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JAMs to Summer School

In my opinion dancing Summer Schools in New Zealand are one of the coolest things you can do as a JAM. For those of you who have been to JAM camps it is similar to one of those except longer and with more events throughout the school. Summer Schools open up a lot of opportunities with your dancing such as travel to parts of NZ, meeting people who share similar interests and passions from around NZ and the world, having fun with like-minded people, improving your dancing, access to great teachers, and most of all having a lot of fun. I have been to 5 Summer Schools since I started dancing and at each of them I have met really awesome people from around NZ, as the schools were held in Masterton, Christchurch, Cambridge, Dunedin, and Auckland. I have also had the opportunity to meet and be taught by teachers from the Waikato, Australia, and Wellington.

I highly recommend going to a Summer School as it is a wonderful experience, and one you will not forget quickly. The RSCDS New Zealand branch has 2 scholarships for JAMs to attend Summer School, which cover the cost of the entire school including accommodation and food. I suggest that all of you should apply for this scholarship because the year I applied, I also received the scholarship. I feel like this may be because most of you might not know about the scholarship – well now you do.

Also another thing is you may not want to go to a Summer School because your parents don’t dance or they won’t be going. Don’t let this hold you back from going!! If you are under 16, someone will be assigned to you to look after you and make sure you are okay throughout the school. Once again, I highly recommend that as many of you that can attend Summer Schools do attend them as they are one of the best dancing experiences you can have.

Remember: you are the future of Scottish Country Dancing

Philip Oliver (Youth Rep)


Notes from Youth Coordinator

The Summer School Scholarship is open to all JAMs who have not previously received it. As Philip said above, it covers accommodation, food, classes and, dances but not travel to and from Summer School.

Closing date for Scholarship applications is 30th June – see form on the website; go to ‘Youth’ and ‘Branch Scholarship’ near the bottom.

Under 16s need an adult at the school, this can be someone from your club if parents don’t attend.

Scholarship Reports 2016-17 Christchurch

Summer School this year was the second school I have attended, but no less exciting than the first. I am so grateful that I was able to attend.

At class our teacher, Nicole, plunged us straight into it, making us practise our steps around the room, then teaching us new formations that none of us had even heard of, such as the La Baratte, Highland Schottische Poussette, or Schiehallion Reels. I really enjoyed learning new complicated dances like La Baratte Your Way Home and Double Trouble Triangles. However, Nicole was very strict about not scraping the floor when dancing, so more than once she made us take our shoes off and dance barefoot! This method seemed to work, as when we were allowed to put our shoes back on, the scraping sounds had miraculously disappeared, to be replaced by loud thumps every time our feet hit the floor. At the end of each class we would do a popular dance, for example De’il Amang the Tailors, or Reel of The Royal Scots, only we would dance without using hands. It was great fun, but challenging at the same time, especially in an Allemande or a Poussette. I would like to thank Nicole for all her help and hard work during the school. I had asked for her help with my footwork as I will soon be sitting my final Medal Test, and she was very happy to give me some pointers and show me how to improve my steps. Thank you very much.

My favourite part of the school was definitely the evening socials. The programmes were packed with energetic and interesting dances, some of which were completely new, and at times the JAMs devised their own variations (some of which left us rather dizzy). I met so many new people and made a lot of new friends. I would like to thank Mr David Williamson for a very successful and highly enjoyable Summer School.

Saskia de Graaf - Ellerslie Club (Auckland)

This was my first time attending Summer School and it has been a complete privilege to have received the scholarship. For the duration of eight days I learned different dances and formations, made new friends and of course laughed and had a lot of fun every step of the way. The mornings began with class. I was lucky to have had Nicole, who was such a wonderful teacher and very friendly classmates. These mornings have been especially rewarding for me. I have learned many interesting dances, new formations such as ‘La Baratte’ and also improved on my footwork.

 After dinner there were the evening dances. I especially enjoyed the evening social dances because they were a great opportunity to meet, greet and dance with people I previously did not know. I am extremely grateful to all the musicians and especially ‘The Balmoral Band’ for the live music. I loved having live music to dance to in both the morning classes and evening dances, as it lifts up the ambiance making it more cheerful and energetic. Each day was packed full of dancing and although I was extremely tired and sore, with the amount of fun I was having it was well worth it.

During my time at Summer School, I also completed my gold medal test. Before arriving at Summer School I was slightly anxious about dancing in an unfamiliar environment. However, everyone was so friendly and the whole affair was very well organised by both Diane and Hazel. I give my special thanks to all the stooges who gave their time to assist me with my medal test.

One of the highlights of this experience for me was Hogmanay (the Scottish word for the last day of the year). Since I had never been to a Hogmanay celebration before, it was an especially unique experience. There was dancing, music, singing and food. I especially enjoyed the group singing. My favourite songs included the ‘Lewis Bridal Song’, the ‘Skye Boat Song’ and ‘These Are My Mountains’. Everyone was dressed up in their finest and all were there to welcome the beginning of 2017. Overall, this has been an invaluable experience for me and I would deeply recommend all young dancers who are a JAM, to apply for the Summer School Scholarship.

Anan Zhao –Milford Club (Auckland).

What Do JAMs Say About Summer School?

Here are some brief reports from the 2016/17 JAM Class. Authors names have been withheld to protect the innocent AND THE GUILTY.

I really enjoy Summer School especially the dances, challenges and making new friends. The teachers there are so kind. On the last day sometimes we have something called the 'mock court' it's so fun. I hope I see you there.

Summer School is so fn. I liked making new friends in the Senior JAMs. Our teacher is kind and taught me a lot of formations. I also like dancing with the adults in the evening dances. Overall I liked the morning dances with the Senior JAMs best. Hopefully I'll see you there!

I really enjoyed the summer school! I learned a whole bunch of new steps and skills, it was a blast! I particularly liked the opportunity to MC half of an evening dance, it was a great new experience. I look forward to the next summer school I attend, be it in Christchurch or somewhere else.

Summer School was very enjoyable. I got to dance lots of interesting and new dances and I also learnt some new steps. I thought there were only 3 steps but it turns out there were a lot more. Some of these were very confusing but there were lots of friendly people in the class who helped me to do it. I especially enjoyed dancing a medley of 3 other dances at the ceilidh.

I really enjoyed Summer School this year. Having Charlene and Natalie paying live music was great and Nicole was a brilliant teacher. The dance instructions were clear and concise. My favourite dance was 'The Happy 75th', which is a medley of 5 dances and has 196 bars.

This Summer School I was unable to live in, however I still found the experience very enjoyable. I was less involved in the goings-on of the school, particularly the afternoon activities and the after-parties. Our teacher taught us lots as well as allowing us to have plenty of fun. The evening programmes were great and I would love to do it all over again. Though I think I wold need some recovery time first! Thank you to all the organisers, teachers and musicians for such an awesome Summer School.

Summer School this year was great. I really liked the live usic in the classes and being taught by a very good teacher. The evening dances were great, even though we had to leave early for mum to get her prep done for her exam. We had some very nice dances in our classes but I really enjoyed 'The Happy 75th' which was a 196 bar dance which had 5 dances addapted and put together. I also enjoyed 'The Improvisor'.

Christchurch Summer School 2016/17 was my 5th summer school and my first where only staying for half the school. We arrived to hear the praises of the the 'extremely quiet' JAM class and thought 'that will soon change'. Overall I think the class was having much more fun once we arrived and we did some gret dances involving some interesting formations such as the La Baratte.

I really enjoyed the whole experience. Classes were a lot of fun & I learnt a lot of new formations like the La Baratte. We also learnt a lot of interesting dancs. We had 3 juniors join us for some dances, so we did a whole mixture of dances. The evening dances were awesome. I got to know some new people and dances. The dress kilts and costumes looked wonderful. It was interesting to see all the different talents all the dancers have during the ceilidh.

Christchurch Summer School was fun. I enjoyed it lots and it was fun doing it with the senior JAMs and doing some of the harder dances and being given a poster for me and the boys to colour when we were not dancing and getting to watch the senior JAMs doing some dances.

My experience at Christchurch summer school has been very entertaining. Although my family and I only come for the half after Hogmanay, we've had a lot of fun making the JAM class a louder place! Cairistiona didn't send me to bed this time so I got to stay at the after parties to do more dances. I had a really great time and it wasn't at all diminished by the fact that it was my 5th consecutive summer school.

I really enjoyed Summer School mostly because there are so many opportunities to meet dancers from other part of the country and even from overseas. The evening socials are very relaxed and allow you to talk to others about the classes or your club. The Senior JAM Class is extremely fun, but at the same time is a great place to get feedback on your steps from someone other than your usual teacher. It is a great place to learn formations and steps that you might not learn at your club. I would definitely recommend going to Summer School and I really hope I can attend again next year.

The Ilam Summer School 2016/17 was my first summer school experience. From the very first day I was made to feel welcomed. The highlight for me was the evening social dances. These were held almost daily from 7.30 to 10pm and sometimes until 1.30am. I expecially enjoyed the evening socials because it proveded me with an opportunity to meet and dance with people I have never danced with before. I had a lot of fun learning new dances and also enjoyed old favourites. The live music performed by both the Balmoral Band and Wild Heather was terrific! I really loved the live music because it maks the environment so much more lively and joyful. I would deeply recommend all young dancers to attend Summer School. You are sure to learn plenty, make new friends and have a lot of fun.

I have really enjoyed my time at Summer School this year. Classes have been really fun with dances ranging from no-hand challenges to 196-ba marathons and a good opportunity to meet others of my own age. Under Nicole's excellent tutelage I have learnt a lot of new formations and steps such as La Baratte and a Highland Setting step, which has definitely enriched my dancing. The evening functions have been a great opportunity to challenge myself and get to know some new dances as well as dancing old favourites. The atmosphere at Summer School has been amazing as always, with everhone being helpful, friendly and always ready to laugh. The food was delicious and the daily crosswords very enjoyable. My highlight of the week was Hogmanay, when we danced, sand, age and drank the New Year in in style. Summer School has been a wonderful experience and I will be back again next year for sure.

Hi my name is Alex Plank and I received the Junior JAM Scholarship for the Dunedin Summer School 2014-2015. My teacher was Rachel East and she was awesome. There were 9 other kids in my class. They made the class so much fun, sometimes the other kids were funny and tried to tickle me. Every day at morning tea time they gave us a treat, like choc-chip bikkies, Raro, Pineapple bites and ginger biscuits. The musicians were friendly and made me feel relaxed. On the last day we had to move into a new hall and I felt so free with all the space.

This was my first ever Summer School and going away was so much fun. My family and I stayed in the new building, unit three, which was amazing. I got a room to myself with a desk, a wardrobe, a table and a mirror and a bed of course. We got 2 bathrooms and 3 toilets to ourselves.

I loved the kitchen staff, who made all our yummy food, they were kind and gave me extra special food. I especially loved 2 lunches because they made fried rice with cooked prawns (I was sneaky taking extra prawns). The breakfasts were yummy too, I love cornflakes but I didn’t try the porridge.

I hung around with the other JAM kids too. Most of the time after meals we went to the TV room to play lots of fun games, like paint-ball with ping pong balls and we also watched DVD’s. We used pillows and beans bags for huge pillow fights. For 2 days we got to slide down the steep hills out the front, sitting on cardboard from MacDonalds boxes. We also went to the Cadbury’s Chocolate factory and the butterfly house at the museum and went to the beach too.

I liked the President’s ball, I wore my kilt and my fancy VIP shirt with a tie. We liked to sit on the balcony when we were tired or when Strathspey’s were on, and play “spot the friends” below us. Helen helped me do a poussette, and told me how to do it, so it was totally easy, it was my first time doing one.

The Mock-Court was embarrassing because my mum made me join in with the other kids going on trial. But the parents got charged instead and they had to do our dishes that night, and we got chocolate fish. I joined in the Ceilidh too, I sung with my brother Ian and Mum and danced with the Junior Jams demo.

Summer School was amazing, far away from home in Dunedin. Thank-you to the JAM Committee for organising the Scholarship, I am glad my name was pulled out.