Hiking enthusiasts of all ages and abilities are encouraged to take advantage of a unique opportunity to embark on an educational guided hike where participants will venture into the great outdoors at Great Camp Sagamore and learn about the area’s rich history.
Great Camp Sagamore once had a farm, a 100,000-gallon covered reservoir, and a hydroelectric powerhouse, all hidden away in the surrounding forest. These historic structures were located conveniently close by for the workers who operated them, but hidden from view for the Vanderbilt’s distinguished guests.
Great Camp Sagamore staff are excited to welcome the community back, in-person, on August 6, 2022 for their Annual Gala & Benefit for Historic Preservation. Join the festivities for an evening of great food, exciting live & silent auctions, and even better company in the heart of Forever Wild.
This year staff are celebrating the many dedicated members of the community –visitors, volunteers, donors, artisans, musicians, and local business owners and residents– who keep Great CampSagamore the treasured place it has been for 125 years.
Stay the Weekend:
Enjoy more time at camp! Join in from August 5-7, 2022 for Gala weekend programming. Weekend packages will include lodging and meals for Friday & Saturday. Gather with friends and enjoy special activities on Friday night, including music and gourmet s’mores around the campfire, a picnic lunch on Saturday, and many other activities before the Gala & Benefit.
Weekend packages do not include Gala & Benefit Dinner tickets for Saturday night. Lodging availability is limited and reserved on a first-come-basis. Booking information will be available on the Great Camp Sagamore webpage soon.
Consider Becoming an Event Sponsor:
Sponsorships allow Great CampSagamore staff to continue providing quality, diverse programming that serves and uplifts a wide range of people, while maintaining reasonable prices and increasing scholarships amid rising costs. Deciding to sponsor this annual celebration also provides you with tangible benefits, which can be found through this link.
Great CampSagamore opens to the public on Memorial Day Weekend, May 27.
A young boy on my tour last year asked a simple question, “were there Indians here?” With nowhere else to go, I repeated the worn-out line that Native American people used the Adirondacks as hunting grounds. It was an unsatisfying response, for both of us. As Sagamore’s historian, I knew as much as that kid about 98% of the area’s human timeline.
I quickly found a small but growing body of research on Native American history in central and northern New York State. I also learned that these topics, this knowledge, is not new. From my perspective, I could dig into books and articles about the academic pursuit of knowledge. But, Native Americans have been telling their own stories from the beginning. To properly answer that boy’s question, Sagamore needs to welcome the perspectives of the people about whom we’re speaking.
The Eurocentric university-based perspective and the Native American oral history perspective are often presented in concert, each welcoming the other. I reached out to John Fadden at the Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center in Onchiota, New York. John’s father Ray Fadden and his family, who lived in the Mohawk community of Akwesasne, opened the center in 1954 so that the general public “may acquire the knowledge needed to better understand the history, culture, contemporary realities, and the potential future of Native Nations.” The center remains northern New York’s leading source for discovering a variety of perspectives on Indigenous people.
Great Camp Sagamore is open for the 2021 summer and fall season, with many exciting programs and workshops lined up. The season got off to a lively start in mid-June with the Roots & Branches Endowed Music Workshop and Women’s Fly Fishing. Offering nearly two dozen arts, educational and outdoors-themed getaways with lodging and meals included, Great Camp Sagamore has something for everyone.
A Brook Trout Conservation Field day presented by Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Hamilton and Herkimer Associations will be held on June 4-5 in collaboration with Trout Power and Great Camp Sagamore. The Field Day invites all to come to learn about the tremendous strides in research and conservation practices that are helping to restore the heritage strains of brook trout that were once abundant throughout the Adirondacks.
Even if snow removal isn’t necessary this winter (yeah, right!), Great Camp Sagamore’s Director of Facilities, and Assistant Caretaker, will have plenty of indoor work to keep them busy. Ted and Richard are restoring seventy windows in the Chalet and the Carpenter and Boat Shop.
The labor-intensive process for each window consists of six steps: strip existing paint and glazing, prime, reglaze, prime new glazing, paint two coats.
At the start of the project, it took a minimum of one hour to deglaze each window. Chipping away at the glazing, and using a heat gun, resulted in occasional breakage of glass. Twelve windows in, there had to be a more efficient way.
That was our first impression on seeing the little piano in Linda Kaiser’s basement in Syracuse.
Then we tried to carry it up a flight of stairs.
Linda had called Great Camp Sagamore’s executive director, Emily Martz, to donate the piano that she and her husband Harvey bought at an auction on Sagamore’s Main Lodge lawn in October 1975.
The piano has only 61 keys – the standard is 88. Margaret Emerson probably bought it for her children to play at Sagamore. Her grandson, Alfred Vanderbilt III, remembers playing a piano with “a strange number of keys” when he would visit camp as a young child.
Linda’s generosity reminds us of the extraordinary confluence of institutions, individuals, and events that surrounded that fall weekend in 1975.
This week, Great Camp Sagamore is hosting a virtual gala and online auction. They ask that you join them while they pay tribute to music, and the artists who make it. You can register for free at the following link: https://e.givesmart.com/events/hgG/.
The online auction will culminate on June 24 with live, real-time countdown auctioneer Doug Stinson and special guests from 7:30 to 8 p.m. Also, tune into their website daily to hear a musical tribute to a Great Camp Sagamore honoree.
By Jen Maguder, Great Camp Sagamore’s Program Director
In mid-May, seasonal staffers Lily Whiteman and Charles Sykes returned to work remotely for Great Camp Sagamore. Their positions are supported by the Payroll Protection Program, introduced by the federal government to encourage workforce retention and hiring during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lily and Charles are helping to upgrade our online resources for visitors to the Historic Great Camps Special Management Area (HGCSMA).
It’s a long title, so we’re calling Lily and Charles’ work the “trails project” for now.
Spending time at home lately? Maybe it’s an opportunity to pick up a musical instrument.
Good parties need great music, ‘twas always thus. If you can play, you’re the life of the party. Okay, maybe this was truer before the invention of DJs, but it’s still true.
Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt grew up in the 1880s–1890s hearing superb orchestras play at lavish parties hosted by his parents and others in their social set. Years later, the parties Alfred threw at Sagamore, his Adirondack camp, would not have orchestras, but guests would play the piano.
And it appears that the host himself had skills. The photo is a little blurry, but just look at Alfred’s smile while he strums his mandolin, sitting on his Main Lodge porch in the summer of 1913. Let’s imagine the scene at the Playhouse that night: “Alfred, where’s your mandolin.” “No, no…well, ok!”
We take roads for granted. I sure did as a kid riding from Syracuse up to my Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Blue Mountain Lake. We drove on Friday nights with my parents and eight brothers and sisters, all stuffed into a station wagon (they were like minivans in 1960s and 70s). My grandfather told us stories about when he was a kid and Route 28 did not exist!
After careful thought, we have decided that Great Camp Sagamore will remain closed for the 2020 season. If you have signed up for a program this year, we will send you an email shortly about your registration.
This is a difficult decision. We know how many of you rely on Great Camp Sagamore to help disconnect from the white noise of everyday life. This is also hard because we know that instructors, seasonal employees, and local businesses depend upon Sagamore during the season.
But our first responsibility is safety. We must do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health. Our programs require people to closely interact – communal meals, lodging, and tours are essential and part of the fun.
We remained hopeful for a partial season, but new information shared by health experts confirms that encouraging people to gather would be irresponsible. The Centers for Disease Control and the New York State Department of Health have concluded that at the very least, reliable and widespread testing and tracking are required before people can safely gather.
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