Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Norwegian Experience Wrap Up

This year’s Norwegian Experience winner, Bruce Johnson, is back at home and has some thoughts on his trip of a lifetime. Here’s what he had to share:

What was your favorite part of the trip?
Norway is amazing. We spent some time in England, Scotland and the Netherlands but nothing compares to the beauty of Norway, fjords and all. The trip was so well planned and executed that we really couldn’t have asked for a more seamless and unbelievable trip from start to finish. On a more personal note, visiting with my cousins in Norway was really special.

How was it working with Borton Overseas during the duration of the trip and planning?
Excellent. Linda McCormick is super! Every question and concern we had was answered. The itinerary was superior to anything we’ve ever done before. I still don’t know how they managed getting us the captain’s suite on the MS Balmoral!

If you could do the trip over, is there anything you’d change or do differently?
I don’t think there is anything that I would change. This trip was different for my wife and I because we had the opportunity to see Norway from a cruise ship, which gave us a completely different perspective. It was amazing, we learned so much!

Any favorite souvenirs from your trip?
We have 9 grandchildren that love trolls. We couldn’t come home from Norway without getting them each some trolls and some Norwegian t-shirts. For Mary and I, the photos and memories of the trip are really the best souvenirs. You can buy things, but memories are really the best things you can bring home from a trip like this.

What advice do you have for future winners of the trip?
Enjoy. Enjoy. Enjoy. This truly is an experience that the average person could never do or plan again. You really need to absorb every minute!

What about people recruiting for next year’s trip? Any advice for them?
I joined 4 years ago and membership has really been a great adventure. After the September 2009 issue of Viking our lodge started offering ½ price 1-year memberships to new members. Our lodge paid for one half of the membership and the new member paid the other half. I was able to sign up 10 new lodge members after that. Watching the newly recruited members get excited about Sons of Norway really is a trip! Recruiting just 1 family member would make a huge difference in membership numbers. We can do it!

How has this trip helped connect you with your Norwegian Heritage?
It really is unbelievable. Before joining Sons of Norway I didn’t even know that I had family in Norway. Now I have Norwegian 2nd, 3rd and 4th cousins!* I’ve learned so much and am so much more connected to my heritage now--my cousin Jon is even trying to teach me Norwegian!

*Here’s a recap of Bruce’s story in case you missed the Norwegian Experience preview blog post. Shortly after joining, Bruce learned through military records that his grandfather had emigrated from Tønsberg, Norway at the age of 16 to join the U.S. Navy. After discovering his grandfather’s Norwegian roots, Bruce went in search of his family’s ties to Norway, writing an article for the Olso-based magazine “Familien.” In the months afterward, Bruce was able to connect with his Norwegian second cousin and visit them in Tønsberg.

Now that you’ve had a chance to look back at your time in Norway, do you have any final thoughts on the experience?
Sons of Norway and Borton Overseas really outdid themselves. Every member should make an attempt to win this trip. I literally cannot describe all that we did and saw and what a great experience it was!

I also want to offer that any members who wish to contact me about our lodge's member recruitment ideas or about the trip are more than welcome to. I'd be happy to help! You can reach me at

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