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NGI Recipient: Evan De Smitt

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - American Dance & Music Week (2016)

I’d like to start out by first saying a big thank you for awarding me the New Generation Initiative scholarship. It has been said that Pinewoods is a magical place. The magic itself made me skeptical at first, but I was proven wrong by the subculture all around me. When I first entered Pinewoods for American Week, the road changed very quickly by getting narrower and narrower and became a dirty brown compared to the grey asphalt from the main road.

Contra dancing has been recently a big part of my life ever since a friend introduced it to me almost a year and a half ago. I felt ambitious and decided get to get into the world of calling contra dances and squares. The square dance callers’ course through CDSS and the facilities at Pinewoods enhanced my passion for dancing. I gained knowledge on how to call square dances effectively, which I can bring back to my contra dance community! Larry Edelman really nailed it with is teaching style. It was also amazing to casually have breakfast with top callers such as Will Mentor (who called at the Flurry) and Gaye Fifer.

I have made many friends throughout my time at Pinewoods, and I will see 2 of them later in September for the Brattleboro Dawn Dance! It definitely made a difference adding the new youth generation to the adult program at American Week. I personally love dancing with younger dancers not only because they are around my age but they add flair to the dances.

One thing that really caught my eye was how rustic and wooded Pinewoods really is. It was simply amazing that we can have such awesome programs and dances in the woods. It was truly magical in that sense.

So what did I gain from the CDSS Program? Well I was given an excellent opportunity to call for the camper night, which was amazing. I also was able to play my saxophone and be appreciated by the contra dance community for doing it. I would say that was definitely a main highlight (on top of skinny dipping in the pond)! I also learned a lot in the square dance callers’ course, and developed a huge appreciation for the fiddle.

The most challenging part of it I would say as a newcomer was getting around camp. I kept getting lost even with the map. The tour certainly did help, but it did take a few days to get accustomed to the locations of everything.

Overall, Pinewoods was a wonderful experience for me that I hope that I can do again next summer! I liked that everyone was supportive there and I felt so free. I thoroughly enjoyed dancing with the younger generation, going swimming, and contra dancing every night. I really could not attend camp without your support, and sincerely appreciate the opportunity for the scholarship and hopefully many more opportunities because I would love to come back!