Final Toast, G&S Review, and on to Pemi 2017!

2016 Final Newsletter (#8)

Remarkably, as I write this, Pemi 2016 is within a whisper of its concluding hours. As we sit here on Friday afternoon, the mercury is pressing 90, but a brisk breeze from the west keeps conditions entirely bearable. The bulk of your sons are in the cabins putting the last touches on packing (which we dearly hope you will find to be satisfactory), but Timmy Coe, Spencer Hill, and a few other hardened tennis players are enjoying an impromptu last-minute doubles match, and there are queues at the ping pong tables as there have been all year long. So, in some ways, the last day of the season is like all the rest – hot and dry, but happy and active. The seventh ladling of Bean Soup will take place in just an hour, and we’ll dine a bit early (at 5:30) to leave room for the final campfire, which we hope an impending cold front will allow us to hold in its traditional spot on the Senior Beach. Then it’s cabin parties, perhaps another glimpse (weather permitting) of the spectacular Perseid meteor shower that many of us witnessed last night, and an all too hasty night’s sleep as visions of home-town sugar plums dance in everyone’s heads. It’s been a wonderful year, as Danny’s toast at last night’s Final Banquet made very clear.

Final Banqust toastHere’s to the summer of 2016 at Camp Pemigewassett, the 109th in Pemi’s rich and storied history – a summer that has come and gone, as it always seems to, in the blink of an eye, though in some ways it seems a lifetime ago that we all began to arrive in early June, way back when campers and young counselors were still attending graduation parties, fourteen Pemi Westers were still breaking in their hiking boots for their trip to Washington, and LeBron and company were finally hoisting an NBA championship trophy, making Cleveland the new “city of champions.” 

Here’s to a summer that concludes so late in August that leaves on Route 25A are already sporting a slight autumn tint, the Abbey boys are two weeks into their school year, fall athletic teams have begun to practice, and, as Pemi boys are returning to their cabins for an 8:30 taps, there is barely a shred of day light left – a summer that by all accounts has been a wonderful success, made possible by the collective efforts, wisdom, and care of the Pemi men and women in this room.

Here’s to the 258 (exactly) campers who graced the shores of Lower Baker Pond this summer, 86 of whom were here as full session campers – campers from 25 states of the United States and 7 countries around the world. Here’s to the 79 campers who made the decision to attend sleep-away camp for the first time, the 22 who have or will collect their five-year bowls, and (Yes, Henry Jones, Reed O’Brien, Andrew Kanovsky, and Dash Slamowitz!) here’s to campers in their eighth. 

Here’s to 2016’s talented and dedicated counselor staff at Pemi – to the cabin counselors and assistant counselors, the young men who share such close quarters with their boys, and who, for some magical reason, are able to inspire, mentor, and capture the imagination of their campers in ways even their own parents and we senior staff sometimes can not.  

Cheers to the incredibly hard-working crew that Reed Harrigan leads each day with such vigor, dedication, and love: Tess, Tawnya, Dennis, and Chris; to Office Managers extraordinaire, Heather and Kim, who do so much more than manage the office; and here’s to Dottie, who “does the Dottie” each day, attending to tasks both large and small and caring for campers with her maternal grace, wisdom, charm, and a large helping of love, as well.

Cheers to the chefs and kitchen crew this summer, led by Tom and Judy, who tackled the herculean task of providing a community of 260 with delicious meals three times a day and reminded us that it can be done with a smile, a sincere desire to meet the needs of everyone in the community, and with freshly baked bread each day, as well.  

Here’s to Kenny, the “kid from Cleveland,” who masterminds our four-pillared program (with a hand this summer from Dan Reed), oversees transportation, Pemi West, the daily and weekly schedule, and so much more. Thank you, Kemosabe. I’d never want to do it without you! 

Cheers to Laura and all the creative endeavors down in Art World; to Charlie, our big-hearted Athletic Director and all the coaches in the athletics’ program who always put Pemi’s values of sportsmanship, improved skills, and participation first…. Double boom! 

Thank you to Tom and the trippies who sent scores of trips tramp, tramp, tramping over the mountains and paddling on the mighty rivers; to Dorin (and Maestro Luke) for another remarkable G & S performance and to her staff for a summer of beautiful music. 

To Emily, to Paige, and to Molly and all the exhilarating, yet safe, fun we had in AND ON the water; to Harry O in the shop; Chris (and family!) on the tennis courts; Larry and Deb in the Nature Lodge; Steve (and his collection of flies) on the archery range; and all of the other instructors who brought major energy and mojo to occupation periods every day. And let’s not forget Head of Staff Ben, aka Senor Stacks, for overseeing his charges with such proficiency, thoughtfulness, and humor every day. 

Here’s to the things that were unique at Pemi in 2016; the Birthday Bell, spike ball, the Lake Thing, blue water skiers and green water skiers, “Sting” rockets, Ru-tu-tu, O-At-Ka championship trophies, and a July 18th storm that was a stark reminder of the power of Mother Nature and the infinite – yes, infinite – capacity of one very good man and a chain saw.

Here’s to all-camp events at Pemi, Bean Soup when we laugh at ourselves and anticipate “things to look for,” Camp Fire when we entertain ourselves in front of some of the most majestic sunsets one will ever see – especially in 2016 – and to Sunday Meeting when we reflected on such matters as short cuts and short circuits, “old school” Pemi, and the extraordinary gifts Al Fauver gave to Pemi throughout his many decades on the shores of Lower Baker Pond.

Here’s to our 27 fifteen-year-old campers, to their many years at Pemi, and to the lifelong friendships they have created. I know from personal experience that some day you’ll participate in each other’s weddings, be Godparents to each other’s children, and perhaps become the next generation of counselors at Pemi.

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

Here’s to Camp Pemigewassett 2016. Good luck, long life , and joy!

And now, as in past years, the top drama critic of the award-winning Wentworth Times takes his measure of one of the highlights of Pemi Week and, indeed, of the entire season.

Clive Bean Reviews Pirates of Penzance 

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“Police” directing traffic

The Pemi theatrical season reached its apex this past Tuesday and Wednesday nights with 2016’s Gilbert and Sullivan production, The Pirates of Penzance. As one of our contributions to the town of Wentworth’s 250th birthday celebration this summer, we issued an open invitation to the local citizenry to attend this year’s show. Upwards of 40 did, and they enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining evening. Reading the Argument to the crowd prior to the first act, Tom Reed, Jr. pointed out that, fifty-one years ago, when a mess hall fire ruled out our performing Pirates at camp, Wentworth generously offered us the use of their town hall stage. In commemoration of that event, this year’s chorus of Policeman again directed incoming traffic in their Victorian “Bobby” costumes, as their predecessors had done over fifty years back out on NH Rt. 25. (How impressed unknowing motorists must then have been by the apparent sartorial traditionalism of New England constabulary!)           

Pemi Pirates of Penzance, Owen Lee

Pirate Lieutenant Samuel, Owen Lee

Tirelessly and flawlessly directed by Head of Music Dorin Dehls, this year’s show was as good as any in recent memory. Manning the keyboard once again was master pianist Luke Raffanti, a one-man orchestra whose remarkable ability to cover for minor vocal miscues amongst the cast was very much in evidence. The show opens, of course, with the male chorus copiously “pouring the Pirate sherry,” and this year’s buccaneers (Jamie Acocella, Will Adams, Harry Cooke, Whit Courage, Zacc Dwan, Michael Kerr, George Lerdal, Cam McManus, Kevin Miller, Braden Richardson, and Phineas Walsh) downed their imaginary Captain Morgan as avidly as fraternity brothers at a Fort Lauderdale bash. Fortunately, their lusty singing was in no way impaired by their overindulgence, and they carried the whole show on their broad and tattooed shoulders. 

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Wards of Major General Stanley

Far more modest and, we would assume, innocent than sorority sisters at the same Fort Lauderdale bash, the Ward’s chorus absolutely charmed the audience from their first appearance. Ted Applebaun, Julian Berk, Jonathan Ciglar, Andrea Geffert, Mac Hadden, Keiran Klasfeld, and Henry Moore looked positively ravishing in their gingham frocks, and their animated acting and spot-on singing easily matched the energy and impact of their “male” counterparts. Initially submerged in the coy ensemble were Christopher Ramanathan (as Edith), John Kingdon (as Kate), and Lucas Gales (as Isabel), but all three soon stepped up as soloists and positively wowed the crowd with their dramatic and melodic flair. (So charming and difficult to choose between were they that the Pirate King [played by Larry Davis] did his utmost to secure the favors of both Christopher and John – before being summarily reminded that even a nautical monarch couldn’t both have his Kate and Edith, too. (Apologies for a horrendous pun!)

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Rob, as Ruth

As the Pirate Lieutenant Samuel, Owen Lee was thoroughly professional (and accordingly earned this year’s Johnnies Plaque for Dramatics!), while real-life Brit Rob Leftwich played the infamous working-class cougar Ruth as though he had studied for decades with Betty White and Demi Moore. Rob’s powerful falsetto truly shone both in solos and in a series of dramatic duets and trios. If we ever stage Jersey Boys at Pemi, he is a shoe-in to play Frankie Valli. 

As mentioned, Larry Davis reprised his role as the Pirate King, combining bluster, braggadocio, and bathos in a way that only he can manage. Opposite him was Tom Reed, Jr. as Major-General Stanley, clearly relishing a role in which he had something close to a dozen children. “Given the Reed family’s historical under-production of offspring,” he was heard to say after the show, “it’s always tons of fun to play a man with a reproductive profile closer to that of the Fauver clan.” 

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George Cooke

Pemi police_smAlthough they appear only in the second act, the Policeman’s chorus of Eli Brennan, Dan Reed, Wesley Eifley, Ben Walsh, and Nelson Snyder stole the show. They got so quickly and deeply into their parts as inept and cowardly constables that this reviewer worries that, for weeks to come, they may all suffer severe cases of post-dramatic distress disorder. The same can be said in spades for George Cooke, whose Sergeant of Police came close to surpassing 2012’s Best-Ever Mike Plecha – and garnered George 2016’s Gilbert and Sullivan Award. In any case, if the show had been flagging in its second stanza (which it most assuredly was not), this half-dozen lads in blue would most certainly have dragged it, all by themselves, up to the level of truly memorable light opera.

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Oliver Giraud and Michaella Frank

If Pirates begins with the failed romance of Ruth and Frederic, it ends with the totally fulfilling match of before-her-time feminist woman-of-will Mabel Stanley and pirate-against-his-will-and-conscience Frederic. Playing the former with true musical accuracy and impressive dramatic flair was Oliver Giraud, whose off-season job as grade-school student on Florida’s Gulf Coast clearly leaves him feeling extremely comfortable advancing his personal interests in a seaside setting. And Michaella Frank, Pemi’s first-ever female cast in a male role, was arguably the best romantic lead a Pemi Pirates show has ever seen. She mastered the tenor range with the assurance of Andrea Bocelli, and combined her vocal brilliance with unequalled dramatic flair. Look for her to be in the running the next time Hamilton looks to replace its lead.

In sum, 2016’s Pirates of Penzance was a singular success, marked by great energy, musical precision, and singular playfulness. Special thanks, finally, to Producer Deborah Fauver, whose scores of hours ordering and organizing costumes and props made the show look as good as it sounded – and to the set crew of Reed Harrigan and Dennis Thibodeaux, who gave the cast the Cornish seacoast on which to have their loony fun. All in all, it was a spectacular team effort, easily one of the highlights of a wonderful camp season, and certainly a most appropriate treat for a White Mountain hamlet celebrating a quarter millennium of civic life and culture. As to anyone who knew and loved the Founding Director of Pemi G&S shows who took her grand earthly curtain call just this past June – we could most assuredly hear Betsy Reed crying “Bravo!” from on high.

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Producer Deborah Fauver, flanked by the leads of 2016’s “Pirates of Penzance”

On that distinctly beatific note, we’ll close our books on Pemi 2016. To those of you who entrusted your sons to us for the summer, thank you so much for sharing their energy, charm, and good natures. We look forward to spending another seven weeks with many of them in 2017. And for this year’s “graduating” fifteens, let us dangle the temptation of Pemi West in the coming summer – and, in the years to follow, the prospect of an actual paycheck just for hanging out with us in the snug little New Hampshire valley where so many memorable things always seems to happen.

— Tom

 

Pemi Remember this in the depths of February. Until 2017...

Remember this in the depths of February and March. On to 2017!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proof is in the Pudding

2016 Newsletter # 7

Greetings from the sun-drenched shores of Lower Baker Pond! As we begin the last week of camp, the most oft-heard words from campers and counselors alike is, “I can’t believe this is the last week of camp! Wow! The summer has gone so quickly!” Indeed, another summer is reaching its final days, and we will be extremely sad to bid the boys adieu in just three day’s time. In the blink of an eye, the leaves will begin to turn red and gold, the evenings will become cooler, and we will all rejoin our families and reconnect with our home-away-from-Pemi.

As I type this note from the West Wing of the Senior Lodge, I can hear the yells of excitement and encouragement down at Senior Beach, telltale signs that Pemi Week is in full swing. Swimming, sailing, and archery championships, Games Day, Woods Dudes’ Day, two evening performances of Pirates of Penzance and, of course, Final Banquet are all on the week’s schedule as our summer climaxes with a crescendo of events. Pemi Week is a wonderful opportunity for the boys in each cabin to work, play, and bond together, and for all of us in the Pemi community to celebrate what has been a particularly sunny, active summer in the Baker Valley.

When I consider all of the things to be thankful for in the summer of 2016, right at the top of my list is the well-prepared, delicious, and bountiful food we have enjoyed this season. We consider excellence in food to be at the very top of our to-do list in preparing for each summer, and this year we have not been disappointed!

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Tom Ciglar

While I will mention others who have helped to tackle the Herculean task of feeding a community of 250 hungry souls three times a day, credit begins at the top, and my first “shout out” goes to Tom Ciglar, our Director of Food Services. As you may recall from the email we sent last fall, part of our reshuffling of the staff deck included dividing responsibilities in the Mess Hall in a new way and creating this new position. The world of food service has become infinitely more complex at summer camps, schools, and even at our own family tables than it was twenty of thirty years ago. Tom was hired for this newly constructed position last October with the idea that he would concentrate his efforts on creating the menu, ordering the food, managing the front room where the campers and counselors eat, and overseeing individual dietary requirements. While, of course, Tom has also seen plenty of time at the stove this summer, we recognized that having a single head chef oversee all of the responsibilities of the kitchen, and do all of the cooking, is an antiquated model that needed to be updated to attend to all of the demands of a modern camp kitchen. Creating this new position was the first step in rethinking how we prepare food and manage the dining operation at Pemi.

To say that Tom has hit it out of the park in his new role this summer would be an understatement! The reviews from boys and staff alike have all been overwhelmingly positive, and Tom’s love and aptitude for cooking and managing others has been at the top of the list of reasons why the boys have been so happy with the food this year.

When asked about his goals for this summer, about the things he thinks are important in cooking for a boy’s summer camp, and also about his love of baking bread in particular, here’s what Tom had to say:

Pemi bread“This summer has been a very satisfying one for all of us in the kitchen. My goal for the season was to take care of everyone and serve meals where all of the pieces come together so I see a whole community well fed. This is tremendously satisfying for me. A few years ago, Pemi helped me attend a baking class at King Arthur Flour Company, in Norwich, Vermont, where my love for baking really took off. The bread baking started as a way to supplement the meals and it just took off from there. The rest is history, I guess you could say.” Tom calculates that he has baked 1,000 loaves of bread this summer, or about 50 pounds a day, and that he has used a ton of flour! Wow!

When I asked Tom about the most exacting demands involved in cooking for 172 boys each day, he replied, “The biggest challenge is to serve a healthy meal three times a day, but with a good variety of things that the boys love to eat. Our boys love their meat, potatoes and bread; the test is not just serving the food, but also planning for variety in the menu and seeing that they enjoy what we serve.”

I also asked Tom if anything had been a surprise this summer. “Well, it’s not my first rodeo, so it’s hard to surprise me at this point. I guess if I had to identify something that I have been especially pleased with, it’s been the very positive reception we’ve received from the dining room this summer. The support and great feedback have been amazing and have been another example of Pemi’s big heart.”

Finally, I asked Tom if there was a dish he had served this summer that was especially satisfying. “The pot roast we had for Sunday lunch. The pieces all came together, and the Mess Hall was actually quiet for a few minutes!” Well, that silence spoke volumes about everyone’s appreciation of Tom and the kitchen staff’s efforts and skill. Silence in the Mess Hall is about as common as the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series!

Well, the proof is in the pudding as they say, so I asked a few of our campers if they had any thoughts about the food this summer. As you might guess, they had plenty to say!

Braden Richardson in Lower Six said that he really loves “the mashed potatoes and meat loaf. They’re so tasty they remind me of my mom’s cooking, and she’s the best cook in the world”! (Tissues for Lisa Coleman, Braden’s mom, please.)

Gray Klasfeld in Lower One said, “I love how diverse the meals are. There’s always great variety. My favorite meals are the soups, the pasta, and especially the chicken fingers!”

Ian Hohman in Upper Three, noted that, “Tom spends so much time making sure we are all happy and full. I really love the BBQ chicken!”

Luke Bass in Lower Five really loves, “the Sunday Sleep-in pancakes. The toppings are amazing, especially the chocolate, strawberry, and fruit syrup.”

Jonah Reay in Lower One said he loves, “having Tom’s bread at so many meals because it’s homemade and tastes so fresh!”

Grady Boruchin in Senior Two thinks that, “the “food this year has been so healthy, with lots of vegetarian options.”

Judy Harrington

Judy Harrington

Obviously, feeding the boys three times a day is not a solo task. Tom has a crew of ten others helping him in the kitchen, including six young men from overseas (four from Poland and two from Turkey), two early-morning sous chefs, assistant chef Rachel Preston who works at Tilton Prep in the winter, and Tom’s second-in-command and main chef Judy Harrington, back for her second summer in front of the ranges at Pemi. Judy offers not only excellent food preparation but also a maternal warmth for the boys as well. “I love feeding my boys,” she says. “The look of joy on their faces when I described Sunday dinner, roast pork and potatoes, is the kind of thing that makes all the preparation worthwhile.”

While there are many aspects of the Pemi program and the Pemi day that we feel offer excellent experiences for the boys, it is particularly satisfying to include the Mess Hall meals among them. The food at camp is an important part of everyone’s day, and the rich experience of our dining together is enhanced by the delicious, plentiful, and nourishing food we have enjoyed in 2016. We look forward to continued success and happy days for Tom and his crew this summer and beyond, and we feel grateful and extremely fortunate to have this particular crew bringing us such consistently scrumptious and plentiful meals this summer.

Danny Kerr

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Adventure on the Allagash

2016 Newsletter # 6

[This week’s communiqué comes from Director of Athletics Charlie Malcolm.]

Each summer I am asked to write a newsletter on Tecumseh Day. This year, our boys from Pemigewassett ran into a very deep, talented, and well coached Tecumseh camp and lost the day 5-14-1. The shining exception to the general order of the day was the Pemi tennis program, which won four of five contests. Under Chris Johnson’s masterful leadership, our tennis players consistently won tight contests with nerve and grit.

Tecumseh Day provides the community with a fascinating challenge and an annual philosophical conundrum.   For a full week, we ramp up our preparation while at the same time we send kids out for hiking trips, exploring bogs, and keeping our general program moving forward. While camp gets on with business, many of our Seniors begin to sense that camp and their time as boys here are finite and they desperately want Tecumseh Day to be a crowning achievement of this journey.   As I mentioned last year, they look for opportunities to lead the younger campers and search for the right message for a range of ages and levels of commitment to athletics.

At Pemi, the Senior division has several experiences that are coming-of age-opportunities able to create life-long lessons and memories. I am often struck by how many of the lessons and experiences garnered while pursuing athletics nonetheless apply to a plethora of settings. For example, I recently joined our 15s on the annual trip to the Allagash Wilderness in Maine. For well over twenty years, I have jealously watched the Pemi 15s leave for their adventure on the Allagash Waterway just outside Baxter State Park. The Allagash is considered the capstone experience for the Pemi trip program, but it was not available when I was in Senior 3 in 1980. In the 1990s, legendary trip counselor Reilly McCue led Pemi boys deep into the wilderness with Senior counselor Phil Burnett, and their stories and the joy the boys showed when returning home to Pemi only stoked my longing to come along for the trip.

As Athletic Director, I usually sneak out of camp for one trip a season. Last year, I went to Madison Hut and walked along the ridge of the Presidentials. It was a great experience until the long, steady march down tested this old timer. When openings remain for a given trip, I’m quick to tell the potential participants that I can only remember a handful of athletic contests from my time as a camper in the 1970s, but I can tell you in detail about my three-day trip to Osceola, my four-day through Zealand and Franconia Falls, and my many walks along the Franconia or Presidentials ranges.

Not unlike our 15s, as I step into my fifties, I can feel the jaws of time gnawing away at some of my trip dreams. I won’t use the word “Bucket List” for I don’t want it to sound like I just want to check off some list without genuinely appreciating the experience. Nor do I want to make this sound like a midlife crisis blog; this trip is clearly a “coming of age” opportunity for the boys willing to embrace the Allagash’s power” it was also a “coming of age” for me, but for a different reason.

I was at breakfast when Ken Moore and Tom Reed made me the offer for the Allagash; they needed a van driver to navigate the seven-hour drive and knew I would jump at the opportunity. With an extremely light athletic schedule during “changeover” week, it was an ideal opportunity to send me along with the Pemi 15s to the Allagash. After a few days with the boys working on my C and J strokes, I declared myself ready for the sojourn; however, I did wonder if I was up for the challenge. I’m fairly sure several of the boys were having similar feelings as they struggled to master some of the critical canoeing skills.

Allagash packing

industryOn Monday morning, the vans left Pemi at 6 AM and we headed down Route 25 to Portland, Maine, then headed north on route 95 to Millinocket. You can’t help but notice the challenges small businesses face in the seasonal tourist industry when you’re passing along this route on an annual basis. After a long drive north along Route 95, we arrive at Millinocket, an old mill town and the gateway to Baxter State Park and the Allagash Wilderness. Over the last ten years two of the largest mills in town closed as digital media’s declining demand for paper hit this aging town fairly hard. Signs along the main street captured a debate over whether to make Baxter State Park a National Park. Many of the young people have left town to find work from Bangor to Boston. Those that remained found a community wrestling with limited employment opportunities and the opiate scourge that shakes many of our rural and declining urban areas.

We arrived at Katahdin Outfitters just as a storm was rolling in and we quickly loaded the trailers and vans with our gear. The boys worked together unloading our U-Haul Trailer and selected their paddles and life vests that were soon wrapped in a big blue tarp. The outfitter vans left Millinocket and within ten minutes we were out of cell reception and heading down logging roads, deep into the wilderness. Our driver Paul has been hauling Pemi into the wilderness for the last twenty years and quickly asked for an update on Reilly McCue. I let him know that Reilly was running an incredible fishing and hunting guiding service out of the North Shore of Boston. Paul shared a story about how he “accidently” hit a few partridges on the road and Reilly jumped out of the van and quickly de-feathered and zip -ocked the meat for the first meal of the journey. Ten jaw-dropping Pemi boys had watched with a range of emotions as Reilly made quick work of the game.

As we drove deep into the back woods, Paul shared with me the process of timbering the region, and some of the local struggles living in this far-flung locale. I asked how climate change was affecting the Allagash region and he provided three examples. The moose population was significantly down because tics have been moving further north and emaciating the moose. He had never seen turkey vultures in this region before, and bass were now populating trout-only lakes. While we talked, the boys watched the pine trees rush by and a raven carry away an unlucky red squirrel. Deer scampered, and the dust from the dry roads churned as the vans surged deeper and deeper into the wilderness.

After two hours, we arrived at Chamberlain Lake and began to unload the canoes and gear as dark clouds to our south inspired a touch of adrenaline to get the boys moving. Chamberlain is named after the famous Civil War colonel of the 20th Maine that fought gallantly at Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg. We stopped briefly for a group photo, and I wondered how these twenty boys would respond to the Call of the Wilderness. Would they come together as a group and return to Pemi changed by the experience?

Pemi Allagash group

15s: Reed O’Brien, Reed Cecil, Jackson Morrell, Thaddeus Howe, Nick Bowman, Andrew Kanovsky, George Cooke, Nolan Katcher, Lucas Gaffney, Will Adams, Henry Jones, Ethan Elsaden, Nick Carter, Dash Slamowitz, Tucker Jones, Sam Beesley, Rafe Forward, Jake Cronin, Pierce Haley, James Minzesheimer. Staff: Zacc Dwan, Jackson Reed, Harry Morris, Charlie Malcolm.

Fortunately, the storm that hugged the southern horizon moved away and the boys arrived at the Boy Scout campsite with plenty of daylight to set-up their tents and begin the process of preparing dinner. Harry Morris, counselor of Senior 3 and former trip counselor, prepared each group’s supplies, from tents to meals, all while running his cabin and meeting the demands of camp in the waning days of the first half. Anyone who has worked at Pemi knows that these points of transition are fairly time- and energy-consuming, so well done, Harry! As we went to bed Monday night, a nearly full moon began to rise somewhere just to the northeast of Mount Katahdin. At the time we had no idea how important this moon would be to our coming adventure.

Allagash coffeeAt 5 AM on Tuesday, I awoke to the first light of the day and thus began the ritual of the coffee. Unlike my Seniors, I tend to wake at the crack of dawn when camping in the backcountry. The process involves sliding out of your tent as quietly as possible, trying not to wake your tent mate, grabbing a pot and walking down to the lake for water. The birds harken your arrival and a family of loons across the bay peer with mild interest at the stranger on the shore. With the water in the pot, you light the Coleman Stove, boil the water, slowly pour the water through a coffee filter, relishing the smell of the ground beans and the quietness of being the first one awake. For about twenty minutes it is just the birds, the gentle sun, the sound of soft waves, the fresh chill in the air, and the hot coffee warming your hands and soul.

Allagash planningIt wasn’t long before I was joined by Jackson Reed, and Senior counselors Harry and Zacc Dwan. Over coffee, we discussed and reviewed our plan for the day. When choosing to paddle the lake section of the Allagash, you are blessed with a diversity of landscapes and challenges. If the wind is calm and there are no storms to negotiate, the lake route is fairly ideal for paddlers of a range of abilities and provides a diversity of wildlife. If the wind howls, the trip leaders have some fascinating and challenging decisions to make. One of the down sides of battling weather concerns the first night we arrived was that we were unable to knock off a few miles of Lake Chamberlain before setting up our tents. These miles would soon pose a challenge for our respective teams of canoers.

After a hearty breakfast, the lads broke down their tents and loaded the canoes with their gear and twenty buckets of supplies. The weight was evenly distributed in the canoes and amongst the group. As we turned out of our sheltered campsite, we soon realized the wind was going to pose a significant challenge for the group. The first group hugged the south side of Lake Chamberlain while my group decided to cross the lake at the narrowest section and make our way along the northern shore. The wind barreling down the center of the lake made neither option particularly inviting. The first group only made it two of the eleven miles planned for the day when they realized progress was fairly futile in the winds that were now gusting close to 30 mph. My group crossed the lake at the narrowest point and began pulling their canoes along the rocky northern shoreline, a slow and arduous process testing balance and grit. Whenever a point jutted out and cut down the wind, the boys paddled to the next exposed shoreline. We were able to cover 4.5 miles in seven hours; however, by late afternoon it was clear we needed change our plans.

Camp Nugent

Camp Nugent

Jackson and I found a deserted Camp Nugent, a seasonal hunting cottage with a cove protected from the wind and a grassy lawn to take a nap and have dinner. We all settled down to wait out the wind, many boys choosing to succumb to a well-deserved nap as Jackson prepared a meal of pasta and tuna fish. By 8:30 PM, the wind began to significantly die down and both groups decided via radio to push forward to our original planned destination. With a clear night and a full moon just beginning to rise from the east as the sun set in the west, the boys felt refreshed and excited for the adventure. I have to admit, I was tired and sore and was wondering what I was doing on this trip. Some of the boys were feeling and sharing some of their concerns, but the mood of the group began to change. As the moon boldly rose from the backdrop of Mount Katahdin, we all felt our spirits rise and began to paddle with positive energy and a renewed sense of adventure.

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Harry’s group crossed Lake Chamberlain and were soon on our tail as we made our way to the Lock Dam Campsite. The moonlight sparkled on the water and the white caps disappeared as the boys made up seven miles in two hours of paddling. There were some anxious moments as we hunted for the Lock Dam in the moonlight but we soon found our destination just as the wind began to pick up once again. It was an incredibly long first day for the boys as we pulled the boats ashore, set-up our tents, and fell fast asleep. Jackson set out a lamp to help guide the arrival of the second group and we were soon all together again.

Allagash sunrise

Lock dam was built in 1841 to help control the flow of water into the Penobscot River in order to improve the transportation of timber down the river. The boys awoke at 7 AM and began the arduous process of repacking the canoes for our trip to Eagle Lake. There was a debate whether to rouse the boys earlier to beat potential wind, but the length of the previous day and the possibility of more moon-lit paddling made sleep our choice of action.

We were not certain what we would find once we left the sheltered region just below the dam, for the the next day’s journey on Eagle Lake had the potential to be even more exposed to wind.   As we turned the corner and once again paddled west, the boys were met with dispiriting and relentless gale force winds that eventually forced both groups to find shelter. Fortunately, Thoreau Island serenely beckoned our boats and the boys, tired from the previous day’s challenges followed by another tough morning of paddling, were incredibly grateful to find a place to wait out the relentless wind. I imagine the politics and tension of the 1850s made the Maine Wilderness a special refuge for Thoreau in 1857. (Perhaps the politics of 2016 might make all of us also long for a Thoreau Island!)

Allagash nappingWhile the boys napped, I went with Harry and a few boys to explore the island where Thoreau made his summer retreat of 1857. We had learned some lessons from the first day and were quite content waiting out the wind with the hope that it would eventually die down. The boys napped, played cards, went for a swim or joined me for explorations of the island. At our campsite table, the boys shared and discussed their favorite book from the previous school year.

Allagash cardsFortunately, the winds once again died down and we loaded the canoes as the evening moon began to rise. We paddled for close to eight miles, as the lake was incredibly calm. The moon rose blood-red to our northeast, and I began to notice the boys were paddling with cleaner strokes and in tighter formations, allowing the lead boat to create a wake and decrease the resistance. It took 48 hours of hard paddling, but a team was beginning to emerge and the pace of our progress dramatically increased with each stroke of the paddle. Our broader appreciation for the adventure had reached a tipping point.

With the moon as our guide, we arrived at Eagle Lake campsite at 11 PM. We had now covered over twenty-five miles, negotiating tough winds, personal doubt, and previous expectations about a Huck Finn-like paddle down the Allagash River. In the first two days, we all had to adjust our aspirations for the trip. Some of the boys had images of rapids and gentle paddles down the Allagash River with little awareness of wind and open lakes. The lake route of the journey was magnificent in its beauty, as we saw eagles, osprey, loons, and stunning views of Mount Katahdin, but the physical demands and the uncertainties of when the wind might ease up tested each member of the group.

With everyone paddling with a partner, trying conditions can create negative energy that undermines the group’s ability to paddle with economy and direction. Each boy has a choice of whether to provide encouragement and push a little harder, wallow in self-pity, or swing somewhere in between. I know as I paddled in the bow of the canoe I didn’t always agree with the line chosen by my partner in the stern or understand how difficult it was to both paddle and steer when the wind relentlessly struck the canoe at various angles. I didn’t fully appreciate the challenge and success my partner Jackson was having keeping a consistent line until we switched seats and I realized that the wind easily defeated the counterbalancing C or J stroke. As a trip leader and coach, I found it interesting to watch each canoe crew work through a range of emotions. By the end of the second day of hard paddling, it was clear that the boys were stronger and beginning to embrace a broader appreciation for their journey. I also appreciated the care Harry Morris had taken in choosing canoe partners for this trip.

Allagash breakfastAt the Eagle Lake Camp site, the winds felt unusually calm when we awoke the next morning. I prepared chocolate pancakes for the boys, which were eaten with gusto and gratifying appreciation. We headed out toward a placid Churchill Lake with a few recommendations for fun and exploration from our good friend Reilly McCue. Our first stop was a bridge where the boys could jump into the water. Each boy launched into the cool waves, a fresh and exhilarating experience. After bridge jumping, we searched for Thoroughfare Brook, an ecosystem loaded with birds, brook trout, and moose.

Thoroughfare Brook

Thoroughfare Brook

At the entrance of the brook, we saw two moose, and Jackson identified dozens of birds. Kingfishers announced our arrival and escorted the canoes up the brook. I broke out my fishing rod and landed several brook trout that the boys later cooked and ate on Ritz crackers. The brook, shielded by wind, provided the boys a very different experience as we paddled deeper into the wilderness. The beauty was breathtaking, although I have to admit I was a little sad knowing our trip was nearly over.

After our adventure in the brook, the boys entered Churchill Lake with a stiff wind…at our backs, for once. Each canoe team desperately tried to build the most efficient sail from tent flies, raincoats, or tarps – with a wide range of success and failure. As we sped across Churchill, we soon saw the dam leading to the Allagash River, our final campsite and our launch site for our last stage of the adventure. We arrived at the campsite a day before the Ranger station was celebrating the Park’s 50th Anniversary. Rangers, past and present, and families with deep appreciation for the incredible beauty and transformational experience were flooding into the camp for the big celebration. A large pit filled with timber was set ablaze to build coals for the big baked bean cook-off the following morning.

The next morning, the boys carried their canoes to the launch of the Allagash Rapids. Jackson met with the team and reviewed the various strokes and maneuvers to successfully navigate the rapids. Each morning, the Allagash Ranger Station releases more water to lift the level of the river and create Class Two rapids. As the boys launch their canoes and point their bows down the river, they look for rocks and the “v’s” that emerge between two rocks, creating deeper, safer water. They quickly realize it is critical to keep paddling hard and hit uncertain water with speed. After each stretch of rapids, the boys wait for the trail canoe to join the group. In thirty minutes, the boys traveled a distance that had once taken us six hours in the wind. I couldn’t help but notice and appreciate my group’s cohesion and self-confidence. When the canoes reached our exit location, each boat waited and helped the next canoe out of the water.

Our return with Paul in the van took just under three hours to cover the nearly fifty miles of canoeing we covered in four days. We helped unload the gear and repacked the U-Haul for the long drive home to Lower Baker Pond. We consumed copious amounts of pizza while a television set on CNN dumped the latest tragedy in Munich. It was a little surreal to have been away from civilization for five straight days, seeing only a handful of people, yet we were quickly reminded of a complex world awaiting all of us. We asked the waitress to change the channel and we blissfully consumed the pizza and held onto the joys and innocence of our adventure.

~ Charlie Malcolm

A Look at Pemi’s Day-to-Day Nature Program

2016 Newsletter # 5

by Larry Davis, Director of Pemi’s Nature Program

In years past, I have used the opportunity to write a newsletter as a chance to wax philosophic about the importance of getting children out into nature, about the excitement of some of our special activities (such as caving), or about the history of natural history at Pemi. It has been a while since I described our day-to-day program. So, for the rest of this newsletter, that’s just what I’ll do.

Each week we offer 14-17 different nature occupations. Some of these are available every week and others may appear only once. You’ll find a glimpse of this week’s offerings at the end of the newsletter. All told, 35-40 nature occupations are available over the course of a summer.

Our scope is broad and includes both natural history topics—such as ponds and streams, forest ecology, rocks and minerals, and butterflies and moths—along with related fields such as nature photography and drawing, orienteering, bush lore and “weird science.” Much of what we teach is available at both beginning and advanced levels so that a Pemi camper can continue to explore new aspects of the natural world as he progresses through his career at camp. What follows is a description of just a few of our offerings.

Beginning Occupations

Our beginning activities follow a set lesson plan and are typically offered every week during the summer. They are designed to serve as an introduction to one or more aspects of nature. Topics include, Butterflies and Moths, Non-Lepidopteris Insects (that’s everything except butterflies and moths), Rocks and Minerals, Ponds and Streams, Digital and Darkroom Photography, among others.

Nature at PemiOur overall introduction to the program itself, Junior Environmental Explorations, is required for all new juniors. The lesson plan was written by former Associate Head of Nature Programs, Russ Brummer, as part of his Masters Degree program at Antioch-New England. Russ is now head of the Science Department at the New Hampton School. The objectives are to get the kids comfortable outdoors, to get them observing, and to get them thinking about how what’s going on “out there” is related to them. Each day of the 5-day week, the campers explore a different aspect of the natural world. One day is devoted to the forest, another to our streams, others to our lake and swamp, to insects, and to rocks and minerals. The activities are outdoors, in the forest, in the stream or lake, and experiential. We look, explore, feel, smell, and listen. For example, in the forest, we ask the boys to lie down on their backs and look at the trees and sky above them. How many colors can they see? What sounds to they hear? What does it feel like when they dig their fingers into the soil?

We hope that by the end of the week, they’ll be interested enough to come back for more, and most do. Frequently, in their free time, they’ll head back, on their own, to some of the places they visited during the occupation, and explore further. If this happens, then we’ve succeeded in accomplishing our objectives.

Beginning Butterflies and Moths

We start out in the Nature Lodge asking the question, “What is an insect?” To answer this we use models and our extensive reference collection of insects from our area. Campers find out that insects have six legs, three body parts (the head, the thorax, and the abdomen), two antennae, and compound eyes (ones with many lenses instead of the single one that humans have). To demonstrate these, we have special glasses that a boy can wear to help him experience what it is like to look through compound eyes. We even have a little song that helps campers remember all of this. I wish I could sing it to you, but you’ll have to be satisfied with just the lyrics for now. Ask your son to sing it when he gets home.

Head, thorax, abdomen
Six legs!
Head, thorax, abdomen
Six legs!
Compound eyes and two antennae
Head, thorax, abdomen
Six legs!

DSCI0005Once we know what insects are in general, we can explore several different kinds—beetles, bugs, flies, dragonflies and so on. This finally gets us to the Lepidoptera (scaly wing in Latin), that is, butterflies, moths, and skippers. With a hand lens, campers can look at the scales and see the difference between butterflies and moths. All of this takes two days. In the meantime, they are encouraged to come in during free time to begin construction of an insect net. These are still made the same way as they were 75 years ago, with some mosquito netting sewn together for the bag, the bag sewn to a wire coat hanger bent into a loop, and the whole contraption attached to a stick made from a cut tree branch. Not particularly elegant, but quite utilitarian. Towards the end of the week we go out to our traps and local fields to collect. This gives us the opportunity to discuss the difference between collecting and accumulating, the reasons (scientific) for collecting, collecting ethics (one specimen only of each type), and methods for preserving and labelling collections.

As with all our beginning occupations, once a camper has taken the introductory occupation, he is ready to move on to more advanced topics. He might choose, for example, to continue learning about butterflies and moths or perhaps he’ll choose to explore in-depth a different category of insects, such as beetles, dragonflies, and ants. Most beginning occupations are open to all campers, from Junior 1 to the Lake Tent and most have a wide range of ages enrolled.

Advanced Occupations

DSCI0015Our advanced activities are designed to take campers to the next level. Most do not have set lesson plans but rather are more freeform, and hence can be taken repeatedly. For example, an advanced butterfly and moth class will involve considerable observation and collecting. We might explore (in the field, of course) such topics as camouflage, insect defenses, flight characteristics, mating behavior, feeding behavior, predators, and more. Of course, as summer progresses, the species that are in our surroundings will change so, even if a boy takes the advanced class every week, the class will still be different.

Wetland Ecology

Wetland Ecology follows the beginning occupation, Ponds and Streams. We are fortunate to have excellent wetlands right on our campus. Our “Lower Lake” (to the left of the bridge as you enter camp) is actually a separate body of water from our main lake. It is a glacial kettle formed as the ice retreated. A block of ice was probably left behind, buried, and when it melted it created the lake. It provides a perfect setting for our Wetland Ecology occupation. Here we can see a textbook example of pond succession. Over time, floating plants trap sediments. These, in turn, provide a substrate for marsh plants such as sedges and rushes. These trap even more sediment which allows woody plants such as sweet gale, meadowsweet, and alder to grow. Finally, the decaying mass is sufficiently elevated that swamp plants, such as red maple can take root. It takes several thousand years to convert the open waters of a shallow kettle lake into a wooded swamp with a stream flowing through it. But since the conversion works from the outside in, at any point in time along the way, we can see the processes unfolding.

Of course, that is just the big picture. Each habitat, open water, marsh, bog, swamp, has its own set of plants, fish, insects, birds, and mammals. They are all there for us to observe. Some are quite exotic such as the insect-eating sundews that inhabit the bog areas, or the orchids that are sometimes found in the transition between bog and swamp. Throughout the occupation week we can explore and make the connections between the elements of the food webs and see what changes over time.

Specialized Occupations

Specialized occupations are those at the highest content level. For example, last week we had a class that focused only on Lichens. We’ve also had classes this year on ferns and decomposers, which match the special interests of some of our nature staff members. In years past, we had specialized occupations focusing on ants, caddisflies, dragonflies, and bees and wasps. This year, in week 3 (to be offered again in week 6) we taught Geo Lab, which consists of a series of field trips to sites of particular geologic interest-trips that usually last the whole afternoon. We did gold panning in the Baker River, explored the caves and glacial features of the Lost River Reservation, travelled to the Basin and Boise Rock in Franconia Notch, made a special geologic trip to the Palermo Mine, and visited the Sculptured Rocks area. These specialized activities may be offered only once or twice a summer, and each with 4 or 5 participants. They provide new challenges for our most interested campers so that even someone in his 8th summer can still find new and engaging areas of the natural world to investigate with us. Some boys have followed their passions into careers in the natural sciences. All seem to develop an interest in something that can give them pleasure throughout their lives.

Hybrid Occupations

DSCI0009This category includes activities that combine nature and art, such as photography, nature arts and crafts, and environmental sculpture, and activities that combine nature with outdoor pursuits, such as bush lore, wild foods, and orienteering. With photography, we are following in the tradition of a long line of famous artists such as Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter and, in some sense, this is literal since we do black and white film photography (we have our own small darkroom) along with more modern digital photography. We try to go beyond snapshots so the campers learn to consider composition, light, shutter speed, focus and exposure when creating their photographs. The best negatives are printed in our darkroom and the best digital photos are printed out for display. Many will appear in our art show at the end of the summer.

The combination of nature and outdoor pursuits has its roots in the skills needed for survival in ancient societies. The first class in each week’s Wild Foods occupation focuses on what it might have been like to live here 600 years ago. We imagine that we are part of the band of 20 or 25 Native Americans that might have been living here then. What food resources would we have had available to us? How could we store our food so that it (and our band) could last through the long New England winter? Who knew what plants were edible, and which were poisonous, and where and when were they available? How did they pass this information along? We continue to consider these questions as we enjoy whatever nature offers us that week. Last week, for example, we collected blueberries and had blueberry/cornmeal pancakes with maple syrup (made in Warner, NH by Pemi alum Bob Zock). We also made fritters with milkweed flowers and ate boiled young milkweed pods (and you thought milkweed was poisonous, right? It just has to be cooked properly to remove the toxins. Who found this out, anyway?) This week we’ve gathered some ripe chokecherries. These too are almost inedible when raw but delicious when cooked. They can be dried, like raisins, or made into a jelly, or even (just found this recipe) made into a soft-drink syrup that can be mixed with soda water to make a cooling summer drink. Speaking of drinks, we’ve made mint tea, birch tea, wintergreen tea, and rose hip tea, this from rose hips gathered here at camp last fall and dried. Later this summer we’ll make sumac tea, which tastes just like lemonade. Interestingly enough, all of this has had some practical applications for some of our campers. Boys on last week’s Allagash trip—of whom many were past Wild Foods occupation participants—reported that they found a large patch of mint and made themselves a big batch of refreshing mint tea.

Conclusion

I hope that this brief summary has given you a peek into our varied instructional program. To find out more, why not ask your boys when they return home? Better yet, head on out into the woods, the lakes, the streams, and let them show you. Here at Pemi Nature, we always think that showing is better than telling.

 

Nature occupations offered during week 4 of the 2016 Pemi season. The numbers in parentheses indicate the maximum enrollment for the occupation. Notational symbols indicate age and experience restrictions.

Nature occupations offered during week 4 of the 2016 Pemi season. The numbers in parentheses indicate the maximum enrollment for the occupation. Notational symbols indicate age and experience restrictions.

Sunday Meeting: Reflections on Al Fauver

2016 Newsletter # 4

How it happened so quickly we don’t know, but today we reach the mid-point of the 2016 season. While the eighty-five full-session boys plunge and slither at the Whale’s Tale water park in nearby North Woodstock, their eighty-five cabin mates call an end to their season and return to their homes (or perhaps head off to Nantucket or vacation points even more distant) for the remainder of the summer. It’s been a great three and a half weeks for them, marked by sunny weather, some stunning mountain and river trips, and an overwhelmingly successful athletic season. Add in the huge range of occupations Kenny Moore documented last week, a steady run of lively and entertaining special events, and scrumptious and copious output from our revitalized kitchen, and it’s no surprise that some of the farewells this morning have been especially wistful. Tomorrow, of course, brings us eighty-five eager new faces, and we ramp up again for the final session. We’ll be more than ready to go.

Speaking of readiness, eagerness, and going, the twenty Senior camp participants in this year’s Allagash expedition climbed into two of our Ford Transit vans at 6AM this morning and headed off to Millinocket for what is sure to be a highlight of their final year as campers. The party is sufficiently large that we’ve had to break it into two groups. George Cooke, Ethan Elsaden, Lucas Gaffney, Henry Jones, Nolan Katcher, James Minzesheimer, Reed O’Brien, Pierce Haley, Andrew Kanovsky, and Dash Slamowitz with paddle under the vigilant eyes of staff members Charlie Malcolm (finally getting to one of those peskily resistant on his bucket list) and Jackson Reed. Travelling within radio range, and often within eyesight, but by park regulations as a separate group, will be Reed Cecil, Sam Beesley, Nick Bowman, Jake Cronin, Rafe Forward, Thaddeus Howe, Tucker Jones, Jackson Morrell, Will Adams, and Nick Carter, led by veteran Trippie Harry Morris and first-year Kiwi outdoorsman Zacc Dwan. Their four-day paddle will take them through Chamberlain, Eagle, and Churchill Lakes and then down the moderate rapids below Churchill Dam to their pull-out in Umsaskis Lake. Look to their letters for more details, but count on their having a transformative experience, complete with bald eagles, moose, and myriad other unforgettable memories.

Al Fauver in his classic red truck. 1978.

Al Fauver in his classic red truck. 1978.

Pemi’s Allagash outing was inaugurated close to a half-century ago by Director Al Fauver, about whom many of you have heard. Al was the son of Pemi co-founder Edgar Fauver, and for many years counted the supervision of trips among his countless (and tireless) contributions to camp. As recounted in the Pemi blog, Al died this past winter at the age of 100 after a long and wonderful life. Hundreds of us were fortunate enough to have celebrated his century mark with Al last August, and as a second movement in our tribute to this transcendent Pemi figure, yesterday’s Sunday meeting was dedicated to telling the present camp population a little more about the man. Among the speakers were Peter and Jon Fauver, Al’s sons, and Larry Davis, head of our Nature Program. Their words overflowed with warmth and appreciation for Al’s contributions to every aspect of Pemi’s program and physical plant. Also sharing their thoughts and memories with a rapt audience were Tom Reed, Kenny Moore, and Al’s grandson Jameson Fauver. Their digitally-captured words follow.

First, Tom:

My father, Tom Reed, Sr. loved the hills and high peaks, but it was Al Fauver who made them my favorite part of the planet. Al had a vast knowledge of the White Mountains, something he consolidated as a member of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s elite Trail Maintenance Crew. Driving Al’s knowledge was a deep and abiding love for the New Hampshire wilds, something that must have played a part in his joining the history faculty at The Holderness School in Plymouth, just sixteen miles from here, where he made his off-season career.

Al ran the trip program at Pemi for over 35 years, having taken it over from his uncle, Doc Win Fauver, in the nineteen-forties. Al’s tenure was in an age before cushy frame packs, Gore-tex jackets, and lightweight backpacking stoves. The trips he ran were “old school” – blanket rolls and ponchos, high-top basketball sneakers, tarps instead of bug-netted tents. There was no tech craze for Al. He taught us to make do with the simplest equipment – adequate with no frills. A week of campcraft instruction preceded every three- or four-day outing, and we learned how to select campsites, how to tie knots, how to cut spruce boughs for our beds, how to string up a poncho to defeat the rain. You sometimes felt you were heirs to a school of wilderness survival that stretched all the way back to Lewis and Clark.

Flat Rock, Pemi Hill, day trips up Cube and Moosilauke, overnights at Greenleaf Hut or canoeing on the Connecticut River, three-days in the Kinsman’s, four days in the Mahoosucs – Al perfected them all. Even after severe arthritis kept him from hitting the trail himself, Al clearly loved sending others out to the rivers, and ridges, and high peaks that he had explored and loved as a younger man. He always sought you out personally after a trip, asking how it had gone, relishing every detail of weather and view and event. “Is that old fire warden’s cabin still standing south of Smarts?” he’d ask. Or “Did you find that huge pot-hole down beneath the falls?” The sparkle in his eyes as he listened told you everything you needed to know about the man’s passion. 

I was flattered beyond words when Al asked me to step into his shoes as Trip Head back in the 70s, and even now I constantly ask myself, when the trippies and I are discussing a route or something unanticipated pops up on a trip, “What would Al do?” In some ways, what I came to appreciate most about Al was his amazing sense of logistics. Working with two and a half trucks (remember what I said last Sunday about his little red pick-up!), he could get more trips bouncing around the White Mountains than I can generally manage with three vans and two big buses. If General Eisenhower had known about Al, he probably would have signed him on to help plan D-day.

Somehow, Al got to be known around camp at The Weatherman, not only our best prognosticator but also personally responsible for whatever happened with the sun and clouds and wind. What amazes me, in those days before satellites and computers and Doppler radar, is how often Al got his forecast right, fitting a half dozen trips into an eighteen hour slice of fine weather in between torrential rains.

It was actually one of the times Al got the weather wrong that he showed what a great boss and kind soul he was. He’d sent my cabin out for an overnight at the base of Mt. Carr (the big mountain you see from the messhall porch) predicting we would stay dry. We awoke at about 5 AM with raindrops plinking on our closed eyes. No sooner had we had a chance to contemplate how challenging it would be to start a fire in the mounting deluge – something big enough to cook our breakfast over – than Al sauntered into the campsite with a half dozen dry split logs in his pack. “Guess I didn’t see this coming,” said Al with a smile. “Thought I’d join you for breakfast.” Within fifteen minutes, Al had a roaring blaze going and proceeded to cook up the best batch of scrambled eggs and bacon any of us had ever tasted.”

Al was that kind of guy. You came to care about what he cared about. You came to love what he loved.

Next, Kenny:

Al Fauver.

Good Enough is the enemy of the best.”

A slogan taught to me by Al Fauver back in 2001. That year, I began work as Head of the Dock Crew, and Al was integral in teaching me the basics of building a safe swimming area, the nuts and bolts of dock work. He explained the process, very specific in nature on how to tackle this herculean task. The challenge: place two perfectly parallel and straight dock piers, exactly 25 yards apart. “Aim,” he said, “for the white birch just to the left of the notch on Sugarloaf (the hill on the far end of Lower Baker).” “If you follow that mark, the docks will be straight,” he finished with a glint in his eye. I stood there on the beach with the other rookie members of dock crew, and gazed towards the other end of the pond, searching for that white birch. I challenge all of you next time on Senior Beach to see how close this year’s dock crew was to Al’s white birch.

Al joined us that summer, hammering in the first pipe (“leg” in dock vernacular) when he was in his mid 80’s. We all stood around the dock, holding it in place, as he wielded the sledge with remarkable precision, landing the head of the hammer squarely on the pounding cap, sending the leg through the bracket and into the floor of Lower Baker. And when the feet, the pipes that sit on the sandy floor of the lake, were in place, we cranked the set-screw on the bracket to set the dock.  

“Is it level,” he asked. “Good enough,” someone in the group said. Al replied, “Good enough is the enemy of the best.” His comment, that slogan, resonated instantly with all of us. We suddenly realized we didn’t just want good enough, we wanted to achieve the best. That’s the standard that Al set in every task that fell to him. “Any task that’s worth doing is worth doing well,” Al would say. If you spend time and your energy, don’t you want it to speak well for you? Your hard work? Your dedication? Your work is a direct representation of you. That’s the standard Al set, and what we all worked towards.

Dock Crew is usually comprised of 6 counselors, each with a role, and if everyone works together, the task becomes very efficient. You have your sight guy, someone for legs, feet, ankles, the hammerer, the deep-water man, the leveler, and the setter. The rhythm of putting each dock in place requires each person to play his part, and when it’s all done right, it’s a beautiful thing. While the task may at first seem impossible, the challenge when embraced by all becomes a rallying cry, a goal for all to work for. But that’s the fun of it, too – working together towards a goal, with all members carrying their own weight.

Whenever Al tackled a task, he brought that good nature and fun spirit to the job at hand. I can’t tell you how many Alums speak to me about their experience on Al’s Crew, a collection of campers and young counselors who worked with Al on a variety of projects. They all comment about the life lessons that Al taught them: how to approach a task, how to work cooperatively together, and how to have fun while working hard.

At the end of each Pemi season, during the Staff Banquet, Al would always comment about how the docks were stacked for the winter at Senior Beach. The Dock Crew would disassemble the docks and stack them in very precise, neat piles, near the road. That way, they would be protected in the winter from the ice rising in the lake. Al would say after his annual inspection, “I know the quality of the Pemi Staff this year was strong, as those docks are perfectly stacked. This must have been a great summer”

The Dock Crew knew that Al would be looking, checking to see if they had the energy and pride in their work. Did they do just a good enough job, or did they strive for the best, even though stacking the docks is a tiny part of the many things done at Pemi? Think about what it represents: the attention to detail; the pride in finishing a task to the best of our ability; the teamwork necessary for accomplishing the goal. Those are the important things. Those are the symbols of Al’s legacy.

I will always remember Al for his good nature, his grandfatherly presence and advice to me in my years on staff, and his love for Pemi. If we all love Pemi, then we all love Al, as he was key in forming the ethos of the camp we cherish.

Finally, Jameson, his words delivered under the smiling gaze of Bertha Fauver, Al’s widow, sitting in the front row.

My name is Jameson Fauver and I spent eight summers here as a camper and three as a counselor. Al Fauver was my grandfather, and when I think of him, I think of a great man who took advantage of all the things and places the world had to offer. 

Al played the Tuba. Al was a swimmer at Oberlin College. Al was a sailor. Of course, he was an avid hiker and outdoorsman. And, some of my best memories of my grandfather are from sharing time on the golf course.

He lived to 100 years because he was blessed with good health, but also because he kept busy doing not just one thing but many different things. So, perhaps one lesson you can take away from looking back on Al’s life is that a true life – a full life – is about filling it with many different people you love but also finding many different things that you love to do.

As we all know, one of the things that make Pemi a special place is the huge range of program offerings. Not many places you can spend your summer offer the opportunity to explore Nature, Sailing, the Arts, Athletics, Music, and Hiking all in the same stretch of time, and for many of you, in the same day! Yet, an expansive program does not mean much unless you take advantage of it. After just a day and a half here on my current visit, I know that the spirit to trying new things is definitely alive and well here, something that would make my grandfather very proud.  

Yesterday, Danny asked me to coach the 15’s baseball game. I said “of course.” And then he said, “Most of the team is away so you’ll have to find some players!!” We were in fact two ballplayers short of nine. Fortunately, I was sitting with Emmanuel Abbey and Alex Zapata. They hadn’t played baseball in five years, but when I asked if they would play, they said, “Why not? We’re game. Who knows how well we’ll do or even if we’ll have fun! But you never know, unless you try.”

I think Al had that spirit in spades, and he would be happy to see how many of the people sitting in this room are taking advantage of the opportunity life gives us every day to try something new, speak with someone we don’t know, or to explore unchartered territory in every sense of the word. So please, in memory of Al, whether you have just a day left at Pemi this summer or three and a half more weeks, make sure to try something new.

Thank you all — and special thanks to Bertha Fauver, who fueled Al’s lively spirit for so many years.

And so we celebrated, with a clarity and forcefulness that no one could miss, the memory of a man who gave as much as anyone possibly could to the camp he loved so well. As you’ll gather from what Tom and Kenny And Jameson had to say, Al’s remarkable legacy is alive and well at Pemigewassett.

With that we’ll close. We look forward to being in touch again in a week’s time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Occupations

2016 Newsletter #3

[This week’s Newsletter comes from Assistant Director Kenny Moore. Kenny heads up our general program, and he offers here some observations on daily “occupations,” as we have long called our instructional activities, and on community service at camp as well.]

Each new week of Pemi occupations starts on Monday, although planning has begun the previous Tuesday. First, the Program Heads meet to map out the upcoming week. We’ll look at the pre-set general camp schedule; which trips are heading out, the athletic calendar, or other special events. These help determine what individual offerings each of Pemi’s Programs will be offering for the boys. The Program Heads will then reach out to their instructors to discuss occupation possibilities, and return their schedules to me. Combining them is a puzzle, as I balance options for every division each hour, and ensure that instructors are not double-booked. What results is a pretty amazing collection of choices, as evidenced by Week 3’s Occupation Choices. Click the link, take a look, and choose wisely!

Counselors review the week’s offerings with each of their campers individually to pick out a First and Second Choice for each hour of occupations. As you can see, some popular and space-limited occupations are deemed first-choice only: Waterskiing, Woodshop, Sailing, and Archery are extremely sought after and fill up quickly. Not a good idea for a Second Choice. Having a good back-up is essential!

More than 1,000 occupation choices are input for our 170 campers, and through a variety of filters, the result is 170 individual occupation schedules. Next up, staffing. Understanding how many boys are in a particular occupation – say Track & Conditioning with 22! – will help guide the number of instructors given to that occupation. Our teaching staff is comprised of a shade under 60 people, with some specializing in one program area and others being generalists who fill much-needed roles in a variety of areas. Camper-Counselor ratios dictate placement for water-related activities, as safety is always the priority.

On Monday mornings, all the hours and days spent planning the week come to fruition, as the entire community heads off to first hour, each with his individual plan of action. The occupation week lasts for five days, before we begin the process again. Once the hour is up and running, the opportunity to walk around camp and see the interaction between campers, counselors, and instructors is priceless. Witnessing boys trying something new and different, older boys assisting younger campers, and the joy of being together, outside, in this beautiful location shows the program in its most vibrant form. The dynamism truly gives the camp its energy. Here’s a peek….

woodworking at Pemi

Ian Hohman’s “inspection wheel”

Upper-Senior Woodshop is a two-hour block of time for our oldest boys to create and develop projects. Noah Bachner was in the midst of sanding his beautifully crafted Adirondack Chair, a project that he started last week under the guidance of Harry MacGregor, Pemi’s Head of Woodshop. Emmanuel Abbey appeared close to finishing his small chest, awaiting further help from Harry. Counselor Michael DiGaetano assisted Ian Hohman by hanging up Ian’s project, a job board for his cabin (U3). Ian wood-burned each of his cabinmate’s names on the wheel, along with various Inspection jobs on the mounting board, promising a daily spin to improve the efficiency of cabin clean-up. A Wheel-of-Fortune for tidy living spaces. Smart thinking, Ian!

Staying within our Art Program, a trip to Laura’s Art World illustrated a pretty spectacular scene; the interaction between our oldest campers and our youngest. Campers in her Hemp/Paracord Occupation ranged from Senior 1 (Patrick Snell & Suraj Khakee) all the way down to Junior 3 (Sam Young). Laura provided instruction for their first day’s lesson: learning how to braid. Next, I took a trip down the road to Junior Nature Book, a classic Pemi occupation dating back multiple decades, and found another group of campers of all ages. Lake Tent denizen Pierce Hayley assisted Juniors Kieran Klasfeld & Augie Tanzosh, picking up leaves of red-oak and striped maple for their books. Pierce, who has completed his Junior Nature Book (JNB), is studying for his JNB Field Test, a requirement for the Pemi Brave.

Nature drawing at Pemi

Henry Jones in Nature Drawing

Just up the road from the Junior Nature Book Occupation, I found Jack Cottman out in the field for Advanced Digital Photography. Jack was in search of insects for his macro-photography assignment, aiming to get as close as possible. Inside the Nature Lodge, Ray Seebeck led a group in Nature Drawing, another mixed-age occupation. Senior Henry Jones worked diligently on his dinosaur drawing, meticulously matching the image from his book. Walker Bright and Nate Broll followed his example, drawing the “eye of the tiger,” looming within a grassy landscape. The group is first practicing the skill of drawing from nature by sketching from a book. Later in the week, they will add color and choose a subject outside in nature itself.

The first two hours of each occupation week provide the best time for our Gilbert & Sullivan choruses to rehearse with very limited interruption. Last week, Major General Stanley’s Chorus of Wards learned their classic tune, “Climbing over Rocky Mountain,” and were asked to sing it without music. I think they fared pretty well. (Check it out for yourself.)  Sounds like they’ll be ready for Opening Night on August 8.

tennis at Pemi

Jamie Acocella

Over in Tennis for 12 & 13 year olds, Chris Johnson officiated a game of Tennis Survivor, a game designed to eliminate unforced errors. Each participant kept track of his own score, aiming to have the lowest possible. Points would accumulate for unforced errors, whereas points would be subtracted if the shot were a “winner.” Players would alternate shots, and Jamie Acocella and Mac Hadden worked seamlessly on one side of the net.

baseball at Pemi

Andreas Geffert

Next up in 12 & Under Baseball, sixteen campers worked between three hitting stations: soft-toss, the batting cage, and live-action batting practice on the diamond. Colgate-bound Zach Leeds threw meatballs to Andreas Geffert and Ollie O’Hara for batting practice, while Gray Klasfeld and Jonathan Gelb helped each other with their hand-eye coordination for soft toss.

soccer at Pemi

Coach Darryl Mainoo

Just beyond the baseball diamond on the Rittner pitch, the 15 & Under Soccer Occupation neared its conclusion. The group was locked in an 8 v. 8 scrimmage, focused on long range passing. Graham Winings did his best Kyrie Irving impression (Yes, I know, wrong sport. Stay with me) by offering up a perfect through-ball to the feet of fellow Clevelander Elliot Muffet, who, a la LeBron James, perfectly placed the ball past the keeper into the back of the net. (This born-and-bred Clevelander had to get one Cleveland Cavaliers reference in here somewhere, right?!) Before the scrimmage, coaches Ben Walsh and Darryl Mainoo instructed their nineteen players in two specific drills. First, partner-passing with increased width and distance, and then the three cone drill, a very precise rotating drill that allows each player to adjust to the varying distance of his passing partner. Tiering instruction by starting with an essential skill, building it up, and then applying it to a game environment is a tried-and-true method at Camp Pemi.

In Beginning Archery, Instructor Steve Clare spends the majority of the first day of each new week reviewing the rules for the range. His current group, he reported, was super attentive,  listening with great interest. This focus allowed the boys the chance to shoot two rounds of arrows with their remaining time. For beginners, Steve replaces the normally colorful Archery targets with blank canvasses, asking the shooters to just think about hitting the target. Aslan Peters did more than that, and had two perfectly hit center shots during the practice. As the group becomes more comfortable and knowledgeable in the coming days, Steve will guide them through sighting, scoring, and pace.

The routine of occupations provides the structure necessary for us to accomplish our goals of learning and/or improving upon a wide range of skills and knowledge bases. Older campers work alongside younger campers, allowing special relationships to form and grow. The connection between an instructor and a camper also strengthens as staff teach not only practical skills, but also other values as well: how to be confident in experimenting with something new, how to help out a teammate when in need, how to treat one another, and how to develop as an individual within our supportive, inclusive community. Occupations really are Pemi magic.

Community Service

In the very early days of Pemi, campers and counselors would arrive simultaneously to work on the facility for the current camp season. Since then, boys have always helped improve the facility by assisting the staff via Camp Aide jobs, or by giving back in other ways. Shop projects or other community-service-type initiatives have dotted the landscape for many years.

In recent years, Pemi campers have taken on a few Community Service initiatives supporting our surrounding communities. This is a great opportunity for the boys to connect with the larger Wentworth, Upper Valley, and greater New Hampshire communities. We’ve talked before about the Cans from Campers initiative, benefiting the New Hampshire Food Bank, which has been tremendously successful in just two years of existence. Other camps have joined the effort, and we anticipate that this project will grow dramatically in the next few years.

IMG_6192

Pemi’s Prouty Volunteers

For at least the last five years, Pemi, under the guidance of Deb Kure, has assisted The Prouty, a fundraising event to benefit Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center. There are many ways to participate in this athletically-driven fundraiser, including golfing, rowing, walking, and cycling. More than 5,000 people participate in this annual event, and Pemi is proud to assist the cyclists that ride 77 or 100 miles. Our Stop And Go (SAG) site, next to the Mt. Cube Sugar Shack on the top of Mount Cube, is at mile marker 25 and has become a crowd favorite of the cyclists, owing to our good cheer and our food, intended to refuel and replenish.

This summer, we’ve partnered with the town of Wentworth to help celebrate our camp-town’s 250th Anniversary.  Pastor Margaret Bickford of the Wentworth Congregationalist Church led the way for the Celebration Committee, which has scheduled events each month for the town to gather together and celebrate their historic anniversary. Back on July 3, a group of Pemi Seniors traveled IMG_6158down to the Town Hall to assist the Committee for their Fourth of July event. “America, a Music Tribute,” was an inspiring performance and a genuine example of the strength of small-town America. Backed by a group of singers performing patriotic tunes, a narrator intermixed snippets of famous speeches in American History. Pemi provided refreshments, and worked to clean up the venue once the show ended. In addition, this week another group of Pemi boys will travel to the Wentworth Green, to paint the road-posts in preparation for the Market Day event on August 6. Pemi’s Silver Cornet Band will take the show on the road to perform at this annual event. And finally, members of the town will be invited to see our Gilbert and Sullivan show, The Pirates of Penzance, on August 9.

Our hope is that involvement in projects with the town of Wentworth will become a yearly phenomenon, further connecting Pemi with the surrounding community in ways that teach invaluable lessons about responsible citizenship.

–Kenny

Let Freedom Ring (at camp and from every mountaintop)

2016: Newsletter # 2

Pemi celebrated America’s two-hundred-and-fortieth birthday on a flawlessly beautiful day. The strong westerly breeze that had dominated our weather on the 2nd and the 3rd (even forcing Saturday’s campfire indoors) had dropped away overnight. Dawn found Lower Baker mirror-smooth, with wispy wraiths of mist weaving their slow way down the pond. Following reveille, scores of Polar Bears broke the silence with joyous shouts (or were some of them gasps?) as they plunged into the water and the expanding ripples caught the slanting rays of the sun and bounced them up into the trees in a ravishing play of color and motion.

Ironically, the day’s hearty Birthday Breakfast featured Canadian bacon as a complement to good ol’ Yankee scrambled eggs, oatmeal, and cold cereal.  Such as it was, though, the meal’s topical program stressed the virtues of inclusiveness and trans-border tolerance and understanding. Tom Reed, Jr. rose to note that the Fourth was unquestionably a time for celebration but also for serious contemplation of what our country now is and was originally intended to be. The Founding Fathers had not invented democracy, that honor going to the Greeks, but the United States of America came into being as the first great modern experiment in that collective form of government. As with any experiment, ours represents an evolving process. Thomas Jefferson and his fellow revolutionaries had nobly declared that all men were created equal. It has nevertheless taken us some time to realize that, to be truly noble, their original concept of equality might well be extend to women, and to people of color, and to those of a different sexual orientation than Washington and Adams. In a time when some honestly question how much “unity” characterizes the “United” States, not to mention the extent to which statuesque Liberty’s arms remain open to the tired and poor and homeless who have done their parts to make this nation great, Tom observed that Pemi can be a place where we can all reinforce the national effort to foster community and inclusivity and mutual understanding. Be it at the end of three and a half or of seven weeks, we can all resolve to go back to our “normal lives” and do everything we can, regardless of our political party or belief system, to further the noble collective endeavor that is every American’s hard-earned birthright.

As the first reflex of communality, mutual understanding, and support, we turned to our dozen-odd friends from the British Commonwealth, staff member and camper alike, and invited them to join us in singing the melody that does very nicely both for “My Country, ’Tis of Thee” and for “God Save the Queen.” All stood in the mess hall as Luke Raffanti went to the keyboard to accompany our joint chorus, and all sang with commendable force and gravity. After we had all filed onto the porch for our daily salute to the American flag (which, as Tom had pointed out, shared the colors of the Union Jack just as the United States shared so many of the tried and true humane principles and interests of the Commonwealth) second-year Brit staff member Charlotte Jones thanked us all for making her feel so welcome. Perhaps, as we like to say here for everything from Lost-and-Found “reunions” to thunderstorm warnings, “the system is working.”

Scott Cook, Steve Clare and Dean Elefante sport their red, white, and blues.

Scott Cook, Steve Clare and Dean Elefante sport their red, white, and blues.

Other staples of our Fourth celebrations? More campers and staff members than one are sporting red, white, and blue apparel today (Junior Camp division head Wesley Eifler indulging in a highly “interested” form of patriotism by donning a New York Rangers sweater/jersey.) Sunday afternoon witnessed the annual Counselor Hunt, moved up a day to allow for regular occupations on Monday morning to avoid a three-day hiatus in instructional activity, given inter-camp sports all day Saturday, a normal Sunday break from routine, and the traditionally altered schedule for the Fourth. While fewer staff members than usual seem to have been caught in the hunt, and thus obliged to plunge from high-dive tower into the chilly pond in whatever regalia they were wearing when found, the boys seemed to love this yearly opportunity to revert to the predatory ways of our tribal ancestors, at least in play. Later this afternoon will come the annual Fourth of July Pee-rade, and after supper the old-time Vaudeville show that always represents one of the dramatic and musical apogees of the summer.

Now, if we may be allowed what might seem a strained segue, let’s bring you all up to date on one of the four principal areas of the camp program. “My Country, ’Tis of Thee” famously ends by imploring Freedom to ring “from every mountaintop.” Pemi’s trip program is not in any overt way political, but the payoffs of careful planning, and hard work, and group unity/decision-making, and appreciation of the fragile beauty of the land around us are among the most important things that boys learn at Pemigewassett. They also drive our broader national identity and values. It seems no accident that John Winthrop’s vision of America’s most alluring potential was for it to become a bright “city on a hill” – a glorious civilization set amidst and reached by an effortful passage through the natural world.

Anyway…Pemi’s trip program got off to a successful start last week. Amongst the first occupation offerings was “Allagash canoeing.” Joining Head of Boating Reed Harrigan and experienced Allagash trip leader Harry Morris on the water for an hour every morning were eager 15’s Will Adams, Sam Beesley, Nick Bowman, Reed Cecil, George Cooke, Jake Cronin, Ethan Elsaden, Rafe Forward, Lucas Gaffney, Pierce Haley, Thaddeus Howe, Tucker Jones, Andrew Kanovsky, Nolan Katcher, James Minzesheimer, Jackson Morrell, Reed O’Brien, and Dash Slamowitz. They learned (or refined their knowledge of) the parts of their boats, tricks of putting in and pulling out, strokes for the bow and stern, management of the canoe in various conditions, single canoe and canoe-over-canoe rescue, and most of the other necessities for the five-day voyage planned for later in July. Sunday afternoon, half of their number travelled to the nearby Pemigewassett River for a taste of the moderate whitewater they will encounter on stretches of the Allagash. Next weekend, the other half will do the same.

Pemi Trip Program

photo by Nicky Harwich

The first trips of the season actually went out last Wednesday in the form of two overnights with our specialty trip staff. Moses Bank, Landon Burtle, Andreas Geffert, and Chris Ramanathan from Lower 1 joined Mac Cottman and Nicky Harwich from neighboring Lower 2 and trip leaders Nick Davini and Thomas Strnad for a three-day trek along the Appalachian Trail just south of camp. They hiked up a logging road to hit the AT just south of Hexacuba Shelter, where they spent the night in the company of a pair of “through hikers” on their way north from Georgia. The following day, in perfect weather, they continued to the summit of Mt. Cube (2800 feet, just northwest of our lake), enjoying lunch on the open ledges before their descent to Rte. 25A, one mile up the valley. While they had intended to spend the second night at our Adirondack shelter on Pemi Hill just above the Junior Camp, a few health issues brought them back early. Nonetheless, as they hiked back onto the grounds, their faces were as bright as their boots were muddy.

Pemi Trip Program

Trip Leader JP and crew

Meanwhile, Trip Leaders Michael Kerr and John “JP” Gorman had headed off to the Waterville Range with a group of uppers that included Eli Brennan, Orson Edwards, Alex Goldman, Garrett Whitney, Nolan Snyder, Teddy Foley, and Elliot Muffett. Their route took them up the Mad River to just short of the notch in which the twin Greeley Ponds nestle like sapphires beneath the converging, verdant slopes of Mts. Osceola (4315ft) and Kancamagus (3728). The Livermore Trail they ascended had been unavailable for years, washed out in Hurricane Irene back in 2011, but the boys enjoyed like their predecessors one of the classic “relaxed” walks in the White Mountains up to their wilderness campsite just short of the ponds. The next day was another matter, involving the remarkably steep climb out of the notch to the shoulder of Osceola. There are a few miles in the Whites that are more exacting, but not many – and when the group summited Osceola’s East Peak (4156) at around 1:30 PM, they were wise to break out lunch, enjoy the view, and call it a day. It may have been a little like making it to the South Col of Everest and not the summit, but a good and worthy day was had by all.

Photo by George Clough

Photo by George Clough

The following day, Lowers 2 and 3 set off up Rattlesnake Mountain, a tidy little peak on the way between Wentworth and Plymouth (and so named, we assure you, not because it is infested by serpents but because of its suggestive profile from the east.) Joining counselors Luke Raffanti and David Lampman were Finn Hayes, Benjamin Herdeg, Drew Johnstone, Henry Simmons, George Clough, Andrew Donnell, Lucas Gales, Oliver Giraud, Ollie O’Hara, Jack Reid, Jack Simmons, and Dexter Wells. Short but steep, the climb yields an unexpectedly “cozy” view of the Baker Valley, just below, its roads and houses parceled out like something you’d see in a basement train layout. No doubt the scores of wind turbines atop the next ridge provoked some conversation about scenic vistas, sustainability, and what it takes to power our many-faceted “city on a hill.” Perfect sunny weather guaranteed the success of the outing, which was only enhanced by a stop at a local general store for a soda and bag of Gummi Bears or Twizzlers.

Photo by Luca Tschanz

Photo by Luca Tschanz

Also out for lunch were Lowers 4 and 5, headed up the west ridge of Mt. Cube for the day. Isaiah Abbey, Ted Applebaum, Stanley Bright, Enrique Mantemayor, Henry Moore, Teddy Nuttal, Andrew Roth, Hunter Goldreich, Charlie Haberman, Elliot Jones, Cam McManus, Teddy Shapiro, Nelson Snyder, Luca Tschanz, and Marco Zapata were thrilled to reach the South Summit, only to run into the boys from Lower 1 and 2, as mentioned above. Fully 4/7ths of the Lower Division were joyfully reunited some two thousand feet above their cabins.

That evening, Dan Reed and Nick Bertrand picked up some supplies in the kitchen and canoed across the lake with the boys of Upper 3 for an al fresco supper at Flat Rock (aka “The Flat Rock Café.”) Helping them collect wood and build the fire were their charges Will Ackerman, Whit Courage, Auguste Dupichot, Luke Hayes, Ian Hohman, Matt McDonough, Sam O’Hara, and Jacob Smalley. As the sun settled into the west, thrusting golden shafts of light into the pine and spruce trees that shade this select lakeside spot, Dan and Nick boiled up the chili then spooned it onto the plates of their hungry companions, some of whom parleyed the hamburger buns and cheese slices into something between a Sloppy Joe and a Philadelphia cheese steak. Potato salad, chips, and cookies filled out the fare prior to the dousing of the fire and the slow, relaxed twilight paddle back to camp.

As we write, two groups of Seniors are assembling their gear for tomorrow’s 10AM departure to two Appalachian Mountain Club huts high in the Presidential Range – Lakes-of-the-Clouds and Madison. These are amongst the best outings we take, and the participants are chomping at the bit, especially given the sublime weather forecast currently in place. Look to their letters for details.

With that promise of further but more personalized communication, we’ll close for this week. Look for Newsletter Three for Kenny Moore’s annual disquisition on this year’s instructional program, “Occupations.” For now, farewell – and happy outings to you all.

At the end of the day…there's no place like home. Photo by George Clough

At the end of the day…there’s no place like home. Photo by George Clough

Let the 2016 Season Begin!

2016: Newsletter #1

Welcome to the first newsletter of the 2016 season, Pemi’s 109th. Camp has been in session since Saturday, June 25th, and as we sit here on the morning of June 27th, everything is in full swing. It’s a beautiful summer day – blue skies, gentle breeze from the east, temperature pushing 75 – a perfect start to the season.

Visiting professional, Kevin O'Brien

Visiting professional, Kevin O’Brien

All the boys are in the first hour of their inaugural “occupations,” our quaint term for “instructional activities,” coined probably as early as 1908, our first year. From the windows of the office, we can see Chris Johnson and his instructors putting a group of 11 and 12-year-olds through their paces on our red clay tennis courts. Beyond them, Sam Papel is schooling a crew of 13-year olds in the finer points of Ultimate Frisbee. Echoing up from the Boat House are the sounds of canoes being put into the water, as a big group of 15’s, looking towards the Week Four super-trip on the Allagash Waterway in northern Maine, start their training with Boating Head Reed Harrigan. Blending with the muted roar of our big Malibu ski boat – with Molly Malone at the wheel for Slalom Skiing – comes the flapping of sails, as Emily Palmer literally shows her Junior Sailors the ropes. Elsewhere, we know the Nature Staff is running sessions in Ponds and Streams, Beginning Birding, Junior Environmental Exploration, and Beginning Rocks. Meanwhile, down in the Junior Camp at Art World, Laura Bubar and staff are offering Hemp Jewelry, while Dorin Dehls and Michaela Frank tune up with their Ukelele band, Oh, by the way, Beginning Archery is also happening, along with Basketball for 13’s, 14’s, and 15’s; the Silver Cornet Band is rehearsing in the Music Room; Visiting Professional Kevin O’Brien is running drills for 12-and-under Lax; and Paige Wallis is running Instructional Swim on a day when it’s an absolute joy being in and around the water. And this is just the first of four hours of instruction today, all of them with offerings in a similar range but with different focuses, at all levels from Beginning to Advanced. Stay tuned for particulars to your son’s first letters home.

2016 Pemi West'ers

2016 Pemi West’ers

Just an hour ago, two of our vans left for Logan Airport, carrying this year’s Pemi Westers. By the end of the day, they will have arrived at Sea-Tac in Washington State and transferred to a smaller, local airport for their flight to Port Angeles, where they will be met by veteran Pemi West major domo Dave Robb and begin four weeks of mountain skills and leadership training. The crew of 2016 is a large and enthusiastic one, comprised of Pemi veterans Will Raduziner, Patterson Malcolm, Kevin Lewis, Johnny Seebeck, Noah Belinowiz, Brandon Somp (all the way from Papua New Guinea), Jarrod Henry, Will Leslie, Nick Gordon, Jack Davini, Ben Ross, and Andrew Virden – and, on the distaff side, Heidi Leeds (daughter of Pemi administrative mainstay Heather Leeds) and her good friend Shannon Duffy. While what we might call, by way of contrast, the “Pemi East” staff spent the week before camp in manifold focused training sessions and highly productive work crews (see 2016 staff bios!), the Pemi Westers received their certification in Wilderness First Aid and, under the experienced leadership of PW co-leader Nate Kraus, built their team spirit and rapport. They left today along a road lined with well-wishing campers to the honking of horns and fond, amplified farewells over the PA system. Keep an eye on these pages for occasional updates on the groups’ progress through Olympic National Park, and see our website for a write-up of the program and pictures of the extraordinary terrain they will be calling home.

Opening day's "Cans From Campers" food drive

Opening day “Cans From Campers” food drive

Pemi East (“Pemi Proper”?) began with a bang on Saturday the 25th, another beautiful June day in what’s turned out to be a long run of them. (Yes, we could use a few Camelot-like, midnight-to-2AM showers to green up the grass and quell the dust on our roads.) As in recent years, veteran campers arrived on the morning, giving them a chance to resume and celebrate established friendships before spending the afternoon welcoming first-year campers. Arrivals before and after the noon meal went off with nary a hitch, and, except for a few boys slated to arrive late in the evening, the whole Pemi family was gathered in the mess hall for the traditional first-night meal of pizza (both plentiful and delicious) and Hoods “Rockets” (far more successful in achieving their desired effect than recent launchings from North Korea. ) In between courses, with veteran pianist extraordinaire Luke Raffanti at the keyboard, the assembled masses sang “The Marching Song” and “Are You From Wooster?” with such gusto that, as tenuous as the association between choral and athletic excellence may be, pundits in the crowd predicted a triumph in this year’s competition with archrival Camp Tecumseh. The fact, by the way, that the second annual arrival-day iteration of “Cans from Campers” had generated over 450 items for donation to the local food bank meant that a great supper sat particularly well in our stomachs. (Special thanks to Sarah Fauver and Megan Fauver Cardillo, members of Pemi’s “Gen 4,” and Megan’s daughter Eliza (therefore “Gen 5”) for coordinating the charitable effort.)

Shortly after supper, the entire camp ambled down to the Senior Beach for the inaugural campfire of the season, overseen by returning impresarios Dorin Dehls and Steve Clare. Getting the night off to a spectacular start was veteran camper Pierce Haley on solo guitar. Pierce’s instrumentally and vocally brilliant rendition of Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird” left a number of us wondering if one of the two surviving Beatles hadn’t snuck into camp disguised as a fifteen-year-old. Nick Paris followed with a series of short jokes – easily as silly as they were tasteful, and delivered with the wry assurance of a late-night talk show host.

Next up to the mic (well, next sitting unplugged on the performer’s bench) were Dorin and her choral compadre Laura Bubar (Head of our Arts Program), who gave us the American classic, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with the tonal and melodic grace of true professionals – but trading off sequential words words, one at a time, such that the duet turned into a bi-polar solo. Listening was like watching a tennis match at center court, with the Williams sisters and the Neville Brothers all rolled into one. So inspired was L1 counselor Jackson Reed that he rolled out a song he had learned a decade ago in Nepal, touting the virtues of social affiliation (we think of a romantic sort, although our Nepali is a bit rusty) and ending with proof positive that booty-shaking is not limited to the western hemisphere alone.

Next came the intrepid Pemi Westers, freshly certified in mountain medicine. When the first of their number, Noah Belinowiz, sprained his sacroiliac in a fern-bedecked “interpretive dance” (some thought it was just a straight imitation of the lowest forest stratum whipped by a high wind), his confident colleagues whisked in like two-legged helicopters and evacuated him to safety. Reviewers here are still trying to decide whether their act was more post-modern pastiche or retro-punk. Staff member Michaela Frank followed with a sublime solo rendition of “The House of the Rising Sun,” prior to TRJR, Dan Reed, Larry Davis, and Dorin Dehls’ leading everyone in the staple round about Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow kicking off the Great Chicago Fire. And, if these two last acts hadn’t made it sufficiently clear that life is better when you’ve gone to camp – and thus learned a thing or two about the perils of gambling and the mismanagement of lanterns – Larry Davis’s story about a Down Easter who discovers his neighbor treated a sick horse with turpentine without asking if it turned out to be a curative or fatal drove home the importance of asking questions. Closing off the moral tuition that underlies the fun which is campfire, we all rose, cast arms over each other’ shoulders, and swayed to the strains of Doc Reed’s “Campfire Song” – the second verse asking, as we suggest the boys do at the end of every day, “if anyone’s better for anything I’ve done or said.” It was a good way to end the first day of the 2016 season.

Three of our 15s

Three of our 15s

Sunday brought cabin inspection run-throughs, occupation sign-ups, swim tests, health checks, and the first barbecue of the year, all interspersed with fun intramural competitions. Closing off the first full day of the season was the evening meeting run by Danny Kerr, an accessible, informative, and inspiring illustrated talk about the history of Pemigewassett, this year’s remarkable geographical diversity of campers and staff, and the signal lessons Danny has learned in over 45 years in camping – things that are here for the edification and development of every one of this year’s campers. Danny also took the opportunity to introduce the large group of 15-year-olds who will provide the leadership for this year’s camper cadre, many of whom have been at camp for six, seven, or even eight years. As always at Pemi, the meeting featured a musical prelude, postlude, and intermezzo of the highest order, provided by Molly Malone, Luke Raffanti, and Jack O’Connor, respectively. Then it was back to the cabins, as the sun dropped down over Pemi Hill and the vireos chorused in the trees at fields’ edge with their remarkable descending trill. Pemigewassett, 2016, seems particularly well begun. We look forward to sharing with you in a week’s time some of the highlights of the coming days. Meanwhile, thank you all for entrusting your sons to our care. We are so excited to have them here with us.

CampfireSong

 

Introducing Pemi’s 2016 Staff

Camp Pemigewassett's 2016 staff

Camp Pemigewassett’s 2016 staff

Each pre-season we ask our staff members to submit a short bio for this first blog post of the season. Introducing Pemi’s 2016 staff…

 

Danny Kerr (Director): This will be my 7th year as Director at Pemi and my 44th at summer camp and I’m only 29! This fuzzy math aside, I am looking forward to another terrific summer in 2016. When not doing the Director thing, I very much enjoy coaching baseball at Pemi, playing the guitar and basketball with the boys, and recruiting any camper or counselor I can to join the legion of small, but dedicated, New York Met fans, reigning NL Champions!

Tom Reed (Consulting Director and Head of Trips): I first came to Pemi as a two-week-old in June of 1947, and I’ve been at camp for all but about five summers since. I recently retired as Professor of English at Dickinson College, but I continue to run the Trip Program at Pemi, lead singing in the messhall, write weekly newsletters, and make sure the loons on the lake feel appreciated.

Kenny Moore (Assistant Director): This will be my 24th summer at Pemi, with the last 18 as a member of the Staff. During the summer, I serve as the Program Director and occasional swim coach. Alumni Relations, Pemi West, and general outreach are my main winter tasks for Pemi. Plainfield, NH is now home, (born and bred in Cleveland) with my wife Sarah, dogs Gertrude & Wentworth, and Harriet the horse.

Dottie Reed (Head Administrator): This will be my 29th summer at Pemi where I’ll continue to do what I can to make the season run smoothly. Tom and I recently moved out of our house of 26 years in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Our Pemi cabin ‘up the hill’ will be home into October, when we’ll start the trek to our new abode in Sarasota, Florida, officially earning the title ‘snowbirds’ as we embrace our new NH / FL life. Really?

Kim Malcolm (Administrator): This is my 25th year at Camp Pemi. During the offseason I live at Northfield Mt. Hermon School with my husband Charlie and 2 children. I am also a physical therapist.

Heather Leeds (Administrator): I’m excited to be working in the office for my 8th year at Pemi! During the winter I live at Northfield Mt. Hermon School with my husband Greg and our three children. I am director of Full Circle Elementary School where I also teach.

Cabin Counselors (CC) and Assistant Counselors (AC)

J1: Ray Seebeck (CC). After a great freshman year at Colby College, I will return to my home city next fall to chase my dream at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I am one of six Seebecks to spend summers on the shores of Lower Baker. This will be my first summer back since being a camper from ’05-’07. I plan to teach a sketchbook occupation, as well as help out in tennis, baseball, and on the waterfront. I am excited to reconnect with the Pemi community, and to help build a safe environment for personal growth and self-discovery.

J1: Per Soderberg (AC). My name is Per Soderberg, I am 17 years old and come from Sarasota Florida. This will be my 9th summer at Pemi; I attended Pemi as a camper for 8 summers and now this is my first on staff. I like to draw, sculpt, and build in my free time and hope to become an engineer in the future. I plan on helping in the nature lodge, wood shop and art building this summer.

J2: Zach Popkin (CC). I’m from Washington, DC, and I’m excited to be returning to Pemi for my second summer on staff and where I was a camper for five great years. I just completed my freshman year at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania where I am studying Econ and running on the Track Team. I’m an avid sports fan and look forward to working this summer with the nature program and coaching various sports occupations.

J2: Jack O’Connor (AC): I’m a rising senior at New Canaan High School and will be working in the tennis, sailing, and woodworking departments this summer. I’m the oldest of six kids and my youngest brother Chris will be here this summer.

J3: Harry Cooke (CC). Hello! I am Henry ‘Harry’ Cooke, hailing from Manhattan. I am a rising sophomore at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania where I double major in English and Philosophy. This will be my seventh summer at Pemi and first as a cabin counselor. My interests include film, writing, hiking, and swimming. I plan on spending this summer at the waterfront as well as instructing sailing, swimming, or dramatics, including performing in the upcoming Gilbert & Sullivan production. I am looking forward to a great summer!

J3: Zach Leeds (AC). This will be my ninth summer at Pemi, and second on Staff. I just graduated from Northfield Mount Hermon, where I live during the year, and I will be attending Colgate University next fall. I am looking forward to coaching soccer and baseball this summer.

J4: Nick Hurn (CC). This is my first year at Pemi, and I’m coming all the way from the UK to join the staff. I’m currently in Medical School at the University of Manchester. I’ll be on the swim staff and teaching arts and crafts, so I’ll be helping out across camp. I’m already counting down the days to summer and can’t wait to meet everyone!

J4: Bryce Grey (AC). I am a rising senior at Avon Old Farms where I play on the varsity football and wrestling teams. My home is Duxbury, MA and I am here at Pemi for my 6th summer. I’m looking forward to working with many of the guys I went through camp with for years. I play the trumpet and hope to teach some music, to coach sports, and maybe even to lead some yoga stretching.

J5: Wes Eifler (CC / Division Head). I was born and raised in Southern Connecticut and am a recent graduate of American University where I received a degree in Elementary Education. This winter I worked as a student teacher in the 1st grade at Bethesda Elementary in Maryland and then as a 2nd Grade and 5th Grade teacher in Rockville, Maryland. This summer will be my 13th at Pemi and my 6th on staff. Throughout the summer I will be coaching baseball and writing Bean Soup. I am thrilled to be back at Pemi for another summer!

J5: Nicholas Pigeon (AC). I’m a former Pemi camper who attended for 5 years. I now return as an assistant counselor and am excited to experience Pemi from another viewpoint. I hope to pass on my passion for nature, soccer, and basketball to Pemi campers and make the most of this summer. I currently live in Santiago, Chile, but starting this September I will be attending American University in Washington D.C, studying international relations.

J6: Sam Davitt (CC). Hi everyone! I’m a sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis from Boston, MA studying mechanical engineering. I spent five summers at Pemi from ages 11-15. I enjoy playing tennis and soccer and have spent my last three summers honing my skills as a tennis coach. At Pemi, I plan to teach tennis, soccer, and archery, and I’d love to learn how to sail. I’m excited to be back at Pemi this summer!

J6: Harry Tuttle (AC). This will be my ninth summer at camp! A lifer at Pemi, I spent eight years on the shores of Lower Baker Pond as a camper where I went from Junior One to the Senior camp. I hail from Dedham, MA and Hyannisport, MA. I attend The Governor’s Academy where I play soccer, lacrosse, help with Special Olympics, and sing/dance/act in school musicals. I am looking forward to spending time on the soccer field and the waterfront at Camp, as well as performing in the G&S production.

L1: Jackson Reed (CC). This will be my 12th summer at Pemi or Pemi West and fifth on staff. Born and raised in the northeast, I have studied, lived, and hiked in California and Washington for the past fifteen years. With a Master’s in International Policy Studies, I like to travel, especially in India and Nepal. These days, when not abroad, I help to produce dance and art festivals around the U.S.

L2: Luke Raffanti (CC; first half). I’m very happy to be returning to Pemi for my second summer. I graduated from Oberlin College in May ’15 in Piano Performance and Environmental Studies. Since then, I spent the year back in my hometown in Northern California, teaching music and accompanying. I’ve also kept active as a performer of classical music, with a special interest in doing benefit concerts for causes that interest me, such as advocacy of indigenous peoples, and environmental justice. As the pianist at Pemi, I play for mealtime songs, for Sunday Meetings, and for the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta at the end of the summer.

L2: Andrew Brummer (CC; second half). I am a recent graduate of Colgate University where I studied Economics and Geography. I am a 10-year Pemi veteran who is lucky enough to have a four-week window in my summer to spend at camp for the second half of the season when I’ll move in to L2 to allow Luke to focus on the G&S production. I will coach swimming and tennis and also lead a hiking trip if time permits.

L2: Jackson Seniff (AC). This will be my 5th year at Pemi. I am from San Diego, CA and a rising senior at Coronado High School. I love to swim and surf as well as pass the occasional rugby ball with my friends. I play water polo, rugby, and swim for my high school. I am a certified rugby coach and referee and have been coaching the Under 8 year old rugby team for 4 years. I plan to lifeguard the waterfront and help out with swimming occupations and teach rugby to all of those who are interested. I am excited for a great summer!

L3: David Lampman (CC). I am from Freeville, New York and this is my first year at Pemi. I will be entering my senior year as a biology major at Paul Smith’s College this fall. My interests include botany, ecology, natural history, and photography. I am looking forward to an exciting summer teaching these topics.

L3: Matt Kanovsky (AC). I am from Briarcliff Manor, New York, and will be a Freshman at Harvey Mudd College in sunny Southern California this coming August. This will be my 11th summer at Pemi and my second year on staff, as I try desperately to relive my days as a camper. This summer, I am excited to teach nature, photography, and how to come in 2nd place.

L4: Theo Nickols (CC / Division Head). I am from Northumberland, U.K, Hadrian’s Wall country. This is my third season as a counselor and first as a Division Head. I am currently studying Environmental Science at the University of Nottingham and I cannot wait to be coaching tennis and basketball again. Its going to be another great summer!

L4: Ned Roosevelt (AC). This summer will be my eighth on the shores of Lower Baker Pond and my second as an Assistant Counselor. I’m from New York City, and a rising freshman at Wheaton College where I will be playing on the tennis team.   I look forward to meeting you all and extending the same warm welcome to you that I received back in the day. I’ll be helping out with the sports programs, mainly tennis and baseball. See you on the courts and on the fields!

L5: Rob Leftwich (CC). I’m from the Midlands in the United Kingdom where I grew up in a small village called Knowle. I love music (especially Jazz), performance, and swimming, and I will be training as a Religious Education teacher in September. This will be my first year at Pemi and I hope to be a good Camp Bugler and help with/run some music and performance activities.

L5: Will Katcher (AC). I’m from Needham, MA, and this coming year I’ll be a senior at Needham High School. I run Cross Country during the fall, and track during the winter and spring. This will be my 6th year at camp, and first on staff, after spending 4 years as a camper and last year on Pemi West. I’m looking forward to helping out in all areas of camp, and maybe going out on a few trips. I hope to help every camper have the best summer possible!

L6: Michael DiGaetano (CC). I am from Piedmont, California and currently go to school in Santa Barbara. This will be my 3rd year as a counselor and my 8th summer on the shores of Lower Baker Pond. When I am not with the cabin this summer I will be spending a lot of time on the waterfront. I can’t wait for another great summer at Pemi.

L7: Henry Pohlman (CC). I hail from the great city of Madison, Wisconsin. I will be a senior next year at Denison University, where I study biology and neuroscience, and am a player on the soccer team. Off the soccer field, I enjoy hiking, fishing, most water front activities, and eating large amounts of cheese. I was a camper at Pemi for 4 years, as an 11, 12, 14, and 15 year old. Looking forward to another great year on the shores of Lower Baker Pond.

U1: Sam Papel (CC). This is my 2nd year on staff. I spent 8 years as a camper on the shores of Lower Baker and one on the slopes of Mt. Olympus with the Pemi West program. I was born and raised in Nashville TN and I am well used to being the resident Southerner at camp. I am a rising junior at Vanderbilt University where I am studying mechanical engineering.

U2: Andy MacDonald (CC). Hi, I’m Andrew MacDonald (super Scottish I know). I’m returning to Pemi for my second summer and can’t wait. I’m the counselor who was mainly mocked by the kids for my thick Scottish accent last summer. It’ll be interesting to see what hilarious stereotypes they throw at me this time around :). I’m about to graduate from a university back home with an Honours degree in Sport & Management. Hence it’s clear to see I love sport. I’m extremely excited to return to Pemi to coach soccer, tennis, and kayaking again. I’m also looking forward to seeing some familiar faces.

U3: Dan Reed (CC / Division Head). This is my 16th summer at Pemi (my 24th if you count my toddling years), and I am thrilled to spend another season at camp. I’ve just finished a year teaching Math & Science at a Boston charter school, and this fall will move to Windsor, CT, where I will teach English at the Loomis Chaffee School. This summer I look forward to finding myself on the tennis courts, in the Nature Lodge, serving up the Soup, helping to schedule occupations, and otherwise living the wonderfully busy Pemi life.

U3: Nick Bertrand (AC). I am from Hanover, NH and just completed 4 years at Northfield Mount Hermon. Next year I will be attending Case Western Reserve University where I will be playing soccer and studying engineering. I went to Pemi for 8 years as a camper, did Pemi West 2 years ago, and am returning for my first year as a Pemi staff member.

U4: Oisin Turbitt (CC). My name is Oisin (“O-Sheen”) I am from Omagh in Northern Ireland where I am currently studying Aerospace Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast. This summer I will teach in the nature program and coach some tennis on the side. This will be my first year at Pemi and I am looking forward to it!

U5: Will Meinke (CC). I am returning to Pemi for my tenth summer, fourth on staff. I am a student at Fairfield University in Connecticut majoring in Environmental Studies. This summer I will be helping out in the athletic and water-skiing departments. I’m look forward to another amazing summer on the shores of Lower Baker.

S1: Zacc Dwan (CC). I graduated from Dickinson College this year with a major in Environmental Studies. This is my first year at Camp Pemi and I will be involved in teaching basketball and helping out with all water-based activities. I am from Christchurch, a small city located on the South Island of New Zealand. I moved to Pennsylvania in 2012 to complete my final three years of college.

S2: Kilian Wegner (CC). This is my first year at Pemi! I’m of German origin living in the hills of Donegal in Ireland. I’m currently studying Communication Studies in my 2nd year at DCU. I’m an outdoor enthusiast so I’ll be involved with the Nature Program doing lots of fun stuff like photography and nature trips. I’m also a qualified soccer coach and a huge sports fan so I’ll be helping out in Soccer and other sports. I’m excited to get to know everyone!

S3: Harry Morris (CC / Division Head). This will be my 8th summer and, after spending my last 2 summers as a Trip Counselor, I am super excited to be a cabin counselor. I will be teaching canoe, soccer, and tennis occupations this summer.

LT: Darryl Mainoo (CC). I am British, a born and raised Londoner. I support Arsenal FC and have always had a passion for sport, especially for Football (I know I’m going to have to get used to calling it Soccer). In addition to sports, I am a bit of a computer nerd. I love everything to do with computer and technology having studied it (‘majored in’…see I’m getting the hang of this already) at University. This summer will be my first time at Camp Pemi so I’m really looking forward to working with the kids and helping to make their summer fun, enjoyable, and memorable. My time at Camp will revolve mainly around spending time getting to know and building relationships with the kids as well as coaching them in Soccer and helping them to develop their skills or pick up new ones entirely. I can’t wait to be a part of the team at Camp!

Program Staff and …

Kim Bradshaw. Heeey! It’s my second year at Pemi. I come from Nottingham (England) and I have just completed my undergraduate degree in sports science. I love playing football (soccer). I’ve been captain of Trent University women’s football for two years. Last year I was a Trip Leader and this year I will coach soccer along with some pretty awesome coaches. Bring on 2016 with more new faces 🙂

Georgie Brown. I’m 20 years old from London and am currently studying in Bath doing a degree in early years education. It’s going to be my first time at Camp Pemi and I’m looking forward to it. I will be a swimming instructor during my time at Pemi.

Laura Bubar (Head of Art). I am excited to be back at Camp Pemi following my first year teaching art at Freeport Middle School in Freeport, Maine. This will be my third summer teaching art down in Art World and I have some great new projects in store, as well as a few old favorites…More CHIHULY, perhaps? And SPACE GRAFFITI!

Steve Clare (Head of Archery). I live in Cornwall, the extreme SW of the UK. I’m a self-employed specialist teacher, working also as a cover teacher at a variety of schools. I coach two under 12’s football (soccer) teams & help coach an under 15’s team that my son, Morgan, plays for, whilst running a weekly community football programme for younger players. This will be 2nd year at Pemi as Head of the Archery Department & camp fire MC (I hope!!). I’m looking forward to returning & playing my part in the Pemi family!!

Nick Davini (Trip Leader / U4). I’m currently an anthropology major and rising junior at the University of New Hampshire. I recently completed a Spanish minor after studying in Granada, Spain this past semester. This summer will be my eighth at Pemi, and my fourth on staff. Hiking is a passion of mine, and I look forward to spending time in the mountains I came to love years ago. I also have experience in the woodshop, archery range, and Art World at Pemi.

Larry Davis (Director of Nature Programs & Teaching). This is my 47th year at Pemi (all on the staff). I hold an AB and AM in Earth Sciences from Washington University in St. Louis and a PhD in Geological Sciences from University of Rochester. In the ‘off’ season, I am Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of New Haven where I am also the head of the undergraduate program in Environmental Sciences. A former intercollegiate soccer official, I still love to watch the sport from the sidelines. I play the flute, tell Maine stories, love to travel, ‘collect’ waterfalls, and forage for, and cook, all sorts of wild edibles.

Dorin Dehls (Head of Music and Drama). I joined the Pemi family in 2008. My father, James Dehls, was a camper and counselor and now returns each summer as a visiting professional for a week each year. During the school year, I teach music for grades Pre-K through 4 in West Haven, Connecticut. I am very excited to begin work on Pirates of Penzance and to oversee all music and drama here at Pemi this summer season!

Michaella Frank: I am so excited to be working at Camp Pemigewassett for my second summer! I am from Avon Lake, Ohio. My interests include basketball, reading, swimming, hiking, singing, and playing the saxophone. Basically if it’s fun then I’m game for it! My main activities at Pemi will be basketball and vocal and instrumental music.

JP Gorman (Trip Leader / U5). My name is John (or JP) and this will be my first year at Pemi. I am from Baltinglass in Ireland and I am studying a double major in music and math in University College Dublin. I love all kinds of music and have dabbled in most sports too. I can’t wait to see what the mountains around Pemi have to offer!

Chris Johnson (Head of Tennis). I am thrilled to return for the third consecutive year on the shores of beautiful Lower Baker Pond. Back in Cleveland, I had a very busy year teaching fourth grade, coaching girls and boys high school tennis, and serving as Vice President of the Ohio Tennis Coaches’ Association. I look forward to another busy and fun summer on the courts!

CJ Jones. This will be my second season at Pemi as I loved my first summer so much! I’ll be working on the waterfront teaching swimming and hopefully on the tennis staff again. I really enjoy coaching the boys in sport as I’m a very active person myself and it’s an amazing feeling to see them improve so much over the season. At home in the UK, I’m a Biomedicine student on a masters course at Warwick University. Looking forward to meeting all the new staff and to catching up with the returners in June.

Michael Kerr (Trip Leader / U1). I am a 21-year old mountain and outdoor enthusiast from Keene, NH. I spend my off seasons as a full time children’s ski instructor in beautiful and majestic Telluride Colorado. I will be a trip counselor at Pemi for a second time this summer and look forward to completing my 4th summer at Camp Pemi

Deb Kure (Associate Head of Nature). Studying Geology at the University of Rochester sparked my love of Field Trips, and of learning and teaching outside! I’ve led outdoor science programs since then, through camps, museums, and trips programs throughout the U.S. During the school year I’m an Educator at Quarrybrook Outdoor Learning Center in southern New Hampshire, leading programs with pre-K through 12th graders.

Harry MacGregor (Head of Woodshop). I am a longtime resident of Canaan, New Hampshire with a professional background in commercial, industrial, and residential construction. I also owned my own business focusing on custom woodworking. I’m looking forward to my 6th year at Pemi.

Molly Malone (Head of Waterskiing). This will be my second year as the head waterski instructor. I had a blast being on the water so much last year, and can’t wait to teach people to ski again this year! I am from Chippewa Falls, WI and my ‘real’ job is a high school orchestra teacher. My main instruments are piano and violin, and I play violin in the Chippewa Valley Symphony. I am most proud of my ‘dancing’ orchestra called Wire Choir – a show choir with string instruments. Waterskiing is my passion in life! Let the summer begin!

Jennifer Mitchell. Hello, my name is Jen Mitchell. This is my first year Pemi and I am looking forward to a great summer. During the school year I work for Northern Illinois University at their Lorado Taft Field campus. I will be working primarily in the Nature Program this summer. I like traveling, learning new things, books, music, and nature.

Emily Palmer (Head of Sailing). I am from Hampshire, England and am currently in my third year of university as an undergraduate studying history at the University of Kent, Canterbury. I have captained the sailing team at university, but due to time restrictions this year have had to significantly reduce my time on the water, so I am very excited to get back out on Lower Baker Pond and be able to get boys interested in sailing. I also love to windsurf, which I hope to get going at Pemi. I am really looking forward to seeing everyone and having another awesome summer. Fingers crossed for some good wind.

Sam Seymour (Director of the Counselor Apprenticeship Program). As a Bay Area resident, I have just completed a master’s degree through UC Berkeley and UCSF focusing on medical device innovation and translational medicine. As I transition back into the working world, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to step in as Director of CAP. This will be my 9th summer at Pemi, and I look forward to contributing some of my experience to the next generation of counselors and Pemi staff!

Paige Wallis (Head of Swimming and Waterfront). Tweet! Tweet! This will be my 7th summer on the shores of Lower Baker Pond. I am originally from Norwich, VT and have spent the past two winters working at Waterville Valley Academy & WVBBTS. I am the Freeski & Snowboard Coordinator and a Houseparent in the dorm. This summer I look forward to working with an awesome swim staff and providing campers more opportunities to spend time splashing around in Lower Baker Pond!

Ben Walsh (Head of Staff). I am excited to be returning for my 13th summer at Pemi and second as the Head of Staff. When not assigning duties and time off I enjoy coaching and dabbling in activities that I did not explore as a camper! During the school year I teach history and coach the varsity soccer team at Salisbury School.

Caretakers of our Physical and Mental Well-Being

(We’re missing a few entries…they must be busy care-taking!) 

Jakub Adamski (Kitchen staff). I am 23 years old guy from Poland. I am studying finance and accounting at Poznan University of Economics. It will be my first time in the United States and at Pemi. I am excited for my first summer at Pemi!

Tawnya Beane (Buildings & Grounds). I’m so excited to work my first summer at Pemi in housekeeping! I grew up in southern New Hampshire. I love spending time with my family and friends, traveling, taking pictures, kayaking and listening to good live music.

Tom Ciglar (Director of Food Services). This is my 15th year on staff at Pemi. During the school year I live in Rindge, NH with wife Anna and our son Jon. I’ve worked at Hampshire Country School for over 20 years and look forward to taking on a new challenge this fall as I move into a new role as Director of Operations.

Nancy Cushman (Kitchen staff). My name is Nancy Cushman. I live in West Fairlee, Vermont, which is about 25 miles from camp. I cook the breakfast meal and I work in the bakery. This will be my 10th summer at camp.

Salih Gunbatar (Kitchen staff). Hello! I am from Turkey/Istanbul. I am a student at Marmara University and my department is Public Relations. I am interest in almost all kind sports. This summer is going to be my first year at Pemi. I would like to meet new friends and explore new cultures. It’s going to be chance for improving my language. I am looking forward to be at Pemi. See you at Pemi!!

Reed Harrigan (Head of Buildings and Grounds): I grew up in the Washington, D.C. area and graduated from Frostburg State College with a degree in Parks and Recreation. I decided that New England was where I wanted to be and took a job as recreational director at Waterville Estates, a resort community in Campton, NH. I then worked at a local high school, working with special education students and as a seasonal Forest Ranger in the White Mountain National Forest. I began working at Camp Pemi seven years ago, first as a bus driver and maintenance person, then as an instructor in canoeing and kayaking. This is my fourth year as year-round Facilities and Grounds Director.

Pawel Kopiec (Kitchen staff). I come from Katowice, a big city in Poland. I am a student at the University of Economics in Katowice and I really enjoy learning about business management. I’m sociable, ambitious, and friendly. I have big family and we are all in near contact and we like to spend time together. I like many activities such as running, playing volleyball, basketball, and even American football. My favorite team in NFL is New England Patriots and in NBA San Francisco Golden State Warriors. In addition I like cooking because I’ve tried a lot of dishes from around the world and even at home I sometimes cook new dishes for myself and my family. I like spending time outside because I also love climbing. My family and I have walked in the Tatra Mountains or the Alps. Two years ago I was on Zugspitze the highest mountain in Germany. I will be first time in Camp Pemi and I want to meet new people and be in touch with them and of course exchange experience with them.

Zosia Livingstone-Peters (Nurse). I am from Salisbury, VT. I graduated with an Associates Degree in Nursing from Castleton University in May 2016, and will sit for my national boards this summer. I am a veteran Pemi parent of ten years and have a family of 6, which include three boys and one daughter. I also hold a degree from Pratt Institute, 1989. My hobbies include photography, travel, archeology, cooking and swimming and of course caring for people! I love all aspects of nursing and am committed to providing sound nursing care for the 2016 Camp Pemi season.

Chris Moody PhD, CPNP (Nurse). I was born in Connecticut many, many years ago. I have two sons, both adopted from Russia. I’ve served in the Army for eight years as an officer in military intelligence. Educated at Duke University and Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Dr. Moody is in private practice as a child/adolescent psychologist and certified pediatric nurse practitioner.

Rachel Preston (Kitchen Staff). This is my first year at Pemi. I love cooking, outdoor activities, and art. I will be the assistant chef at Pemi this year. I plan on coming back as well. I am a new Englander by heart.

Berkan Say (Kitchen staff). I was born in Adana. Adana is small city in south side of Turkey. I lived there 14 years and then I and my family moved to Istanbul. I started Istek Private Ulugbey High School. I studied there 5 years with english prep class. Last year I studied hard because of university entering exam. This year I am going to Yeditepe University. I am studying civil engineering. My biggest dream is travelling the world. Because of this I want to want be pilot. I decided to start flight training after I finish university. This dream started when I was in London in 2011. This was my first abroad experience and I realised that world is big and I must see every culture because person understands meaning of life when person know new people and culture.

Adam Skorupski (Kitchen staff). My name is Adam Skorupski and I come from Poland. I’m twenty years old and I’m studying Accounting and Controlling at University of Economics in Krakow. I am interested in economy and business but I also enjoy spending time in a beautiful place like Camp Pemi. I am very lucky to have opportunity to visit this amazing space and working in this Camp will be a pleasure.

Pemi West

Corey Connare (Pemi West Instructor). After graduating from Kent State University, I fell in love with backpacking when I began working as a wilderness therapy guide in Vermont. My adventurous spirit has led me to foreign countries, it has encouraged me to howl with coyotes at the midnight desert moon, it burns bright with joy as I ski down mountains, and surely is the reason my heart beats so triumphantly while leading next generations on trips through the wild. I am grateful and proud to be a part of the Pemi family two years in a row.

Emmy Held (Pemi West instructor). This will be my first summer with Pemi and I’m beyond excited to be in Olympic National Park with Pemi alumni and adventurous teens! I’m a rising senior at Colby College in Maine where I’m majoring in Biology and Studio Art and I also ski, play rugby, canoe race, and lead outdoor trips.

Nate Kraus (Pemi West instructor). I’m thrilled to be back working as a guide with the Pemi West group. This will be my third time in Olympic National Park, and my 10th year being involved with Camp Pemi. I just spent my junior year with Skidmore College studying first in Vietnam, and then England. I am majoring in Anthropology and minoring in Business. Pemi West should be a blast!

Dave Robb (Pemi West, Director). I am an energetic and enthusiastic outdoorsman who enjoys crocheting and poetry as much as chainsaws and Carhartts. My pursuit of a career in Outdoor Education has taken me all across the country, from Maine to California to Texas to Washington, and has enabled me to live in some of the most beautiful places our nation has to offer. I am extremely excited for my 2nd season as the Pemi West Director, after which I will be working at The Alzar School in Cascade, ID teaching outdoor leadership and high school math.

Visiting Professionals

Stephen Broker. Having devoted the past 40 years to science education at high school, college, and graduate levels, I now focus on fieldwork in natural history with emphasis on breeding birds. This is my fourth year as a visiting professional at Pemi, where I offer occupations in the study of birds, forest and wetland ecology, and reading the landscape. My wife Linda and I live in Cheshire, Connecticut and Wellfleet, Massachusetts. My father, Tom Broker, worked at Pemi as waterfront director for 6 years in the 1930s.

Kevin O’Brien. After five summers as a cabin counselor at Pemi (1994-98), I am thrilled to be back again for a week this summer, teaching lacrosse and power yoga. During the school year, I am an instructor of English at The Hill School, a boarding school in Pottstown, PA. In addition to running a dormitory, I also coach soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. At the University of Pennsylvania, I played varsity lacrosse, serving as a tri-captain senior year. In 2001, I started practicing yoga in NYC with Elena Brower. As an athlete and student, I wish I had the opportunity as a Pemi kid to learn about yoga and mindfulness.