CDSS Sings

Songs Stay Sung (From Harmony of Song & Dance 2021)

By Betsy Branch

Collage of photos from campAll photos taken by Deborah Payne during Harmony of Song & Dance Week 2021.

The happy memories of what felt like a stolen week at Pinewoods are sustaining me on this gray, rainy November day. After months of isolation and drama, a week in the woods among friends, surrounded by music and dance, was especially delicious this year. The week felt like entering an enchanted garden, a place where we could all step briefly away from the stresses of pandemic living.

We begin each day at Harmony Week with the all-camp chorale. After hearing for months that singing together is one of the most dangerous group activities, getting to sing together daily, surrounding ourselves with harmonies, brought immense joy and relief. So many of us wept on that first day of singing together. I love Harmony Week every time I participate, but the camp this last summer will always have a special place in my heart.

Not that there weren’t stresses involved. All of us who were program directors this year experienced tremendous stress. We were operating without full staffing and with a ton of uncertainty. Three of us got to run our weeks in person, with increasing amounts of drama each week as the Delta variant took hold. But there were three weeks that weren’t able to run—such a disappointment for those Program Directors who put in so much preparation work. My week was short five staff members, including four dance musicians. One of my callers seriously injured herself at the opening night dance. Every day, Steve, Crispin, and I put our heads together to plan out which things we could make happen, and which things needed to get cancelled this year. There was troubleshooting every single day, and a bit of scrambling. Since we were the first in-person CDSS camp week since 2019, we felt like guinea pigs for the weeks to come. I kept telling myself, “At least we’re furthering science!”

But in spite of the stress—and possibly because of it—the camp community rose to the occasion and supported each other every step of the way. Every one of my staff members went above and beyond to make this a magical week. We were all operating at our edges. I will forever be grateful to these incredible artists. Everyone taught and performed from their hearts, with honesty and integrity. Our staff meetings were filled with laughter and deepest respect.

The camper community responded with joy, gratitude, and flexibility. They understood that we were all doing the best we could in a difficult situation. There was so much grace from them, and I am filled with gratitude for them as well.

A few highlights of the week for me personally:

  • Hearing the satisfying and resounding BOOM as dancers did a balance and swing on that wonderful dance floor
  • Leading the camper open band
  • Late night slack jaw competitions (I’m probably the worst at this game of anyone I know)
  • A pavilion filled with singing voices, smiling faces, and eyes shining with tears
  • The magical pub night in the Tarp & Gull (aka C# Minor), decorated so beautifully.
  • Late night swimming/singing in Long Pond
  • Incredible staff concerts
  • Getting to share our week through the Daily Antidote of Song, thanks to Jo Rasi and her live broadcasts from the Pinewoods porch.

There are so many more! And I think everyone there at camp will have a long list of extra special memories. One of the songs we sang together this year, “Songs Stay Sung,” by Zoe Mulford, perfectly sums up so many of my emotions around this camp. Jeremy Carter-Gordon and Lauren Breunig of Windborne presented this song at camp. The words which especially resonated to me this year were, “Love stays loved and songs stay sung.” I take heart that all the love we experienced at camp and all the songs we sang are still out there having an impact on all of us. I could feel the power of all the love and songs from years past at Pinewoods. I’m excited to get back there next summer for another fantastic week of song, dance, swimming, love, and laughter among the pines.

"Songs Stay Sung" sheet music

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