Village Traditions Alive at Folk Camp

Stephanie Turenko for New Pathway, Toronto.

This summer, from August 24-30th, sixty enthusiastic lovers of folk traditions gathered to share a unique camp experience at the Plastova Sich in Grafton, Ontario. Folk Camp was organized by Kosa Kolektiv, the Toronto based Slavic folklore collective, and their amazing community of volunteers and supporters. People of all backgrounds and ages attended the camp – the youngest camper was 2 and the oldest was 75! Although the camp was advertised for adults 16+, many families came, which really added to the village feel throughout the week.

Participants had the opportunity to attend three workshops daily: one in the morning and two after lunch. The workshops were divided into four categories: song, dance, craft and food. Each participant at the start of camp chose from a variety of workshops offered: Slavic singing, European dance music, European village dance, improve choir, Georgian polyphony, harmony, songs that feed the soul, papercutting, chair weaving, embroidery, print making and bread making.

Workshop leaders were talented and acclaimed teachers that include members of Kosa Kolektiv, Lemon Bucket Orkestra, Zari, Balfolk Toronto, Wiano (Poland), and folk art communities in Toronto.

The mission of Folk Camp is to teach and bring to life traditions and arts at risk of disappearing. “We’re really excited to celebrate the preservation of cultural traditions in such a caring community setting,” says Amelia Meister, Folk Camp participant and workshop leader.

During free time, participants themselves offered workshops or creative sessions for their new friends. One evening, the children guided by an artist attending camp, made a shadow puppet show. Another day, one of the musicians made a harp in a dead hollow tree in the forest. Folk Camp was full of creative and interesting individuals ready to share and explore their talents.

The food at Folk Camp was also fantastic. The 3 talented cooks worked with local farmers to source only organic and seasonal food. Every meal was a delicious experience which celebrated and honoured the land, traditions and community. The participants and staff thoroughly looked forward to every meal.

Folk Camp drew on folk traditions from Ukraine, Poland, Georgia, Brittany (France), Hungary, the Balkans and the American South. The evening programs included many traditional celebrations, featuring a feast followed by folk dancing led by local and international artists and musicians. The final evening was a Ukrainian Feast, which was open to the public. Many people came to camp to enjoy varenyky made by participants, borsht and holubtsi. Toasts were made to Gathering, Friendship, Love and Peace and songs that were learned throughout the week during workshops were showcased. Later, everyone danced under the stars or sat around the bonfire with new friends.

Folk Camp would not have been possible without the hard work and care of the dedicated team: Bozena Hrycyna, Oksana Hawrylak, Matthew Cherkas, Stephanie Turenko, Olenka Kleban, Marichka Galadza, Ilyan Balicki, Dan Ihnatowycz, Lizzy Shipman, Andrea Kuzmich, Ewelina Ferenc, Emilyn Stam, Carlos Garate, Natalka Buchok, Derrick Greenly, Johanna Paquin, Amelia Meester and many others.

Kosa Kolektiv and Community are proud to have organized Folk Camp for the first time this summer. It was a truly community-oriented, open and collaborate environment for people of all ages to share in song, dance, craft and food. Planning has already started for Folk Camp in summer 2016. To learn more, visit www.folkcamp.ca