Loading Events

« All Events

Basic/Early Intermediate Jam Camp

August 25, 2024 August 30, 2024 EDT

Taught by Harry Gambrill using the Wernick Method

Silver Bay, NY

Silver Bay YMCA Conference Center, 87 Silver Bay Road, Silver Bay NY 12874

Tuition: $490

$10 off through April 25. $150 deposit holds your spot; 50% refundable for cancellations more than one month in advance. You will be sent the full set of of student materials as soon as you register.

Assisted by Tom Behan

In 2024 we will have two concurrent camps:

Qualifications Basic/Early-Intermediate (this camp) Level 2, directed by Pete Wernick
Overall Ability to change chords smoothly between G, C, D, A (or the notes that work on bass and fiddle) Ample experience with bluegrass jamming; able to solo in more than one key; able to follow guitar chord changes; willing/able to lead songs; experienced using the basic chord number system and jam etiquette
Tempos 60-95 beats/minute Ranging over 100 beats/minute (if not sure you can handle that speed for soloing, please check)
Singing Please try! Song leading is especially valued Ability to sing generally melodies accurately is expected. Harmony singing is taught daily to those who can learn and usually “hold” a harmony part
Soloing Minimal “placeholder” soloing taught, and acceptable; more advanced soloing taught but not required Willing/able to fake passable solos in more than one key (exceptions: bass players and rhythm-only guitar players). Melody-based solos are the standard, so we try for that; ability to find melody notes by ear is expected.

Please carefully assess your qualifications to determine which camp is most suitable. If you’re not sure, write to Pete regarding your skills in these areas. We reserve the right to re-assign students between camps as needed.

Activities Basic/Early-Intermediate (this camp) Level 2 Camp
Performing No performing expected Performance opportunity (expected but optional); some performance coaching; extra coaching available for bands
Night Activities Attendance welcome at all nighttime activities Open to participate in open mic and karaoke
Hours Both camps will have the same hours. Sunday evening following dinner is an informal kickoff get-together for all. Classes and coached jamming run Monday-Friday 9-5 daily, in separate but close-by locations at Silver Bay. Both camps’ students will have meals together and may arrange accommodations on-site together.

The Level 1 camp is lower challenge than the Level 2 camp (this camp) in levels of skill and speed, allowing an experienced player to take a more prominent role in the Level 1 jam groups. Experienced jammers are sometimes grouped together. We accept students for the Level 1 camp while on a waitlist for Level 2. If a Level 2 slot opens, they can switch camps.


Silver Bay YMCA Conference Center

Important Information Regarding Silver Bay Accommodations

Though Silver Bay has online booking options, please instead call Silver Bay’s Reservations Team at 518-543-8415. Call anytime and get a call back during business hours.

This year room/meal deals start at $100/day per person (some at $70/person double occupancy), and include all meals. The least expensive options are reserved quickly so call soon!

Please note that room pricing is now more straightforward this year, as Silver Bay has folded the former added 5% gratuity into the quoted price.

With this year’s camp overlapping Friday of Labor Day weekend, some housing options have changed, including two appealing and specially discounted shared cottages. A sizable selection of rooms is available for all six camp nights (Sunday – Friday). However, some room choices are available only through Thursday night — though those rooms’ Friday nights *may* become available by May 31.

For a secure booking for the full week, if a preferred room choice is not available Friday, a guest may book their choice through Thursday *and* an alternate room for Friday should the preferred room remain unavailable. Silver Bay reservations will assist with this unusual situation and notify the guest promptly if the final night of the room becomes available.

The two cottages, Spruce Mountain Lodge and Hillcrest Cottage, can house 10 and 6 guests respectively and allow friends to stay together in one place with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, kitchen, porch, etc. — ideal for after-hours jamming. See Silver Bay’s lodging section and scroll down for photos and floor plans. Guests in those cottages will pay the discounted price of $100/person per night; however, reservations must be made not by individuals but by one group representative for each cottage, who reserves, coordinates and pays for the cottage. If a group of campers wants to consider staying in a cottage for the week, Silver Bay reservations will gladly assist the group’s representative.

If you have questions, please contact Silver Bay at 518-543-8415.

87 Silver Bay Road
Silver Bay, NY 12874 United States
+ Google Map
View Venue Website


Grants from our Scholarship Fund are available for any instrument in either camp, and especially for bass players in the Level 2 camp. Partial or full tuition grants may be given People under 25 and service veterans are especially encouraged to apply. To donate or apply, write to Pete.

Applicants should give their age, instrument(s) played, and experience and goals in bluegrass, and a short statement of their financial need. Applications must be received by June 19 and applicants will be notified by June 24.

Harry Gambrill (Ridley Park, PA) was bit by the bluegrass bug early and began playing the banjo at age twelve. He plays banjo with regional bluegrass band The Jersey Corn Pickers. Harry also plays the bass, dobro, and guitar, and has been giving lessons for over 20 years.

“Harry was a helpful and encouraging teacher, even though I am a rank beginner.”
“Harry is an excellent teacher. He exudes a true love for bluegrass music.”
“I had never jammed before, but now I am actively seeking out opportunities. Before I wouldn’t have tried. I learned that I wanted to be a committed banjo player. I just after received a new, top of the line banjo which I never would have bought unless I was committed.”
“A wonderful experience. I would highly recommend Harry’s class to anyone trying to learn the basics of bluegrass jamming.”
“Great class…very challenging, but fun!”
“A great musical experience!”

Tom Behan (Slingerlands, NY) teaches and performs in the Capital District area of Upstate NY and has been playing the guitar and banjo for over 40 years. He currently holds down the guitar and lead vocal spot with the High Peaks Bluegrass Band based in Saratoga Springs. Tom has been successfully teaching guitar and banjo to children and adults for over 20 years, including a Beginning Bluegrass Guitar Workshop at the Saratoga Library.

“Tom was friendly and flexible and provided a welcoming environment.”
“A welcoming and enthusiastic person with a positive teaching style. His infectious passion for interesting music leaves me with handfuls of material to analyze and be inspired by.”
“Tom was great. I have months worth of great material to work on, well fitted to my level.”
“I really liked Tom as a teacher. He’s a great guitar player and singer as well.”
“I like Tom’s positive upbeat attitude.”
87 Silver Bay Road
Silver Bay, NY 12874 United States
+ Google Map
View Venue Website


Tuition: $490

$10 off through April 25. $150 deposit holds your spot; 50% refundable for cancellations more than one month in advance. You will be sent the full set of of student materials as soon as you register.

Please log in or create a new account to register.