Oak Communications
June 2011
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We sat under the large tent at picnic tables in Chicot State Park with anticipation and excitement. I was eager to meet my fellow campers and leaders. This memory could be from when I was 10 years old, yet it is in fact much more recent.   


In April I attended Louisiana Folk Roots - Dewey Balfa Cajun and Creole Heritage Week, named after a Cajun fiddler who was a passionate tradition bearer and teacher. I was surprised, when I looked around at my fellow campers, to see that most of us appeared to be in our 50's and 60's! Camp is clearly not just for kids. 


Though it certainly helps to have the energy level of a child. The daily schedule began with breakfast at 8 am, and then we moved to our morning intensive classes (I took beginning Cajun fiddle) from 9 - 10:15. For the second session classes from 10:30 - 11:45, I chose to participate in Band Lab. Other choices were Cajun and Creole Vocals or Cuisine.  


Our band was comprised of a man from England, a woman from Nova Scotia and another from Texas, my husband and me. Each day we practiced the "Love Bridge Waltz" and "The Back Door," the two songs our band had chosen to play. Two different instructors gave us feedback and mainly encouragement each day. 


What I imagined would be scary and stressful, ended up being a whole lot of fun. My band mates were wonderful folks; we took it seriously, but not too. My role as a beginning fiddler was to "second." That means to play chords on the fiddle as rhythm back up. I felt comfortable with that role by the end of the week when we performed in front of our fellow campers. What a rush to get up on "stage" and perform. 


Back to the schedule for each camp day; we haven't even gotten to noon yet. After Band Lab came announcements and lunch.  


The 1:30 - 2:30 session included the opportunity for one-on-one sessions with instructors. One of my private lessons was with Al Berard. I asked him to teach me a new seconding pattern.  At first, I struggled with getting my fingers to do what my mind heard, and then suddenly I was able to do it. Al was encouraging, and I felt like I had my camp breakthrough moment.  


The 2:45 - 3:45 pm time slot was perhaps my favorite. Each day invited musicians were interviewed by Christine Balfa (daughter of Dewey Balfa and member of the bands Balfa Toujours and Bonsoir Catin) and they also played acoustic music for us. Musicians included Preston Frank, Milton Vanicor, Sheryl & Russell Cormier, and Tommy, Louis and Andre Michot. The guests musicians were joined by camp instructors. It was great to hear and watch our instructors play too and in such an intimate environment. 


On the final day everyone in camp played together, "Reel de Joie" in memory of a longtime camper who had died in the past year. It was quite moving even though I had never met him. 


From 4 - 5:15 pm, we had several options that included singing in French, dancing, fiddle, accordion lessons and more.  


Dinner was early and then we headed over to the dance stage where a different amazing band performed each night until 10:30 pm.  People from the towns near camp would come to the dances too.  Afterwards, campers and instructors would jam into the wee hours of the morning. I skipped this final activity in order to save my energy to start all over the next day. 


Camp was filled to the brim with activity which we shared with people with similar interests from Canada, Germany, France, UK, Denmark, Switzerland and 20 states.  


Dewey Balfa Camp is one of just many camps for adults. If you want to stretch your mind, body and spirit, treat yourself to camp! (See below for a sampling of ideas.) 

Happy Camping,

Sue Schleifer


Camps for Adults

Balfa Camp Featured Artists Session

Balfa Camp Featured Artist Session with David Greely, Milton Vanicor and Steve Riley

Looking for a camp that matches your interests? Below are listed a small sampling of camps in the United States.

Augusta Heritage Center Elkins, W. Virgina. Five weeks of camps, each with a different theme, including Cajun/Creole Week, Guitar Week, Blues Week, Irish/Celtic Week and many more.

Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Camps Woodstock, New York. Camps include Western and Swing Week, Ashokan Guitar Camp, Northern and Southern Weeks and New Years Camp.

Stagebridge Performing Arts Camp Oakland, CA. This is a theatre day camp for adults 50+.

Space Camp Huntsville, Alabama. For those who would like to experience training as an astronaut.

Centrum Port Townsend, Washington. This camp offers Voice Works, Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Jazz Big Band Intensive, writing workshops and more.

These are just a few adult camp options. Are you interested in Italian cooking, rock climbing, archaeology, or swing dancing? If so, chances are there is a camp where you can dig in to your passion and be with other people who share your interest.

Recommendations for the Curious   
Monrose Row stairs
The Jive Aces Present Bring Me Sunshine - This should brighten your day.

Ron Gutman on The Hidden Power of Smiling.

Here are a couple of my articles that were recently published.

"Little Help in the Kitchen" a Business Profile about Chef Maureen Little in Acadiana Business, page 11.

"Ease Your Mind" a story about mindfulness and Buddhist Centers in Acadiana published in The Independent, page 10.

Coaching Services  

Headshot Sue

Have you been thinking about working with a life/career coach?   


Give me a call to schedule a complimentary coaching consultation.

Below are what some of my clients have said about the coaching experience.


"I was drawn to Sue based on her philosophy and background and knew I made the right decision when we 1st met.  She helped me work through ideas and thoughts and got me moving in the right direction.  

She even helped me re-connect with someone from my past that has now been instrumental in my current growth.  I am truly thankful!"   

Chief People Officer

"Sue truly cares about her clients' goals and brings that passion to her work as a life coach. With her fresh perspective and eye for possibility, she helps me find creative solutions to seemingly intractable problems.  

Sue adds her wide array of skills and rich life experience to my own, expanding my box of problem-solving tools. She helps me set priorities, identify goals, and push toward fulfilling them---all while keeping me honest with myself.  

Plenty of professional and creative people would benefit from working with Sue, and I particularly recommend her to anyone who needs to get "unstuck."

Medical Editor and Fabric Artist

 "Doesn't everyone need a coach? From working with Sue, I'm convinced of it. I am spending more time on the activities that are most important to me and have set aside some old patterns (like worrying too much!) that got in my way. Sue is helping me achieve my interpersonal as well as career goals."


President, High Tech Management Consulting Firm


"Sue is an excellent listener and an astute observer. I sought her help at a time when I was dissatisfied with my business, had some vague idea that changes needed to be made, but couldn't see the way forward.  


In our coaching sessions, she provided tremendously useful feedback, helping me to uncover and understand the sources of my dissatisfaction, and guided me towards making many positive changes.  


If you want to make changes in your personal or professional life, and need coaching to help you find your way and follow through, then I would strongly recommend working with Sue."  


Small Business Owner


"Whether in my work or private life, Sue has an uncanny ability to see situations from many different angles. Her attention is complete; she really makes you feel like you matter. If I circumvent an issue, she brings me back to what is important.  

Sue has become one of my most important teammates. I can tell her anything, never feel judged and always feel supported. It doesn't get better than this!"


Co-Founder, Co-Director, Non-Profit Organization


I would love to be a resource to you too! Let's talk.

Sue Schleifer
510.316.3319 - cell
Oak Communications

Lafayette, LA and throughout the country

510.316.3319 - cell

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