New York
The Illusion of Roughing It: The Vanderbilts' Great Camp Sagamore
Travel back to the Gilded Age of the Adirondacks at Camp Sagamore, former wilderness estate of the Vanderbilts, where you’ll learn about local traditions and regional history.
Rating (4.88)
Program No. 14875RJ
4 days
Starts at
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4 days
3 nights
8 meals
3 B 2 L 3 D
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Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner, About Sagamore
Raquette Lake, NY

Dinner: The chef will carefully prepare buffet meals provided in our paneled dining room with splendid views of Sagamore Lake. Dinners typically include selections such as: a hot entry, like creamed chicken over biscuits, veggie lasagna, pot roast, spaghetti/meat balls, roasted turkey, stuffed pork loin, or ham; salads, along with several dressing choices; potatoes, rice or pasta; a vegetable choice; bread or rolls; milk or juice. Coffee & tea are always available Note: Sagamore's buffet line is bountiful and varied. If you do not think that you can choose the foods you need for your special diet from the buffet, please supplement with your own that may be stored for your convenience in our walk-in cooler and/or cooked in an available microwave. Beer and wine are available for purchase. Sagamore's water is pure and delicious. Please do not bring bottled water.

Evening: ORIENTATION: After dinner, you'll have an informative overview of the program plus an opportunity to meet the program staff and your fellow participants during an introductory get-acquainted session. We’ll review the updated schedule, cover responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. PRESENTATION: Great Camp Sagamore's history, programs, and preservation. Sagamore Institute of the Adirondacks is the steward of Great Camp Sagamore and is dedicated to its use for education and interpretation. Our mission is to foster understanding, care, and respect for nature, people, and their critical interdependence. Great Camp Sagamore strives to be a place where broad and diverse audiences gather to use these unique buildings and natural setting to explore and understand Adirondack culture, the region's natural environment, and our relationship to both.

Durant & The Vanderbilts, Great Camp Sagamore In Depth
Raquette Lake, NY

Breakfast: Breakfasts at Sagamore, all in the Lakeside Dining Hall, typically include selections such as: one hot entry, like blueberry pancakes, egg strata, french toast, or scrambled eggs; hot & cold cereal & milk; a variety of donuts, bagels & pastries; and several juices. Coffee, tea, and very pure Sagamore water are always available to guests.

Morning: A local expert will join us at the Camp for an overview of the Vanderbilt family and the Gilded Age era, which gave birth to the great camps of the Adirondacks. We’ll learn about the building layout and operations of the camp, and envision the lifestyle of these privileged “campers” a century ago. We’ll also examine the life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the first American to amass personal wealth on an almost immeasurable level. After a short break, we'll walk over to the restored Sagamore Barn to view a video providing background context about Camp Sagamore itself and its place in a cultural continuum that began in the 1890s and continues to the present. Sagamore's iconic structures were conceived by William West Durant, scion of the Union Pacific Railroad, and the single most important land-developer in Adirondack history.

Lunch: Lunches in the Dining Hall typically include selections such as: sandwich meats, cheeses, breads and condiments: a hot entree like macaroni & cheese or soup; various salads, like cole slaw or potato salad; cookies or granola bars; a variety of fresh fruits; milk and a variety of juices or lemonade. Coffee, tea, & Sagamore water are always available

Afternoon: Next, we'll look more closely at Sagamore's 27-building complex, in order to better understand the lives of the owners and guests who played and relaxed here, as well as the caretakers and domestics who maintained it. Situated in the middle of a remote wilderness, Sagamore was staffed by a dozen year-round workers, and as many as 50 when the camp was in summer operation. In addition to the iconic Main Lodge, whose rustic architecture defined classic Adirondack style, and the Playhouse where a number of social activities took place, we'll also visit Wigwam, where a young Alfred Vanderbilt entertained his close friends. You’ll have some time before dinner to wander about the complex on your own, enjoy activities such as canoeing, hiking, Mrs. Vanderbilt's favorite game of croquet, or simply relaxing amid the beauty of nature.

Dinner: In the dining hall.

Evening: Published novelist Mary Sanders Shartle will lead a discussion on “The First Tycoon” — the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography by T. J. Stiles of Cornelius Vanderbilt, known as The Commodore. This intriguing look into the life of the nation's first “robber baron” also sheds light on the events that led to the establishment of the Adirondack Camp movement of the Gilded Age.

Camp Uncas Field Trip, Adirondack Storyteller
Raquette Lake, NY

Breakfast: Breakfast in the Dining Hall.

Morning: A staff naturalist will lead a hike along a portion of the trail around Sagamore Lake to learn about cultural and natural history. We'll head out to the old farm meadow, milking barn, sugar shack, and old carriage roads that have become hiking trails — all part of the original Vanderbilt estate, and all now reverting to their original character as part of the "forever wild" forest preserve mission.

Lunch: We'll eat lunches around camp that we packed in the morning at Sagamore, consisting of cold cut sandwiches, chips, cookies and fresh or dried fruit, granola bars, along with juice or water.

Afternoon: Next, we'll view a recent PBS documentary about the Great Camps built by William West Durant, widely-recognized as the originator of Adirondack rustic architectural design. For the remainder of the afternoon, you are welcome to go out for a paddle a Sagamore Lake, work on a puzzle, play a game, or relax with a good book in an Adirondack chair.

Dinner: Dinner in the Dining Hall.

Evening: A popular form of entertainment for wealthy “campers” in the heyday of the Gilded Age was being regaled by some of the often eccentric backcountry guides who led city folks on adventures into the Adirondacks. They would be invited into the great camps and tell tall tales of their exploits around the campfire. Tonight, we’ll be entertained by an authentic Adirondack folklorist who will sing songs about life in the North Country and tell similar stories — some of which may even be true!

Raquette Lake, NY

Breakfast: Breakfast in the Dining Hall.

Morning: We'll wrap up our experience of Great Camp Sagamore with a discussion of the Sagamore Institute and some of the opportunities and challenges faced by a 27-building, non-profit, National Historic Landmark located in the midst of the least populated county in the entire Northeast. Issues surrounding historic preservation, maintenance, accessibility, staffing, harsh weather, impending climate change and (of course) funding all play a critical role in Sagamore's attempt to remain a viable, contributing member of the Adirondack and New York cultural community. After a short break, we'll examine some of the Adirondack memorabilia that the Sagamore Institute has collected over the years, including several of the Sagamore scrapbooks that remain in the Vanderbilt family. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy all your Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. We encourage you to join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys! .

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