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Level 2 Bluegrass Camp

August 20, 2023 August 25, 2023 EDT

Silver Bay, NY at the Silver Bay YMCA Conference Center

Silver Bay is a large Y Camp and Conference Center, on Lake George in the Adirondacks.

87 Silver Bay Road
Silver Bay, NY 12874

Tuition: $490

$15 off thru Jan 31. Deposit of $150 holds your spot; 50% refundable for cancellations more than one month in advance. Balance due (check or cash) at camp.

All Bluegrass Skills Taught

9am-12:30pm: Daily classes for banjo, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, dobro, bass…AND… Coached small jam groups, intermediate/advanced.

1:50-5pm: coaching on harmony singing (one coach per trio), classes on songwriting, basic music theory, practice “boot camp”, playing under pressure, stagecraft, and more!

Activities every evening: fiddle tune jam, open mics, karaoke, history, jamming, beautiful sunsets!

Organized Bands: $425 for Each Band Member

For band members registering together, to work together as a band throughout the week: $65.00 off each member’s tuition. Bands will have opportunities to perform and get performance coaching including working with a sound system on stage (band lab), band cohesion, rehearsal guidance, band decision-making, “how to make a band work”.

Band members must first contact Pete as a group, for approval of the group members’ band discount.

In 2023 we will have two concurrent camps:

Qualifications Level 2 (this camp) Basic/Early-Intermediate Camp,
Level 1-1.5, directed by Harry Gambrill
Overall 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 Ability to change chords smoothly between G, C, D, A (or the notes that work on bass and fiddle)
Tempos Ranging over 100 beats/minute (if not sure you can handle that speed for soloing, please check) 60-95 beats/minute
Singing Ability to sing generally melodies accurately is expected. Harmony singing is taught daily to those who can learn and usually “hold” a harmony part Please try! Song leading is especially valued
Soloing 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. Minimal “placeholder” soloing taught, and acceptable; more advanced soloing taught but not required

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 Level 2 (this camp) Basic/Early-Intermediate Camp,
Level 1-1.5
Performing Performance opportunity (expected but optional); some performance coaching; extra coaching available for bands No performing expected
Night Activities Open to participate in open mic and karaoke Attendance welcome at all nighttime activities
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

700-acre Y Camp on the shores of Lake George, est. 1902

For accommodations reservations, call 518-543-8415 or email reservations@silverbay.org.

Call any time… Your message left will get a callback during the next business hours. The Silver Bay reservations team will help you with housing choices and all info. Room/meal deals start at a little over $100/day; the least expensive options are reserved quickly so call soon!


One scholarship is available for either a bass player in the Level 2 camp, or for any instrument in the Level 1 camp. It covers full tuition and about half of housing/meal expense. 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 21 and applicants will be notified by June 26.

Silver Bay Camp Video #1

Watch this video of our 2015 camp! With many thanks to the French filmmaker and banjo player Antoine Porteaux who attended the camp as part of a U.S. bluegrass tour originating in Paris. The film starts with the Europeans’ travel to Silver Bay, and the part about the camp starts at 2:03.

Silver Bay Camp Video #2

Want to know more about the Silver Bay instructors? Here they are in concert, featuring There Ain’t Nobody Going to Miss Me When I’m Gone, Golden Slippers, Why You Been Gone So Long, Blue Moon of Kentucky, Lay That Pistol Down, Sitting on Top of the World, mandolin duets and more!

Comments from recent camps:

“High quality instructors.”
“Great place for a camp like this!!!”
“Awesome location!!!”
“Thank you for a terrific week at Silver Bay. Your faculty was all top notch.”
“A wonderful experience! The camaraderie was palpable!”
“The small jams were challenging and empowering, a big confidence boost for me.”

Click any photo to enlarge.

“The mixed instrument, jam opportunity and performance experience were invaluable. Likewise student population was great, helpful and fun, a major part of the success.”
“I have been waiting to start playing real bluegrass with people for quite a while, and now I can.”
“Our 13 year-old son got more out of it than I ever expected. Bob Amos’ guitar class was outstanding and really helped my son and I break out of a rut we had been in.”
“One of the best musical experiences of my life. The camp gave me knowledge, experience and laughs for a lifetime.”
“I do not believe I have ever been to any type of class where the instructor made learning so easy and so much fun.”
“An incredible experience… a depth of knowledge on the subject beyond just technique, including the history, etiquette, and flavor of the genre.”
“This is so much more fun than sitting on the couch playing alone.”
“I have never had so much valuable information and real teaching in such a short period of time.”
“I had a wonderful time at the Silver Bay camp. I like your idea of a program that focuses on entire bands. Thanks for a great experience.”
“I came to jam camp new on my instrument (mandolin), and intimidated. By the end I was pretty comfortable. I started checking out different jams in my area, and now often go to at least 2 a week. The more I play, the better I get, and the more fun I have. I’ve made great new friends” — Marion, MA
“Pete Wernick is a master teacher with decades of experience in promoting and advancing bluegrass education at all levels. His methods seriously address the fact that most pickers quit while still at a beginning level due to the use of ineffective materials and methods. His approach quickly leads one to becoming an independent and successful learner. Pete’s camps could be thought of as bluegrass “boot camps” because they are skill based, experience based and intensive. The camps involve a lot of challenging and enjoyable group work.”
“You have had a major impact in my life. Our social network now is mostly musicians, wonderful people my wife and I would have never met if I hadn’t gotten out of the closet and attended your Jam Camp in 2006.” — Jim, NC
“The information that I learned will help set me on the path that I am looking for. I learned more than I have in three years at fiddle camp.” — Lynn, CO
“The jam camp I attended was a true treasure. It changed my life for the better. I was able tonight to walk in, ‘cold tukey’, and sit in with the featured band at a Bluegrass society meeting. Before your workshop I had never even tried to play in public.” — Richard, KY
“I truly am happy that I have been able to attend your camps and never expected to be in this position to enjoy playing so much.” — Jim, NC

Tentative Schedule

The schedule shown here is based on recent years’ schedules and is sure to incorporate some changes.


— or —

For a $15 discount, pay the $100 deposit by credit card and send a check for $345 by Feb 15 (full payment) to Dr. Banjo, 7930 Oxford Road, Niwot, CO 80503.

Spaces may become available, so join the waitlist. Or consider signing up for the Basic Level camp.

87 Silver Bay Road
Silver Bay, NY 12874 United States
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Tuition: $490

$15 off thru Jan 31. Deposit of $150 holds your spot; 50% refundable for cancellations more than one month in advance. Balance due (check or cash) at camp. 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.