National Lutheran News

Concordia’s Norwegian Camp alums reflect on summer’s violence

Sara Burd attended the Concordia Language Village Norwegian Camp last summer. Its second-to-last day was when Norway was rocked with the tragic violence of an anti-immigrant gunman. Metro Lutheran photo: Bob Hulteen

Most Norwegians will remember “where they were” on July 22, 2011, the tragic day when a lone gunman wreaked mass violence on the peaceful Scandinavian nation. Participants in Concordia Language Village’s (CLV) Norwegian Camp (or Skogfjorden) near Bemidji, Minnesota, will forever join them in their thoughts.

“It was the second to last day of our camp,” explained Sara Burd, a senior at Berkeley Preparatory School in Clearwater, Florida, and Norwegian camp participant. “We had just been learning about the various political parties [in Norway], and had learned about this camp that was like ours, except it was political.”

Burd had returned to the Twin Cities to attend a CLV reunion of campers and other Norwegian Americans interested in reflecting about how the violent events in Norway continued to affect their lives, hosted by Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Edina, Minnesota. Camp director Sarah Hanson led the group in a discussion about the impact of the violence on their daily lives.

“At lunch, the camp director called us out to a big hill. … It was very emotional as we learned of the tragedy. Everyone was silent,” Burd remembered. “It didn’t make sense that such violence would take place in a land of peace.”

Hanson later echoed Burd’s words. “I am grateful to have the privilege of learning Norwegian, not just because it is the language of my foreparents,” she reflected, “but because it is the language of peace.”

Former Norwegian Member of Parliament Hallgrimm Berg addressed the effect the attacks have had on Norwegian society and the role the royal family has played in helping the country learn from and understand this tragedy.

“Norway has had a monarchy since 1139,” Berg explained, “so we are quite used to it.” He reflected that the popularity of the monarchy is at an all-time high following the July 22 incident.

“To see King Harald V, the third king since 1905 [the end of monarchy-in-exile], participate in mourning helped in the corporate healing of the nation.” Clearly, another image is also seared in the collective conscience of Norway.

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