Saturday, May 5, 2018

Language camp

When you go off to camp for a while many people think of a kids summer camp with swimming and playing. This camp can be like that for the kids who attend in the summer, but focusing on a foreign language. In this case Norwegian.

Some of you who have hung around here on occasion might remember that I have gone to camp a few previous times. It has gotten to be a habit. The teachers and students have gotten to be friends in many cases.

This year I was assigned to the farthest cabin, Tromsø, which is on the other side of the Arctic Circle as you can see by the post. Reminding us of the location this year was the lake was still frozen. It is a week later now and it is probably about ice free by now. As of yesterday some of our local lakes still have 16 to 20 inches of ice on them, but it is pulling away from shore and should be thawed for next weekend's fishing opener. We hope.

This year I got to meet a guy named Jerry who has a radio show on a couple of Northern Minnesota stations. He specializes in Bluegrass, but is quite attuned to other genres as well. One of our teachers, Arna, also has a radio program on Two Harbors radio called Nordic Roots. She is also a singer and musician as are a number of other campers and teachers. Needless to say some of our learning comes in the way of songs as well as stories and poetry.  Here are some pics of the entertainment from the Saturday night banquet.

This year our classes stayed in one place and the teachers moved around which was a great way to give different perspectives and methods for learning. When grammar discussions got dry we would turn to stories and in one case, tongue twisters. They are difficult enough in English, but a good training device when learning another language. The end result is that I am hoping to be proficient by the time I die. Or at least to the point where my cousins don't automatically switch to English when they see me coming.

My roommate Jeff and I walked to Sweden and Finland in less than an hour round trip. The Concordia Language Villages teach fifteen languages at all levels so there are many villages around the lake of which Skogfjorden, the Norwegian village, is the oldest. 

One of our other cabin mates apologized to Jeff for the glare off his bald head. Not to be outdone I removed my hat. Jeff exclaimed, "If you two put your heads heads together and focus you could start a fire!" This is Jeff. He has lots of hair.

 I kept hoping the ice would go away, but it didn't. Where water flowed into the lake over a beaver dam and under a footbridge it was beginning to recede. It was nice to observe the process and watch spring slowly gaining on the past winter.

Time to head home and back to work. I bid another fond farewell to Skogfjorden and hope to go again next year.


  1. It sounds wonderful. Any time you can learn AND meet with friends old and new is a gift.
    I really hope you can get back next year, and improve your proficience too.

  2. you seem to have plenty of fun there. how do you feel your norwegian is progressing?

  3. This camp always sounds like so much fun!

  4. "[We] walked to Sweden and Finland.."

    Sounds like a good week.

    Someday, I'm going to have a look at something outside of English and the Romance languages. But given how much trouble I have making sense in any language, Scandinavian languages might be too big a jump.

  5. Another happy experience - I'm glad you enjoyed it. And you gave me a good chuckle over "...I am hoping to be proficient by the time I die". That applies to many of the things I've undertaken lately. :-)

  6. I am so happy you got to go this year too! Of course a good time was had by all with that many lusekofter og hjemslöid. And folksongs, no end to them I imagine. (In honour, all my intonations have gone uP at the end of each sentencE!)

  7. Congratulations on persevering with this. Languages are fascinating. besides being able to communicate, you always get a lot of new insights into the culture.

    To Harry: Scandinavian languages are actually pretty close relatives of English, and a fair number of common English words were borrowed from them during the Viking period. You might find Norwegian more amenable than Romance languages.

  8. I admire your dedication to learning another language in depth. Camp sounds like fun, unlike some childhood camps I could describe.

    You're still really iced in, eh? Makes for a short summer.

  9. I've read that it's hard to learn a language at our age. So good for you for trying ... maybe you have the genes for it!

  10. What a fabulous Camp to go to !
    Daughter went to Japanese Immersion Camp in Michigan in the summer, when she entered Junior High.
    She went every summer till she started High School, then transferred to Junior College for four years.

    cheers, parsnip

  11. Elephant's Child, It really IS fun! I hope to get some studying time in so as to improve my abilities.

    anne marie, My skills are slowly improving, but having a regular study schedule would help. Reading out loud and the tongue twister exercises do wonders.

    Debra, I never would have thought that it could be this much fun.

    Harry, I have some Spanish background, but Norwegian is a Germanic language and while it was never spoken much when I was a kid (except swearing) I at least know what it sounds like. Even that helps.

    Diane, At this age I don't know how long that will be so I better get motivated!

    Onevikinggirl, Did you remember to inhale when you say "Ja"?

    Infidel, A foreign language gives you insights into the rest of the world and the other viewpoints that may never come up otherwise. Good advice to Harry, too!

    jenny_o, We are just thawing now, but there was ice on a few puddles this morning. At least my ponds are open and the frogs are "singing". At least to them it is probably singing.

    Tom, Damn near ANYTHING can be difficult at this age, but as long s it doesn't cause physical pain I'll make a go of it.

    angryparsnip, I had a friend who was learning Japanese back in the mid 70s. I assume he made it big with all the subsequent trade that went on after that time. Remember when "made in Japan" was a reference to poor quality products? Boy did THAT change!

  12. Inhale, yes, and not even always say anything vocal, just the loud inhale is enough for polite agreement. aah
    Very, very difficult to stop doing when speaking other languages. aaah

  13. What a fantastic experience. As always, I love the pictures.

  14. This looks like a huge amount of fun. It's always good to get away from routine and join in someone else's routine, and speak a different language at the same time. I assume your parents did not really teach you their language when you were little. I wish I had been able to learn a new language when I was younger, all I have is high school French.

  15. Your camp sounds wonderful. No obligations except learning!

  16. Oh Jono, what a wonderful experience. I would love to do that.

  17. I admire your stick-to-it-ness (I know, not a word) when it comes to learning Norwegian. A former co-worker from South Carolina was stationed in Germany in the 1960's and became pretty fluent in German. He was very excited to have someone to talk to in German when I started to work at the place where he worked. He had kept up his language skills by listening to tapes and CDs in German.

    Now he's 90 and still calls me every so often when he doesn't quite get the meaning of a word that he hears on those CDs.