Volunteer of the Month: Bendik Stenberg

Text: Emilie Sofie Eilertsen
Photo: NTNUI Blits and Private

Photo: Eivind Jølsgard/NTNUI Blits

In NTNUI’s column “Volunteer of the Month,” you get to meet some of the dedicated volunteers in NTNUI who contribute invaluable efforts. In January, you will meet the River Chief in NTNUI Paddling, Bendik Stenberg.

He is the Rover Chief in the paddling commitee a position he has held for almost 1.5 years. Prior to that, he served 1.5 years as the Sea Chief

He is responsible for organizing 3 basic courses per semester, in addition to 1-2 advanced courses. Thus, he often has the responsibility of coordinating activities over many weekends in a row. In addition to this, he serves as the main instructor during Tuesday training sessions. This year, I believe there have been no more than 1-2 training sessions he hasnt`t participated in (and often as main instructor). As the river chief he is also responsible for coordinating activities during each training session. He was also one of the two main organizers on the river during the annual “Sjoatur”, with around 20 paddlers on the river.

– Thea Kristine Terjesen, Leader NTNUI Paddling
Facts about Bendik

Age: 26
Studies: Psychology
Years in NTNUI: Since the spring of 2021
Group: Paddling
Voluntary position: River Chief

Who are you?
I thrive with a full calendar and get bored quickly if there’s too much downtime. I like when there’s a lot happening so I can be productive efficiently!

How did you end up in NTNUI?
It took the pandemic to free up space in my calendar for paddling, as it is a great outdoor activity that allows for social distancing. I had some experience in sea kayaking, and I was asked to be an instructor in NTNUI, teaching courses. Then, there happened to be an open position in the committee, and the then-leader invited me on a trip to Munkholmen, presenting a sort of sales pitch. So, I went from not being a part of NTNUI at all to suddenly being accepted into the paddling committee.

But you started as the Sea Chief and are now the River Chief, what do these roles entail exactly?
One is responsible for activities either on the sea or riverfront. This includes organizing courses, maintaining equipment, and ensuring that training sessions are carried out effectively. It also involves some delegation. In essence, you’re responsible for making things happen in the area you oversee. For example, in the fall, we held five basic courses because there was a lot of interest.

What would you say is the best thing about your position?
I would say the best thing about the position is that when you’re part of a committee, you’re usually with those who are the most enthusiastic and committed to keeping activities going. It’s incredibly fun to be a part of it, and you feel a greater sense of ownership of the club. I also find it can be dull to just be a participant on a trip, but if you organize and have a hand in it, it’s more enjoyable. The people in the committee are a very pleasant group, so it’s really nice to have a role in the committee.

Photo: Eivind Jølsgard/NTNUI Blits

So the organizational aspects and the governance involved in such a position are quite enjoyable?
Yes, it’s really fun. At times it has been quite busy because when you have a role in planning and choosing dates, you often end up checking your own calendar and selecting weekends with no prior commitments. Last fall, I didn’t have a single free weekend until November, and this was decided before the semester even started!

But you do find this to be just fun?
Oh yes, of course you can feel a bit overwhelmed at times. Serving on a committee can be time-consuming because you spend a considerable amount of time planning, but you want to be a part of all the fun things you plan too!

How did it go in combination with your studies then?
It actually went quite well. When you’re procrastinating on studying, spending time on productive NTNUI Paddling tasks is quite convenient.

What do you think about the label “volunteer of the month or Ildsjel” that you have now received?
Well, I was very surprised, and it came out of the blue. It’s an honor, and I really appreciate receiving such recognition for the work I put in. I also want to emphasize that there are incredibly many people working together and deserving of praise. We are a committee that invests a lot of time and collaborates on tasks.

Photo: Private

What makes you happy?
Oh! Hmm… I’ve had many great moments out in the kayak. Personally, I often use the word “blissful” instead of happy because experiencing a blissful calm and peace, as I often do in the kayak, is very nice. It turns out that in my blissful or happy mode, I tend to become quiet and peaceful. Once on a trip, I was misunderstood for being grumpy and cold, and it seemed like I was having a bad day. It should be mentioned that it was quite cold on that trip, so it might have seemed like I was therefore freezing and having a bad day, but in reality, I was just finding true calm and happiness in the moment. The extreme nature one gets to see from the kayak and seeing nature from such a perspective gives a great sense of joy and an absence of worry and stress.

Have you ended up in the river or the sea during a kayaking trip?
Oh yes. It happens that you end up in the water and have to take a little swim, but it’s part of the game. The worst part is actually the cold temperatures when putting on the spray skirt. The cold temperatures makes the spray skirt quite difficult to work with and I sprained my thumb this fall in an attempt to put it on.

Would you say being part of the committee and organizing trips and courses is the reason you get involved?
It’s a significant part of it. You feel that you are useful and can use your skills in a good way. It’s also a lot of fun with the courses. Basic courses and introducing newcomers to the sport are also big motivations for putting effort into the role.

Do you have any advice for others considering committee positions?
I would encourage it! The hope is that the things we do in the paddling committee, for example, make it easy for others to take over the baton. My goal is that when I leave the committee, it should be well-functioning and enjoyable to take on that role. It’s also important that when you take on a committee role, you need to dedicate some time to it, but my experience from the paddling committee is that it has given me much more than it has taken. It has given me a great and large community that I will continue to stay in touch with both in and out of the water. It’s definitely worth taking the risk if you’re considering a committee role. You just need to be good at knowing your own limitations and use the others in the committee to make the workflow smooth.

We usually end with a lighthearted question or dilemma. Rowing’s tights or the devil’s hat?
It has to be Rowing’s tights, it’s cool!

The volunteer of the month is a regular column created by the promo team in collaboration with the photographers in NTNUI Blits. Would you like to nominate someone for the firebrand of the month? Send to blits-promo@ntnui.no