Karoliina Grohn

It’s a warm day at TeenStreet (TS), and a group of four Finnish teens have found shade next to the conference hall. The pavement next to them is burning hot—on it a small solar cell pack is changing the mobile phone attached to it.

“A friend’s dad told her to bring it with her,” Eveliina (16) says, smiling. “She was nice enough to let us use it.”

Next to Eveliina are three of her church friends from home: Wilhelmiina (15), Elli (16) and Johannes (17). This is the fourth TS for the girls, and the sixth for Johannes.

Their home church is well-represented at TS with a total of 23 teens here for the week. For all of them, coming here has been a year-long process.

At the Free Church of Tampere, fundraising for TS is part of the church’s annual programme, and teens are encouraged to go to TS every year. Funds needed to go are raised by the youth themselves. The recipe is simple: cake and coffee.

About seven to eight times a year, the teens organise coffee time for congregants after the Sunday service. They make plans as to what to offer with the coffee (cinnamon buns, brownies, even a full meal), they cook, they bake, and they run the kitchen and the fellowship hall on Sunday.

The master minds behind it all: the moms. Ideas for the menu, even the recipes, come from the mothers, and all is communicated to the teens through a WhatsApp group. If you don’t know when it’s your turn to operate the coffee maker, a mom will know.

“On the TS coffee Sunday, a few of us go to the front of the church to talk about going to TS and invite people to coffee afterwards,” Johannes explains.

“And, of course, we try to think of some ‘touching’ story from one of the previous TeenStreets,” he adds with a grin.

Wilhelmiina continues, “During coffee we encourage people to ask us questions about TS. It’s been fun to get to know people in our church while talking to them.”

There is a voluntary fee for the coffee.

This year the money earned pouring coffee and serving snacks covered the cost of conference fees and travel in Germany for all 23 teens in attendance. Each teen only paid out of pocket for their flights from Finland to Germany.

As a bonus, the year-long coffee project provided an opportunity for the teens to spend time with and get to know another better before travelling to Germany together.