Summer 2012: Newsletter #4

Tuesday, July 17. Changeover Day! Ninety first-session campers wrap up their 2012 seasons, and ninety eager second-session boys take their places. As David Byrne might say, “How did we get here (so quickly)?” A remarkable stretch of clear weather no doubt helped, as everything seems to go more quickly when the sun shines. But we trust that the proverbial speed with which tempus seems to fugare when you’re having a good time may have had something to do with it as well.

Moose Day

The last several days have been fraught with engaging activities. The world premiere of Metal Boy: The Musical graced the Pemi boards last Friday evening (on which see more below.) Saturday was Moosilauke Day, as we squared off against out storied rivals on Upper Baker Pond in a host of sports in multiple age groups. It was good to welcome the families of some of our full-season campers on this, the first of two visiting days. It was also good to prevail in the majority of the day’s contests, leaving Pemi with aggregate victories in all three of our first-session sports fixtures: Kingswood Day, Baker Valley Tournament Day, and Moose Day. Even more important though, as Danny pointed out in the Mess Hall that evening, was that the competition had been spirited and fair, and the sportsmanship flawless.

Saturday evening featured our weekly campfire, with numbers substantially augmented by our visitors. Fred Fauver and Tom Reed Jr. kicked things off with “The Lion Bitin’ Song,” with which their fathers Al and Tom had regaled the masses from the 1940s to the 1970s.  Having so many families there brought out scads of new camper acts, and more than one parent commented that s/he hadn’t known “Junior” had it in him to perform in front of 300 people. Such may be the impact, though, of our mantra, “Never be afraid to try something new.”

Counselor Hunt

The dreaded Annual Counselor Hunt, postponed from the Fourth of July, took place on Sunday afternoon, with many staff successfully flushed out of their hiding spots by fiercely intent camper/hunters – and many of them undertaking entertainingly ridiculous plunges from the high-dive as a “penalty” for being found. Top honors to Michael McKeand, braw Scots counselor of the Hill Tent, for being the first Pemi staffer ever to hide – and swim – in a kilt! That night, Head of Staff (and masterful maven of Pemi Improv) Dwight Dunston entertained – and moved – the community immensely with a wistful, wise, funny, and celebratory account of where Pemi fits into his remarkable life trajectory.

Birthday Banquet toast

Yesterday was the annual Tecumseh Track Meet, with over sixty of our campers traveling to Lake Winnepesauke for a Pemi-Tecumseh warm-up, followed by a sumptuous end-of session banquet, which doubled as a chance to celebrate the birthdays of all campers and staff whose natal anniversaries fall during the season. Chef Stacey’s turkey-with-all-the-fixin’s feast put the final touches on what has been nothing less than a brilliant five weeks as the new Pemi Escoffier. The program ended with Birthday Greetings from around the world and limericks for all of the celebrants, penned and voiced in the best Mead Hall style by resident bards Ian Axness, Peter Siegenthaler, and Dwight Dunston. Then it was down to the Lodge for first-session awards and the last Bean Soup of the stanza. As evening crept over our little valley, the spirit in the room couldn’t have been warmer, as we all relished our last moments together as a full group. To live together amiably for three and a half weeks is great in and of itself. To laugh together good-naturedly just makes it that much better. Thanks to Ian, Peter, and Dwight for making that laughter so infectious and easy.

What happened earlier in the week? Here are a few details, from various sources. First, from Paige Wallis, head of our Swimming Program:

Pemi Swimmers

On Tuesday July 10th, an eager group of Pemi swimmers made the trek over to Walt Whitman for that camp’s annual swim meet. Upon arrival, the Pemi team prepared to jump in and warm up in Walt Whitman’s outdoor pool, located just yards away from their lake. The meet consisted of a Free Relay, four individual strokes, and finished with a Medley Relay. The 11s Free Relay team of Nick Carter, Diego Periel, Teddy Foley, and Isaac Sonnenfeldt put up the first points for Pemi. Throughout the afternoon, Pemi continued to compete with great sportsmanship and speed. The 15s Free Relay team consisting of Jamie Marshman, Jackson Seniff, Nick Pennebacker, and Sompy Somp amazed the Pemi coaches with their velocity in the water. Robert Cecil glided through the H2O with ease and precision, winning Pemi points in the 13s Freestyle, Backstroke, and Medley Relay. Jack and Nick Carter brought a great energy to the11s team and tied for first in the Butterfly. The 15s Medley Relay was the final event of the day. Alex Baskin, Nick Pennebacker, Sompy Somp, and Jamie Marshman came in second, fighting hard against a skilled Walt Whitman team. There was lots of hard work and energy from Pemi team, and by the end of the day Pemi came out on top with a 178 point win! Great work, Pemi swimmers!!!

Now, let’s hear from Jonathan Merrin, Head of Archery. (Will you be able to tell from his language, we wonder, that Jon hails from Merry Old England?)

Pemi attended the Silver 25th-anniversary Robin Hood Invitational Archery tournament on the 13th of July. Even though it may have seemed a less than auspicious date for a Pemi to take on a old rival, our band of top archers set off, come what may, on their quest to claim a victory against formidable competition from a brace of other camps.

Our bold and daring band took the line for their battle with great gusto. With words of encouragement and a Pemi cheer for luck still ringing in their ears, they launched their arrows with deadly accuracy.  They acquitted themselves with the honour and valor of knights – nicely balanced by the dignity and humility befitting Pemi Kids.  To come in third out of five camps, falling only to Robin Hood and Lanakila (in whose programs archery plays a substantially greater role than in ours), they shot with a steely determination befitting champions.

To be sure, Pemi’s leaders were right up there with the tournament’s best. With sheer skill and unwavering concentration, Kai Soderberg came in second in his 12-and-under age category, narrowly dropping a championship shoot-out with a score of 255. Following that, Nathaniel Kaplan’s stunning score of 277 set a new record high tally for Pemi, garnering him sixth place on Robin Hood’s storied all-time Wall of Fame. We mustn’t forget two rising stars in Thomas Bono and Hugh Jones, who had only been doing archery for a week before their first competition. Those who saw their high standard of performance after such a short apprenticeship won’t soon forget it.

Alas, after a long day, Pemi’s brightest could not bring the trophy home, but we acquitted ourselves with distinction, setting a new benchmark and firing hope for future attempts at the title with our rising young stars.

Next, this word from Track Coach Dwight Dunston:

This past Wednesday, July 11, 2012, marked the annual Baker Valley Tournament Track and Field Invitational, hosted by Pemi. After a short Rest Hour, our boys set out to the track, thoroughly sun-screened and well hydrated for what would prove to be a successful day. Camps Moosilauke, Walt Whitman, and Kingswood arrived with their athletes in tip-top shape and ready to compete, which meant that Pemi’s task of holding on to the title as reigning champion of the meet would not be an easy one.

For the 11-and-Under age group, Diego Periel, Whit Stahl, and Reed Cecil got the day started off on a good foot, posting top times in the 60m dash, coming in 1st, 3rd, and 4th, respectively. Stahl then turned around and placed 4th in the 400m dash, while teammates Will Moore and Nick Carter captured 2nd and 3rd. In the shot put, Periel and Quinn McConnaughey showed their strength by coming in 1st and 3rd. Ben Burnham and Will Moore showed off their springs by coming in 2nd and 4th in the long jump, and Jackson Smith and Tate Suratt leapt to 2nd and 4th place finishes in the high jump. Pemi swept the mile, with Carter, McConnaughey, Cecil, and Stahl coming in the top four positions. 

The 13-and-Under crew got out to a strong start, finishing 1st and 3rd in the 60m dash behind the speed of Andrew Merrell and Dylan Cheng. In the 400m dash, Nick Todalagi captured second out of the fast heat. In the mile, Patterson Malcolm came out strong, finishing second, and teammate Pepe Periel finished four seconds behind him to capture 3rd.  Periel turned around and grabbed 2nd in the high jump, while Jack Elvekrog garnered 4th. Ben Ross, Patterson Malcolm, and Ezra Nugiel finished 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, respectively, in the long jump, and Robert Cecil and Dylan Cheng finished 3rd and 4th in the shot put.

Perhaps the story of the day came from our Seniors, who certainly led the rest of the camp from the front. In the mile, Pemi pushed the pack, with Ben Chaimberg, Dylan O’Keefe, and Nick Bertrand coming in 1st, 3rd, and 4th. Chaimberg would go on to win the 60m dash and the 400m as well (a very impressive feat indeed!), with John-Henry Bahr finishing 3rd in the 60m and Jackson Seniff finishing 4th in the 400m. Bahr would later show he had more than speed by winning the shot put, with J.J. Murray Jr. finishing 2nd. Jack Cathcart and Dylan O’Keefe finished 3rd and 4th in the long jump. Pemi then swept the high jump in the order of Bertrand, Barr, O’Keefe, and Chaimberg.

 At the end of the day, Pemi managed to gather enough points to win the track meet and retain the title for one more year. We are now looking forward to our next meet, which will be this Monday at Tecumseh. Congratulations to all of the boys who participated. Can’t wait to see what you accomplish next!    

Gramps, Metal Boy, and Pemi Counselor

Finally, in case you missed Saturday’s review in the Times, Friday’s world premiere of Metal Boy: The Musical lived up to every kilowatt of the advanced hype. For those of you who don’t know the quirky story on which Ian Axness’s show is based, it involves a little metal camper (we get ‘em here more often than you’d think!) who risks terminal rust in order to help his Pemi teammates win our annual athletic day with Camp Tecumseh. As fate would have it, the story itself has always ended with Tecumseh Day being just two weeks off  — and the narrator enjoining Pemi to “Use every day!” in preparation. Lo and behold, this year’s battles with Tecumseh come exactly two weeks after show night, so an odd cosmic propriety seems to have been in place. Interviewed by the videographer after the show (see the interviews here, on YouTube), Ian was heard to say that the story’s vision of an artistically crafted humanoid who turns out to be a fiercely-competitive athlete appealed to his sense of Pemi’s programmatic hybridity. Similarly, staging a dramatic tour de force such as Metal Boy even partially in order to spur Pemi’s real, flesh-and-blood athletes to greater effort and determination seems a wonderful blend of the Athenian and the Spartan. But back to the show.

Ian’s libretto was based on the trilogy of Metal Boy stories scribed by Tom Reed Jr. towards the start of the last decade. The music Ian culled from a variety of Pemi songs, Gilbert and Sullivan tunes from last year’s Mikado and this year’s Pirates, and two numbers from You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. Staging involved a clever black-box design by Zach Barnard, who also masterminded all other aspect of the production. We mentioned some of the cast in a previous newsletter, but suffice it to say that Metal Boy’s “Fellow Campers” Dan Bivona, Harry Cooke, Jack Davini, James Minzesheimer, Bill O’Leary, and Jackson Welsh turned in performances worthy of Tony consideration, while “Juniors” Jacob Berk, Brady Chilson, Matt Edlin, and Spencer O’Brien came through as the true infant prodigy kids they are. Lucas Jansky was hilarious as Skin-Bag (so named because that’s the way real boys evidently look to a guy with a steel epidermis), his best number being one in which he explains to Metal Boy the difference between a Squish House and a Pagoda. Peter Siegenthaler narrated with the finish of a James Earl Jones. Harry Eifler was brilliant as the ostentatious yet ever-so-slightly-cynical Counselor (type casting?), while Bridgid Ruf and Austin Blumenfeld played Mom and Dad with the warmth and wisdom of June and Ward Cleaver. Tom Reed Jr., played Gramps like the doddering old man he is, while Larry Davis played himself with a total self-immersion that would have taken Stanislavsky’s breath away. Appropriately stealing the show, however, was MB himself, realized with assured musicality and remarkable dramatic flair by Nick Gordon. He brought tears to more than one spectator’s eyes, and to a few cast members’ as well. (Fortunately, that was the way it was supposed to be!) The production was a double-header, with the curtain rising at 7PM and then again at 8, and when the second show closed with a standing ovation, it was clear something truly remarkable had taken place. If you’re interested in a DVD, let us know!

Well, that about does it for now. Stay tuned for next week’s number, when Assistant Director Ken Moore will review some highlights of Pemi’s diverse Occupations program. Until then, we hope you all enjoy cool and clement weather. Thanks to all the boys who made the first half of the 2012 season such a success. We miss you already, and look forward to the next time we meet.

— Tom and Danny

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