Thursday, June 11, 2009

Norwegian Camp, Day 1

Our whole family is at summer camp!

As relatively new members of the Sons of Norway, our family has spent the past many months getting to know the organization by participating in our local lodge's activities: lutefisk supper, monthly meetings, Syttende Mai celebration, and so forth. When we found out that the Sons of Norway sponsors summertime Norwegian language and cultural camps, we did some research to find out where the nearest camp is, thinking that we might send the girls. We found two about the same distance from Dickinson: outside Red Lodge, MT and outside Bottineau, ND on Lake Metigoshe. We brought up the topic at a monthly meeting, hoping to find out if other members knew about either camp and could recommend one or the other.

Well, it turns out that our lodge has sent children to Camp Trollfjorden ["the troll inlet"] at Lake Metigoshe in the past and even pays kids' camp fees! Furthermore, we found out that Sons of Norway camps are for people of all ages: littluns, teens, parents, grandparents--whoever wants to learn more about Norwegian culture. So, of course, we signed up to go together as a family.

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Because we had a bit of a drive ahead of us, we left early enough this morning to allow time for a stop in Minot for a restroom break, more fuel for the vehicle, and dinner (at the Captain's Cove, a ripoff of Long John Silver's). Just a couple hours later, we found the Metigoshe Ministries Lakeside Christian Center and checked in for camp.

Velkommen til Trollfjorden ["Welcome to Trollfjorden"] plus many little Norwegian flags placed strategically around the grounds greeted us when we arrived.

We were asked to select, from lists that they provided, Norwegian names for ourselves to use for the weekend. Then each of us told that Norwegian name to a man seated at another table, and he used a wood-burning tool to write the name on a thin disk cut from the trunk of a birch tree. He tied a string through pre-cut holes in the bark-fringed disk, added a laminated card containing the lyrics to the Norwegian national anthem, and voilà: a rustic name tag to be hung from around the neck. Here are our names for the weekend:
  • Kevin = Karsten
  • Susan = Hilde
  • Suzanna = Signe
  • Abigail = Sonja
  • Hillary = Kaia

A woman showed us to our rooms, and then we hauled in our stuff from the vehicle. The girls are in the farthest-away-from-us wing with all the other girls here at camp. Signe og Sonja are roommates, and Kaia is in the room next to them with a roommate with whom she became fast friends within seconds of meeting her. There are bunkbeds in each small bedroom, and their rooms are on a floor above a game room with a kitchenette and restrooms with showers.

At the other end of the retreat center, the adult females are sharing a couple bedrooms separated from the adult males' bedroom by a room reserved for the boys here at camp this weekend (yes, there are more girls than boys). So Hilde and I don't get to share a room, but we're sleeping just across the hall from one another. There's nothing fancy about our sleeping rooms or the built-in bunk beds (we'll sleep in our sleeping bags atop the plastic mattresses); but there are modern restrooms with showers just outside our bedrooms, so we're definitely not "roughing it."

We took a tour of the grounds (complete with posing and photograph-taking) before joining the large group for kveldsmat ["supper"] in the spisestue ["dining room"]. Tonight's delicious meal included lapskaus ["stew," this one containing ham, summersausage, potatoes, carrots, and rutabaga], salat ["salad," with not only mixed salad greens but also peas, yellow peppers, fresh cauliflower, and other vegetable delights], boller ["buns"], flatbrød ["flatbread"], lefse [a soft potato flatbread], smør ["butter"], melk ["milk"], lemonade ["lemonade"], kaffe ["coffee"], and sitron kake ["lemon cake"].

Together we sang this table prayer before the meal ["O You, who feeds the little bird, bless our food, O God"].

And we sang this one after the meal ["For health, happiness, daily bread, we thank You, O God"].

Before each meal, the names of two adults and two children will be drawn for KP duty after the meal (and another adult and child to clean tables and vaccuum the spisestue). Guess who got KP duty after kveldsmat? Kaia! Yep, there was little Kaia in the kjøkken ["kitchen"] with the industrial dishwasher pushing out stacks of steaming-hot plates and flatware toward her! She was game to help out however she was told to, but I think they assigned her light tasks and kept her away from the dishwasher (whew!).

Kaia is in the kjøkken ready for KP duty!

Kveldsmat was followed by an introduction of the camp staff and an overview of the camp's schedule, activities, and procedures. Everybody will be taking Norwegian language classes the next couple days, so we signed up for the level of class that we felt reflected our abilities (all five of us are in the "beginner" class). We'll all be learning a craft, too, and there were several options from which to choose. To help us out, they gave us a tour of each craft so that we could see what would be involved in learning it before we made our decisions. Kaia and Sonja both signed up for "small crafts" (a hodge-podge of drawing and painting; because they're both younger than 10, their options were limited); Signe and Hilde both signed up for strikke ["knitting"]; and I signed up for karveskurd ["chip carving"].

Afterward we gathered outside for the nightly lowering of the Norwegian flag and sang Aftensolen ["The Evening Sun"] . . . which you can listen to if you click on "Segment 3" of this A Prairie Home Companion program. Then we gathered inside where we learned several Norwegian folk dances and danced off our little Norwegian-American rumper ["butts"] until bedtime, children and adults alike! Camp Trollfjorden is veldig moro ["very fun"] so far!

Can you spot Signe in the yellow pants and Hilde in the purple striped shirt, both with partners near the camera? This particular dance required regular changes of partners; at certain points (synchronized with the music), the partners inside the circle move backward to join whoever's on the outside of the circle behind them.


  1. The TV was too heavy and Janelle refused to help me carry it to the van. Thanks again for your hospitality, it is always great to see the Mobergs.

  2. The scenery was beautiful, the food was delicious, the dancing was fun, and all of the people we met were nice -- who could ask for anything more?

  3. ....I have to say, you're adventurous!