Walking Sticks & Gangemerke

In Central Oregon, our Sons of Norway lodge had an active barnesklubb (kids club).  Prior to the monthly social, the kids would gather in the back of the lodge for craft & learning activities that introduced them to the culture of Scandinavia.  Here in Northern California, though we are members of our local lodge, we have discovered that sadly, there is no kids club.  In fact, there was been little programing to encourage heritage members.  I’ve made it my goal to remedy that.

In March, I began a Barnesklubb – selecting a time of day that works for me (1:30 – 3:30) though I know I may need to change this to encourage public schooled kids to join.  My goal is to meet just once a month to engage the kids in activities that educate and inspire.  Our first gathering was successful – with five families joining us – and everyone enjoying the watercolor activity I planned on the Aurora Borealis.  Our gathering coincided with the Sons of Norway general business meeting later that week so I asked a few of the kids to come and present.
Our April gathering focused on getting outdoors – in celebration of Spring and warmer temperatures.  I began by sharing with the attending families (three new families, in fact) about the lodge’s Sports & Fitness recognition program.  Buddy & Sweetie were delighted to show everyone their Gangermerke pins.  As lodge members, they keep track of the miles they walk and when they reach certain benchmarks (varies with age), they earn these lapel pins (free of charge).
I then spoke briefly about the Scandinavian lifestyle … about their love of the outdoors.  Not much different than our own really.  🙂  I noted that on the pins you can see the older carrying what looks like a walking stick … thus my inspiration for this month’s activity.  I asked everyone to bring a walking stick (and I brought extras just in case) and I provided the decorating materials (feathers, silk flowers and leaves, colored electrical tape, paint and brushes, and for those with parental permission, carving tools).

My first inspiration for this activity came to me when we were in Sweden in May.  We had visited Skansen – the first open air museum and zoo in Sweden (founded in 1891) and located on the island of Djurgården in Stockholm.  One of the activities the visitors could take part in was making walking sticks.  We weren’t able to participate – knowing we still had 2 weeks of travel ahead of us – but I mentally made a note of the activity.   

Then a few months back, as I started gathering ideas for future Barnesklubb activities, I discovered a pin on Pinterest and I promptly repinned it to my Barnesklubb board.  Many thanks to the mom at Full Circle for providing me with an alternative to carving … ensuring this activity would be enjoyable for all ages.  🙂

About Eva Varga

Eva is passionate about education. She has extensive experience in both formal and informal settings. She presently homeschools her two young children, teaches professional development courses through the Heritage Institute, and writes a middle level secular science curriculum called Science Logic. In addition to her work in education, she is an athlete, competing in Masters swimming events and marathons. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling, learning new languages, and above all spending time with her family. ♥