Let’s go to Land of the Vikings!

The idyllic grounds of the Land of the Vikings (LOV) are open year round for visitors. Photo: Land of the Vikings

The idyllic grounds of the Land of the Vikings (LOV) are open year round for visitors. Photo: Land of the Vikings

Sons of Norway District 3 members enjoy peace and relaxation at the Land of the Vikings, a Norwegian recreational center in northeast Pennsylvania

By Christy Olsen Field

Norwegian American Weekly

With its picturesque backdrop and rustic charm, Land of the Vikings is the beloved cultural and recreational center for members of Sons of Norway District 3, which stretches from Maine to Florida.

Land of the Vikings, also known as LOV, is located near the town of Sherman in northeastern Pennsylvania on 150 acres of a sportsman’s paradise bordered on three sides

by 5,000 acres of state game land. Over the past 30 years, LOV has been the site of Sons of Norway lodge events, rosemaling and woodcarving classes, annual youth camps,

family reunions, weddings, Ski for Light retreats, hunting and fishing parties, holiday parties, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

LOV offers fun for the whole family, and offers all-exclusive packages for room and board, making it a restful retreat from everyday life.

“Land of the Vikings is fraternalism exemplified. LOV is often referred to as our ‘home away from home,’ and it is true,” says Mary Andersen, Counselor of District 3.

The idea for a recreational retreat for District 3 members was born in the early 1970s. Their goal was to purchase a place within 200 miles of New York City in the range of $100,000. More than 40 sites were evaluated, and a former dude ranch in northeastern Pennsylvania fit the bill. On Aug. 9, 1978, a committee led by President Egil Olsen, John Kaare Hagen and Charles Gardner met with the owners, and secured the transaction.

Included in the purchase was a main lodge with sleeping accommodations for 50 people, large kitchen and dining area, tennis court, two remodeled homes, a sturdy large barn, plus a separate office building, and an in-ground swimming pool. The furniture and other equipment needed to operate the facility were included in the purchase price.

The place was quickly renamed “Land of the Vikings” (LOV), and an intensive fund drive, spearheaded by District 3 Counselor Sandy Ginsberg, was begun. In true fraternal spirit, loans and outright donations brought in $40,000 for the down payment, $10,000 over the minimum required. On Nov. 16, 1978, LOV was opened.

The impressive Viking Ship Bar was crafted by Bjarne Livolden, based on the famous Oseberg viking ship in Oslo. Photo: Land of the Vikings

The impressive Viking Ship Bar was crafted by Bjarne Livolden, based on the famous Oseberg viking ship in Oslo. Photo: Land of the Vikings

Visitors praise LOV’s welcoming, comfortable atmosphere and the camaraderie of the participants. The main lodge consists of  26 bedrooms, all with private baths, dining

room, kitchen, front lobby, a lounge area with a circular fireplace and a bar in the shape of a Viking ship, a game room and library. The retreat center is designed for community-based activities and provides space for personal relaxation.

“If you went to college, lived in a dorm and really liked it, LOV is like that except the food is outstanding. If you grew up in an urban environment where there were truly clearly defined “neighborhoods” and everyone knew everyone and would just hang out and kibbitz, LOV is like that. If you came from a large family, LOV is like that. You just feel good at LOV,” Andersen says.

The recreational area was originally a dude ranch. When the property was acquired, the buildings and grounds were in much need of repair, and, over the years, District 3 members have donated hundreds of hours of skill, energy, and time to improve and upgrade LOV. Each room was upgraded and given a private bath, roofs have been repaired, windows replaced, and new heating and septic systems installed.

Rosemaling has been added to window cornices and furniture and in 1986, Bjarne Livolden crafted a beautiful Viking ship bar, a replica of the Oseberg ship in Vikingskiphuset in Oslo. The old kitchen was replaced in 1997, when an addition containing a large kitchen, library, and offices was completed. In 2005, the dining room floor was redone, and a room restoration project was begun.

Today, LOV is a popular place for District 3 cultural events, bringing a slice of Norway to the U.S.

Another view of the Viking Ship Bar. Photo: Land of the Vikings

Another view of the Viking Ship Bar. Photo: Land of the Vikings

“We currently have two weeks of rosemaling classes at LOV each year, and we are now working with Vesterheim to offer additional classes there with Vesterheim instructors. This will include both rosemaling and woodcarving classes. We have other cultural events at LOV, and when combined with the location and lodge atmosphere, it lets you think you might be in Norway,” says Ralph Peterson, president of Sons of Norway District 3.

When asked about their favorite part of LOV, Andersen and Peterson pointed out the impressive Viking Ship Bar, a tribute to the proud Norwegian heritage of its members.

“It’s our pride and joy,” says Peterson.

Another Viking ship is found on the LOV grounds: In memory of former LOV Manager Jens Kristiansen, funds were collected to construct a playground for children in the shape of a Viking ship. This is now located on the lawn between the main lodge and the pond.

Many lodges hold retreats at LOV. Ski-For-Light was held Jan. 16 – 23 at LOV, and the popular rosemaling classes will be held March 20 – April 2. LOV’s first-ever Lobsterfest is scheduled for the weekend of June 3 – 5. To find a calendar of upcoming events, go to http://lov.3dsofn.org or call (570) 461-3500.

“LOV is good for the soul. It is a break from the hustle and bustle realities of everyday life… It is truly a breath of fresh air,” says Andersen.

Land of the Vikings open year-round, and is managed by Beverly and Rick Budrick. For reservation information and pricing, call (570) 461-3500 or visit http://lov.3dsofn.org.

What is your favorite place in North America that reminds you of Norway? We want to hear from you! Send us your article or story suggestion to: Norwegian American Weekly, 7301 5th Ave. NE, Ste. A, Seattle, WA 98115, or email naw@norway.com. Questions? Call us at (800) 305-0217.

This article was originally published in the Jan. 28, 2011 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. For more information about the Norwegian American Weekly or to subscribe, call us toll free (800) 305-0217 or email subscribe@norway.com.

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