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NGI Recipient: Erin Gum

Session Attended: CDS Boston Centre - Swing into Summer (2018)

On a surprisingly cool June day, I found myself arriving on the dreamy wooded grounds of Pinewoods to Swing my way Into Summer. I had been hearing about this magical place for years, and was so grateful to finally be attending under the support of the NGI scholarship. The last year had been intense with many changes, including a dramatic increase in my chronic back and nerve pain. While I sadly knew I wouldn’t be physically able to dance as long or as often as my heart wanted to, I was excited with the knowledge that I was walking into a safe, supportive, and beautiful environment filled with many dear friends and friends-to-be.

The weekend was truly everything I had hoped it would be. From the moment I stepped from my car with bare feet, I felt peace and contentment and that wonderful quiet joy that comes from being in a space you know you’re in love with. My soul was tended with the feel of the earth, the cool of the lake, the smell of the woods, and the sounds of the birds. My heart was hugged with smiling faces, exuberant hugs, sweet snuggles, wonderful conversations on walks or at meals or on the dock, and warmth shared with people I hadn’t even met before. My mind and body relaxed into the comfortable routine of stretching at the dance hall while enjoying the incredible music, feeling out when to dance and when to settle into contented watching, swimming and walking and strengthening and lengthening. The freedom to slip in and out of dancing and relaxing and singing and chatting in rhythm to the abilities of my spine and muscles, nerves and mental strength made this one of the most enjoyable weekends I have been to in a long time.

I am SO thankful to the Swing into Summer committee for working with me through the application and scholarship process, for working together to provide such a fantastic event, and for their involvement in the community! A huge THANK YOU for CDS-BC and the NGI Committee who has put the work into making the NGI scholarship an option! I’m also thankful for Carl Mastandrea and the Pinewoods crew for their hard work in providing such a safe and clean environment, for the AMAZING food, and all the little unseen things that they do to keep Pinewoods running smoothly! I’m thankful for my folk family, for the support they extend and the warmth they exude always and the world of growth that they create together! And in closing, THANK YOU to my NGI Sponsor  – my “dance mama” with love – Cindy Dill. Her friendship and support go far beyond dance. She gave me a family when I was away from my own in Boston, and has helped me through some of the roughest times of my life. To be able to spend this weekend with her and my extended dance family was such a blessing.

Here’s to future Pinewood successes with much love!