Survey says…My Favorite Pemi Moment

Summer 2014: Newsletter #5

Hello once again from Wentworth, where we are now (almost unbelievably) a full week into the second half of the 2014 season. Since we were last in touch, 80-odd first session campers have said their good-byes for the year and an equal number of lads have taken their places – a great new crew brimming with eagerness to start their 25-day sojourn in the White Mountains. Sad as we were to say farewell to the group that has gone on to other involvements and climes, we are always hugely energized by the influx of new boys. Not to be too wed to athletic analogies, it’s a bit like being Germans at the World Cup final and watching Miroslav Klose leave the pitch while Mario Goetze sheds his warm-ups and trots out onto the field. There are great things in store, and there’s nothing like “fresh legs” to make sure they come to pass.

SoundPainting

Sound-painting performance

Naturally, the whole Pemi operation has been in full and energetic swing since our Changeover days. The trip program, about which we spoke in our previous number, took special advantage of the beautiful weather at the end of last week, sponsoring outings near and far under inspiringly cerulean skies. On just Friday, for example, more than eighty of our campers were involved in an outing by foot or by canoe. Music has been bolstered by the week-long visit of former Music Head Ian Axness (who has offered both the always popular “Sound Painting” and “Percussion Explosion”) and the first-time residency of Kenny Moore’s uncle-in-law, Eddie McKendry (teaching a week’s worth of Advanced Guitar.) Meanwhile, of course, rehearsals continue apace for this year’s production of H.M.S. Pinafore, with Dorin Dehls and Josh Hess doing a stellar job getting choruses and principals up to speed.

Nature occupation

Nature occupation

Down at Art World, Laura Bubar has introduced Origami for what we think is the first time at Pemi – that on top of ever-popular activities like Mask Making and Duct Tape Art. Andy Bale is also in the second week of his residency and has already had a number of boys out after taps for his remarkable Light Painting Photography workshops. (Perhaps you saw examples in the past photo postings.) As for Nature, Conner Scace has a group of campers positively riveted with the inaugural “Bees, Wasps, and Ants” occupation of the season, while “Geo Lab” begins its second week, as Dan Reed and Deb Kure introduce their charges to the fascinating details of plate tectonics. And while the athletic schedule has been relatively light this week, given the arrival of the new boys and the necessary reforming of the various teams, we have started to gear up for our big annual competition with Camp Tecumseh, scheduled for August 1 and very much our equivalent of Harvard-Yale, Duke-North Carolina, or Red Sox-Yankees. (More on this next week from Athletic Director Charlie Malcolm.) So, as you can see, for all of our Thoreauvian pond-side residency, we have hardly been twiddling our thumbs.

First Session camper surveys

First Session camper surveys

After this quick peek at what is keeping our energetic little community hopping, we figured it might be interesting and informative to look back at what some of your sons made of the first half of the season. Shortly before they left, first-session boys were offered the chance to fill out a survey on their experience. As we pored through the results, it occurred to us (those of us, at least, who endeavor in these newsletters to convey how it actually feels to be here at camp) that one way to open a window on the Pemi experience is to let the boys speak for themselves. All of you, of course, have been hearing from your sons on a weekly basis (although how copiously we have no way of knowing.) But, since each of us (or so we are told) comes at life with his or her own perspective, there is arguably value in hearing what lots of people are saying. So, with that as a prologue, let us let you in on what 80-plus first-session campers had to say about their “Favorite Pemi Moment.” (We also, by the way, asked them what their “Least Favorite Pemi Moment” might have been. Let’s just go with the favorites, though. For some reason, that seems to make sense.)

From the Juniors (8-10 years old):

“My favorite Pemi moment was finishing my distance swim and after my campfire performance.”

“Winning inspection for the third time.”

“Meeting my counselor was exciting because that was who I would be with for three weeks.”

“They were all awesome.”

“Seeing all my friends again.”

“Waterpolo with my friends.”

Bean Soup [our weekly version of The Daily Show] and P-rade [the 4th of July parade].”

“Pretty much all of the F.R.B. [Frisbee Running Bases] games. It’s really fun. The way it works is there’s three bases and the kids try to run from base to base. And not get touched by the Frisbee that the counselors are throwing.”

“Waterskiing, because it felt like you were flying on water.”

“When I first got here, being able to go fishing and being with other boys my age.”

“When I played my first F.R.B. game.”

“The P-rade.”

“Getting to know my cabin mates.”

“In the middle of my distance swim, when I knew I was going to make it.”

“Climbing Mt. Stinson.”

“When I went to Camp Robin Hood for the archery tournament.”

“The first Bean Soup when I was just laughing with everyone else when I didn’t get half of it.”

“The Counselor Hunt [on July 4th, when ‘found’ staff must ‘walk the plank.’]”

“Playing F.R.B. in Juniorville with all my friends and taking the risk of being hit by a Frisbee.”

“When I got up to the Pemi Hill shelter for the night and I saw the view.”

“I loved going up Pemi Hill.”

From the Lower Intermediates (11-13 years old):

“Doing the P-rade skit.”

“Jumping off the high dive in free swim on a sunny afternoon into the cool, refreshing lake water.”

Bean Soup. I liked it because it was funny.”

“When I made paracord bracelets.”

“When I stood in wakeboarding.”

“The Tecumseh track meet.”

“Probably the second Bean Soup. I remember knowing my A. C. [Assistant Counselor] Jack would get Counselor of the Week. It was incredibly funny.”

“When I learned how to get up in wakeboard.”

“When I made a paracord bracelet.”

“When I arrived for my first year!”

“I don’t have one because it was all amazing.”

“When I arrived here to enjoy it.”

“Getting up on water skis.”

“Birthday Banquet and birthday greetings. Hiking.”

“The occupations were the most fun, especially trying new things.”

“Making new friends and seeing my old friends like Suraj.”

“When I was fishing in free time with my friends.”

“Moose Day [competition with our neighboring camp] in the 13’s soccer game. Our team-mates were all friends and we all worked well together. We pulled out the victory and I had a hat trick. So, yeah, it was my favorite!”

“When I had a war in the cabin.” [Ooops! BTW, we didn’t hear about this at the time, nor did subsequent investigation turn up anything noteworthy. Is this a metaphor for tangled sheets? A way of talking about biting insects?]

“When there was pancakes at breakfast and not eggs.”

“When I got on top of Mt. Mooslock [Moosilauke] in a cloud. It was cold and windy, which was nice and refreshing because we had been hiking for so long in the sun. You could see all of the mountains.” [In an intermittent clear moment?]

“Scoring a goal for the 12’s soccer team was a great Pemi moment because my team made me feel amazing about my goal even more.”

From the Upper Intermediates (13-14 years old):

“Singing ‘The Campfire Song’ around the fire at the Senior beach because it showed me the love that binds the Pemi community, which survives the competitiveness of a regular day at camp.”

“When I scored against Moosilauke on Moose Day in soccer because I felt accomplished and it was the final goal.”

“My campfire act and my archery awards.”

“Having to make more friends and to see old ones.”

“I loved driving on the game bus and chanting with friends.”

“Afternoon free time.”

“Trying new things that I couldn’t have a chance to do at home, and meeting new people, and making new friends.”

Bean Soup.”

“The last campfire for me this year. I was sitting next to my friends, just relaxed and enjoying being together and listening to great music.”

“When the whole cabin was stuck in the bunk during a storm and we all played together and talked with Idrissa.” [Idrissa Bangura, our A.C. from Sierra Leone and Brooklyn.]

“I loved slalom skiing and playing baseball. I especially loved catching and our walk-off win against Moose. Also meeting a friend from my town.”

“When lunch ended that one day and Rest Hour started.” [Which had seemed to us to be a daily occurrence! Did we miss something?]

“I enjoyed sitting on the mess hall porch with a plum and looking out on camp.” [during afternoon ‘fruit bowl’]

“Barrel Ball and pick-up events that happen after dinner.”

“On Moosilauke Day I won my tennis match 8-0 then hit a game-winning single in baseball.”

And, finally, from the Seniors (14-15 y.o.):

“Going on a 3-day hike with a group of friends. The overall experience included the hiking, the people, and the adventure that came with the trip. It was amazing!”

“I liked when I played in the lacrosse B.V.T. (Baker Valley Tournament). I made closer friends while doing something I liked.”

“Playing Barrel Ball in the rain.”

Bean Soup.”

“Bonding with my friends on Mt. Washington.”

It may seem like a fairly random selection of “appreciated things,” but we suspect you’ll have seen some patterns emerging. Boys were justifiably proud of their individual accomplishments, be they making it through their distance swims, performing at camp fire, getting up on water skis or wakeboard, or playing well (and as a team) on the soccer pitch or the baseball diamond. Others treasured more communal endeavors and moments, such as winning cabin inspection, reuniting with old friends and getting to know new cabin mates, or sitting with tried and true mates at the camp fire and feeling the strong sense of community that emerges so unmistakably every Saturday night. There were nods to some subtle kind of spirituality, as in the feeling of flying over the water – or, perhaps, in describing how special it is on a balmy summer afternoon simply to be fishing with a few close friends. (Isaac Walton would surely agree.) Pretty much every leg of the Pemi program got noted here: the beauty of a mountain summit and the camaraderie of the “Happy Wanderers” who go up there; the satisfying process and product of making paracord bracelets; the thrill of scoring a goal in soccer and, even more, being celebrated by friends for tickling the twine; and the joy taken in listening to great music as the campfire crackles down at lake’s end. Predictably – and gratifyingly – some of the things the boys relished are unique to Pemi. It’s striking how many times F.R.B is mentioned, together with Bean Soup. And finally (for us; you may have seen other common threads) there is a slight undercurrent on the growth and satisfaction – not to mention the excitement – that can be found in taking on moderate risk. We see that in the repeated mention of trying new things or meeting new friends; or in dashing to a new base in F.R.B. despite the threat of a Frisbee strike; or leaping off the high dive at free swim. Session after session, year after year, the boys find a way to provide the support systems that allow them to extend themselves. It’s a potent formula for self-confidence, growth, and an appreciation for those who help us on our way.

Well, we’re running long now and we’ll close. Thank you, though, to all of the parents who entrusted their boys to us in June and July. We miss them and we hope that they’ve come back to you hale and healthy and perceptibly better for the experience, if only in small ways. Thanks, too, to “ongoing” parents. We’re so enjoying our time with your son and intend to relish every day between now and August 16th. Tune in next week for the latest iteration of our century-plus friendly rivalry with the Boys from Winnepesauke.

~  Tom and Danny

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Survey says…My Favorite Pemi Moment

  1. “In the middle of my distance swim, when I knew I was going to make it.” Reading that gives me chills. To think of this young person in the midst of a challenge realizing he has what it takes. The confidence they are building at PEMI, the support, the friendships, the encouragement, in a beautiful environment where they are experiencing life with old and new friends and a staff that is out of this world. We can’t believe a place like PEMI exists. Thank you for all you do. Love reading everything about PEMI.

  2. It all sounds so fabulous just wanted to know is there a Camp Pemi for adults! My son had an awesome 3 weeks where his confidence level is at an all time high. I thank you all at Pemi and see you next summer for… 7 weeks!

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