Thursday, April 28, 2016

Otto's son goes to camp

I had a most amazing long weekend and got to do something I haven't done since I was about twelve years old. I got to go to camp! Not the backpacking in the mountains or canoeing deep into the North Woods kind of camp as I have done that as an adult. I got to go to a theme camp like kids do. It was for learning the Norwegian language. Trying to teach myself off and on for the last 20 years or so has been fairly futile and a bit frustrating. I found out about these Concordia Language Camps a few years ago, but conflicting schedules have prevented me from going until this year.

Being an older kid removes a lot of opportunities that existed in the past, so I found out they have these things for older kids or "adults" as they call them. Having lots of cousins in Norway and knowing that part of my family background the best (what with me being mostly a mutt) I thought it might be an interesting way to spend a weekend. After a five hour drive across the Iron Range and the North Woods of Minnesota I ended up in Paul Bunyan land near Bemidji
I got there and stopped in an office in one of the buildings to get my cabin assignment. I was in cabin six (seks in Norwegian which made for some stories) with two other guys where we each had a room of our own. And indoor plumbing! Woohoo!

The setting is on Turtle River Lake which is a fairly typical Northern Minnesota lake in that it is serene and scenic and surrounded by forest.

In the morning and late at night you could hear a loon calling.

I got to meet many of my fellow campers the first evening. As a new camper I felt quite welcome even though I was also a little apprehensive of being a newbie. Most of the campers were repeats and some have been coming for 20 years or more! At least I was far from being the oldest or the youngest camper.

The schedule kept us active, but not exhausted. There was breakfast and dancing (if you wanted to) in the morning to get you going with flag raising and the Norwegian national anthem sung by all, class time, coffee, class time, lunch with a short program and quick break, class time, coffee, class time, dinner, and an evening program consisting of videos, music, etc. and back to the cabin. I didn't think I was exhausted until Friday night when I don't remember if I fell asleep as my head was aiming toward the pillow or right after it landed. Apparently, both brain cells had been working to full capacity.

Saturday started out as another nice day with the loons calling in the morning and another breakfast to die for. We made up a story about a moose that ate too much lutefisk that had gone bad . I know,  how can you tell if it has gone bad when most people think it is already there? The moose, who we named Edvard, survived and drank a lot of water from a waterfall. When he went to lie down, though, he found himself hallucinating because of what he ingested. 

Then it was off to lunch. After a delicious and filling lunch we had a short program.
There was a little time before class so I took a walk. I went toward the German language camp and found it about a quarter mile down the lake. It was like coming upon a mostly deserted Bavarian village.
More to come...


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  2. Just curious here. I see flaggheising, which looks like flag raising, which is all well and good. But then I see flaggFIRING ... do they burn the flag every day?!

    Seriously, my hat is off to you for doing this. And it sounds like a lot of fun, along with the work. Will you be going back next time?

  3. It sounds AWESOME! Now tell me, is this an immersion program -- i.e. you are not allowed to speak any English but must speak and interact in Norwegian all the time?

  4. What a beautiful setting! We don't get many loons (of the feathered variety) around here but we have seen one lone male twice now in the early spring at a local reservoir. Must be passing through. Such a hauntingly gorgeous call.

  5. Calling your fellow campers "loons" is not very nice, Jono. ;)

    Dancing at breakfast time? I can't wait for more...

  6. I want to know what Debra asked -- is it immersion, how are you doing, and are you going to be able to converse by the end? Regardless, three cheers to you for taking on this ambitious project!

  7. anne marie in philly, Oh yes, there is more to come!

    jenny_o, Flaggbrenning would be flag burning. I do hope to return. I made a lot of friends in a hurry and everyone is more than happy to be there.

    Debra, There was a dining table that was strictly Norwegian only, but most of us spoke English in order to clarify things. The immersion is cultural(and culinary) as well.

    Agi T., I don't get to hear them often, but it is quite haunting.

    Sioux, As long as I don't call them late for dinner I think they would be okay with it. Instead of morning calisthenics it's dancing. I didn't in case you are wondering, but maybe next time.

    Tom S., Well I certainly know more than I did before, my pronunciation has improved and my vocabulary and understanding of grammar are also better. With what I can do on my own and if I could do a twice a year immersion I would be competent in about 5 years, I would guess.

  8. I can't even tell one of the Scandinavian languages from another. Je suis ashamed.

  9. I've never heard of a language camp before. I'd love to try it - what a great idea! Partly because of the chance to learn a language, but also because somebody else does the cooking and there's dancing and loons. What more could anyone want?

  10. Bill, They all sound like the Chef on the old Muppets TV show. I think he was Swedish.

    Diane, There was a woman from Winnipeg there who spoke Norwegian with a Canadian lilt which probably helped.

  11. wonder if it is harder to learn than Czech? after over 30 years I still only know 2 Czech words...pivo-beer and pupek-belly button.

  12. JACKIESUE, It seems you know them well and there is something to be said for that.

  13. Can't be harder than Russian, I'm sure. I know basic German and Nordic languages have some similarity to German as far as I'm aware. But I'm still struggling my way through Russian even though I've lived there and have many Russian friends.

  14. A language camp - how cool! It sounds like a fun experience. Can't wait to read more.

    The photo of the Bavarian village looks like home!

    And now I wish there were photography camps. Maybe there are...? Off to Google!

  15. Hi Jono,
    I'm back in the land of too many people. Can't wait to hear more about the language camp. The loon clip was lovely. I wonder if the barred owl in my neighborhood that has been hooting and hollering finally found a mate.
    -AK Coldweather

  16. Bill, I don't think it is all that hard to learn. At least for a younger brain. It is a Germanic language and knowing one would make the other easier.

    Pixel Peeper, I'll bet you find some Photo camps. That would be a lot of fun!

    AK, I imagine your neighborhood owl was advertising on the Owl Craigslist for a relationship with a like-minded female. Other than a nice singing voice I wonder what he has to offer.

  17. Haha, we've got a Paul B in California as well:

  18. Iceland Eyes, He really IS big!