Camp Solitude was a legendary Adirondack Camp with many stories to tell of
I was working as a counselor at a County Prison and got to talking wth the Sargent about travel destinations. The Sargent told me of Camp Solitude in the Adirondacks of New York State and even gave me the telephone number of the Great Camp. This began my intrigue and love affair with the destination.
I phoned the next day and my call was received by the proprietor Jay who briskly said “ Do you have a dog” and I timidly answered yes”. He then said “ you’re only welcome to Camp if you bring your dog with you”. I made reservations for a week over that summer and the vacation was wonderful and terrible at times.
Jay met us at the boat launch in a dilapidated pontoon boat onto which my family, dog and I piled into and off we sped toward the Great Camp. When we arrived there was a pack of other guest’s dogs already there who greeted my tiny jack russell dachshund dog, Missy. From that moment on she lived with the pack for most of the trip.
We were shown to our cottage that was rustic, had dirty well worn linens and mouse droppings in it, but it was quaint; decently priced and wast waterfront with views of Whiteface Mountain from where we landed. There were various accommodations some were refurbished; some upgraded and some even more rustic than ours!
The Great House was magnificent and everything that the Adirondacks make you reminisce of, the wood work, birch bark; carvings high ceilings the Great Room and dining room. I fell in love in spite of the orner proprietor Jay. The camp had been in his family for decades and it was left to him but he was property rich and money poor. Several improvements were needed and the Camp had seen much better days and much was in disrepair.
I visited the property several times through many years and brought friends and family along and it felt like returning home time and again.
One memory I have was of some guests who complained of dirty linens and demanding a refund and a ride back to town and Jay said “ok“ nonchalantly and loaded their belongings onto the boat and returned them to the boat launch at midnight.
I ended up doing work exchanges for several visits working as a cook in the kitchen; serving dinners to the guests who were held hostage as Jay would tell brutally vivid stories of his time in Vietnam. The guests would try to change the topic without success and would shift uncomfortably in their seats. I remember one time when children of the adults were eating at a separate table in the kitchen and one child was being defiant and Jay yelled at the child and spanked his bottom once, then said “that wasn’t good, was it?” And I said no, it wasn’t good to lose it on a child or anyone else.
I started once to clean up one of the abandoned cottages as Jay said that it could be mine be to use if I fixed it up, but I gave up after awhile as it was overwhelming and Jays’ girlfriend warned me not to get my hopes up as Jay made many promises that he never honored.
My children loved the freedom of being able to roam the land and freely play with one another and they loved to lay in the boathouse that had a library in it and it was really cozy.
We would all take canoes and kayaks out on the lake and would have campfires; hike and play voleyeball together.
Jay was a large man with a distended belly indicative of being diabetic, he didn’t appear to be healthy. He tried hard to keep the place going but I heard that he sold it to a private couple and it no longer accomodated the public.
Sadly I heard that Jay was driving back to his home in California and died along his journey home.
The memories of Camp Solitude fill me up still and I miss my time spent there.