Text and photos by Sigrid Thorbjørnsen
Edited by Michael Holtermann
During my stay at the lighthouse, a class of 10th-graders from Blomdalen School at Mandal came visiting. After having been by myself for a couple of days, I was excited to see how it would impact my stay, with so many youngsters in the house.
I watched as the boat docked, and a swarm of enthusiastic youngsters rushed ashore. They came running, bursting with energy, up the road to the lighthouse. The first ones to arrive must have sprinted the whole way up. From having run in strong wind and rain, the kids were soaked to the skin – but I don’t think they even noticed. They were waiting for the rest of the class to come up. And then came all … boys, girls, and three adults. Their energy was already present and I was excited. So many young adults at one place could lead to trouble ….
“Too many of today’s children have straight teeth and crooked morals,” a high school principal once said.
This did not apply to these kids. I was pleasantly surprised to see them all being so willing and eager to help, include everyone in everything they did, conduct all chores without complaining or showing bad attitudes. Everyone helped with everything. No slackers.
When they later went swimming, all of them came along. Not as a quiet crowd, mind you, but rather one, jumping and running horde. The energy seemed to be top. Not everybody jumped into the ocean, after all, the sea temperature was about 13 C, but, they were all together near the water.
The most amazing thing I noticed was that they obeyed the adults. No sour faces or arguments, but more like “okay, we’re listening, and it’s for our own good.”
This will probably be a trip the kids will not forget. And what a wonderful place to get the class spirit working. Given the opportunity and the right environment, kids show that they do care about each other and that they are a living part of their cultural heritage. On an island in the ocean, at a lighthouse, in a community, they shared memories.
What a lovely bunch. Now, I know that the future of Mandal is in safe hands.
A different kind of lighthouse keepers
Ryvingen is also a safe haven for a different group of kids. Not everyone is as energetic and handles everyday life and school as well as this visiting class I saw.
For kids who have problems adapting to school, have learning disabilities or other challenges, there is a special lighthouse program. This program is designed to help prevent teenagers from dropping out of school by giving them a hands-on opportunity to work at Ryvingen, get out and make a difference, and therefore help maintain one of Mandal’s cultural heritages. If it wasn’t for those kids, the fences, main house, and other buildings would not look this awesome at all times. These kids makes a formidable effort at Ryvingen and should be given due credit for some of the skillful upkeep and maintainance.
Ryvingen is a lighthouse that shows the way – in many ways. Since 1867, the lighthouse has lead the way for boats of ships. Today, it also helps navigate youth on their way.
Benjamin Franklin once said that “lighthouses are more helpful than churches.” I will not claim neither one nor the other, but, that lighthouses play an important role, on several levels, is without a doubt.
Do you agree? Let us know.