Prepare to be amazed.
Great Camp Sagamore has a series of themed weekends which cover a broad range of interests. Enjoy luxury lodging and dining with wonderful hands-on learning in a setting that marries great natural beauty with extraordinary man-made achievements.
You'll want to talk other people into coming with you. Because this is a fantastic experience to share.
Pampered like a Vanderbilt
William West Durant was one of the founders of the style known as Adirondack Architecture. Between 1895 and 1897, he designed and supervised the construction of what was then known as Sagamore Camp.
The idea was to take advantage of the abundant native building materials of wood and stone, creating "rustic luxury" with added style and polished accents. It was influenced by Swiss chalet architecture, which also handled the challenges of heavy snowfall in winter. The Great Camp inspiration was to emphasize ways of blending into the surrounding landscape that the building materials had come from. This would create a more seamless feel between the indoors and the outdoors.
The twenty-seven buildings of what would become Great Camp Sagamore was also part of the style. This not only offered abundant opportunities for solitude and creative communing with nature, it had a practical side, too. In case of fire, it was likely only the one building would be lost, instead of the entire complex.
In 1901, Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt I purchased the camp, adding hot and cold running water, flush toilets, and a modern sewer system. Later additions were its own hydroelectric plant, an outdoor bowling alley, a tennis court, a croquet lawn, a working farm for fresh food, and a 100,000 gallon reservoir. This is when it reached Great Camp status.
Today, there are no telephones in the rooms. There is no cell service or television. The idea is to unplug from modern demands, and return to the pace of a quieter time. There's a lean-to, giant porches, and a campfire to gather around.
Find a theme
So many delightful weekends are being offered that you are sure to find a favorite. Or two.
In summer, it's the Hamilton County Birding Festival. Or a Raquette Lake dinner cruise and attendance at The Black Fly Challenge, a classic Adirondack Mountain bike race followed by a BBQ, beer, and live concert. Another weekend program is about learning the "Feathers and Flora of the Northern Forest" with lectures, slides, and field trips. Attend a workshop with Adirondack performers who are mentoring a new generation of musicians. Learn fly fishing, which is another kind of Adirondack classic.
Another weekend features Adirondack music and dance, even songwriting, with many local artists. There are workshops in painting, photography, and basket making. There are teen adventures, historic seminars, and a Healing Woods retreat which celebrates the power of nature.
The fall is another lively time, with a Plein Air painting retreat, a kayaking clinic, and tours of the three Durant Great Camps: Sagamore, Uncas, and Pine Knot. There's an arts and healing weekend with music, arts, and yoga. Explore the wonders of the universe with the Dark Skies weekend, using Sagamore's own telescope. Indulge in the ease of some "ladies only" adventures.
The pace is relaxed. The instruction is from masters of their craft. From the buffet dining to the twenty miles of hiking trails at your disposal, the experience is all about savoring the moment in beautiful surroundings. Take to the crystal waters of Sagamore Lake, where motor boats are not allowed.
With fall comes opportunities to experience some incredible autumn vistas. See so many trees in their full glory, then see them multiplied by two when reflected in the mirror of the lake. Become part of a foliage spectacular that is hard to match anywhere else on earth.
Wild and structured
The Adirondack Great Camp tradition is based on the principle of "living in nature." The architecture, the lifestyle, and the cultivated areas of the grounds were all about being in harmony with the natural world. This was the beginning of what would become the American creation of the "wilderness fantasy."
This approach was new in the 19th century. Up to that time, so much of civilization was about making our lives more comfortable despite nature's challenges. It took the accessibility of one of the world's most gorgeous landscapes for people to realize how much of the natural world they missed when they were away from it for too long.
This realization is still true today. So decide to explore a new adventure this year, and see how many people you can bring closer together.
It's all about the best of both worlds.
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