Friday, August 31, 2012

What's Next?

Typically after an International Convention is over, one of the first thoughts to cross my mind is, “what’s next?” After spending close to a year focused on a single event it’s easy to find one’s self on the other side with no clues as to what to do now. Quite often it takes me a few days to get my bearings and find the next project to work on.

This year, however, is quite different because I already know what comes next.

Next week I’ll be helping out the American Fraternal Alliance, reporting live from their annual meeting via social media! About a month ago they called and asked if I’d be interested in helping them increase the social media coverage of their big event and build more engagement with those who belong to the Alliance, but were unable to attend.

If you aren’t familiar with the Alliance, they were formed in 1886 and unite the not-for-profit fraternal benefit societies operating in 50 states, the District of Columbia and Canada.  Alliance member societies represent nearly 10.5 million individuals, making it one of America’s largest member-volunteer networks.

Obviously I jumped at the opportunity! To me, this is exactly what fraternalism is all about: helping others. Being asked to assist an organization that has done so much for Sons of Norway and other fraternals throughout North America was a no-brainer decision for me. I’m really looking forward to helping the Alliance engage its members and share a bit of the annual meeting experience with them!

So, next week, from September 5-9, I’ll be a guest writer on their Fraternalsblog, tweeting at @Fratalliance and posting on their facebook page! I’ve included links to their social media outlets, because I hope that you’ll continue to follow me via their channels while I’m away. If you do, you’ll not only learn a little more about an organization that is fundamentally important to the fraternal industry, but you’ll also learn about a number of topics that are important to Sons of Norway membership, like governance, dispute resolution, social media, leadership and more! 

As you can see, the event promises to be extremely entertaining and educational, so I hope you’ll follow along as I share an insider’s viewpoint of the annual meeting!

Norwegian Experience Day 2: Kongsfjorden and North West Spitsbergen National Park

Spitsbergen Cruise Map
It is time for an Norwegian Experience update! Day 2 of the trip is underway and Rob and Donna Kodalen, our recruitment contest winners, will be making their way along the west coast of Spitsbergen aboard the MS Fram. Haven't been following our blog coverage of the big trip provided by Borton Overseas and Sons of Norway? Catch up by reviewing the previous blog posts here and here.

The first leg of their journey will take them to Kongsfjorden, the largest fjord on the northwest coast of Spitsbergen. The landscape varies from large tundra plains to alpine peaks with dramatic glaciers breaking into the ocean. Two glaciers, Kronebreen and Kongsvegen, are at the head of the fjord. At 78º 55’N, Ny Ålesund is the world’s northernmost permanently inhabited community, where a number of countries run their own national research stations. Activity here swells from around 30-35 permanent resident researchers to around 180 in the summer months. To take a peek at what daily life is like in this remote research settlement, click here

The next destination will be the Magdalenefjord, which is home to a very important piece of cultural heritage; a whaling station from the 16th century, including a graveyard of whalers who died during the first oil “gold rush”. This area is also part of the North West Spitsbergen National Park, which is filled with mountain peaks, glaciers and offshore islands. The park is also home to seabirds, reindeer, arctic fox, polar bears and walrus.

What's on deck for the rest of the weekend? Stay tuned to find out!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Norwegian Experience Day 1: Longyearbyen & Barentsburg

Svalbard © Jens Henrik Nybo/
Picture it: You’re aboard the MS Fram in the waters of Northern Norway experiencing the incredible scenery of Spitsbergen’s most remote areas. Watching the midnight sun create “unearthly hues” on the sea’s surface, ice, and glaciers. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?

Starting today, our Norwegian Experience winner, Rob Kodalen and his wife Donna will be embarking on the trip of a lifetime, an 8-day Hurtigruten cruise of the waters surrounding Spitsbergen, courtesy of Borton Overseas and Sons of Norway. Svalbard is home to seven Norwegian National Parks and over 60% of it is protected land. To learn more about our winner, check out our blog post here.

To kick off their cruise, Rob and Donna will be exploring Longyearbyen and the surrounding area on a guided bus tour before embarkation. Longyearbyen is a Norwegian settlement often referred to as the capital of Svalbard. This is a lively small town, situated amid some incredible Arctic landscape. Barentsburg is a Russian settlement with an exotic collection of Russian artifacts and architecture. This “Company town” was built in 1935 around the entrance to the coal mine.

Be sure to check back to the blog tomorrow as we fill you in on the next destination in Rob and Donna’s Norwegian Experience journey, the largest fjord on the North West coast of Spitsbergen, Kongsfjorden.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

International Election Results Announced

I'm very pleased to announce some newly elected Sons of Norway International Officers for the next biennium!

Our new International President is Marit Kristiansen from District 2. The new International Vice President is Ralph Peterson from District 3. The new International Secretary is Jon Tehven, former District 1 International Director. The International Treasurer is Bill Fosmoe.

Please join me in congratulating these new officers and supporting them during the next biennium!

International Convention Day 1: Recap

Yesterday was very exciting! The delegates were full of vigor and ready to dive in and start the 2012 International Convention. Its days like this that keep my batteries charged because I really draw a lot of energy from those around me. Yesterday was no exception.
As the people began to fill the convention hall it was great to see delegates shaking hands, hugging, making new friendships and renewing old ones. This is really what Sons of Norway is all about and it was a great show of fraternalism.
Over the course of the day there were a number of reports given, including the joint presentation given by International President Dan Rude and CEO Eivind Heiberg, as well as a rousing presentation given by Joe Annotti, the President and CEO of the American Fraternal Alliance. The reason I mention these specifically is because both were very focused on vision of the future for Sons of Norway and the entire fraternal industry.
I think they both really helped set the tone for the convention and set some lofty goals for the delegates and members throughout Sons of Norway. Really, isn’t that what a convention is for? To engender a strong vision for what we want the organization to be for future generations? I sure think it is.
We wrapped up the morning with a presentation from our new Tubfrim Director and our International Youth Director. They both gave some great speeches about their plans for the future and how Sons of Norway can play a role in what they do.

After that, we all adjourned to a wonderful lunch planned by the host committee from Kringen Lodge and then went back into session to hear a very nice presentation given by Linda M. on behalf one of our sponsors, Borton Overseas. It was really informative for our delegates to learn about all the different packages and planning services Borton offers, as well as the 5% discount they offer to our members.

The day ended with nominations and acceptance speeches for the next International Board of Directors. We heard from Marit Kristiansen (nominee for President), Audun Gythfeldt, Ernst Granley and Ralph Peterson (Nominees for VP), Barbara Berntsen, Jon Tehven and Karl Hella (Nominees for Secretary), and Roger espeland and Bill Fosmoe (Nominees for Treasurer). Good luck to them all!

Overall it was a great day and an exciting start to the 2012 International Convention! If you aren’t able to join us, I ask you to do two things: first, visit our Twitter feed to see real-time updates from the convention; second: consider being a delegate or guest at the next International Convention (whose location will be determined later today).

Be sure to keep checking back to learn all about what’s happening at the 2012 International Convention!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Folk Musician Vidar Skrede To Visit Twin Cities

If you're a Nordic music lover in the Twin Cities metro area, take note! Norwegian folk musician Vidar Skrede is coming to town, and will be performing with Hardanger fiddler Andrea Een and Eric Segnitz on guitar and Hardanger fiddle. The concerts will take place 7 pm Sat., Aug. 25, in Northfield, Minn. (click here for details) and 1 pm Sun., Aug. 26, in Minneapolis (details).

Skrede, who plays fiddle, hardanger fiddle, guitar and bouzouki, has a background the traditional music from Rogaland, Norway. He plays in a number of bands, including Vidar Skrede DYNAMO BAND, Geitungen, The Secret Carpet Club and AAMOS.

Skrede and Segnitz also will be performing together at the Nordic Music Festival, sponsored by the Nordic Heritage Club, on Sat., Sept. 8 at Lake Minnewashta Regional Park in Chanhassen.  

Even if you aren't able to take in the upcoming concerts of festival, you can enjoy a few minutes of Skrede's music. Here's a waltz written by Skrede (on guitar) and performed by Geitungen.

Looking for more Nordic fun and entertainment in your area? Check out the monthly Kalender in Viking, as well as dozens of upcoming events on the Sons of Norway website. 

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585. 

Innovative Leadership Conference Recap

I’ve just spent the last day and a half at the first-ever Innovative Leadership Conference, hosted by Sons of Norway of Norway and lead by the very talented David Mann. Let me tell you, if you weren’t able to make it this year you really missed out on a great event and you should definitely consider coming to the next one.

Over the course of the last day and a half, all 180 attendees were taken through a series of exercises designed to make us better communicators, better recruiters, better presenters and better leaders overall.

For me, one of the most engaging moments was when the group discussed the importance of authenticity. We discussed the elements of Authenticity, which include clear language, insight, and combining the desires of our heads and hearts. This is important stuff to know for anyone, no matter what their profession or background, because without authenticity in the way we communicate we’ll never be successful in getting our point across. This, in turn, affects everything we do in Sons of Norway from recruitment and retention to persuading lodge members to try something new or different.

Above all, I was really impressed by the level of engagement shown by our members. In attending this event they all showed the level of their passion for this organization and their dedication to its success. I applaud everyone who came to Fargo for this first-ever event!

If you weren’t able to attend, you can still learn a bit about what we did by visiting Or by visiting our facebook group. I posted a lot of info there and hope you enjoy it! 

Make sure to keep checking back because I'll be posting information from the International Lodge Meeting over the next few days!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Norwegian Experience 2012

Sons of Norway and Borton Overseas are very excited to introduce the latest winner of the Norwegian Experience recruitment contest, Rob Kodalen! Rob and his wife Donna are already having a great time in Norway doing some site seeing on their own before embarking on the Norwegian Experience trip—an eight day Hurtigruten cruise of the waters of Northern Norway aboard the MS Fram! To take a sneak peek of the amazing scenery they'll be seeing, check out the video below.

A member since 1980, Rob has held various lodge officer positions and is a member of Poulsbo 2-44. I had an opportunity to speak with Rob and his wife Donna and learn more about them as well as the upcoming trip.

What do you like most about your lodge?
“Pretty much everything! Not really any one particular thing, the people are incredible and the lodge is very special.”

Why did you join Sons of Norway?
“I was originally from Montana so when I moved to Poulsbo years ago I was looking for a social outlet. I didn’t know anyone and it was a great way to meet people. The first person I met in Poulsbo was a member. The lodge also has a great lounge and the scenery is just beautiful. It was a great place to bring relatives when they visited.”

How did you find out that you’d won the Norwegian Experience contest?
“I was folding laundry with my wife when Dan Rude, our International President, called me. I didn’t believe it was Dan, I thought someone was pulling my leg!”

What are you most looking forward to when you travel to Norway?
“The wildlife! Donna and I have never been to Norway before and the Spitsbergen cruise will have some amazing scenery. This part of Northern Norway is something that not even many Norwegians get to see.”

The contest is open to anyone who recruited at least one new member last year. How many new members did you recruit and do you have any tips to share about recruiting?
“1. As a marshall, I have referred a lot of people, and have recruited quite a few friends over the years, but in 2011 it was just one. Anything is possible! As to recruiting, bring friends and show them what we are all about. Our lodge hosts Friday Night Dinners which are a great opportunity to bring new people to the lodge.”

How is the trip planning going? Are you having a good experience with Borton Overseas?
“YES! Linda is very easy to work with. You just tell her what your interests are and she comes up with all kinds of suggestions. We had no idea initially what we wanted to see, but with her help we were able to plan a great final itinerary.” 

Be sure to check in with us next week as we continue to blog about the big trip, and don’t forget you too can be eligible to win the Norwegian Experience contest! All you have to do is recruit one new, dues-paying member and make sure your name is listed in the “referred by” field. Entries are taken from members recruited between January 1st and December 31st, 2012. Also, remember that you can enter as many times as you recruit throughout the year, which increases your chances of winning!
Spitsbergen from LOS&CO on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tour de Fargo: Day 3 & 4

Well, it is official! Talleiv "Tolly" Vollen, our Tour de Fargo cyclist arrived at 3:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon to Fargo and completed his 250 mile journey from Minneapolis. While there were just a few slight bumps along the way, it sounds like the trip was a wonderful experience for Tolly. Better yet, it helped to raise funds for the Sons of Norway Foundation’s Helping Hands to Members Fund, Oslo International Summer School Scholarship (OISS) Fund and for Trollheim 1-511’s Scholarship Fund. Supporting great events like youth barneløpets, Project Framtid (Adopt-A-School) programming, eight week study abroad programs at OISS, camperships to Skogfjorden Norwegian Language Village and much more. To donate, click here.

 Day 3,  Sunday 8-19-12: Alexandria to Fergus Falls and to Rothsay.
Left about 8:00 am for a rendezvous at Garfield, 8 miles from Alexandria, for a wonderful "feed station" provided by District 1 President, Barbara Olson, and husband, Chuck, with a large Norwegian flag waving in the breeze. We enjoyed rømmegrøt, lefse, and coffee. Also joining us was District 1 Youth Director, Marilyn Syverson. We spent nearly two hours there, and then on to Fergus Falls via The Central Lakes Trail, with a two-hour stop at the DQ. A beautiful day for biking about 70 miles with some head wind, but sheltered for long stretches of the bike trail.

Day 4, Monday, 8-20-12: Rothsay to Fargo
After a hearty breakfast at a truck stop cafe, a local person inquired about my bike trip. He proceeded to tell me about his 95-year-old father who speaks good Norwegian and would enjoy meeting me. He lived about six blocks away and I followed Paul, his son, to his father's home. I had a delightful visit in both Norwegian and English with this spry, resourceful gentleman. He is the creator/building supervisor of the prairie chicken statue, next to I-94. He is also an inventor and has a wealth of life experiences.

Another great day for biking, slight NW wind, with a stop in Barnesville and Sabin, before entering Moorhead on Old 52, crossing into Fargo on the beautiful Veterans Bridge. Arrived at the home of my sister and brother-in-law, Ruth and Ken Kautzman, at 3:30 pm. Had a fairly easy day of biking of 42 miles. The Tour d Fargo totaled distance was slightly over 250 miles. I truly enjoyed the journey and the many experiences it brought to me.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tour de Fargo: Day 1 & 2

Over the weekend I received several updates from Talleiv "Tolly" Vollen, our Tour de Fargo cyclist, about his 250 mile bike trek from Minneapolis to Fargo, the site of the Innovative Leadership Conference and 2012 International Convention. As you may recall, Tolly was inspired to use his bicycling for a charitable cause, raising funds for the Sons of Norway Foundation’s Helping Hands to Members Fund, Oslo Summer School Scholarship (OISS) Fund and for Trollheim 1-511’s Scholarship Fund. To donate, click here.

We'll be sure to update you on his progress and arrival in Fargo, but in the meantime, be sure to take a look the first two stages of his journey below! 

Day 1 : Minneapolis to St. Cloud

It was a mildly challenging Day 1 of the Tour de Fargo from Minneapolis to St. Cloud. The send-off from Sons of Norway Hdqtrs. was fantastic, with a large group including Eivind Heiberg, Linda Pederson, Cindy Olson, Ingeborg Sorensen, and Herb Morganthaler, along with my wife, Karen, and son, Eric.

The challenges were the twists, turns, and streets and highways one has to use in lieu of a direct bike trail, isolated places.  I basically followed West River Rd to Brooklyn Park, Champlin, Dayton, Otsego, and to Monticello.  A flat tire in north Mpls. added a small challenge, stopping at a McDonald's made it safer and easier with facilities, water, etc. The north, northwest, and sometimes northeast wind was the biggest challenge, even though it may have topped out at 12-15 mph, it adds considerable resistance when going 15 mph or so.

At Monticello, I was treated to a great, refreshing lunch by Trollheim members Bert and Ruth Dibley.  Their hospitality was one of the highlights of the day. A rest stop on the north side of Clearwater was great, lots of shade and time to recharge under the large oak trees overlooking Clearwater Creek.

Arrived in St. Cloud shortly after 6 p.m. after biking 82 miles. Four of those miles were made backtracking in Mpls. to pick up my two flags-American, and Norwegian-that had fluttered out of my saddlebags. I got to see some of Mpls. going SOUTH anyway, briefly watching a double barge of gravel being pushed upriver by the powerful riverboat/tugboat.

All in all, a good Day 1. Now off to Alexandria tomorrow morning with a paved bike trail all the way from St. Joseph to Fergus Falls.

Rolling along,

Talleiv "Tolly" Vollen

Day 2: St. Cloud to Alexandria

The second leg of the Tour de Fargo went very well from St. Cloud-Alexandria, a distance of 65 miles. Riding with me part of the way were Trollheim members Mary Millard and Jon Vollen, making for time passing rapidly and Jon, riding to Sauk Centre was "lead biker", with yours truly riding in his draft. Makes a world of difference, saving energy for later.

The westerly wind picked up but was no problem--arriving in Alexandria a little after 2 p.m.

The Wobegon Bike Trail begins 5 miles w. of St. Cloud at St. Joseph and continues all the way to Fergus Falls, the last 2/3 being the Central Lakes Trail. Bike trails are a tremendous aid to safe biking, health, fitness, and in some cases commuting. Countless roller bladers, roller skiers, walkers, joggers, etc., also use the trails. One should always strive to support the expansion, construction of new bike trails.

Staying tonight with Heidi and Chad Bergerson, co-owners of The Scandinavian Gift Shop in downtown Alexandria.

On to Fergus Falls tomorrow (Sunday) with a planned rommegrot/lefse "feed station" in nearby Garfield, provided by District One President Barbara Olson and friends from Vining.

Rolling along,
Talleiv "Tolly"

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Norwegian Nature: Big Week for Bears

You may have noticed Norwegian bears are in the news these days. First there was the bizarre story of a family of bears that broke into a cabin in Finnmark and drank 100 bottles of beer. And then came the equally absurd story of the Norwegian motorist near Hanestad in Østerdalen, who swerved to avoid hitting a moose—and ran into a bear instead! For Norwegian bears, with an estimated population of just 150, it's been a big news week.

With all this wildlife running amuk, you might think that Norwegians would want to stay indoors, but that couldn't be further from the truth. As we highlight in the upcoming September issue of Viking, 70% of the country's population has camped or stayed in a cabin in the past year. Check out our September article on friluftsliv, a Norwegian term loosely translated as "outdoor life," and you'll learn out how Norwegians are fostering a love of the outdoors—bears and all—and teaching skills to last a lifetime to kids of all ages.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585. 

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Pre-Convention Setup: The Excitement is Building!

The advance team has been here in Fargo for just about 48 hours now and I’ve finally got a few minutes and a quiet corner to bring you the first update from the Sons of Norway International Convention.

Even though the big event is still a few days away, we’re working hard to get everything set up at the hotel and prepare for the influx of Board and Committee members who are coming in tonight and the hundreds of members who will start arriving on Tuesday.
There’s a lot to get done before that happens, which explains why we’ve been so busy. There are delegate bags to be filled, folk art competition to prepare for, flags to be hung, Innovative Leadership Conference items to be unpacked and sorted; the list goes on and on.
The one thing these tasks all have in common is that they add to the excitement and tradition of an International Convention. With each thing we accomplish in the days prior to the convention we know we are getting one step closer the big event. This is where the excitement begins!
Now, over the next few days, be sure to keep checking back here, as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook pages to see photos and updates throughout the convention!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Battle of Kringen

Have you heard of the Scottish March of 1612? How about the conflict that followed it called the Battle of Kringen? While these events might sound unfamiliar, many Sons of Norway members recognize the iconic figure of Prillar-Guri, the battle's legendary heroine, who blew her horn and signaled the Norwegian peasants to ambush the Scottish mercenaries. In our August cover feature, Viking writer Ann Pedersen does a great job of explaining these events, as well as summarizing a complicated period of European history: the Kalmar War.

Norwegians are celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Battle of Kringen in Otta, Gudbrandsdal, Aug. 18–26. Festivities include guided tours of the Kringen site, a parade with marching bands, pipe bands, Scottish and Norwegian folk musicans and dancers; junior level international soccer matches, a worship service for peace on Sun., Aug. 26; and a Scotch whiskey seminar. Nearly 50 members of the American Gudbrandsdalslaget are attending the Festival.

The battle, remembered as Norway's first organized resistance movement, is an important part of Norwegian history and the subject of the ballad "Sinclairvise." My favorite version of this tune is by the Norwegian folk rock group "Folque" on their 1974 album. There's no video for this, but it's definitely worth a listen.

I found a couple other interesting versions of this song, one by a Faroese folk group called Harkaliðið. For a harder-edged interpretation, check out this version by the Faroese Viking Metal group, Tyr.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

...And he’s off! An Update on Tour de Fargo

Sons of Norway Headquarters Staff with Talleiv Vollen

It’s official! Tour de Fargo has officially started and Talleiv "Tolly" Vollen is on the first stage of his bicycle journey to Fargo and the Innovative Leadership Conference and 2012 Sons of Norway International Convention. A trip 250 miles in the making, Tolly is set to arrive on Monday, with stops in St. Cloud, Alexandria, Fergus Falls and finally Fargo. 

As of this morning, Tolly’s efforts have raised nearly $2,500 for the Sons of Norway Foundation’s Helping Hands to Members Fund, Oslo Summer School Scholarship (OISS) Fund and for Trollheim 1-511’s Scholarship Fund. In fact, a spur of the moment donation was made just minutes before Tolly set out by a woman who was not a Sons of Norway member. She just happened to have heard what Tolly was doing and was inspired to do what she could to help. How great is that? To learn more about the kinds of events made possible by these generous donations, check out Wednesday's blog post about Tour de Fargo.

Sons of Norway CEO Eivind Heiberg with Talleiv Vollen.
 Donating is easy. Pledges may be made by the mile or in set dollar amounts by emailing You can also donate online through the Sons of Norway website by clicking here. Mailed donations may also be sent to the Sons of Norway Foundation at 1455 West Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55408. Please make checks payable to the Sons of Norway Foundation and include “Tour de Fargo” in the memo line.

 Be sure to check back to the blog as we update you on his progress and his official arrival in Fargo! While you're here, be sure to leave well wishes and notes of encouragement to Tolly in the comments section below.

I just had the opportunity to talk with Talleiv and things are going well along his route. He's currently traveling north of the city on West River Road in Champlin. Unfortunately, Talleiv is running a bit behind his planned pace due to a flat tire, but it has since been repaired and he is back on the road and in good spirits!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Expert Tips for Traveling to Norway

Once again we have some great travel tips and insight from Borton Overseas, an Official Travel Partner of Sons of Norway! This time we are hearing from Scandinavia Specialist, Katherine Wolf. 

What is your geographic region of expertise?
Since my mother hails from Oslo, I was blessed to enjoy frequent visits to Norway throughout my life, with a focus primarily on eastern Norway. During my formative years, we had a family cabin in Trevatn, Norway (near Gjøvik) and shared a family home with our Norwegian relatives on the Oslofjord in Son, Norway (near Moss). I also spent time in Sandefjord, Gudbrandsdalen, Hardangerfjord, Sognefjord, and Bergen.

What type of experiences do you like sharing with your clients?
Mostly leisure and nature activities, including swimming, hiking the forest trails, and boating during summer months, as well as cross country skiing and ice skating in the winter. There is a fabulous cultural side of Norway as well, including visits to key museums in the cities of Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, and Stavanger.

Tips for traveling to this location: 
1 - Bring a sense of adventure and openness to the idea of nature embracing city life. The city of Oslo is surrounded by forests, so while many travelers will focus primarily on the key museums, you should remember that you can combine culture with nature very easily in Oslo and surrounding communities and that these are easily accessible by public transportation.
2 – Most visitors travel through the country in such a fast pace that is seems their goal is to see as many places as possible, rather than to experience the country, the nature, and its people. Removing one or two places in the itinerary in favor of adding enriching experiences and extra nights in each place will change your trip from ordinary to extraordinary.

Name one item you CAN leave at home:
Formal attire. While it's enjoyable to dress up, you won't need a cocktail dress here... pack smart!  Sporty elegance is the fashion tip here; for women, you might consider a nice pair of pants and a crisp white shirt with a beautiful scarf or shawl (perfect for those breezy evenings). Men, you don't need a formal jacket or tie for most restaurants; instead, a crisp shirt and nice pair of pants and elegant casual shoes will work wonders.

Top 3 things to see:  
1) Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) in Stavanger – one of the most famous views in Norway.
2) The fjords! Visit Geirangerfjord with its Seven Sisters Waterfall, Hardangerfjord, or the Sognefjord.
3) Norsk Folkemuseum in Oslo - Norway’s largest museum of cultural history.

Top 5 things to do: 
1) Walk through Nordmarka Forest in Oslo for incredible exposure to nature and some marvelous vistas of the city below. Consider lunch at Frognerseteren's Cafe Seterstua during your active hiking day. 
2) Take a ferry from Oslo to Drøbak and visit this quaint village on the Oslofjord. There is a beautiful park with a beach, perfect for families that might want a leisurely day on the water, as well as quaint shops and restaurants. This everyday village may even tempt you for an overnight stay.
3) In the winter, consider a few nights in Gålå (north of Lillehammer) for access to some of the most amazing ski trails (both cross country and downhill) and the peace and quiet of a top-of-the- world feeling that you can only get with endless stretches of white snow plateaus that seem to go on forever.
4) Visit Nidaros Cathedral and Ringve Museum in Trondheim, a nice pairing of two very special places exposing you to rich history and culture.
5) Enjoy ice cream! Order Softis med Krokan. Translation - soft serve ice cream with toffee sprinkles. 

How can Borton Overseas help you get there and have a great experience? 
The Scandinavia Specialists of Borton Overseas can take your ordinary point-to-point journey and turn it into an extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime experience by incorporating unique experiences not generally offered on the average travel websites. We combine the standard logistics that are necessary for a successful trip (air, lodging, and other transportation) with our personal expertise and experiences along with our close relationships to the local suppliers and guides.

A traditional city and fjord tour program can be transformed into an extraordinary vacation with a few unique experiences. Consider that adding a fishing excursion, a special dinner in a 19th-century timber building in Lofoten, a fjord kayak trip that includes a visit to a seal colony, an overnight on an isolated skerry, a northern lights and dog sled adventure through a crisp Arctic landscape ending with a traditional Samí dinner and overnight in a Samí Lavvu tent. Whether traveling for summer or winter, our Scandinavia Specialists will listen to your heart’s desires and craft a vacation that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

I don't know about you, but this certainly has me thinking about a trip to Norway! Make sure and keep an eye out for posts with travel tips in the future and don't forget that Sons of Norway members get a 5% discount on qualifying packages booked through Borton Overseas!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Biking for a Cause: Tour de Fargo

One very ambitious member will be making a special bicycle trip on August 17-20. 69-year-old Talleiv “Tolly” Vollen, a charter member of Trollheim 1-511 in St. Cloud, will be biking 250 miles from Sons of Norway Headquarters in Minneapolis to Fargo, the site of the new Innovative Leadership Conference and 2012 Sons of Norway International Convention. Talk about some serious biking! After his trek, Tolly will qualify for both bronze and silver sykkelmerke Sports Medal Program medals!

An avid cyclist, Tolly was inspired to use his hobby for a charitable cause, raising funds for the Sons of Norway Foundation’s Helping Hands to Members Fund, Oslo International Summer School Scholarship (OISS) Fund and for Trollheim 1-511’s Scholarship Fund. What are some of the events made possible by the support from these great funds? Youth barneløpets, Project Framtid (Adopt-A-School) programming, eight week study abroad programs at OISS, camperships to Skogfjorden Norwegian Language Village and much more. If you’d like to learn more about the great causes that these types of funds support, be sure to check out the Sons of Norway Foundation’s annual reports by clicking here

Donating is easy. Pledges may be made by the mile or in set dollar amounts by emailing or Mailed donations may also be sent to the Sons of Norway Foundation at 1455 West Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55408. Please make checks payable to the Sons of Norway Foundation and include “Tour de Fargo” in the memo line. 

Tolly will be setting out on his journey on Friday at 9:00 a.m. from Sons of Norway Headquarters, so be sure to check back to the blog as we update you on his official send off and arrival in Fargo! You can also leave well wishes and notes of encouragement to Tolly in the comments section below.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sons of Norway is Looking for a New Business Representative

We are looking for a qualified candidate for an open New Business Representative position at the Sons of Norway Headquarters in Minneapolis, MN! Are you a person with strong technical aptitude, attention to detail and excellent communications skills? If so, then you may be interested in working for Sons of Norway!

Here's the full job description:

New Business Representative

Sons of Norway of Minneapolis, MN is seeking a New Business Representative that will assist in our Insurance Services Division. 

About us:
Sons of Norway was organized as a fraternal benefit society by 18 Norwegian immigrants in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on January 16, 1895. The purposes and goals of the Founding Fathers were to protect members of Sons of Norway and their families from the financial hardships experienced during times of sickness or death in the family. Over time, the mission of Sons of Norway was expanded to include the preservation of Norwegian heritage and culture in our Society. We have grown since our beginning and are now the largest Norwegian organization outside Norway.

Job Summary:
This position is primarily responsible for registering new applications in our New Business system, ordering requirements as part of the underwriting process, and generating certificates of insurance after the application has been approved by the underwriter.  This position will also be handling of all incoming and outgoing mail in the department, and training of new/newer New Business employees by performing the following duties.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:
Core duties and responsibilities include the following. Other duties may be assigned.
  • Prepares and completes initial set up process for all annuity and life applications.
  • Orders the actual underwriting requirements through assigned vendors as directed by the underwriter.
  • Prepares and submits all the necessary paperwork to existing carriers/custodians, allowing for swift transfer of funds via 1035 exchange, rollover or transfer.
  • Upon underwriter approval of applications, generates and assembles policy pages for immediate distribution to FBCs.  This also includes making sure the producer is paid.
  • Upon receipt of outstanding delivery requirements, changes policy status to in force, and insures that FBC is paid.
  • Processes all new business mail.
  • Reinsurance Administration.
  • Trains new employees. 
Job Requirements:
  • Associates Degree  
  • 5+ years demonstrated knowledge and experience related to Insurance processes and procedures preferred.
  • Strong Technical aptitude.  Ability to analyze and use various computer software as needed with little training.
  • Strong attention to detail needed to manage new business process.
  • Exceptional communications skills. Ability to ‘lead’ team meetings and effectively work with both external and internal customers.

To Apply:
Please submit your cover letter, salary requirements and resume to:
Sons Of Norway
Attn: Mike Wnek
1455 West Lake Street
Minneapolis, MN 55408

We are an Equal Opportunity Employer

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Norway's Outdoor Classrooms

How do Norwegians develop a love of friluftsliv, or outdoor life? For many, it's a natural part of childhood, family life, and the country's culture in general. And for a growing number of Norway's children, it's a part of their formal education, starting as early as preschool. Ten years ago there were about a dozen Norwegian preschools that focused on an outdoor curriculum. Today there are hundreds—or about one in ten.

Tusseladen preschool in Tromsø is a great example of Norway's growing outdoor education movement. Its location far above the Arctic Circle makes for a long, dark winter, but Tusseladen students spend the majority of their time outdoors in all sorts of weather. Check out the video below to learn about Tusseladen's philosophy. And don't miss our upcoming article on how friluftsliv is taught to all ages throughout the Norwegian education system. You'll find it in the September issue of Viking!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Beginning is Nigh: Three Weeks to the International Lodge Meeting

I’m working from home today on account of the office being closed due to the Uptown Art Fair and my unwillingness to fight the traffic in order to get into the office.  But that’s not what makes today exciting. No, Sir (or Madam as the case may be). The reason that today is so exciting is that we are officially three weeks away from the opening of the International Lodge Meeting!

That’s right, on Friday, August 24, delegates from throughout Sons of Norway will come together to discuss the business of the organization. They’ll hear presentations from our CEO Eivind Heiberg, International President Dan Rude, Tubfrim Chair Gene Brandvold, and Joe Annotti, the President and CEO of the American Fraternal Alliance. Delegates will also discuss and vote on a full docket of resolutions and law changes that could have a major effect on Sons of Norway for years to come. This is an amazing event for everyone involved. If there’s any downside to this experience, IMHO, its one of scarcity. You see, it’s that typically only 150 or so delegates are elected and that the convention only happens every two years. Imagine for a minute if this were an event that was opened up to 10x or 100x as many members! And what if it occurred EVERY year? That would really be something see. But, again, that's just my opinion.

Either way, the convention is always an inspiring thing to be part of because I get to witness hundreds of members coming together in their dedication to our beloved organization. The delegates and guests should be acknowledged for all they do, because they give so much of themselves for this event. Many take vacation time from their jobs, pay out of pocket for their travel expenses, and bear the weight of making decisions that affect how Sons of Norway operates. For this reason alone, they are deserving of our utmost respect and support.

What’s even more inspiring is that many of the delegates have signed up to attend this year’s first-ever Sons of Norway Innovative Leadership Conference! What makes this so exciting is that hundreds of delegates and members are stepping up and saying “Yes! I want to learn how I can be a stronger leader and make a significant impact on my lodge and its efforts!” This is the kind of dedication that really makes me proud to be a Sons of Norway employee and excited to do everything in my power to support them.

If you feel like I do, then make sure you tell the delegates from your lodge, zone or district so. They have a weighty role to fill and will definitely appreciate your encouragement.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sons of Norway Speaks About Healthy Lifestyles with Prevention Magazine

About a month ago I recieved a call from a freelance writer who was working on an article for Prevention Magazine's website, She was looking to speak to someone about Norway's reputation for being a healthy, active country. It sounded like a real interesting piece, which would be tied-in with Olympic coverage, so we jumped at the opportunity! It was a great fit because Sons of Norway is all about healthy lifestyles (Sports Medal Program anyone?) and believe that being active makes for a fuller, more robust life. 

After having to be patient and wait for the article to be published, I'm finally able to share it with everyone! The writer interviewed our very own Fraternal Director, Linda Pederson, for the piece and I think she did a great job! You can check out the full article and slideshow by clicking here or you can follow this link to the section devoted to Norway.

It's a very interesting read, which I think everyone will enjoy!