Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: Annual Durant Days

Raquette Lake comes together each year to celebrate the founder of the Adirondack Great Camp style, William W. Durant. Durant Days not only celebrates the history of the Adirondack architectural form, but brings people to the area that was the birthplace of the Great Camp design.

Event Organizer Donna Pohl says, “Beverly Bridger of Great Camp Sagamore and I started this event 14 years ago as a way to gain attention for the National Historic Landmarks of Raquette Lake. One of the crowning jewels during Durant Days is the opportunity for a guided tour of Camp Pine Knot.”

Camp Pine Knot, owned by SUNY Cortland was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2004, making it the first such landmark owned and operated by a SUNY institution. Now named Huntington Memorial Camp, the university has operated as an outdoor education center since 1948.

“Camp Pine Knot is not usually open to the public,” says Pohl. “It will be interesting for people to go on the Friday tour and then go visit Durant’s other Great Camp on Sunday and see how the style changed and evolved when he built Great Camp Sagamore.”

The Alfred Vanderbilt estate is open to the public with daily guided tours available at 10:00 am and 1:30 pm. Great Camp Sagamore will offer ½ price tours as part of Durant Days on Sunday.

Pohl says that the Durant Days runs from August 3-5 with many other fun activities planned such as a boat parade, live music, poker run and fireworks. There are also opportunities to tour St William’s on Long Point. On Sunday, August 5, the Church of the Good Shepard on St. Hubert’s Isle will celebrate its 132nd anniversary with a 3:00 pm Vespers Service. There will be free transportation from the Raquette Lake Village Dock at 2:00 pm. The annual service still uses the original organ and prayer books.

“We have something important here to share,” says Pohl. “We want people to come and experience the history of the area and learn about William W. Durant. We want to continue to preserve and protect these landmarks and the social history of the Adirondacks. It is a great event for everyone.”

Photo of W.W. Durant at Camp Pine Knot used with the permission of Raquette Lake Navigation

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Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time. She writes about ways to foster imaginative play through fun-filled events and activities in the Adirondack region.

From her home in Saranac Lake, Diane also writes a weekly family-oriented newspaper column for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and keeps her own blog Adirondack Family Time. Her writing and photography has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, marketing companies and advertising agencies.

She even finds time to assist her husband with Adirondack Expeditions guiding families and young adults in the High Peaks.

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