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NGI Recipient: Josephine Cahill

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - American Dance & Music Week (2019)

I wanted to write and thank you for the NGI scholarship and for all your ongoing work for dance communities.

While reading past letters from scholarship recipients, I discovered Angela DeCarlis’ letter from English Dance Week this year. In it, she describes Pinewoods as “Good Medicine”. American Dance and Music Week was my medicine this year.

Midway through the week, I experienced a profound loss which echoed from outside the protective woods and into camp. The week that I had planned for myself was nonstop dancing, with after parties until dawn and 5/5 classes the morning after. I didn’t want to waste the scholarship I was lucky enough to get. This was not what my week was in practice.

Even though I found myself unable to dance, Pinewoods found a way to dance with me.

I found solace in long kayaks around the perimeter of Long Pond. In a kayak made by another camper’s husband, I was able to rest next to a heron perched in stillness. Though dancing was too hard on the final nights, there was always someone sitting on the Adirondack chairs by the pond to talk with about everything or nothing. I experienced small kindnesses, like a note, slipped to me with a book recommendation – or a hug at just the right moment. I found care and interest in solving problems (and global pandemics) in board games in Ampleforth. The sounds of solfege class each morning helped me focus and smile. 

I was able to give care as well, to friends coping with the emergency medical event one camper experienced on our first night, as well as the other troubles which follow us even into camp. Camp can be a lonely place for some, and I consider myself lucky to have been in the position where I was able to talk to these people through their quiet moments. This is the healing power of Pinewoods. And it was there for me exactly when I needed it. The prompt for this letter asks me how I benefited from this experience. I can honestly say that there is no where else in the world I can imagine I would have had so much love, care (and much needed healthy meals) when I needed it. My camp experience was invaluable, and I am grateful for it.

I will be taking this medicine back to my dance community. Let’s call it a prescription for Pinewoodsium. For heartaches, cold nights, or simply whenever you need a kind smile. To be taken as needed. 

Thank you for your healing and love.