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NGI Recipient: Sarah Bustin

Session Attended: Folk Arts Center of New England - FAC Weekend (2017)

Places where people can connect, express themselves, and share joy are few, but worth finding. Pinewoods, with its sparkling ponds and picturesque forest, is a remarkable place. This year was my first time there, and I conquered fears, learned new skills, and connected with traditions. Accordingly, Pinewoods has earned the title of My Favorite Place in the World.
When I first arrived at Pinewoods, I was nervous and unsure of what to expect. I asked myself questions like, “What if I get homesick?” and “What if not bringing my cell phone was a bad idea?” Nevertheless, within hours I was having a blast, and I quickly started to feel at home. Though I came without my family, I had a wonderful guardian, Marcie Van Cleave, and I also felt as if I were surrounded by caring aunts, uncles, and siblings. I think that connection and family atmosphere is part of what makes Pinewoods, and the folk community itself, so amazing.
One of the best parts of the whole week was getting to program an evening dance party. Working with my experienced programming partner, Dana Sussman, I chose which dances to do and wrote them down. Although it was one of my camper jobs, programming was so much fun, it did not feel like a job at all!
Another of my favorite activities was Morning Swim. Andy Taylor-Blenis and Laura DeCesare told me that is a long standing tradition for a few brave individuals to quietly swim out to the center of Round Pond and sing everyone awake! I loved singing a new rhyme every day.
At Pinewoods, I saw firsthand what many campers call Pinewoods Magic. To me, the magic of Pinewoods means the little surprises, traditions, and secrets that I discovered along the way. Maybe it is the magic, maybe the dancing, or maybe the food, but something about Pinewoods is addictive. As I told many of my friends and fellow campers, I know I will be coming back to FAC International Sessions at Pinewoods every year for the rest of my life!