Skogfjorden from the inside
Barb Keith, RN PHN
“Alt for barna.” For Skogfjorden staff, “Everything for the sake of the children” is not an empty phrase; it’s the reason behind everything they do, around the clock, for seven weeks every summer. I have had the privilege of working as a camp nurse in the Norwegian village for three summers, and I keep getting pulled back by this incredible experience of purpose, respect, encouragement, and genuine caring. The amount of experience represented by the staff is remarkable, with several key staff having honed their roles by working together for over 20 years. But lest you think that this is a camp run by old-timers, every year recently graduated campers are anxious to return to camp to serve in a myriad of roles while observing and being mentored by the returning staff. Until you see it with your own eyes or hear about it from your own child, you won’t imagine the lengths to which the staff will go to support the campers and help them experience the magic that is Skogfjorden, Concordia’s Norwegian Language Village in the north woods of Minnesota. The fun, innovation, and quirkiness they bring is all that a child needs to let their imagination run wild, to explore and be ready to try something outside of their comfort zone.
In addition, the staff fosters an environment of acceptance. Skogfjorden is a place where busy minds and energetic bodies get a chance to be active in positive ways—from the community flag-raising before breakfast to the completion of bedtime rituals in each cabin. The daily routine includes language training (divided by skill level), themed activities, and free time, along with delicious meals prepared from scratch. Everything works together to teach the campers about all things Norwegian, including the menu.
Kids get a chance to soak up nature in the north woods of Minnesota—from the on-site lakes and pines to the animals and insects. They learn to wear the right kind of gear so that they can be safe and fully appreciate the gift of the natural world around them. Speaking of being safe, the staff is trained each season in various potential emergency situations, the health center is well stocked, and the health care workers are armed with excellent protocols for every possible incident that might arise.
The road sign as you are entering the Concordia Language Villages property reads: “Slow down. Future world leaders at work and play.” After having had an “up close and personal” view of Skogfjorden, I believe this is absolutely true. Your child’s experience at Skogfjorden will impact the rest of their life, giving them confidence to strive to reach their full potential. By learning about another language and culture, they will learn more about themselves; they will learn that there is more than one perspective from which to view the world. And they will have so much fun they will forget you sent them there to learn!
This article originally appeared in the Nov. 7, 2014, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.