Thank you to everyone who commented on the first item of this blog. It was great to read about the rich and profound memories many of you shared.
One theme was education. Dan Murphy wrote, “Pemi inspired me to become an educator. Many of my favorite counselors were teachers during the school year and their influence led me later to a career in education.” And Phil Landry, a full-time fly-fishing guide and instructor, followed that thought by writing, “While on Pemi’s staff I learned too much to summarize here, but I learned how to teach. Not only that, but I learned how to teach ‘the things that I love.’”
Other themes were love of sports, music, and the outdoors. Jim Bingham wrote about “Hiking the Presidentials in 1966, on a 4-day trip, using a Pemi-supplied Army surplus wood-and-canvas pack ‘frame’ that I lashed my canvas duffel bag to…” (We don’t use those frames anymore, but a few do still kick around the trip room.) And Jan Zehner, who had a career in the foreign service, wrote that, “Four years as a Pemi counselor (late ’50s) cemented a love of water, mountains and nature in general.” Oliver Pierson, who now lives in Namibia, Africa, captured the fullness of life at Pemi this way:
“I was lucky enough to beat Tecumseh, hike the Mahoosucs, win a tri-state soccer tournament, take the lead (female) role in Pirates of Penzance, win the Pemi Brave, and enjoy countless other awesome memories while a camper at Pemi.”
Musician Stephen Funk Pearson credits Pemi as being where he learned the guitar: “I first picked up a guitar and took lessons at Pemi and went on to perform all over the world and my newest cd “Artists Around the World” is all my original compositions for guitar with other instruments which are performed by world-renowned musicians.”
Personally, the best thing about being at Pemi for me was the close friendships the place offers, and the simplicity of being so close to the natural world for a summer—the beauty of an afternoon spent sailing on the lake, or the feeling of space and air and freshness when you break above tree line on a hike in the White Mountains. Jaime Garcia spoke to that when he wrote about how Pemi influenced the way he saw the world during a career in the Navy:
“Throughout my trips around the world … I have appreciated the natural beauty of the visited ports and had the opportunity to go on several nature trips during my time-off (hiking, whale watching, etc). Even while the ship cruised through the Pacific Ocean, I appreciated taking a few minutes to watch the stars – they always reminded me of standing the ‘night patrol’ duty” on “clear but cold summer nights” at Pemi.
Counselors love to halfheartedly complain about having night patrol duty, but most find that it’s usually a peaceful way to spend an evening, outside and under the stars.
Finally, Erik Muller, who I believe was my assistant counselor when I was a camper in U-1, captured the Pemi spirit in broad strokes, this way: “… I discovered so many things to appreciate. The importance of sportsmanship, trying new things, giving, the beauty of the outdoors, and just how to live with others began at Pemi for me.”
Thanks, everyone, who commented. We encourage you to share your thoughts, and suggestions for the blog, in the comment field below on this item and the previous one. It’s great to connect with so many people here. Keep your eyes out for more items to come!