Bean Soup Special Edition – May 2016

Greetings one and all for a special, spring serving of Bean Soup, sponsored by the Pemi Archives. We found a remarkable photograph capturing four boys outside of a Junior Cabin who are clearly witnessing something unique. We have no official documentation on file, so, in true Bean Soup fashion, we asked members of the Pemi community to create their own back-story. Here, now, are some inventive responses from our Alumni and current campers. Feel free to respond in the comments with your own version of the story. And, as they say…on with the Soup!

Bean Soup Prompt

 

Campers look on from the shores of Lower Baker Pond during Tecumseh Day 1975 as athletes competed in the first and last “cinder block lake walk” competition used to break the day’s 10-10 tie.  As the expression on the boy second from the right shows, this photo captures the precise moment the competitors hit the water after stepping off the Junior float.
–Alumnus Brad Saffer

These boys are probably looking at something interesting and out of no-where; maybe a rare bird, or possibly even a moose in the distance. Or they could possibly be mesmerized by an ice cream truck pulling into camp, with a sign that says free ice-cream, and candy!
–Camper Ollie O.

Based on historical research, Pemi is now giving considerable thought to bringing back long forgotten occupations.  First hour “Dead Man’s Hill Monitoring” was, in its day, absolutely thrilling.
–Alumnus Karl See

Five boys are walking to their cabin… Just then they notice a strange glow and one of the boys: Bill (who is not in the picture) gets sucked up into the air by aliens! Then the aliens fly away in their saucer, leaving the boys endlessly staring at the sky wondering if the aliens will come back for more.
–Camper Teddy S.

In 1946 the bikini was invented. Unfortunately, it was still 1941 and the most exciting thing around was the Velcro on camp’s life-jackets. Bikinis did find their way to the shores of Lower Baker several years later during a G & S production of “The Pirates of Penzance,” but much to the boys’ dismay, it was donned by a hairy-chested counselor.
–Current Bean Soup Editor Ben Walsh

They see a Sasquatch waterskiing across the lake being chased by the Loch Ness Monster.
–Camper Tom N.

“Man, I wish you all wouldn’t have put superglue on my binoculars” Billy said, trying to pry them from his eyeballs.
“Relax Billy, its only temporary. 72 hours tops.” Will said, as he nudged him, “And keep your voice down. It’ll hear us…”
“Guys, what is that thing? And why did it have to eat my shoes? Those were my favorite pair of shoes…” Henry whispered out.
“I don’t know Henry” said Will, “But if it tries to eat my shoes, it’ll be sorry. My shoes smell funnnnnn-keeeeee.”
–Alumnus Dwight Dunston

Four campers find themselves mesmerized on the shore of junior camp. Across the lake they see some sort of dolphin-like fish cruising through the distance swim path. The boy on the left says, “No, it couldn’t be…Robert Cecil!” exclaims the Junior on the right. They nod still staring and come to agreement that yes, indeed it is Robert Cecil flying through Lower Baker.
–Camper Mac H.

That moment when a young Charlie Malcolm, a younger Danny Kerr, a blonde Ron Weasley, and Jack Bierwirth discovered they could see Merriwood from their back porch. #closerthanrussia #youdontknowjack #instasoup
–Alumnus Conor Shaw

Four Pemi campers are playing a game of tag and are looking out for the ‘tager’. They don’t realize that he is sneaking up from behind them. One, unlucky one of them, will have to be it!
–Camper Henry S.

Finding the decent in indecent exposure on the Public Beach.
–Alumnus Sky Fauver

Bean Soup Prompt

The four campers stared in awe as two wild animals were jumping about in the night. One the pagoda panda. Two A WILD ROSIE. They were shocked because they did not know what was happening.
–Camper Jamie A

And that’s why the Lowers are sent away on Lochearn Day.
–Alumnus Tip Apter

People often ask me “hey Ben, what were the 70s like?” “Ha ha,” I reply, “very funny: you know I’m not nearly old enough to remember. Now get off my lawn.”
I
am old enough, unfortunately, to remember the actual origins of this photo. No funny, made-up backstory for you here, just straight, sobering truth I’m afraid. Still, as disturbing as it may be, I firmly believe it’s better to remember the terrors of the past than forget, lest we be doomed to relive them.
     I bet, as you gaze into the faces of these four slack-jawed boys, each looking half-horrified, half-fascinated by the sight of their own impending demise arriving from across Lower Baker, you’re probably asking yourself “oh no! What is about to befall these four Juniors or perhaps Lower-Lowers?”
     No, friends: the boys pictured were Assistant Counselors at the time. Please do not judge their unmanly appearance though, as Lochearn Day was hard on us all. I saw better men than me reduced to nothing in a flash. Let’s continue to keep Pemi safe for our ACs’ egos and promise each other we’ll never again repeat these terrible mistakes of our past.
–Alumnus Ben Olding

They’re looking at the Merriwood dance.
–Camper Weston D.

A young Donald Trump, Lower 4-Pemi 1957 (fiction), looks on with his fellow cabin mates at the 25 metre high fence they had built to keep Mexicans out from Lower Baker pond.
–Alumnus Justin Thompson-Glover

Campers look on as contestants gather at the public beach for Wentworth’s annual “Garbage man’s Daughter” contest, later purchased and franchised by Donald Trump.
–Alumnus Brad Saffer Part Duex

The four boys suddenly turned their heads. “Oh my gosh…” one said, his jaw almost to the ground. One pulled out his binoculars and said, “It can’t be!…” The other two just looked out in amazement. What they saw was the man himself, Mr. Tom Reed Jr., water skiing. The boys were taken aback. They couldn’t believe that TRJR was actually up on the skies and succeeding. They couldn’t wait to go back to tell their friends what they had seen.
–Camper Grady B.

This photo shows a trio of junior campers in the summer of 1968, watching a rare event involving the three then-directors, J. H. Nichols, Al Fauver, and Tom Reed, attempting a “human triangle” behind the ski boat. Unfortunately, Doc Nick, who insisted on being the top man, kept letting go of his rope in order to, as he said, “make the trick worth doing.” He repeatedly tumbled backwards off Al and Tom’s shoulders, necessitating attempt after attempt. On one of these, Nick’s bouncing handle stuck Al Fauver in the mouth, knocking out the diamond studded gold tooth that used to be a main feature of Al’s smile. On another, the handle struck Tom in the knee, leading him to say “Damme” and totally lose the respect of that year’s staff. Eventually, Nick’s place was taken by the One-Armed Brakeman, who managed to stay on Al and Tom’s shoulders all the way around the lake. At that point he fell and was last seen swimming lustily in a large circle, owing to his physical handicap. At what particular portion of the debacle the boys are looking, we don’t know. The boy on the right, with the binoculars, is the young Stephen Hawking, who was never a camper but was with us for a weekend scouting for Larry Davis, who was contemplating taking a job at Pemi.
–Alumnus Tom Reed

The boys are looking into the distance because they were looking at a hawk that was flying above Lower Baker Pond. The hawk flew right over them and around a few of the cabins on Intermediate Camp. This caught the attention of a kid reading on the porch (who then called his friends to have a look at it with binoculars).
–Miles S.

This picture is from the 1970’s. These Upper Intermediate camp residents are conducting a “bird-watching” survey, as evidenced by the scout with the binoculars, and his colleagues are in various states of awe and curiosity as they receive detailed information from their technologist-friend. The occasion is the seasonal return of the maidens from Camp Ogontz, or perhaps Camp Quinnibeck, to the shores of Lower Baker for the summer’s exchange of co-educational hospitality for the Senior Cabin stalwarts. The day included friendly athletic contests, such as mixed doubles on the tennis courts, nature study on the “Tree Walk”, supper, and finally, an abbreviated session of dancing on the disco floor of the Senior Lodge. This photo captures the fascination of young teens as they study their elders’ efforts, in this case maybe a boy and his assigned “date” paddling a canoe on the lake, in the frenzied attempt to compress the urges accumulated during eight weeks of social isolation into eight hours of accelerated romance. A challenge indeed!
–Alumnus Jack Price

They’re looking at Mikado!
–Camper Lucas B.

Campers line the shores of Lower Baker in 1975 to witness the filming of the “Happy Days” episode where Fonzi “jumps the shark.” For authenticity purposes, the show had a live great white shark placed into Lower Baker.  This photo captures the precise first (and unsuccessful) take where Henry Winkler missed the ramp and ended up in the water.  He later made the jump successfully after the production crew welded on his prosthetic legs.
–Alumnus Brad Saffer Part III!

Special Bean Soup patches to the above authors for their renditions, and remember, you can always turn in a Bean Soup article to be included in the printed (and then digitally saved) version. We welcome your version in the comments section! 

Bean Soup Special Edition

Greetings one and all for a special, limited-release serving of Bean Soup, sponsored by the Pemi Archives, where the discovery of a vintage photograph depicting what must have been a very special event—but for which we have no documentation—inspired us, in true Bean Soup fashion, to forego fact in favor of fabrication. So we asked the Pemi community to create their own back-story, aiming to give reason for such elaborate fanfare. Here, now, are a few inventive responses from some Bean Soup editors of the past. Please feel free to respond in the comments with your own version of the story, and as they say…on with the Soup!

? 1

The pomp and circumstance of the event suggests the honoring of the transported figure wearing a suit. The semi-militaristic uniforms of the counselors and campers gives the scene a feeling of a victory celebration. So after a major inter-camp sporting victory, let’s say that on this day in 1924, Director Dudley Reed is being transported from Lower Baker Pond on up to the mess hall for a coronation of sorts, all the while being serenaded by Pemi-ites singing:
                             “And when the battle’s over, he shall wear a crown
                              He shall wear a crown,
                              He shall wear a crown!
                              And, when the battle’s over, he shall wear a crown
                              In the New Jerusalem!”
—Jack Price

The Direct Dock Procession, or, noissecorP kcoD tceriD ehT

Ah, yes! The lost PEMI tradition of The Direct Dock Procession, forerunner of Backwards Day — both of which have been lost to the sands of time and reasonable water safety standards. During the seasons of 1915 to 1929, one of the directors would be selected to ride on a hoisted litter from the Mess Hall down to the beach where the current Counselor’s Memorial Library stands. Backwards. The procession processed completely backwards, including all walking and music-making. The occasion was accompanied by pomp and fanfare from the Silver Cornet Band and the Sailor’s Sceptre-Making occupation (which, in the year this photo was taken, had only one participant, a barrel-chested 15-and-under named Ulysses S. S. Granthformer). And as you can see from the photo, this year’s procession honoree was Doc Reed.

The Direct Dock Procession began in the 1915 season, after a particularly unintelligible series of announcements from the directors. In order to calm the fury and incredulity of the campers, who felt they had journeyed far enough and paid far too much to be shouted at in gibberish, the Direct Dock Procession was organized to praise the enlightened qualities of “nonsense speech.” During Carnival Week of summer 1915, after a hasty construction of a canopied litter, the Silver Cornet Band was given the task of learning Ippolitov-Ivanov’s, “Procession of the Sardar” in retrograde in a modified wind band arrangement, which of course sounded incredible and not at all cacophonous in any way. The litter-carriers were selected from the Intermediates, and the rifle-bearers were chosen from the Seniors who could successfully fire over their shoulders without burns or whiplash. A flag (obscured in this photo) was painted with the words “TTESSAWEGIMEP PMAC,” and the dock was inspected for load-bearing safety (“It’s probably sturdy enough…”). Once the director was carried backwards to the middle of the dock, the Silver Cornet Band stopped playing at the soonest appropriate downbeat and a 10-gun salute was fired backwards. And then: the director would give a majestic, backwards speech. The rise and fall of the inverse cadence was rousing, and every so often one could make out a single word or short phrase, but it was otherwise complete balderdash, ending with a soft and crisp backwards greeting to the assembled spectators. Finally, the director was carried to the edge of the dock and tipped backwards into Lower Baker Pond, so that, indeed, if recorded on a modern video camera and played back in reverse, he would be seen to emerge mythically from the very depths of the water!

In this photo from the summer of 1924, one of the Fauver twins can be seen waiting in a rowboat (over Granthformer’s right shoulder) ready to assist Doc Reed, should he have needed rescue swimming back to shore in his heavy three-piece tweed suit. Additionally, Doc Reed can be seen covering his nose with his right hand, owing to a low water level and the ensuing rash of dead fish washed ashore. The litter-bearers can also be seen alternately laughing and grimacing from the terrible stench. As a result, Doc Reed spontaneously shortened his speech and hurried his drop into the water with the phrase, “Ydaerla em pmud tsuj!!” to the relief of all. And although the annual Direct Dock Procession has been abandoned, the grand tradition of non-sensical directorial oratory continues even today!

— I.R.A.

? 1

“Our backs hurt!” thought the campers carrying the counselor down the dock. Still, they were all smiling, and the marching band played happy music, because Pemi was celebrating the successful completion of the very first polar bear! Way back in the 1920s, when the world was still in black and white, things at Pemi were still quite prehistoric. Little icebergs and tiny swimming dinosaurs filled Lower Baker Pond. Instead of cabins, everyone lived in caves, and instead of soccer balls and basketballs, athletes had to use big round rocks, which Charlie Malcolm had the hardest time fishing out of the swamp. Instead of butterflies and moths, the Nature Lodge was filled with pinned pterodactyls, and camp director Reilly McCue rode around the grounds on his very own wooly mammoth named Tecumseh.

But we digress. Because the lake was so cold, most people who tried to take a polar bear were flash frozen in cubes of ice, and had to be slowly thawed out by the campfire. But one day, an especially brave counselor proved he could handle the cold. He jumped off the end of the dock, fought off several small dinos, took a quick soap bath, and then jumped back to safety! The campers and counselors traded their animals skins in for more modern clothing, and decided to honor him with a complete honor guard, marching band, and procession up to the mess hall, where the cook threw some dinosaur meat on the grill for Sunday barbecue.

—Rob Verger

Doc Reed returning from the 1922 Country Music Awards, having won Top Honors in the Confessional Pop category for his plaintive lyric, “I Kissed the One-Armed Brakeman — and I Liked It.” The song, part of a musical comedy featuring the summer adventures of a Wentworth milkmaid, has unfortunately been lost to Pemi — the result of an attempt by J.H.Nichols to suppress stories that might scare Junior campers. An early recording by Billie Holiday allegedly survives amidst Camp Tecumseh’s infamous “Blackmail Files.”

—Tom Reed, Jr.

Special Bean Soup patches to the above authors for their renditions, and remember, you can always turn in a Bean Soup article to be included in the printed (and then digitally saved) version. We welcome your version in the comments section!

Bean Soup: From Lodge to Mailbox

Death, taxes, and Bean Soup. There’s such comfort in certainty.

Yes, it’s that time of year when campers and staff from the previous season start checking the mailbox for a distinctive package. When it finally arrives, the annual green or red tome serves as an amulet of time travel, whisking us back to Monday nights in the Lodge when we’re surrounded by the warmth (and, yes, the healthy scent) of recently hard-charging bodies and the sound of juniors shuffling chairs as they scuttle to the front row, when the entire camp community is gathered under one roof to listen, laugh, and occasionally wince as our Bean Soup editors do their best to recount the week’s events, hoping to hit that just-acceptable sweet spot between actual history and actionable libel.

1910 Bean Soup foreword

1910 Bean Soup foreword

So how do those Monday night readings/performances morph into written form? Here’s an overview of the journey from the auditory, front-of-the-room Bean Soup to the tangible Bean Soup that lands in the mailbox….

Creating the Soup:

  • Bean Soup editors keep their eyes and ears open, and carry little notebooks wherever they go. Day and night.
  • Editors encourage campers and staff to submit articles, poems, anything. They provide prompts for inspiration.
  • Campers submit articles (often quickly handwritten in soft lead pencil. Often barely decipherable. Proper spelling, punctuation, and writing in straight lines often seem to have been forgotten in the giddy heat of the moment.)
  • Coaches, staff, and instructors submit articles on the week’s matches, trips, etc. These are often typed on laptops and printed in hard copy so the lines are straight.
  • On Sunday and Monday afternoons, Bean Soup editors sequester themselves. They share notes, decide on an intro and on recipients for director / staff member / camper awards of the week, propose a song re-write, a top-10 theme, etc…and get busy writing. Fast. The pressure is on. If they’re lucky, someone brings them a sandwich for supper.
  • Pre-Soup nerves. Editors Peter, Ian, and Dwight.  2011.

    Pre-Soup nerves. Editors Peter, Ian, and Dwight. 2011.

    About 15-minutes before Bean Soup begins, the editors descend upon the office to print copies of their work from which to read aloud. They skim camper and staff submissions to decide which they have time to read and in what order. Those that aren’t read out loud are stashed in that week’s file for the printed version.

  • Following Monday night’s Bean Soup, the editors sigh, wipe the sweat off their brow, and file the printed and handwritten offerings that they’d just read along with the submissions that weren’t read. They head out of the office and reach for their little notebooks to start again.
  • All of the above, over and over, for 7 weeks.

Gathering the Soup:

  • Establish a timeline that works backward, ensuring delivery before the holidays, which means starting soon after the docks have been put away.
  • Someone with the heart of a saint, the eyes of an eagle, and the patience of Job types up all of the campers’ handwritten articles that were submitted over the course of the summer.
  • Bean Soup editors compile their digital work and beg staff who dutifully wrote and submitted articles in hard copy to resubmit them electronically so their articles don’t have to be typed by the above said soul.
  • Gather mid-season / final awards.
  • Pull weekly summer newsletters from the Pemi Blog into one file.
  • Create rosters of campers and staff from the database.
  • Schedule Open Houses for the coming season.
  • Ask Danny to take a break from writing final letters to write the foreword.

Prepping the Soup:

  • Final formatting edits on digital proof.

    Final formatting edits on digital proof.

    Translate from various formats into Word and compile in traditional order: Foreword, Open Houses, Summer Newsletters, Weeks 1-4, Mid-Season Awards, Weeks 5-7, G&S program, Final Awards, Camper and Staff rosters.

  • Proofread by at least four eyes.
  • Send the Word file to the designer who places everything into the Soup’s traditional layout.
  • Receive a hardcopy proof.
  • Find all of the mistakes that the first round of proofing missed. No, “Belinowiz” does not have a “t” but “Slamowitz” does. Mark in red pen.
  • Send back to designer.
  • Receive a second hardcopy proof.
  • Find the mistakes that the first and second rounds of proofing missed. Mark in red pen.
  • Send back to designer.
  • Receive a digital proof and mark final changes.
  • Send finished page layout file to the printer.

Distributing the Soup:

  • BeanSoupsMailBins

    Customs slips completed, labels on, bins ready to go to the PO.

    Order envelopes.

  • Create mailing labels for campers (singles and siblings) and staff.
  • Complete ~25 international customs slips. (How do you determine the value of Bean Soup?)
  • Put labels on ~300 envelopes
  • Receive delivery of ~375 Bean Soups!
  • Stuff pre-labeled envelopes with one or two or three Soups and load up postal bins.
  • Load up car and deliver to the PO.

Reading the Soup:

  • Find a typo within the first few pages.
  • Laugh (and wince) all over again.
  • Bathe in the warmth of having been in a place where we learn to laugh at ourselves and to give second chances. Maybe even to editors.
2014 Bean Soup

2014 Bean Soup

 

 

 

 

Fall Alumni Weekend

Driving north on I-91 and just past the Hanover exit, I caught one of my favorite glimpses: Mt. Cube with Mt. Moosilauke just beyond it. Their summer cloak of vivid green was gone, however, replaced by mid-September’s tapestry of brilliant red, yellow, and orange foliage. The grandeur of autumn set the perfect stage for Pemi’s first Annual Fall Alumni Weekend.

The bridge to camp rumbled under my car as I arrived early on Friday, a day made complete with 73-degrees and a crisp blue-sky. The buildings and grounds staff was painting cabins on Intermediate Hill and Larry was busy in the Nature Lodge. The first guests to arrive on Friday afternoon—in true stealth mode and with classic energy—were Bob Zock and Dave Spindler, who took an immediate jaunt up Mt. Cube. Their dope stop included a visit to an old haunt in Bradford, with a return to camp timed perfectly to meet the rest of the crew, soon to gather in the lodge.

Evening

Photo Credit – Jon Hyde

 

As the afternoon sun fell behind Pemi Hill, more rumbles from the bridge signaled new arrivals. Cruising in were Jon Hyde, Steve Webster, and John Taylor. This was Taylor’s first trip back to the shores of Lower Baker since his year on the counseling staff in 1970. His influence from that summer remains deep in Pemi’s culture. As it turns out, he was a motivating force behind Larry’s Maine stories…more on that later! Next to arrive were Matthew, Alison, and Anneke, aka the Egbert Family, who entered the newly renovated Lodge in awe of its enlarged space, which was perfect for Anneke, age 2, to run in circles. Soon, Anneke and family retreated to their home for the weekend, Lower 2.

Morning

We awoke Saturday to a gorgeous Pemi morning, with a few hearty individuals taking their Polar Bear dip while the remaining ventured to the Shower House. Fred Fauver, serving as host in the Big House, enticed Alumni with the smell of scrambled eggs, sausage, and coffee, the latter of which brought Deb Kure skipping up the hill from her Garden House residence. Parker Shiverick joined the group and filled in the last seat at the large Big House table.

The Bikers ready for their ride.

The bikers ready for their ride.

After breakfast, the bikers—Fred and Peter Fauver, Steve, and John—took off on a 46 mile route that took them north to Oliverian Notch, through the old village of Pike, and across to Haverhill before heading south to Orford. Zock and Spindler left on another adventure, this time to tackle Dead Man’s Hill across the pond, where they bushwhacked their way to the rock face that is visible from Pemi’s grounds.

The other hikers—Kure, Hyde, and Shiverick—jumped in the Pemi blue van and headed towards Mt. Moosilauke. After arriving at the Ravine Lodge, they ventured up the Gorge Brook Trail to the east peak, switched over to the Carriage Road towards the south peak and descended using the Snapper Trail. As any Pemi hiker knows, no trip is complete without the requisite cheese and pepperoni on the summit. This group had prepared well and was able to reward some Appalachian Trail thru-hikers with leftovers; what a prize!

Hikers

Ready for Moosilauke

Meanwhile, back at Pemi, the temperature climbed into the low 80’s and Matthew Egbert returned to a favorite spot on Lower Baker – the helm of a Sunfish. Perfect wind from the northwest allowed him to tack to and fro as he made his way towards Flat Rock with a long run back towards Senior Beach. I ventured over to the Lower Lake on a kayak, a place I seldom get to visit during the summer months.

After lunch, more rumbles announced the arrival of the Sargent family. Jake and Ann arrived in their mini-van with Janie, Zander, Nick and bikes in tow. With boundless energy, they leapt out of the car, ready to explore Pemi. After quickly unpacking in Lower 7—their home for the night—they were on their bikes and the journey continued. Stopping in the Nature Lodge, they were greeted by Larry who handed each their own personal piece of mica!

Nick, Zander and Janie riding down to Junior Camp

Nick, Zander, and Janie riding down to Junior Camp

Within the hour, Josh Lucas appeared. His weekend respite to New Hampshire was the perfect break from the hubbub of life on “The Hill”…the other one. Half of Lake Tent ’97 was now in attendance!

Soon the bikers returned, followed shortly thereafter by the hikers. Everyone gathered at Senior Beach to swap stories, connect with the weekend’s newcomers, and to enjoy a classic Pemi barbeque that included delicious beans cultivated in Larry’s Native American Garden. Al and Bertha Fauver made an appearance, welcoming Alumni back to Pemi and offering their sage wisdom. As the sun began to set, folks gathered around the campfire circle to hear from Larry and John, who shared some classic stories, including Larry’s Learning to Shoot; always a crowd favorite. Matthew brought out his guitar for a few sing-alongs. We sung our best rendition of the Campfire Song before the little ones headed to bed. The opening lyric, “If I lived to be nearly a hundred, and ev’ry year one of joy, I wonder if I should remember, the times when I as a boy,” felt especially fitting for this alumni group.

Janie, Nick, and Zander loving the top bunks!

Janie, Nick, and Zander loving the top bunks!

Sunday morning we awoke to fog but the Pemi spirit was never brighter as a few brave Polar Bears took the plunge and all enjoyed the breakfast that followed once again in the Big House with Fred’s pancakes and coffee, with a warm fire taking the edge off of a cool, crisp morning. Post-breakfast, folks began to depart, carrying back not only their own copy of the Pemi History Book and the Pemi Kid magnet but also a rekindled sense of belonging to the Pemi community.

Jake Sargent offered his perspective to the weekend. “After 8 years away and three kids later, all of us felt right at home with the place, the people, and the bugs in the squish.  Introducing our children to Pemi at this time of year and in this relaxed and welcoming way is a memory that will surely be with the rest, and among my Pemi best.” Before departing on Sunday, the Egberts shucked beans from the Native American garden with Larry and Deb. Looking back over their weekend, Matthew summarized it with, “We shucked beans with Larry and Deb, went canoeing and sailing and I played some guitar, so I guess my occupations for the weekend were Wild Foods, Canoeing, Sailing, and Guitar. Perfect!”

Perfect, indeed, with gorgeous weather and transcendent spirit that seems to infuse everyone who spends time in this place.

Circle your calendars for September 25-27, 2015 for the Second Fall Alumni Weekend.

–Kenny Moore

 

Finally, A BETTER BEAN SOUP by Josh Fischel

Veteran Bean Soup editor, Josh Fischel, offers up a tasty serving of the Soup as only he can, recalling his years as an editor during the 2000’s…

___________________

Greetings from the Bean Soup Emeritus Lodge on the sunny shores of Lower Baker Key in sunny southern Florida!  Here, every Sunday night through Monday afternoon, the gathered editors all curl ourselves into small, fetal balls and rock gently back and forth until the waves of post-traumatic stress recede.

What could still cause such anxiety in a group of otherwise stable and reasonable people: captains of industry, perpetual students/layabouts, and independent school teachers?  If I had to guess, it was the pressure of making the tenth decade of Bean Soup funnier and more inventive than the previous nine combined had been.  We had to make the audience forget the illustrious efforts of TRJR, Rob Grabill, Karl See, and Justin Thomson-Glover (oh, T-G, the man who could read a phone book entirely of people named Smith and make it funny, so we were told over and over).  It wasn’t enough to be merely as funny as our ancestors; we had to be funnier.

Our introductory remarks each week were required to be three times as long as normal.  We had to write and perform songs.  We were “strongly encouraged” to have TRJR win Director of the Week for nine consecutive weeks, or until Dottie convinced him to start wearing deodorant again.  There was the infamous ‘poop’ quota: the number of times we had to say that execrable word each week to ensure, it was said, that juniors would stick around through Things to Look For.  We could mention poop, sure, but we had to lay off any number of other actionable areas: age, weight, baldness, hobo killers, secret caches of candy hidden like horcruxes by Jon Fauver.  Even with all those proverbial hands tied behind our backs, we had to keep butts in the seats, so there was often a rotating cast of guest editors who had to appear just as funny as the regulars were.

A night of Bean Soup in 2003.  Editors Ben Olding, left, Josh center, and guest editor? Porter Hill, right

A night of Bean Soup in 2003 with Editors Ben Olding (left), Josh (center), and guest editor? Porter Hill (right)

Who knows if we succeeded.  The twelve editors of the 2000s—Sky Fauver, Roso, me, Ben Olding, Grabill Junior, Frilly Weidman, James Finley, Rob Verger, Conor Shaw, Ian Axness, Jack Stratton, and Dwight Dunston—did their best to answer the call and overcome the long odds, week after week, to make the ten years compiled in this part of the annals of history at least a tiny bit funnier than the previous ninety, admittedly funny years had been. There was an entirely musical week.  There was the annual positive spin on Tecumseh Day (“Our hair is intact!” “Our sportsmanship was without parallel—again!” “At least we don’t have to watch each other poop!”).  We edited a ton of superlative contributions, too. Among my favorites was Christian Ruf’s article about the Mess Hall Flood and the time that Lake Tent burned to the ground, set to the tune of a mash-up of ‘Wagon Wheel’ and ‘Gin & Juice.’ There was also Penelope Reed Doob’s infamous top ten of the bottom ten Gilbert & Sullivan musicals (Utopia Limited, anyone?); Rob Stenson’s incredible trip report about Upper 3’s 2-day hike up Mt. Guyot and down Mt. Mansfield; Sam Seymour’s diary entries from when he was the Power Table waiter; and who could forget Dan Bendett’s game report from ’06, ostensibly about the 15 & under hoops team’s performance against the chillboys of Lanakila, that wound up being a meditation on meditations and mediations and what the media shuns and meaty shins? During that time, our writing space—where we wrote each panicky Monday afternoon—shifted nearly constantly, because our overlords didn’t want us getting complacent.  We began in the Small Dining Room, shifted to the Sky Box, and from there to the Garden House, the Thunderdome, Rob’s House, the Satellite Lounge, the Clearing, the Landing, the Gravel Pit, Gummi Glen, Publisher’s Clearinghouse, Downton Abbey, and the Manor (not the one on 25A—the Aaron Spelling Estate).  We were angry about our nomadic existence, but we didn’t let that be widely known.  We kept our most biting humor vague, as misinterpretable as a Kosuke Fukudome jersey.

Really, though, in the end, all you’re left with is your deeds.  One can’t control how history will judge…one.  But let’s hope history has a broad and generous sense of humor.

Don’t worry about us; we’ll be fine.  Editors don’t lose sleep over whether you thought they were funny.  See, the secret of Bean Soup is that we thought we were funny.  Every article that made it to the Monday night table was one that made at least its author laugh.  Real belly laughs, I’m talking here.  (Verger’s high-pitched giggles counted, too.)    Egotism is what makes the Soup truly tasty, after all.  Deniers gonna deny and haters gonna hate, but I speak the truth.

Josh with his entourage, former campers and counselors who spent summers with him as a counselors.  Taken in 2000.

Josh with his entourage, former campers and counselors who spent summers, 1997-2001, with him as a cabin counselor. Photo taken in 2001.

Ben just reminded me that I’m on foot massage duty this evening, one of the perils of living for any length of time in the Bean Soup Emeritus Lodge. (Ethan—sorry, Dr. Ethan—likes to have his bunions planed, which is almost as unpleasant as wintering in Cleveland.)  The others are always planning to decamp, but then they wonder what cruel lessons the world has for them once they wander from the cocoon of like-minded comedians bouncing punchlines off each other, and they stick around.  Time will tell if any of this was useful or worth it.  Each time we think we were funny, we are reminded by higher powers than us that Justin Thomson-Glover was funnier, and we throw darts at his likeness, which Ian affixed to our front door with a hatchet. Really, though, it is you who can (and should!) read our efforts and decide if our Sundays and Mondays would have been better spent cleaning the toilets in the Intermediate Pagoda from 2001 to 2010; at least then you would have had a clean place to sit and contemplate what is truly funny, if not us.

Good luck, long life, enjoy.

– Josh Fischel

 _______________________________________________________

The Bean Soup digitization project nears completion, with some of the earliest editions, 1910-1915, being carefully preserved this winter.  If you are interested in receiving one or more issues from your time at Pemigewassett, please let me know.  I will be happy to send you any given issue or issues in PDF form. Please contact me at alumni and stay tuned for future releases.

-Kenny Moore

Chef Stacey Strikes Again: A Cake To Die For

"Bean Soup" editors compose a personal limerick for each birthday boy and girl.

“Bean Soup” editors compose a personal limerick for each birthday boy and girl.

 

Pemi’s annual Birthday Banquet takes place the night before our first session campers depart for home. The feast honors all those campers and staff whose birthdays occur during the summer season, and each and every birthday boy or girl is individually celebrated with a personal limerick, read aloud, and later immortalized in Bean Soup. Of course everyone in the mess hall sports proper banquet apparel: “a collared shirt and your least wrinkled clothing.” Cabin members reunite at “their” table after two rotations of sitting elsewhere, scarcely believing that a mere three weeks before they were unrelated individuals, since by this point they’ve become a band of brothers sharing bonds that inevitably develop when living in simple, close quarters.

It will come as no surprise that Chef Stacey worked her magic last year with a spectacular meal followed by decorated cakes for each table (count, ’em, folks, that’s 25 birthday cakes!) Given the numerous comments from campers and parents who appreciated Stacey’s Thanksgiving tips and biscuit recipe, it seems timely to ask Stacey if she has a favorite cake recipe (why timely? Because Stacey’s birthday is quickly approaching—March 30—but shhhhhh we didn’t tell her that we knew this when we asked for her recipe!).

Below you’ll find Stacey’s recipe—which sounds about as lip-smacking, deliciously-decadent as can be—presented with her trademark detailed instructions (not only is she a great chef, she’s an educator at heart).

But first, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, STACEY! Breaking with the tradition of summertime-only limericks, here’s one especially for you:

  Pemi ’13, we’ve great things in store!
  In the messhall, gourmet treats galore!
  Breakfast, dinner, or lunch
  ‘twill be heaven to munch
  Meals by Stacey – last name Saville-Moore!

 

And now, the following comes to you from Chef Stacey:

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake with Fudge Filling
(otherwise known as, “This is the way to die, cake”)

My parents owned a diner in upstate NY that slowly morphed into a family-style restaurant. My mother wasn’t much of a baker, but she could make a mean chocolate cake. She got the mayonnaise cake recipe from a good friend who later opened up his own restaurant after our family place closed its doors. I have modified the recipe to add a chocolate fudge filling and a chocolate icing that is amazing. Sometimes I change it up a bit and add a layer of raspberry preserves over the fudge and ice the cake with raspberry icing. The sky is the limit with this cake. It is so incredibly moist that it is just as delicious served with a dollop of whipped cream or served plain with some fresh fruit. Notice that there are no eggs or oil in the recipe because mayonnaise already contains both.

Enjoy!

 

Please don't lick the screen.

(Please don’t lick the screen)

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup mayo
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla

Set oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9″ cake pans. (I use rounds because it makes a better presentation, but use whatever you choose.)

Cream together sugar, mayo, water and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift all other ingredients together. Stir together all ingredients until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Test cake layers by touching lightly with your fingertips. If the cake springs back then it is done. Put cake pans on rack to cool for about 15 minutes, then flip onto rack to cool completely.

Fudge Filling
12 oz chocolate chips (I prefer semi sweet because the chips set a little better. The beauty of this recipe is that you can use whatever flavor you prefer.)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 TBS butter
1 cupped chopped pecans (This is an optional ingredient also, you can omit the nuts or replace with dried chopped fruit, marshmallows, or shredded coconut, use your imagination and your family’s taste preference!)

Melt everything but the nuts in a small saucepan on low to medium heat, stirring constantly. When the mix is fully melted and smooth, add the nuts or other ingredients. Spread to cool on a greased cookie sheet. When the fudge is of spreading consistency, spread on the bottom layer of the cake. Place top layer on the fudge and frost with your favorite icing.

Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup water
4 TBS butter
1 tsp vanilla
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, broken into small pieces
4 to 5 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Heat water, butter, and chocolate, stirring until chocolate and butter are melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the vanilla and stir.
Sift 4 cups of the confectioners’ sugar, stir the mixture and beat until frosting is the desired consistency. Add more sifted sugar if needed. Frost top and sides of cake.

Cake should be refrigerated until ready to serve.

~~~~~~~~~

Ahhhhhhhh...

Ahhhhhhhh…

Thanks for the recipe, Stacey!  

~ Dottie Reed
with limerick by TRJR

Read more about Meals at Pemi!

HOW ROOFBALL CHANGED MY LIFE (7 campers share their essays written for the “real world”)

Bean Soup isn’t the only source to find descriptions of life at Pemigewassett. The following—written by 7 campers who range in age from 9 to 17—were composed for reasons as diverse as a back-to-school homework assignment to an essay for ED college admission. Some were written just last month; others were created a few years back and played significant roles in the boys’ next step in academics. We’re pleased to know that these young men chose to share their camp experiences with the “real world” and thank them for offering them here for the Pemi family to read and enjoy.

 

The Amazing Camp Pemi

by Ian Hohman, age 9

Pemi is located in Wentworth, NH near Hanover.  It has fun, loving counselors and kids who are always very kind.  It is a sleep away camp and you can choose whether you want to go there for 7 weeks or 3.5 weeks.  The sunrises at Camp Pemigawasset are truly a sight to see because they include all the colors of the rainbow.  Pemi has nutritious food.  Don’t worry kids the chef makes pancakes.  They offer desert at lunch and dinner.  They call their dinning room the mess hall.

Pemi’s sports program is very strong.   Every week you get to pick occupations. Every week you get to choose from sports to nature programs to sailing and many others for 1st Hour, 2nd Hour, 3rd Hour, and 4th Hour.  We have a rivalry with Camp Tecumseh every year and it is very competitive.   It is the oldest camp rivalry in the entire country!  Every year we compete in many sports against Tecumseh and we call it Tecumseh Day, while they call it Pemi Day.  Whoever wins gets a metal trophy shaped as a hat. This trophy is very old and has been passed between Tecumseh and Pemi for 98 years. Tecumseh kept it for twenty years but Pemi took it back this year.  When the buses came in with Pemi kids from Tecumseh it was so loud.  Kids were jumping out of the emergency exit and the sirens added to all the screaming.   The whole camp went into the lake and everybody started splashing each other.  There was so much splashing people could not even see.  Pemi is a unique place.

 

SUMMER

by Caleb Tempro, age 10

Have you ever gone on vacation for summer? Like going to Trinidad, Las Vegas, going on a cruise, stuff like that? Well…have you ever thought of going to a sleep-away camp? I know a great one! It is called Camp Pemigewassett.

Camp Pemigewassett is a camp in Wentworth, New Hampshire. The first time I went to Camp Pemigewassett (also known as Camp Pemi or Pemi) I went for three and a half weeks. I enjoyed it so much I did not want to return home. The second time, I made sure I went for the Full Session, seven weeks!

At Pemi, you can do all sorts of stuff like wake boarding, archery, sports, arts and crafts, music, swimming, trips, hikes, and perform. These activities are called occupations.

Every day after lunch we have rest hour. Rest hour is an hour in your cabin to rest. If you are not tired you can play cards, read, write letters, listen to screen-less iPods, etc. quietly. On Mondays we have Bean Soup. Bean Soup is when everyone at the camp meets in the mail lodge to listen to funny stories, songs, re-writes, twisted-up experiences, poems, and other funny and interesting things. At dinner campers and counselors hand in their articles to be read during Bean Soup.

On Saturdays, we have “Camp Fire.” This is when the camp sits in a big circle around a camp fire and campers come up to perform acts, jokes, riddles, plays, songs, skits, etc. Camp Fire is great because it is basically your whole camp family coming together to see you perform. It feels good to show people your talent and know they enjoy it and are proud of you.

On Sundays, we have a cook out for dinner. After that, when everyone dresses up in polos, buttondown shirts, slacks or nice shorts and meets in the main lodge to talk about Camp Pemi’s history.

Now let us talk about cabin life. Since Camp Pemi is a sleep-away camp, we sleep in cabins. Living in a cabin is probably one of the coolest things to experience at camp. In my cabin there were two bunk beds and three more regular beds. Five of the beds were for campers. The other two were for the counselor and the A-C (Assistant Counselor). The special thing is that living in a cabin with people around you, makes you feel like you are all a close knit family. The feeling is just so great, it seems like it is too perfect to be reality.

So that camp would not become boring, the camp directors organize each day’s occupations. Occupations take place between 9:20am and 11:30am. Out of the occupations I did, knee-boarding was probably the best! I also tried wake-boarding but after my second fall the boat driver said I should try knee-boarding. That was a great idea!

So personally, I think Camp Pemi is a pretty great place. Everyone is there for you when you need them. On a scale of 1-10, could I rate Camp Pemi and recommend it to you? I would recommend it to you, but I would not give it a ranking. Camp Pemi is just too much of a wonderful and unbelievable family to judge with numbers. I am sure that any boy from the age of 8 to 15 would love Camp Pemigewassett.

 

MY FIRST YEAR AT CAMP PEMIGEWASSETT 

Darren Mangan, age 12 (assignment: write about something that has changed your life)

When I went to camp the first time it was extraordinary, going down the hill leading into camp was one of the most beautiful things of my life with the radiant lake and the big delightful forests. When I first got to my cabin I met my counselor and unpacked my things for the next three and a half weeks ahead of me.

After I unpacked my things one of my cabin-mates took me on a tour of the camp with a couple other cabin-mates. I was amazed at how big the camp was and how many things there was to do. After the tour we went up to the mess hall for lunch. The first lunch was really good.

The next day I had my first cabin inspection. Cabin inspection is where one of the other counselors comes and inspects your cabin. Things that the inspectors do are check your nails, check your bed for sand, check for dirt/sand on the floor, check for messy shelves, and check for a messy porch.

A couple of days later I had my first soccer game of camp and we beat the other camp 5-2. After that game, soccer was my favorite sport and I still play a lot of soccer to this day.

Almost every day counselors try to play a game called Frisbee Running Bases (FRB.) In Frisbee Running Bases the object of the game is to run around the bases as many times as you can without getting hit with the Frisbee (the counselors are throwing the Frisbee.) Everybody in the camp wants to play it.

The comedy show of the camp is called Bean Soup. Some people used to trick the first time campers into carving out spoons and bringing them to the show. Bean Soup is basically making fun of everything that happened that week. They have it every Monday night.

The talent show of the camp is called campfire. Every Saturday night the whole camp would gather around the campfire and share our acts, whether it is music or it is a skit. I recited Shakespeare quotes during one of them.

There is also a show dedicated to music and skits called Vaudeville. This show only happens every season (three and a half weeks.) At the end of everyVaudeville there would be one comedy act performed by two counselors. At the Vaudeville I performed with my saxophone.

The last full day of camp is usually just packing and making sure you have all of your stuff. You also have to get your creations or butterfly/moth catches from the shop, the nature lodge, and the art room.

My last dinner at camp that year was the Birthday Banquet. This is where we got served turkey and all the people with birthdays got acknowledged. Then after the Banquet we went down to the awards ceremony were everybody got their badges for completing accomplishments. My first year I got a lot of badges!

The next day it is just waiting for our parents to pick us up and saying bye to all of our friends who would be going to all kinds of different places in the world. When our parents pick us up it is a very bittersweet ride back home. When I got home and looked back at the summer at camp I just could not wait for my next summer at camp!

 

SUMMER VACATION

Rafe Forward, age 12

On June 23rd I went on the bus to go to camp. I waited for the bus and got my cabin (I got a tent this year but there are only 3 tents in the camp.) When the bus finally came, I was sad to leave my parents on the hot sunny day that it was so I hugged my parents and felt my dads scruffy recently shaved beard. I said goodbye to them and hopped on the air conditioned bus to go to camp. I sat far back on the noisy bus alone and sad as the city turned to fields and the day went on. Halfway to camp we stopped for a quick snack at Mcdonalds and I just got a Sprite (because I don’t eat Mcdonalds fast food). The hours went by and when the eight hour drive was finally over I sighed, hopped out of the bus and got my camp trunks. Then I started to walk the half mile to junior camp.

On the way there I stopped, remembering the pine road that I walked over a lot the year before and smiled at the good memories and continued. When I finally got to my tent I saw my friends Ben and Reed from last year and a new person who I would later become friends with. I found a bed and put my trunks under it and socialized. My tent councilor Matt who was new introduced himself. After I got ready we all went to lunch in the mess hall. The mess hall is huge and has a flag from every country a camper or counselor had come from and the furthest was Papua New Guinea which is near Australia. The food at camp was very good so I enjoyed it.

Here was my schedule for the first week.

1. Wake up at 7:00
2. Polarbear, where we run into the lake and dunk our heads.
3. Breakfast
4. Inspection where a counselor from another cabin checks to see if our cabin is clean
5. First occupation activity that you choose and hope to get the beginning of the week
6. Second occupation
7. Third occupation
8. Lunch
9. Fourth occupation
10. Free time
11. Dinner
12. Camp activities like campfire and sunday meeting.
13. Tattoo where we brush our teeth and get ready for bed
14. Taps we go to bed

Camp went on for three weeks, occupations changing every week and camp life getting more easy. Some camp days we had special activities like councilor hunt and galactic capture the flag where the whole camp was divided into two groups and we play CTF. Some days we went to other camps to play sports like soccer, baseball and tennis. I learnt how to sail, I made new friends and I played a lot of my favorite sports.

When camp ended my mom came and picked me up. We drove back to brooklyn and then went straight to Long Island.

 

…EXCERPT FROM A BOARDING SCHOOL ESSAY

Jack Purcell, age 14

Camp Pemigewassett is where I have lived for four to seven weeks each of the past four summers.  I first went when I was ten years old, and I was petrified.  Pemi has been around for over 100 years, and has many important traditions, including an emphasis on music, literature, sports, and the outdoors. It is a community where people encourage one another to try new things and do their best. The person who has influenced me most at Pemi is Danny Kerr, the camp director.  Danny and I share a passion for playing guitar, and I always appreciate it when he sits down with me for jam sessions.   He can absolutely shred (which is a good thing) – he makes any song look like he was just playing Smoke on the Water. I’ve played with him a few times the past few years, and it has always been a learning experience. I would say that I have learned about half of what I know on the guitar at Pemi. There’s nothing better than just kicking my feet up by the lakeside and playing guitar by myself on a pretty day.

 

A VOICE IN THE DARK

Dan Reed, 15  (application essay for high school junior year program)

As independent as I like to call myself, I realized this past August that at some point, everyone needs help.  For the last eight summers, I have attended Camp Pemigewassett for boys.  Pemi is known nationwide for its remarkable trip program.  This past summer—my last as a camper—I took part in many trips, one of which was caving.

The first couple of caves on this outing served as “practice caves.”  We were simply getting used to the feeling of being underground and in the dark.  While there were many tight spaces and great heights, I managed to “keep my cool,” without any feeling of discomfort, as I’d never before been afraid of heights or tight spaces.  Even the 100-foot vertical entrance to the second cave didn’t daunt me.  So when Larry, our trip leader, told us of the 40-foot entrance shaft to the next cave, I didn’t give it a second thought.  What I didn’t know, however, was that the entrance was not vertical, and therefore we could not be lowered down using a line.  We would have to wedge ourselves between the two walls and lower ourselves down, without any lines or anchors.

Now as straightforward as that sounds, it was not.  I was the first to volunteer, and was therefore the first to discover what the cave was like.  The shaft started out lowering at about 45˚, but after about ten feet, it was a straight drop.  However, the wall behind me went straight down, while the one in front, after a vertical section, evened out to another 45˚ section, lowering away from me.  In other words, I could wedge and lower myself for ten feet, but then had to go another ten feet slowly stretching farther and farther out so that I would end up with half of my back pressed against the wall behind me, and my legs fully-extended, with my feet searching for minute footholds on the far wall, which sloped away from me.  If I lost grip at all, I would fall.  Below this section of the shaft, the wall behind my back would even out to become the floor.  Well, I didn’t even make it fifteen feet in before I couldn’t go any further.  For the first time in my life, I was terrified.

Larry wasn’t coming in with us because this cave was quite a tight fit.  In his stead, Colin, an English counselor, was coming into this one with us.  When he realized that I wasn’t moving, he came in to try and encourage me.  Still, I didn’t move.  Then he went past me, and offered his leg as a “step” for me.  Even still, I didn’t dare.  Finally, after over a half hour, he realized that I had to get to the bottom soon, or we wouldn’t be able to complete the trip.  He told me things like, “Dan, you know you can do this.  You’ve done harder things than this.  You can do it.  Okay Dan, one step at a time.”  At first this didn’t help much, but I thought about what he was saying, and I realized that he was right.  I could do it.  It was all mental.  Physically I could easily climb down.  I just had to get past the mental block in my mind.  And with Colin’s encouragement, I did, and I lowered myself down slowly, step by step, only thinking of my current hand- and foot-holds.  The whole time, my heart was beating wildly.  All I could see past my feet was darkness.  There wasn’t a sound that reached my ears.  I suppose memories of horror movies don’t help in times like that.

I thought, when I reached the bottom, that I would be down there alone for a long time, as the next person would probably be just as scared as I had been.  One minute later though, my friend Nate appeared next to me.  After Nate, 5 others followed, each taking fewer than 5 minutes.  Naturally, I was a little ashamed.

While we explored the cave, I noticed that a few kids in our group weren’t with us.  I assumed they had gotten sick or something, and had gone back to the campsite with Larry.  When we finished caving, we all climbed back out of the entrance (this time, all of us taking only a few minutes.)  The few kids that had been missing were sitting there, swatting at mosquitoes, waiting for us to emerge.  I later learned that they hadn’t even tried to navigate the entrance.

I look back on that day, and realize that I did the best that I could.  When faced with a challenge like mine, some people can just plough straight ahead and climb right down into the darkness.  Others see that it’s going to be a challenge, and take the safe way out.  They don’t challenge themselves, leaving no room for failure.  People like me can be just as scared as the latter, but eventually, we learn that we have to try, and slowly but surely, we make our way through the challenge, and succeed.

Still, although there is a reason for me to be proud of what I did in that cave that day, I now realize that without Colin’s help, I don’t think I would have been able to do it.  I was terrified, and I needed help.  The events on that summer day have changed my outlook on life.  Everyone needs help every once in a while. I hope the recollection of Colin’s voice will make it easier for me to find a way to encourage myself in the future – and to play the same crucial role in the challenges of others.

 

HOW ROOFBALL CHANGED MY LIFE

Josh Kaplan, 17 (College application essay)

In the foothills of the Presidential Range, on the edge of Lower Baker Pond, sits one of New England’s oldest sleepaway camps.  It is one of those places that people who don’t know better might roll their eyes about, as if its values and charms really exist only in the imagination of its dewy-eyed fans.  I know differently — Camp Pemigewassett, or simply “Pemi” — changed how I saw the world.

I’ll never forget the day I arrived at Pemi, in the summer of 2002.  My family dropped me off at my cabin and left for parents’ orientation at the Mess Hall.  I’m sure they were anxious, though they did their best to put on a good face.  I, too, was unsure what to expect from all these new people in a place far from home.  Even before I’d unpacked my duffels, I noticed a few boys playing a simple, unfamiliar game nearby, tossing a tennis ball onto a rooftop and catching it as it came down.  A few of the older campers noticed my standing off to the side, and they showed me how to play and then joined the game with me.  When my parents returned, I was happily playing “roofball,” I had eight new friends, and I wasn’t the least bit upset to see my parents wave goodbye.

I treasured my next seven years at camp.  Nearly every day reinforced the values I’d learned on Day 1.  I met new people, tried new activities, and, in my later years there, helped out the younger campers.  More than anything, Pemi was a retreat from academic demands, the pressures of middle- and high-school social life, and the stress of competitive sports.  Nobody at Pemi would laugh when you dropped a ball in the outfield or couldn’t sing in harmony — instead they praised you for trying.  That obvious behavior is often missing in the adolescent universe.  The resulting atmosphere at Pemi was unlike anything I’d experienced.  My world of possibilities grew — I hiked Mount Washington, canoed the Allagash over the course of five days, annually swam across a large lake, and joined the “big buddy” program, in which I mentored a young camper.  I don’t know another place where I would’ve had the confidence to try such things.  Pemi also encouraged me to excel at new endeavors.  After working toward it for five summers, I was proud to earn my “Brave,” awarded for proficiency in areas all around camp, from plant identification, to hiking, to sailing.

Every year, on camp’s final Sunday, the directors talked about how the end of summer was bittersweet.  Bitter because camp was again over, but sweet because we could all take the example of Pemi home to our own communities.  I tried to follow the directors’ advice as best I could. The changes were subtle at first.  I was willing to try a different sushi roll; I was more open with friends; I tried to notice if someone needed a hand in class or at the rink or even at home.  Commenting on my increased self-confidence, my best friend Zach told me, “Josh, you’ve changed a lot this summer.” One year I signed up for “Challenger Baseball” program, where I helped mentally disabled children play.  At home, in 9th grade, I finally learned to ride a bike — a skill I never got around to as a child and which I’d been too embarrassed to learn since.  Whereas before camp I was too afraid of what people would think of a 14-year-old learning how to ride a two-wheeler, I stopped being concerned about others’ disapproval.

In August 2008, when I left Pemi as a camper for the last time, I decided to try to inject “the Pemi way” into my school life more than ever.  I applied for, and was accepted into, Peer Leadership, a program in which a core of high-school seniors leads a weekly class with freshmen.  A long tradition at our school, Peer Leadership aims to dissolve the cliques that are so common among the freshmen.  For seniors, the program helps us think outside our social norm and get to know classmates whom we may not have talked to in years.  This breaking down of social barriers reminded me of Pemi.

I went to sleepaway camp to play sports, enjoy the sunshine, and be away from home.  From that first day playing roofball, shaped by a special place, I came away with values and interests that have changed my life.

__________________________

Did you or your son write something about Pemi that you’d like to share? If so, email it to camppemi. Please include the age of the author at the time it was written.

 

Confessions of a Bean Soup Editor, by Sky Fauver

For starters, I’ll admit that I have been suspect of this whole digital Bean Soup concept. For the purpose of self-preservation, I could only imagine how my words from a decade ago could be taken out of context in a court of law and how that would play out with my cellmate:

“What’re you in for?”

“I embellished the time that someone spent in the pagoda.”

Along these lines, I must applaud TRJR for having the foresight that this digital age would come, as I now know why he never claimed any envelope-pushing articles and instead attributed them to his own flesh and blood (sorry, Doc Reed and Daniel). Brilliant. Many of us, on the other hand, feel like we’re donning Editors’ New Clothes. Yes, our names are attached to such hyperbole and misremembering that TMZ would consider us high risk.

My second reservation stemmed from the glorious tradition of receiving Bean Soup during the Holidays.   Like an egomaniac, I would search the annals for the simple mention of my name. And now, we have subscribed to societal standards and we have provided near-instant gratification. The deliberate turning of pages, if one chooses, has ceded to utilizing search terms. Remember the hubbub over the satellite TV in the Junior Lodge? Watching World Series from our diaper-wearing years? That was child’s play. This is like comparing 10’s baseball against Lanakila – (sorry, Danny) – to 15’s soccer vs. Tecumseh.

And third, the traditionalist in me feared that such a move was a gateway to some day having our dear Larry Davis replaced by this guy. Irrational? Absolutely, but that’s what Pemi does to you, and serving as an editor to Bean Soup has fed my delirium.

It should be known that the lens of a Bean Soup editor is entirely skewed, and I am torn as to whether that enhanced or devalued my summers at Pemi. You see, as long as there is no long-term physical or psychological damage, an editor is hoping for fodder.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say we were schadenfroh, but we did revel in a Dreaded Heel Catch just as we rejoiced when hearing monosyllabic grunts in a Mess Hall announcement.  Frustration and guilt both played into my mind as I left a Campfire that was full of great songs, memorable stories, and a fire that never went out. “Great,” I’d think, “nothing for Monday night with that one.” So much came down to what was worth reporting at the Soup or what could be distorted to the point that it could be reported.

Preparing for the Soup was a lesson in inefficiency, procrastination, unpreparedness, and everything else that I encourage my students to avoid. Without fail, Monday’s dinner was out of the question. We elbowed each other to get access to the lone printer in the Lodge as the seats filled, and we wrote “Things to Look for… “ while in front of the Pemi community.  I recall the bellows of “We want the Soup!” emanating from the Lodge, and I frequently wanted to say, “No, you really don’t. This isn’t as funny as you want and deserve. Seriously, it isn’t.” A few Monday nights felt like distance swims against a front blowing in from the west. The crickets cliché does no justice to those evenings, as there was inevitably a courtesy chuckle; and crickets don’t chuckle. Inevitably, a young, unfiltered camper would let us know on Tuesday morning that we had wasted an evening of his life. However, there were other nights when the energy was as high as straight out of Fenway.

While the ladeling provided unforgettable experiences, much of the fun came in the preparation. Bean Soup can’t be one person’s show, for a collective versatility is paramount. I was part of some great teams and one troika was especially memorable:, The Mean Guy whose humor derived from here, The Nice Guy who could seamlessly go here, and Me. Essentially, I was primarily responsible for Lower One to the compassionate adult – life as a moderate was good. Yes, great fun was had considering what couldn’t be read, but putting together a Monday serving was an absolute joy.

As one who is expected to communicate in written form with regularity, it is hard not to revert to my Bean Soup roots, and even more difficult to remind myself that it’s not allowed. And as we venture further into the Digital Age, I implore that we all keep in mind just how special Pemi and all of its traditions have been to us. Sure, you are now free to access digital versions of Soups past, but enjoy sifting through old boxes to get your hands on the real deal. If you can’t, there is a market!

____________________________________________

Were you at Pemi during the 1950’s or 1960’s?  If you are interested in receiving one issue or more from 1950-1969 (’50, ’54, ’59, ’60 and ’68 unavailable at this time), please let me know. I will be happy to send you any given issue or issues in PDF form.  We continue to work on digitizing the remaining issues. You may contact me at alumni. Stay tuned for future releases.

~Nikki Wilkinson Tropeano

 

 

Recollections of My Experience as a Bean Soup Editor by —Brad Saffer

On the heels of my esteemed colleague Justin Thomson-Glover’s submission, I offer my own thoughts on my time as Bean Soup editor.

1.     Stick with the tried and true

It is better to repackage old articles and jokes rather than present an original work that falls flat.  As studies have shown, Junior campers will laugh at anything no matter how many times you present it.  In fact, they laugh harder the more often you repeat it.

2.     Take credit for other people’s work

While it is true that Tom Reed Jr. writes side-splitting “staff meeting” articles, you are the one up there reading it, and THAT is the key to the humor!  You may disregard the fact that that article is even funnier when you read it to yourself.

3.     “Pagoda” and “Squish” are useful devices

Yes, those two words will elicit laughs every time. First from the Juniors (see Rule #1), and then from the rest of the audience who love to hear Juniors laugh (I call this the “trampoline” effect.)  You can’t overuse those words.  Seriously.  Think about it.  Pagoda.  Squish.  Pagoda-oda.  Squish. Knish.  Squish again.  See?  You are laughing right now.

4.     Choose your co-editors wisely

My first co-editor was Geoff Morrell, who went on to become a reporter for ABC and Pentagon Press Secretary.  If you watch one of Geoff’s press conferences today, you would have no idea how much he wanted to push the bounds of decency in Bean Soup.  Karl See was fantastic.  His oft-used phrasing “he was meaner than a really, really, REALLY mean guy” still doubles me over.  And Justin Thomson-Glover was unbelievable, especially with his song parodies.  It also didn’t hurt that he had a style and manner that generated laughs no matter what he was reading.  In fact, he once read the Wentworth Yellow Pages for a full hour to the howls and laughter of the audience.  That’s a tough trick to top.  In sum, working with these talented folks inspired me each and every week.

5.     Identify staff members who are good sports:

If I wasn’t able to poke fun at Charlie Malcolm (“Kim have you seen my keys?), Larry Davis, Rob Grabill, Robert Naylor (“Come here, Mr. Fly!”) and others, I don’t know how much material I could have generated.  These people were good sports about having their names read aloud in a humorous, not so factually based light.

I am sure there is much more I could add, but best to quit while I am behind. I can honestly say that I enjoyed my six years as editor as much as anything I did at Pemi, and it was a great honor and privilege to take my (wobbly) seat each Monday evening.  I will always cherish the memories.

Were you at Pemi during the 1990’s?  If you are interested in receiving one issue or more from 1990-1999, 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

Lessons That I Learnt from Being a Bean Soup Editor by Justin Thomson Glover

I have been asked to write an introduction to the Saffer, Geoff Morrell (yes that one!), Karl See, and Justin T-G years of Bean Soup, which range between – according to my slightly hazy memory –  1987 through to – in various fits and starts – to the early/mid 90s.

 As I have a fair amount of trouble remembering events such as: the previous week, why I went into the kitchen, or what I may or may not have done to upset my wife and children – it is with some trepidation that I cast my mind back 25 years ago to a small community about 4000 miles away from where I am currently sitting (Spreyton, Devon, England).  But to kick start some thoughts, I thought a list of lessons that I learnt from being a Bean Soup editor is as good as place to start, since the experience of writing, speaking, and listening to the journals of the Pemi community was a fairly influential part of my existence – up til now.  Or at least that’s what my therapist says.

Anyway a list of jumbled and ill-thought-out comments follow below, which already does much to remind me of the mind-set that I experienced as an editor all those years ago.

Pemi Editor List:

  1. Giving yourself time to write an article is generally a good thing but a situation that never seemed to occur due to enormous amounts of “faffing” (an English word – not sure if it exists across the pond?!),  idleness, and constant belief that the whole thing might go away if you waited long enough;
  2. Giving yourself no time at all is stressful, scary, and not necessarily a good thing but remains my ongoing professional and social modus operandi.
  3. Not being funny is generally a bad thing and can lead to mental scarring;
  4. Tom Reed Jr’s standard of article writing means that at least one part of Bean Soup can compete with the best writing in the world. I’m currently working with a couple of vaguely famous screenwriters and I bet they couldn’t have written the epic oeuvre “One Armed Brake-person”;
  5. Sitting on a precariously balanced metal chair 4 feet up on a rickety table over a group of bemused looking 8-year-olds is not advisable;
  6. Having a co-editor who can write very funny articles at a drop of hat is a bad thing, and the noise of a highly appreciative audience’s laughter at his very funny article is a terrible thing to hear when you realize that the article you are about to read parodying an event involving a canoe, a camper, and a cake might not work as well as you initially hoped;
  7. Any article that contains a list is probably a good thing as there is an expectation from the audience that at least one item must be funny.  Even if none of the items do succeed in hitting the spot, the audience do at least appreciate that you can count.  It also allows you to include the word “pagoda,” which never fails to amuse, unless you try and use it in front of a room full of accountants as part of a detailed business presentation or as a way to break the ice with a potential girlfriend;
  8. Reading an article, finishing, and then being able to hear a pin drop is character forming;
  9. Being in the Lodge hearing 200 people laugh at an article and feeling the electricity of a unique camp community buzz all around you and realizing that you are part of one of the great communities in the world is a good thing;
  10. Parodying a Pemi song is life-affirming:

A Song that could be parodied:

Bloomer Girl

In the style of Rakim, KRS – One, Snoop Dogg, and Dr Dre:  Very much unaccompanied with a fair amount of blowing and self-inflicted drum beats with a slight look of wariness and humbleness combined with a pinch of macho pride.

****: ****; *****:  ! ! !
Bloomer Bloomer Girl;
*******; ******:
***;
********; *****,
Bloomer Girl.

 

A new song called “Pagoda” – in the style of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”

I would hope that if we could get the Junior camp to memorise the words it might go viral very quickly.

Oh-oh-oh-oh-oooh!
Oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh!
Caught in a bad smell

Oh-oh-oh-oh-oooh!
Oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh!
Caught in a bad smell

Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah!
Pago-Pag-o-dah!
Ga-ga-ooh-la-la!
Ooh what a bad smell

Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah!
Pago-aha-da-ah!
Ga-ga-ooh-la-la!
That’s quite a bad smell.

Were you at Pemi during the 1980’s?  If you are interested in receiving one issue or more from 1980-1989, 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