Located in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York, Great Camp Sagamore is a National Historic Landmark and the former wilderness estate of the Alfred G. Vanderbilt family.
The camp is now an educational non-profit dedicated to providing educational programming, special events, and public tours. Sagamore Lake is noted for its pristine ecological condition and the camp is surrounded by State Forest Preserve providing a unique wilderness experience for all ages.
This project was a six month long photographic documentary project funded by the Community Foundation of New York to create a new set of compelling images showcasing the depth of life at the camp. Photography started when the camp opened shortly after Memorial Day and finished when the camp closed in late October. Programming, cultural history, music, community, and natural beauty were the areas of focus.
Sagamore pioneered Grands Camp, a one week long adventure for grandparents and their grand children. No parents allowed! Because of the camp's location deep in the heart of the Adirondacks, there are no cell phones or cable. This tech free environment allows families to connect in a deeply personal way, creating new adventures, learning new skills and finding new joy in each other. Not only do children learn, but so do grandparents as they gain confidence in exploring nature in a safe environment.
The volunteers keep the camp running, there is no question. The camp contains 26 buildings, all of which need TLC every year. Many of the buildings are sided in tree bark which requires special skills to cut and place. The grounds also need tending, pruning, mowing, planting, and raking. Wood needs to be cut for the nightly camp fires. The floating dock need to be moved and canoes put in the lake. Tree trimmers, painters, electricians, plumbers, roofers, cooks, polishers, gardeners, quilters, and muscle are all required. They work through black fly season, rain, and even snow. Over the years, the volunteers have formed a tight knit family that welcomes each new face with a warm heart and a rake.
Preserving old ways of doing things is a priority at Great Camp Sagamore. Resident artists visit throughout the summer utilizing the camp's facilities for demostrations and education. Speciality weekends are held to focus on Vanderbilt history, boat building, learning music, quilting, beer making, dancing, story telling, and rug braiding. Children participate through themed weeks at Grands Camp learning outdoor skills or making paddles.
Walking around the lake, paddling its waters, listening to the loons; these are welcome experiences in our busy world. The beauty of this location is undeniable. The photographs speak for themselves.