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New Mexico August Folk Dance Camp

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New Mexico August Folk Dance Camp

BACKGROUND

Information: A folk dance camp.

The New Mexico August Folk Dance Camp began in 1984 and continues to the present.

It was 1983, and newlyweds Lissa Callirhoe (then Alice Van Camp) and Harlan Van Camp were enjoying themselves at northern California’s Mendocino Folklore Camp. The couple got to talking with a fellow dancer who said she was thinking about holding a Scandinavian dance camp at a Northern New Mexico college. The little-known college, she said, was a stone’s throw from the gorgeous Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Hot springs dotted the area. And oh, yes: on the grounds of the college was a castle. Lissa was intrigued. New Mexico was full of international folk dancers. Northern New Mexico was a perfect summer getaway. Why not hold a dance camp at the castle? The couple visited the college and learned that its facilities were, indeed, available for rental. Part of the 19th-century castle was still sound and could accommodate their needs. So Lissa and Harlan enlisted the help of fellow folk dancers and got to work.

Lissa dropped fliers announcing the camp into her local mailbox. Someone else dropped dog poop into the box, and it got on the flyers. But since nothing deters the mail, the Post Office kindly placed each invitation into a plastic bag—and delivery proceeded.

While recollections vary, it probably took about six months to organize the first August Camp. The 12-member organizing committee included many dancers who are still active in and vital to the folk dance community today: Charlene Baker, Lissa Callirhoe, Elizabeth Connell, Gary Diggs, Jane Diggs, Jan Erickson, Jan Hutson, Kris Jensen, Derek Roff, Elaine Slusher, Harlan Van Camp, and Tom Zeller.


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