Thank you

Pemi sailing program, circa 1930s.

Pemi sailing program, circa 1930s.

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!

Rob Verger

4 thoughts on “Thank you

  1. From Roger McEniry, camper 1967 to 1972, counselor 1975 to 1979:

    Here’s to:

    Steve Webster, Steve Howser, Dick Yoho, Tim Cushing, John Graves, Doc Nick, Kevin LaWare, Ralph Wallingford, David Zonis, Bruce Wright, Pete Rapelye, Jim Simmons, Roy Keithly, Stu Cordell, Richie Stone, Will Powers, Jack Rowell, Craig Leroy, Jim Staples, Jim Graves, Ed France, Walt Scott-Craig, Scott Walker, John Carman, Scott Withrow (Sr. and Jr.), David Withrow, Marty Snider, Dan Potter, Bernie and Marc Seres, Andy Brummer, Scott Whitsell, Mark Whitney, Burgie Howard, Billy Taft, Tuti Toro, Jaime Garcia, Eric Porter, Billy and Rick Hopkins, Bill Pruden, Rick and Dwight Moody, Fred Rasmussen, Rick (“Driving Boat”)Davenport, David Bruce Fanger Duncan, Estebita Garcia, Kap and Ace, Jim Winston, Jim Murphy, Danny and David Walker, Steve Barnard, Rob Bernard, Rob Naylor, Larry Davis, Admiral Cryer, Drew Eginton, David Ross, Edwin Rosas, Billy Muller, Grant Wilkinson, Robie Johnson, to the faces I see vividly now without the ability to name, and to the others that elude a stream of consciousness at this late hour.

    And, especially, Tom and Betsy, Al and Bertha, Seebeck, Rittner, Tom and Dottie, Grabill, Wensberg, Viper, Peter, Fred, Penelope, Jon and Janet, Zock, Nikki, Charlie, Chowder, Pete Cowles, Ethan, Gar Wyman…

    If I have any integrity, if I have any generosity of spirit, if I have any sense of decency, if I know right from wrong, and if I have any courage, it comes, in very large measure, from Camp Pemigewassett.

    Thank you for 43 years of living, loving, and now, mostly, remembering.

    RSMcE
    1.19.10

  2. Many parents are hesitant to ‘let go’ of their son in a world that seems more complicated than it used to be. And yet, what better place for a boy to explore new things, discover new talents and passions, develop his own “internal compass” for making decisions, and make friends from around the world than in the safe and supportive environment of Pemi? These comments convey more than any catalog or DVD ever can. I hope folks who are looking into camps will read this blog!

  3. As an independent school educator for almost 30 years now I have long recognized and been grateful for the fact that beyond my immediate family, 2 places–my own boarding school, Andover–and Pemi provided the foundation for all I now do. Not a day goes by when the lessons I was taught and the examples I was offered at Pemi do not fail to influence in the most positive of ways the work I do and the life I lead. Beyond that are the memories and the people. Roger McEniry and I overlapped for much of my combined 12 years as a camper and counselor and many of the names he listed above resonate deeply with me. In closing I simply offer my sincere thanks for a singular place with a heartfelt, if inadequate, special thanks to Tom and Al and TRJR.

  4. As a single season counselor, from Iowa and Oberlin, and unused to most of the traditions and protocols of the east, I hope that I offered something of lasting value to the boys in my cabin — because I certainly benefitted in ways I only understand now.

    After that summer at Pemi, I drove Doc Nichols’ big station wagon back to Oberlin for my last semester, and the production of my thesis, my last season of football, and the last few months before I, like all of us, ceased to be boys.

    I think a significant memory for any parent considering sending his boy to Pemi is this:

    We were on a multi-day hike in the Whites. I was counselor to some older boys, some strong and lean, some city boys who were … not so much. There was a quiet boy in my cabin named Ray, a young man at 13 who could turn on a fastball better than many 18 year-olds. He had the ropey arms of an incipient athlete, and the emotional distance of someone who had, too-early, experienced an important disappointment. I hope that he became an athlete and that he found a little more happiness as things went along.

    On this overnight in the mountains we overtook a group of young women, in which one had turned her ankle, perhaps breaking it, but in any event, sat on the ground, unable to walk.

    The other counselor (a fellow whose name I cannot recall, but a student in the Oberlin Conservatory, I believe) with my group took the boys ahead, down the mountain. So that problem — the problem of keeping our crew together and safe and on course — was solved.

    Ray and I carried the young woman down the mountain. It really wasn’t a big deal. After climbing and skiing in the Rockies, it wasn’t a big deal and the major challenge was maintaining conversation with a disabled female for a few miles. At the bottom, Al Fauver, meeting us, was matter-of-fact. Obviously we had done the correct thing, and obviously Ray was the boy to select to assist, and … what’s for supper? We were hungry.

    Thirty years later (as a parent and an executive) I am often surprised and distressed at the cosseted nature of child-rearing and the low expectations that we place upon our boys and young men. The Reeds and the Fauvers were always old school, and I presume that Pemi yet today offers a culture of play, exploration, learning, and responsibility. It is a memorable place, offering memorable experiences. I think an important element in the Pemi experience is that young boys, and older boys such as myself, once a counselor, may be expected to behave as young men. Tom Reed was the director during my brief time, and that is what I recall of his leadership. Of course, we did not always meet that standard, but the standard and expectation were plain.

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