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History of MerleFest Jam
Camp, with photos

Pete Wernick's Bluegrass Camp • Boomer, NC

April 22 - 25, 2019 — just before Merlefest

The camp dates for 2019 are firm, but pricing is still being determined.
The camp will be very similar to last year's, described here.

We expect to finalize details and start taking 2019 registrations in November. Check back!

Monday - Thursday prior to MerleFest at the beautiful and spacious grounds of the Camp Harrison YMCA at Herring Ridge, 10 miles outside of Wilkesboro, NC. Lodging and meal packages available directly from Camp Harrison. Onsite accommodations and meal info.
For a look at a
recent jam camp...

MerleFest info: http://www.merlefest.org
Application Form Camp Flyer (PDF) Current Space Availability

IMPORTANT CHANGE in this camp:

In 2018 we will present TWO CONCURRENT CAMPS:


directed by Pete Wernick

Click here for the

(for novice through early intermediate)

A Wernick Method Jam Camp, hosted by Gilbert Nelson

Total tuition $395

Both camps will run Monday-Thursday 9:15am-5:00 daily, in separate but close-by locations at Camp Harrison. Both camps’ students will have meals together and may arrange accommodations on-site.

Not sure which camp is right for you?


The BASIC JAM CAMP (for novices-early intermediates) is a typical Wernick Method Jam Camp. For information and registration: Basic Jam Camp

The Basic Jam Camp is comparable to elementary and middle school for bluegrass, with classroom-style instruction on jam skills and lots of time jamming in coached small groups, with instruction on instrument skills, by instrument.


This camp can be likened to high school/college for bluegrass.


Participants must:

  • Be experienced at bluegrass jamming including following guitar chord changes
  • Be able to play comfortably in the keys of G and D, and use the chord number system
  • Be able to sing in pitch and lead songs ("good voice" not required)
  • Be willing / able to fake instrumental solos on most songs in G or D (except basses and rhythm-only guitars).

If you're not sure if you qualify, write Pete regarding your skills in these areas.

  • Students may attend “as a band” for a discount (write Pete for details), or will be placed in small groups (rotated during the camp).
  • Ensembles meet twice a day, for jamming and/or rehearsing with coaching by experienced Wernick Method staff.
  • Instrument instruction classes and harmony singing instruction offered daily
  • Performance opportunities, with performance coaching
  • Camp performs 2 songs en masse on the Merlefest Cabin Stage to conclude camp

$150 deposit holds your spot while your application is considered. Deposit check will not be cashed unless/until application is accepted.

Attendance limited to 50. Most instruments will be limited to 10 places.

Intermediate-Advanced Camp Application Form

Need-based discounts may be available for players of instruments we're short of (most often fiddles and basses). Inquire about availability any time after March 1, 2018. More info.

Discounts available for members of bands attending as a band. Write Pete

Partial and full-tuition scholarships will be available to pickers 20 and under, and to service combat veterans, according to financial need. Support will depend on funds contributed to our Merlefest Camp scholarship fund. 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 March 15 and notifications received by March 25.

Pete's teaching background

Practice jamming at home!

17 songs, just 4 chords and SLOW tempos. This DVD will help you prepare for your first jam camp.

Click here for more pics from this camp from ace photographer and jam camper Ted Lehmann

Instructional content

Teaching team
Pete will be assisted by outstanding multi-instrumentalists and experienced teachers including Scott Freeman, Steve Lewis, Keith Yoder, and Alan Epstein.

For new or inexperienced jammers

find out more about Basic Camp

For intermediate level jammers

(able to play comfortably in G or D, take simple solos on the fly, willing/able to sing and lead songs). You will be coached in skill-matched groups. Harmony singing, backup instruction, creating good solos, rehearsed or on-the-fly.

For organized bands

"Band lab", band cohesion, rehearsal guidance, stagecraft including working with sound systems, band decision-making and organization.

Comments from recent jam campers

“I have been waiting to start playing real bluegrass with people for quite a while, and now I can.”

“It's been three weeks, but I'm still on a high from your Bluegrass Jam Camp in Gettysburg. To put it mildly -- it was absolutely fantastic! My banjo playing has improved immeasurably since Camp -- even my wife has noticed. I am now actively looking for other jammers.”

“One of the best experiences in or out of music I have ever had!”

“I had a great time, learned a lot, met great people.. The best week of my whole year!”

“An incredible experience... a depth of knowledge on the subject beyond just technique, including the history, etiquette, and flavor of the genre.”

Click here to see additional comments


Visit our FAQ section. If you still have questions feel free to email us at [email protected].

Application Form Camp Flyer (PDF) Current Space Availability