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NGI Recipient: Sean Oshima

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - Harmony of Song and Dance (2016)

I am humbled and so very grateful to have been a part of such a gorgeous week at the CDSS Harmony of Song and Dance program at Pinewoods this July. This was only possible due to the generosity of these two terrific organizations for providing this broke young man with an NGI scholarship sent from the heavens. In the middle of a summer that was in full swing, going 100 miles per hour, my time in Plymouth was like a perfect waltz, or a cold glass of lemonade on a 90º day.

I first heard about Pinewoods from parents that originally met at Ashokan, many years ago. However, what really got me excited were stories from young friends who have spent many summers at various Pinewoods events. It was at the urging of those friends that I first looked into camps in the late winter. I remember browsing through and seeing the CDSS Harmony of Song and Dance Week, and I knew immediately that it was for me. There are no two things that I like more than singing and dancing, so the fit was pretty decent.

From the first moment I arrived to the last squeeze goodbye, I felt like I was living a dream. This dream started with a chocolate chip cookie and a friendly face to guide me to my beautiful cabin, Twin Sisters. It continued as I unpacked my belongings and dipped my feet in the blissful expanse of water. It lived on as I ate, conversed, walked, danced, played, sang, swam, listened, learned and then dizzily collapsed into my bed, to do it all over the next day.

My expectations where far surpassed as I drank in the sounds of the camp. The talent and diversity of the staff was ridiculous and inspiring. The skill of the campers too, was a joy to be around. As the week progressed I enjoyed learning the schedule and visiting different classes as I pleased. I settled in to my favorite class with Emily Miller and Jesse Milnes, Country Song Duets because it was different from any music I had sung before. I enjoyed the simplicity of the songs themselves and how they became so vibrant in two parts. Their teaching style was straight forward and so sweet, that the class became a huge highlight of my week.

I was hoping for more energetic contra dances and dancers, and even though that was not the case, I greatly enjoyed the nightly dances for a couple of reasons. Primarily, I enjoyed how much dancing we did. I think I could dance 8 hours a day, every day. However, I also enjoyed the variety within those dances. I arrived at camp having done no English dancing, but by the end of our week, I was dancing nearly every dance. It was often so proper and rigid that I was laughing or at least chuckling by the end, which added a sweet and unforeseen element.

I know how lucky I am to have received my scholarship. It is an extraordinary place and I look forward to returning to it when the time is right. I’ve been singing Pinewoods praises all of August. When I’m not singing praises, I’m singing songs like “Could You Love Me One More Time.” Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!