Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Camp Woodland Presentation

Last Saturday, August 14, Sue Rosenberg and I presented our Camp Woodland show for the third time. This time it was at the Woodstock Historical Society. With us were Joe Hickerson, Mickey Vandow, and Eric Weissberg. Eric is one of the leading banjo players in the country, perhaps in the world. Joe Hickerson was the Director of the Archive of Folk Culture at the Library of Congress for 35 years and has been collecting and performing folk songs for much longer than that. He brought many great songs to Woodland as its music counselor in 1959 and 1960, including the last three verses of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

What a privilege it was to perform the old Woodland songs with these three distinguished gentlemen! Eric and Mickey did a hilarious version of "Lather and Shave," as well as other great songs. Joe did "I Walked the Road Again." We sang many beloved Woodland favorites together. Sue as always did a great job describing the history, philosophy and spirit of the camp, weaving the words of its Director, Norman Studer, with pictures, quotes from campers and visitors to the camp, and stories.

A couple of weeks before the presentation I took it upon myself to send a letter to every one of the 240+ people on the list that had been compiled at the reunion in 1997. I knew many letters would be returned, but I felt it was worth the money and effort to reconnect with even a few campers. Sue and I spent a morning folding, stuffing, and stamping, and I brought them all to (of all places) the post office in Phoenicia, New York, the town where Camp Woodland had been. I've been going there every Wednesday in the summers to sing with the children at the Catskill Woodland Camp, a day camp directed by Cara Cruikshank, a young woman who lives on the Camp Woodland property and was inspired to start a day camp in the same spirit.

I did get a lot of returns, but I also got many emails thanking me for contacting them. Many couldn't make it but were glad to reconnect and are now on my email list. And about a dozen actually were able to make it to the event, and had a great time!

Following the presentation we were invited to the home of a member of the board of the Woodstock Historical Society, where we ate, talked, and sang and sang! If you go to the web site I provided the link to above, click on "Spirit of Camp Woodland" and then, on the left side, "Camp Woodland celebrates," you can see pictures of both the events, as well as pictures from the next day's concert by Joe Hickerson, sponsored by Heritage Folk Music. I opened for him with my song "Full Circle," appropriately enough since it's about my reminiscences of Camp Woodland. Following that, another great music jam at the home of the Director of HFM.

Another wonderful weekend, and hopefully more will follow, as we have ideas for future get-togethers, possibly a book and/or a movie about the camp, and more!

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