“She looked over at him and said, ‘You can sing!’”
It was Saturday evening, may 18, 2019…
Trustees had finished a long day of board meetings and were in the Main Lodge listening to live music by a local guitar-playing chiropractor and a butcher on the trumpet. It was an interactive concert, with audience members performing percussion and suggesting songs.
Someone called out, “All I have to do is Dream!” and Joe the chiropractor began to play. A short bit into the song he forgot the words and, laughing, asked if anyone in the audience could help him out. Andy Gillcrist slowly raised his hand, moved to the microphone, and sat down in front of it. Joe started up again while Andy listened, getting the feel of the song and the beat in his head. Then he began to sing.
Everyone was stunned. They had gotten to know Andy pretty well over the last few years, but no one had any idea he could sing. When he was finished, after the whistling and clapping stopped, Andy told the story of how and where he had come to find his voice. It was at Great Camp Sagamore, and it was an experience that changed his life.
Andy first came to Great Camp Sagamore as an Intern in 2010. He had just finished his sophomore year in college at SUNY Potsdam, majoring in environmental studies. He was rather shy and not really sure where he was headed in life. From the Westchester County area, Andy had rarely visited the Adirondacks before becoming an Intern, and had never been exposed to Adirondack folk music.
Around the campfire one night during his first Grands Camp, the musician Peggy Lynn overheard him harmonizing quietly along to one of her songs. She looked over at him and said, “You can sing!” The cat was out of the bag. She asked him how long he had sung, and he truthfully said he didn’t, not anyplace other than the shower or in the car.
Anyone who knows Peggy Lynn can guess that Andy’s answer didn’t sit well with her, and at Creativity Night’s end-of-the-week talent show, Andy was in the line-up. All the Interns came to watch from the balcony, and Andy blew them away. He performed “Amazing Grace,” with Peggy Lynn playing guitar and singing back-up harmony.
Andy was hooked. He returned to college with his mother’s old guitar. Learned a few chords, joined a campus choir, and came back to Great Camp Sagamore the next year where he made singing along with him and his guitar a favorite end-of-the-day activity for staff members.
Music continues to be a major part of Andy’s life. In addition to guitar, he now plays several instruments, including the ukulele, mountain dulcimer and is learning the banjo. He performs in the Albany Gay Men’s Chorus as a first tenor and returns for Mountain Music whenever his schedule allows.
Music wasn’t the only lasting impression Great Camp Sagamore had on Andy. His career, one he loves, is thanks to people he met here, and his service as a Trustee is testimony to how important it is to him to pass along all that Great Camp Sagamore has to offer.
We know that Andy isn’t the only person whose life has been shaped by this place. Please send us your story, in 250 words or less, to email@example.com so that we may share it with others.