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NGI Recipient: Emily Adams

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - American Week (2011)

Dear CDSS and Pinewoods Camp,

As one of this year’s NGI scholarship recipients, I am writing to tell you about my experience as a camper at American Week at Pinewoods. I came to Pinewoods with a year’s worth of experience contra dancing with the Princeton Country Dancers in Princeton, NJ. I also trained for many years as a classical musician, so I was hoping to gain both musical and dance experience at camp this year.

From the moment I drove into the gorgeous grounds at the camp, I felt a strong sense of welcome and community. Indeed, a spirit of kindness, enthusiasm, and openness pervaded the entire week; a spirit that was shared by every camper I came into contact with.

I wrote to CDSS several months ago about how contra dance and the folk community has taught me to experience joy. At Pinewoods, I learned about something even more integral to the human experience, I learned about trust. Ironically, I first sensed this in the one class that I thought wouldn’t teach me anything terribly useful, Argentine Tango class with Matthew Duveneck and Anna Gilbert. Since that dance style is so rooted in sensing and responding to even the smallest detail from your partner, we spent a lot of time learning to connect with the various people in the class. I learned quickly that this basic connection can’t be made unless you allow yourself to trust your partner.

This sense of trust soon pervaded my other classes: waltz, piano, and band class. I discovered that trust is not only vital in dancing with a partner; it’s also central in making music with others. In fact, as the week continued, I began to see that through trusting people in music and dance, I opened myself up to connecting with people in a new and fulfilling way.

I had some of the best fun of my life at American Week, I danced some thrilling contras, jammed with fantastic musicians, and met amazing people. I think it’s important to note here that some of my most memorable dances weren’t necessarily with the “young hip dancers,” though, they were with those people who were most willing to open themselves up to connect with others. It dawned on me as the week was drawing to a close that it is this connection that makes the folk community so fun and inviting. In connecting with and trusting others, we allow ourselves to more fully participate in our own lives and the lives of those around us.

I left camp feeling inspired to return to my own community and share this sense of connection with others. I look forward to finding ways to grow through my participation in the folk, and to passing on my experiences to others.