Camp Pemigewassett Staff, 2013

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Pemi’s greatest asset has always been the remarkable staff that dedicates itself, each summer, to making the Pemi experience rich, unique, and nurturing for each boy, and this summer is no exception. We are grateful for their dedication and work ethic, impressed by their multitudinous talents, and humbled by their dedication to Pemi.

Each pre-season we ask staff to submit a short bio for this first blog post of the season. So, in their own words…

Danny Kerr (Director): This will be my 4th year as Director at Pemi and I am looking forward to another terrific summer on the shores of Lower Baker. During the school year, my wife Julia and I live in Keene, NH. We have three boys aged 23, 21 and 17. When not doing the director thing, I very much enjoy coaching baseball at Pemi, playing the guitar and also playing basketball with the boys.

Tom Reed (Director and Head of Trips): This will be my 53rd summer at Pemi, either as a camper or a staff member. During the summer, I head the trip program, lead mess hall singing, and help out in any number of administrative roles. My “day job” is as Professor of English at Dickinson College.

Ken Moore (Assistant Director): I am from Lakewood, Ohio, currently transitioning from teaching history at Lake Ridge Academy (where I also served as Director of Alumni Relations) to a new full-time, 12-month position for Camp Pemigewassett! I’m eager to work with Pemi Alumni of all ages as we build a dynamic program to help spread Pemi’s mission as well as to connect Pemi people together. I will also oversee Pemi West and coordinate our social media efforts. My wife, Sarah Evans Moore, is equally excited about her new position as Associate Director of Admissions at Kimball Union Academy. We are excited to make the village of Meriden, New Hampshire our new home! During the summer, I will continue to oversee the program, organizing and managing all of our offerings. My BA is from Kenyon College and my MAED is from University School’s Teacher Apprentice Program through Ursuline College. This will be my 21st summer at Pemi.

Fred Seebeck (Assistant Director): 50 years ago in June of 1963, little Freddy Seebeck began his Pemi odyssey as a camper in Junior 3. As always, Fred looks forward to another fulfilling summer among some of the nation’s best at one of the most idyllic spots on the globe.

Dottie Reed (Head Administrator): This is my 26th summer at Camp Pemi. I work year ’round with a range of responsibilities and am especially excited to spearhead a complete rehaul/redesign of Pemi’s web site, set to launch this fall. During the off-season, Tom and I empty-nest-it in Carlisle, PA. (I read somewhere that it shouldn’t be called “empty nest” but instead, “successful parenting.” I’ll take it).

Judy Ireton (Accounts): I came aboard as the Pemi bookkeeper eight summers ago and it has been such a pleasure to recall the experiences of my youth which involved a lot of sports, camping, and hiking. Now I work for Pemi year ‘round, spending summers in New Hampshire and winters in Florida, sharing with everyone what a wonderful place Camp Pemi is.

Heather Leads (Administrator): I’m excited to be working in the office for my 5th year at Pemi! During the winter I live at Northfield Mt. Hermon School with my husband Greg and my three children. I also teach elementary school.

Kim Malcolm (Administrator): This is my 22nd year at Camp Pemi. During the offseason I live at Northfield Mt. Hermon School with my husband Charlie and 2 children. I am also a physical therapist.

Porter Hill (Administrator): This is my 22nd year at Camp Pemi. During the rest of the year I am a 3rd grade teacher and basketball coach at the Greenwich Country Day School in Greenwich, CT. At camp I teach soccer, nature, and fulfill various administrative duties.

Cabin Counselors

J1- Adam Sandler: I am very excited about going into my 11th summer at Pemi. I look forward to being a presence in the wood shop, on the archery range, and in the world of fishing. This coming fall, I will be attending Saint Michael’s College.

J2- Wes Eifler: I was born and raised in Connecticut and I am a rising junior at American University where I am studying Elementary Education and History. After a summer away I am looking forward to returning to Pemi! This summer will be my 10th at Pemi and my 3rd on staff. Throughout the summer I will be coaching baseball and instructing in other activities around camp.

J3- Teddy Gales: I hail from Quechee, Vermont, and just finished up my freshman year at Roosevelt University. I will be returning for my 9th summer at camp and my 1st as a staff member! This summer I’ll be teaching various arts as well as music and athletics. It feels amazing to be back on the shores of Lower Baker and I am thrilled to be working with the wonderful campers and staff here at Pemi.

J4- Patrick Clare (Division Head): I’m from New York City and just graduated this spring from Tufts University with a BA in History and a minor in Political Science. This will be my 11th summer at Pemi and 3rd on staff, though my 1st summer since 2009. I will be the Division Head in the Junior Camp, where I have spent 5 of my 10 Pemi summers to date, in addition to heading up the lacrosse program. I’m excited to be back at camp after too many summers away.

J5- Craig Bunting: I’m from Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland, and this year I’m the counselor for J5 and ski-boat driver. I have worked with people of all ages and abilities for the last 8 years in the Sea Cadets. I am an experienced boater and love boating and teaching others to be safe on the water. I cannot wait to have a great summer working with the kids and staff at Pemigewassett.

J6- Will Meinke: This will be my 8th summer at Pemi and 2nd on staff. I am going into my sophomore year at Hobart College and am majoring in Economics. I’m looking forward to helping out on the soccer field, on the ski boat, and much more!

JT- Juan Gallardo: I was raised in Los Angeles, CA, though I went to boarding school in Western Massachusetts and am now a rising sophomore at Wesleyan University. This will be my 2nd year at Pemi. This summer I am looking forward to teaching soccer and archery occupations.

L1- J.F. Roberts: This is my 1st summer at Pemi, although my father was a counselor back in the 80’s and my brother is a current camper. This summer I will be a lifeguard and soccer coach. In the fall I will be attending the University of Michigan as a sophomore, where I will be studying Economics and possibly Environmental Studies.

L2- Ryan Fauver (Division Head): I’m from Chatham, NJ, and will be a junior at Skidmore College in the fall. This is going to be my 11th summer at Pemi. I am looking forward to working with the Silver Cornet Band and other music occupations this summer, and I am also the camp bugler.

L3- James Wyatt: I am from Bedford, NH. I attended Saint Paul’s for high school and just wrapped up my freshmen year at Bates College where I am studying Economics and African American History. This is my 1st summer at Camp Pemi and I look forward to forming meaningful relationships with both campers and fellow staff members.

L4- Payne Hadden: Born and raised in Weston, Massachusetts, I graduated from St. Paul’s and just completed my freshman year at Colgate University. This will be my 3rd summer on staff and my 11th summer on the shores of Lower Baker. I will be coaching numerous sports, including soccer, basketball, lacrosse, and swimming, as well as teaching photography and astronomy in the Nature Program. I’m very excited for another year here at Camp Pemi and couldn’t be happier to be spending it in Lower 4.

HT- Mark Welsh: I am from sunny Scotland and have just finished my second year at the University of Dundee studying Pharmacology. This summer I am looking forward to teaching basketball and nature, and I am really looking forward to spending time with your sons at Pemi!

L5- Nick Ridley (Division Head): 2013 will be my 6th summer on staff and my 2nd summer as the counselor of Lower 5. I just finished my 5th and final year at the University of Edinburgh, where I studied Chemistry and coached the Women’s Varsity Crew Team. Having been away last summer, I’m very excited to be back. In addition to teaching various aspects of the Pemi program, I also am Head of Assistant Counselors. I hope to ensure that the season runs successfully and smoothly for all of our younger staff.

L6- Kevin Heynig: I am a new member of the Pemi staff this year. I am a senior at Northern Michigan University, studying the ecology of the Great Lakes and entomology. I will be working tin the nature lodge as an insect specialist, and catching bugs in the streams and ponds at Pemigewassett. I am an experienced outdoorsman and I am excited for this summer at Pemi!

L7- Jacob Salzman: I have just finished my sophomore year at Grinnell College, where I am majoring in Religious Studies. I am returning for what will be my 8th summer at Pemi and 1st on staff. I will be teaching photography, tennis, ultimate Frisbee, and will be helping out with other sports.

U1- Andrew Brummer: I am very excited to be here for my 10th summer. I just completed my freshman year at Colgate University, where I study Economics. This year I plan on continuing my work on the tennis, soccer, and swimming staff. I’m looking forward to a great summer in Upper 1.

U2- Dan Walder: I’m from a small coastal town in Southern England, where I grew up on a farm. I’ve recently completed my degree in Conservation Biology from Plymouth University; my studies have taken me all over the world from Mexico to Scotland. Outside of work, I love hiking, cooking alfresco and biking. I’m looking forward to my 1st summer at Pemi, and I am sure the campers will teach me just as much as I’ll teach them.

U3- Henry Eisenhart (Division Head): I’m from Natick, Massachusetts, and graduated from St. Lawrence in the class of 2012, where I received a BA in Environmental Studies and a minor in Music. This past year I’ve been working and traveling around Australia. The experience was unmatched, but now I’m ready to return to Lower Baker with the boys. Here at Pemi I teach various athletics and help out in the music department as well. This is my 11th year at camp and 5th on staff. I will also be the Division Head of the Uppers this season. I’m pumped to be back at camp and ready for another amazing summer- let’s hold onto that hat too!

U4- Mark Baddeley: I’m from Liverpool, England, and am currently studying Sport Studies at Edge Hill University. This will be my 1st summer at Pemi. I will mainly be working on the soccer program but also helping out with tennis and hopefully many more occupations, too. I hope to pass on my soccer knowledge to all of the boys while creating an enjoyable environment and having an amazing summer!

S1- Ian Steckler (Division Head): Hailing from the great state of Maryland, I’m currently a rising junior at Wesleyan University. I am returning from a gap year abroad, which included a semester of mountaineering and kayaking in Chilean Patagonia and volunteer work on organic farms in France. I am very excited to start my 6th summer at Pemi and 2nd on staff, this year as Senior Division Head. Throughout the summer I will be teaching principally basketball and guitar, and hope to leave Pemi’s most veteran campers with greater maturity and another seven weeks of incredible memories.

S2- Thomas Scarff: I have recently graduated from the University of Hull in the United Kingdom and will be continuing my studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands, reading for a Master’s in Political Science. This will be my 2nd summer at Pemi and I am eager to pick up where I left off on the waterfront, the playing fields, and in nature occupations around camp. I look forward to another great summer on Lower Baker Pond and the picturesque state of New Hampshire.

S3- Ben Ridley: Following a brilliant summer last year I once again find myself returning to Pemi for a 3rd season! This summer comes as a welcome break following a year’s internship in The Big Smoke (London) as a junior creative/designer. I will be returning to University in Leeds to complete my degree in September. I’m really looking forward to getting involved in the music and arts program and wherever else I can help out. I’m excited to see how this summer unfolds!

LT- Josh Hess: I am from Albany, CA and this will be my 1st year at Pemi. I just finished my 2nd year as a Piano Performance major at Oberlin Conservatory, and will be teaching music occupations. I enjoy exploring Asian cuisines, collecting vinyl records, and working on my bicycle. I am very excited for my 1st summer at Pemi.

Assistant Counselors

J1- Buck Baskin: I am from Glastonbury, Connecticut, just outside of Hartford. This coming fall I will attend Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, and will major in Mechanical Engineering. This will be my 5th summer at Pemi, and my 2nd on staff. I look forward to adding my part to the woodshop and the waterfront.

J2- Will Henry: I live in Keene, New Hampshire where I am a rising senior at Monadnock Waldorf High School. This is my first summer at Pemi where I will spend most of my time teaching waterfront skills, though I look forward to stepping in wherever I’m needed. I hope to have a great time and to provide the campers with a great time too.

J3- Jack Pierce: I am a recent graduate of a Waldorf high school in southern Maine. Bluegrass music, circus arts, fishing, running, boggle and handcrafts are activities that I enjoy a great deal. I don’t like leeches, ladybugs, eggs or ticks, and my favorite color is a light green. This fall I will be attending Hamilton College. I am excited for my 1st year at Pemi. They tell me it’s awesome!

J4- Matthew Cloutier: I’m born and raised in Stamford, CT, and this will be my 9th summer with Pemi boys. I am a recent high school graduate and will be matriculating to Middlebury College next February following a gap semester. I’m thrilled to return to the shores of Lower Baker, and I look very much forward to contributing to the nature, soccer, and music programs at camp.

J5- Stan Barlow: I am from Belmont, MA, and just graduated from the Brimmer and May School in Newton, MA. I will be attending Tufts University in the fall. This will be my 4th summer at Camp Pemi. I look forward to teaching music and sports, especially baseball, at Pemi this summer.

J6- Eoin Mullaney: My name is Eoin (pronounced Owen) and this will be my 1st year at Pemi. I have just finished up my senior year of high school at Lake Ridge Academy in Ohio and will be attending Oberlin College in the fall. I will be instructing in soccer, baseball, basketball and a capella while also trying a few activities for the first time. I look forward to spending a summer with a group of both kids and counselors who are just as excited about camp as I am.

L1- Nate Kraus: I recently graduated from Millbrook School in Millbrook, New York. I will be attending Skidmore College in the fall. I am greatly looking forward to returning to Lower Baker Pond this year for my 6th year at Pemi, (my 7th including Pemi West) and my 2nd year as an Assistant Counselor. I am excited to teach sailing, tennis, soccer, and music this summer. It should be great one!

L2- Nick Davini: This is my 5th year at Camp Pemi and my 1st on staff. I recently finished my junior year of high school in Lebanon, New Hampshire, where I am on the cross-country ski team and where I’ve been the captain of the rowing team for the past two years. I can’t wait to be a part of the Pemi community again! Here’s to a fresh season with great expectations.

L5- Nathan Tempro: in true haiku form…
Sixth summer at camp
Off to NYU next year
I’ll be an AC.

U3- Devin Gabriel: I’m from Cleveland, OH and this fall I will be attending Kenyon College where I will be playing varsity basketball. This is my 1st year at Camp Pemi, but I’ve always enjoyed instructing young boys in basketball and various other activities. I hope that I can pass my own love of sports, learning, and the outdoors to campers.

Trip Leaders

Roisin Beggan: I’m from the north of Ireland and live in a lovely place called Fermanagh. I study Pharmacy at John Moores Liverpool University and will be going into my final year in September. I enjoy playing Gaelic football and walking!

Matthew Bolton: I am returning to Camp Pemi for my 2nd summer. As a trip counselor this year, I’m looking forward to getting some quality time showing campers the wonders of the great outdoors. I attend New York University as a rising junior studying fine arts and sculpture. I can’t wait to explore the White Mountains with the boys.

Charlotte Pringle: I am currently at the University of Plymouth studying Mathematics with Education. I’m coming from the UK for my 1st summer at camp and I can’t wait to get involved!

Dan Reed: I just finished a year studying geology in England and New Zealand, and am headed back to Middlebury College in Vermont this fall for my senior year.  This is my 5th summer on staff at Pemi. After leading Pemi West last summer, I’m excited to share my love of hiking and the outdoors with the campers at Pemi “East.”

Program Staff

Jamie Andrews (Head of Staff): I’m excited to be at Pemi for my 15th summer, and though I’m a bit sad I won’t see as much of the mountains this season (having been a trip counselor for the last four years), I’m eager to help guide the staff to success. I graduated from Kenyon College in the spring of 2012, having studied Political Science and Anthropology. This past winter in my home city of Columbus, OH, I had the opportunity to help Obama win reelection and to discover my disdain for retail work. In addition to helping out the counselors at Pemi these next few weeks, I hope to teach on the waterfront, introduce my love of rugby to campers, sing in the Gilbert and Sullivan show, and maybe even lead a few trips.

Ian Axness (Head of Music): This is my 7th year on staff. I will be teaching piano and soundpainting, and will direct the music for this season’s Gilbert & Sullivan operetta. During the year I live in New York City and play piano for all kinds of performance projects and classes at NYU and elsewhere. I received my BA from Oberlin College.

Victoria Blumenfeld: I am from Chappaqua, NY, and just finished my freshman year at Hamilton College where I spent the fall semester studying in London. After spending six summers at sleepaway camp and visiting my brother who was a camper and counselor at Pemi, I’m excited to spend my 1st summer on Lower Baker as a lifeguard.

Larry Davis (Director of Nature Programs and Teaching): A.B., A.M. in Earth Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis. PhD in Geological Sciences University of Rochester. Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of New Haven. This is my 44th year on Pemi’s staff. Flutist, story-teller (as my alter ego, Orrin Tucker, reflecting my Maine heritage!), caver-in-chief, wild foods chef, collector of waterfalls, lover of all things “natural.”

Dorin Dehls: This will be my 5th year at Pemi, and I am so happy to return! I worked at a middle school in Connecticut as a substitute teacher this past year while applying for music education jobs in the state. I am excited to return as a member of the Pemi music staff. Iolanthe, here we come!

Jeff Greene (Head of Tennis): This is my 15th summer as Director of Tennis at Pemi. I’m over-educated and underemployed, having graduated Cum Laude from Vanderbuilt University- BA Psych/Sociology in 1978, and with a MA in Sports Management from the University of Southern California in 1983. I coached college tennis for 20 years, working at a number of Division I and III universities, the highlight being my work with a future national championship program at Middlebury College. While still playing at a reasonably high level of tennis*, I’ve also been involved with both one-on-one doubles and beach tennis in recent years. I spoke at the ACA Tri-State Convention in Atlantic City this past year on beach tennis at summer camp. I’ve also written articles on both variations of tennis that have appeared in N.Y. Tennis and Florida Tennis magazines in the past few years. I currently run an after school tennis program for children in 3rd-9th grades for the town of Harrison, along with a nascent adult program on weekends that I recently initiated. *Former #1 in the USTA-Eastern Section in Mixed Doubles and #4 ranked in Single Men’s 50 and over age group.

Robert Kerr: This will be my 2nd summer at Camp Pemi. Though my schedule only allows a brief two weeks at Pemi, I plan to teach sailing skills to as many campers as I can. Originally, I am from Newton, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia. This coming “off-season” I will be returning to Colorado College to finish my undergraduate studies in Psychology and Film.

Deb Kure (Associate Head of Nature): Since studying Geology at the University of Rochester, I’ve loved teaching outdoor science through camps, museums, and trips programs throughout the US. During the school year I work for Camp Fire in Austin, Texas, leading outdoor programs for family groups. I’m delighted to be back in the Northern Forest and the New Hampshire Granite for my 6th summer in the Nature Program!

Harry MacGregor (Head of Shop): This will be my 3rd summer at Camp Pemi and I look forward to passing on my knowledge of woodworking. I grew up in Lowell, MA, and for the last 30 years have lived in Canaan, New Hampshire. I have had a long career in commercial, industrial, and residential construction and have owned my own business focusing on custom woodworking.

Charlie Malcolm (Director of Athletics): I’m entering my 30th season on the shores of Lower Baker, and my 25th as Pemi’s Athletic Director.  During the school year at the Northfield Mount Hermon School, I teach history, coach soccer and baseball, lead travel abroad programs, and run a boy’s dorm. I hold a Premier License from the National Soccer Coaches Association and have recently led NMH’S Boys’ Varsity soccer team to two New England Class A Championships. My wife Kim and our two children, Patterson and Victoria, join me at camp.

Jonathan Merrin (Head of Archery): I am from London, England, and this will be my 2nd summer at Pemi where I am returning to be the Head of Archery. After last year I could not wait to come back and after traveling in Canada over the winter I’m excited to return to sunny Pemi where the only bracing thing to deal with is the morning Polar Bear. I hope to have another great summer at Pemi, and can’t wait to have lots more fun with campers both old and new!

Deb Pannell (Head of Arts): I live with my family in the San Francisco Bay Area. During the school year I am a 5th grade classroom teacher. I can’t wait to return for my 3rd summer at Pemi, get settled back into our cozy art building on the shores of Lower Baker, and dive into the wonderfully long list of art projects I’ve been dreaming about all winter.

Conor Schuler: Kia ora (Hello in Maori). Hailing from the “land down under,” I aim to share my unique New Zealand culture and attitude with Camp Pemi. I believe that Camp Pemi presents a unique opportunity for a whole lot of fun! I eagerly look forward to meeting and interacting with all the campers this summer, especially in the water sports program.

Bryce Wallis: I am going to be a sophomore at the University of Vermont this coming fall where I am studying Biomolecular Chemistry. This is my 1st summer at Pemi and I am excited to be working in the soccer and swim programs. I am looking forward to meeting everyone and having a great summer on the shores of Lower Baker!

Paige Wallis (Head of Swimming): Originally from Norwich, VT, I just graduated from the University of Vermont in Burlington with a dual degree in English and History. This is my 3rd summer on the shores of Lower Baker, where I will be the Head of Swimming and one of the main lifeguards in camp. In addition to working on the waterfront, I will continue to help out in Junior Camp.

Amy Watt: This will be my 1st year at Pemi where I will be helping out in the Art world and the Junior Camp. I am originally from London and am currently in my second year at university in Nottingham, UK. I have never been on the East Coast and I’m really excited to get involved with camp.

And now for a few of those who take care of all of us…

Reed Harrigan (Head of Buildings and Grounds): I grew up in the Washington DC area, then attended Frostburg State College, graduating with a degree in Parks and Recreation. I decided that New England was where I wanted to be and took a job as recreational director at Waterville Estates, a resort community in Campton, New Hampshire. I then procured a job at a local high school, working with special education students and as a seasonal Forest Ranger in the White Mountain National Forest. I began working at Camp Pemi five seasons ago, first as a bus driver and maintenance person, then as an instructor in canoeing and kayaking. I am looking forward to my new role at Camp Pemi as year-round Facilities and Grounds Director.

Stacey Moore (Head Chef): I’m originally from New York but currently live in Richmond, KY. I’m married with four grown children and am delighted to be feeding the big Pemi family. I have 27 years’ experience as a chef with a special passion for baking, and aim to incorporate produce and fresh foods from local farms into the menu. I’m delighted with my hardworking and energetic 2013 kitchen crew, made up of representatives from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Mexico.

Monica Mangan: I’m excited to be spending my 4th summer as part of the dynamic nurse team of Pemi’s Health Center. A native of New England, I now live ten months of the year in beautiful Tucson with my husband Rich and our son Darren (a camper at Pemi.) I have 26 years’ experience as a pediatric nurse and spend the winter as an elementary school nurse.

Laura Patterson: I am a Holistic Nurse and Aromatherapist. I work at a college health center during the academic year, which allows me the pleasure of working at Camp Pemi during the summer.

Here’s to a wonderful 2013 season!

 

 

Summer 2013: Newsletter #1

All’s quiet on the Wentworth front – at least for the moment. It’s Rest Hour on a spectacular June day (the 24th, to be exact) and, after a tasty lunch of pulled pork sandwiches, french fries, and fresh green salad, campers and staff members alike are back in their cabins taking a break in the midst of a busy and productive day. Occupations – our arcane name for instructional activities – started this morning, and by the end of the afternoon, our 168-odd campers will have participated in 4 hours of varied offerings; close to 50 different options in land and water sports, nature study, art and music. 16 intermediate campers just met with our trip counselors (Charlotte Pringle, Matt Bolton, Roisin Beggan, and Dan Reed) on the porch of the messhall, getting filled in on 2 multi-day overnights backpacking jaunts slated to start tomorrow. Tonight, it’s Bean Soup in the Lodge – our weekly equivalent of The Daily Show. Pemi 2013 season is up and running!

Arrival Day (to fill in those of you whom we didn’t have a chance to greet on the shores of the Pond) was handled this year a little differently than in the past, and largely to very good reviews. Veteran boys being driven to camp were invited to arrive in the morning rather than the customary afternoon. As a result, they had a chance to settle into their cabins and, more importantly, connect with their friends from past summers prior to the new boys’ arrival. At the same time, the likes of Danny and Dottie had a chance to catch up with veteran parents in a leisurely fashion over muffins and juice in the Lodge. At lunch, Danny gave a stirring invitation to the returning boys to start demonstrating their leadership right off the bat, welcoming newcomers that afternoon and helping them get their feet on the ground at Pemigewassett. No one took the task more seriously than tow-headed twin brothers Jack and Nick Carter (sons of alum Chris Carter), who stood at the junction of the roads to the Intermediate and Junior camps in their new camp tee-shirts waving energetically and shouting “Welcome to Pemi!” to every passing car. Oh for a video!

One of the innovations an altered schedule allowed for was a brief, informal meeting in the Lodge where Danny, Tom, and Dottie had a chance to speak with new parents about Pemi’s hopes and plans for their sons, the challenges which they as parents might face climbing back into their cars and driving away from their boys, and the growth opportunities the next 3 ½ or 7 weeks would afford to both young and old. The clear highlight of the session, though, involved veteran parents Tripp and Robin Jones, Michael and Caroline Moore, and Karen Grey sharing their observations on what Pemi had done for their boys over the years. Caroline, who lives just across the Connecticut River in Vermont, brought down the house when she confessed to driving back to Pemi during the first week of her son’s first season and parking across the lake with a pair of high-powered binoculars, waiting for an hour to catch a glimpse of the lad. (So it’s not just the NSA that has its eyes on us!) Only when she saw him traipsing happily across a field with a gaggle of new friends did she satisfy herself that he was indeed in the right place. The general laughter that greeted her brave remarks testified to the fraught emotions many were naturally feeling – but also went a long ways towards assuaging some anxieties. It’s hard work being a new camp parent, something both Danny and Julia and Dottie and Tom have gone through themselves and will be more than happy to chat about if any of you wish.

RobertLoeserAlexGoldmanBy 5:55, we were all headed up to the Messhall for the traditional opening meal of pizza and Rockets (an ice-cream confection you ought to know about if you don’t already.) Chef Stacey had outdone herself in both the quality and quantity of the pies, and it was a happy and sated group of young men who found their way down to the Lodge for the inaugural campfire of 2013. A light drizzle and some lowering clouds had indeed forced us indoors, away from the traditional stone circle next to the Senior Beach, but the atmosphere was as electric as ever as the program began. Stalwarts among our younger performers were Alex Goldman and Will Katcher, both performing commendable voice and guitar solos (“Every Rose Has Its Thorn” for Alex and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” for Will), and Saturday-night mainstay Andre Altherr with an a capella rendition of an ethereal Puckish ditty from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The camper performance of the night, though, came (not very surprisingly) from Robert Loeser, who delivered himself of a soulful and truly professional rendition of Nina Simone’s “Feelin’ Good.” You could have heard a pin drop when he finished – until, that is, the old log building rocked with thunderous applause and whistling. Hard to believe any act could have been anything like as well-received in the wake of Robert’s sock-knocking performance – but darned if counselor Teddy Gales (vocals and harmonica) didn’t team up with fellow staff members Matt Cloutier (guitar) and Jack Pierce (fiddle) and improvise a Flight-of-the-Conchords-style number that had everyone apoplectic with mirth. Look for “Move-In Day” to move up the charts faster than the Pemi Kid chasing the Ben and Jerry’s truck. By the time everyone was back in the cabins and tucked in for the night, it was obvious that no one was worried about spotty cuisine or dull entertainment here in 2013. Here’s to more memorable eats and acts in the coming weeks.

Opening Day came, of course, only after a lengthy and diverse training period for staff. Kicking it all off were an on-site Red Cross Lifeguard Training course and the annual Nature Instruction Clinic taught by our Director and Associate Head of Nature, Larry Davis and Deb Kure, aided and abetted by former camper and counselor Russ Brummer (now head of the Science Department at the New Hampton School.) Counselors Kevin Heynig, Dan Walder, Mark Welsh, and Matt Cloutier were joined by a dozen other participants – some staff members at other camps and some graduate students at the University of New Haven – in this nationally-recognized educational clinic. As aforementioned Trippies Roisin, Matt, and Charlotte attended the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Mountain Leadership course in Crawford Notch and the surrounding peaks (Dan took the course last summer), the rest of the cabin staff were certified on campus in Wilderness First Aid. It’s hard to overestimate how reassuring it is for us to know that virtually everyone on the staff has had two full days of training in wilderness medicine. Here’s hoping it’s a safe and healthy summer for all, but you could hardly be in a better place for immediate and informed first response. It was also nice for Danny to receive the following from the program coordinator two days after the course: “Dear Danny. Here is the paperwork from your recent WFA course that Courtney taught. Judging by the evals, the course went terrifically, and Court said it was one of the best camp groups she has ever worked with. You must do a great job selecting your staff.” Music to our ears – and we hope to yours as well.

Early on in the week, Danny led a general meeting on “Positive Counseling,” offering some extremely useful guidelines for coaching campers in making the most of their life experiences, here and elsewhere. Look for a fuller iteration of the principles in an upcoming Blog post, but we thought we’d share some portions here:

The key to helping children or adults work their way through difficult situations is to help them understand and identify what choices they can make to make things better for themselves. We try hard here not to step in and “fix” problems for campers, but rather to help them see their options for helping themselves.

For instance, if a camper “Bobby” were unenthusiastic about a particular activity (“Art is so boring!”), someone’s typical response might be either to ask him what makes it so boring, or to ignore the behavior, or try to entertain him in another way while the rest of the group goes down to Art World. None of these solutions, though, engage the camper himself in making the situation better, and some create even bigger problems. In Positive Counseling, we encourage the boy to see the choices he can make to change the situation. We would invite “Bobby” to explore how he wants to feel (“Do you want to stay bored in Art Class, or can you imagine having fun there?”). Then we would help him make a plan that can move him toward what he does want (having fun in Art). Hopefully, he will quickly have some workable suggestions  (“I can ask if I can sit next to my friend.” “ I can ask to pick out my favorite colors.” “ If I finish early, I can draw a picture.”)  If he struggles to come up with strategies, his counselor can offer suggestions, too. Once a plan is formulated, the counselor can support him as he follows through and can check in later to see how it went. Sometimes a new plan needs to be created; sometimes success comes right away. Either way, the follow-through is essential until the camper is back “in balance.”

Steps in Positive Counseling

What do you want?
What are you doing to get it?
Is it working?
What do you see as your options now?
Would any of these be better than what you are doing now?
Take a next step!

Key lessons in empowerment, these – reminiscent of that useful old proverb about teaching a man to fish.

Thursday evening brought one training element that probably deserves notice. Tom led a supper trip up Cardigan Mountain, an impossibly scenic little peak to our southwest offering 360-degree views of the White and Green Mountains alike. The main purpose of the jaunt was, again, to give some hand-on training to the cabin staff who would be leading day trips. We were joined, though, by most of the other staff as well – including our six kitchen assistants, who hail from the Czech Republic (David), Hungary (Daniel, David, and Szervac), Slovakia (Tibor) and Mexico (Vladimir). We can’t remember the last time we were accompanied on this kind of outing by members of the chef’s crew, and the feeling of inclusive solidarity was as special as the sparkling afternoon as it softened into a golden evening. See a group photo taken on the peak of Cardigan and read staff bios, here.

Finally, we thought we’d add a little something to the note Danny sent by email regarding the off chance that some of you will be receiving “The Letter” some time this week. One of our directors, years back, enrolled his eight-year-old daughter in a reputed girl’s camp on Lake Sebago in Maine. The drop-off seemed to be okay – maybe Jill (as we’ll call her) being a little quiet, but there being every promise of a quick adjustment and happy stay. Three days later, “the letter” arrived, falling out of a tear-stained envelope. “Dear Mom and Dad,” it began. “This is no place for a sensitive person. Please take me home.” A few similar missives followed, only to evolve with dizzying suddenness into a newsy and cheerful communiqué addressing all the things Jill hoped to accomplish in coming summers as well. So it often goes.

With that time-validated observation, we’ll close for the week. Look for the first photos of the season on Thursday and then every Sunday and Thursday to follow, with Newsletters, generally, on Tuesdays. Meanwhile, thanks for entrusting us with your sons. We’re relishing our time together.

— Tom and Danny

 

Packing For Pemi…Through The Ages

In honor of the annual ritual of “packing for summer camp,” it seems timely to dig into the archives to appreciate two packing lists from Camp Pemigewassett’s early days. Not only do they offer a glimpse into another day and time, but, when juxtaposed to today’s packing list, they provide good fodder for conversation on what was included and what wasn’t—then and now.

Draw whatever conclusions you want!

 

1908

Session length: 9 weeks. Tuition: $175.00

 

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1956

Session length: 8 weeks. Tuition: $475.00

 

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2013

Session length: 3 ½ weeks or 7 weeks. Tuition: $5200 or $7900.

 

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