Our Program Director, Jeff Flagg, PhD reflects on Sagamore

Posted by on Jul 23, 2015 in Programs | No Comments
Our Program Director, Jeff Flagg, PhD reflects on Sagamore

It seems like so long ago when I first arrived at Sagamore . . . oh wait, it WAS so long ago, nearly 20 years now. Fortunately, little has changed since I first arrived in the summer of 1997 as a doe-eyed intern, but really, not all that much has changed about Sagamore since the camp was built more than a century ago. In fact, it’s probably fair to say that Great Camp Sagamore remains one of the world’s most unspoiled locations, a jewel of architectural artistry nestled among thousands of acres of “forever wild” forestlands.

Earlier today, as I sat chatting with friends old and new over a delightful lunch in our dining hall overlooking Sagamore Lake, I was reminded of the qualities that make Sagamore such a special place, and that help to explain the camp’s hold on me after all these years.

Sagamore is a place to rest. Now, by “rest,” I don’t mean sitting around doing nothing (though that’s certainly an option here, and a worthwhile one at that). Rather, it’s a place for your soul to rest, if only for a short while: a place to reconnect with the natural world in a way that is nearly impossible in even the largest city park or urban nature preserve; a place to realize that each of us is part of something much larger than ourselves; a place to discard the devices and distractions and divisions of the world at large and to rediscover that, in the end, civilization begins with civility, and civility is inherently a function of conversation. Sagamore is a place to converse.

But Sagamore is also a place to rejuvenate, a place (in Thoreau’s words) to live “deliberately” and “suck the marrow out of life.” Life is nothing but experience, and to experience the world, we have to connect to it.   Sagamore is a place where one’s connection to the living, natural world that surrounds us becomes real, tangible and immediate.

And so, ultimately, Sagamore is a place to live. Last night, as I lay in bed thinking fondly of a day well spent in the company of a good friend, I listened to a pair of loons calling out across the shallow darkness of the lake. And I realized that their lives made my life just a little bit more . . . well, livable.

I hope you’ll wander through our website to see the many ways that you, too, might connect with Sagamore, or better yet, connect to the world AT Sagamore. But let’s be honest: nothing I write here, or that we can convey on our website, will do justice to a place like Sagamore. That can only happen if you make the trip to camp yourself.

Come for a program or workshop, perhaps through one of our educational partners, like Road Scholar or the Adirondack Folk School. Sign up for one of the many special events we offer each year, like Mountain Music Weekend or our Craft Beer Camp. Volunteer for one of our work weekends, helping the staff to open or close camp, or come with volunteers from the Adirondack Mountain Club to work on trails that surround camp.   Attend one of Sagamore’s family programs, like Grandparent/grandchildren camps or our Family Week programs. Bring your own family for a reunion or other family event. Whatever reason you choose to come, just come. And if you are going to arrive late, don’t ask us to “leave the lights on for you;” Nature will have already taken care of that.


Dr. Jeffrey Flagg, Program Director

Originally from Dayton, Ohio, Jeff Flagg earned a degree in marketing from Miami (OH) University in 1987, and worked in the private sector for several years before returning to graduate school, first to earn a Masters’ degree in American Literature, and then to earn his doctorate in American Culture Studies at Bowling Green State University.

At Bowling Green, Jeff studied under Philip Terrie, perhaps the foremost living academic historian of the Adirondack region.  It was while at Bowling Green that Jeff first came to Great Camp Sagamore, as an academic intern in the summer of 1997.  The experience led to his dissertation, The Road Toward Wisdom, a socio-ethical history of land use in the Adirondack State Park.

Following his graduation in 1999, Dr. Flagg returned to Sagamore as a full-time staff member.  From 1999-2003, he developed a variety of educational programs, mostly centered on Adirondack issues. During a temporary hiatus from Sagamore, Dr. Flagg took a position with M&R Strategic Services, a public relations agency in New York City. There, he worked on a variety of public-interest campaigns, most notably the environmental land claims of the Onondaga Nation in upstate New York.

Jeff returned to Sagamore as Program Director in 2008, and now designs and teaches a variety of courses on Adirondack history and culture to a wide range of audiences, including primary and secondary school teachers, college students, Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel) participants, non-profit organizations, and museum groups, as well as the general public.

Dr. Flagg has more than ten years of university teaching experience in both this country and abroad, having spent two separate years teaching at various universities in the People’s Republic of China. He lives in Glens Falls, NY.