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NGI Recipient: Abigail Hobart

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - American Dance & Music Week (2015)

I attended American Music and Dance Week for my first time at Pinewoods! Throughout the course of the week, I gained new skills in flatfoot clogging and old-time fiddling, practiced my harmony singing skills, performed a contra set during the Camper night, relished the lake, ate an absurd amount of food, cuddled, laughed, and sang with new friends, and danced my tail off.

Pinewoods truly did not disappoint; there were multiple highlights throughout the week:

I played a game with some new found Pinewoods friends, called ‘Miniature Tanks,’ wherein the players crawl around on their hands and knees shouting “MINIATURE TANKS, MINIATURE TANKS” over and over again, while they bulldoze into each other repeatedly. This, though painful, was exactly the whimsical type of experience that I can reliably find in the contra community. I loved it! In a more magical vein of events, witnessing the performance of Abbots Bromley was otherworldly and ethereal and I cannot fully describe the momentary charm it put on me.

One of the nights, my friend and I dug through the costume closet and dressed up as woodland creatures for the contra dance and wove flowers into our hair. Another night, we dressed up in big poofy sequined dresses. Maneuvering the dance floor in so much taffeta was more difficult than I had thought, but I received many compliments on my fancy (though ridiculous) garb.

I also really enjoyed my old-time singing class. One day, none of the other students showed up, so it was just me and the two instructors singing three-part harmonies for an hour. It was delicious, and allowed me to pretend for a bit of time that I was a professional bluegrass vocalist…. Sigh!

Out of all of the special moments at camp, I think my favorite highlight of the week was performing a set with the Camper Band. I had met one of the Pinewoods crew members and we jammed for hours and clicked musically.
So when the Camper Night coordinator was looking for musicians to play, I volunteered us, and a band slowly came together. We played two sets, the second started with Julia Delaney, in D minor, and then transitioned into a tune I had written a couple of years back, also in D minor. It was a riot! The dancers loved it, and I was thrilled to debut my own tune for a dance, something I had not yet done.

The only challenge of the week was letting myself relax, and enjoy the experience. It was so hard for me to mentally switch gears from my hectic work week to one of magic, fun, dance, music, and beautiful people. It was also hard to get enough sleep. I just could NOT tear myself away from the late night jams, blues dances, sings, and games.

In addition to gaining many memories, anecdotes, and friends from my first week at Pinewoods, I also gained the courage to finally start a contra dance band. I had so much positive reinforcement regarding my musical abilities from other campers during the week, that I decided to stop dragging my feet and wringing my hands, and go ahead and do it! So now I am tracking down a few other band members and working out a practice schedule. Woo hoo!! Hopefully this will help me give back to my community in a more tangible way!!

All in all, Pinewoods was a wonderful experience that I hope to repeat next summer! I adored the openness and love that was readily available at Pinewoods, and am very thankful for the beautiful people I met and spent time with. Spending a week in the forest with everyone, dancing and singing and making music, and eating so much bread, none of that would have happened without the existence of the NGI scholarship program. For that, I am so very grateful. I thank you kindly from the bottom of my heart.