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NGI Recipient: Nicole Singer

Session Attended: CDS Boston Centre, Folk Arts Center of New England - Labor Day Weekend (2016)

Thank you for an excellent weekend, and for making it financially possible for me to attend. This was my first time at Labor Day Weekend at Pinewoods, and it was a wonderful time!

Upon arrival I was greeted with enthusiasm by acquaintances I’d seen elsewhere, and also by people who I’d never met. I was delighted to find a variety-pack of wonderful things to do and wonderful people to do them with. It is my understanding that many people return to this session year after year, but this did not mean that they were at all exclusive or clique-ish; quite the opposite! Everyone was kind, curious, excited to be there, and eager to make new friends. They were curious about who I was and how I got there, and we wound up in lots of fun conversations over meals and at dances. There were especially rich conversations about singing, organizing song sessions, and what was going on in each of our local song communities. It followed, of course, that we all invited one another to our local sings whenever we might next be traveling through one another’s areas.

Throughout the weekend, I wound up doing, watching, or listening to a lot of types of dancing and music that I hadn’t done before. I don’t know much about French music or dancing, and I liked listening and dancing along at those sessions. I had an especially lovely time at the evening dances, the French Soiree, the fancy hat party, and the afternoon waltzing session. I like that the evening dances had a little bit of every kind of dancing for everyone, and that everyone joined in no matter what type of dancing was going on. I also enjoyed several of off-the- schedule activities, like shapenote singing, swimming, reading in a hammock, and jamming with friends in the many spots on camp that were open throughout the day. What an excellent weekend-long smorgasbord!

I also appreciated the scheduling and planning for the weekend. It was a good balance of high-energy, large-group social time at dances and parties, and low-key activities and smaller classes, plus open times for swimming, napping, and chatting with friends. This meant that I could enjoy a lot of different types of social connection, having in-depth conversations with small groups sometimes while being part of a large community at others. As someone who has been taking on leadership in programming for several events (including NEFFA and Youth Traditional Song Weekend), this is stuff I think about a lot.

And of course, the food and venue were excellent – big thanks to the Pinewoods team for taking such great care of all of us.

Thank you so much for the generous scholarship to attend Labor Day Weekend. I truly enjoyed it, and look forward to returning to Pinewoods for more.