Over the past decade or so, Irene and I have attended and participated in Pete Wernick's Jam Camps a number of times at four different locations. I went to my first Jam Camp as a very beginning banjo player when they were first located in the Walker Center at MerleFest. Later the camps were moved to Camp Harrison, a lovely YMCA facility near Wilkesboro. Lately, Irene has been attending the Jam Camp prior to the Gettysburg in May. On a lovely, cool Wednesday morning, after huge thunderstorms had knocked out electricity in 68,000 homes in northern New York, we drove down to Silver Bay to spend the morning with Pete's newest venture, a bluegrass oriented comprehensive music camp, including jam instruction, individual instrumental instruction, performance, and much more at the wonderful Silver Bay Association's YMCA camp on Lake George in the southern Adirondack Mountains. Lake George is one of the most beautiful lakes in America, and Silver Bay an ideal place to hold a conference, family reunion, or virtually any other kind of event. Founded in 1902, it recalls a day and time quickly being lost in the mists of a seldom glimpsed American past while providing comfort, activities, and opportunities for relaxation and contemplation seldom found today. The fifty-two people, young and not-so-young, experienced and beginner, knowledgeable or tyro who showed up were in for an unusual treat.
Pete Wernick has designed and implemented a bold new approach to a bluegrass music camp held over a five day span at Silver Bay Conference and Retreat Center on beautiful Lake George in the Adirondack Mountains of northern New York. The group that assembled there this week was diverse in background, age, gender, and means brought together by their love for and interest in bluegrass music. They were provided with first rate instruction and allowed to grow at their own rate. The environment was friendly, remarkably non-competitive, and supportive. Pete is, perhaps, the foremost educator and practitioner of the principles of ear training and improvisation as the appropriate way to learn to play bluegrass instruments. A week spent at Silver Bay for his Bluegrass Camp would be time and money well spent for an individual or as a site for a family learning vacation.