Here’s to 2014…

Summer 2014: Final Newsletter of the Season

It’s Sunday morning, August 17th, and a gentle rain is falling in the Lower Baker Valley. The clouds are low, and we have to take it on faith that the top of Pemi Hill is still there. Aside from the occasional call our local loon, the place is unbelievably quiet, having said farewell to 170 campers yesterday morning and currently bidding fond farewells to dozens of staff members this forenoon. We hope that our previous blog postings have conveyed something of the quality (and diverse activities) of the 2014 season, which we would certainly rank in the first echelon. For this, our last epistle of the summer, we’ll revert to our recent formula and conclude with a transcript of Danny’s toast at the final banquet this past Thursday evening and Clive Bean’s (that’s Clive Barnes’s New Hampshire second cousin, thrice-removed, on his aunt Petunia’s side) glowing review of this year’s Gilbert and Sullivan production, H.M.S. Pinafore. And so, with no more ado…

Danny’s Banquet Toast – August 14, 2014

May I propose a toast…?

Here’s to the summer of 2014 at Camp Pemigewassett, the 107th in Pemi’s rich and storied history, a summer that began seven weeks ago for campers, eight weeks ago for staff, nine weeks ago for counselors attending the Wilderness First Aid Clinic the Life Guard Training Clinic and the first ever shop clinic, and 14 weeks ago for the grey beards who met in Gloucester, Mass way back in May to begin sharing our dreams, ideas and inspirations for this 107th Pemi summer.

Danny Kerr, Final Banquet

Danny Kerr, Final Banquet

Here’s to a summer that concludes about as late in August as a summer at Pemi can end, with days growing shorter, leaves turning an autumn tint, and boys playing roof ball in the evening with barely a shred of daylight light, a summer that by all accounts has been a spectacular success, made possible by the collective efforts of the Pemi men and women in this room.

Here’s to the 259 campers who graced the shores of Lower Baker Pond this summer, 86 of whom were here for the full session, the largest number in my short tenure at Pemi, campers from 27 states of the United States and 8 countries around the world. And here’s to the new flags representing campers and staff from Poland, Colombia, Sierra Leon and Monaco that Larry added to our collection in the mess hall this summer. Here’s to the 81 campers who made the decision to attend sleep-away camp for the first time this summer; and, yes, Charlie Scott, Harry Tuttle, Per Soderberg, Ezra Nugiel, Patterson Malcolm and Andrew Virden, here’s to campers in their eighth.

Here’s to the talented and dedicated counselor staff at Pemi in 2014, to the cabin counselors and assistant counselors, ten of whom are former Pemi boys returning for their first summer back after a year or two or more away, the young men who shared closest quarters and become family with the boys, and who, for some magical reason, are able to inspire, mentor, and capture the imagination of their campers in ways even their own parents and we senior staff cannot.

Here’s to the influx this summer of young professionals and young families to our staff, to their wisdom, and experience, to their appreciation of community and also to their very young children who graced our community this season; is there anything more heartwarming, pure, and innocent to behold than watching those beautiful children explore the wonders of Pemi, dance unabashedly to Pemi songs, and remind us that camp is, after all, a child’s world.

Here’s to the hard-working crew that Reed Harrigan leads so vigorously and affably each day; Jeremy, Ruth, Sam, Kenny and Chris, the folks who allow us to take full advantage of this beautiful campus…to Office Manager extraordinaire, Heather, who never gets enough credit, and to Kim, who masterminded our ACA accreditation process this summer and deserves most of the credit for the 100% we received on those 200 plus standards. Indeed, no camp is perfect, but on August 5 Kim had us as close to perfect as you possibly can be for our ACA visitors.

Here’s to our magnificent kitchen crew—our blushing bride Stacey, Pappie, Nancy, Betty, Dale, Servacs, Bonifacs, Victor, Michael, Zybenek, and Micoh—who spoiled us with their herculean task of providing delicious and plentiful meals three times a day; something tells me we’ll have a chance to thank them again later this evening.

And a special shout out to our remarkable young nurses, Emily and Megan, whose enthusiasm, great cheer, and warm care was so vital in battling the virus that made its way through the ranks this summer. Thank you Emily and Megan for remaining so upbeat, positive, professional and resolute despite the unexpected curveball that was thrown your way in your very first summer as camp nurses…bravo!

Here’s to the amazing program at Pemi, to Kenny, the ”kid from Cleveland” who masterminds it all, to Laura down in Art World who proved to us that there really is life after Deb Pannell, to Charlie and all the coaches in the athletics’ program who always put values such as sportsmanship first….boom! To Tom and the trippies who sent us tramp, tramp, tramping each day out to the majestic mountains and the mighty rivers nearby, to Dorin and the beautiful music she and her staff helped us produce, to Olivia, Paige, and Emily and all the safe fun we had in the water, to Harry O in the shop, Chris on the courts, Larry and Deb in the Nature Lodge, Jonathan on the archery range, Sam down in Lax world, and all of the other teachers who brought major energy and mojo to occupation periods every day!

Here’s to Dottie – for anything and everything!

Here’s to the weather this summer, so many glorious and beautiful NH days, the crisp, quiet mornings, those blazing July and August afternoons, and the peaceful, golden haze across the Lower Baker Pond at day’s end that never gets old to behold.

Here’s to the things that made Pemi 2014 feel unique: “FAST” weeks and stick ball tournaments, a new Upper 4 and a newer Upper 5, ten-year ties, more barrel ball and chess than anyone can remember, sculling, Uncle Ed, the new path out of the Messhall, the morning sound of the “bangers and screamers” that kept the geese away, yogurt-gate, Lebron returning home, Jon Bernthal walking live for a visit, Pemi Westers being sent off by Pemi Easters, our new song book and the beautiful face lift in Senior Lodge that allows us to collectively gaze over the glassy, reflective lake beyond.

Here’s to all-camp events at Pemi, Bean Soup when we laugh at ourselves and anticipate “things to look for,” Campfire when we entertain ourselves to the setting sun, and to Sunday Meeting when we’re reflective and thoughtful about such things as the great Messhall fire of 1965, the flood of 1973, Roland, our knight with the unexpected star on his shield, and how one at-bat changed everything for the Red Sox Nation.

And of course, here’s to our 15-year-olds, to their three wins on Tecumseh Day, to the leadership they provided, and to the lifelong friendships that they have created. I know from personal experience that some day you’ll participate in each other’s weddings, be Godparents to each other’s children and, hopefully, become the next generation of counselors at Pemi.

And of course, here’s to the Reed Family and the Fauver Family who, in their loving, wise, and supportive ways, continue to expect nothing short of excellence from each of us every summer and who see stewardship of Camp Pemigewassett as their chance to make the world a better place, one boy at a time.

And finally here’s to our firm belief that Pemi is a place where, with every new summer, campers have another opportunity to be the person they want to be, to meet challenges with success and pride, to thrive in an inclusive community, to learn independence, to gain confidence, to become fine young men and adults.

Here’s to Camp Pemigewassett 2014.

Good luck, long life, and joy!

 

Clive Bean Reviews Pinafore

The Wentworth, New Hampshire dramatic season came to a triumphant climax this past Tuesday and Wednesday evening with this year’s Pemigewassett Gilbert and Sullivan production, H.M.S. Pinafore. The directing debut of first-year Head of Music Dorin Dehls, the show was marked by strong ensemble singing and acting and exceptional performances from a number of talented leads. The first operetta ever produced at Pemi was this same Pinafore back in 1951. And, in answer to the Beatle’s timeless question, we can say with absolute certainty about G&S “Yes, we’ll still need you, yes, we’ll still feed you, when you’re sixty-four.”

Toes

Details, details…

Ms. Dehls was the emblem of patient persistence all season long as she brought both the “girls’” and sailors’ choruses up to a very high standard indeed. The whole show turns on a dramatic moment when Captain Corcoran finds himself as exasperated as Ben Ridley discussing the theory of general relativity with Alex Duval—and consequently lets out an explosive D-word. Both choruses are meant respond with a complex, syncopated expression of musical horror and, while this reviewer has been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 20 Pemi Pinafore’s, he can never remember the cast getting it perfectly right until Tuesday night. And, damme, if it wasn’t perfect Wednesday night as well. Sir Joseph’s band of adoring female relatives, featuring Graham Purcell, Eli Brennan, James Minzesheimer, Owen Lee, Walker Goodridge, Henry Moore, Matt McDonough, Tucker Jones, James Kemp, and Matt Cloutier, were as flawlessly musical as they were beautiful—especially once “Matilda” Cloutier had shaved off her Middlebury mountain-man beard. Opposite them, Alex and Jon Duval, Harry Tuttle, Pierce Haley, Hugh Jones, Michael Kerr, Theo Nichols, Will Katcher, Sam Seymour, and Fred Seebeck manned the Pinafore and courted the girls with all the energy and excitement of male pit bulls at a poodle fashion show. Strutting the boards for the first time this season was Director Danny Kerr, seeking temporary refuge from the stress and loneliness of all-camp command by fleeing to the nautical mosh pit that was the ship’s forecastle. We’re sure his wife Julia was happy to see that Danny’s tattoo featured her name and not something really silly—like “Uma.”

Sailors

Sailors

Sisters, cousins, and aunts

Sisters, cousins, and aunts

 

Nick Gordon as Bill Bobstay

Nick Gordon as Bill Bobstay

Tom Reed, Admiral;  Dan Reed, Captain Corcoran

Tom Reed as Sir Joseph Porter and Dan Reed as Captain Corcoran

This year’s leads were equally strong. Andrew DeGaetano turned in a solid performance as Carpenter’s Mate Bob Becket (no relation to Samuel), handling the bass line of the “British Tar” trio with singular volume and assurance. Nicholas Gordon literally rose from his hospital bed to give us a compelling Bill Bobstay, Boatswain’s Mate. Despite a fever in excess of 102 on Wednesday night, he sassed Dan Reed’s Captain Corcoran with the edginess of Lindsay Lohan back in traffic court again. Becky Noel was as winning on stage as she has been at campfires all summer, finally snagging Sir Joseph as a husband and proving that persistence gets you what you want, even if it involves a marriage so tight it would be illegal in any of the lower 48 states. Speaking of Sir Joseph, Tom Reed returned to the role he must have done ten times if he’s done it once. Never before, though, had he been able to bolster his dismissive attitude towards Captain Corcoran with all of the real-world frustration built up over the years trying to get son Dan to turn off lights in the Reed house in order to save the planet. Or at least trying to have everything else his own way.

Larry Davis as Dick Deadeye

Larry Davis as Dick Deadeye

Will

Will Henry as Little Buttercup

Larry Davis was never better as Dick Deadeye, especially on Wednesday night. Even though Larry finally has internet-access in the Nature Lodge and has every reason to feel blissfully happy, he managed to play with total conviction a character so dark and bitter he makes John Boehner seem like Kermit the Frog. Stealing the show more often than not, however, was Will Henry as Little Buttercup. From the time he first stepped out onto the stage to sell Gold Bond, Skittles, and Axe body wash to the amorous sailors, Will and his hairy chest were absolutely unforgettable elements of the production. So alluring was Mr. (or is it Ms.?) Henry that van driver Kenny Morrell confessed directly after Tuesday night’s show that he’d fallen in love with the dude. -Ette! Ah, the power of art!

Robert Loeser as Ralph Rackstraw

Robert Loeser as Ralph Rackstraw

Jacob Berk as Josephine

Jacob Berk as Josephine

Speaking of art, first-time leads Robert Loeser and Dan Reed were flawless in their roles as Ralph Rackstraw and Captain Corcoran. Robert managed to deliver with perfect clarity lines of dialogue as tangled as a junior cabin’s rope in the Woodsdudes’ Day bear-bagging event. The part of Ralph is fraught with notes most people would have to sit in ice water to reach, but Robert nailed them with the ease of a Pavarotti – proving that he’s a clone of more musical mega-stars than just Adele. Meanwhile, Dan Reed gave us the simple but well-meaning Captain with a singular dramatic flair, making the show especially relevant for Junior campers with short attention spans by making it clear that Victorian sailors, too, worried about things like yogurt rations and Tecumseh Day. Dan was onstage for the bulk of the second act, and his capacity to deliver number after demanding number with undiminished energy, precision, and dramatic flair speaks well to his potential for starring in the next Baz Luhrman filmic extravaganza, The Walking Dead Learn to Run. Rounding out the principals was Jacob Berk, for whom this was not actually the first lead. He had shared the role of Celia in last summer’s Iolanthe, playing the first night before being whisked off for an exclusive gig with Cher at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas. This summer, though, he had Josephine all to himself, and he positively owned the role handling his solos with dramatic flair and pinpoint musical accuracy and easily matching Robert/Ralph in their icy hot duet, “Refrain Audacious Tar.” It clearly hadn’t hurt that Jacob had previewed his performance at Greenleaf Hut for an enraptured audience from a local girls’ camp.

We have already mentioned rookie director Dorin Dehls remarkable job whipping the show into such impressive shape. One-man orchestra Josh Hess was masterful at keyboard, even though it was rumored that he had refused a thousand-dollar bonus had he been willing to sport a nautical tattoo on the back of his shaved hear. Deborah Fauver’s weeks of hard and creative work as wardrobe mistress and backstage manager contributed incalculably to the success of the show. And, perhaps for the first time ever, the set and lighting drew appreciative applause from the both nights’ audiences as soon as the curtain first opened. We understand that special thanks are owed to Reed Harrigan and Ken Morrell for their invaluable technical assistance in these to realms.

Will Clare and Dan Walder, guards

Will Clare and Dan Walder, guards

Finally, a special shout out to curtain-pullers and nautical bouncers Will Clare and Danno Walder, who somehow managed to steal the show by standing there and trying to look stern and impassive. There must just be something about these two guys that makes it absolutely ridiculous when they try to act serious. In any case, it was two nights truly to remember. Looking forward to the 2015 production of The Mikado, we advise you to book early. Tickets are bound to fly out the door as quickly as Mitch McConnell leaves a meeting with President Obama. Until then, happy theater going!

~ Clive Bean

With thanks to Clive, we’ll close the last official newsletter of the 2014 season. It’s been an excellent year, and as we begin (unbelievably) to put Pemi to bed for the winter, we thank as well all of you parents who entrusted your boys to us for the summer. We hope to see all of them who can return in June or July of 2015. To that end, look for applications to be made available to veteran families on or about October 15 (and to new families towards the end of the month.) For now, goodbye, and have a wonderful Fall.

~ Tom and Danny

 

 

 

Field Trips Near and Far: Pemi’s Nature Program

Summer 2014: Newsletter # 7


EXCURSIONS

by Larry Davis, Director of Pemi’s Nature Program

Pemi’s Nature Program has many facets. One of these is our program of instruction. This summer we offered forty different nature occupations ranging from classics—Beginning Butterflies and Moths and Beginning Rocks and Minerals (both available every week)—to more esoteric activities such as Mushrooms/Mosses/Lichens, and Bees/Wasps/Ants offered just once apiece. New this year was the “GeoLab” series of advanced geology occupations focusing on topics such as Plate Tectonics, Water and Geology, and New Hampshire Geology. Along the way we also made good use of our dark room, our microscopes, our wildlife camera, and our wild foods “kitchen” (ask your boys what was on the menu).

I want to use this opportunity, however, to highlight another aspect of the program: the afternoon (or longer) field trips that we take away from camp. Some of these are to nearby old mines for mineral collecting or to nearby fields for butterflies. Others are to more distant localities such as Franconia and Crawford Notches here in New Hampshire or to the cave region in Schoharie, New York.

Crawford Notch

Crawford Notch

This summer, in addition to the mine and butterfly trips, we enjoyed several of these longer excursions. Two went to the Notches (one each to Franconia and Crawford), one to Quincy Bog in nearby Rumney and one to New York State for caving. In addition, our new GeoLab occupation included field trips to Sculptured Rocks in Groton, NH, Plummer’s Ledge, here in Wentworth, Livermore Falls in Campton, NH, the bluffs and terraces along the Connecticut River in Fairlee, VT, and the Baker River, where we panned for gold, and one special excursion to the Palermo Mine (a regular stop for us) for our GeoLab campers that focused on local geology. I will use the rest of this newsletter to describe some of these trips for you, and have provided links that give the locations of most of the sites. With the exception of the Palermo Mine, they are all open to the public.

Quincy Bog (Rumney, NH)

Marshes, Bogs, Swamps- Bogs are wetland areas dominated by sphagnum moss. Swamps are wetland areas with trees growing in them. Marshes are flooded areas dominated by floating plants, grasses, and sedges. Quincy Bog is not just a bog. It is a beaver swamp and pond. Regardless of the name, this is a special place, not only because of what’s there, but also because of how it came to be preserved. This is what they say in the trail guide:

Quincy Bog is a special place. The forty-four-acre Natural Area includes the remains of a post-glacial lake (now reduced to a one-acre open bog pond). Its bog pond, sedge meadow, red maple and alder swamp, sandy flood plain, granite outcrop, and typical central New Hampshire cut-over woodland present a rich diversity of plant and animal life that we invite you to contemplate and explore.

Beavers, still very active today, formed the “bog” itself. Along the trail that circles the flooded area, you can see their dams, lodges, stumps (both new and old) of trees that they’ve cut down, and skid ways that they’ve used to move the trees to the pond where they can float them to the dams or lodges. You also experience the entire ecological community that exists because of the beaver’s transformation of a stream. Visitors see turtles sunning themselves on logs, a huge variety of birds, frogs, along with an abundance of plants—ferns, trees, mosses, flowers, sedges, grasses, and the fungi that “infect” them.

Quincy Bog

Quincy Bog

The trail itself changes elevation so that you move from a wetland community that includes red maples, sedges, ferns, and floating plants, to a hardwood forest with oak, beech, white pine, and wintergreen in only a few vertical feet. It is a good lesson in how small changes in elevation can lead to big changes in plant and animal communities. At one point there is an old stone wall and a very old oak tree—at least 150 years. In another, there is a rock outcrop covered with “rock tripe” (a lichen). There are large glacial eratics and a flowing spring. If you walk the trail clockwise (any we usually do), you come, at last, to the large beaver dams (old and new) that help to form the pond.

Equally interesting is how this “Natural Area” came to be protected. As you drive here, you pass through what looks like a typical suburban subdivision. Indeed, this was supposed to completely surround the bog, which, in turn, was going to be partially drained. A group of citizens became alarmed and moved to protect it. One of the leaders of the group was a man named George Wendell. George was a retired Plymouth fireman living in Rumney. He also was, for many years in the 1970’s and 80’s, Pemi’s “shop guy.” Today the bog is owned by a non-profit, “Rumney Ecological Systems,” that has a large board of directors composed mostly of Rumney residents. The community lovingly cares for the bog and there is even a nature center where nature programs are presented monthly. It is truly a place of pride for the citizens of Rumney.

Palermo Mine (North Groton, NH)

In a 1994 Pemi newsletter, I wrote the following about the Palermo Mine:

Huge piles of shining rock glistening in the hot afternoon sun. The light reflected off these rocks is almost blinding. The road fairly sparkles with flakes of mica. In every direction are more dumps, more piles of rock, more shafts—on the hills, in the impoundments in the woods. Scampering over the dumps are the figures of excited campers. They look dark against the white quartz and feldspar. Their arms too, sparkle with mica flakes. The sound of clanging rock hammers are accompanied by excited shrieks of “Larry-look what I found!” We have visited this mine over 75 times in my 25 years here. It was the first one that we went to (and it was also the site of our most recent trip). It never fails to delight and it still yields new treasures. Palermo has launched many a Pemi camper’s career in Geology.

Palermo Mine

Palermo Mine

This description is as accurate today as it was twenty-one years ago. It is, in fact, a world-famous mineral locality. There are about 120 minerals that occur here including about 10 that are found nowhere else in the world. It is an exciting place to visit. The owner, Bob Whitmore of Weare, NH is still working the mine for mineral specimens. In addition to the rare minerals, which are of interest to collectors, it yields beautiful, gem-quality aquamarines, commercial quantities of quartz (the concrete at Boston’s Prudential Center contains crushed white quartz from Palermo), mica, and beryl, nice apatite crystals, and many, many other easily found and identified minerals. It was originally opened in the 1870’s for mica, which was used in stove windows (still is, in fact) and automobile windshields. It was also a source of feldspar, which was used in the large refractory (pottery) industry that existed up and down the Connecticut River (there were rich clay deposits from Hartford, CT up to St. Johnsbury, VT).

We are very fortunate that Bob is a friend of Pemi. The public is not allowed in, but we have a key and can go any time we like. We generally visit every Thursday but we have also taken some additional trips. This year, as part of the GeoLab occupation, we went with 3 older campers to look at the geology in some detail and to collect from parts of the mine that we do not usually go to. Bob has also donated some spectacular mineral specimens to us. These are displayed in a case (that Bob built for us) in the Reed Memorial Nature Library.

Panning for Gold (Baker River, Wentworth, NH)

Gold Panning

Gold Panning

Yes, there is gold in New Hampshire! In the 1840’s there were actually active gold mines in Lyman and Lisbon, about 40 miles north of here near the Wild Ammonoosuc River. These never amounted to much, but you can still find “placer” gold (loose gold particles mixed in with the other sediments) in that river and in the Baker, which runs from the slopes of Mount Moosilauk through Warren and Wentworth to join the Pemigewassett River in Plymouth, NH. During a GeoLab excursion last week, Deb Kure and 3 campers tried their luck. They used old-fashioned gold pans leant to us by maintenance staff member Jeremy Rathbun who pans for gold as a hobby. He also suggested a good location for our first attempt ever: in the river just by the town ball field in “downtown” Wentworth. The idea of gold panning is the gold is very, very heavy compared to the rocks and minerals that comprise the river gravels. As the stream slows in spots, the heaviest sediments drop out first. So the search for gold begins in the river’s pools. You scoop up gravel, sand, and water with the pan and gently swirl it around. The lighter materials go to the outside and the heavier (gold?) stay in the middle. What you’re looking for is called “color” by those in the know. Our group did see some “color” and picked out tiny grains with equally tiny tweezers and put them into (you guessed it) tiny glass vials filled with water. Needless to say, nobody’s fortune was made, but it was so much fun that we’ll try it again next summer. I hope you’ve enjoyed these “nuggets” of information about New Hampshire gold (sorry-couldn’t resist a pun).

Plummer’s Ledge (Wentworth, NH) and Sculptured Rocks (North Groton, NH)

Sculptured Rocks

Sculptured Rocks

These are two, state-owned, “pocket” parks that are outstanding locations to view the work of glacial melt water. Sculptured Rocks still has water flowing through it (the Cockermouth River), while at Plummer’s Ledge the glacial features are high and dry deep in a New Hampshire woodland.

Pothole Formation

Pothole Formation

Today’s mountain streams, here in New England, are crystal clear. That is, they contain no suspended sediment (which would turn them cloudy or brown). Without these sediment “tools” almost no erosion of our hard bedrock could take place. Not so in glacial times. Not only was there orders of magnitude more runoff, but it was loaded with sediment from silt to boulder size. The swirling waters flung the sediments against the bedrock of channel floor and walls smoothing them and carving flutes, chutes, and deep potholes. At Sculptured Rocks, these are clearly visible along the modern course of the river over a few hundred-foot long span. At Plummer’s Ledge, the potholes are big and surrounded by woods.

Giant Kettle Formation

Giant Kettle Formation

While potholes dominate both of these sites, their formation was different. Sculptured Rocks was probably formed by glacial melt water out in front of the glacier. Had you been there at the time, you would have seen the rushing stream pouring out from the front of the ice, carrying huge amounts of sediment of various sizes from small (silt) to large (cobbles and boulders). These formed the potholes that are visible today. At Plummer’s Ledge, the melt water was on top of the glacier. It plunged down a crevasse (also known as a “moulin”) into a plunge pool in the bedrock below. Both sites are excellent reminders that the hills and mountains of New Hampshire were once covered by ice almost a mile thick a mere 15,000 years ago…a very, very short time when placed on a geologic time scale.

River Terraces, Flood Plains, and Faults (Connecticut River, Orford, NH/Fairlee, VT)

Many of you have probably crossed the bridge over the Connecticut River between Orford, NH and Fairlee, VT.  It is a quirk of political geography that the state line is actually on the west (Vermont) side of the river, rather than down the middle. So, the whole width of the river is actually in New Hampshire.

Terrace Formation

Terrace Formation

This is one of the best places that I know to view river terraces. These are also products of glaciation. In this case, their origin lies in Connecticut, at Rocky Hill, where a plug of glacial outwash dammed up the ancestral Connecticut River creating a lake in front of the retreating glacier. This lake, known as “Glacial Lake Hitchcock” eventually stretched as far north as St. Johnsbury, Vermont. As lake levels went up and down, the adjacent flood plains became stranded creating terraces. There are at least 4 distinct levels that can be seen on both sides of the river. In the early 1800’s, Orford was a center of commerce and a crossroads on several major trading routes. Retired sea captains built spectacular houses on one of these terraces. They are classics of the federalist style and were designed by Asher Benjamin, an architect in Charles Bullfinch’s firm in Boston. Bullfinch was the designer of the Massachusetts State House in Boston and the U.S. Capitol building in Washington.

Fairlee-Orford

Fairlee-Orford

Over most of its course, the Connecticut River actually follows a major fault. However, a body of unerodable granite forced the river to divert to the east around it. It now appears as a cliff (“Mount Moriah” or “Mount Morey” depending on which map you look at) on the Vermont side. It is an important nesting location for Peregrine Falcons, which can sometimes be seen from the parking lot of the Fairlee Diner (an excellent place for breakfast or lunch). As you can see from the map, Lake Morey is actually located along the fault. If you are driving south on I-91 from St. Johnsbury, looking south a couple miles north of Bradford (Exit 16), you can clearly see, straight ahead, Lake Morey and the valley that follows the fault while the road turns east to follow the river.

The fault is a major geologic divider. The rocks in New Hampshire (east of the fault) are mostly igneous (hence the nickname, “The Granite State”). To the west, in Vermont, they are mostly metamorphosed sedimentary rocks that were deposited on the floor of an ancient (~ 400 million years ago) sea. The cliffs at Fairlee are geologically part of New Hampshire despite the fact that they are politically part of Vermont.

Livermore Falls (Pemigewassett River, Campton and Plymouth, NH)

This dramatic set of rapids and falls along the Pemigewassett River has a complex geologic history and an interesting human one. It is the “type locality” (the place the rock was originally found and described) for the rock “Camptonite,” a kind of basalt that has been found worldwide.

Livermore Falls

Livermore Falls

Geologically, you have a weakly metamorphosed rock (once sea-floor sediment) that has been injected with magma (molten rock) of two types. One is iron-magnesium rich, which produced the camptonite, the other was silica rich, which produced a type of rock known as “Aplite.” Both of these rock types have formed narrow tabular (like a tabletop) bodies that are almost vertical. These are known as “dikes.” Since the dikes cut through the metamorphic rock, they must be younger (if you’re going to cut a cake, the cake has to be there first). The dikes, however, are not metamorphosed. So the mountain building events that altered the original rocks must have happened after they were deposited but before the dikes were injected. In one or two places you can see that the aplite dikes cut through the camptonite dikes so they must be younger still. This yields a sequence of events for the region: first the sediments are deposited. Then the mountain building forces metamorphosed them. Next the camptonite dikes were injected and finally, the aplite dikes formed. This is how geologists go about figuring out the “story” behind what we see and Livermore Falls is a great place to teach about it.

The river also illustrates how these ancient features influence modern landscapes. The camptonite is weaker, both chemically and physically, than the metamorphic rocks. Geologists would say that it “weathers” more easily. So, where the dikes are exposed in the river’s channel, it has cut “slots” into the surrounding rocks. These are clearly visible on both sides of the valley. The presence of these weaker dikes, which cut perpendicular to the river, is probably also responsible for the falls being here.

From a human standpoint, the falls lead to the development of a water-powered mill here. According to the Campton Historical Society, this was a paper-pulp mill. You can clearly see the remains of a diversion dam that funneled the river into the turbines within the factory (also clearly visible). The mill was built in 1889 and was in production until the 1950’s. In 1973 a flood (Hurricane Agnes) destroyed the dam. This is the same storm that produced the famous “Pemi Flood” which forced us to bring campers in on boats on opening day that year.

There is also a wonderful old iron bridge, built in 1886. It is of an unusual “pumpkinseed” design. It stands 103 feet above the river and is 263 feet long. It was closed in 1959.

~ Larry Davis

 

2014 Tecumseh Day

2014 Newsletter #6

This week’s newsletter comes from Charlie Malcolm, our longtime Director of Athletics. It was he who oversaw our recent competition with our arch-rivals (and very good friends) from Camp Tecumseh. This storied rivalry, dating back to our founding in 1908, is surely one of the most august in American camping, and predates some of the most noteworthy squarings-off in collegiate sports. For many years this was a twice-a-season, home-and-away affair, and the camps used to travel to each other’s shore via a combination of foot-travel (for us, a 4-mile hike to the Wentworth train station), rail (to Weirs Beach), and mail steamer (to Tecumseh’s scenic cove on the shores of beautiful Lake Winnepesauke.) In line with the current softening of the American lifestyle, we now travel door-to-door by van and bus. At the same time, the new once-a-year format, which finds half of each camp going to the other’s campus, allows us all to share meals together in our respective dining halls. The resulting hospitality and conversation has leant Tecumseh/Pemi Day an increasingly friendly tone. While the intense competitiveness of the early days lives on unabated, it is now balanced by ever-greater levels of good sportsmanship and respect. And with that as a general introduction, on to Charlie’s account.

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6:30 AM, Lower Baker Pond….the bugle blows and it is quickly replaced by rock music as the Seniors wake up the Intermediate Camp. After camper-led calisthenics and a quick Polar Bear, the boys quickly make their way to the dining hall with their bags packed for a long day at Tecumseh. By 7:35, the buses are rolling with the 11’s, 12’s and 13’s age groups. At Pemi, the finishing touches are made on soccer, baseball, and tennis courts, while the 10’s and 15’s anxiously await the arrival of Tecumseh. By 9:15, the first serve, kick, pitch, and start were initiated. The day had begun.

The morning events were conducted in cool temperatures with very competitive matches on display at both camps.  At Tecumseh, the 13’s swim team—behind the strong efforts of Timmy Coe—paced Pemi to an exciting victory. The 12’s soccer team found themselves down by a goal two minutes into the game but battled their way back to a tie on a Dean Elefante goal. Sasha Roberts and Tate Suratt never stopped running for their teammates in this incredible match. Despite victories by Eric Bush in 4th singles and the doubles teams of Kevin Millar–Jaime Acocella and Felix Nusbaum–Graham Winings, 11’s Tennis lost a heartbreaker 4-3 on a decisive tiebreaker.

Pierce Cowels, 10s baseball

Pierce Cowles, 10s baseball

At Pemi, the 10’s baseball team fell to a very strong Tecumseh side 8-2. Pemi received outstanding pitching from Pierce Cowles, who settled down after a nervous first inning. Pemi enjoyed good hitting from Elliot Jones and Oliver Giraud but could not put together a big inning to get back into the game. The 15’s tennis team, winners of the Lakes Region Tournament earlier in the season, jumped out to an early lead when Jack O’Conner won his number two singles match, followed by Carson Hill’s surgical win at number one singles. Pemi would cruise to a 6-1 victory as the Duval brothers delivered singles victories followed by a doubles victory from Owen Fried and Robert Loeser. After round one in the morning, the day was tied 2-2-1.

At Tecumseh, the 13’s soccer team rode the wave of momentum from their impressive swim victory right into their soccer match. Last year, this particular age group was beaten quite handily 12-1. This year, however, was different. With Nick Bowman in net, Timmy Coe anchoring the defense, and the soccer gods in attendance, the Pemi 13s fought gallantly to a 0-0 draw, a spectacular result against a team loaded with academy-level players. The 11’s baseball team fell 8-3. The hero of this match was George Lerdal who came on in relief with the bases loaded and struck out the side. Finally, 12s Tennis cruised to an impressive 5-2 victory behind singles wins from Spencer Hill, Suraj Khakee, and Quinn McConnaughey, and doubles victories by Scott Cook–Dean Elefante and Eli Barlow–Ryan Bush.

15s baseball

15s baseball

At Pemi, one of the most inspiring contests of the day was turned in by the 10’s soccer team against a very deep and talented opponent. Despite facing heavy pressure from the opening whistle, Walker Goodrich flawlessly protected the Pemi goal with Elliot Jones and Luca McAdams shutting down the middle of the pitch until Isaiah Abbey raced behind the defense to give Pemi a 1-0 lead. The boys played their hearts out, but Tecumseh pushed home two goals in the last two minutes to win the game. While 10’s fell in glorious defeat, the 15’s baseball team defeated Tecumseh 5-3 behind the stellar pitching of Jack Wood and timely hitting by Patterson Malcolm and Will DeTeso. The highlight of the game was a bases-loaded, 1-2-3 double play to escape a critical first inning jam. With the day knotted at 4-4-2, the boys entered the Pemi and Tecumseh dining halls with energy and excitement.

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Danny Kerr and Jim Talbot

At Pemi, Danny Kerr presented retiring Tecumseh Director, Jim Talbot, with a canvas photographic print celebrating Jim’s role in the tradition of fine competition and sportsmanship between the two camps. Since 2001, Jim has been an outstanding ambassador for Tecumseh. He retires with record enrollment, a dedicated seasoned staff in place, and with the competition between our two camps as solidly grounded in sportsmanship and goodwill as it has ever been. We wish Jim well in his next adventure and will do our best to make sure this day of healthy competition remains cemented in friendship.

After lunch, amidst rising temperatures, Tecumseh brought their own heat to Pemi in the remaining afternoon contests. At Pemi, the 10’s tennis team was swept 7-0 and the 15’s soccer team also fell 3-0 to a Tecumseh team that simply played with more determination. Tobey Suratt played particularly well for the 10’s before eventually losing in a tiebreaker. For the 15’s soccer match, Patterson Malcolm, Elliot Britton, and Sam Berman did not back down while anchoring the Pemi defense, and netminder Will Harnard made several critical saves to keep the game close. At Tecumseh the results were similar as the 11’s soccer team fell 3-0 despite the scrappy efforts of Will Ackerman and Eric Bush. The 12’s baseball team ran into a terrific team boasting players headed off for the Little League World Series and were no hit. Fortunately, Suraj Khakee and Ryan Cowles held Tecumseh to three runs over six innings to give Pemi a chance to get back into the game. Despite winning efforts by Timmy Coe and the battling Andrew Kanovsky, who came back from a 5-1 deficit, the 13’s tennis team fell 5-2. By sweeping all five of the initial afternoon events, Tecumseh guaranteed a tie, and their clear momentum carried over to the remaining fixtures.

Oscar de Haut de Sigy; 10's swimmer

Oscar de Haut de Sigy; 10’s swimmer

At Tecumseh, the home team won both the 11 and 12 swim meets as both camps struggled to maintain their energy at the waterfront. Pemi’s 13’s baseball team also fell, 9-3, facing another Tecumseh side loaded with exceptional talent. James Minzesheimer led Pemi’s offense with two hits, but Tecumseh’s timely hitting was too much for Pemi. At Pemi, the 10’s swim team fell 33-27 as Simon Taylor delivered first place in butterfly and backstroke and anchored a free style relay victory. Oscar de Haut de Sigy also delivered first places in the free style and breaststroke. The 15s shook off their disappointment following their soccer game and delivered an outstanding effort, securing our only afternoon victory. The highlight of the race was Noah Belinowiz’s extraordinary leg in the Medley Relay where, despite his having recently been down with a stomach bug, he reeled in a half lap with an impressive breaststroke. With victories by Harry Tuttle in the backstroke, Andrew Digaetano in the butterfly, and Robert Cecil in the free style, the 15s finished the day with an impressive 32-28 victory.

Home

Home

While we lost the day by a significant margin of 13-5-2, one only had to be at the Pemi waterfront to see the triumphs the day nevertheless involved. It’s hard to find words to describe how inspiring it was to watch our 15’s push aside their collective disappointment to swim their last races of the day with all they had—and, at the same time, enthusiastically cheer on their Junior little brothers to do the same. Any former 15-year-old Pemi athlete can tell you there is a hugely rich if bittersweet moment when the last race and competition of his camper days are finished and he has to come to terms with this own journey. Whether the last race is at Winnipesaukee or on the Shores of Lower Baker, the oldest boys sense something deep and transcendent as their formative boyhood days slip a little further away. As the buses return from Tecumseh and the camp community gathers in front of the Lodge, many of the fifteens are overcome with the emotion of the moment as they warmly greet their fellow campers after an incredibly long day. As in previous years, our fifteens rallied the camp in preparation for Tecumseh Day and went on to deliver victories in three of their four events, a noble accomplishment. It is with this momentum that these boys leave for their Allagash wilderness adventure in Maine, focus their final efforts towards a run at becoming a Pemi Chief, or practice for a culminating stage appearance in next week’s Gilbert & Sullivan H.M.S. Pinafore. Their determination can take your breath away.

Thanks to Charlie for this compelling account. Come back next week for Larry Davis’s latest word on Pemi’s celebrated Nature Program.

Tom and Danny

JimTalbotSM