Welcome to the Velferden1) in Ny-Ålesund!
This site intends to provide both people that are new in town and old-timers with information on what possibilities there are when you are not at work. Depending on how much you are engaged in your work there might be more or less time available, but there is always something matching—and you really need a break from now and then!
So have fun reading (and exploring), and enjoy your stay!
Of course there is a seasonal variation: it might be difficult to go kayakking during the dark season when the fjord is frozen, on the other hand very few people want to use the sauna when they can sit in the sunshine.
Everyone, even if you stay just a few days, can both benefit from and contribute to Velferden. To give a bit of a structure, there are several divisions or committees, that are responsible for distinct tasks. They consist of one main responsible and sometimes other members, and they are always a good point of contact if you have questions or concerns.
These committees are (in alphabetical order):
Most of ongoing activities are announced at the white board in the service-building (where you have all the meals).
Costly equipment, like kayaks, boats and survival suits, require a small rental fee. Mostly to cover the expenses and maintenance costs, but some few people apparently need to feel the weight of some price to treat equipment responsible. And it for sure helps to not keep things longer than needed (and makes them available for others again).
A list about the fees can be found at the white board in the service building, and there is also the green letterbox where you can put in your payment.
There are some facilities around that are worth knowing to exist:
The longer you stay, the higher the chance/risk to get involved on the “contributing” part. Things that are difficult to avoid are cleaning the gym and doing one of the Saturdays' bar-duties. Once more again, the whiteboard in the service building is your friend to get informed. Usually no one is forced to do anything (and if you e. g. never use the gym you will probably not get scheduled for cleaning, either), so if you feel exploited or simply can't make it do not just don't show up, but talk to the people doing the schedule (the earlier the better). Otherwise your silent agreement is assumed.
Other times there might be a dugnad, which mainly is some work not really pleasant to do alone, but unfortunately necessary to be done (usually something like bundling firewood, checking survival suits for leakage, cleaning the town from debris). The more people show up to help the less painful it gets and the faster everyone is done with it—and usually some refreshments are provided, too.