Norwegian Language Blog

Skogfjorden Norwegian Language Village Posted by on Aug 25, 2011 in Culture, Norway and the world

Skogfjorden is one of the many Concordia Language Villages in northern MN.  I have, unfortunately never attended as a camper, nor as a counselor.  I did not know about the program until I attended St. Olaf College.  It’s such a pity that I wasn’t aware of CLV’s existence, because I certainly would have attended!  For this reason, I feel that it is very important that I do my part to spread the word.  I wrote a post a while back about Concordia Language Villages in general, but recently realized that I have not written one about the Norwegian Language Village, Skogfjorden (Forest Fjord) specifically.


Many of my friends and fellow St. Olaf Alumni attended the Village in their youth, and some still work there (I have a friend who attended every year until she was too old, became a counselor and now she returns every summer to be the Village nurse!)  I was reminded about Skogfjorden yesterday when I received the most recent Viking magazine prepared by the Sons of Norway.  Tove Dahl, the Dean of Skogfjorden, has her very own page (page 38) titled “Enlightened Educator.”  I had the opportunity to meet Tove and spend some time with her when I lived in Tromsø last year-she is an incredible person who I admire greatly.  She has great ideas about teaching kids a foreign language and she has a wealth of knowledge and energy.  If you receive the Viking publication, I would recommend reading the interview with Tove.  If you don’t receive it, perhaps you should subscribe!  There is also a lengthy, fantastic piece on Barnehage (Norwegian pre-school, one of CLVs programs in the Twin Cities area-see previous post on Barnehage), which I used to be involved in!

Skogfjorden is located on Turtle River Lake near Bemidji, MN, roughly 4 hours north of the Twin Cities Metro Area.   Northern MN is a beautiful place and I can only imagine how spectacular it is to be there with the mission of celebrating Norwegian language and culture with loads of other people who are interested in doing the same.

The following was taken from the Skogfjorden website:


What Can You Always Count On at Skogfjorden?

Åpningsdagen (Opening Day)

On the opening day of your session, we will be ready to welcome you between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m.  Please adhere to these hours so that the staff has enough time to get ready for your arrival, time to get to know you during the afternoon activities and time to help you settle in before the evening meal.

The goal of our first day together is to invite you across the border and get you involved in the vibrant life and traditions of our village.  Like any border crossing, it involves meetings with “officials” and then the excitement of settling in.  Settling in takes a while and this is how your first hours in the village will work.  If you want to check out what Skogfjorden looks like, explore the Skogfjorden Village Page and look around!

On the day you come, as you drive up to the Skogfjorden grense (border), have your passport ready.  You will need to show it to the tollvakt (border officials) before you go on.  If you have any American food items with you, such as fruit, snacks, or the like, we ask you not to bring them into the program. Any open packages of food or snacks should be consumed before crossing the border, discarded, or sent home with your ride.   There are simply too many critters with a sweet tooth around the village for us to want to tempt them with goodies in our cabins.

After crossing the border, your next stop will be in front of Valhall, the Village administration building  (or Utgard, the larger building across the way, if it is bad weather).  At this first stop, you will choose a norsk navn (Norwegian name) and get a navneskilt (nametag).

Once you have been to all of the places just mentioned, you can take all your things back to your cabin area where you will meet people at toll (customs).  There, they will check your luggage for contraband (see the Parent Handbook for the description of contraband).

After going through toll, it is off to your hytte where you will be living for the session.  Once there, you can pick a bed, unpack and settle in.  You will probably meet some of your cabin mates there, too.  The cabin assignments are made carefully in advance, so please respect your housing arrangements and have fun getting to know your new friends as soon as you arrive.  How you greet your cabin mates is an important part of getting the session off to a great start!

After settling in, the rest of the day will be spent exploring the village and taking care of your other official business of the day like opening your bank account at the bank, checking in at the helsesenter for a brief health screening, confirming your future transportation arrangements home at the reisebyrå, and personalizing your navneskilt.  We’ll give you a list to remind you of what all you have to take care of before the end of the day.  You can do it in whatever order suits you.  Just be sure to do them all and finish before kl. 16.30.

When you set out on your official business, make sure you have all your American money for the bank, all your medications and health information for thehelsesenter, and your travel information for the reisebyrå. In order to make every stop official, you must also have your navneskilt and pass, so keep them handy, tooThrough each of your stops, you will not only cross items off your official to-do list, you will also start getting to know the site and other Skogfjorden folks better.  Take your time to talk with people and enjoy it!

At the bank behind Utgard, you will deposit and change your American spending money into norske kroner.  That is the currency we use in Norway and at the Village.  There is a store at the Village where you can buy godteri (treats) as well as a butikk where you will find souvenirs from the Village.  Both stores will be open all day during registration as well as once a day during the session.

At the helsesenter in the downstairs of Valhallyou will meet our friendly health-care provider.  Any medications (including vitamins and over the counter medications) will be put away there in a safe place.  The healthcare provider will bring them for you to meals or make arrangements with you to get them other scheduled times when you may need them.

At the reisebyrå either by Utgard or Gimle, you will meet ledere who will confirm who will pick you up and what your travel arrangements are to get home.  They will also give you the symbol for your navneskilt that you will need to travel through time and space at Skogfjorden during kretser.  They will explain what that means when you get there!

Finally, your last stop of your official business will be to get your new village name and home woodburned into your navneskilt in Utgard. Then it is truly official – you are now a full-fledged Skogfjorden villager!

You may also be especially eager to meet your hytteledere – they certainly will be eager to meet you, too! They will not all be back in the cabins until the end of the day since they want to be out in the program meeting you and your parents and getting you involved in the kinds of activities that will help you warm up to what the rest of the day and session will be about.  You will find them in the main areas of the Village (Utgard, Soltun, Gimle) making the activities and customs happen.  The session is new for everyone, so getting out from your hytte during the afternoon and joining in on the organized activities is the perfect way to get to know your new ledere and fellow villagers.

We have set aside time to do activities with everyone in the hytte once all the villagers have arrived.  Until then, do your official business and join in the all-village activities out in the program during the day.  Checking in is intended to be an all-afternoon affair.  That way, you have plenty of time to get to know the area and the people of Skogfjorden.

Be set to go back to your hytte for your first hyttekos with your cabinmates andledere around 4:30 pm (kl. 16.30 Skogfjorden time).  By then, everyone should have arrived and your ledere will be done with their registration activities for the day.

Pakking (Packing)

Now, before you leave to do all this, pack carefully like a good Norwegian. Uansett vær (no matter what the weather), Norwegians just love to enjoy the great outdoors, and so do we!  In Norway they say that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.  So, as a good Norwegian, you have to be sure you have clothes and shoes for all types of weather, including weather that is cold and wet.  That way you can be comfortable with everyone else uansett vær. You might want to bring an old shirt or other clothes to protect yourself when painting or doing craft and building projects, too.  By all means bring a bunad or native costume if you have one.  We dress up at least once a session, and costumes really add panache to those events!

Skogfjorden is quite a musical Village, so if you have a guitar, harmonica, spoons or some other instrument to play for others or sing along with, be sure to bring it along.

Most importantly, don’t forget your enthusiasm, curiosity and open-mindedness to try new experiences.

Post (Mail)

Because this is an immersion program that simulates a visit as an independent explorer in a new country, parents are discouraged from making non-emergency calls to you.  However, your parents should feel free to call me with questions or concerns.  I’ll keep you posted if your parents want me to inform you of something.  Better yet, remind all of your friends and family to write to you at the Village.  Postutdeling (mail call) is definitely an important part of the day!


Your address at the Village is:
Your name (very important) and your cabin
8607 Thorsonveien NE
Bemidji, MN  56601

We also have a special e-mail option just for your family.  They can just click this link to send you a message (attachments are not possible).  We will print the message and deliver it to you during Postutdeling.

Note that there are plenty of treats to be found at the village, so encourage them to not send care packages with any consumables in them.  If they can’t resist, please have them get in touch with me first.  Special arrangements may be made for unusual circumstances.  Otherwise, for reasons related to allergies and the potential attraction of mice, consumables are highly discouraged.

If your friends and family still want to send you something special, here are some other suggestions for them:  photos from home, letter-writing material (a new funky pen, stamps, self-addressed envelopes) or books from or about Norway.  Tell them they can even try their hand at writing in Norwegian, too.  Just give them a copy of the letter-writing basics that I am sending along with this letter.

Typiske dager på Skogfjorden (Typical Days at the Village)

If you haven’t already done it, I highly recommend that you check There you will find information about a typical Skogfjorden day.  You will also find lots of photos from past summers.  Our schedule is packed with varied activities, and we have a lot of fun while we are in them.  We do our best to convey our experiences with photos and descriptions of what is going on while we are in session.  As a matter of fact, your friends and family can follow along with how your session is going by checking into our web site while you are there.  Be sure to give them web address so that they can tune in and følge med.

Avslutningsdagen (Closing Day)

On Saturday, the last day of your session, we like to celebrate all your session accomplishments.  There will be a program open to the public at 10:00 a.m. for just that purpose.  Afterwards (and much sooner than you had imagined), it will be time to say ha det and to cross the grense with your pass handy once again.  You can expect to be ready to go by 11:15 a.m., although the butikkkiosk andgrense will be open until noon if you would like to show your family and friends around the Village.  Please remind your family to arrive between 9:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. for the closing program.  You will be busy packing, cleaning and getting ready for the program before this time, so there is no need to be early.

I hope that I have given you a good sense of what you will meet when you arrive in just a few short weeks.  If you want to get into the groove of things before you come, I have a couple of ideas for you that would be fun for you and great for Skogfjorden!

Før du kommer (Before You Arrive)

Look through these Internet activities.  There are lots of things to look up there.

Tell your friends about Norway and Skogfjorden.  I have given you some fun facts that they may not know.  Dazzle them with some interesting tidbits about Norway and see if you can’t recruit a friend!

Norway’s constitution day is on syttende mai (May 17th).  It is celebrated in Norway, of course.  It is also celebrated in many places in the US and Canada in special ways.  See if there is a celebration near you and, by all means, celebrate!

Syttende mai celebrations especially focus on children in Norway. It is a day when kids dress up and walk in barnetoget (the children’s parade) in the mid-morning and when they are allowed to eat all the is (ice cream) and pølser (hot dogs) they want.  There are often other parades, too, such as speidertoget with scouts who wake up their hometowns with music first thing in the morning,russetoget with all graduating high school seniors dressed in their personalizedrussedress graduation suits handing out their humorously personalized russekortbusiness cards, and there is also borgertoget, yet another parade, with members of various organizations and clubs showing their activities and wares.  Find a parade or eat some ice cream, and check out via the various webcams all over Norway how it is being celebrated in the hours before you. You’ll have to get up early, though. You can catch many parades around the country already around 10 am Norwegian time (you can figure out what time that means for you fromhere).  They are not yet posted on-line, but my guess is that there will be broadcasts available to watch at or at  Check them out when you wake up on May 17th!

Finally, how about exploring Norway on other days, too?  If you go, you can find views of Norway from all over the country and see what the people in various cities are up to.  If you click on “Tromsø – Balsfjord” and then follow the island in front of you to the very end ahead of you, you can imagine where I am writing this letter from – a house on the very southern tip of the island of Tromsøya.  You can get to my house onStrandvegen, the road that you see from the view of “Tromsø: from the county office”.  Just keep following it straight (and beyond) to the very end of the island and you’ll find where Espen and Curt and I live in the second to the last house on the right hand side of the road!

Another fun way to travel around Norway is via where you can get a birds-eye view of any place you would like in Norway by clicking on the map of Norway and zooming in and out – either looking at maps (kart) or satellite pictures (satelitt) of the places the maps represent.  Perhaps you would like to begin by checking out the cities we name our cabins after.  Go ahead and try finding Hamar, Oslo, Kristiansand, Stavanger, Bergen, Molde, Trondheim, Bodø and Tromsø (in Tromsø, see what you find when you type in the address Lanesvegen 19, 9006).  Lykke til og god tur!

Spørsmål (Questions)?

Well, I have told you a lot.  Still, if you or your parents have any questions that I have not answered, check the Parent Handbook or contact the Language Villages office in Moorhead, Minnesota for more information.

We look forward to seeing you and having a great experience together.  Vi sees!


Beste hilsen,

Tove Dahl
Dean of Skogfjorden

Enroll in Skogfjorden for next year.  Do it for me!

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About the Author: kari

I attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where I majored in Norwegian and History. During college, I spent almost a year living in Oslo, Norway, where I attended the University of Oslo and completed an internship at the United States Embassy. I have worked for Concordia Language Villages as a pre-K Norwegian teacher and have taught an adult Norwegian language class. Right now, I keep up by writing this Norwegian blog for Transparent Language. Please read and share your thoughts! I will be continuing this blog from my future residence in the Norwegian arctic!


  1. Virginia LeTourneau:

    What wonderful opportunity for some Norwegian immersion!