Spring 2023 Letter to the Community

Springtime is here and as we look forward to the summer, we are so excited to be holding our first weeklong camps in four years! Registration has just opened for both the Mendocino and Iroquois Springs workshops. Don’t delay in registering, and please spread the word. Our board and staff are hard at work to create an amazing camp experience for all of you.

One new thing that we’re happy to finally unveil is a new tiered pricing structure. We’ve been working on this for several years now—we had originally planned to put this pricing structure in place in 2020. The goal of the new pricing structure is to more accurately reflect the actual cost of camp. Our new tuition levels for adult campers are described below. Campers may choose the tuition level that they would like to pay.

  • Subsidized: We are happy to offer discounted tuition (below actual cost of camp) to those with limited income. The remaining costs of your stay at camp are covered thanks to our “Pay-It-Forward” campers and fundraising efforts. This tuition is $950 for a full week, the same cost as tuition in 2019.
  • Full: This level reflects all the costs of your stay at camp. By paying this tuition, you cover our operating costs. A full week at this level is $1200 for an adult camper.
  • Pay-It-Forward: This level covers the cost of your stay at camp and pays it forward for one camper attending at the Subsidized tuition. You will receive a receipt for the tax-deductible donation portion of your payment. A full week at this level is $1450 for an adult camper.

Full details of the new tiered pricing structure can be found on the camp registration pages (see links above). A huge thank you to all the Board, Staff, and Committee members who have helped us to think through this new structure and bring it to life. We’re confident that it will help the EEFC continue to economically sustain our camps for years to come.

We need work exchange campers for both camps! You can learn more about Mendocino work exchanges here and Iroquois Springs work exchanges here.

We have many wonderful teachers at both West Coast and East Coast camps this year—click the links and navigate to the “Teachers” tab to learn all about our world-class teaching staff. We are so grateful for the hard work of the Program Committee over the past several months to put together these great slates of instructors.

We also want to give everyone a quick recap of our recent EEFC Office Hours, held virtually on February 11. Thank you so much to everyone who attended for the very constructive and thoughtful conversation. For those of you who missed it, a recording can be accessed here with the passcode 0sJL26@4. The recording will be available for viewing until June 30, 2023.

The main topic of the office hours was our Covid policies for camp and the recent Covid community survey. We’ve received feedback from several community members about the survey and its role in the Board’s decision making, which has made us realize that we could have done a better job of communicating out about our decision-making process initially, so we wanted to take the opportunity to clarify that.

As many of you who attended our BalkanFest events last year know, we already had a Covid policy in place for our 2022 in-person events, which we had arrived at through a lot of research and looking at best practices from other camps and in-person music events. A number of other similar camps have also required vaccination to attend their in-person camps and events. The purpose of the survey was to understand community sentiment relative to our existing policy, making sure that we were proceeding in a direction to put on camp in a way that is economically viable and as inclusive as possible. The survey was not a vote on what our policy should be, nor were we outsourcing public-health decision making to the community at large—we hope it didn’t appear that was what we were doing through the survey. In addition, we’re happy that the survey also gave us the opportunity to hear many helpful suggestions from the community.

We also want to be sure that folks are aware that we’ve added an additional provision to our Covid policy allowing those who are medically unable to receive a vaccine to instead provide a doctor’s note in lieu of vaccination.

We are committed to keeping camp as safe as possible through a multi-pronged approach of vaccination, masking, and testing. We acknowledge that there isn’t a policy at this point that will meet the needs and desires of every member of the community. We also know that the Covid landscape is constantly changing. While our protocols for this year are already in place, we will re-evaluate those policies every camp year to make sure that they are appropriate and relevant to current public health context, and we will make any changes needed in order to put camp on in a sustainable way.

Thank you all for your ongoing support of the EEFC. We are so grateful to all of our community members who have helped us over the past several years, and we can’t wait to see you all at camp this summer.

Craig Kurumada Changes Gears

Craig Kurumada has just stepped off the board after a busy term serving as Secretary and Chair of the Development Committee. We can confidently say that he is one of EEFC’s biggest boosters, as well as a devoted Gajda “mafioso” and all ’round mensch. Craig shares some thoughts as he moves on to his next good works.

Dear EEFC Friends,

Five years have flown by. I’m very proud of the way our EEFC community has navigated the pandemic, changes in administration and loss of three summers. We have a great team, and we have built and continue to build ways to ensure good governance with renewed and constant energy.

We have met the pandemic and not only survived but gotten stronger with online programming that will be added permanently to our annual offerings, reaching many more people who cannot attend camp.

We’ve proven with our BalkanFests in New York and San Francisco that, with the proper protocols, we can have safe, COVID-free gatherings with our proven, top-quality instruction in music, singing and dance. I’m convinced in-person Balkan Camps for Mendocino and Iroquois Springs will happen in 2023.

But wait, there’s more:

  • We’ve secured over $40,000 in new grant funding.
  • We’ve established college credit for Balkan Camp.
  • We’ve started receiving legacy gifts, creating ever-growing funding for the future.

These are great steps for the future, but there is still much to be done now. Watch your mailbox for our end-of-the-year fundraising letter, or get a head start and donate right here and now. If we all pitch in, we can reach our goal. I’m confident we can.

My term is up. I’m stepping off the board, but I’m still with the EEFC, heart and soul. I’ll remain on the Development, Marketing and Nominating Committees for the foreseeable future. There’s always work to be done. If you’d like to add your energy to this unique and beloved organization, you don’t have to be a board member. You can contribute in your own way. Please talk to us. Talk to me, Craig, 707-496-6734 or email General Manager Rachel MacFarlane at .

Recenter. Regather. Renew.

Summer is officially here, and we’re ready to celebrate! With both the East and West Coast BalkanFests around the corner, our Board and Staff are working around the clock for our first in-person events since 2019. It will be a joy to see all of you very soon, and we cannot wait.

As you all know, we were heartbroken to cancel our weeklong Balkan Music & Dance Workshops again in 2022. As a board, we are fully committed to putting on our camps in 2023, and we have been having extensive conversations to make sure that we have the resources in place to be able to do so. This year’s summer BalkanFests are intended to be a delightful appetizer to the main course of our 2023 camps, allowing us to reconnect with each other and to reground in the things that we love the most. They are also an opportunity for the EEFC to invite new community members to our table.

In this recipe, there is one ingredient that we cannot do without: You.

Our community spaces thrive on your presence and participation. Make plans now to attend one (or both!) of our BalkanFests. Bring your family, and invite your friends to experience the joys of holding hands (or handkerchiefs!) on the dance floor and making music together.

Can’t make it to BalkanFest? Or looking for other ways to support the EEFC? Here’s how you can help:

  • Make a contribution. Donations help sustain our programs year-round, and will support our ability to put on camps in 2023.
  • Spread the word. Publicize BalkanFest and EEFC events to your personal circles, mailing lists, and musical and dance connections; or hit the share button on our Facebook or Instagram posts. Every repost helps us reach a bigger audience.
  • Volunteer your time. Producing our events would be impossible without the generosity of our volunteers. If you would like to help out at BalkanFest, please contact one of our Site Managers: Bonnie Silver (East Coast) or Sharon Grodin (West Coast).

We’re confident that BalkanFest will whet your appetite for next year’s workshops. Save the dates now:

Balkan Music & Dance Workshops 2023
Mendocino, CA: June 17-24
Iroquois Springs, NY: August 5-12

And help us plan! The Board will host office hours in October to share our progress and hear your ideas for our next adventures.

We look forward to celebrating together once again. . .

2022 Workshops – Our Decision To Cancel

Dear EEFC Family,

The EEFC Board of Directors is entrusted with making decisions on behalf of the larger EEFC community. Recently, the Board has had to grapple with the difficult decision of canceling our weeklong Balkan Music & Dance Workshops in 2022. Amidst all the feelings that our community is experiencing, we know that many people would also like more information as to our rationale for this decision.

On Saturday, February 12, the Board held a virtual “office hours” in which we explained the process for this decision and provided an opportunity for the community to share their thoughts with us. The recording of this meeting is available here with the passcode KfV6#Cm7. Below you will find a detailed summary of our discussion.

This decision has been a tremendous blow to our community. We acknowledge the sadness and grief we all are experiencing right now. While we endeavor to be optimistic about 2023, we are excited to move forward together with you as we plan alternative in-person gatherings for this summer.

Thank you for your support.

Yours in music & dance,
Kristina Vaškys
President, EEFC Board of Directors

2022 Balkan Camp Cancelation – How We Came To Our Decision

Initial Planning

In planning for camp in a COVID world, we had to make a concrete strategy for how to carry it out safely and successfully. Our steps included:

  1. Reaching out to members of the Pinewoods Board to ask about their experiences from the previous summer and gain insight on how to run a successful in-person camp
  2. Writing COVID protocols to be shared with the community prior to registration, to be updated as needed
  3. Evaluating our risks and considerations from a programming perspective
  4. Calculating what losses we would incur if we were to cancel camp after specific points
External Conversations

The members of the Pinewoods Board were very happy to share their experiences from last summer’s camps with us. In addition to relaying specific strategies that were helpful to them, they also provided us with important points to consider for our own organization as we weighed our decision. The key takeaways from that conversation were as follows:

  • Know what your financial breaking points are.
  • Know what your operational breaking points are. At what point do you not continue, or pivot to a different model?
  • Be flexible and ready to make changes when needed.
  • Think through your “what ifs” ahead of time. Make a plan for them.
  • Know that all the planning in the world may not account for what actually happens.

This provided us with a tangible set of guidelines to work from moving forward.


COVID Protocols

Our next step was to write COVID protocols that would enable us to run camp as safely as possible. We referred to World Camp’s model as a starting point. Many of the basic protocols we would employ are commonly used for gatherings: vaccination, presenting a negative COVID test, masking, and signing a statement of individual liability with common sense guidelines. In addition, we also wanted to create an FAQ with more specific, detailed guidelines pertaining to particular situations. It was here that we ran into a number of questions that gave us pause, including:

  • How much additional strain would this put on our staff/crew?
  • Would we still be able to run camp if essential staff/work exchange crew tested positive and had to leave, or weren’t able to come?
  • Certain work exchange jobs require leaving the site. How would we handle that with regard to potential exposure outside of camp?
  • Do we implement a testing protocol at camp? Contact tracing? What would that require? Do we have the capacity for that?
  • How would we handle safely quarantining an infected person? How would they leave camp, especially if they did not drive themselves?
Programming Considerations

Though we had been actively planning for our 2022 camps since the fall of 2021, we paused to thoroughly re-evaluate the programmatic risks and complexities in light of the current realities of COVID.

We realized that it was very possible that multiple teachers could drop out of teaching at camp at the last minute, either due to testing positive or simply because of feeling uncomfortable with attending because of the risk of COVID. Camp programming has many interdependent pieces; if even one or two of these were to change, it would impact not only the class schedule, but also the viability of the evening programming. Even a small number of teachers dropping out of camp would put us in a position of not being able to fulfill our programmatic promises. Furthermore, even if teachers were to drop out sooner (e.g. a month before the start of camp) it would still be very difficult for the Program Committee to fill their spots, as we have a finite pool of potential teachers to draw from.

Given all of this, from a programmatic perspective, it seemed better to pivot to planning events that had fewer risks involved, where we would have a far higher likelihood of being able to produce events that would bring our community together in a way that was safe and fulfilling.


Financial Considerations

In order to see how canceling one or both camps might impact us financially, we prepared several potential scenarios.

If we were to begin the season as usual with our Mendocino camp, but then had to pull out during that week as well as subsequently cancel our Iroquois Springs camp, we would still have significant expenses including: refunding tuition for Mendocino camp (with assumption that we would get some donated tuition), depletion of Mendocino scholarship funds, full payment for Mendocino teacher honoraria, full payment to Mendocino support staff, full payment to the Mendocino Woodlands Camp Association, partial payment to Iroquois Springs camp (forfeit of deposit), full travel reimbursement for Mendocino teachers and staff as well as airfare reimbursement purchased by Iroquois Springs teachers and staff. This scenario shows an estimated loss of $139,500.

If our West coast camp were to run as normal, but then we were to have to pull out during our week at Iroquois Springs, our expenses would include: refunding tuition for Iroquois Springs camp (assuming some donated tuition), depletion of Iroquois Springs scholarship funds, payment of all teacher honoraria, payment to all support staff, full payment to both venues, as well as full travel reimbursement for all teachers and staff. This scenario shows an estimated loss of $186,000.

The extreme worst-case scenario, though unlikely, would be if we started to run both camps but then had to pull during both weeks, in which case losses would include: refunding tuition for both camps (assuming some donated tuition), depletion of scholarship funds for both camps, payment of all teacher honoraria, payment to all support staff, full payment to both venues, and full travel reimbursement for all teachers and staff. This scenario shows an estimated loss of $275,700.


Decision Time: Why now?

Planning and executing our camps is a multi-faceted process. Hiring additional support crew (ex. kitchen staff), coordinating with the venues, and adhering to our agreed-upon payment schedule were all things that needed to happen now or in the near future. Many camp planning processes had been stalled while we were gathering data and coming up with potential plans, and we needed a definitive decision in order to move forward with planning. In addition, waiting longer would potentially cause us to risk damaging our relationship with the venues, suffer greater financial losses, and/or find ourselves in a position where we didn’t have time to pivot to a viable alternative.


Camp Pivot Plan 2022

In the midst of all our research, we realized that the question we needed to ask ourselves was this: how do we preserve our monetary and people resources AND provide experiences that are fulfilling to our community? We thought about what was most important to our community: being able to gather in person, making meaningful connections with each other, and engaging in the music and dance that we love. To that end, we adopted our camp pivot plan for 2022. This includes:

  • In-person, non-residential, regional outdoor gatherings
  • Shorter event duration
  • Including classes, live music, and dancing
  • Taking advantage of the opportunity to engage with local communities, develop partnerships with local organizations and venues, and broaden our reach and audience

The Program Committee has already begun to explore potential options. In addition, we would like to hear from you as we move forward in the planning process. What would you like to see included? What is most important to you? How can we create a camp-like experience in a local and regional way?

East Coast Virtual Camp 2021 Teacher Highlights

We’re happy to share an article written by new EEFC community member Kathy Molga, on her impressions of this past summer’s East Coast Virtual Camp. She profiles three of our beloved teaching faculty musicians. Click on the title link to access the PDF. Enjoy!

East Coast Virtual Camp 2021 Teacher Highlights by Kathy Molga

This article was originally published in a slightly altered form in Folk Dance Scene.

Jamming at Camp – Your Opinions Wanted!

We often hear from you that “there’s not enough time at camp to do everything!” We offer more classes and feature more teachers than other camps—which means sometimes people can’t take all the classes they want to. Add talks, dance parties and kafana, and it makes for long days AND nights of music and dance, and sometimes people can’t do everything they want to.

But camp is an opportunity to do more than just the “scheduled” stuff—it’s where people get to make music together in a way most of us don’t get access to the rest of the year—with musicians at all different levels, from all different backgrounds, with different areas of interest and expertise, playing a universe of instruments. And so, not surprisingly, we’ve been asked by campers if there are ways to create more opportunities for jamming, and the board has asked the programming committee to take the lead in finding out ways that can happen.

So that’s why we’re writing to you, to give you a chance to let us know, before we make any changes: how would you want us to respond to the request for more opportunities to jam at camp? Your thoughts and ideas will help us create a response that reflects our community’s diverse perspectives: What options do we have? What is ripe for change? What could be changed? What should not be changed? Who would be involved?

Please use this Google form to share your answers and ideas. We’ll keep the survey open until the end of May 2017. The Program Committee will use your ideas to develop a response, and bring it to the board for their review. We will keep you updated as we move forward. Thank you!

EEFC 2017 Spring Board Meeting Message from the President

Corinna Snyder EEFC board of directors

Corinna Snyder EEFC board of directorsGreetings Friends,

The EEFC Board just held its Spring meeting, and at the meeting I told the Board I would like to step down from my role as President. They accepted my resignation, and asked Melinda Russial, our Vice President, to step in as acting President for the remainder of my term. The board will hold a formal election for the position when the new term begins in September.

I will continue on as a board member, and Melinda will take on the responsibilities of President, which include convening and leading the Board’s monthly calls and twice-yearly two-day meetings, leading the Administrative Committee, which is responsible for the overall operations of the organization, including supervising our staff, and perhaps most importantly, keeping the future in sight, and helping the organization and our community make strategic decisions that will ensure a sustainable future that can deliver on our mission, and achieve our vision, for years to come.

I owe an enormous debt to everyone in our community—past and present campers, members, and financial supporters, past and present board and committee members, full, part—time and contracted staff and teachers, work exchanges and volunteers—who shared with me their hopes and concerns, their suggestions and their cautions, their time and their energy, and their guidance and coaching, during my 5 years in this role. In that time I faced my fair share of difficult decisions, and keenly felt the responsibility inherent in making decisions that would impact our entire community. I needed to hear as much as I could from as many of you as I could, and you came through. Thank you.

Please extend that same generosity to Melinda, who will be at both Mendocino and Iroquois Springs this year, and who I know is looking forward to connecting with as many of you as she can. She brings great experience as an arts administrator, an educator, a musician, and a camper to this interim position, and I know it will serve her well. You can reach out to her via email sent to will go directly to her.

Let me also make a plug for contributing your time and energy to the organization, either as a board or a committee member. I think there is a misconception that the only way to serve on the board or on a committee is to agree to give HUGE amounts of your time and energy, to slog through tedious operational tasks, with little to no return. Untrue! Take a look at this page on the website for more info about joining the board, and this one about committees, and reach out to board members who either chair or sit on those committees to learn more about what they do and how they work.

With gratitude and thanks,

Corinna Škėma Snyder