In the early 1980s, when most folk festivals were striving to become better by getting bigger, a small group within the Mariposa Folk Foundation struck out in a different direction. They wanted to become better by getting smaller, more intimate, and more participatory. The first “Mariposa in the Woods” was a residential music and dance camp held just outside of Toronto where campers and performer/teachers came together for 4 days of classes, workshops, concerts, dances, special events and general fun built around sharing musical experiences.
In fact, the goal of the first organizing committee was to enable people to experience the power of music and dance in building a community. This is still our guiding principle and it’s why we still call The Woods “An experience of music and community.” The spirit of community built at the camp each year has generated many ongoing activities in Southern Ontario… a dance group, several song circles, a few concert series, and many informal interest groups. The Woods has also been the breeding ground for new performers and groups, from professional to “just for fun.”
The camp has been held every summer since 1982 and is now called “The Woods Music and Dance Camp” since it is no longer associated with the Mariposa Folk Foundation. Over the years many outstanding Canadian, American, and International folk performers have shared their talents with campers. In 1993, we moved to a site on the shores of Lake Rosseau in the heart of Ontario’s Muskoka region. In 2014, The Woods relocated to Bark Lake Leadership Centre near Irondale, ON.
To celebrate the 20th year of The Woods, several campers produced a book detailing even more of its history. If you have been to The Woods, (and maybe even if you haven’t) you may be interested in “Making the Forest Ring: A history of the first 20 years of the Woods Music and Dance Camp”. This illustrated book is available at a cost of $15, and may be ordered by cheque (made out to The Woods Music and Dance Camp) from 18 Simpson Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA, M4K 1A2.