, Tony being the champion he is and refusing to be beaten, sat back in his chair. “Okay”, he said, “You’re on!” 

And so it begins: Tony’s Tentsile Challenge – or #ChallengeTony. The question is can he do it? Can he set up 10 Tentsile Experience Camps by the end of 2017? Who knows? We don’t know. He doesn’t know. But we’re going to try! So follow Tony on his journey through 2017 and keep up with his news – we’ll blog it, we’ll Tweet it, we’ll Newsletter it, we’ll do whatever we can do to keep you informed, and hope that by this time next year you’ll be able to phone up your nearest Tentsile Experience Camp and enjoy the wonders of the outdoors. 

And from what I’ve understood, he’s already got another one opening in Finland, and has started putting down roots in Thailand and Costa Rica…so you may end up sleeping in trees sooner than you think. 

Watch this space. 


Jethro Shirley-Smith