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NGI Recipient: Louise Fix

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - Harmony of Song and Dance (2017)

After settling into my cabin, I decided to wander around camp. I was walking about 10 feet behind someone. She stopped to let me catch up, asked if I was walking to Camp House and introduced herself as Maggie (my NGI mentor). I said “sure! This is my first year and I’m just exploring.” Less than 5 minutes later, Maggie hugged me and said, with tears in her eyes, how she was so excited that I was at camp and that I would have a such a wonderful time. On the last day of camp, I found Maggie and gave her a big hug. I didn’t have the words in that moment to express how right she was. This initial moment of open kindness and welcoming excitement was echoed in many ways throughout Harmony of Song and Dance week.

In crafting this letter, I kept thinking about the overwhelming sense of gratitude I felt and still feel, so I would like to share some of those nuggets of thought here:

I am grateful to have been welcomed into a vibrant, intergenerational community where I felt comfortable to try new things and jump out of my comfort zone. Coming into camp, I did not consider myself a singer. At other camps, you’d usually find me in a dance or instrument-based workshop. So taking the duets and trios class was a big leap of faith for me! And I loved every minute of it. I gained confidence in my ability to hold my own part, experiment with harmonies and make mistakes.

I am grateful for the opportunities to reconnect with people from my childhood. Mary Alice and Peter Amidon were influential figures in my folk-music education. Growing up going to Lady of the Lake Family Camp in Idaho, I enjoyed many summers with the Amidons. I hadn’t seen them in quite a few years, so it was such a treat to sing with Mary Alice in class as a fellow camper at Pinewoods this year!

I am grateful for the communal meals. I loved sitting with different people for each meal and finding connections – anything from talking about dietary restrictions to “Rent” (the musical). As someone coming from the West coast, I was surprised by how many fellow West-coasters were in attendance. On the note about meals: The food was AMAZING!!! I have a lot of allergies and the kitchen was incredibly accommodating and had a wonderful variety of options.

I am grateful for the surplus of goofiness that permeated throughout the camp. From creative costumes on parade day to the shrieks of laughter during the ceilidh dancing, there wasn’t a dull moment. And from the goofiness spurred this beautiful willingness to connect and share with each other. Incredible how a mutual respect and love of music can bring people together and lead to conversations about life and values.

I am grateful for celebrating Shabbat on Friday night with a group of beautiful singers. We didn’t have candles or challah, but we had wine and lots of songs. J I found great comfort and peace in singing and sharing traditional Jewish songs to welcome in Shabbat.

I am grateful for the CDSS Harmony Week staff – what a stellar group of talented musicians and instructors! Dancing to their music was just magical. Learning their songs was blissful. And picking their brains about the history of a song or dance was inspiring. My brain buzzed with new information all week.

I am grateful for the Pinewoods staff – thank you for keeping the grounds so accessible and clean. Also, loved dancing with y’all during the evening dance.

I am grateful for the opportunity to attend Harmony Song and Dance week!!! Thank you to CDSS and Pinewoods and for providing the NGI scholarship. I would not have been able to attend otherwise. By prioritizing scholarships, Pinewoods and CDSS commit to keeping traditional music and dance relevant and accessible. And for that, I am beyond grateful. Moving forward, I am excited to be part of the next generation that continues to appreciate and explore these wonderful traditions.

I am grateful for feeling connected, grounded, supported and inspired by the people in this beautiful community.

Cheers to many more years of dancing, music, and song!