Information for parents
The Gathering 2013 is an assembly of young people who want to develop their creative skills, meet like-minded youth and learn. We want to create an arena in which computer loving youth will have the chance to gather for five days of fun with equals, and a playground for those who wish to fully exploit their creativity.
Sending your daughter or son to The Gathering might feel a little risky. It is a huge computer party with a lot of people, and thus you might have some questions. Is The Gathering safe? How can we contact our child during the event? Are they eating anything? Where do they sleep? Are there enough toilets? What happens if..?
5500 people comes to Vikingskipet each Easter, a thought which may impress you, but also overwhelm and frighten the parents at home. This text is meant to inform you about how we do things and what we do to make your child's experience as comfortable as possible. We cannot satisfy everyone with this, but you can contact us if you have further questions.
The Gathering cannot give any personal guarantees during the event, however, we can ensure you we are doing everything we can to give our participants a great Easter holiday, so they can go home with a whole lot more positive experiences than when they came.
We have been organizing The Gathering for over 20 years now. Each year over 300 crew members work hard to make everything go as planned and to make our participants happy. Many of us were participants ourselves once, and have a lot of experience handling the TG challenge.
Where can I find information?
One of our goals is to give as much information as possible, to our participants and to their parents.
Our most important information channel is our website, which you are now on. We recommend you keep your eye on our site, as we will be posting practical information, timetables for our shows and contact information. We also broadcast television 24/7 - perhaps you will see one of your children on TG-TV?
Can I contact the organizers?
If you need to speak to any of the TG leaders you can find their numbers here.
I am the participant's ombudsmann. We are a team of three people who are the participants' spokesmen in the leader group. We make sure they are doing okay during the event, and they can come and talk to us if anything feels wrong or difficult. We are a shoulder to cry on. In addition, we can help those who have special needs.
Questions for the participant's ombudsmann can be directed to deltagerombud at gathering dot org.
What is the age limit at TG?
There is no age limit, but we do recommend anyone under 16 to travel with someone (e.g. siblings or friends) over 16.
The police require us to make sure all participants under the age of 16 to bring a consent form signed by their parents to The Gathering. Minors without this form will be turned away. The consent is available for download here.
You parents know your kids the best, you have to decide whether they get to go. As organisers we cannot check on them to eat or sleep regularly. Thus we ask you to consider if your children is able to take care of themself, or if they should go with someone.
Will they be able to sit with someone they know?
Yes, friends and family members will get to pick seats via our ticket system.
Can you help me get in touch with my child at The Gathering?
We strongly recommend your child to bring a mobile phone so you can call whenever you need to. Our phone numbers are mainly for things concerning the event. We do not have the capacity to pass on messages to the participants, except during emergencies. It's a good idea to note where your child is sitting, making it easier for us to find them if needed.
Is TG safe?
Yes, it is safe! We cooperate with the police in Hamar, who will be both in the arena and outside. The fire department is situated in the same building as us, and all our installations are approved by them.
We also have our own security crew, who guard our entrances (we don't let people in without a ticket) and who always looks out for us. Part of this crew is Medic. We have our own first aid station in the ship (marked by a Red Cross logo) with educated health personnel manning it at all times.
What if equipment gets broken or disappears?
People bring a lot of expensive equipment to TG. We, as the organiser, have an insurance, but it does not cover any damage or loss of equipment belonging to the participants. We rarely have cases where computers are stolen, and most material damage is caused by accidents such as spilling soda over the keyboard.
The last couple of years we have seen people bring more mobile devices, which are easy to steal. No one should leave their things behind without anyone watching. TG does take any responsibility for damage on participants' equipment. Each participant should bring valid travel insurance. Remember, conditions for covering loss and damage will vary with the different insurance companies.
Do not leave wallets or cell phones unattended! Any loss or damage must be reported to our Info:Desk, who will call the police if needed. This is to avoid complications with insurance companies etc.
What about food?
There are two eating places in the ship. They both follow the policies that apply to the operation of public dining. We always have inspections from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority and health authorities during TG. There are also several restaurants in Hamar which are open during Easter. Food at The Gathering is no problem. One of the reasons we do not recommend people under 16 coming alone is that we know that not everyone will eat or sleep well enough to keep going for five days.
You can order a meal ticket along with the participant's ticket. This will provide breakfast and dinner every day, served by one of the eating places in the ship. Through these tickets you get varied and healthy food. These tickets is bought through geekevents.org. Infromation about the mealtickets can be found here.
We will also have microwave ovens and automatic kettles for the participants to use to prepare their own food. There are some Grocery stores in Hamar that are open every day. We have a trade-in service for cooling units at our Info:Desk, so you can keep your food cold.
We do not sell alcoholic drinks at TG. We have a zero-tolerance attitude when it comes to alcohol and all other drugs. Participants who posess or use this will be suspended without further notice. You can buy soda and other drinks in the ships. Many participants bring big loads of drinks themselves. We want you to talk to your children about the importance of water. Five days living on Coca Cola is not a good idea. We have drinking water taps several places in the building, so bring a reusable bottle.
Where do they sleep?
We have many dedicated sleeping areas in the ship. They are on and below the stands, but everyone must bring their own matress and sleeping bag. Many also bring a pillow. Sleeping on hard concrete will be quite uncomfortable. Sleeping between the rows or in front of emergency exits is strictly forbidden. We urge you to talk to your children about the importance of enough sleep. No one can be awake for five days in a row.
We also have a big sleeping tent outside which is heated and a great alternative to the stands. There will always be a security guard outside the tents.
Our program will be planned so there is always a time at night where nothing special is happening. That way the participants will not feel that they are missing out while they are sleeping.
What about toilets and showers?
Vikingskipet is a sports arena, so there are plenty of toilets and showers which are continously washed and refilled with paper and soap. The participants have to bring their own towel and shampoo. Talk to them about some simple hygiene rules. We are many people in the same place, so hand washing is extremely important. Washing your hands after going to the toilet is mandatory. Tell them to wash their hands before and after touching food, especially if several people are eating (e.g. pizza). A winning argument may be that you feel more awake when you are clean, and thus you can stay up longer.
We are flexible when it comes to solutions for special needs. We have many years of experience adapting for people with differing levels of ability and we will go out of our way to make them happy. Contact Medic at medic at gathering dot org, or participant's ombudsmann at deltagerombud at gathering dot org, and we will help you.
It's been over 20 years since the first The Gathering. It has been great in the past and we are certain it will continue that way. If you are in a position to visit, please do so. It is difficult to understand what TG is without having seen, heard and experienced it. TG is a safe event, and if I were a parent I would not worry about sending them there compared to other places. If you need to speak to the participant's ombudsmann about this information letter or other things, please write to deltagerombud at gathering dot org.
Mats Frøiland, participant's ombudsmann