My story - Anna Fure-Slocum
Published: October 1, 2017
I often find myself singing Alle slag or Vandringsvise pretending I’m on the walk to Bukkesjøen, while on a long climb or ski day in the mountains, to keep me going, occupied, and in a world of calm when the going gets tough. Skogfjorden has infiltrated my life in the smallest of ways on a daily basis, but it has also given me an orientation with which to explore.
Growing up, we had Norwegian vocabulary words taped around our house. Just recently, while visiting my parents, I found the lampe card still taped to the inside of a lamp, 15 years later. My grandfather came to the US during World War II. He and my grandmother spoke Norwegian to each other, in order to keep secrets from my dad while he was growing up. So naturally, I wanted to learn the secret code. As my grandfather taught me phrases and vocabulary, I became more and more entranced with the rhythm and pattern of Norwegian. I loved how it flowed off my grandfather’s tongue, how I could start to feel it become comfortable on my own.
When I was 13, my family decided to move to Norway for the 8th grade. My dad taught at the University of Oslo and my brother and I attended public school. My world was thrown upside down. As a 13 year old, leaving my friends was terrifying, my social world was the most important part of life at the time. However, once we got to Oslo, my uncle, aunt, and cousins greeted us warmly and we set up our apartment. Walking to and from the tram to get to school, I couldn’t help but listen to every conversation around me. I was eavesdropping on a language, on its beauty. Upon returning to the United States, I began to attend Skogfjorden during the summers. It felt like the only place in the world where people understood how special living in Norway was to me, how much I had to push beyond my own boundaries to be comfortable in a new home, and how I learned to be okay with not always being perfect. Skogfjorden felt like a refuge, a place where others shared in my experience and my love for that rhythmic, melodic language. But Skogfjorden was so much more than just a language immersion camp, in fact, that was the least of what it was to me.
Skogfjorden taught me humility, after spending each day struggling to speak in a second language. A humility that now extends into my teaching career, where I encourage my students to avoid perfection, but rather to take risks and fail. A humility that followed me into the mountains as well, where I recognize the importance of declaring when I’m in over my head, and how that can save my life in the mountains.
Skogfjorden taught me confidence to be myself as well. I learned to accept my own flaws as intriguing quirks. I learned to be confident about my growth in a new pursuit, rather than only confident in its perfection. I carry that confidence into every expedition. That I can and will make it, that I know myself and my abilities.
Finally, Skogfjorden afforded me the chance to be around a camp full of people that found awe and beauty in the outdoors. A camp where sitting peacefully by the lake was the most precious part of the experience. A camp where standing outside, singing lev vel could bring tears to a teenager's eyes.