FDF is one of the largest Christian organizations for children and youth in Denmark. The aim of FDF is to share the Gospel with children and youth. Since 1902, FDF has been an independent and voluntary part of the youth work of the Danish national church.
FDF was founded in 1902 by the young Copenhagen architect Holger Tornøe. In the beginning, only boys could be members of FDF. The activities were first and foremost marching exercises (drills) accompanied by music, talks, and Bible studies. Soon FDF started arranging summer camps where boys were introduced to outdoor life and camp life. In 1952, an organization similar to FDF but for girls, named FPF, was founded and in 1974 the two organizations merged as FDF/FPF. The name was changed to simply being FDF in 1994.
The members of FDF are organized in about 400 local groups all over Denmark as well as in the province of Slesvig in Northern Germany. Each local FDF group consists of different subgroups with children divided into these by age. All age groups meet every week and they also go on weekend tours and summer camps. FDF activities contain indoor as well as outdoor activities and are organised by unpaid volunteers.
The local group in the parish
All FDF groups are associated with the local parish. But even though FDF is associated with the Danish national church, the organization also counts some leaders from other Christian communities. FDF is actively involved in many church activities and the church is actively involved in e.g. leader training. At national and regional camps, many pastors are responsible for our religious services and many FDF leaders are members of their local parish council.
Age groups in FDF
FDF offers weekly meetings for children and youth in the following age groups: Puslinge (5-7 years), Tumlinge (7-9 years), Pilte (9-11 years), Væbnere (11-13 years), Seniorvæbnere (13-15 years), Seniorer (15-18 years), and Leaders (18+ years). The local FDF groups are organised on a regional, super-regional and a national level as well as in different national commitees.
Activities in FDF
Activities in FDF give children and youth unsurpassed experiences with nature, music, new ways of celebrating religious services etc. New technology is sometimes employed, introducing members to new and amusing uses of e.g. SMS, GPS for orienteering and camp activities. Drama, local bands and song groups also form part of the many activities that FDF offers. In recent years, adventure sports like sailing, kayaking, wall and tree climbing has also become a part of the typical acitivities. In fact, FDF employs anything that can arouse interest, give members a good time and at the same time support our objective and fundamental values in the widest sense.
Centres of education in FDF
The headquarters of FDF, Rysensteen, is located in the centre of Copenhagen. Aside from the administration,which resides here, Rysensteen also offers sleeping quarters and meeting/activity rooms for groups.
Near “Himmelbjerget” (a scenic area in the middle of Jutland), is the outdoor centre Sletten which is a large camp area with plenty of housing possibilities both indoor and outdoor (up to 15,000 campers can be accomodated!). Sletten also has equipment for various outdoor activities like canoeing, kayaking, climbing and pioneering to name just a few.
Vork is a camp area in Vork Bakker (Vork Hills) near Vejle. It consists of an old farm rebuilt with sleeping quarters, common rooms and a big outdoor activity house. The centres are used by FDF as well as by others who need spacious and beautiful surroundings.
The National Camp
The biggest event in FDF is the national camp, Camp Julsoe, which takes place once every five years and has been a tradition since 1926. Sletten is the setting of the FDF camp for all members from the age of nine. The camp attracts about 13,000 participants for 10 days and we are very happy to welcome foreign visitors to this event – the last Camp Julsoe hosted 500 international guests.
FDF has a strong musical tradition and issues written music as well as songs. Every year, the children’s song book “March og lejr” is published. A new edition has been published each year since 1916 and it is used at practically every FDF meeting and event. Many children and youth get their first musical instruction within FDF and a number of bands, brass bands, baton bands, and rock bands practise in the local groups.
All musicians within FDF meet every five years at a national music gathering while, every other year, a music festival is arranged for the “Seniorer” with FDF rock bands.
International cooperation does not only take place at the national camps. FDF is a member of the international umbrella organisations European Fellowship, Global Fellowship and FIMCAP and is closely connected with similar organizations all over the world.
For more than 30 years, FDF has worked with development projects. The projects run for about 3 years and in this period of time the local FDF groups both raise money for the project and work with themes related to the project in order to inform FDF members about the living conditions in developing countries. Recent projects count SALAM (Egypt), Made in India (India) and Minglabar Myanmar (Myanmar).
FDF forms the basis of four independent boarding schools for pupils who have already received their primary education at an elementary school. The boarding schools host students 15-16 years old are situated in various parts of the country while the college is situated in Silkeborg and hosts students who are often in their early 20s.
FDF leaders are members of the school boards and the schools take part in FDF activities. Through this, FDF is also a part of the general education in Denmark.