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NGI Recipient: Dean Woodrow

Session Attended: CDS Boston Centre - ESCape (English-Scottish-Contra) (2019)

Throughout my time at Pinewoods ESCape week, I found myself thinking some of the same thoughts over and over again. I kept remarking on the beauty of the camp, with its towering pines and crystal clear pond waters. I was continually taken aback by the friendliness of the people with whom I shared so much in common. Chief among these thoughts was the sheer disbelief that Pinewoods had managed to elude me for so long. A part of me is saddened that I have already missed twenty-two summers of Pinewoods, but a larger part is thoroughly resolved to never miss another. ESCape week was, by a large margin, the most fun I have ever had. I owe that all to the NGI scholarship, without which I would be marking my 23rd year sans-Pinewoods.

I am hesitant to talk too much about the specifics of my time at Pinewoods, because I could easily write several pages about any number of things I loved about camp. However, I absolutely have to mention the people. I have never spent so much time around so many wonderful people with whom I had so much in common. As a first time attendee, I was worried about trying to incorporate myself into such an established and close community. Before I even arrived, however, my concerns were allayed. The two campers I picked up in NYC on my way north turned out to be amazingly friendly people, and by the time we arrived, just a few hours later, I felt as though I was talking with old friends. This same sort of thing happened again and again, with everyone eager to share their passions with a new friend. They made a camp full of strangers in the middle of a Massachusetts forest feel like home, and for that I am so very grateful.

Naturally, I can not write about Pinewoods without mentioning the dancing. The dancing. So much dancing. By my (admittedly poor) math skills, I danced an average of five hours a day, for four days straight. That is nearly two months worth of dancing for me at home. Not to say it was a matter of quantity over quality; the quality of the classes was also suburb. I learned new figures and nuances that will enrich my dancing going forward. I had the opportunity to try styles of dancing I had not even heard of, with longsword and rapper sword being particularly fascinating. They showed me that trying new forms of dance is not as daunting, nor difficult as it had been when I first started dancing just a few years ago. Pinewoods has given me the courage to seek out different forms of dance in different dancing communities, for which I am also very grateful.

The evening dances were a true highlight. Three hours of loud and energetic dancing in the (usually) brightly lit C# hall contrasted with the still, inky black forest just outside was beyond picturesque. Then came the late night festivities, with pub night being particularly special. Before Pinewoods I could count on one hand the number of people I knew who shared my love of folk songs. To suddenly hear the entire hall erupt into song, joining me on the very first chorus of what I thought was an obscure old folk tune was nothing short of surreal. Turns out there are others out there like me. Who knew? It was all so exhausting in the best possible way. After each day full of dancing, great food, and great people, I would collapse onto my bed wondering how I could hope to wake up before noon the next day, only to find myself at breakfast the next morning trying to work out the stiffness in my legs before the first class. I owe a special thanks to our piper for those rousing wake-up calls.

There are dozens of other highlights I could touch on. Be it Dan bringing my chronically flat flute into tune, all the refreshing swims in the pond, my roommate assuring me that there was always a spot at his table for me, the incredible family style meals, and of course all of the wonderful individuals who went out of their way to make me feel welcome. I could go on for quite a while, but I will finish by thanking those behind the NGI scholarship. I do not think I can properly describe my time at Pinewoods in words, although I have tried my best in the paragraphs above. Were it not for this generous scholarship, I might never have discovered this place or all of its great people. I am truly thankful for the experience you allowed me to have. I’m sold. Really, I was sold the first night, truth be told. See you all next year, at the very latest.