Family Week 1 at Ogontz

August 1 - 8, 2009

This week is over -- see you next year!

Join the Family Week 1 Facebook Group and Event.
There is a nice article in Making Music about our Family Camps.

Tentative Schedule

Family Week 1 at Ogontz
Daily Schedule

click for tentative Detailed Daily Schedule
7:45 - 8:30 Breakfast
9:00 - 9:55 First morning classes, divided by age group
10:05 - 11:00 Second morning classes, divided by age group
11:05 Refreshments
11:15 - 12:00 Morning Gathering
12:00 - 12:30 Bookstore staffed
12:30 Lunch
1:00 - 1:30 Bookstore staffed
1:30 - 2:25 Early afternoon classes / Rest time
2:35 - 4:35 2 hour Swimming option
2:35 - 3:30 Napping, Swimming or Free choice classes, Bookstore staffed
3:30 - 3:40 Afternoon Snack
3:40 - 4:40 Napping, Swimming or Free choice classes
4:55 - 5:30 Stories at the Green Chairs
5:50 Dinner
7:15 Community Dance
7:45 - 8:30 Evening Gathering
8:15 Pied Piper / Bedtime for children 9 and younger
8:30 Evening Dance Party
9:30 Bedtime for 10-12 year olds
11:00 Optional after-dance activities

Program Description

Look at Family Programs for general information; here are details about this particular program and staff.

We hope you'll join us at Family Week 1 at Ogontz Camp in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire. In the mornings we will learn and play in age-group classes and come together as a community throughout each day at gatherings and family-style meals, swimming in the crystal clear lake and enjoying stories at the Green Chairs!

We've made a few changes at Ogontz this week, including an experiment with a new daily schedule that we hope you'll like. Both age-group class periods, and morning gathering, will happen before lunch. This will leave the afternoons free for you to choose from a variety of classes, to just relax, or to enjoy a two-hour swimming period. We've also brought a special emphasis on singing to this week by offering three song workshops during the afternoon, and a more southern feel to these northern woods by inviting internationally known staff in the foot percussion and American traditional music worlds.

Our feet will be busy this week, so bring some solid shoes! We welcome Meg Ryan to Ogontz, well known to Pinewoods campers, and throughout the U.S., for her expertise in traditional English clog dancing. She'll lead a Northwest clog morris class and offer Marley dancing in the afternoons. We also welcome the renowned singing/songwriting duo, Ellie and Leela Grace. They'll teach Appalachian clogging classes and bring their own youthful energy to the Teens Class. Leela will also lead a harmony singing class with her exquisite voice and patient, lighthearted approach.

The music for dancing this week will be superb, from sublime English country tunes played by Daron Douglas and Karen Axelrod to driving tunes for American dance with Steve Hickman and Paul Kovac! Daron will also share some of the songs Cecil Sharp collected from her great-grandmother in Appalachia long ago. We are excited to welcome Paul and Laura Lewis Kovac and their family to Ogontz this year. Paul's a master of old-time and bluegrass music on guitar, mandolin and banjo and has played with some of the best bands in those genres for years. Laura has danced and taught with the internationally known Fiddle Puppets dance troupe and she also plays old-time fiddle. Together they will lead a workshop on classic American song styles from bluegrass to Carter Family to western swing and cowboy songs.

While there's a lot that's new this week at camp, Ogontz's favorite story teller, Donald Davis, returns to enthrall us during the daily Green Chairs storytime. His lovely wife, Merle, brings folk art crafts and her own stories about the magical woodland beings whose lairs might be found around camp. DeLaura Padovan and Bettie Zakon-Anderson will keep the younger campers busy with songs, dances, puppets and games. Steve Hickman returns to get the Family Dance Band playing for the Community Dance and having a ball together on stage! Steve Zakon-Anderson brings his humorous touch to the American dancing and Brad Sayler returns to Ogontz to lead us in English country dance.

We've got singing, dancing, storytelling, crafts, learning and relaxing to create a wonderful and memorable family vacation. Our family loves spending the week with your family and we need your talents, stories, humor and laughter to make the magic happen. Please join us for a great week at camp!

-- Bettie and Steve Zakon Anderson, Program Directors


Karen Axelrod plays piano for English, American and Scottish dance and has been on staff at numerous dance events around the country for many years. She is highly regarded for her creative and rich piano accompaniment. She also plays accordion for the renowned longsword team, Orion Longsword, and piano with the bands Foxfire and Woodlark. A professional dog walker -- with a PhD in dog walking from a highly respected internet correspondence school, Karen occasionally appears with the comedy improvisation troupe, the Villa Jidiots.

Donald Davis is a superb storyteller who traces his stories to his memories of growing up in the southern Appalachians. He is happiest when his stories remind you of your stories. Donald will be cooking up stories with the 8-9 year olds and offering a storytelling walkabout. His daily storytelling at the Green Chairs is one of the highlights of camp! Personal Webpage

Merle Davis has brought her teaching, theatre arts and crafts talents to Ocracoke Island's school and to family dance camps for years. This week she will be cooking up stories with the 8-9 year-olds, sharing her folk art talents with all and offering a special time teaching the stories and habits of gnomes, fairies and other magical beings of the woods.

Daron Douglas is a fine fiddler for American and English dance traditions. Daron also brings a rich repertoire of songs from her great-grandmother, who was one of Cecil Sharp's informants in the southern mountains. She plays with the dance bands Foxfire and Goldcrest. Daron has been on the staff at CDSS dance camps, at Ashokan and at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, N.C. She now lives and plays music in New Orleans.

Ellie Grace is a percussive dancer, multi-instrumentalist and singer who performs and teaches as a solo artist, as part of a renowned duo with her sister (Leela), and with several highly respected bands and dance companies. Ellie is a powerhouse on the dance floor and, though still young, a remarkable teacher (having taught at universities, camps and schools across the country). Ellie has enough energy and warmth to light up a room and she is not afraid to use it in abundance to get you dancing, singing, and laughing! Personal Webpage

Leela Grace, a Missouri native (and recent Portland, OR transplant), has performed and taught nationally for most of her life (nearly 25 years). She spent her tender years on stage with her family band, and now tours the country in a duo with her sister Ellie, with whom she has released two acclaimed CDs, and as a solo singer/songwriter and old-time banjo player. Through the years, she has inspired thousands of school children, banjo students, percussive dancers, and singers of all ages through her extraordinary teaching. Her devious plan is to do her part to create world peace by returning voices and simple joys to their rightful owners. Personal Webpage

Steve Hickman is a world-class fiddler, a passionate historian, a family homesteader, a late night weeder and a master hamboner. When not tending the goats on his family's organic CSA he keeps busy with his new passion of longbow breakdown fiddling, a bowing style that was very important before the era of microphones! He is a master at getting all of us to pick up our instruments and play. So get ready for another fantastic Ogontz family dance band under his patient leadership!

Laura Lewis Kovac rediscovered her Appalachian roots in the mid 1980s when she took up clogging as a past time. Her passion and enthusiasm for clogging soon led to a full time dance career when she joined the Fiddle Puppet Dancers and for six years toured and performed across the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Japan. In addition to holding a BA in Music from the University of Virginia, Laura has studied dance with many well known percussive dancers. Moving from her native Virginia to Northeast Ohio in 1994, Laura continued to perform and teach for many years, and today is a popular teacher at dance camps. In addition to clogging, Laura plays old-time fiddle.

Paul Kovac is a singer, multi-instrumentalist, teacher and student of American country music. He has been playing old-time and bluegrass music on guitar, mandolin and banjo since he was a kid. Over the years, he has performed old-time with Dirk Powell and Rick Good, bluegrass with Bill Monroe and Hazel Dickens, accompanied fiddlers, Chubby Wise, Art Stamper, Vassar Clements, and played dance music with Critton Hollow String Band and the Fiddle Puppets, touring internationally. In 1993, Paul wrote and produced the instructional DVD, Learn to Play Guitar with Roy Clark and Paul Kovac. He has been on staff at numerous music and dance camps, and was the coordinator of Bluegrass Week for the Augusta Heritage Center from 1996 to 2007. When not playing music, Paul grows Christmas trees, blueberries and makes maple syrup on his farm in Chardon, Ohio.

DeLaura Padovan is an irrepressibly joyful presence around camp, whether she is dancing and singing with the children or leading dancing for the whole Ogontz community. DeLaura (along with Steve Hickman and their two daughters) raises chickens and goats on her family homestead. She also teaches and organizes for her local Virginia home schooling community, and has been singing lately in their local nursing home. Spreading joy wherever she goes, her motto is "life is camp"!

Meg Ryan from Northampton, MA, is a wonderful teacher of Northwest clog and a founding member of Guiding Star Clog Morris. She is also an outstanding performer and teacher of both English and Anglo-American clog dance styles. A member of the New Dancing Marleys, Meg has performed in England, Canada and the U.S. She has studied under some of the masters of the traditions of English clog, including Pat Tracey and Alex Woodcock.

Brad Sayler has been leading English and American folk dances around the country for the past 20 years. When teaching, he likes to emphasize the elements of good dancing -- phrasing, movement and interaction with other dancers -- always with a generous dose of warmth and humor!

Bettie Zakon-Anderson has been dancing most of her life and enjoys sharing the fun of music and dance with people of all ages. She has taught a variety of couples dances, from hambo and waltz to swing and Zydeco, at camps and weekends throughout the U.S. She can often be found in the classrooms at her children's school teaching and leading songs as part of their all-school sings and the arts enrichment program she helps coordinate.

Steve Zakon-Anderson has been calling contras, leading workshops for callers and teaching couples dance for over 25 years. He has performed at dance camps and festivals in 36 states, including Pinewoods, Ogontz, Buffalo Gap, Lady of the Lake, Augusta and Brasstown. His own dance compositions are well known to dancers and other callers. Steve's clear teaching, energetic calling and sense of humor have made him a favorite of dancers of all ages and abilities.

Class Descriptions

Children's classes by age group (9:00 - 11:00)

Campers ages 2-12 will stay in their class spaces for the two hours of age-group classes each morning, with their teachers and topics changing at about 10:00.

Ages 2 - 4
Puppets, songs and stories! These tiny campers will have a wonderful time with the caring presence of Bettie and DeLaura.

Ages 5 - 7
These lucky campers will sing, dance and play with DeLaura and then learn some Maypole dances and singing games with Bettie.

Ages 8 and 9
Paul and Laura will bring Appalachian song and dance to the 8-9s. Then, Donald and Merle will keep their hands and minds busy cooking up stories.

Ages 10 to 12
Steve Z-A will lead these young dancers in American contra dance style and will get them writing and calling dances, too! With Steve H helping out on fiddle, there might be some hambone too. In the second hour, Ellie and Laura will keep the 10-12s on the move with exciting clogging steps and a few songs and games thrown in for good fun.

Ages 13 and up 1st Morning Classes (9:00 - 9:55)

English Country Dance -- Brad Sayler / Daron Douglas, Karen Axelrod
After covering the basic movements, rhythms, tempos and formations used in English country dancing, campers will explore the dances that make this such an exciting dance form from Sharp to Shaw, waltzes to hornpipes, and Well Hall to Dublin Bay. Exquisite music from Daron and Karen will make this hour devine! 

Beginning Appalachian Clogging - Ella & Leela Grace
With clear, step-by-step instruction and lots of good humor and encouragement from your teachers you may find yourself in awe of the exciting rhythms and dance steps coming from your own two feet by the end of the week. Ellie and Leela have inspired thousands of percussive dance students through their extraordinary teaching!

Ages 13 and up 2nd Morning classes (10:05 - 11:00)

American Dance -- Steve Zakon-Anderson / Steve Hickman, Paul Kovac
Steve Z-A is known for his clear teaching, great sense of humor and wonderful selection of dances that will be fun and even educational. With Steve H and Paul providing the music, you'll be swinging to an American rhythm machine!

Northwest Clog Morris - Meg Ryan / Karen Axelrod
Learn this dance tradition of the industrial Northern Counties of England, where sets of dancers numbering 8, 16, 24 or more perform their formations in iron-shod clogs. Meg will have your sets dancing the figures and chorus in no time, especially with Karen's accordion accompaniment. Beginner and experienced dancers welcome. If you have indoor Northwest clogs (with rubber "irons") and Northwest slings bring them. Otherwise, wear shoes that provide good traction and support.

Morning Snack (11:05) and Morning Gathering (11:15 - 12:00)

Bookstore Staffed (12:00 - 12:30 and 1:00 - 1:30)
Peruse the recorded talents for sale at the CDSS bookstore (also open 2:35-3:30).

The Early Afternoon Classes (1:30 - 2:25)

Napping and Resting (99 and under)
A great time to relax and recharge. Also, family walks exploring camp are great.

Folk Art Crafts (All ages, under 7 - with parent) - Merle Davis and DeLaura Padovan
Merle and DeLaura will offer a potpourri of crafts to delight all ages from depression-era inspired jewelry to sculptures starting with a retired shoe (bring an old, worn shoe to use). Make a family flag with small adornments from home that tell the story of your family. This time will be busy, surprising, probably messy, hopefully memorable!

Family Band (8 and up) - Steve Hickman
Learn great tunes by ear with one of the most versatile and entertaining musicians around. We'll look forward to dancing to your tunes at the Community Dance!

Marley Dance (10 and up) - Meg Ryan / Daron Douglas
In this class we will learn a Marley dance routine while examining the history of "English-style" clog dance in America. Beginning step dancers will get an introduction to the basics of clog dancing, while experienced dancers will be challenged by the specifics of the Marley style and aesthetic. The Marley tradition comes from the dancing of generations of Marley family members of Rockville, CT, giving us an unparalleled opportunity to see into the 150+ year history of "English-style" clog dancing on the popular stages and in the community halls and homes of our country. Wear clogs or hard-soled shoes (shoes that give support and that you can hear yourself in).

Classic American Songbag (13 and up) - Paul and Laura Lewis Kovac
This is a chance to just sing together -- in unison, in harmony, in tune (hopefully), loud or soft, and also a chance to expand your understanding of different American song styles, from bluegrass and old-time to Hank Williams and Carter Family, western swing, cowboy songs, all songs that have singable choruses and fun harmonies. The idea is to just sing, but if we come upon a particularly suitable song, we'll work out harmonies. Paul and Laura know lots of songs, but campers are encouraged to prepare a song to swap, one that they can lead.

Afternoon Options (2:35 - 4:35)
During these two hours of family time there are many options, including relaxing, spending time at the lake, or attending the program offerings designed for both children and their parents.

The Mid-Afternoon Classes ( 2:35 - 3:30)

Bookstore Staffed
Another chance to check out the many staff and CDSS offerings at the bookstore.

Napping and resting (99 and under)
A great time to relax and recharge.

Enjoy the beauty of Ogontz Lake during the 2-hour swimming period.

Appalachian Songs and Jack Tales (All ages, under 7 - with parent) - Daron Douglas
Songs, tales and singing games from the southern mountains. The color of your shirt predicts what kind of day you'll have. Jack, of beanstalk fame, travels with the talking hide of a calf. And an old bald eagle leads a dance. Every day, an afternoon visit.

Storytelling Walk About (8 and up) - Donald Davis
Stories and interesting info about the trees and animals and secret places at Ogontz. Everyday is different!

Teen Class (13 - 19) - Ellie and Leela Grace
Leela and Ellie are excited to be working with the wonderful teens of Ogontz and will bring their own youthful energy to this class. They will offer rhythmic footwork and body percussion, powerful part-singing, and a few group games thrown in to keep us all laughing.

The Late Afternoon Classes (3:40 - 4:40)

The 2-hour swimming period continues.

Gnome and Fairies (All ages, under 7 - with parent) - Merle Davis
Gnomes, Imps, Fairies and Other Magical Beings of the Woods! Let's learn their stories and habits, search for Ogontz places where they might already be hiding, and maybe even build them new lairs or habitats to which they might be attracted and enjoy!

Mummer's Play (8 and up) - Steve Zakon-Anderson
Create this year's original, devised play in the mumming tradition with Steve Z-A. He'll bring his years of teaching and good humor -- you bring your ideas -- we'll mix them all together for Ogontz Mummers Mayhem '09.

Harmony Singing (13 and up) - Leela Grace
With a patient, lighthearted approach, Leela will help you discover the power of voices raised in harmony. Through large and small group singing, we will practice the fundamentals of two-, three-, and four-part folk and old country harmony using by-ear techniques. All abilities and experience levels are welcome. Come explore the possibilities!

At the Green Chairs (4:55 - 5:30) - Donald Davis
The whole camp gathers together at the Green Chairs to listen while Donald weaves glorious tales before dinner.