Spending the night outdoors in the middle of Jyväskylä – with a permit

A few weeks ago I experienced one of the most peculiar nights I can remember. A new location, fun circumstances and a totally unfamiliar accommodation.

I arranged a get-together on the Harju of Jyväskylä for Team Retkipaikka before the big Retkelle convention.

If you’re interested in the history of this event, you’re in luck! This article is about that. You see, spending the night in Harju is not permitted unless you have a special permit.


So how did we end up choosing Harju as a camp site? Where did it all began?

We decided on the Retkelle convention in the Spring of 2017 and while we were at it, we threw in some incidental activities as well –  an event for under 50 people. This was under my care and I chose not to mess with the classic: first a few key note speakers about subjects I knew would interest people and then some light fun during the evening. And since this is Retkipaikka we’re talking about, some of it had to take place outdoors.

We began planning in the Fall of 2017 with representatives of the city and the first topic would be the location. We wanted to attract the attention of the media, provoke questions and interest among the people. We would create something really special!

This was not the first time the idea of a tent hotel had popped into my head. The concept is either stolen of improved upon from that of Nuku Yö Ulkona, so it’s not exactly new.

Someone asked me why we didn’t choose one of the regular campsites or use the facilities of come company. If it was just about accommodation, this would’ve been just fine. But we were looking for an experience to people who mean a lot to me. These guys promised to help me with the convention without having any prior knowledge about it.

One does not simply build a tent hotel in the middle of the city without permit and a keen eye for detail

The next step was to find someone to build the tent hotel site. Thankfully I had someone in mind already: the nature and wilderness guide students of Gradia Jämsä! They jumped on immediately and even the county of Laukaa was more than interested.

We even had portapotties and waste management was all set up and you could either spend the night in your own accommodation (tent etc.) or in one of the Tentsiles provided by the hosts. Gradia also lent us some regular tents just in case.

Trust the team – they’ll do their best and more

Right before the big moment, I was so anxious and excited – but in a good way.

Team Retkipaikka had a seminar as guests of VisitJyväskylä and then transitioned to Harju on foot.

On top of the stairs we could hear a flute faintly playing.

I had requested my friend Osma aka Sammalsielu (Moss Soul) to provide some evening entertainment and he started off with a bang. Like the Piped Piper he lead Team Retkipaikka to the Forest Hotel, where the giant tipi-like hut was set up.

The whole experience was just nuts. Kalevi, representing the county of Laukaa greeted us and showed us the perimeter and went through some general rules.


Laukaa bread and Moss Soul

After a group photo and some pretty epic gifts from the head honchos of Retkipaikka (a handmade knife from the heritage of Rikhard Sotamaa, a Kupilka with the Retkipaikka logo and or course, a t-shirt), we sat down to enjoy delicious cuisine and talk all night long.

After dinner Osma performed what can only be described as a shamanistic ritual. The steady beat of his drum and his calm song took us on a journey of the soul.

First time in a Tentsile

The one we chose housed three people: me, Heikki and Kea. The idea of a suspended tent did make me question a whole lot of things but as it turns out, it was a very lovely experience.


If you feel at home in a waterbed, you’ll feel at home here. The rainfall during the night made a calm rattling sound against the tarp.

Come morning, we had pancakes, porridge and bread. A nice hearty meal is just what you need to sustain you for a weekend of conventioning.


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