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NGI Recipient: Sarah Peterson

Session Attended: CDS Boston Centre - Labor Day Weekend (2007)

“Jumping In”

I couldn’t help but admire its simple construction. The top—a single plank of wood, smoothed and polished, with extra squares of wood on each end where people would stand. The bottom—two more planks, straight where they attached to the top board and rounded where they made contact with the floor. The effect—a small, self-­?contained seesaw that, when operated by two trusting partners, would propel the pair higher and higher into the air, producing bouts of laughter as each enjoyed moments of defying gravity. As a first-­?time camper, I had no idea what to expect driving down the dirt road towards Pinewoods. I knew I loved to dance, but I had never participated in Contra or Morris, Rapper or New England square dancing. What if I couldn’t keep up? What if no one wanted to teach me the steps? But then I made my way to C#, drawn forward by the sound of musicians warming up. I stepped into the warmly lit pavilion and felt at home. Throughout the night, a marvelous thing happened. As I shifted from one partner to the next, meeting people from all different backgrounds, hearing stories of past Pinewoods years, and being gently guided through the unfamiliar steps, I felt myself loosen up, open up, and finally forget all fear. The theme of the weekend was to meet new people and try new things, trusting that if you missed a beat or butchered a step, all would only be laughing with you. Live grandly or go home—it was a mantra I could live with. With the dancing done and the after party coming to a close, I retired to my room exhausted but excited. My eyes were heavy, but my mind was busy reflecting on all that had happened since the afternoon—the pleasant company of dinner, the wind off the pond, names and faces whirling by, dancing to the memory of a friend playing his hammered dulcimer. And then my mind came to rest on the jumping board I’d tried before the dance. While on the board, there was no room for second guessing—each person simply had to let their partner’s force transfer through the board to them. You just had to go for it. I couldn’t help but admire its simple construction. The place—an old Girl Scout camp transformed into a haven for dancers. The idea— bring together a community of people and let them play for an entire weekend, learning new dances and meeting new friends. The effect—a sense of belonging, a thirst to learn, and a desire to come back every year after to Labor Day Weekend at Pinewoods.