Federation South logo

Folk Dance Federation of California, South, Inc.

Holiday Camp

By Dick Oakes



Pilgrim Pines Dining Room It was a dark and stormy night, but fortunately all the dancers were inside having a wonderful time at the Holiday Camp evening program! The idea for this shindig was born not out of a need for another folk dance camp in Southern California but out of a need by a couple of folk dance teachers, Diki Shields and Dick Oakes, to have a good time for a week over the New Year's holiday.

At the first planning session, it was decided that a descriptive name was needed for the camp. Dick remembered a workshop many years before in San Diego that Dolina Cygany, an ensemble group he had performed with while in the Navy, had put on at New Years. The weekend camp near Alpine was called Holiday Camp with headline teachers being Elsie Dunin, Stan Dunin, and John Hancock (Dolina Cygany's director). Dick had done a mimeographed flyer for the camp using Old English lettering. The name and lettering style seemed like great carryovers for their new effort.

Diki drove the mountains northwest of San Bernardino and found the perfect place for their venture: Pilgrim Pines, just east of the village of Oak Glen. In 1976, Diki and Dick's first Holiday Camp became a reality.

Holiday Camp was located at Pilgrim Pines Camp and Conference Center, 16 miles from Redlands, past Oak Glen, and on Glen Road in the beautiful pines of San Bernardino National Forest. Pilgrim Pines has a wonderful trail that goes to the Rock of Ages, a little rest area, the Big Tree Arch, Holiday Cave, and Kuehl Falls. Another trail goes along a Jeep road to Pilgrim Point, Oak Glen Point, and Valley View Point, the latter two also doubling as helicopter landing sites. From the Jeep Road, the Cedar Mountain Trail goes to Wilshire Peak, Oak Glen Peak, and Cedar Mountain, before splitting off to points unknown.

Pilgrim Pines itself, in Upper Camp, has seven cabins called Providence, Plymouth, Pilgrim, Scrooby, Windsor, Cambridge, and Salem. There are a basketball court, a volleyball court, a horse shoe pit, and a swimming pool. Besides the Administration Building, there are a very large Dining Hall, the beautiful alpine Main Lodge, a Craft Lodge, a Creek Lodge, and an Infirmary. Lower camp has even more cabins.

Holiday Camp was lucky to have the artistic services of master musician Mike Gordon. All the costumed figures shown on brochures and flyers were his work, as was the Holiday Camp logo, syllabus cover artwork, and advertisements. One year, Mike created a large map of "Holidejkemp," and he narrated a hilarious "culture seminar" in which Laurie Gordon, "co-artistic director of Kolo Ansambl Narodni Ersatz, a noted expert on Esperanto culture," was touted as having come direct from the "National Institute of Esperanto Folk Culture in Beograd." Lot's of planned and unplanned happenings were always popping up at Holiday Camp! Mike and his wife, Laurie, also did the Holidejkemp Folk Culture Seminar, a humorous skit that had everyone holding their sides to keep them from splitting.

Dick (with costume artwork by Mike Gordon) did the maps and schedules. Holiday Camp was usually held from December 26th for up to a week.

The teachers the first year, 1976, were Sunni Bloland (Romanian), Ya'akov Eden (Israeli), and Dick Oakes (International), with Nancy Ruyter handling the singing classes. Folks brought their costumes for the gala New Year's Eve party and there were folklore sessions, after parties, and other pleasant surprises. The camp was special because of the wood floors, beautiful scenery, and the really great food.

Dick and Diki held a Folk Dance Barbecue at Pilgrim Pines Camp on Sunday, September 25, 1977, as a camp "teaser." There were hamburgers, corn on the cob, and apple pie for all comers.

The second year, 1977, the teachers were Sunni Bloland (Romanian), Ya'akov Eden (Israeli), Dick Oakes (International), and Bora Özkök (Turkish), with Trudy Israel doing the singing classes and the NAMA Orchestra bringing live music to the camp. Again, costumes were brought for the New Year's Party and folks again had folklore sessions and after parties.

The 1978 Holiday Camp saw Don Allen (Squares, Rounds, and Contras), Margalit Oved (Israeli), Dick Oakes (Scandinavian), and Katina Shields (Greek). They also had the New Year's Eve Party and offered, for the first time, two units of credit at the University of California Extension, Riverside. Naturally, there were the usual New Year's Party, folklore sessions, and after parties. This year they had their Third Annual Real, Live, Tell It Like It Is (was) Survey.

Dick and Diki held another Barbecue and Folk Dance at Pilgrim Pines Camp on Sunday, September 19, 1979, again as a camp "teaser." As in 1977, there were hamburgers, corn on the cob, and apple pie for all.

For the fourth year, 1979, they had Don Allen (Squares), Dennis Boxell (Balkan), Ya'akov Eden (Israeli), Dick Oakes (International), and Katina Shields (Greek). Yep, the New Year's Party livened up December 31st and there were folklore sessions and after parties to keep things lively. University credit was again offered.

In 1980, Holiday Camp had T-shirts created and started a scholarship program. Proceeds from T-shirt sales and the scholarship fund went towards sponsoring young folk dancers' camp experience. That same year, the Pilgrim Pines kitchen staff promised an improved menu and, in answer to many requests, a salad bar. That year they had another great lineup of teachers, including Don Allen (Squares), Dennis Boxell (Balkan), Ya'akov Eden (Israeli), Dick Oakes (International), and Katina Shields (Greek). Children's classes were added for the first time, but there were the usual folklore sessions, after parties, and other pleasant surprises. And, yes, university credit was made available. This year, the camp started on December 27th.

In 1981, teachers were Ya'akov Eden (Israeli), Dick Oakes (International), Marcus "Holt" Moskoff (Bulgarian), and Katina Shields (Greek). Monday through Thursday, there was a Children's Folk Dance Class or Volleyball (weather permitting!).

In 1982, Pilgrim Pines was not available over New Years, so Diki and Dick planned a Holiday Weekend from December 7 to December 9 in Idyllwild. Headline teachers were John Sofios (Tavern Greek) and Ted Sofios (Village Greek).

That ended, for a while, the Holiday Camp experience. But in 1997, with Dick in Colorado, Diki held a reunion Holiday Camp at Pilgrim Pines. The teachers were Mihai David (Romanian) and Richard Duree (International). Teaching was of "Nostalgia Folk Dances" from the 1960s and 1970s.

Well, that was the end of Holiday Camp.