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NGI Recipient: Emmalee Holmes-Hick

Session Attended: CDS Boston Centre - Labor Day Weekend (2012)

I drove down the bumpy road into camp alone, my heart pumping a little faster than usual. At the entrance, I was greeted by several friendly faces, one a bright-eyed child with an offering of delicious treats, another an engaging teenager who escorted me to my cabin and clearly knew the ropes.

I plopped down my stuff and glanced around a charmingly rustic abode, then headed directly to the opening dance. After a few awkward moments as the odd woman out among a gathering of Pinewoods regulars, I was swept into the dance where I twirled and smiled nonstop until the last note of the final tune. At dinner that night, I bravely approached a table, asked if I could join and cautiously inserted a few comments into the lively conversation that bounced around an eclectic group of long-time Pinewoods campers.

I think it was around lunchtime the next day, seemingly a month later, that I felt as if I were part of the community. As someone who drove into the camp as a hesitant stranger, I couldn’t help but be drawn into the magic, my comfort growing like a dandelion in summer.

Back in Central Illinois, I grew up playing fiddle for dances and I learned how to influence the dancers and to energize them by the way I crafted the tunes and moved my bow. But because I was usually in the band, I rarely joined the dancers. During Labor Day weekend at Pinewoods, I danced for most of the waking hours and still I yearned for more. I only wished the weekend would stretch on and on so that I could soak in more of the peaceful setting and the infectious energy that surrounded me.

I brought my fiddle to Pinewoods and, at the last dance, I was invited into the band and encouraged and welcomed by the other players. It was a treat to make music with such a humble, inclusive bunch of musicians.

I have yet to discover a place that offers more beauty, simplicity, peacefulness and acceptance than Pinewoods. I hope to come back next summer and be enveloped once again by the pine trees and the spirited music. I feel privileged to have been introduced to such a wonderful place. Thank you to all those who made it possible!