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NGI Recipient: Sarah Rossiter

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - American Week (2018)

 I want to thank CDSS and PCI for giving me this scholarship. Without it, I would definitely not have been able to attend American week at Pinewoods.

This experience allowed me to meet fellow contra dancers and musicians. I was also able to get to know the members of Pete’s Posse, Julie Metcalf, as well as famous contradance callers like Will Mentor.

I love contra dancing and especially singing. I am a soprano, so I greatly enjoyed participating in the Harmony Singing class. I also sang in the Shape Note Singing class, which was a new experience for me. I had never even heard of Shape Note Singing before. I also danced in the Contra Ingenuity class.

Unfortunately, my time got cut a bit short at Pinewoods when I became quite ill with a fever and a very sore throat. So I had to leave on Friday Aug. 10th instead of Saturday the 11th. Because of also being sick on Thursday the 9th, I was unable to participate in many activities that day.

However, before then, I did gladly participate in the evening dances. Wednesday the 8th was campers’ night, so my boyfriend, Evan DeSmitt, had the great opportunity to call a contra dance and then play his saxophone! I was able to dance along to his music, which was awesome!

We both also greatly enjoyed learning how to play the Jaw Harp at a Hot Shot class that was led by Julie Metcalf and Tristan Henderson of Pete’s Posse. This was definitely another new experience for us, which we were quite excited to partake in! We had heard the Jaw Harp as a central part of many different contra dance tunes on CDs that we have of many different contra dance bands. Being able to actually play this unique instrument though, greatly enriched our experience!

I greatly enjoyed campers’ night because I learned new dances that I did not know before. I had done a bit of English Country Dancing before, but one of the callers led us in a new dance for this. We formed a triangle and moved around to different spots in that formation, which was another unique and broadening experience.

There were also two French callers from Montreal who taught us some French words so that they could mostly call their dances in French! I did take French in high school, but it was definitely nice to have a refresher! I also greatly enjoyed learning about the differences between French culture in France and French culture in Montreal and Quebec in Canada. I did not know that there were differences beforehand.

I also enjoyed the opportunities to socialize with other campers in classes, at meals in the dining hall that were all family style, at gathering, and at special daily events around camp.

I loved the musical performances at gathering as well.

I enjoyed the wine and cheese party on Sunday evening, right before dinner. This was a great way to kick off the week, and start to get to know my fellow campers!

I also greatly enjoyed looking at the stars from the dock on the pond outside the camp house. I live in the suburbs, so this gave me a much clearer view of the stars and constellations.

The auction on Wednesday afternoon was very fun as well! I think it is wonderful that current campers are given the opportunity to help there be scholarship funds for future campers, like myself, who would not be able to attend Pinewoods otherwise.

If I had not gotten sick, I would have led a Haiku Workshop where we would have sat on the porch outside of the Camp House to write Haiku poems about nature, and the whole Pinewoods experience! Creative writing is a passion of mine, so I am thankful that Lisa Greenleaf gave me that opportunity. This would have been during one of the Hot Shots.

I am so thankful for this scholarship made possible by CDSS and PCI, and I hope that future dancers and musicians are able to continue to use it as I have.