In Sønderborg, we know that young people are our future, which is why we prioritise them and their activities. The first ever Tilting-at-the-Ring Festival Youth Lunch was a great success, with 850 children from Sønderborg – both local residents and those from other towns. Watch the video from the 2023 Youth Lunch in Sønderborg here.
The Bonde family moved home to Als and created a life that they thrive in and enjoy on a daily basis. They have everything they need right here.
“You could see it in the way we acted. As soon as the weekend came, we packed up our little Skoda Fabia and drove the two hours back to Als.”
“I don’t think we even said it out loud. It was just on the cards.”
This is how married couple Camilla Frederiksen Bonde and Jacob Berthelsen Bonde describe the time just before they decided to move back to Als in the summer of 2017. After six years of studying in Aarhus, they packed up their small family, including one-year-old son William, and headed home.
Moving back home to Als had been on the cards for a long time, and today Camilla and Jacob, both 32, are happy to be back in Southern Jutland. Close to family and friends, close to nature and close to the many opportunities that Sønderborg has to offer.
It always had a special significance
The couple, who both grew up on Als – one in Tandslet, the other in Guderup – met at Business College Syd in 2007, where their friendship developed into a relationship three years later.
A trip around the world made their relationship even stronger, and together they moved to Aarhus to study. Camilla started studying law, while Jacob, after six months on the Economics and Business Administration programme, chose a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Management Communication instead. He liked it so much that he went on to study for a Master’s degree in Corporate Communication.
During their studies, the couple decided to expand their family and became parents to son William in 2016.
“I always wanted to become a mum at a young age, so I was pretty much ready to have a baby while I was doing my Bachelor’s degree. It was an obvious choice to have a child while studying for the Master’s degree, as it meant that we could finish our studies at the same time, as Jacob switched programmes. It was also convenient if we were going to go home and look for a job,” says Camilla.
The idea of returning to Als to look for work was in the back of their minds, and for the couple, the area where they lived in their youth has always held a special significance.
“I’ve always had a sense of home when I thought of Als. Even when we lived in Aarhus, we had to go home to Southern Jutland for the weekend. When we crossed the bridge to Als, it made me happy. Looking out over the town and seeing all the rapeseed fields and everything is just so wonderful. I can’t get that anywhere else,” says Camilla.
Close to family and friends
Jacob and Camilla Bonde were even more drawn to Southern Jutland after becoming parents. They decided to move back to Als when they both graduated in 2017 as they wanted to be closer to their family. First, they lived in a rented house in Dybbøl for a year to settle into their new – yet familiar – surroundings and new jobs. Jacob currently works as a strategy consultant in the executive secretariat at Sydbank in Aabenraa, while Camilla is a team leader at the Danish Agricultural Agency in Augustenborg. After six years, they now live in Hørup – just ten minutes from each of their parents.
It’s a great pleasure to have both sets of parents close by on a daily basis, and they see each other often.
“It just makes everyday life more fulfilling. We have a good relationship and enjoy each other’s company. We’re grateful for that, and we wouldn’t want it any other way,” says Jacob.
The grandparents are also happy to lend a helping hand. Every other Thursday, Jacob’s parents pick up their grandchildren – William, who is now almost seven years old, and his little brother Ditlev, who was born in June 2019. Camilla’s parents also regularly look after the two boys when they have weekends off. And then there’s all the practical help with the house.
“It could be anything like: ‘We have this issue with the house, can you help?’”, says Jacob.
“Or: ‘There’s something wrong with the dishwasher’. They still come over and help,” Camilla laughs.
The idea of being closer to friends in the Sønderborg area was also a decisive factor in the couple returning home to Als. Jacob still sees the boys from his school in Hørup, and both he and Camilla also meet up with some of their former classmates from Business College Syd.
“We’ve each held on to the network we had down here from business college, and it’s still alive and well. That was definitely one of the things that made coming home so appealing,” says Jacob.
“Our friends down here had had children. So coming home to others who were in the same boat also meant something,” says Camilla, adding that many of their other friends who left to study have since returned to the area.
Daily life and leisure time
The couple, who got engaged at Alsik in December 2019 and married last summer, are happy to see how their everyday life in Als also works well for their children.
“We have been extremely lucky to find daycare 50 metres down the road at Kløverlykke Daycare, where the staff are fantastic and the environment is great for the children. I am chairman of the parents’ committee and therefore also a member of the joint board for the whole of Als. It gives you the opportunity to have your finger on the pulse in terms of what’s happening,” says Jacob.
The area is also a good base for older brother William, who attends school in Hørup.
“Hørup is connected by cycle paths, and it’s not far from our house to the supermarket or school, so William cycles to and from school himself. We are comfortable with that because he doesn’t have to go out on major roads,” says Jacob.
However, it’s not just about the children. Camilla and Jacob are also involved in local leisure activities. They spend a lot of time playing Padel Tennis, while Camilla has also tried to keep up with her lifelong interest.
“I’ve done tilting at the ring [where horseback riders attempt to thrust their lance through a ring that gets smaller as the competition progresses] since I was six years old. My horse died when I lived in Aarhus and I haven’t had a new one since, because we had children and work. But tilting at the ring will still be a part of us, and I would also like to ride again. I do it once in a while, but not as much as I used to,” says Camilla, who has also become involved in the ladies’ lunch committee, which organises an impressive ladies’ lunch in connection with the Tilting-at-the-Ring Festival in Sønderborg. Jacob also has several hobbies that he enjoys. As he says, there are many options.
“I played a lot of handball – also when we came back home – but I’ve suffered an injury, so I’m not playing as much right now. A friend and I go mountain biking from time to time, and there are plenty of opportunities to do so here in the woods and along the Gendarme Trail. And then we do a little fishing and have the opportunity to go duck hunting in barges at Kegnæs. So there are just various cool opportunities.”
Sønderborg has something special
It’s no coincidence that many of those who grew up in the area move back as adults, according to Camilla and Jacob Bonde. Sønderborg and the surrounding area have something very special.
“Denmark has everything, it’s just that things are often far away. Here you can find forest and beach, sea and harbour, as well as town life. If you want to go shopping there are great boutiques and speciality shops to browse, or if you want to walk along the coast there’s the Gendarme Trail. It’s such a great combination of nature and town life, and everything is close by. We have everything right here,” says Camilla.
Jacob agrees, and he also highlights the harbour area in the town.
“It’s a great place to be. Sønderborg has so many things to offer. It ticks all the boxes for us.”
After almost six years back in Southern Jutland, Sønderborg can still surprise the couple.
“I sometimes find myself thinking: ‘Is this really Sønderborg? Does Sønderborg really offer all this?’ It’s quite unique and amazing,” says Jacob.
Camilla chimes in and talks about one of the most special experiences she had recently. “A month ago, I was sitting with three friends at Visselulle’s Wine Bar. It was the first night we could sit outside with blankets and a glass. The harbour porpoises came leaping up through the harbour and I thought: ‘What’s this? This is crazy. Imagine being lucky enough to be sitting right here, right now?’ I often get that feeling round here. There are so many good things.”
The couple can see how Sønderborg has developed a lot since they lived in the town as children and teenagers, and they are excited about what will happen in Sønderborg in the future.
“It’s exciting to see where Sønderborg will be in 20 years, because so much has happened already. It’s an evolving town, and there will be many different shops and initiatives. There are also job opportunities here if you want to settle down. If we can get more newcomers and grow on the inward migration front, we’re in a good position,” says Jacob.
“We love the many opportunities and it’s a great place to be. We’re staying put – I think we can say that without any doubt.”