Greetings! I write to you from Pinewoods music and dance camp in Plymouth, Massachusetts! I am volunteering here for the rest of August, sometimes doing grounds and sometimes washing pots in the kitchen. I’d like to use this blog post to tell you a little about what it’s like here.

Throughout the summer, the programming at the camp is run by four different user groups: the Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS), the Country Dance Society – Boston Centre (CDS Boston); the Folk Arts Center of New England (FAC); and the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (RSCDS). The majority of the summer is run by CDSS. Each week is a different thematic area of tradition. Folk Music Week just ended, and now it’s English Week. Next week is English & American Week.

Campers and staff live in cabins that have electricity but no internet or insulation. Three delicious meals a day are prepared by the kitchen crew, and there are lakes on both sides of camp where you can swim at all hours of the day. There is constantly music drifting through the trees from one source or many, and the escape from technological interference allows you to slow down and relax. It really is a utopia.

There are two main crew jobs: working in the kitchen and working on grounds. In the kitchen there are cooks, kitchen aides, one dish washer, and one pot washer. There are a dozen or so paid crew, and a number volunteers who fill in the gaps and provide days off. I’ve learned how to wash pots, and on some days I clean bathrooms or check cabins on changeover days. The crew are almost all college-age or just graduated; I am one of the oldest. The demographic of the campers ranges from week to week, but by and large the majority are retirement age or middle-aged, with some number of younger folks depending on the week.

I’m having a great time, getting to know the other crew members and playing lots of board games in my off time. I’m not getting paid, but I get free room and board for minimal work, and I get to be in this beautiful place with music and dancing and great people. Cleaning toilets in paradise.

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