Lighted Lantern Folk Dance Camp
Lighted Lantern
Folk Dance Camp

How We Do It!

By Paul and Pauline Kermiet

If you should happen by the Lighted Lantern during the first week of July you might find several people on the porch of a low frame building discussing the current production at the Central City Opera House, or you might hear in side the building a half dozen recorders producing fifteenth-century German music. Down over the hill in the open danbce pavilion, you very likely would hear laughter and the noise of happy feet dancing to a different tune – Scottish, maybe, or Lithuanian, or Greek.

Or, if it should be later in the afternoon when you come, the smoke of a barbecue grill might attract you to the grassy slope where you would surely see the whole camp family busy with steaks, and Mrs. Pim's wonderful-tasting baked beans and potato salad. That would be a very propitious time to arrive because there is nearly always an extra steak.

Then, you can't "eat and run," so you would wait around until the rattle of dishes died away and the showers in all the cabins stopped dripping, and all of a sudden everybody would appear again looking like entirely different people. What colorful costumes! Jerry Joris Lindsay's style shows with authentic costumes from Sweden, Korea, Czechoslovakia, Ireland, Finland, Austria, and even a Chinese wedding dress.

There would be music again, singing this time, with Mary Enholm at the piano – "The goldedn day is dying beyond the purple hills" – and the beautiful harmony of "I Gave My Love a Cherrynd "Cum Bah Yah." Paul Kermiet might even do his solo, the last line of "Gentle Fair Jenny!"

You couldn't leave now before the evening dancing, so you would most likely end up like everybody else, relaxing on the patio with the jeweled carpet of Denver's lights spread at your tired feet. What beauty, and what peace! Someone might start strumming on a guitar and you would join in the singing – "Down in the valley, valley so low, hand your head over, hear the wind blow."

For eighteen seasons we have been meeting "our" kind of people at the Lighted Lantern and making wonderful friends over the years. We have had campers from nearly every state in Union and from Canada. Many of them come back year after year and every camp session is like a home-coming! Our camp is small, but for that reason very personal and friendly.

We started with more enthusiasm than money back in the early days of "dance camp" history when only two other such camps were in operation – both in the eastern part of the country. We "silk-screened" by hand our first brochures, and that first year operated a short ten-day camp with a total of twenty people, including staff. Now our camp season extends through the months of July and August with week-long sessions – camps for square dancers, teachers workshops in rhythm, dance camps for children, and, of course, our international folk dance week. Last year, we had a teenage interracial camp sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers).

The Lighted Lantern has changed a great deal since that first ten-day camp. The campers no longer help harvest the garden vegetables ro feed Annabelle the pig, as they did then, but the food is still served familoy style and everyone helps with table duty when his name comes up on the KP list. The changes have take place gradually, simple imnprovements accomplished mostly by the "do it yourelf" process. Fred Enholm is our chief do-it-yourself man and he is also a dance instructor and director of one of Denver's best-known community centers [Steele].

Not only staff members and many friends but the campers themselves have contributed their time, interest, and efforts to our efforts, making it possible for us to continue through good times and bad. Last year, one of our long-time square-dance-caller staff members did a professional-looking job reuphilstering a chair. We have had college professors fixing the clothesline, a retired naval commander working on a plugged-up drain, and a commercial artist weeding the flower garden.

If you happen by the Lighted Lntern during the week before camp opens, you could very well find yourself with a paint brush in your hand!

The Lighted Lantern Group