Tecumseh Day: Through the Eyes of the 15s

Summer 2015: Newsletter #6

For over a hundred years, Camps Pemigewassett and Tecumseh have locked annually into a spirited athletic competition. This year, our 15- and 10-and-unders traveled to Camp Tecumseh, sited majestically on a plateau boldly overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee, while the 11, 12, and 13s age groups remained on the comfy confines of Lower Baker Pond. The differences in setting are as unique as our respective camps in terms of culture and program.

Over the years, I have written extensively about each team’s contest and attempted to capture the flow of the day as I chronologically covered each age group’s experience. This year, I will let our 15-year-olds share their journey and tell their story of the day, as they embraced their last Tecumseh Day as campers, while also coming to grips with the last days of being a boy at a summer camp. Perhaps their story is more important than the scores and tallies of the day, as a majority of our 15s have been at Pemi between five and, in some cases, nine years. As you read their story, I hope it will capture the transformative magic of being a 15-year-old at an all-boys camp.

I waited until Sunday, after a few days had washed away the raw emotion of the day, before I spoke with several 15-and-unders about their Tecumseh Day. Sam Berman, Jivan Khakee, and Owen Fried have each experienced the full range of outcomes on this day. So here are their stories and perceptions of Tecumseh Day 2015.

Preparation

Each summer, the 15-and-unders come together to orchestrate the tone and build-up for the big day. The seniors struggle with the range of ages at camp and how best to reach each group and individual with an age-appropriate message. Clearly, what might be effective for a senior might not work for a junior in his first season or even week at Pemi (our Second Session boys will have just joined us the week before). Any Pemi alum can tell you that the energy and passion on Tecumseh Day far exceeds that of any prep or high school rivalry. I asked the boys what they learned from the week of preparation leading up to the Day and how it impacted their division.

Owen Fried

Owen Fried

“As a 15-year-old, it really felt different to me this year. In the past, you just worried about your age group, but this year I felt a responsibility to get camp going. I was more worried about the younger kids. The fifteens got together and talked a lot about trying to find the balance between getting kids pumped for the day versus putting emphasis on focus. As the week went on, I began to notice we cared more about each other in Senior Camp. This year, we have 24 15-year-olds in Senior Camp, so I think the energy of Tecumseh Day began to pull us together.” (Owen Fried)

Jivan

Jivan Khakee

“It’s different as a fifteen-year-old; you feel more important; you realize pretty quickly you need to lead younger kids and be good role models, lift your performance, and be generally at a higher level. In terms of leading camp, I learned that words really matter and we all need to be careful about how we talk about the strength and weaknesses of particular age groups. The younger campers hear everything and it can be destructive if they hear that a fifteen-year-old doesn’t believe they have much of chance. At the end of the day, I think stepping up to lead the other campers brought out the best in us.” (Jivan Khakee)

“Last year, I only came for the first half and that was a big mistake. It was way too short. I never felt like I fully bonded with my cabin. Our relationships weren’t as strong and Tecumseh Day is a big part of building our relationships.” (Jivan Khakee)

Arriving at Tecumseh

After four days of practice in very hot and humid conditions, the 10s and 15s boarded the buses at 7:30 AM for the one-hour ride to Center Harbor. Most of the 15s were returning to Tecumseh for the first time since winning the day in 2012. (They were home as 13- and 14-year-olds.) As 12-year-olds, they had sprinted up the hill above the waterfront after they won the final swimming race to celebrate with their fellow Pemi community members.

“I hadn’t been to Tecumseh since we won The Hat in 2012. When we left that day, I remember the joy of winning but I also remember how devastated their camp was to lose The Hat. We would always joke about how hard their counselors were on their campers, making them do push-ups and stuff like that, and we also would check out their Mohawks [hair cuts]. In the build up to ‘Beat Tecumseh,’ it kind of shapes how you think about the camp. However, when I got there this year, I quickly realized they’re not that bad … they get along and care for each other, too. All the campers and counselors I talked to were really nice. I did notice, though, during the tennis matches that they were pretty stressed out about losing. There seemed to be more on the line for them. To fail would be unacceptable for them.” (Owen Fried)

The Morning Events

The 15s started their day with a grueling tennis match and against an uneven Tecumseh line-up. At number one singles, Carson Hill demolished a far less talented opponent, while Will Merhige at four singles had his hands full against a tenacious and capable competitor.

Sam

Sam Berman

“One of my favorite memories of the day was watching Will Merhige battle in his tennis match at number four singles. Almost everyone was watching Timmy Coe’s exciting tiebreaker victory at number two singles, and Will was essentially alone taking on what looked like one of their top tennis players. Will won the first set but was tied in the second set when Coe won and everyone from both camps lined up around his court to watch what would be the deciding match. He kept to his game plan, driving the Tecumseh guy back with deep shots and then finishing him off by going to the net. Impressive!” (Sam Berman)

JonahWhile the 15s were battling their way to a hard-fought 4-3 victory in tennis, the 10-and-under baseball team under the cool leadership of Wesley Eifler played in a “classic.” On the mound was Pierce Cowles who delivered three innings of commanding pitching and also managed to bang out four hits at the plate while scoring two runs. When Cowles found some trouble in the third inning, Eifler astutely went to his bullpen and Jonah Reay slammed the door with three plus innings of shutout ball to preserve the 2-1 victory. The 10’s defense made no errors, and several sensational plays by Reay helped secure the victory, thus creating some awesome Pemi energy in the morning. When the final out was recorded, everyone rushed on the field to celebrate.

“I was watching the 15’s tennis match, but kept one eye looking through the fences to the 10- and-under baseball game. I could hear and feel the intensity of the game, and I wasn’t even there. You would hear the crack of the bat, wild cheers, and one side celebrating a run or an out. I wish I had watched that game, but you couldn’t help but feel the waves of energy pulsating up the hill.” (Jivan Khakee)

GradyWith Pemi jumping out to two victories at Tecumseh, and the campers unaware of Pemi dropping all three events at home, the 10’s soccer team and the 15’s baseball team stepped into their second events brimming with confidence. Grady Nance, who attends the Haverford School in Philadelphia, archrival of the majority of Tecumseh kids who attend Episcopal Academy (and ironically Haverford is also former school of the new director of Tecumseh, Doug Knight!) mowed down Tecumseh’s top hitters, setting the tone for the remainder of the game. Robert Cecil, who spent his free afternoons taking extra hitting practice after spending a full year away from baseball, delivered a thundering bases-loaded double to plate the three runners ahead of him and give Nance ample run support to deliver a crisp 6-0 Pemi victory. The 10s, unfortunately, ran into one Tecumseh’s best teams, conceded a goal in the opening minutes of play, and went onto to suffer an 8-0 loss.

“If I had to do one thing over, I wish we or I had spent more time with the Juniors after they lost that soccer game. We were so excited about winning baseball and how our division was doing, I think we might have missed a chance to help them get ready for tennis and swimming in the afternoon.” (Owen Fried)

The Afternoon Events

JasperThe two camps entered the Tecumseh dining hall with the score 6-4 in favor of Tecumseh. At Pemi, the 13’s soccer team delivered an impressive 4-1 victory in soccer against a very strong Tecumseh team. Jasper Nusbaum was incredible in the Pemi goal while Arlo Grey, Wyatt Intrator, Spencer Hill, and Will Laycock delivered the goals for Pemi. Tecumseh won 12s soccer (3-0) and Tennis (5-2), 11s Tennis (6-1) and Baseball (9-0), and 13s swimming (46-14), so the atmosphere and momentum at each camp were distinctively different.

After lunch, the 10s tennis team lost 5-2 while the 15-and-under soccer team battled against a very determined Tecumseh side. For the majority of the first half, Tecumseh kept Pemi pinned in their end of the field and eventually scored as a deflected shot changed direction and drifted painfully past the incredibly talented Nick Bowman to the upper corner. Pemi unleashed a blistering attack in the second half as the team moved Patterson Malcolm forward and played balls more directly. A Malcolm header rolled just wide of the net, and Riley Walsh’s volley rung the cross bar as Pemi kept the pressure on. Despite a much better second half, Pemi lost 1-0 to an extremely fit Tecumseh team that never subbed once.

Patterson2“Watching Patterson Malcolm give 150% – no 200% – on the soccer field with a strained quad — was pretty amazing. He chased down every ball. It was unbelievable. When he collapsed on the field in exhaustion and tears at the final whistle, we all ran to pick him up. That was pretty special.” (Jivan Khakee)

The 15s and 10s were clearly dejected after tough losses to start the afternoon, and both age groups walked slowly down to the waterfront fully aware that winning the day was not likely in the cards. Anyone who has been at a Tecumseh Day knows that the final swim meets often bring out the best in our respective campers, especially when the meet involves our youngest and oldest campers as they come together as one group cheering each other on. The 15s are a talented squad, and Tecumseh always has plenty of depth. Both these factors highlighted the remarkable meet that transpired.

“One of my favorite memories of the day was watching Noah Belinowiz break the record in the breaststroke. We had just lost a really close soccer game and were a little down. His excitement over breaking the record—the way he jumped out of the water and pumped his fist—I think it woke us back up and got us fired up to compete in the swim race.” (Jivan Khakee)

SwimmingWell, compete they did! After jumping out to an early lead with record-shattering performances by Belinowiz, Grady Boruchin in the backstroke, and Robert Cecil in the freestyle, Tecumseh’s overall depth reeled Pemi in and tied the meet going into the final event, the freestyle relay. This set up one of the greatest races ever witnessed, as both camps rolled out talented relay teams.  Belinowiz, Luke Silver, Boruchin, and Cecil delivered a legendary performance while breaking the record in the process.

“On the last relay of the swim meet we were all in a state of disbelief when they announced the score was tied.   We all started cheering like crazy during the last race. I think I lost my voice as Robert Cecil pulled away from Tecumseh’s anchor in the final lap and finished first to win the race and the meet.” (Owen Fried)

It was a fantastic performance and exemplified the emotional and physical endurance of our oldest campers. While the 10s came up short in their relay, you could see their clear joy and admiration for their big brothers. After the cheers on the beach were exchanged, our community walked up slowly to the Tecumseh mess hall to close out the day. Each 15-year-old occasionally looked back over his shoulder, knowing his athletic journey at Pemi and this bold tradition was finally over.

“I felt sad, not about losing the day: we had done our best and won three of our four events. It was more about the realization that this age group will never be together again, competing on Tecumseh Day.” (Jivan Khakee)

“At the end of the race, I wasn’t sad about losing the day, because our age group had a great day and, for most of the Seniors, we had already lost, tied, and won a Tecumseh Day over the course of our time at Pemi. Not many campers have experienced each one of those outcomes.” (Owen Fried)

“It didn’t hit me that this marked the end of competition for our age group until the buses rolled into camp. The last time we rode those buses back from Tecumseh we carried The Hat and everyone was there to greet us and celebrate. This year I think I was even more amazed because, when we came back, there were just as many people waiting for us, and we all felt part of a strong community.” (Sam Berman)

MoonBusWhen the buses and vans returned to Pemi, hugs, high fives, tears, stories, and laughter met the competitors. Several Seniors addressed the throng of campers and told them how proud they were of their efforts, regardless of the outcome. The boys were also met by one of the most incredible full moons just rising from the east, orange and bold as it reflected the final light from the setting sun. It was clear to everyone that our 15s, the majority of whom first came to Pemi as Juniors, were also ascending at a pace worthy of awe and appreciation. They simultaneously held onto to their last days of being boys on Lower Baker while at the same time taking major steps forward in becoming capable and caring young men.

– Charlie Malcolm

Moon2

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.

5_Talbot

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

 

 

Summer 2013: Newsletter # 6

[For those of you who missed the special segment on SportsCenter, here is Athletic Director Charlie Malcolm’s overview of Pemi-Tecumseh Day 2013!]

The day arrived with great anticipation for the lads of Lower Baker and Winnipesaukee.  From the date the “hat” made the long drive from Moultonborough Neck Road to the friendly confines of the Baker Valley, our friends at Tecumseh have been busy recruiting athletes and exploring ways to get as many athletic boys as possible to remain or return for the big contest against Pemi. Here at camp, last week’s cheers were loud in the mess hall, the preparation was moderately frantic, and the sunsets were spectacular.  Each Pemi team practiced for four days, though many campers still took advantage of opportunities to climb mountains, chase butterflies, and perform at campfire.

As always, the Tecumseh Day bugle sounded at 6:30 AM, with the morning mist gliding through the valley to meet the boys.  The seniors blasted rock music and led the Juniors and Intermediates in exercises and a charging Polar Bear before heading up to breakfast for a quick meal before the buses carrying the 10s and 15s left camp at 7:37 AM.  This year, Tecumseh sent advanced vans with each starting unit ahead of their buses and arrived earlier then usual.  You immediately got the sense that Tecumseh was particularly serious about this year’s contest.  Over the last three seasons, Pemi has actually won two more total events than Tecumseh, so clearly, Tecumseh was determined to get back to their winning ways of the Blue and Grey.

Morning Events at Pemi:

SurajThe 11-and-under tennis team stepped onto the courts in the first time slot and played a very competitive match.  Spencer Hill won his number-one singles match 8-0 as did four singles Quinn McConnaughey 8-5. Unfortunately, Suraj Khakee lost in a tie breaker 9-7 at number-two singles, demonstrating outstanding sportsmanship throughout the match.  Number-one doubles of Scott Cook and Ryan Bush won their match-up, though Pemi 11s eventually fell 4-3 in their opening match.

The 12’s soccer game was the most challenging event to watch on many levels and exemplified Tecumseh’s singular determination to make a statement that this year would be different.  Pemi’s footballers were playing Tecumseh’s strongest unit loaded with newly recruited club-level talent.  Timmy Coe fought tenaciously for Pemi at midfield but to no avail as Tecumseh skillfully possessed the ball.  The boys from Winnipesaukee scored early and often and by half time Pemi was down 4-0.  In the opening moments of the second half, Tecumseh scored a 5th goal and coach Roberts made the wise move of pulling many of his top players, most of whom would be playing tennis in the next contest.  Tecumseh chose to keep the ship moving full speed ahead, adding seven more goals in the second half.  Coach Roberts did a remarkable job subbing in players and keeping the boys engaged despite the difficult circumstances.

The 13’s swim team kept the contest close in the early stages before falling to a deep and talented Tecumseh team 33-17.  The highlights of the meet was the work of Ezra Nugiel, Kevin Lewis, Lyle Seebeck, Noah Belinowiz, Lucas Janszky, and Robert Cecil as they swam their hearts out.

From the opening pitch, Tecumseh was also off to the races in the 11’s baseball game.  Charles DeVos and Ryan Cowles made some nice plays in the field while Suraj Khakee delivered Pemi’s only two hits on the day.  The team’s character and mettle were tested throughout the contest as Tecumseh poured it on during a 13-0 rout and our boys had difficulty handling the set-back.

On the tennis court, a strong Pemi 12’s team received victories from Timmy Coe, Gavin Sultan, and Ben Ackerman. With the overall score knotted 3-3, the doubles team of Lucas Gaffney and Ben Burnham fought back from a 7-2 deficit before falling short.  It was this effort by Pemi that provided a glimmer of hope that the boys could begin to rally and meet the challenge of the day.

PattersonThe 13’s soccer team played an aggressive Tecumseh group in what would be a highly competitive match.  Pemi took control of the first fifteen minutes of the match, as Carson Hill, Patterson Malcolm and Ted Orben combined to create a dangerous attack. Tecumseh gradually began to put Pemi back on their heels, but the tenacious play of Lyle Seebeck and Nick Toldalagi denied Tecumseh quality scoring opportunities.  Throughout the match, Sam Berman played well in the net for Pemi.  Ten minutes into the second half, Ted Orben sent Malcolm in on a partial breakaway, but the Tecumseh keeper bravely came off his line and stuffed the play for a game-saving play, even though he was injured on the play.  As the second half wore on, Tecumseh’s overall fitness and desire to win eventually wore down Pemi and they pushed home three quality goals late in the contest for a 3-0 victory.  The 13’s soccer team and the fight and determination from Gaffney and Burnham suggested Pemi could compete if they were willing to embrace the challenge.

The Morning at Tecumseh:

The Doc Nick’s Wonders ten-and-unders found themselves facing a very talented baseball opponent.  Tecumseh’s side-arm pitcher mowed down the Pemi bats while he and his teammates delivered a blistering offense.  Defensively, Jamie Acocella and Whit Courage made great plays in the field as Pemi fell 13-0.

Fortunately, the 10s left their disappointment behind on the little field as soccer coach Bryce Wallis skillfully regrouped the troops and focused their efforts on the challenge ahead.  Tecumseh scored ten minutes into the game, but Pemi answered when Charlie Howe picked a ball out of a scrum near the 18 and chipped the ball over the Tecumseh keeper for a 1-1 tie at half.  After numerous spectacular saves by Gordon “Banks” Robbins in the Pemi net, Tecumseh seized the lead six minutes into the second half, but Pemi kept pushing forward as Eric Bush and Max Blohm worked tirelessly on Tecumseh’s massive soccer field to create scoring opportunities.  With the time running down, Pemi gave up a late goal for the 3-1 final score, but the boys deserved tremendous credit for their extraordinary effort.

MaxArthurThe 15 tennis team garnered victories from the Duval brothers at number-one doubles and Bill O’Leary at third singles, while Arthur Root and Max Pagnucco, and Jack O’Connor and Will Jones delivered doubles triumphs for the 4-3 victory.  However, the 15’s baseballers found themselves down 5-1 early despite outstanding defense from Ben Chaimberg in center and a Zach Leeds at short.  With Pemi trailing 6-2 in the last inning, Hugh Grey hit a triple to deep left center to ignite a Pemi rally.  Pemi narrowed the score to 6-4 with key base hits from Julian Hernandez-Webster, Arthur Root, Will DeTeso, and Bert Oberlander.  With the bases loaded and one out, Leeds hit a sharp comebacker to the mound that resulted in a game-ending double play. It was a frustrating loss, given Pemi had ample opportunities to score but hit the ball hard at people and just couldn’t deliver that one timely hit to break open the game.  As the Tecumseh team stormed the field, Pemi made the long walk back to the mess hall knowing they had gone 1-3 in the morning events at Tecumseh. The news from Pemi would be even worse.

Lunch at Pemi and Tecumseh: “We can still win!!!” and “I’m not going to sugar coat this!”…

After Tecumseh left the dining hall, Pemi gathered around the piano to briefly discuss the morning and re-calibrate their efforts for the afternoon.  Pemi clearly was facing a very prepared and motivated opponent, clearly out to send Pemi a message that last year’s victory was not well received in the Tecumseh community.  I spoke to the Boys about our commitment to each other and importance of being great teammates, especially when the contests were not going well.  There was a brief moment of silence when, all of the sudden, a voice blurted out, “We can still win!”  Well, down 9-1, Las Vegas would make that a historic long shot. Nevertheless, there was something in that young voice that broke the somberness of the situation and inspired all of us to rake a little harder, and perhaps, not take ourselves so seriously.

At Tecumseh, Kenny brought together the boys under the big oak tree overlooking Winnipesaukee.  “I’m not going to sugar coat this,” he confessed. “The results from this morning were disappointing. We can mail it in now — or we can choose to play for something that matters to us.  We have this choice before us.”  With Pemi trailing 9-1 at lunchtime on the road with our youngest campers in tow, the fifteen-and-unders had to come to grips with a very tough situation and respond.

At Pemi, when the 11’s arrived at the Dining Hill, they were an age group in turmoil.  They had let a winnable tennis match slip away and had been creamed in a baseball game.  Some of the lads weren’t necessarily handling the adversity and pressure of the day with the grace and determination necessary to move forward.  This is when excellent counseling could come in, as Payne Hadden, Will Meinke and the rest of the 11’s staff refocused the boys and guided them to one of the best performances of the day on the soccer pitch…

The Afternoon at Pemi:

…From the opening whistle, Pemi outhustled Tecumseh to every 50/50 ball, and seized a 1-0 lead when Sasha Roberts sent Ryan Bush in alone for the score.  In the second half, Tecumseh pushed forward but the defense of Will Laycock, Owen Lee, and Henry Seebeck held strong until Pemi goalie Jasper Nussbaum made an incredible save on a penalty kick to preserve a much needed victory.

The 12’s baseball team stepped onto the diamond to face another very talented side from Tecumseh. Tecumseh quickly shut down the Pemi bats while their talented short stop from Philadelphia delivered a 3-4 effort as our rivals built a 6-0 lead.  Noah Hooper and Jack Elvekrog pitched well for Pemi to keep us in the game and James Minzesheimer broke up the shut-out in the sixth inning with a clutch base hit for the final 7-1 score.  Despite the loss, Pemi played eighteen boys in this game while keeping the game close.

OwenFriedAfter Carson Hill delivered steady victory over an overtly frustrated Tecumseh opponent for Pemi’s 13’s tennis team at first singles and Jackson Trevor and Ketan Parekh won handily at first doubles, Pemi found themselves down 3-2 and needing some clutch victories to defeat the Tecumseh line-up.  After Robert Loeser defeated his gritty opponent with his own unyielding determination at fourth singles, the doubles teams of Owen Fried and Ted Orben at third doubles clinched the match when they chose to play aggressively at the net. With victories in 13’s tennis and 11’s soccer, Pemi appeared to restore some of their missing mojo.

The 12’s age group had lost all three contests heading into the swim meet.  The team came together and fought hard in the water to get a result.  Pemi won the medley relay (Elvekrog, Mangan, Boruchin, and Silver) and received first-place finish in the breast stroke (Byron Lathi) while taking second place finishes in the breast (Jack Elvekrog) Butterfly (Grady Boruchin) and free style (Luke Silver).  To win the meet, Pemi needed a second and third place finish in the free relay.  Coach Payne Hadden wisely broke up his first relay team to share some speed with his second team, and the decision was a splashing success as Pemi took first and third place to win the meet 27-25!  Well done, coach!  Well done, boys!

The 11’s mermen team swam hard but didn’t quite have the horses to deliver the victory. Frank Applebaum won the butterfly while Henry Seebeck took the breaststroke. Scott Cook actually came out of the Health Center and swam well, taking third in the IM (which Pemi won.) Medley Relayers Spencer Hill, Seebeck, Applebaum, and Ryan Bush came in ahead of their rivals, but overall the team came up short at 24-31.

OscarThe 13’s baseball team, fresh off their well-earned victory in tennis, came out and played a flawless baseball game.  Oscar Tubke-Davidson stymied Tecumseh’s bats with outstanding pitching while the defense of Patterson Malcolm at short, Jivan Khakee at third, and Grady Nance in center closed the door on any potential big innings.  Key hits by Nance and Billy Rudnick pushed Pemi to a 3-2 victory – and a 2-2 split on the day for the thirteen-and-under age group.

The Afternoon at Tecumseh:

The 10’s tennis team fell 5-2 to a very strong Tecumseh squad.  Even with Whit Courage winning fourth singles and Jamie Acocella and Eric Bush taking second doubles, Pemi unfortunately came up short in two tie-breakers in what was a very close match. Nevertheless, it was clear to everyone that the ten-year -olds had given it their all.

While the 10’s were playing tennis, the majority of both camps came to watch the fifteen-and-under soccer match.  Without much fanfare, but with a quiet determination, Pemi’s 15’s stepped onto the pitch determined to win this match.  Historically, the 15’s game is one of the most watched and hotly contested fixtures of the day.  Tecumseh rolled out a physical, kick-and-run side against Pemi’s smaller, more technical team.  In the center of the pitch, Julian Hernandez-Webster and Nick Bertrand controlled the ball and built Pemi’s attack down the flank where, Theo Long, Arthur Root, and Brandon Somp worked their magic.  When Tecumseh did hit long balls over the top, Ben Chaimberg shut down and denied any significant opportunities. Zack Leeds, shaking off his disappointment from the 15’s baseball game, delivered an incredible effort on the left flank, fighting through many hard Tecumseh challenges.  Twenty minutes into the game, Leeds pressed forward to keep the ball in Tecumseh’s half and was fouled, creating a free kick.  It was from this restart that Charlie Scott opportunistically redirected a ball home for the 1-0 Pemi lead.  Later, Hernandez-Webster, working off a set-piece corner kick carefully crafted by Coach Mark Baddeley, volleyed home Scott’s serve for the 2-0 victory.

Any past Pemi fifteen-year-old who has swum his last race at Tecumseh after a long day knows something about this coming-of-age experience on the Tecumseh waterfront.  This year’s fifteen-and-unders arrived at the waterfront feeling proud about their efforts and the result on the soccer pitch, and they channeled those feelings towards their junior companions.  Facing an historically deep and talented team with little prospect of victory, the 15’s put their total big brother energy behind Doc Nick’s wonders.  The tens, who had gone down in defeat in each of the previous contests, needed this boost of support.  The 10’s swim contest was easily one of the best of the day.

The Junior Camp Boys immediately seized control of the meet when Jack Griffiths, Charlie Howe, Grady Burke, and Kevin Miller delivered a first place in the Medley Relay.  It was all Pemi from that point forward, as Finn Lincoln, Peter Dunkel, Whit Courage, Harrison Tillou, Max Blohm ,and Ted Applebaum all delivered points for Pemi.  These boys worked hard all week, and it was impressive to see them deliver an effort and performance when swimming for pride.

Returning the Hat:

With the ring of the Mess Hall bell at Pemi, the dining hall quickly quieted for the anticipated transfer of the hat.  Danny Kerr reminded the participants to review their preparation and performance after the fashion of ski racer Bode Miller, telling them that as long as they felt they had done everything they could to play their best, they should let go of any disappointment over the result.  If they came up short on this checklist, he said, then they should make adjustments and move forward.  Mark Luff, the Tecumseh Program Director and long-time ambassador forn all things Tecumseh-Pemi (he also directs Tecumseh’s G&S), reminded us all of the unique combination of friendship and competition between these two camps.  He declared that the closeness of recent year’s contests had increased the rivalry between the two camps, yet not at the expense of the relationship.

After Danny and Mark spoke, it was my turn to give The Hat back to Tecumseh.

“Over the years, I have asked several Tecumseh campers if they knew the story of The Hat – what actually happened in early August of 1967.  They replied, “Yeah, your Director said he liked George Munger’s hat and Mr. Munger said if you beat us, you could have the hat.”  Well, knowing Tom Reed Sr.’s values and purpose in life and the deep respect George Munger likely had for competition and the work necessary to achieve at the highest levels, I can guarantee you that exchange didn’t happen. You see, back in 1967 Pemi and Tecumseh played home-and-home matches, and when Pemi lost 9-3 on the initial day, the Pemi community was upset with their performance and dedicated their remaining summer to beating Tecumseh – which, after an amazing weeks-long preparation effort, they managed in the second meeting of the year (hyper link to History of the Hat) It was Munger’s deep appreciation for Pemi’s effort that led to the tradition of The Hat.”

“Last year you lost to Pemi, and your camp community made a similar commitment to each other to reverse the result.  Your baseball teams were incredibly prepared, your soccer teams ran through the ball, your tennis players delivered clutch performances in numerous tie-breakers, and your swimmers hit the water with purpose.  In the end, winning the hat represents all of your commitment and journey together. The actual score of the day is a bi-product of hard-work and dedication to each other – and in this spirit of respect for your efforts, Camp Pemi returns this Hat to Camp Tecumseh.”  The Pemi community then rose and delivered the traditional cheer, and both camps filed out for flag lowering and a few more handshakes.

So in the end The Hat was lost, but perhaps more important life lessons were gained in the day’s journey as Pemi had to get off the mat and compete.  Counselors stepped up and delivered high quality coaching and counseling, Pemi athletes learned the importance of commitment in times of adversity, and the boys found opportunities to lead when times were challenging.  All of these learning experiences and the ranges of emotion one experiences on Tecumseh Day make up one of the many great chapters over the course of seven weeks on the shores of Lower Baker.  By the time you have read this newsletter, a group of seniors will have climbed Katahdin or the Presidential Mountain range.  Another group of uppers will have completed the Mahoosucs, and another the Kinsmans. Dozens of boys will have completed their distance swim, taken their first nature occupation, performed at campfire, or finally mastered their part in this year’s G&S, Iolanthe.  (Good seats are still available!)  Life goes on, and we are all a little richer for our annual testing with our ancient rivals. Win or lose.

Charlie Malcolm

In Pursuit of “The Hat”

Hat_groupNow that cheers in the Pemi messhall are erupting spontaneously in anticipation of Friday’s  annual competition with Camp Tecumseh—an athletic rivalry that dates back to 1908—it seems timely to reflect on the symbol of the day known affectionately—and reverently—as “the hat.” Where did the hat come from and what does it represent? 

_____________________________________

 

Saturday, August 12, 1967

Throughout the new mess hall, raucous laughter and cheering, fueled by unbridled excitement, emanate from every corner.  The energy is palpable, visible in every smile on every face in the building.  Cheers ring in the rafters: “P-E-M-I sis boom bah, Pemigewassett, Pemigewassett rah rah rah, 10-and-Under Tennis! 10-and-Under Tennis! 10-and-Under Tennis!!” The underdogs have triumphed for the first time in 11 years, in itself a magnificent accomplishment, but in light of their 9-3 loss just a few weeks before, that triumph reflects unbelievable levels of commitment, determination and cooperation among the 200-plus assemblage. Seven wins, five losses – an incredible community feat!  Gradually, at first mysteriously, the energy in the building diminishes; the noise abates. Heads start to turn toward the enormous glass facade of the structure, through which one can see another group of 200, the boys, counselors and director of Camp Tecumseh, approaching the mess hall from the outfield of our big diamond. We rise, bewildered, as the group draws closer, several Pemi counselors joining Tom, Al and Doc Nick on the porch. Meanwhile, Director George Munger leads his campers and staff up the steps of the mess hall, beckoning Tom Reed over to his side. Over four hundred people go silent now, wondering what Mr. Munger has on his mind.  Extending his hand to Tom, Mr. Munger says, “Tom, Al, Dr. Nichols, and all of you men of Pemigewassett, I represent all of my friends at Tecumseh in offering you our sincerest congratulations. We are deeply impressed with the work you have devoted to turning the tables on us and triumphing today. The spirit and effort we witnessed on the fields from all of you was extraordinary.” Mr. Munger pauses, evoking considerable clapping and some whistling. Settling the crowd with one hand and doffing his tattered straw hat with the other, Mr. Munger goes on: “Let this hat stand in testimony to your incredible work today, Camp Pemi. Our respect for you, our friends and competitors, has never been greater. On behalf of every one of us at Tecumseh, I thank you as I stand in awe of what you have accomplished!”

The Era of “The Hat”

Thus, already 59 years into a unique intercamp rivalry (the two camps first competed with one another in 1908), Pemi and Tecumseh began the era of “The Hat.” In 1967, three age groups, 10-and-Unders, 12-and-Unders and 14-and-Unders, competed in four sports: baseball, swimming, tennis and track. By 1970, Pemi’s next victorious year, soccer had replaced track as the fourth event (when the Tecumseh track meet began a new era as an invitational event comprising up to half a dozen camps). Yearning to include more boys in the competition, both camps gradually agreed to add more age groups, resulting in the five that compete today: 10-and-Unders, 11’s, 12’s, 13’s and 15-and-Unders.  And when the camps’ seasons shrank from eight to seven weeks in length, the current one-day home/away protocol was created. Today, the iconic Munger hat, long since bronzed and transformed into a trophy, symbolizes the longest and probably most passionate camp sports rivalry extant, a rivalry that eclipses most colleges’, as Tom Reed, Sr., often pointed out.

George Munger and Tom Reed, 1993

George Munger and Tom Reed, 1993

Tom Sr. also liked to remind us of the value of facing challenging competition. An impressive four-sport varsity athlete at Oberlin College, Tom certainly spoke from experience and from the heart. Despite the outcome of the day from year to year, every summer Tom inspired us to embrace the intense level of competition that Tecumseh perennially brought to the day, insisting that only by attempting to match and transcend the best Tecumseh had to offer could we play our best. No one ever doubted this, and as we have seen in recent years, in the multiple contests decided by one run, one match, one goal, or two points, the two sides truly do inspire the very best out of one another.

While the Beatles proclaimed that “All you need is love” in the summer of 1967, our mantra at Pemi was decidedly different. On the heels of the 9-3 loss at Tecumseh in early July, the Pemi staff, galvanized by swim coach Terry Sweetser, recognized the potential of the Pemi athletes and quietly decided, one and all, to take the athletic program to a higher level. Team practices consumed all of our time other than trips, meals, occupations and sleep. The investment of campers and counselors in the determination to beat Tecumseh was universal, and the real goal was simply to inspire the best out of every Pemi athlete. In that regard, August 15, 1967 was an unqualified success for the Pemi community.

July 27, 2012

Charlie_HatKidAlthough subsequent Pemi wins have been few – 1970, 1983, 1998, and 2012 – the striving and bonding that accompany our annual preparation for Tecumseh/Pemi Day have frequently matched the levels of that 1967 season. In 2011, for example, when Pemi managed an overall tie (see highlight video), despite obvious disappointments, few would argue that the camp community coalesced into a stronger, tighter family after all those games. And on July 27, 2012, once again the power of 200 plus individuals aimed at one goal inspired innumerable amazing performances (see highlight video). As Tecumseh Athletic Director Mark Luff noted, we should try to infuse our school and community sports teams with similar levels of dedication, intensity, sportsmanship and mutual respect that Tom Reed, Sr. and George Munger avidly promoted for so many years. And as Pemi Athletic Director Charlie Malcolm reflected during the 2012 celebration—with The Hat appropriately showcased on the mantel under the original Pemi Kid—though in 10 or 20 years we might not recall the score of any one contest on Tecumseh Day, as long as we live we will never forget our teammates with whom we worked so hard to triumph. “This Hat does not represent winning; it represents our journey together.”

– Fred Seebeck

Summer 2013: Newsletter #5

Hello again from Wentworth, where we are well into the fifth week of the 2013 season. As many of you veteran readers will recall, our storied rivalry with Camp Tecumseh is customarily renewed at the end of every Week Five, and this summer is no exception. We have engaged with our esteemed and talented rivals from Lake Winnepesauke virtually every year since 1908, and there is no question that this is the most important day in our entire athletic schedule. Think Harvard-Yale; Michigan-Ohio State; Red Sox-Yankees; Redskins-Cowboys. Think Super Bowl, but with over 150 boys from each camp competing in four sports (baseball, soccer, swimming, and tennis) in five age groups (10-and-under, 11s, 12s, 13s, and 15-and under.) True, we pride ourselves on being a well-rounded camp. But Friday is the athletic equivalent of the Allagash Canoe Trip for the Trip Program – or the Advanced Caving Trip for the Nature Program – or the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta and Annual Art Opening for the Arts and Music Program. As with these other events, even boys who are not participating take a keen interest in what their cabin-mates and colleagues are doing, living the truth that community can sometimes be as much about respectful attention and support as about personal participation.

Next week’s Newsletter is slated to come from Charlie Malcolm, our inspirational Director of Athletics who spends the off-season teaching History at Northfield-Mt. Hermon School, where he also coaches the boys’ varsity soccer team. This week’s, though, largely comes from Trip Counselor Dan Reed, recently returned from said Allagash canoe outing. Before we turn to Dan’s account of this most ambitious and wild of Pemi expeditions (barring, of course, Pemi West, which recently wrapped up after a spectacular 3-plus weeks in the Washington State’s Olympics including a succesful ascent of the eponymnous peak!!!), let us indulge in a little historical segue.

Early travel to Tecumseh

Early travel to Tecumseh

In the early days of camp, the pilgrimage to Tecumseh itself smacked almost as much of the trip program as of athletics. The event began with Pemi campers and staff packing sports gear, bedding, and clothing for three days and then walking the three and a half miles to the train station in Wentworth. A two-hour journey brought them to The Weirs, where they boarded the steamship Governor Endicott and travelled another hour or so to the cove where Tecumseh has its waterfront, then shuttling in small boats to get to shore. There, they established camp on the sandy beach and grass verges of the big lake, where the Four Docs built cooking fires and supervised the preparation of supper. After an evening of song and, no dount, heroic tales of past Pemi-Tecumseh clashes, everyone bedded down on the beach for the night. Shades of Henry’s troops before Agincourt (perhaps). Word has it that the mosquitoes were brutal, and rumors routinely spread that the Tecumseh management had specially ordered in millions of the tiny pests to suck the blood from their opponents of the following day. Current Pemi Nature Director Larry Davis assures us that the concept of mercenary mosquitoes was as unlikely then as it is now, but sound sleep was evidently hard to come by for our aspiring warriors on the shores of Winnepesauke. Then again, when Tecumseh journeyed to us (as they always did in what was then the home-and-home annual exchange), the tables were turned and our lads may have had the advantage of a miniscule version of blood doping. In any event, once the day’s competition was over, it was another supper and night on the beach, re-embarkation on the Endicott, a return to the train at The Weirs, then back to Wentworth for the long walk home to Pemi. You’ve all heard those stereotypical tales of how our parents or grandparent walked every day to school through five-foot snowdrifts – and uphill in both directions. In this case, there’s hardly any exaggeration involved. But, while the modern Pemi kid rides to Moultonborough Neck in a plush school bus and dines, shoulder-to-shoulder, with his Tecumseh rivals in their screened dining hall, the competition is no less intense or fulfilling. Stay tuned for Charlie’s detailed account in next week’s missive. (Read Charlie’s 2012 newsletter recounting Pemi’s 11-8-1 win!)

Now for Dan’s rendering of the Allagash trip.

It was a glorious week of paddling, bald eagle sightings, great food, and the sense of total independence from the rest of the world.  The Pemi Trip Program offers campers incredible opportunities all summer long.  We hike in the White Mountains.  We go caving in Schoharie, NY.  We explore natural wonders both local and distant.  And, for our oldest campers, we send an annual canoeing trip to the Allagash Wilderness Waterway in northern Maine.  Someone with an appreciation of puns might call this the “flagship” of our Trip Program.  This term also accurately describes the journey’s significance, as it is a celebrated trip open only to Pemi’s full-season 15-year-olds.  This year the trip was populated by ten young men – Ben Chaimberg, Zach Leeds, Nick Bertrand, Bryce Grey, Hugh Grey, Ned Roosevelt, Matt Kanovsky, Daniel Bowes, Jack Green, and Ethan Pannell – and led by former cabin counselor and division head Andy Kirk and current trip counselor Dan Reed.  The adventure was comprised of four full days paddling the Allagash, with a day on either end spent driving the 8 hours between Wentworth, NH and Allagash, ME. 

Our first day started at the ripe hour of 4:30am, when the yawning but excited crew loaded into a van at Pemi and started the long drive north.  We were soon greeted by the sunrise, and enjoyed a beautiful morning on the road.  Around noon we stopped for a refreshing lake dip in Maine’s Baxter State Park, and quickly followed with lunch at a local pizza joint.  Then we met the able crew of Katahdin Outfitters, who supplied us with canoes, paddles, and life jackets.  They drove us the final three hours along backcountry logging roads to Churchill Dam, where we set up camp for the first night.  We were greeted there by our friends the blackflies, deerflies, and horseflies, who would keep us company for the entire trip.  After setting up our tents and enjoying a dinner of burgers, spaghetti, and fresh vegetables with ranch dressing, we went down to check out the river that would carry us the entire 62 miles over the next five days.  With Andy lifeguarding, we enjoyed a belated polar bear before zipping ourselves into our tents and enjoying our first night’s riverside sleep.

Velocipede

Velocipede!

As we would for the next several days, we pulled up on shore for lunch around midday.  We refueled with sandwiches (ham/kielbasa/pepperoni and cheese, sunbutter and jelly, etc.) and a candy dessert, took a quick dip in the river, then set off across Umsaskis Lake.  Our campsite at Sandy Point was at the far end of the lake, and we pulled in at around 4pm.  Like the first night, we set up camp and enjoyed some time swimming in the river.  Dinner was plentiful with a huge pot-full of spaghetti with meat sauce.  The ever-helpful boys gladly finished off the pot and offered to clean dishes.  Another camp group pulled in and stayed at the next site over. Our experience with them and with subsequent groups reminded Andy and me of how Pemi boys’ maturity and respectful behavior on trips really sets them apart.  No wonder the AMC staff in the White Mountain huts is always happy to see a Pemi group come through!

After another good night’s sleep, we started the third day with toasted English muffins, bacon, and fried eggs.  The weather looked promising at first, but the clouds darkened as we made our way across Long Lake.  We took a break on a beach covered with flat round stones – so the obvious response was to have a rock-skipping contest.  Hugh Grey, Ned Roosevelt, and Zach Leeds ended the session at the top of the heap, each with a toss of around 20 skips.  As we paddled the latter half of the interminable lake, the skies broke open and treated us to a downpour.  Fortunately we had all our gear packed in waterproof bags, and so could enjoy the free shower, the sound of the rain on the water, and the perfect symmetrical splash made by each rain drop as it hit the surface of the river.  But New England weather is predictably unpredictable, and the sun was out and shining brightly by the time we stopped for lunch.  We enjoyed a sunny afternoon, with the occasional sighting of a bald eagle overhead or a river otter alongside the boats. 

We pulled up to the Outlet campsite on Round Pond in the mid-afternoon, with our camp setup accelerated when we observed some threatening thunderheads on the horizon.  We unearthed what we affectionately termed the Tarp Mahal, a huge 40 ft. x 24 ft. blue tarp, which would for the next few days protect our eating area from the occasional deluge.  Indeed, soon after we began making the dinner of couscous and chili, a massive thunderstorm moved overhead and parked itself there for an hour or so.  We enjoyed our immunity from the rain while eating dinner, and then settled down to sleep, enjoying the sound of the rain on our sturdy tents.

Allagash PaddlersOur third full day was a long one: fifteen miles along the river to majestic Allagash Falls.  We saw our only moose of the trip that morning, lounging in the river about 150 yards ahead of us.  The sight of twelve humans staring in awe must have made her self-conscious, because the moose climbed up the riverbank and disappeared into the forest as we came closer.  The day continued with many sightings of bald eagles.  In the minutes leading up to our arrival at our campsite that afternoon, we paddled to the growing roar of the falls ahead of us.  After having come ashore well in advance of what would have been an exciting but perhaps ill-fated waterfall experience, we set up camp and headed down below the falls for a quick swim.  Here the water is deep with a fast current, and we let ourselves float downstream a few times before calling it a day and enjoying a dinner of beef stew, mashed potatoes, and homemade tortilla chips with cinnamon and sugar. 

Our last full day on the river started with more heavy rain.  We kept dry under the tarp during breakfast, and the short day of paddling ahead of us meant that we could stay put and wait out the downpour for a few hours.  During a lull in the rain, we carried our canoes and gear down the quarter-mile path to a safe launching point downstream of Allagash Falls.  We went swimming once more beneath the falls, this time jumping from riverside rocks into the deep pool gouged out over time by the falling water.  A short 2-hour paddle brought us to East Twin Brook campsite, where we would spend our last night on the river.  There we ate an early dinner of leftovers, then went to bed along with the sun.

TentsiteA dark, pre-sunrise morning greeted us as we got up on our last day.  By now experts in campsite setup and take-down, we quickly packed up our tents, tarp, and other gear, and got onto the river as the sun came up.  We only had an hour’s paddle to our destination, where we came onshore, packed our gear into our waiting van, and started the long drive south.  Ten hours later we pulled into camp, greeted by both the familiar and new faces of Pemi’s second session.  After a week of brilliant canoeing, we were all excited to be back home.  Thanks to all the Allagash guys for a fantastic trip.  Now our attention turns to the enjoyment of the final few weeks of the summer, back on the (often) sunny shores of Lower Baker Pond.

Many thanks to Dan for this evocative account. We should say in passing that one of the pleasures of the outing for both staff members was that, thirteen years ago, Dan was an eight-year-old camper in Andy’s cabin, Junior One. Little could either of them have predicted that, over a dozen years hence, they would be co-leaders on Pemi’s most celebrated trip, Dan sharing van-driving duties with his former mentor. That’s one of the joys of Pemi, though – that longevity and continuity regularly allow for this kind of “years later” serendipity. It’s one of the things that makes us feel as much like a family as anything else.

That’s it for now. Come Friday, keep an eye on the ticker at the bottom of your ESPN screen. Win or lose, though, we’ll be throwing ourselves wholeheartedly and joyously into one of the great and timeless rituals of Pemigewassett.                                   

— Tom and Danny

Summer 2013: Newsletter # 3

Hello again to all of our gentle readers. It’s been an eventful week, replete with all the usual activities and also with our annual Fourth of July celebrations and a big athletic day thrown into the mix. The weather continues to keep us on our toes but, once again, there’s not a whole lot that we haven’t been able to do, especially if we’ve been willing to wait out a shower or two and be flexible with our schedule. Today, for example, we’re sending out two backpacking trips that had originally been slated for yesterday (an Upper 4-day to the Carter Range to the northeast of Mt. Washington and a Lower 3-day to the Kinsmans this side of Franconia Notch), four additional overnights (Lower 3-days to Mts. Moosilauke and Osceola, a trip for Upper 4 to Greenleaf Hut in the Franconia Range, and a short hike for Junior 3 up to the Pemi Shelter), and a lunch trip across the lake to Flat Rock (for Lower 1). Lots of boys have been very patient as they’ve waited for the right weather window to get off on an exciting jaunt, and we’ve been extremely impressed by the way they’ve coped with the hard realities of sensible planning.

IMG_3035After a wonderfully indulgent half-hour delay for wake-up on the Fourth, we kicked off the Big Day with our annual Pee-rade. All cabins participated in what is always a dizzyingly creative potpourri of floats/skits that treat the history of the camp, the nation, and the globe – and occasionally risk a glimpse into the post-apocalyptic future of Pemi. The entire Junior Camp made a bid to re-enact the Revolutionary War, half of them dressed in Patriot Blue, half in Tyrannical Scarlet. After being enjoined by what we think must have been an a-historical referee to engage in “a nice clean war,” the two sides clashed thunderously together until cooler heads prevailed – leading to a truce sealed when Kevin Miller and Marco Zapata laid aside their imaginary weapons and shook hands in explicit preparation for being allies in WW II. Given the number of Brits we have on our staff, it was good to see our past national differences so happily set aside.

IMG_3043Amongst the Lower Lowers, Cabin 3 garnered the esteemed judges’ top honors with a highly-topical skit about the Pemi Investigative Agency (yes, we’ve heard about the NSA up here) foiling various murky activities about camp. The highlight was Rafe Forward popping out of a laundry bag to bust a ring of clothing thieves. Also worth noting was the inaugural appearance in Pemi “lore” of Heather Leeds, one of the lynchpins of our office staff. Played in the skit with chilling verisimilitude by Jackson Morrell, Heather can now rest assured that she has achieved mythic status at Pemi. Laurels amongst Upper Lowers were snatched by Lower 5 with “A Pemi Infomercial,” documenting all sorts of institutional mismanagement from Waterfront Head Paige Wallis being more interested in texting than minding the safety of her swimmers to staff members crippling innocent campers in a fierce game of Frisbee Running Bases. Nick Ridley’s boys, led by smooth-voiced narrator Lucas Gaffney, earned a big bag of Skittles for their efforts. Sadly, all of them have been named by Danny in a defamation suit about which you should soon be hearing in the national news.

IMG_3080Upper 3 snatched up a motif from Danny’s earlier Sunday Meeting talk about the musical influences in his life and traced the history of “The Pemi Five” all the way from a 1908 a capella group through the foundation of The Silver Cornet Band. Music does live on at Pemi, and Henry Eisenhart’s boys parleyed that truth into scads of sucrose. Fortunately, the judges were weighing acting talent more heavily than musical chops, as Miles Davis has nothing to fear from Kevin Lewis’s trumpet playing – nor Carlos Santana or Eric Clapton from Caleb Tempro’s or Owen Fried’s chops on guitar. Finally, Senior Three jammed authentic Pemi History into a tried-and-true Hollywood formula with “The Pemi Justice League,” casting things as recent as the Mystery of the Disappearing Pickle Barrel (ask your sons!) and as ageless as our rivalry with Camp Tecumseh into the mode of Super Hero vs. Arch Villain confrontation. Special kudos go to Hugh Grey as the spitting image of Head of Staff and Former Trippie Jamie Andrews – and Matt Kanovsky as a bug-net clad preserver of the natural world. All in all, this year’s Pee-rade made it clear that imagination, energy, and irreverence live on in equal measure in the seething brain of The Pemi Kid!

oreoThe afternoon involved the entire camp being divided into six teams (mixed age-groups, with Juniors pitching in with Seniors as equal partners) playing a round-robin tournament in various whiffle-ball venues and competing in such arcane activities as dice-stacking (five at a go, arrangeable only with the assistance of the plastic cup in which they came) and Forehead-to-Mouth Oreo Transfer (look, Ma! No hands!). Maybe you had to be there! The afternoon was sunny and warm, and a good time was had by all – everyone, btw, slathered in sunscreen and hyper-hydrated.

That evening, in the Messhall, Danny awarded silver Revere Ware bowls to the campers and staff for whom this is the fifth year here. We’re always especially happy to recognize folks for whom Pemi has been such an important and constant enterprise. This year’s campers were Andrew Appleby, Noah Belinowitz, Sam Berman, Nick Case, Dylan Cheng, Alex and Jon Duval, Crawford Jones, Hugh Jones, Andrew Kanovsky, Kevin Lewis, Alex Marshman, Tom Moore, Greg Nacheff, Reed O’Brien, Nick Oribe, Dash Slamowitz, Caleb Tempro, Nicholas Gordon, John Stevenson, Graham Cromley, Bryce Grey, Henry Jones, and Nick Toldalagi. 5-year staff veterans included Buck Baskin, Nick Davini, Dorin Dehls, Heather Leeds, Stan Barlow, Nathan Tempro, and Brandon Hendrickson.

Wrapping up the day was the annual Fourth of July Vaudeville, ably hosted by Ian Axness and Teddy Gales. We’ll be sparing with details, as this letter is threatening to run long, but we must mention that the 106th embodiment of the Pemigewassett Silver Cornet Band lived up to every expectation. Among stellar camper soloists were Noah Belinowitz on saxophone, Matt Edlin on French horn, and Emmanual Abbey on drums. Other noteworthy camper acts included Robert Loeser singing “America the Beautiful” (when does Robert ever not stop the show?) and Reed O’Brien with a remarkably skilled piano improvisation. Chopin or Keith Jarrett, watch out. Finally, and almost literally bringing down the house, this year’s iteration of “The Little People” (now known as the Pemi Peewees) made camp history: four wee ones, two boys as always (played by staff brothers Nick and Ben Ridley) and, for the first time ever, two girls (Paige and Bryce Wallis). The theme was Merriwood Day – that flirtatious time of year when our older campers fraternize with the lasses up the valley at an excellent girls’ camp – and the effect of it all was a split-screen look at the fevered preparation on both sides of the gender line. We’re not sure if a Pemi audience has ever laughed harder.

We’ll leave our account of the past week at that. Now for a brief word from Danny on one of the more interesting recent developments in the camp program.

Greetings from Lower Baker! It is hard to believe that we are beginning our third week at Pemi and that plans are already well under way for end-of-first-half festivities like the Birthday Banquet and mid-season awards. Despite the somewhat unpredictable weather of these opening days (as we say in New England, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes!”), the first two weeks have been incredibly busy, with our four program areas – Athletics, Arts & Music, Trips, and Nature (so beautifully coordinated by Assistant Director extraordinaire Ken Moore) – all re-establishing themselves as vibrant facets of life here at Pemi. As I walk from the playing fields to the waterfront, from the Nature Lodge to the Art Building, and from music lessons to the archery range each day, it is inspiring to see our talented teachers sharing the expertise and love of their particular activities. Indeed, after envisioning just this scene all winter, it is quite uplifting to see it in action!

One of the most exciting opportunities we offer our boys each summer is the chance to take occupations with staff members whom we refer to as “Visiting Professionals,” the veteran and professional teachers, craftsmen, and scholars who come to Pemi each summer for a “visit” and to share their passion and knowledge in their field of expertise. Most of our Visiting Professionals are teachers, retired teachers, or professionals in their field who would love nothing more than to spend their entire summer at Pemi but who can commit only to a shorter stint because of the demands on their time back in their “real lives.” So, feeling mutually that it’s a “win/win” to have these folks here for part of the summer, we bring them in, tell the boys about the opportunities that await them, and then witness and enjoy the infusion of energy, wisdom, and skill these highly skilled and energetic people bring to Pemi each summer.

Who are these Visiting Professionals, you ask? In the past couple of summers, we’ve had visits from people like Andy Bale, who teaches photography at Dickinson College, Trey Blair, head baseball coach at Kentucky Country Day School, and Phil Laundry, who runs a fly-fishing business in and around his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. In 2013, we are fortunate enough to have four Visiting Professionals join our learning community: Dave Huippi, Jim Dehls, Stephen Broker, and Conner Scace. Let me tell you a bit about each! 

SteveBrokerSteve Broker is a retired high school and college ecology teacher and current state bird recorder for the great state of Connecticut. Steve joined the Nature Program and spent the first week at Pemi teaching ornithology and an occupation called “reading the woods,” which taught the boys how to unravel the history of our beautiful wooded area through the lingering clues of prior settlement and development, the natural environment, and wetland ecology. Stephen was introduced to Pemi many years ago, as his father Tom was the Waterfront Director here in the 1930’s! When asked about his return to Pemi this summer, Steve offered this: “It was a thrill to finally follow in my father’s footsteps. He always spoke so reverently about his days at Pemi. I look forward to returning next summer and hopefully for many summers beyond.” Sounds good to us, Steve!

DaveDave Huippi comes to us via Northfield Mount Hermon School, where he teaches math and is the varsity boy’s lacrosse coach as well. Dave’s past includes stints coaching and teaching at both the Salisbury School in Lakeville, CT and the Bement School in Deerfield, MA after having played lacrosse for sixteen years at Milton Academy, Trinity College, and for Finland’s national team beginning in 2005. “I’ve heard so much about Pemi from my friend and colleague at Northfield Mount Hermon, Charlie Malcolm. There’s nothing I enjoy as much as teaching lacrosse, no matter what level my players are. It is a pleasure and honor to join the Pemi community for three weeks this summer!” It’s great having Dave with us, especially given that claim to get as much of a charge out of teaching boys who have never held a lacrosse stick as from coaching advanced players.

Jim Dehls is a former Pemi camper and counselor (1959-1965 and 1968) and now parent to daughter Dorin Dehls who is back for her fifth summer at Pemi. Jim’s passion is music, and while at Pemi this week he will be teaching drum circle, assisting with Gilbert and Sullivan, and teaching a cappella. Jim taught high school chorus in Groton, CT for 25 years and is presently the Director of Music at Christ Church Episcopal in Pomfret, CT., where he also teaches private voice and piano lessons. Jim says about his time at Pemi, “I get more back than I give! I love the place so much, how nice for me to be able to re-join the staff again after so many years away!” Jim, by the way, was a primo water-ski instructor in 1968 and one of his goals for this week is to get back out on a slalom ski after years and years on dry land. That’s just the kind of spirit we love to see in Pemi alums!

Conner Scace is no stranger to teaching at Pemi, having worked here the past three summers. This year, Conner’s teaching and schooling schedule prevented a full summer in Wentworth, but we are thrilled to be able to take advantage of his expertise as an entomologist once again. During the year, Conner is studying to teach science full-time in the classroom. “I wish I could be here full-time again this summer, but I am so excited to at least be able to spend three weeks at Pemi, despite the demands on my time!” We share in his excitement – and only wish you could see how excited Conner is able to get your sons about this or that species of ants. Talk about energizing our awareness of even the tiniest denizens and elements in our valley!

So, while we feel very confident that our day-to-day summer staff provides excellent instruction every day for the boys, this infusion of professional instructors for a few weeks each summer is quite the boon. They bring not only their expertise but also, in each case, a real love of education and an appreciation of all that Pemi does so well.

Well, we reckon that about does it for this week. Farewell for now. When next we write, our first-session boys will almost unbelievably be home – and our second session campers will have just arrived for their own 3½ weeks. We can’t wait to greet them, but we will assuredly miss our companions of these most recent slightly dampened weeks. Here’s to a wonderful rest of the summer for all.

— Tom and Danny

 

Newsletter #6: “You are the hat”

In case you missed the news on Sports Center – or You Don’t Say – Pemi came out on top in this year’s day of competition against Camp Tecumseh, 11-8-1. Despite last summer’s tie, it’s our first aggregate victory since 1998, and it was deeply satisfying. (Ask your sons!) The wonderful result notwithstanding, Pemi is now “back to normal” as a place where athletics is only a part of the camp program: six overnight mountain trips are currently out, there is a Nature field trip to Crawford Notch planned for the afternoon, our annual Art Show is in preparation, and “Pirates” rehearsal starts in ten minutes. Nothing could have signaled our reversion to the norm more insistently than an act at Saturday night’s campfire when Owen Felsher and Ezra Nugiel teamed up in a stunning rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Love Story,” with scores of campers and counselors singing along. Impresario Ian Axness leaned over to this correspondent and asked wryly, “Do you think they’re doing this very thing over at Tecumseh?” We guess not. ‘Nuf said. Here’s Athletic Director Charlie Malcolm’s account of the day.

Eleven days before our annual contest with Tecumseh, a group of second-half Pemi campers joined our full-season boys on the shores of Lower Baker.  As the hot, humid weather led to genuinely more laid-back preparation by the various teams, the camp played a series of local contests with some very mixed results.  As the week progressed, the weather cooled and the Seniors led cheers in the Mess Hall that eventually began to shake the very foundations of camp.  Last year, our Seniors provided dynamic leadership and Pemi’s competitive spirit suggested we no longer feared our opponent from the shores of Winnepesauke. Pemi scrapped and hustled their way to a 9-9-2 tie. The Hat remained at Tecumseh, but the experience made us all realize that victory was within our potential grasp.

This year, the day looked in jeopardy when the extended forecast and radar suggested a long series of storms passing through central New Hampshire.  At 6 AM, both camps decided to plow forward because the much-needed rain was pushing towards the coast just south of Pemi and Tecumseh.  The boys awoke at 6:30 AM to light rain and the thunderous cheers and music of our Seniors.  Kenny Moore, logistical master of all things Pemi, had the 11s, 12s, and 13s rolling to Tecumseh by 7:35 AM, crossing paths with our Tecumseh brethren in Ashland, a clear sign Pemi was moving with purpose.  When the buses arrived, Kenny gathered the boys and emphasized the importance of being good teammates, the length the day, and how to find a Tecumseh bathroom known as a “Widow.”

At Pemi the boys returned from breakfast and cleaned their cabins while the trip crew delivered water to the misty fields and I put the finishing touches on the baseball and soccer venues.  When Tecumseh arrived in their vans and yellow buses, they quietly met on the basketball courts to discuss the upcoming day.  The recent tie with Pemi had unnerved Tecumseh despite their winning 46 of 49 previous “days.”  Pemi Day is an incredibly important event for Tecumseh as it marks the last sporting event of the summer. Winning or retaining George Munger’s bronzed hat is perhaps for them the emotional equivalent of Pemi’s Final Banquet, a time of celebration and closure.   Far too often Pemi has been the main course of this athletic feast.

The Contests: Morning at Pemi

Suraj Khakee

Events at both camps started promptly at 9:30 AM, and the results instantly suggested this was going to be another competitive day.   At Pemi, the 10s baseball team locked into a pitcher’s duel as Suraj Khakee matched his Tecumseh counterpart with six shut-out innings.  Nick Holquist made two game-saving catches in right field against his former camp, and catcher Jamie Acocella held on to several foul tips to keep the game knotted at zero.  With the potential winning run on second, Pemi had a chance to clinch the game in the bottom of the sixth, when Suraj ripped a line drive over the bag that the Tecumseh third baseman snared for the final out of the contest.

While the 10s battled on the diamond, Jeff Greene’s 15s Tennis team jumped out to a 3-2 match lead as Ned Roosevelt and Andrew Coe won their single matches and the doubles team of Arthur Root and Florian Dietl won in a super tie-breaker.  At number one singles, Sam Davitt lost in a tie-breaker while doubles team of Dan Reiff and Oliver Kafka suffered the same fate.  Unfortunately, two matches had to be delayed until after lunch so that the baseball game could be started, with Pemi holding a 3-2 lead.  With their backs against the wall, Tecumseh subsequently won both matches to secure a much-needed 4-3 victory.

Morning at Tecumseh

Down in Moultonboro, the 13s swim team set the tone with an historic effort, setting four camp records on their way to a 29-26 victory.  In the 200 Medley Relay, Harry Tuttle, Colin Alcus, Sam Grier, and Alek Novikov took first with a blistering camp record 2:12.06.  After Alcus won the individual backstroke, Grier set another camp record when he took the 50 butterfly.  Pemi held a 25-20 lead heading into the final relay, with Pemi needing a clean race and a second place to win the meet.  Novokov, Tuttle, Oberlander, and Grier swam smartly, finishing second while also breaking another camp record.  

While the 13s swimmers triumphed in the water, the 12s soccer team, one of Pemi’s strongest this summer, was dismantled by an impressive Tecumseh side.  Patterson Malcolm and Owen Fried played particularly well in defeat, but Tecumseh was too fast and skilled, dominating central midfield and the pace of the game.   However, spirits were raised when Pemi’s 11s Tennis team made quick work of their opponents.  Coach Nugiel’s squad swept the singles with victories from Willie Noble, Matt Kanovsky, Gray Farley, and Timmy Coe.  Coe’s victory was particularly impressive because he fought back from a three-game deficit and won 8-6 in a tie-breaker.  The doubles teams of Jack Elverkrog/Luke Ackerman and Jakey Cronin/Aidan Griffiths delivered two more victories to power Pemi to an impressive 6-1 victory.

As Pemi and Tecumseh moved on to the second events of the morning at their respective camps, the weather miraculously held, and the score in events was an inspiring 2-2-1.  At Tecumseh, the 12s Tennis team pushed aside their considerable soccer disappointment and delivered a crucial momentum-changing effort.  After Carson Hill went down gallantly at number one singles 8-6, Jonah Roque and Nick Toldalagi won their single matches 8-1, while Robert Loeser fought off a tenacious challenger and won 8-6.  After Patterson Malcolm/Dylan Cheng and Ted Orben/Will Merhige both lost tight matches at doubles, the score was tied 3-3.  The third doubles team of Grant Noble/Grady Nance would decide the outcome.  The match was close throughout, with neither side gaining more than a one game advantage.  During the eventual tie-breaker, Pemi seized a 4-1 lead, only to have Tecumseh win the next two points to make the score 4-3.  With the court surrounded by dozen of nervous but enthusiastic fans, the Pemi boys stepped forward and delivered confident, aggressive net play with Grant Noble calmly putting away “a room service volley” to clinch the tiebreaker and a 4-3 12s victory.

Tyrrell Moore

The 11s baseball team ran into a cagey Tecumseh pitcher, Carson Fischer (former Pemi boy!), who shut out Pemi 3-0.  Jack Elvekrog pitched well in defeat, going the distance and giving up only one earned run.  A great defensive play by Ethan Elsaden kept the game close, but the Pemi bats never got hot enough in this contest.  Fortunately, the 13s soccer team kept their mojo going as Coach Walsh orchestrated an outstanding effort.  After several setbacks in previous matches, Coach Walsh scratched his formation and went with a more traditional 4-4-2.  Pemi scored 20 seconds into the contest, as Jamie Nicholas jumped on a poor clear and beat several players off the dribble before blasting a shot home.  With John Galbreath, Harry Tuttle, Graham Struthers, Colin Alcus, and Andrew Merrell holding down the defense, and Tecumseh running on fumes late in the first half, Nicholas went on the attack once again and drilled a well-placed shot to the side netting.   The second half was all Pemi, as Tyrrell Moore hit a bomb from 30 yards out that slipped under the bar. He would later score a second goal when he jumped on the rebound of a Charlie Scott shot and pushed it past the Tecumseh keeper for a convincing 4-0 victory!

Will Laycock

At Pemi, the 10s soccer team found themselves tied 0-0 at halftime, as both teams battled tenaciously at midfield.  Sasha Roberts was a masterful warrior at midfield, as he won the majority of his defensive challenges and played balls quickly to Pemi’s spry attack.  The defense of Jamie Acocella, Dean Elefante, Max Blohm, Henry Seebeck, and Frank Applebaum neutralized Tecumseh’s offense, buying Pemi crucial time to solve Tecumseh’s defensive riddle.  When Tecumseh’s man-child from California did blast a shot, Ben Ackerman made the save.  With Nick Holquist bombing down the left flank, and Kevin Miller and Scott Cook scrapping for balls at midfield, the offensive trio of Will Laycock, Ricky Trinca, and Spencer Hill turned the Tecumseh defense inside out.  First Hill beat two Tecumseh backs and pushed the puppy home.  The goal electrified the team, and moments later Laycock was sent in alone and courageously pushed the ball past the sliding keeper.  Finally, Trinca, with three Tecumseh players trying to thwart his attack, skillfully nudged the ball past the keeper as the adoring Pemi crowd went wild, the cheers echoing down the valley.

Rosie

Because Pemi’s soccer and baseball fields are so close together, a given event’s momentum can impact a game in the immediate vicinity.  When the 10s Soccer team scored their first goal of the second half, right behind the senior diamond, a massive roar appeared to energize our 15s baseball team and to unnerve our opponent.  Each camp looked back to see Doc Nick’s little wonders taking it to our guests.  As the cheers reverberated, and the 10s dropped a second and third goal on Tecumseh, the 15s diamond warriors put Tecumseh under pressure.  Ned Roosevelt, a Tecumseh Day Gladiator who has pitched Pemi to victory on several other occasions, mowed Tecumseh down in order.  Henry Day led off the game with a walk, stole second base, and advanced to third on a Daniel Reiff single.  With the positive energy flowing in Pemi’s direction, the Tecumseh pitcher unleashed two wild pitches to plate Day and Reiff.  With Will Parsons on third after stealing second and advancing on a Sam Davitt single, Coach Blumenthal shrewdly orchestrated a textbook delayed double steal to take advantage of the general chaos, pushing home a critical third run.  With Tecumseh trying to get back in the game with runners on second and third and two outs, Pemi catcher Henry Day alertly picked off a “Happy Wandering” Tecumseh runner to crush a third inning rally.   In the final stanza, with Pemi holding a very vulnerable 3-1 lead and potentially-tying Tecumseh runners on first and second base and no outs, Rosie coolly struck out the next two batters and then induced a soft ground-out to third to end the game.  While Rosie delivered five quality innings, he was supported by great defensive plays by Zack Leeds, Will Parsons, and Alex Baskin to deliver a crucial victory for the “Flagship.”

The Afternoon

After the morning events, Pemi held a 6-3-1 lead.  It would take four victories out of the remaining ten contests to bring THE HAT back to Lower Baker.  Over my twenty plus years as Athletic Director, I have often witnessed Tecumseh’s impressive will to win come to the fore in the afternoon events; however, as we watched our boys compete in the morning, whether at Pemi or at Tecumseh, it was quite clear our momentum would not flag under the weight a potential victory.

At Tecumseh, Kenny gathered the boys together at the buses and looked to put them in a calm, focused state of mind for a much-needed rest hour.  “You heard the scores. Does that change our game plan? (The boys answered in unison, “no”.)  We need to maintain our focus and play loose and play together.  We did a great job supporting each other as teammates; let’s keep that up!  And remember what Charlie said. If you make a mistake, don’t worry, just make the next play simple and re-set your confidence.”   At Pemi, I met with the 10s and 15s in the dining hall after Tecumseh left for their shade in center field.  Without hearing about the scores at Tecumseh, the boys were told that we were doing very well, but that they had to be prepared for our guests to come out with everything they had in the opening moments of the ensuing contests. Support each other and “finish it!”

At Pemi, Afternoon Events

Jarrett Moore and Jeremy Roque

The 15s soccer team locked horns with a motivated, athletic squad of Tecumseh players who had a fresh bounce in their step after receiving the news that their tennis team had just triumphed.  Last year, their 15s crushed Pemi 7-0 in an awesome display of soccer domination.  From the opening whistle, it was clear that this match was going to be quite physical and competitive, as both teams challenged hard for every loose ball. Ben Chaimberg, Oliver Kafka, Zach Leeds, and TH Pearson led Pemi’s defense.  With Tecumseh’s attack under wraps for much of the first half, Pemi was able to mount several dangerous attacks.  Sam Davitt and Andrew Coe nearly connected midway through the first half. Later, Davitt was pushed down in the box just before receiving a wide open through ball, but the decision was no-foul.  With seven minutes to go in the half, Tecumseh received a well-deserved free kick from 35 yards out on the flank.  The Tecumseh player mishit the ball and the resulting spin bent the ball back towards the net, where Pemi goalie Nick Bertrand desperately tried to get back to his line and push the ball wide.  Bertrand got a hand on the ball, but Pemi was unable to clear the ball off the chalk. Pemi later pushed forward for the equalizer but could not get Jarrett Moore open or Sompy free on the flank.  We generated several free kicks and corners but failed to deliver the equalizer.  As the 15’s slowly walked to the waterfront, though, their spirits were buoyed by the news that the 10s tennis team had delivered a smashing victory, 5-2.  Spencer Hill set the tone in first singles with an 8-1 victory. Kevin Miller, Suraj Khakee, and Sasha Roberts followed with impressive single victories to give Pemi a commanding 4-0 lead.  Whit Courage and Scott Cook forced a tiebreaker and then put their opponents away 7-2 to provide Pemi with a 5-2 margin of victory.

At Tecumseh, Afternoon Events

Chris Schmidt

At Tecumseh, the afternoon started with the 11s soccer team falling 3-1 to a talented, deep squad from Tecumseh.  Timmy Coe played a brilliant game at midfield, while Luke Ackerman held down the defense in front of Andrew Kanovsky.  Up top, Willie Noble worked diligently to create opportunities, while Jakey Cronin orchestrated the attack, eventually scoring on a penalty kick late in the contest.  Of special note was Dash Slamowitz’s inspiring effort with his hustle and determination.  The 13s tennis team quickly built on their momentum from the morning with a dominating performance in tennis. Chris Schmidt, Charlie Harrison, and Jamie Nicholas won their singles matches convincingly, while the three doubles teams of the Duval Brothers, Graham Struthers/John Stevenson, and Will Harned/Jack O’Connor cruised to victory, pacing Pemi to a 6-1 decision.

The 12s baseball team, one of Pemi’s strongest, stepped up to the plate and dominated their opponent from the first pitch.  Pemi scored three runs in the top of the first with contact hitting and aggressive base-running.  Oscar Tubke-Davidson mowed down the Tecumseh batters, striking out 15 of 17 batters faced.  After adding single runs in the second and third innings to push the lead to 5-0, Pemi put the game away for good when Patterson Malcolm led off with a single, Oscar hit the first ball ever hit onto the porch of Munger Hall (can’t believe it was ruled a ground rule double!), and Jivan Khakee delivered a clutch double to drive them home.   Tecumseh mounted a comeback in the 6th inning, closing the gap to 8-2, with the bases loaded and two outs.  Coach Blair went to the bullpen, and Grady Nance punched out the last Tecumseh hitter for Pemi’s 16th strikeout of the day!

 The Final Events

A great day is achieved when it is only with the final events that the outcome is determined.  Pemi went 3-2 in the first afternoon events pushing their lead to 9-5-1.  We needed just one more victory to clinch the day.  Of the last five events, four were swimming, which was a fitting finale given that the Hat was first given in honor to Pemi because of their incredible improvement in the water in the summer of 1967.  Not many kids show up to camp as competitive swimmers, so the event measures a boy’s willingness to take on a challenge to help support the community.

Sompy

At Pemi, we (thankfully) have no cell reception, so news from Tecumseh only passes through the office (Heather and Kim) where Tecumseh’s Mark Luff or I collect the results.  We are careful not to share the early results until we all meet in the dining hall, each of us wanting to protect the individual events from the weight of the day.  So the 10- and 15-and-unders did not know the score of the day or the outcome of events at Tecumseh, but they definitely knew that Pemi had a great chance to win.  The 15s swam incredibly hard, but eventually fell to a deep and talented Tecumseh swim team 29-26.  Hugh Grier won the 50 back stroke and Julian Hernanadez-Webster won the breast stroke to keep the meet close.  The free style team of Hugh Grier, Sompy Somp, Cole Valente, and Thompson Bain delivered a herculean effort and beat Tecumseh in the free relay by literally one inch.  Although the squad came up three points short, they provided an extraordinary effort and fantastic leadership for the 10-and-under swim team.

Frank Applebaum, Whit Courage, Coach Wallis

Doc Nick’s Wonders entered the final event of the day with a 2-0-1 record.  They attacked the water with confidence and provided Pemi a Hat-clinching effort.  The relay team of Max Blohm, Henry Seebeck, Frank Applebaum, and Whit Courage set the tone with a dominating first place in the Medley Relay.  Blohm would take a first in the back stroke while Seebeck and Finn Lincoln nailed a first and third in the back stroke.  Applebaum delivered a first place in the butterfly, with his form the envy of both coaching staffs.  With the Pemi community on the edge of the lake cheering our merboys in the final race of the day, the free relay team of Courage, Sasha Roberts, Spencer Hill, and Applebaum beat Tecumseh’s top quartet by half a second. Pemi’s second relay team of Kevin Miller, Lincoln, Scott Cook, and Blohm secured a third place, thus pushing the final score to Pemi 32, Tecumseh 22.  The scene on the beach was joyous for Pemi as the 15- and 10-and-unders celebrated when the final scores were announced.  With a 2-2 split in the afternoon events at Pemi, the Boys anxiously awaited news from Camp Tecumseh.

At Tecumseh, Final Events

News traveled quickly from Lower Baker to the waterfront of Tecumseh that the 10s tennis team had won their match, leaving Pemi one win shy of victory.  As the 11s and 12s swim teams and 13s baseball team headed into their final event, each boy and coach knew Pemi only needed one more victory to win the day.  The 13s baseball players ran into our rival’s best team.  Tecumseh jumped out to an early lead as timely hitting and porous Pemi defense sent our boys down to a 7-1 defeat in four innings.  Will DeTeso and Graham Struthers pitched well for Pemi, while the team received great hitting from Jamie Nicholas.

Byron Lathi

At the waterfront, the 11s and 12s swim teams knew they needed to win one event and swam their hearts out.  The 12s received great efforts from Noah Belinowiz, who anchored the relay teams, Dylan Cheng in the Butterfly, and Carson Hill in the Medley Relay, but Tecumseh’s squad was too deep and talented for Pemi and the boys fell 35-20.  In the 11s swimming meet, the teams remained virtually tied after the first two events, but then Pemi took first and third in the next three events to pull away.  In the Breast Stroke, Byron Lathi took first and Jack Elvekrog finished third.  In the Butterfly, Jeff McKee finished first, with Carter Franciskovich earning third.  Finally, in the individual Freestyle, Robbie McDonough finished first with Timmy Coe finishing third. In each race, Pemi’s depth delivered three crucial third place points that extended a 9-8 Pemi lead to 24-14 with two events remaining.  Pemi only need a second place finish to clinch the meet and the day.  The team of Robbie McDonough, Gray Farley, Timmy Coe, and Jeff McKee delivered that second, and everyone at the meet knew the day had been clinched.  All the boys sprinted from the waterfront to the 13s baseball game to share the news of victory.

The Celebration

“Celebrate at home,” reminds Ken.

As the 13s diamond match ended at Tecumseh, Kenny gathered the boys on the soccer field and emphasized the importance of sportsmanship, urging them to save the celebration for when we returned to Pemi.  As mentioned earlier, this day and the importance of winning is at the foundation of Tecumseh’s mission.  It was critical for the Pemi boys to respect their opponent.

As Pemi entered the unusually subdued Tecumseh Mess Hall, many of Tecumseh’s boys and staff individually congratulated Pemi before the outcome was announced.  After dinner, Tecumseh’s Director Jim Talbot thanked the athletes for a great day of competition, and Athletic Director Mike Dougherty announced the results and congratulated Pemi on their victory.  Legendary NFL athlete and former Athletic Director Jim Frazier talked about the history of the competition, and expressed his initial concern following last season’s tie. “Tecumseh was lucky to tie Pemi last year, but it was like giving the animal the scent for the kill.”  He later promised that Tecumseh would start preparing the very next day to re-take the Hat.

When it was Pemi’s turn to speak, Kenny encouraged all participants to remember that the Hat was first given in 1967 as a gift of friendship and respect from George Munger to Tom Reed, Sr. as a symbol recognizing the hard-work and determination of the Pemi teams.  Danny spoke to how the competition brought the best out in both camps and asked the Tecumseh boys a simple question.  “How many of you are better people at camp then you are at home?“  Every Tecumseh kid raised his hand, including Jim Frazier.  Danny then encouraged all the athletes to take these lessons and accomplishments home and to continue sharing these values.  After these final words, Jim Talbot handed the Hat to Pemi and both camps delivered their traditional raucous cheers of thanks and congratulations to each other.  And while the boys filed out of the mess hall, Kenny Moore grabbed the Hat from the table and started running for his Subaru Outback – to lead the Boys TRI-UMPH-ANTLTY back to Pemi at an appropriate speed!

Chef Stacey won for Pemi

At Pemi the campers and staff did not initially know the final numbers, but everyone felt what the outcome was likely to be.  Seniors hustled up to the dining hall to set tables as the rest of the community meandered slowly across the outfield.  After an outstanding dinner of steak, the whole Mess Hall – Pemi boys shoulder-to-shoulder with their Tecumseh peers – gave Chef Stacey and her team a standing ovation.  After Tom delivered Skittles to the tables that had successfully mastered everyone’s name, I began reading over the results from the day.  At the end, the tally was read: Pemi wins 11-8-1.  Mark Luff spoke first and celebrated the spirit of competition and paid homage to Tom Reed and George Munger for bringing this century-old tradition to the next level.  He spoke of the very same values that Danny spoke of in Tecumseh’s mess hall, and the importance of taking this level of class, sportsmanship, and heated competition beyond the White Mountains of summer camp to their future endeavors.  After Tecumseh gave Pemi a thunderous cheer, I spoke directly to Tecumseh’s seniors and shared how much the day had meant to me as a 15-year-old and how impressed I was with both their athletic accomplishments, but also how incredibly close they were as a group, even as the day turned south.  The Hat and the day of competition was always about coming together as a community, and if at the end of the day both camps have forged a stronger, more united community, the day had achieved its objective.  Pemi finished the day with a deafening cheer for their friends, the flag was lowered, and the boys of Winnepesauke got on the bus for the long ride home.

Best part of the day

When the Pemi buses arrived home – the best part of every Tecumseh Day – Kenny Moore rode in with his torso extending out of Outback’s sunroof and holding the Hat high in the air.  With the bus lights flashing and the horns honking, the Hat returned to Lower Baker for the first time in 14 years.  After ten minutes of one continuous hug and high five, the Pemi community gathered in the Lodge to bring closure to the day.  Danny called upon the 15-year-olds to celebrate their leadership and suggested that winning the Hat might be a decent habit to get into.  Danny passed me the Hat, and as I looked out at this community, it was clear that the experience was transformative. “This Hat does not represent winning; it represents our journey together.  You are the Hat….” Now the Hat has been placed in the rafters of the Lodge where the mythical Metal Boy had spent fourteen long years waiting for the lads of Lower Baker to rediscover the magic, and the joy, of that journey.

 

Enjoy a recap of Pemi vs Tecumseh on YouTube, created by Pemi alum Don Hyde of EVP Marketing and Media

 

Soups Up! Bean Soup: Going Digital

Pemi must really be coming out of the Stone Age, if the most determinedly Luddite of its institutions, Bean Soup, is in the process of digitizing all of its past numbers. What’s next? Virtual Polar Bears? Infrared webcams for night patrol? Spy satellites in stationary orbit over Camp Tecumseh? Tweets from the One-Armed Brakeman? Actually, Bean Soup began its descent into the technological maelstrom several years ago when editors Josh Fischel, James Finley, and Ian Axness regularly slunk to the front of the Lodge on Monday nights with laptops in hand, leaving many of us wondering whether they had actually written the material they were reading or if it was simply streaming from internet sites like The Onion, Al Jazeera, or Damn You, Autocorrect! But it’s true. Eat your heart out Bob Dylan: we are scanning and digitizing all of our back pages. Moth and worm may corrupt all those thousands of paper copies strewn out across the decades and the time zones, but nothing short of solar flares that muscle out past the orbit of Mercury will take all those incomprehensible Junior One articles, all those oh-so-politically-incorrect Ogontz (or Wyoda, or Lochearn, or Merriwood) Day articles, all those endless strings of Tecumseh Day articles out of our collective ken. For former campers, it’s going to be like having every day be candy day. For former counselors, it’s going to be like having days off four times a week and nights the other three. For former Bean Soup editors, it’s going to be like a nightmare where you can never, ever escape your lurid past. Seriously, this is a GOOD THING for reasons even cynical Bean Soup humor can’t obscure. We all owe a special vote of thanks to the folks who are making this happen, Nikki Wilkinson Tropeano, Ander Wensberg, and especially Robie “Calvin” Johnson. Their efforts (and the support of the Pemi Board) have been remarkable.

Here’s the deal. We’re going decade-by-decade, generally working from the present back into in the past. In case those moths and worms have been active in your own personal bookshelves, any of you who were eligible for a print copy of our esteemed journal in any past year can request a searchable pdf copy of the same. Blast notification will go out as each decade becomes available, and if you want to exercise your digital option, simply email Nikki. We will also occasionally re-publish select sections of various numbers for celebratory or informational reasons – and anyone interested in a legitimate historical or familial project that requires access to larger portions of the archive is welcome to request that. We’ll do our best to oblige in ways that appropriately respect the privacy of past campers and staff.

Nikki informs me that each decade’s release will feature a preface (or perhaps a legal disclaimer) from a distinguished Bean Soup editor of the past: the likes of Justin Thompson-Glover, Sky Fauver, Brad Saffer, or Karl See. For this first notice, she’s asked what Rob Grabill would alternatively call “an extinguished ex-editor” – that would be me – to do the honors. Well, I was indeed an editor for portions of three decades, beginning in the late sixties and ending in the late eighties. (If you don’t believe me, look at how much hair I’m missing.) Adding to that my earlier years as a camper and counselor and subsequent years as a director, I can say that I have laughed (and sometimes grimaced) my way through over fifty years of “Monday Night Fever.” When I think about Pemi, I think about campfires a lot. I think about Gilbert and Sullivan and singing in the messhall. I think about Tecumseh Days and hut trips to the Presidentials. But, in many ways, Bean Soup is the single thing that – if it could indeed be described to anyone – I would offer as a window into the soul of Pemi. Sure, part of the reason is because it documents a lot of what we actually do and say and think at camp (and a lot, too, of what we most certainly never did or said or thought!) But it’s the flow of good feeling, and common engagement, and masterful language, and often wicked humor that we witness every Monday up there that says it all – or, if not all, then at least so, so well. In the words of Doc Reed’s Campfire Song, Bean Soup often enough documents “mistakes of the head” – and it may, in fact, be guilty of a few of its own. (There have been times when a few folks here and there may have thought the Beans had been traded in for the Means. In fact, way back when, new campers were told to carve those wooden spoons because there would indeed BE bean soup served up at 7:30 in the Lodge. It was a bald-faced lie!) But “good will in the heart” has almost always prevailed, and more boys (and now gals) than I are likely to have learned how to be observant, and smart, and cutting but caring as much from Bean Soup as from anywhere else in life. What a blessing to come to a place like Pemi where you can do so much, meet so many worthwhile and welcoming people, grow in so many ways – and all with the constant reminder that you can care a lot about a lot of things without taking yourself too seriously.

So, let’s all take a moment to celebrate the Joe Campbell’s, and Rollie DeVere’s, and Bill Westfall’s, and Rob Grabill’s who have over the years invented the sport of Gummidge, and the Adventures of  Doorlock Sholmes, and Things to Look For, and the Ol’ Perfessor and Clive Bean. As Doc Nick used to say about Pemi’s history in the first Sunday Meeting of the year, “Yea, it is a goodly heritage.” (I think, in fact, he was plagiarizing from the Bible!) So it is with Bean Soup’s own storied history. Here’s to its rebirth in a form such that “age cannot wither it, nor custom stale its infinite variety.” (I think I may be plagiarizing, too. Just can’t quite remember.)

And now, on with the Soup.

~      Tom Reed, Jr.

 

Were you at Pemi during the 1970’s?  If you are interested in receiving one issue or more from 1970-1979, please let me know. I will be happy to send you any given issue or issues in PDF form.  You may contact me at alumni. Stay tuned for future releases.  ~Nikki Wilkinson Tropeano

Summer 2011: Newsletter #6

The bulk of this latest number will be Athletic Director Charlie Malcolm’s summing up of Tecumseh Day 2011. Those who’ve kept a close eye on Sportscenter will already know the results – but we won’t spoil the suspense for the rest of our readers here. After a week’s focus on preparations for T-day, however, the current week has seen a burst of activity on the trip front; we now stand only 21 miles short of completing our Appalachian Trail Quest, with 144 of us having trod at least a mile of the fabled pathway. Uppers Three and Four logged seven spectacular miles on the Franconia Ridge, and a select group of seniors seven equally stunning miles on the Presidential ridges (in perfect weather). The best staff-camper ratio by far, however, was found on the second of two trips in the Mahoosuc Range, as Trip Leader Sylvia Parol and Pemi West veteran Richard Komson accompanied Sparky Brown on the most far-flung miles of the AT in NH – including the most difficult mile of the entire 2,000 in Mahoosuc Notch. Were it not for “The Quest” I doubt the trip would have gone, but we’re on a bit of a mission, and Sparky’s walk was especially well-supervised as a result.

As one more stall before Charlie’s account, we’d like to say that our boys continue to make the kind of impression on the trail that we like them two. Our seven stays at Appalachian Mountain Club huts have thus far elicited two email compliments, out of the blue. The first came from a random guest at Greenleaf: “I would not normally follow through on commenting on such things, but your campers/staff were exemplary in their conduct and interactions both on the trail and in the hut. We encountered four other camp groups during our trek, and your Pemi boys were the most polite, inquisitive, and appreciative group we came upon. Plus one of your leaders came back to thank the hut crew before leaving! Sounds so elementary, but even the crew said that doesn’t happen often. If our three boys weren’t all grown up, I would have enrolled them at your camp.” The second came from an AMC employee: “I was at Zealand Falls Hut Tuesday night filling in for the hut croo and wanted to pass on my compliments to the Camp Pemi group who stayed there. I worked in the huts for years and have led camp trips myself and those kids were among the best I’ve seen – polite, friendly, interested, and respectful. They also seemed to be having fun!” (What a relief to hear that last!) Music to our ears – and we hope to yours. Now, over to Chas.

Pemi and Tecumseh have been competing against each other for over a hundred years.  Only gas rationing during war time and an influenza outbreak in the 1920s have interrupted this storied tradition.  Tecumseh, a camp dedicated to the pursuit of athletics, is always a formidable opponent, having won a majority of competitions over the last forty years.  Pemi’s last victory was in 1998, when a group of veteran counselors (Phil Landry, Ethan Schafer, Sky Fauver, Zach Rossetti and others) and great senior leadership pushed Pemi to victory.  It was these very ingredients that were in place for this year’s contest with Tecumseh.

Pemi enjoyed successful athletic days against Moosilauke and Kingswood in the first half, but at change-over, Pemi welcomed close to a hundred new boys to our teams.  Our coaches worked tirelessly preparing teams in five age groups (10-and-under, 11s, 12s, 13s and 15-and-under) in baseball soccer, swimming, and tennis.  As momentum began to build at Pemi, with each cheer in the mess hall getting a tad louder, the Seniors played a central role in getting the younger boys ready to compete with a camp singularly dedicated to winning what they call “Pemi Day.”

Down at Tecumseh, “Doc Nick’s Wonders” (“the junior division!”) played in what annually has been one of the closest contests of the day.  Willie Noble took the mound for Pemi and delivered a gem (5 IP, 2 ER, 6 Ks, 3 BB).  Pemi spotted Noble a 2-0 lead when Andrew Kanovsky, Mikey Suski, and Matt Cornell delivered base hits.  Tecumseh battled back to take a 3-2 lead, but Pemi mounted one last attack in the top of the 6th inning, loading the bases before the final out was recorded.  The 15s Tennis team dropped their match 6-1 to a very talented and poised Tecumseh team.  Peter Traver and Austin Dorsey delivered Pemi’s sole victory, but Eric Herbert and Alex Dietl both fell only in super tie-breakers after winning a crucial second set to even up their respective matches.

In the second morning events at Tecumseh, the 10’s soccer team held a 2-1 halftime lead on two goals by Mikey Suski, the first coming off a beautiful serve from Jackson Welsh.  After Tecumseh scored three second-half goals to take a 4-2 lead, Pemi scored twice on free-kick shots, only to have the official call the goals back for off-sides.

The “flagship”15s baseball team sent Danny Murphy to the mound for his sixth and final voyage against Tecumseh.  After the team spotted Murphy four runs in the top of the first with several base hits and six stolen bases, Dan found himself in an early jam with the bases loaded and no outs.  He responded gamely, though, and struck out the side, crushing Tecumseh’s hopes of getting back into the game as our team cruised to a confidence-building 7-0 victory.  Matt Sherman and Daniel Reiff had great days in the field and at bat while Dana Wensberg called a brilliant game behind the plate and Eric Rolfs anchored the infield beautifully.

At Pemi, something that we hadn’t seen in quite some time was brewing from the opening whistle of almost every contest.  The 13s swim team fell quickly to a very deep and talented Tecumseh squad despite great efforts from Cole Valente, Julien Webster-Hernandez ,and Jack Purcel1.  In 11s tennis, however, Pemi defeated Tecumseh 5-2  behind singles victories by Carson Hill, Jonah Roque, and Robert Loeser and doubles victories by Patterson Malcolm/Johnny Seebeck and Owen Fried/Jack Wright.   A talented Pemi 12s soccer team withstood some early Tecumseh pressure as a goal-saving tackle by sweeper John Galbreath and several tough saves by Will Harned kept the game knotted at 0-0.  In the second half, it was all Pemi as Charlie Scott jumped on a Jamie Nicholas cross and pushed the ball home for a 1-0 lead.  Nicholas would send Scott in alone for the second goal before scoring one of his own for a 3-0 victory.

While the 12s took care of business on the pitch, the 11s baseball team was locked into an incredible pitcher’s duel.  Oscar Tubke-Davidson struck out 15 of a possible 18 batters (outs) for Pemi.  Tecumseh loaded the bases in the top of the sixth when a high towering fly ball was lofted towards right fielder, Greg Nacheff, who caught the ball for out number three while falling to his knee.  Unfortunately, despite having the winning run on third base in three different innings, Pemi could not scratch home the winning tally and settled for an agonizing 0-0 tie.  In the last of the home morning events, the 13s Soccer team provided the Pemi faithful with a spectacular game.  Pemi scored first when Julian Webster-Hernandez sent a ball to Nick Bertrand in the box and Nick drove a shot to the upper-right corner for a 1-0 halftime lead.  With Ben Chaimberg, Zach Leeds, Charlie Parsons, and Nat Healy shutting down the potent Tecumseh attack, Nick Bertrand made the save of the day as he pushed away a Tecumseh free kick headed to the corner, preserving the 1-0 victory and sending Pemi into a 5-4-1 lead after the morning events.

Lunch at Tecumseh was unusually subdued as Tecumseh found themselves trailing Pemi for the first time in several years. Meanwhile, at Pemi, there was boundless confidence after the boys of Lower Baker went 4-1-1 in the morning and demonstrated they could c-o-m-p-e-t-e.   Each camp met with their respective age groups after lunch with the day up for grabs and encouraged their boys to dig a little deeper.

Any veteran of Tecumseh Day knew that our friends from Winnepesauke would answer Pemi’s challenge with incredible purpose.  At Tecumseh, our 15-and-under soccer team ran into one of their most complete and talented line-ups and quickly gave up four first-half goals.  Eric Rolfs provided the 15s with an inspiring effort in the second half, and the boys only conceded one more goal for a 5-0 loss.  The 10s tennis team lost handily 6-1, with Spencer Hill winning at first singles in convincing fashion for Pemi’s lone victory.

Back at Pemi, the 12s baseball team jumped out to a 5-2 lead after two innings, powered by John Galbreath’s two-run triple.  But Tecumseh scored five unanswered runs in the third and fourth innings, powering their way to a 7-5 victory.  On the soccer pitch, the 11s also found themselves down 2-0 at halftime after giving up an own goal and yielding to a carefully-placed shot on a breakaway.  Much like the 12s and 13s soccer teams that played in the morning, though, the 11s responded with an incredible effort in the second half.  After Wes Farley set-up Carson Hill for the first goal, Patterson Malcolm sent Ted Orben in on the left side and he hit a brilliant ball off the far post for the game-tying goal.   With the Pemi fans urging the boys forward, Jonah Roque nearly scored the game-winner when he headed a ball off the cross bar, but the team settled for an inspiring 2-2 tie.

Pemi’s effort in the 11s game was a marvel to all in attendance from both camps, but what transpired in the 13s tennis match was equally so.  Victories by Florian Dietel at number-four singles and doubles victories by Nat Healy/Ned Roosevelt and Mac McCaffery/Max Pagnucco tied the match at three apiece.  It was in this high-pressure situation that Jeremy Roque found himself in one of the great tennis duels since Bill Pruden and Mac Cushing came from behind to deliver “The Hat” in 1967.  Roque, a wiry French lad with the heart of a lion and the slyness of a fox, was up against an outstanding athlete and competitor from Tecumseh.  Each rally lasted an average of 25 strokes while both players were surrounded by vocal, respectful supporters lining the fences.  As the boys kept the ball in play conservatively on their way to an 8-8 tie, Jeremy read his opponent perfectly and changed his strategy once he sensed an ounce of doubt in the Tecumseh player, as he began to aggressively serve-and-volley his way to a victory in the final game.

With the 11s soccer draw and the 13s tennis victory, Pemi entered the final baseball game and swim meets of the day trailing by only one event, 6-7-2.  Any time the outcome of the day is in doubt heading into the last events on the schedule, the boys have clearly had an opportunity to participate in a transformative athletic experience.  Anyone fortunate enough to see our boys compete couldn’t help but gush with pride as Pemi put together one inspiring effort after another.  The 13s baseball team, behind the commanding pitching of Ned Roosevelt and the outstanding coaching of Ben Walsh, won a convincing 8-2 baseball game.  Great defensive plays by Zach Leeds, Nick Bertrand, and Charlie Parsons never let Tecumseh back into the game.  The 11s swam hard but fell to Tecumseh 40-15 despite excellent efforts from Noah Belinowitz, Carson Hill, Wes Farley, and Johnny Seebeck .  The 12s swim team, however, delivered an impressive 37-18 win behind dominating performances from Colin Alcus, Sam Grier, Harry Tuttle, and Alek Novikov.

With the score tied at 8-8-2, Pemi anxiously awaited the results from Camp Tecumseh.  The 10s and 15s both faced Tecumseh’s strongest age groups and were collectively 1-5 after three events. It would have been easy for both Lower Baker teams to fold in their last event of a very long day.  But something magical happened at the Tecumseh waterfront that ultimately epitomized the meaning of the day.  With every member of the Pemi contingent cheering the 15s and 10s to victory, the boys put on a spectacular effort.  The 15s kept the meet close until the very end, when Tecumseh’s power and depth allowed them to pull away for the victory, 34-21.  Max Livingstone-Peters, Danny Murphy, and Will Oberlander swam particularly well for Pemi.  Then, with the 10s trailing by one point heading into the final relay of the day with both the meet and outcome of the day hanging in the balance, the freestyle team of Spencer Hill, Gray Farley, Byron Lathi, and Jeff McKee delivered a legendary performance.   As McKee entered the water for the last leg of the race and day, the raucous Pemi crowd screamed encouragement in unison, and erupted with amazement and joy as McKee gave every ounce of his energy to beat his valiant Tecumseh opponent by .3 seconds, securing Pemi a 28-27 victory and a stunning 9-9-2 overall record for the day.

There were clearly plenty of individual heroes who scored big goals and runs or won crucial matches and races – or teams that found the magic to reach their collective potential – but by the end of the day we had all learned something about our camp family and what it takes to compete at the highest levels.  In fewer than two weeks since changeover, Pemi became incredibly unified and the boys were able to discover joy in an extremely competitive environment with a community that was 100% invested in their success and well-being.

That joy and that sense of accomplishment is still sustaining us, potent evidence that success is absolutely relative. Everyone would like to have come out unquestionably on top. But on balance, we have rarely seen an effort that so markedly exceeded what we might reasonably have expected – and one where the support from the sidelines so clearly had a positive and instrumental impact on the active participants. Our personal memory of Tecumseh Days stretches back over half a century, and this really was one of the great ones. ‘Nuff said.

— Tom and Danny

 

Pemi’s Charlie Malcolm Honored for Excellence in Teaching

We were delighted to learn several weeks back that Charlie Malcolm, history teacher and head soccer coach at the Northfield-Mt. Hermon School and Pemi’s long-serving and inspirational Director of Athletics, has been named the 2011 recipient of the James Cornelius Kapteyn Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Awarded by the Berkshire Taconic Community, the prize commemorates the singular life and career of Jamie Kapteyn, beloved teacher and coach at Cushing, Williston, and Deerfield Academies. The inscription is as follows:

The Kapteyn Prize shall be awarded to candidates who have made a career commitment to teaching in secondary schools of at least seven years and whose excellence in and passion for teaching and learning inspire their students to excel, in the model of the late James C. Kapteyn. Prize winners shall be individuals of exemplary character, integrity, and honor who lead by example and impart to their students a lifelong love of learning and dedication to personal growth.

Potential winners of the prize, which carries a cash award of $10,000, are nominated each year by scores of school heads in the New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts area. All are distinguished for their “triple threat” accomplishments in the classroom, in the dorm, and on the athletic field. A key part of the vetting process is an essay written by each candidate on “Why I Teach.” Charlie’s follows. We thought the extended Pemigewassett family would herald news of the award with the same joy and pride we feel – and relish the opportunity to hear Charlie’s thoughts on how directly the Pemi experience fostered in him a life-long commitment to humane learning and global citizenship.

Also included at the bottom of this posting are links to the Kapteyn website and to accounts of Charlie’s boys’ varsity soccer team winning not only the 2010 New England Prep School championship but also the Connecticut Valley Soccer Officials Association award for team sportsmanship. Everyone familiar with Pemi will appreciate the way in which Charlie’s teams, whatever the season or the location, manage so successfully to combine total effort with the highest standards personal conduct.

Why I Teach

In my elementary school days I was a distracted learner, stayed back in first grade, and carried the stigma of being referred to the learning center.  After an uninspiring effort in middle school, I was sent by my parents to boarding school where it didn’t take long for me to make a Holden Caulfield exit midway through my junior year. I remember vividly the anguish I felt as I struggled with the discipline necessary to meet academic and communal expectations.  Clearly then, my own journey is one of the reasons I teach and connect with students as they work through adolescence.  I personally was fortunate to find a community that helped me develop my self-esteem and my eventual life commitment to education. For the last twenty-five years, I have been working at Camp Pemigewassett (“Pemi”), a community dedicated to educating the whole child.  It was at Pemi that I discovered my initial talents as a teacher and embraced a vocation committed to helping young people explore their potential.

While continuing to work at Pemi during the summers after I graduated from college, I accepted a teaching position at the Landmark School, a school for dyslexic students. At Landmark, I spent my formative years as an educator exploring learning styles, the importance of self-esteem in education, and the craft of teaching an incredibly wide spectrum of students.  My charges at Landmark reminded me of how critical and powerful building close relationships was in truly educating the whole child.  When I left Landmark for St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, I applied these lessons as I searched to make both personal connections with my students and meaningful intellectual connections between history and current events.  By establishing my genuine concern for their well-being and by making history relevant to their World, I found success in the classroom.  One of my favorite assignments at St. Andrew’s was my oral history project on immigration to Washington DC, where students embraced the role of historian as they explored in depth the remarkable lives of people in their community.  I remember how Lauren Vorisek, a student reluctant to embrace history in any form, discovered her voice and passion for the subject.  Last Spring, ten years after leaving St. Andrew’s, Lauren sent me an email thanking me for igniting her passion for history and her decision to teach the subject and to introduce a much needed Latin American course in the Montgomery County public schools.

The boarding school life at Northfield-Mt. Hermon has allowed me to take to a new level my commitment to building powerful relationships with students and my desire to make history a living experience.  In my eleven years at NMH, I have embraced the interdisciplinary curriculum and the school’s commitment to international education.  Helping students make connections between disciplines and better understand the interdependence of the world we live in – and then taking them all over the World to test their theories – has been incredibly powerful and gratifying.  By taking students to meet with the leadership of the Apartheid movement in Capetown and Soweto or spending seven weeks with them living in the poor city of San Cristobal in the Dominican Republic, we have created life-changing experiences for our students, allowing them to appreciate the deeper meaning of their academic endeavors, appreciate the gift of their education and, perhaps, discover a life-long passion for understanding and fostering the World’s incredible diversity.

While I didn’t have interdisciplinary courses in high school or the opportunity to study abroad, I did find success, self-esteem, and discipline through athletics.  Early in my coaching career, I remember having the ultimate epiphany as a coach/educator when I was asked to step in as the coach of the girls’ varsity soccer team immediately following my boys’ game.  A parent who sat behind the bench for both games commented afterwards, “I wish you could hear yourself coach the girls’ team.”  It turns out I was a much more positive and supportive when coaching the girls.  As the boys’ varsity soccer coach at NMH, I have steadily worked to improve my ability to model what it means to be a leader, excellent teammate, and unyielding proponent of fair play.  We have players from all different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds at NMH, each with his own aspirations, skills, and insecurities.  Each year we strive to find opportunities to build mutual commitment to each other. We utilize community service, team-building exercises, and the toughest schedule in New England to make sure our commitment to athletics has an unambiguous educational purpose, well beyond winning and losing. It is always about the “process” and teaching young men to be individuals who are willing to embrace a common goal.  Last fall, the players won the regional sportsmanship trophy awarded by the local officials’ association, an especially gratifying accomplishment given the tenacity of our competition.  As I witness our players’ genuine commitment to each other evolve over the course of each season, I can’t tell you how proud I am to watch their emotional maturity grow in a manner that will help these young men live meaningful lives.

While my classes, travel abroad, and coaching experiences have been central avenues for engaging students, I am also proud and grateful for the relationships that boarding school can foster in our daily residential life together.  I think about international students like Korean student John Kim, who embraced my family and my role as a mentor to help them through the difficult years of being away from their own home.  Or someone like Fritz Windover, a young man who tragically lost his father and has found his life deeply connected to my own. During these turbulent and inspiring years at NMH, when we engaged in remarkable institutional initiatives, I often look back on the ways my experiences at Landmark, St. Andrew’s, and Camp Pemigewassett prepared me to live the boarding school life.   While in the dorm, classroom, distant lands, or on the playing field, I have been fortunate to make powerful connections with scores of amazing students, many of whom have become close friends.  These relationships with students and colleagues, and my desire to share with and learn from each one of them, sustain me and my family in the rigors of boarding school life. They are at the heart of why I teach.

Congratulations to Charlie for being selected as the Kapteyn recipient of 2011 – but especially for the tireless life of dedication and commitment that made him such a compelling candidate. Pemi is lucky to be able to count Charlie among the seasoned and dedicated professional educators who are its perennial leaders.

Read more about the Kapteyn Prize.

About NMH’s Boys’ Soccer Chamionship Game.

About NMH’s Sportsmanship Award.