JAM: Summer school

JAMs at Summer School

About Summer School

The NZ Branch Summer School is held from 28 December to 5 January every year. The location swaps between North and South Islands each year.

There are often special classes for JAMs (both junior and senior) and there may be an opportunity to take medal tests. This is not always the case, so you need to check the Summer School brochure when it is published early in the year.

Any JAM can attend but under 16s need to be accompanied by an adult, although this can be someone form your club if parents don’t attend.

The JAM Scholarship

NZ Branch awards two scholarships each year and applications are particularly encouraged from dancers who might not otherwise be able to attend Summer School, and from non-dancing families. The names of the successful applicants will be drawn by the NZ Branch President or their delegate.

The Scholarship is open to all NZ-resident JAMs with at least one year’s dancing experience and who have not previously received it. As Sophia mentions below, it covers the cost of accommodation, meals, classes and evening dances, but not travel to and from Summer School.
Application form

Note that the closing date for Scholarship applications is 30th June.

Impressions of Summer School

By Sophia Kilgour
Youth Co-ordinator for the Waikato and Bay of Plenty Region

My memories of Summer School are ones which I like to play over in my mind when I’m feeling the need to smile. Memories that include sitting down for breakfast to watch the dining hall fill up with cheery faces, hunkering down in the evening in a shared dorm amidst friends, sitting in a dark and crowded room at New Years filled by hauntingly beautiful scottish music, and laughing to the point of tears with a group of new friends while watching Danny Bhoy’s hilarious description of a ceilidh dance for the untimpth time!Summer School is an opportunity to meet and dance with new people not only from across New Zealand, but throughout the globe, and is often a welcome occasion to deepen your friendships and connections with those you already know. The range of classes and teachers available allows for the chance to improve upon your dancing ability, no matter how advanced that may be.

Summer School provides not only the opportunity to take part in classes to improve upon footwork and technique, but also musicians sessions, teachers classes and other unique opportunities. The RSCDS New Zealand branch provides two JAM scholarships every year which are well worth applying for, covering all costs excluding travel to and from the school itself.

I highly recommend that any JAM interested in building upon their independence, technique and relationships give summer school a go – whether it be for the full week or simply a few classes and evening dances.

As the future of SCD within New Zealand, Summer School can establish for JAMs the beginning of an important pathway to more responsibility and influence within the dancing community.

In my ever-so-slightly biased opinion, Summer School is a wonderful opportunity for comradery via the shared love for dancing – a well worth it and treasured experience!

Read what other JAMs say about it

Comments 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 fun. 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 makes 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.

Comments are closed.