Heritage Camp Archives - Eva Varga

May 25, 2015

Summer is upon us and I am delighted. I have been battling with a growing feeling of burden upon me. I can’t seem to shake the desire to just drop everything and run into the hills.

My husband says I do too much, that my burdens are self imposed. I know he is right yet the eager beaver within me has a hard time letting go.

As obligations have begun to fall aside with the changing season, we have been giving thought to our summer plans. Vowing to relax and enjoy the sunshine a little more, we’ve settled upon the following activities.

More Art Journaling

Over the past year we have begun to dabble a little with art journaling, incorporating it into literature circle. It has been a fabulous way to express ourselves, combining art and words. We have begun to explore new media, mixing paints and printed papers to create unique art pieces.

Celebrate Summer: Mixed Media Workshop
We are looking forward to celebrating the delights of summertime by turning them into beautiful art under the tutelage of Alisha Gratehouse. Alisha offers a wonderful e-course, Celebrate Summer: Mixed Media Workshop. These projects are not your typical “summer camp” crafts. Each is a unique work of art to encourage your child to explore his or her creative talents.

Heritage Camp

The kids attended the Sons of Norway Heritage Camp last year for the first time and had an absolute blast! They have been looking forward to returning again this year and have been working hard to earn money to help offset the cost of the camp.

heritagecamp1Classes will again include Rosemaling, folk dancing, heritage, crafts, and Norwegian language. This year campers will learn money management with bank books, Norwegian Krone, a daily kanteen for purchasing special treats, and much more authentic Norwegian food at mealtimes.

Junior Olympics Swim Meet

The kids have been a part of swim team since we first moved to California. As is typical, JOs conflicts with heritage camp on the calendar. I thereby gave the kids the choice, “JOs or camp? You can’t do both.”

Last year, they were both in new age divisions and while they improved their individual times, only one qualified for JOs. After a short discussion, they agreed they would rather go to the meet with both competing. They were also eager to experience heritage camp.

junior olympics teamThis year they’ve both qualified in numerous events and their coach is encouraging them to compete. As we expected, camp and JOs conflict once again. Fortunately, camp is only 40 miles away (as opposed to 170 miles as in 2014). We thereby plan to do both – albeit they will miss a day or two of camp.

Lake Days & Sailing

Last year we had the opportunity to take part in a wonderful sailing clinic. The kids loved it so much they have asked to become a member of the local yacht club so that we can utilize the sunfish sailboats all summer long.

sailing101Whether we pursue that option or not, I am not sure. I do know, however, that we will be getting out to the lake more regularly. The kids also want to camp more – so my plan is to pitch a tent a few evenings each month.


I’ve also come to discover that I need to resume training – for both my physical and mental health. I know myself well enough to also know I need a little carrot to keep me on target with my fitness goals.


I have thereby registered for a full marathon in late August. It will be my fourth – but I am building from scratch. I must focus on quality of my runs as well as build endurance and distance. I can’t let myself worry about speed – which was my Achilles heel years ago.

As before, Geneva has expressed interest in also running distance events. We will be running the Moonshine Trail Run again this year (in 2013 I did the 15K and she the 5K). I am excited to run it with her .. her pace, if I can keep up. 🙂

August 29, 20145

Sons of Norway lodges are found throughout the United States, Canada, and Norway. Together, we work tirelessly to promote Norwegian traditions and fraternal fellowship through cultural activities and social opportunities. These activities include language camps and classes, scholarships, handicrafts, cooking and heritage classes, heritage and sports programs, travel opportunities, Viking Magazine, and outreach programs sponsored by the Sons of Norway Foundation.

The mission of Sons of Norway is to promote and to preserve the heritage and culture of Norway, to celebrate our relationship with other Nordic Countries, and provide quality insurance and financial products to our members.

Each district hosts a heritage camp for the children and grandchildren of members (our heritage members). Ever since my kiddos were toddlers, we have talked about going to heritage camp. They have looked forward to the opportunity and been eager to meet other lodge heritage members. Due to one circumstance or another, this was the first year that they were able to attend.

In our district, heritage camp is a two week experience filled with reverie and cultural traditions. While they were a little nervous (especially my son who had not previously been away from us for more than two nights – and then he was staying at Grandma’s), they gave us a big bear hug before gingerly bounding down the steps to their tent sights to get settled into camp.

I have been wanting to write this most for weeks now and am delighted to finally share some of their experiences with you. I thought a little tongue-in-cheek would do well. 🙂


5 Signs You Might Be Norwegian

You might be Norwegian if you are eager to throw a few belongings into a longboat and forge your own way across treacherous seas. Your adventurous spirit knows no bounds!

The fact that these kids spent two weeks away from home – without the trappings of modern devices they’ve become so fond of – is a testament to the their Nordic spirit of adventure!

They really connected with one another and forged strong bonds of friendship that will last a lifetime. Now that they are back home, they have connected on Instagram and write letters to one another. They are already talking about next year’s camp and have pledged to go every year.

My kids even connected with one another – seeing their sibling as a partner and ally, rather than a thorn in their side. Upon their return from camp, they argue less and play together more often.

Their experience at camp not only built relationships but also built character.

~     ~     ~

You might be Norwegian if you have no qualms about dressing up in heavy woolen bunads and thick woolen sweaters in the incessant heat of summer. The bunad is a traditional Norwegian costume worn by both men and women.

Today the bunad is worn for celebrations and special occasions.  During the wedding season (May-June), you often see Norwegians dressed in their bunads on Saturdays walking to and from Churches.  Baptisms and Confirmations, Balls and Norwegian Constitution Day are typically bunad wearing days.

At camp, the kids were fortunate to have access to bunads in a multitude of sizes. They donned the traditional costume proudly (see the photo above) and recognized the importance of honoring traditions.

~     ~     ~

You might be Norwegian if you believe in Trolls, Huldra, Nisse, and numerous other mythological creatures.  The Vikings were not only raiders and warriors, but also skilled navigators, craftsmen, traders and storytellers.

At camp, the kids enjoyed learning about Norse mythology. One of the stories they shared was that of the Huldra or Skogsrå (forest wife/woman), a dangerous seductress who lives in the forest and lures men down into an endless cave  or into the forest in order to secure her freedom. She has a long cow’s tail that she ties under her skirt in order to hide it from men. If she can manage to get married in a church, her tail falls off and she becomes human.


You might be Norwegian if you are eager to earn knots. While the Vikings have earned their place in history as a seafaring warrior culture with strong ties to the sea, the knots to which I refer are not sailor’s knots.

In the month before their final exams, graduating high school revellers in Norway are known as russ, an abbreviation for the Latin phrase cornua depositurus, which translates as ‘take off the horns’. The russ are easily recognizable in April and May, when russefeiring (russ celebration) is under way. They wear brightly colored, baggy trousers with big pockets, and a matching hat or cap with a long string at the end.

While the kids at heritage camp didn’t dress in jumpers, they did take part in a variety of skits and pranks that could compare to the russ tradition of competing for russeknuter, or knots – badges of honour which have to be earned in a variety of bizarre ways.

 ~     ~     ~

Finally, you might be Norwegian if you enjoy Lutefisk and Fiskebøller. At camp the kids had the opportunity to try numerous traditional Norwegian dishes.  As heritage members, many of the dishes were familiar but there were a few that were new to some of the kids.

Lutefisk (dried cod treated with lye) must surely be the strangest culinary effort credited to the Norwegians, but what a treat when prepared properly. Everyone of course is not a devotee of lutefisk, but those who are defend it vehemently. Others go to the opposite extreme and claim it’s a national disgrace.

Fiskebøller are white balls made up of ground white fish and served in a rather “naked” state only with a bechamel sauce, boiled potatoes, coleslaw or broccoli and asparagus.

 ~     ~     ~

Heritage camp was a huge success! Attending camp meant that the kids missed the opportunity to compete in the long course Junior Olympics swim meet. While this was initially difficult, they made the decision partially because this year they would both be competing at the bottom of their age groups.

When we picked them up on the final day of camp, they were loudly proclaiming, “Camp was awesome! We want to go again every year!” knowing full well they would have to miss out on the Junior Olympics yet again.

The fact that their heritage is important to them made me very, very proud.

Many thanks to these kind blog hop hostesses:

June 9, 20142

As Unschoolers in a sense, we have always taken a relaxed approach to our studies. Our schedule is dictated by life – travel and special events.  We thereby homeschool year round and enjoy the ebb and flow.

Last year, as summer approached, I made up a bucket list of activities in which we wanted to take part.  We checked off most of what we had listed and fell short in others.

We wanted to make 2014 a summer to remember.  Here are a few ways we plan to keep summer sizzling’ in 2014.

Lake Days & Campouts

We didn’t spend as much time at the lake as we had wanted to last year.  We’ve vowed to change that.  We’ve connected with several new homeschooling families so we look forward to joining them as often as possible.


Education Workshops

We will be taking part in a couple of education workshops this summer and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to connect with other homeschool families.

Classical Conversations

  • Art of Rhetoric: Cultivating the Conversation – A parent workshop or practicum through Classical Conversations designed to help home educators utilize the art of rhetoric effectively.
  • Logically Speaking (Ages 9-14) – Students will learn the basics of logic through problem solving, critical thinking games, and some interesting mysteries to solve!

Roots & Shoots

Heritage Camp

The most exciting event this summer is heritage camp.  The kids have wanted to go ever since we joined the Sons of Norway lodge but as it is a two-week, overnight camp, we wanted to wait until my youngest was old enough so they could go together.

Attending camp means the kids will not be able to swim at Junior Olympics even though they may have qualifying times. We discussed the conflict during a family meeting and the kids made the decision on their own. It made me very proud.

National Moth Week

We took part in National Moth Week last year and really enjoyed it.  This year, I am hoping to coordinate an outing for the homeschoolers in our area. With a BBQ beforehand, it should be a lot of fun.

How About You?

What plans do you have for your summer?  What are some ways you keep summer sizzlin’ while also keeping focus on academics?

July 16, 2009

Today was far more relaxed and enjoyable (on my part, anyway) than yesterday. Everything went much more smoothly though we didn’t get to all the activities I had planned. Better to be over-prepared, I’ve learned. I also neglected to take many pictures.

We started out with a lesson on Hans Christian Andersen. Most of the children were not familiar with his name but were in fact familiar with his stories (The Ugly Duckling, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Match Girl, and Thumbelina). I explained that in addition to writing many wonderful stories that we enjoy to this day, he was very skilled at an art known as scherenschnitte (shear-n-SNIT-a) or paper cutting.As there were no televisions or radios in his day, people would frequently sit around a fire and share stories verbally. While Andersen told stories, he would generally also fold and cut paper. At the conclusion of his story, he would unfold the paper to reveal an elaborate paper cutting – a picture that usually had nothing to do with the story he was telling. The paper cutting told a completely different story.I then led the children through 2 different paper cuttings – one the common fold for snowflakes (which only about half had done previously – this actually surprised me). The other, a simple chain of paper dolls. All the children were successful, though some of the youngers needed a little assistance with cutting through the thick paper folds.

We then gathered on the floor and I introduced Norwegian Folk Dancing. I had tried to find a lodge member that is skilled in folk dancing to volunteer but a las, they were on vacation this week. I am not a dancer – nor have I ever taken a dance class. However, with the exception of a few, most all of the children have taken classes and I knew they would be comfortable with the simple choreography. We thereby spent a little time practicing a few basic steps without music and will continue to practice again tomorrow. I wish I had introduced this earlier so that we could have had more time to practice. Note for next time.
We enjoyed a snack of krummkakke and then we gathered on the floor again for a lesson on Edvard Munch. I spoke briefly of biography and we then spent a few minutes studying his painting, The Scream. I asked the children what kinds of things they do when they are scared and everyone shared. Many said they would hide under a favorite blanket or hug a lovie. Some said they would go to their mom.

We returned to the tables and I distributed paper, pencils and chalk pastels. Some children opted to color a black outline of Munch’s The Scream but most chose to create their own works inspired by his. They drew pictures of themselves in a scary situation and used lots of colors. Some tried to recreate Munch’s work themselves. This activity was a great success. The children who had previously expressed that even coloring was difficult, focused their efforts and created art.
When most were finished, I gathered those that were done on the floor and I read aloud Donald and the Troll; An Adventure in Norway (Disney’s Small World Library). Those that were not finished stayed at the table to continue working quietly as they listened to the story from a far. Parents arrived as we were reading and the children dispersed as quickly as they had arrived.

July 15, 2009

I don’t have as many photos today due to the fact that I was feeling a little overwhelmed. Things didn’t go quite as smoothly as I had hoped. The problem was that a few of the activities were a little too difficult for the younger kids and I didn’t have enough adult volunteers to help assure that the kids had assistance when necessary. This, of course, led some to get a little wiggly and I had to make a few last minute adjustments. All in all, though, the kids had a good time.

I began by reading a chapter from Pippi Longstocking. I had failed to take into consideration that some may not be accustomed to listening to longer stories from chapter books and before I knew it, the wiggles began. I started skipping paragraphs but the story didn’t flow as well and I started second guessing myself.
While I was reading, Shanette arrived and took a few minutes to set up a few weaving looms that she brought with her. When she was ready, we got up from the floor to get the wigglies out and then formed a circle as Shanette led us through a game in both English and Norwegian. (I’ll have to ask her to write out the words so that we can practice.)

The children were very attentive throughout the game. When we were finished, we moved back to the tables where I began a Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) crayon resist activity whereby the kids were to draw a landscape with crayons and then we’d add a black watercolor wash for the night sky. I didn’t anticipate that this too, would be difficult. A few of the younger ones stated, “This is too hard. Can you do it for me?” They didn’t put much effort into it and I was thereby disappointed. During this activity, Shanette had had to leave – I didn’t even realize it until I looked around to ask for help and couldn’t find her.

The kids then began to squirm and run about in the open space. I tried to get snack started in the kitchen – the plan was to go in rounds and make abelskivers but as the first small group got started, I knew this wasn’t going to work. Thankfully, I had on hand the fattigmandbakkelse (cookies) I had planned to use on Thursday, so I used those instead. Shanette returned as I was handing out cookies and everything started to smooth out once again.After snack, Shanette sang a Norwegian rhyme to divide the kids into smaller groups. A few went with her to do finger weaving, a few with Christian (her nephew) to do loom weaving and a few with me to make the heart woven baskets.

All the kids with Shanette and Christian were at task. The younger ones with me, however, were not. Though we were using felt (which was more maneuverable and didn’t tear as easily as paper), the kids had difficulty following the directions. This is partially due to the fact that everytime I gave a direction, they squirmed about and had their eyes on the other groups. I had to repeat the same directions over and over… those that had got it the first time, hearing the directions repeated, thought I meant for them and they’d proceed forth. This caused a succession of goofs and I felt like a failure.

Fortunately, moms arrived shortly thereafter and kids began to disperse. I took deep breath, vented my frustration, and re-evaluated my plan for the following two days.

July 14, 20091

We had a great turnout for our first heritage camp which we advertised by word-of-mouth only. There are 15 young participants whose ages ranged from 3 to 8 years. In addition, one adult lodge member has volunteered to help each day so that she can learn more about Scandinavia herself.

The first day was a glorious mess. We began by watching Erling demonstrate Scandinavian Wood Carving – a delight to watch by both adults and children alike. The Scandinavian flat-plane style of woodcarving is a style of figure carving. The figures are carved in large flat planes, created primarily using a carving knife. Tool marks are left in the carving and very little (if any) rounding or sanding is done.

Erling was born in Norway and he even spoke a little Norwegian for us. It was a blessing to have him share his craft and we were all very thankful.

After watching attentively for nearly 20 minutes, the kids returned to the tables where they were given a piece of Ivory soap and a knife (butter knives for the youngest). I moved amongst them quickly to sketch an outline of a butterfly, a fish or whatever the children requested. They had a great time carving – but we were all surprised with how easy it was to carve. As a result, many of the kids had trouble carving their desired shape as the soap would break with the slightest pressure. While a few were intent on taking their time – others were content to create was looked to me like a pile of feta cheese. A las, it was exposure and they enjoyed themselves.
Thereafter, I read aloud the story The Three Billy Goats Gruff and talked briefly about the prevalence of trolls in Scandinavian literature. I did my best to change my voice for the characters – Erling even got into it a bit and spoke the words of the biggest billy goat. I loved having him there. The kids enjoyed the story – a young girl shared that at her school they had performed the play and she cast as the youngest billy goat. Sweet!
I then described to the kids how they could fashion their own troll using natural materials that I had collected. As before, some kids spent a lot of time to assure their trolls were as ugly and fierce as could be, while others weren’t so interested. It is always a challenge for me to think of activities that will appeal to a broad range of interests, abilities and ages. This has always been one of the most enjoyable components of teaching.
To conclude the afternoon, the kids took turns baking bread on a stick. I believe, if asked, the kids will unanimously agree that this was their favorite activity. They enjoyed it so much that most had the opportunity to make two – despite the fact that it took a little while to bake thoroughly.

Bread on a Stick


Bread dough

Butter or margarine (optional)

Garlic (optional)

Honey, jelly or jam (optional)

Make your own dough or thaw some frozen bread dough if you prefer. Pull off a small handful or cut off some strips and roll into elongated segments 10-12 inches long. Cut a green stick, fairly stout; wrap the bread in a corkscrew fashion around one end, pinching the dough against the stick tightly so it’ll stay in place. Cook over coals in your fire pit. Cook slowly and evenly so the bread doesn’t burn and gets cooked thoroughly. You may brush with butter and garlic if desired.