Move Campers' Week Earlier in the Summer

This petition made change with 104 supporters!

Dear Tom Colligan, Steve Howe, and the CDSS Board,

We write to you as concerned members of CDSS and the Campers’ Week community at Pinewoods camp. We would like Campers’ Week to be moved earlier in the summer in some or all future years. Our goal with this petition is to open a dialogue with you on the topic.

Campers’ Week brings people of all ages together to share a wide variety of dance and music traditions. Over the years, Campers’ Week has developed a unique culture and community that continues and grows from year to year. The intergenerational nature of Campers’ Week is a key reason why it has been full or oversubscribed virtually every year in the past 30 years. However, in that time, schools around the country have been pushing their starting dates consistently earlier. This trend seems to have accelerated in the past two or three years and seems likely to continue. What used to be a problem for only children in the South and some teachers has become a problem for the majority of children in primary and secondary school, many college students, and virtually all teachers who wish to attend Campers’ Week.  The next generation’s continued involvement in CDSS programming should be nurtured as much as possible in order to keep the traditions alive. Making it difficult for students to consistently attend camp undermines this goal and also harms the Campers’ Week community, which thrives on the energy of young campers. Furthermore, Campers’ Week relies on the presence of strong teachers, both as staff to offer children’s classes and otherwise engage young campers, and, because of Campers’ Week’s lower staff budget, as campers who provide programming for both adults and children. Making it difficult for teachers to attend is at odds with the vision of camper-driven programming for all ages.

The placement of Campers’ Week in late August harms its ability to attract newcomers as well as its ability to retain connections with long-time campers. Some who are new to the folk world, to CDSS, or to dance camps might be interested in the week but unwilling to keep their children out of school for an unknown experience. Families who already know how special Campers’ Week is  sometimes attend at the cost of missing pre-semester obligations or up to a week of school, surely an unsustainable solution. This issue is now beginning to impact the first generation of campers who have grown up coming to Campers’ Week, and who now have young children. Some of the signatures on this letter are from members who began attending Campers’ Week as children (some more than 30 years ago) and who wish to share the special traditions of this week with their own children. For many in this cohort, Campers’ Week is core to their relationship with CDSS and folk traditions more broadly. As their children reach school age, however, it is becoming increasingly challenging (even impossible) for some of these campers to continue to attend regularly. The week’s placement in late August will prevent many from raising their children in the unique intergenerational community where they grew up, arguably undermining a core element of what makes this week so special and weakening life-long connections to CDSS.  

We recognize that many considerations must be balanced when scheduling camp sessions. We simply ask that a dialogue be reopened on this issue -- we would like to be involved in exploring creative solutions. We have nominated Hannah Naiman, Robin Kynoch, and Karen Mueller-Harder as liaisons for this discussion. Thank you for considering our request. We hope that CDSS will move toward a change in order to support the unique, multi-generational community that has flourished at Campers Week over the years.

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