An Introduction to Stockton Folk Dance Camp

Every summer in Stockton, California, for more than 70 years, dance and world music enthusiasts have come together to learn and celebrate traditional dances and music from around the globe. Participants can choose to attend one or both weeks, over which time they have the opportunity to learn dozens of dances from more than 10 different countries.

As the first folk dance camp on the West Coast, it is no surprise that Stockton Folk Dance Camp has been characterized as “the largest and most comprehensive camp in the country.” Founded in 1948 by Lawton Harris in collaboration with a number of other key volunteers, Stockton Folk Dance Camp has been a major promoter of international folk dance, and has presented over 5,800 traditional dances with the help of more than 210 teachers and thousands of students.

From the beginning, Stockton Folk Dance Camp has taken place on the campus of the University of the Pacific. It was envisioned by the founders as not only a healthy way to socialize, but also a valuable way to learn about international cultures. Afternoon cultural assemblies are offered throughout each week, as well as an elaborate Saturday night party that celebrates a particular country each Saturday.

With a class schedule designed to maximize learning opportunities, attendees develop strategies to balance class and social time with enough rest to fuel their days. On a typical day of camp, participants can dance 10-12 hours (or longer) if they attend all classes, workshops, review sessions and after-parties. Camp staff works hard to ensure there is a mixture of partner and non-partner dances offered, so dancers can leave camp armed with new dances that will fit their dancing opportunities back home.  Singing classes are also a part of camp, in addition to treasured live music for review sessions, parties and impromptu late night acoustic jams.

Camp History

You can learn more about camp history here, but the best way to learn is to join in the fun.

Stockton Folk Dance Camp Board of Directors

  • Gordon Deeg (Director) – California
  • Bobi Ashley – Oregon
  • Adony Beniares – California
  • Julie East – California
  • Bob Harris – Georgia
  • Karlene Kjerstin – Utah
  • Kamrin MacKnight – Calfornia
  • Cricket Raybern – Oregon
  • Stephen Turner – North Carolina
  • Dave Uggla – California
  • Ellie Wiener – California

We will always miss Bruce Mitchell, who has been on our committee/board, and was our Director for 25 years. Bruce passed away on October 2, 2021.