Tsjemping: sleeping in churches in The Netherlands

Tsjemping: sleeping in churches in The Netherlands

What do you think when you hear the word “camping”? Probably the first image that comes to your mind is a tent in the middle of a forest. Nowadays, however, there are countless camping options. Religious heritage has taken advantage of camping’s popularity in order to create a formula that is both economically sustainable and repurposes disused or underused buildings.

The concept of Champing was developed by the Churches Conservation Trust (FRH Member) out of the necessity of finding new ways to guarantee the sustainability of historic buildings of worship. The Dutch region of Frysland has adapted the formula to their own field creating “tsjemping” (the word is a contraction of “camping” and “tsjerken”, church in Frisian). The director of Alde Fryske Kerken (FRH Member) explains us a bit more about the initative:

– What is tsjemping in a few words?

Tsjemping is the possibility to sleep in one of our churches when you are on your way as a pilgrim or just doing a hike- or biketour and want to experience how it is to sleep in a very basic but yet very special, monumental church. 

– Who can sleep in a church?

You can sleep in a church if you either:

  • Own a pilgrimpass from the Dutch association of Sint Jacob 
  • If you have a route booklet or stamp card of the Jabikspaad, Oldulphuspas, Bonifatius Kloosterpad or Claercamppad.
  • If you are a donor of the Stichting Alde Fryske Tsjerken

– What do interested people need to do in order to sleep in the church?

If you want to sleep in one of our churches you have to contact the contact person of the church of your choice at least 24 hours before your stay to ask if the church is available. You can find the contact details of each of these churches on our website.

– Do people need to bring additional items apart from a sleeping bag?

Just a sleeping bag is enough. There is water and a toilet in the church, but no shower. And there are no possibilities to cook. However, in most churches you can order a breakfast.

– How many people have participated so far since you started the initiative in 2018?

Because many of our churches participate, we as a foundation do not have a clear view on exact amounts of visitor. The only thing I can mention here is that we do welcome quite a lot of pilgrims each year, we get many positive responses and we believe the concept is very successful in most of our churches.

– Did the churches undergo any restoration or adaptive works in order to be part of the tsjemping initiative?

Our foundation is continuously restoring and maintaining all our 55 churches to make sure they are always in good condition. Because of that, no extra restorations or adaptions had to be done to the Tsjemping churches, also because the stay is very basic.

-Why did Alde Fryske Kerken join the initiative?

It matches the mission we have as an organization to welcome as many people as possible to enjoy our churches. We also love to be able to offer cyclers and hikers this amazing opportunity to experience a night in such a special place.

Map of Churches

Churches information and contact points: https://beeldschrift.nl/PRO//api/file/saft/e3f943157219f83d93903d9e6388cab9/

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