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Netherlands, Tholen


Netherlands, Tholen

Regional coordinator

Nel Ottema


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Brigdebulders club status



Tholen is one of our Netherlands regions. Tholen is a town located on the island of Tholen in the province of Zeeland in southwest Netherlands. Atlantic Bridge has been active in Tholen since 1989 when we organised an exchange week with a youth group from Cleveland OH who then hosted a Tholen group a year later.

Since then we have had some groups come to our International Youth Festivals but most of the initiatives have been taken by churches. However, after the Nubian Gents and Angels of Harmony had performances in 2001 and 2004 things in Tholen started up again.

In 2005 and 2006 Nel Ottema, now Regional Coordinator, opened up her house to become a hosting place for European volunteers. Since then efforts were made to start a Regional Support Team and gradually activities increased. This led to the hosting of Czech students from Jicin and an American church youth group from Lansdale, PA in June 2007. In July 2007, the Dutch and American groups travelled to the Czech Republic for a tri-laterial exchange. These three groups form a Tri-lateral Partnership.

The Bridgebuilders Club is based in the Calvijn College in Tholen and the students come from several villages across the whole island.


Tholen is an island and a town in the south-western part of the Netherlands. (The region shares the name of the main town.) The whole island has a population of 25.100 and is very rural with farming and fishing as the main industries. It is known as a stronghold for Calvinism with various types of Reformed churches that are still filled with young people. But not everything on this island is church related. As the region became connected to the mainland by bridges and dikes and big cities like Rotterdam became more accessible, Tholen became a haven for drug trafficking and open to people from many different lifestyles.

Present situation

In this region, the emphasis is twofold: inspire a missions vision for youth work in the Tholen region and stimulate the development of youth work in Jicin. In the wake of this mission we hope that various church youth groups will be motivated to discover the inspiration of a Regional Youth Contact. The connection with the schools is crucial in both regions. In Tholen Atlantic Bridge is working primarily with the Calvin high school. We are also planning to involve a bigger city in this region, Bergen op Zoom, where we are still searching for a partner school / group. In the summer of 2009, some members of the BB Club from Tholen went to Slovenia and Summercamp in Koszeg, Hungary.