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Archives Volunteers ready Camp Guggenheim for season

June 5, 2019

By Jessica Hargrave
Contributing Writer

SARANAC LAKE – It was a weekend of spring cleaning at Camp Guggenheim. Camp Guggenheim Cleanup

A group of volunteers spent the weekend of May 18-19 at the Saranac Lake camp getting it ready for children and families. The camp opened for retreats on Memorial Day weekend, while youth camp starts in June.

Volunteers washed the many windows that make up the lodge, which offers a picturesque view of lower Saranac Lake and the surrounding Adirondack mountains, while others dusted, vacuumed, mopped, organized the kitchen, and cleaned bathrooms. A similar scene could be seen over in the camp’s mess hall.

Gary and Darcy Ziemer, parishioners of St. James Church in Cadyville, rolled up their sleeves to help in the preparing the lodge for guests.

“We stayed here last summer, there were four or five couples here, so we enjoyed the weekend here and just wanted to pay back,” said Gary Ziemer.

Some made Camp Guggenheim cleanup a family day of service. Fritz and Annie Wentzler, along with their five children, have attended Family Guggenheim for the last six years, and were happy to give back to the camp that means so much to them.

“It’s one of our three highlights of the year, Christmas, summer vacation to Maine, and Family Guggenheim,” said Fritz Wentzler.

Daniel Tromblee and his son Jacob Tromblee, 15, of Saranac Lake, volunteered, cleaning much of the boathouse. Jacob’s time volunteering was put toward his service hours needed to make his Confirmation at St. Agnes’ Church in Lake Placid.

With the harsh winters the Adirondacks endures each year, the volunteer weekend typically includes some outside work, as well.

“There’s always something that needs to be fixed, like a tree cut out of the road,” explained Deacon James Crowley, chancellor for the diocese.

Deacon Crowley added that while major repairs aren’t usually part of the volunteer clean-up weekend, regular maintenance is critical to the camp operations.

“Most of the buildings now have metal roofs,” he said. “We did that two years ago. The roofs that have shingle roofs like the lodge and the original buildings, we try to preserve. Those were done about five years ago.”

As many North Country homes have been threatened by high water levels in recent years, Camp Guggenheim is no exception. The boathouse was heavily damaged when snowmelt caused Saranac Lake to rise to devastating levels in 2017.

“The front of the boathouse was sagging into the lake,” said Deacon Crowley. “We had to spend a fair amount of money to replace all the piers across the front and rebuilt some of the ones underneath. I’m very impressed with that repair.”

Originally two hunting camps owned by the Guggenheim family from 1917 to 1963, Edmond Guggenheim left the camps to the Diocese of Ogdensburg in his will in memory of his second wife. Mr. Guggenheim had hoped the camp could be used as seminary, however Wadhams Hall was already under construction. After discussion it was decided a camp for children would be created along with keeping the lodge for retreats.

Youth camp at Camp Guggenheim opens to children with one-week sessions starting June 30. The first five sessions are designated for youth ages 12 to 15, while week six is just for youth ages 16 to 18.

Family Camp offers three weekend sessions, with the first starting August 15. Family Camp allows families to participate in fun workshops and activities together.

There’s also time for paddle boat rides, relaxing on the beach and hiking.

Camp Guggenheim is sponsored and operated by the Diocese of Ogdensburg Office of Youth Ministry with the support of the Diocese of Ogdensburg Bishop’s Fund.


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