Lost and Found 2023 Season

September 16, 2023

Please let us know if any of these articles belong to you by emailing . Please include the session you attended, the item with description, and your contact information,

Please Note:

  • some items have already been claimed and picked up
  • items may not be pictured in the correct week if they were found later in the season
  • please consider making a donation if items are shipped back to you

2023 COVID Policies

May 30, 2023

With the advent of the 2023 camp season upon us, PCI would like to share our COVID policy and the rationale behind it with our community. Our priority as an organization is to keep everyone at Camp safe and healthy, and to strive to keep it open and running for all to enjoy. 

Rejuvenative time at Camp is perhaps even more important these days, given the various stresses and strains in our culture, and we want as many people as possible to benefit from the camaraderie of being there. 

It has become clear from past summers that any negative impacts on a session not only affect that current session, but have repercussions for subsequent sessions as well. We want to give everyone their best possible chance of attending and enjoying Camp this summer.

One unique aspect of Pinewoods is the engagement of our crew, paid and volunteer, with campers and programs throughout the summer. We are striving to balance the needs of our crew with those of our campers so that we can continue to keep Camp running and ensure that everyone has a positive camp experience. 

As a result, we are publishing the following updates to the COVID policy for attending Pinewoods this summer. We reserve the right to make changes to this policy during the summer in response to changing conditions. Our program providers may choose to apply their own additional guidelines that may be stricter than what we outline here and, if so, we will support their decisions. But at a minimum, to attend Camp, we require the following:


All campers must provide proof of vaccination against COVID. This includes a minimum of the original vaccination series (two (2) Moderna, two (2) Pfizer, one (1) Johnson & Johnson, or two (2) AstraZeneca vaccine(s)) OR the bivalent booster. This includes all participants over 6 months of age.


  • Campers and staff staying 4 days (3 nights) or longer will take a COVID test (rapid antigen or NAAT): 
  1. upon arrival at camp, 
  2. 24 hours after arriving at camp, and 
  3. 48 hours after arriving at camp.
  • For sessions lasting  less than 4 days (3 nights), campers will test twice: 
  1. upon arrival at camp, and
  2. 24 hours after arriving at camp.
  • We strongly encourage testing prior to arrival at camp, especially for those traveling long distances. 


  • We require all campers and staff to wear high filtration masks indoors, which also includes dance pavilions, for the first 24 hours at Camp. After 24 hours have passed and there have been no reported cases of positive COVID tests, masks will become optional, but encouraged. 


  • By attending Camp, campers and program providers attest to the following points on the PCI Attestation. Anyone not able to say “yes” to each point should not attend Camp.
  • In the week prior to arriving at Pinewoods, we kindly ask incoming campers and Program Provider staff to wear high-filtration masks in indoor public areas and in gatherings with any people who aren’t in their households. 

We hope these measures will allow everyone to enjoy their time at Pinewoods this summer while feeling safe and staying healthy.

Pinewoods Camp, Inc. Board of Directors

2023 Work Weekends

May 8, 2023

Pinewoods Work Weekends provide an opportunity to assist in helping to open Camp; cleaning the cabins and pavilions and clearing the trails. Volunteers with a will to work are welcome; no special skills are required!

Housing and delicious camp meals are provided and evening activities vary, initiated by those attending, and often include board games, story telling, and jamming.

Please register at least three days in advance. Children ages 12+ are welcome. If you are interesting in bringing a child under the age of 12, please send an email to Chris Jacobs, Executive Director, at executivedirector@pinewoods.org

2023 Opening Work Weekends

Saturday – Sunday, May 20 & 21

Saturday – Monday, May 27 – 29

Save the Date – Fall Work Weekend

Saturday – Sunday, September 9 & 10

New Names for Two Pavilions

February 7, 2023

Happy New Year Pinewoods Community,

The final stage of a two-year journey is at an end. We are pleased to announce the new names for our dance pavilions originally named C# and C# minor. 

Thank you to everyone who suggested names and participated in this renaming process. Your input and ideas inspired the Pinewoods board members throughout this process.

“Hands Across” is the new name for the pavilion set in a grove of trees down past the vernal pool behind the Pinewoods Camp office. Hands Across refers to the many ways dancers from different traditions reach out to other dancers; the ways singers sometimes join hands connecting everyone in a ring; the way Pinewoods participants—campers, Program Provider staff, teachers, musicians, faculty, performers, and Pinewoods staff and crew—come together and join their hands across generations; and how the pavilion itself holds all these various people across traditions and over time, through the past, present, and future.

“Pine Hollow” is the new name for the smaller pavilion beside the road between the camp entrance and the Camphouse, at the bottom of the path from the Bampton-in-the-Bush cabins. Geographically, a hollow is a small, sheltered place. It is also, like the hollow in the palm of your hand, a place that can hold. This pavilion holds music, dance, song, stories, laughter, memories, people, passing birds and animals, wind and sounds in all seasons.

Hands Across and Pine Hollow will be featured on new signs and maps. Program Providers and their staff are asked to use the new names in all written communications and printed schedules, and to make an effort in spoken announcements. Children and newcomers will find it easy.  We recognize that it may take the rest of us time to adjust to this change. We ask that everyone be patient and respectful with each other as we learn to use the new names.

The names C# and C# minor will always be important parts of Pinewoods’ history. Details for where and how we share the history at Camp are part of the ongoing work of the board. We expect to have some sort of display completed by our Centennial in 2025. 

The Pinewoods Camp Board of Directors look forward to the 2023 season and hope to see you there.

Pinewoods Camp, Inc. Board of Directors

The Secret Life of Pinewoods’ Pianos

November 17, 2022

by Eileen Cecelia Callahan

The pianos of Pinewoods Camp live a unique life. The usual habitat for a piano is a parlor or living room in a private home, a community hall, or perhaps a church sanctuary or concert hall. In all these places, they are sheltered from the elements and may even enjoy air conditioning in the summer.  Pinewoods pianos, on the other hand, spend their summers essentially out of doors in the woods, and spend the winter tucked up in the camphouse or in Pinecones, stuffed with mothballs (to deter mice from nesting in them) and listening to the wind blowing through the pines. 

Have you ever wondered why the acoustic pianos at Camp have signs on them that read “Please do not unplug the piano?” It’s because the pianos have dehumidifier rods in them valiantly trying to counter the effects of the local microclimate, formed in a pine forest between two ponds, on the wooden mechanisms inside the piano cabinet.

The “uncontrolled environment” at Camp means that, despite the dehumidifier rods, our pianos require the frequent attention of a piano technician both to keep them in tune and to make repairs. Furthermore, the piano in the C# dance pavilion is played many hours each day—probably only a piano in a conservatory practice room gets as much use – and so the cycle of normal wear and tear is accelerated. 

Pianos in a private home might go years between tunings but the Pinewoods pianos get tuned at least once per week during the summer. The pianos in the C# and C# minor bandshells also get moved to the camphouse in the fall and then back to the bandshells in the late spring. 

Over the years since Pinewoods’ incorporation in 1975, our pianos have been well looked after by four different technicians. Here’s a little bit about them.

John Kelsey

John was a work weekend regular from the 1970s into the 2000s. In addition to being a trained piano technician, he was also an ethnomusicologist trained at Wesleyan, who learned to pilot a small plane in order to carry out his fieldwork in Papua New Guinea. It’s not clear how he got connected to camp—I don’t believe he was a dancer. Jacqueline Schwab, camp manager in the 1980s, thinks he may have known Gerda from the days when the Conants lived in Hartford. 

Louis Gentile

Louis Gentile, of Quincy, MA, has been moving Pinewoods’ pianos faithfully every fall and spring since at least the 1980s. Also a piano technician, he specializes in restoration of player pianos.  

Louis says the Pinewoods moves are a marker for him of the change of seasons. He comes with a small Toyota pickup truck with a lift on the back and a couple of dollies, and moves the two uprights from C# and C# minor in hardly any time. He often comes with an assistant, but I know for a fact that he has done the job alone on at least one occasion. The right tools can make just about any job easy! 

Louis thinks he got connected to Camp because he moved a piano for Jacqueline Schwab when she lived in Cambridge. His memory is uncertain, but in addition to moving the pianos twice a year, he may have also tuned them for a time in the late 70s and early 80s.  

Ann Dietlin 

Louis Gentile and assistant moving piano in 2022
Photo by Chris Jacobs

Ann began tuning for us in the early 1980s. She and Louis were mentored by the same older piano technician, and Louis is likely to have referred her to us.

Ann was our most local tuner, having gone to high school in Plymouth. She later lived in Carver and Middleboro and had a career as a church musician. 

Sadly, Ann died suddenly in March of 2000. We were naturally quite anxious about finding another tuner in time for the camp season. It was a great relief when Chris Brown, who had substituted for her numerous times when she attended an annual church musicians’ conference, agreed to drive down from Cambridge for a regular tuning gig. 

Chris Brown 

Chris Brown, a technician and concert pianist, began tuning at Pinewoods regularly in the summer of 2000 and continued through 2019. 

There was no piano tuning, alas, in 2020, as Pinewoods was closed because of the COVID pandemic. PCI Executive Director at the time, Carl Mastandrea, realized that Chris was likely to have been hit hard financially by the loss of the work, as were many musicians and other gig workers affected by the pandemic shut down. In response, Carl offered to teach an online photography class for the Pinewoods Community.  He requested donations for the class, a portion of which would be given to Chris. In the end, Carl was able to send Chris $1,000, and reported that Chris was incredibly touched at the generosity of Pinewoods campers, most of whom he had never met. 

Tragically, Chris was killed in a car accident in the fall of 2020. 

Louis Gentile tuning the Pinecones piano, July 2022
Photo by Chris Jacobs

Louis Gentile Redux

Seeking a recommendation for a new tuner, we contacted Louis Gentile.  Bringing things full circle, Louis offered to add the summer tuning to his piano moving responsibilities.  

Louis starts work very early in the morning, and on tuning days he can often be found in his truck in the Pinecones parking lot, having finished turning all the other pianos and waiting patiently for the 5-minute breakfast bell to ring. He has adopted this as the signal for when it is “safe” to start tuning the piano in the Pinecones living room – if anyone is still sleeping, he’ll just be helping them not to miss breakfast!

The sounds of the pianos being tuned were always a soothing background to changeover days for me in my years as manager and Executive Director (1994 – 2002). I hope that those campers who read this will take a moment, when next they are dancing to music played on one of our trusty pianos, to reflect on the faithful behind-the-scenes work that keeps our pianos, under less than ideal conditions, always ready to produce beautiful music under the skilled hands of our community’s fine pianists. 

Pinewoods Covid Update

June 30, 2022

Dear Pinewoods Camp Community:

As you may have heard, we have had an outbreak of COVID-19 among dancers at Folk Days and among our crew. We, unfortunately, had to end Folk Days a day early, and CDS-Boston Centre decided to cancel the July 4 weekend session.

This is naturally an unfortunate turn of events, and we understand this might be causing anxiety for community members. We want to assure you that we are taking the following steps to mitigate risk and allow Camp to reopen as safely as possible for all future sessions:

  • We have had PCR tests administered for all crew, and those individuals that were negative will test again on Saturday, before the next camp session (ESCape) starts.
  • We have temporarily implemented an N95 mask policy for all crew.
  • We use Force of Nature, an EPA-registered hospital-grade sanitizer, to disinfect surfaces.
  • We are working with Program Providers to move more activities outdoors.
  • We will be installing a tent in the clearing outside the Dining Hall so we can move tables outdoors to reduce crowding during meals and provide a sheltered area for other activities.
  • We will continue our program of regular antigen testing for the crew.
  • We are temporarily minimizing interactions between crew and campers to ensure infection does not spread from crew to campers and vice versa.
  • We will be implementing heightened testing requirements for entrance to Camp.
  • We will be asking campers to sign a Covid attestation, which we are currently developing.

We are taking this situation very seriously and are putting these measures in place to address our current outbreak and avoid future outbreaks. We may also implement additional measures before camp restarts as well as over the course of the summer.

This week has required tough decisions and intensive work for Pinewoods and our Program Providers. We ask for your patience as we navigate the changes we need to make. We know you will have additional questions and we will address them when we can. Please address questions to Chris Jacobs at .

We thank our entire camp community for working together to keep everyone as safe as possible so we can continue to celebrate the magic of Pinewoods this summer.

We look forward to welcoming you to Camp and sharing dance and music with you under the pines!

Pinewoods Camp, Inc. Executive Committee
July 1, 2022

Long Pond at Sunset
Photo Credit: Emilie Moore

Announcement to our Community

March 23, 2022

From: The Pinewoods Camp, Inc. Board of Directors
To: The Pinewoods Community

Jacket cover of biography, Cecil Sharp His Life and Work, by Maud Karpeles

The Pinewoods community has been in an extended conversation about the legacy of Cecil Sharp and his imprint on Pinewoods Camp through the names of our two dance pavilions, C# and C# Minor. In June of 2020, members of the community asked us, members of the board, to change the names, followed by anonymous negative notices about Cecil Sharp posted at Camp in the early summer sessions in 2021. Concerned campers wanted to talk. These conversations took place all summer and beyond. We have been carefully and respectfully listening to everyone who has chosen to be part of the discussion. The community is divided on how to best remember Cecil Sharp’s dedication to preserving English folk traditions, his collecting, his teaching, and his connection to the founders of Camp. We are not in agreement with any one interpretation of Cecil Sharp’s motivation or his world view. There is agreement that he should be remembered, and his history told.

Many people who come to Pinewoods did not know, until recently, that C# was named for a person. Cecil Sharp often signed his letters C#. Built soon after his death, Helen Storrow and Lily Conant named the new large pavilion for him, and then the nearby smaller pavilion when it was built. The Pinewoods family is not in agreement about whether or not continuing to name the pavilions for him is a problem, and this question has created division and unhappiness. To some the idea of a name change feels like a loss, to some it feels like a necessary correction, and to others it feels like an opportunity to align the heart of Camp with its present and future.

Appalachian, 1916
Cecil Sharp (left) records notes while Maude Karpeles (right) writes down lyrics to ballad sung by mother and son

When he came to America and began collecting ballads and dances in Appalachia, Cecil Sharp interpreted what he heard and saw, combining his singular interest in finding ancient, orally transmitted English songs with cultural assumptions and biases typical of his time. His stature swayed opinion well into the future. His misinterpretations contributed in important ways to the erasure of Indigenous and Black influences on the songs and dances he collected. For example, he asked his informants to put aside their fiddles, lap dulcimers, banjos and guitars and sing unaccompanied. Then, Sharp claimed that the singing tradition in Appalachia was predominantly unaccompanied singing as it was in England. In another example, Cecil Sharp failed to see an evolved American form in what he called the “Kentucky Running Set.” He assumed that he was discovering an old English dance never seen in England; he published it as such and created myths that are only now recognized as unfounded. This particular history is well explained in Stephanie Smith’s article Setting the Scene: Cecil Sharp’s “Running Set” and its Legacy 100 Years Later. The impact of this myth making contributed to the already pervasive and false narrative that the English heritage of an American was of more value than other parts of the same person. The myths contributed to members of Black communities perceiving part of their own musical heritage to be “white” and not theirs. Recognition of American multi-ethnic history is essential. However, it does not take away from acknowledging the accurate and invaluable collecting and preserving of the ballads that Olive Dame Campbell, Cecil Sharp, and Maud Karpeles collected and published.

In Boston Cecil Sharp influenced Mrs. Storrow to drop other forms of international folk dance at her dancing school and teach only his interpretations of English folk dance. The Boston community of social dancers that grew out of the school chose to continue to include New England contras and squares in their repertoire.

Embossed C# on the cover of the biography, Cecil Sharp His Life and Work by Maude Karpeles

Today, activities at Pinewoods Camp currently reflect continuously broadening American traditions, many different interpretations and lenses on English and Scottish dance and song traditions, and a growing set of other international traditional dance and musical forms. We anticipate a more expanded view of American traditional music and dance in the coming century, while continuing to provide a home to the English, Scottish and other international forms already present at Camp. Now a part of a larger whole, English folk material as collected and preserved by Cecil Sharp continues to be part of his legacy enjoyed at Pinewoods.

Taking all of this into consideration, we, the Board of Directors of Pinewoods Camp, Inc. have voted to change the name of the C# and C# Minor dance pavilions. This decision for change aligns with our policy of not naming buildings for people. In doing so we are not erasing Cecil Sharp; we will tell his story in connection with the founders of Camp. We are looking for names that will be transparent and welcoming to all who come to Camp in the next 100 years.

With the decision to change the names of the pavilions, we will spend the spring and summer of 2022 accepting suggestions for new names. After considering all the community ideas, the final decision will be announced by the board in early 2023.

C# Minor, Pinewoods – 1936

As part of learning and telling our history, the board will be collaborating on educational displays and presentations exploring the unique history of the land and facilities of Camp and the people who made Pinewoods what it is today. We will ask for your stories. Our goal is to have a robust picture of what was created and accomplished in the first 100 years for our centennial celebration in 2025.

We would like to thank you for being involved members of this community. We appreciate the time you spent discussing the question of C# and C# Minor among yourselves and at camp last summer, sending in reactions through email, and participating in our online discussions in the fall. We noticed that when disagreeing community members talked with each other, our opinions grew closer together as we reflected on another point of view. We think that says much about both the world and what we love about our community. If you wish to participate in regard to C# and C# Minor as we move onward, please communicate with the board through .

As we reflect on who and what factors contributed to making Pinewoods Camp both beloved and inclusive, we will continue to reach for a high standard as the world changes around us.


The Pinewoods Camp, Inc. Board of Directors
March 23, 2022

An Interview with Gerda Conant

March 13, 2022

In Celebration of Women’s History Month

By Hank Chapin
Interview conducted in March 2006

I met Gerda Conant in the sunny front room of her Milton, Massachusetts two-family house. Our conversation lasted until the bright early spring sun had set over Boston.

Gerda Ruden was born in Krefeld, Germany and lived in Freiburg. Her father was expected to follow Gerda’s grandfather into the family silk tie business, but the political climate in Germany in 1935 and his outspoken manner was such that he moved his family, including Gerda’s American-born mother, to the USA. Gerda distinctly remembers seeing the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State building from the deck of their ship as the family finally arrived in America.

Gerda Conant (left) with sister (possibly in Germany before fleeing to the US)

Gerda, her sister and their parents settled in rural Long Island, “in a cottage not too different from Pinecones, although a bit smaller.” The family kept chickens, grew vegetables, and did a lot of canning. Her father, after trying various business ventures during the World War II economy, opened one of the first laundromats on Long Island, and her mother worked as a nurse and volunteered as a Girl Scout troop leader and trainer. As a child with two busily working parents, Gerda and her sister had wild berries and flowers, woods and fields, swamps and kettle ponds to explore, fortuitously preparing her for her Pinewoods Conant life to follow. “Clearly we were poor, but I never felt that way,” what with family singing of German and American songs around the piano, knitting, sewing, cooking and embroidering.

About her American growing up, Gerda says “although my family fled Hitler, they knew what happened to people in war. I became drawn to and acquainted with the Quakers. This led me to sign up for a service project through the American Friends Service Committee in a mental hospital in Iowa.” And it was here that Gerda met Rick Conant, in 1952. Rick, a student at Haverford College, was also on an AFSC project.

Gerda and Rick did not waste any time, marrying in 1953. Gerda had not even graduated from Ohio’s Hiram College, so Rick, a Conscientious Objector, cleverly arranged his alternate service in a mental hospital not far from the Hiram campus. Their evenings together were often filled with all kinds of folk dancing, further cementing her future as a vital participant in the evolution of Pinewoods Camp.

Gerda Conant as a grade schooler on Long Island

Upon first arriving at Pinewoods, Gerda clearly remembers watching the Thursday afternoon demonstrations, where the dancing was limited to English with an occasional American dance. She was amazed to experience a new side of Rick when he sailed his beloved pumpkinseed Redstart in the weekend races on Long Pond.  Rick was a perpetual winner, and his competitive side shown through in the local, low-stakes, neighborly weekend sailing events.

Gerda Conant played a crucial role in the transition from the Pinewoods Camp modestly and informally run by her in-laws to the Pinewoods Camp, Inc. of today. When her father-in-law Richard Conant first decided to turn Pinewoods over to a governing board, it was necessary to find someone who knew the workings of the grounds and buildings. No one in the immediate Conant family was interested in the position, so it fell to Gerda, who had just begun a career as a first grade teacher in Hartford, Connecticut, where she and Rick were living at the time. “They needed somebody who knew where the fuse boxes were,” she says. It was as a Conant that she managed the camp that first summer. Naturally, she hired her children. Gerda remembers her 7th grade daughter Susan didn’t see washing dishes as her ideal summer job. But sons Donald and David had previously worked on grounds crews, learning the ropes from crew chief Peter Liebert and crew members Nat Nichols, Tony Moretti and Hank Chapin, among others.

Those first summers were “seat-of-the-pants” operations in many ways. When the Square lights went out, it took

Gerda and Rick Conant on their wedding day

an hour just to locate the fuse box. The very first CDSS Family Camp is forever seared on her memory as the week it never stopped raining. Gerda remembers many cabin roofs leaked to the point where she announced in the dining hall, “Please let me know if your cabin does NOT leak.” One day the run-off from the road was so intense that the dining hall pump flooded, and she and David Arnold had to crawl under the dining room and construct a damn, diverting rainwater away from the pump.

Gerda credits a lot of her early successes to productive work weekends and eager, faithful, enthusiastic crew members. She gratefully acknowledges the Scottish dancer who single-handedly re-designed the wiring for the camp and then dug the trenches and laid new cable. Shag Graetz was also instrumental in the early transition days, with his care and knowledge of the camp grounds. Gerda feels there should be a tribute to Elgie Levin, who has attended every work weekend since they were instituted.

Gerda recalls with great delight the retirement party for the ancient Hobart dishwasher, planned by Mark Ward and Frank Edwards, where t-shirts were made commemorating the grand event. The work schedule in the early days wa

Gerda Conant as “Old Mother Pinewoods” during Campers Week.

s looser than it is now, because Pinewoods was not booked every day of the summer season. There was time for the crews to jump in the back of the pickup truck and go to the movies in Buzzards Bay. In those days Gerda had to make sure she hired enough crew with driver’s licenses. Until Terry Tobias re-designed the dining hall kitchen there was not enough cold storage space. Some member of the crew had to make a daily drive into Plymouth for supplies and food.

Gerda owes her professional career as a property manager to her Pinewoods experiences. After Pinewoods she managed a housing complex in Newton, Massachusetts, and finally retired after running an apartment complex for the elderly on Beacon Hill in Boston. Now, son David’s family lives just down the hill, and Gerda can easily and conveniently slip into the grandmother/caregiver role in her neighborhood and return to the family cabins next door to C# in the summers.

Gerda managed Pinewoods “for four or five years,” during which time the Rick Conant family moved to Milton, Massachusetts from Hartford, Connecticut. She brought Jacqueline Schwab in as office manager, and when Gerda finally stepped aside, the natural choice for the next manager was Jacqueline. But Gerda had successfully transitioned Pinewoods into a viable organization, one that so many of us love to this day.

Getting More Comfortable With Gender!

March 12, 2022

Tuesday, April 12 | 7:00-8:00pm | Zoom
Getting More Comfortable With Gender! 

Zoom Registration Link:  Click HERE

People who are the same gender can present themselves very differently. People who are different genders can present themselves similarly. Everyone of any gender (or no gender at all!) can benefit from thinking about their own gender(s) and how they want to present those genders to the world! Join Kat Dutton as they talk about different gender identities, roles, and presentations and share some ways to play with your own gender! All are welcome to learn, share, and be a part of this presentation!

Katarina Dutton is a white, nonbinary, mathematics teacher and folk dancer from the greater
Boston area. They have been lucky to have had the space to explore and play with their gender for many years now and in a variety of roles and ways (including as a professional role model and speaker to the trans and nonbinary teenagers where they work!). They began coming to Pinewoods in 2011 and have returned every summer since (well, almost…) at Scottish, ESCape, or work weekends. One of their favourite things about folk dance is the ways it ties into gender presentation and role, and they are always seeking new ways to play and present themself as their fullest, most exuberant, self –and to help others do the same!

Discovering Pinewoods: Duncan Smith’s Story

February 11, 2022

Discovering Pinewoods: The First Year and Life-long Impact

“Duncan, Arthur, and ‘Friend’ 1968” – with Art Cornelius outside C# Minor. Emptying that barrel full of cans, ideally while a class was in session with as much noise as possible, was a highlight of the trash and john run.

I am living in the hills 30 miles southeast of Melbourne, Australia. I came to Australia to try it out for a year in 1991 after a backpacking trip through New Zealand, Australia, and parts of Southeast Asia in 1990. My year has turned into nearly 30! At first I lived with my now ex-wife, and from 2004 as a single parent to my now 22 year old son Carter, who moved out in May this year, so I am now on my own, with a cat.

I first came to Pinewoods in 1967, for Chamber Music Week. I was 15. Even though I was underage for that adult week, I was given special dispensation because I had a small harpsichord that I was happy to bring to camp. I had known about Pinewoods my whole life, and at the end of that first week I basically begged the Conants and my parents to allow me to stay on for the rest of the summer, which they did! I started as pot boy (it meant something different in those days!) and graduated to some outdoor crew activities. For the next 3 years (1968 through 70) I was on the crew in various capacities.

I grew up in a dancing family. My father Alan was a New England square dance caller starting in the 40s when he was at MIT and had a performance team and band that toured the Northeast. Dad learned calling from Ralph Page, and became very involved in the New England Folk Festival Association, which we attended every year. Sometime around 1950 my parents helped create the Scottish dance scene in Boston, so I’ve been dancing since before I was born. 

This hasn’t influenced my professional life so much, but personal/social, absolutely! I took my first official Scottish Country Dance class in 1960 with Barbara Little, and have continued dancing ever since with a brief hiatus when I was in college and a bit less activity in recent years. I became a SCD teacher in 1976, and a dance musician in about 1980. Having picked up other traditions at Pinewoods (English, Contra, Square, Kentucky Running Set) I’ve continued to dance, teach, and play in whatever traditions are available. The scene is a lot smaller and very socially different in Melbourne (people do SCD because they’re Scottish, not necessarily because of the dance – what a concept! Bear in mind growing up in the RSCDS Boston Branch there were very few if any actual expat Scots – just a lot of people like my parents who liked the dancing), and I’ve wound up spending more of my time here as a musician– there are plenty of dancers, plenty of teachers, but few dance musicians, so guess what I get asked to do most? If I had to choose between the three, being on the dance floor would always be my first choice. These days I do a little contra calling, occasional SDC teaching, and enjoy dancing a mix of Scottish, English, Welsh and “colonial” dances.


In vaguely chronological order…

  • My first summer, reporting for duty to Mr. Conant at the Point, as he was serving millet porridge for breakfast, me not having heard of millet.
  • Learning to drive on the 1938(?) Chevy pickup, moving it down the hill at The Point not knowing what a clutch was, but managing to get it rolling! Learning to navigate between trees has been a very useful skill – always know, or guess, how wide your vehicle is!
  •  Having been involved in trail clearing in the White Mountains, learning that pruning for Mr. Conant meant the path shouldn’t look any different than when you started – this after having strained the intercostal muscles in my torso being overzealous with the pruning shears.
  • As pot boy with cooks Chris Marshall and Eileen Malone, and Eileen’s classic line to a surprised older woman camper at breakfast “have some orange juice lovey, it’ll put hair on your chest”.
  • Graduated to the trash and john run – see photo.
  • Learning…
    •  that navigating the paths at night without light can be easily done by practiced bare feet – every root and rock tells you where you are.
    • to play guitar from Hank Chapin and Doug Smith (first song? Gold Watch and Chain by the Carter Family)
    • that peanut butter is good for breakfast, especially if it’s Deaf Smith — thanks Shag!
    • English, Morris and Sword, to the extent that I joined the PW Morris men because I was light enough to do the rapper backflip
    • So many maintenance skills, including reroofing cabins on Men’s Shore and the Dining Hall
  • Running the store, in the era of the found-in-the-bushes lingerie collection
  • Enjoying relaxed conversation on the Tideswell dock with a young woman wearing only a towel in her hair, which was more than anyone else there was wearing
  • Stealing the Apley House flag during Scottish weekend, being run down, hogtied, and deposited outside C# minor where the mastermind was teaching (there’s more to that story!)
  • Recreating a cabin interior on the raft, among other pranks.
  • Crewmates Shag, Hank Chapin, Doug Smith, Neil (“shucky durn”) Colmer, Terry Tanner, Tony Moretti.
  • Returning many times as a SCD and English-Scottish teacher and musician, most recently in – I think – 2014.
  • So many more!!! The lasting friendships, memories, and influences that continue to enrich my life to this day

Duncan’s entry is a submission from a two-week adventure in September 2020. It started with requesting help with a memory about Pinewoods Camp from 1968. The POST editor, Marney Morrison, emailed a half dozen people who had been there at the same time.  Those friends shared the email, and for days anecdotes and laughter traveled over the internet, until someone offered to host a Zoom reunion.  Forty people met for two hours, using a set of guidelines designed by storyteller and writer Meg Lippert, for one-minute introductions. After they heard from everyone they continued with conversation and more storytelling. Between them, their first year at Pinewoods ranged from 1947-1974, and they were living in Hawaii, across the Continental USA, and in Australia.  As these poured in, they realized that Pinewoods would want to invite EVERYONE who has been to Camp to tell their stories. Fast-forward to now and Pinewoods is eager to hear from YOU. Click HERE to submit your story or email .