One of the wonderful things about The Woods is that campers often catch the “music bug” and look for ways to stay involved with music all year long. As a result there are lots of folk music activities in Toronto and beyond that can be traced back to The Woods. These activities have no official connection to The Woods but in all cases they were started and/or are currently organized by people with connections to The Woods. Here’s information about some of musical activities that Woods campers organize throughout the year.
Evening song circles are a strong tradition at The Woods. After the evening dance, the camp gathers and “turns” move around the circle. Each person can lead a song, request a song, or simply pass. While some people choose to sing solo material, the emphasis is on songs with good choruses and refrains for harmony.
At the end of the 1983 Woods several campers decided they didn’t want to wait all year to make vocal harmony again and invited people to a song circle in Toronto. That was the beginning of the Toronto Song Circle, a group that is still going strong after more than 30 years.
After the 1995 Woods another group from Kitchener, Ontario decided to keep the music flowing and started The Old Chestnuts Song Circle.
Toronto Country Dances
The Toronto Country Dancers was started in 1982 by a few enthusiastic Woods campers who wanted to opportunities to attend contra dances throughout the year. The group meets on the 2nd, 4th, 5th Saturdays of the month at a church in Toronto.
Performers from out of town who have been on the Woods staff like to visit and we are usually eager to see them again. So one or two people may organize a house concert, find a spot at a local folk club or set up a dance weekend for a caller. The Acoustic Harvest Folk Club is one Toronto-area concert series that features folk music. In Kitchener, the Old Chestnuts Song Circle hosts house house concerts, while the Folk Night at the Registry series presents concerts in a larger public venue.
There are several winter weekend retreats that offer the opportunity for musical immersion on a smaller scale than The Woods. The Winter Songfest is an informal music weekend that takes place at a retreat centre near Paris, Ontario. There is no formal program or hired staff at this event — participants sing, jam, hike, and relax with very little scheduled activity.
Winter Folk Camp in Haliburton, Ontario hires staff musicians to teach classes and workshops over a three-day weekend in March.