SPECIAL EDITION: The Flood of 2017

All you really need to know about the impact on Pemi campers of the Saturday, July 1st Flood of ’17 is to hear that, when on Monday ’73 Flood Survivors Tom Reed Jr. and Larry Davis announced in the mess hall that this recent deluge was clearly worse than in 1973, the campers cheered! To work a variation on the old saw, what doesn’t wash you away evidently makes you proud and happy.

Saturday, July 1

One difference from ’73 was that, this time, we had far more advance warning, what with the various electronic weather vanes we in the Office were all carefully eyeing. The forecast had already called for rain that might well lead to flash flooding. So when, at noon of that Saturday’s inter-camp sports day, we checked the radar and saw a huge green blob with a lurid center of yellow and red oozing across the Connecticut River towards us, we sprang into action.

Rushing waters overflow the culvert

Rushing waters overflow the culvert

Even before the culverts began to overflow with run-off surging down the hill behind camp, we moved three of our vans to a safe spot across our bridge in case high waters made wheeled egress from the camp impossible. Staff were also advised to move their cars from the low-lying parking lot by the Senior Beach. There would be no repeat of 1973, when the locked VW bug of a counselor who was deployed that day for airport pick-ups had to be hand-lifted by a dozen of his colleagues and carried to higher ground.

Ushering junior campers to dinner

Ushering junior campers to dinner

By late afternoon, what had been intensifying rain gave way to electrical storms, and, alerted by the lightning siren, boys and staff retreated to their cabins for a spell. Those of us in the Office stayed glued to our computer screens, hoping that our power would stay on (though perhaps secretly hoping it wouldn’t, so as to give our powerful new propane-fueled backup generator its first practical test.) A clear gap in the storm system subsequently offered a brief window for us to scoot the boys up to the mess hall for supper, which Tom Ciglar and his dedicated crew had all ready and waiting for speedy service. Fortunately, one (and one only!) of the three bridges that span the stream dividing the camp was still not over-washed by the mounting torrent, and the boys were ushered carefully across on their way to a hot meal. Meanwhile, Assistant Director Kenny Moore and Waterfront Head Charlotte Jones took the opportunity to detach the floating sections of our new hybrid docks from their fixed complements, carefully anchoring them against the strong down-valley current that was even then beginning to make itself felt.

Senior campers asleep in the Mess Hall

Senior campers asleep in the Mess Hall

Once we’d all eaten, it was quickly back to the cabins for the night – no pre-announced campfire and no staff time-off for that evening. (I must admit that, had we had a good supply of phosphorous, it would have been both novel and thrilling to hold an underwater campfire in its traditional location. No such luck, though.) By 6pm, our devoted and heroic Head of Buildings and Grounds, Reed Harrigan, had cancelled his own weekend off and arrived back on location. On Reed’s recommendation, the boys of Seniors 1-3 grabbed their mattresses, sleeping bags, and toothbrushes and headed up to the dining room for the night. While the waters rushing down the road in front of the Office (after over-topping a failing culvert) didn’t ultimately erode the foundations of the cabins, it made perfect sense to be super cautious, so that’s what we did. As a result, our 14s and 15s slept in the very space in which we normally eat our meals and sing songs about beating Camp Tecumseh. Their lullaby? The very remarkable sound of boulders thudding down the stream-bed just to the north, twelve- to fifteen-inch rocks bouncing over each other in the tumbling waters like the numbered balls in a lottery machine. It’s not a sound you easily forget.

Sunday, July 2

"Pemi Island" - three feet of water over the entrance road

“Pemi Island” – three feet of water cover the entrance road

Sunday brought a mercifully sunny dawn, but a quick 5:30 AM walk around the grounds revealed in a trice that the erosion damage in camp surpassed both the rains of ’73 and Hurricane Irene. There were three feet of water flowing over the entrance road, and waves lapped just twelve inches below the floor of the Lake Tent. Following reveille – and the common-sense cancellation of Polar Bear dips – Dan Reed and various other staff took the first steps (or paddles) towards reconstruction by retrieving vagrant sailboats, paddle boards, and wake boards from all over the pond. Meanwhile, Tom Ciglar and our other chefs waded bravely to their stations and had a hearty breakfast ready at the appointed 8:30 time. Tom determined along the way that, with a few menu adjustments, we had adequate stores in place to feed the camp family well for four days, should our access to supplies be affected.

The mood in the mess hall was distinctly buoyant, as might be expected when a group comes through shared excitement in good order. Boys and staff alike listened with rapt attention when Head of Nature Larry Davis (whose day job is as a university hydrologist) reviewed what we had all witnessed. This was absolutely a classic flash flood, he explained. The preconditions of soil being completely saturated by earlier precipitation and, in turn, resting in a very thin layer over the underlying granite meant that the three-plus inches of rain we received over roughly eight hours had nowhere to go but downstream – in massive quantities, at great speed, and with terrific power. Since there was a lag-time in drainage of approximately eight or ten hours, we could expect the lake to keep rising for that length of time. After that, it would likely take three or four days for the waters to return to something like their normal level.

Campers and staff pitch in to put camp back together again

Campers and staff pitch in to clean up

Intent on controlling everything we could, we proceeded with inspection clean-up just as usual, after which the boys left their cabins for various organized activities and, for those who chose to help, general grounds clean-up. Reed Harrigan was seemingly everywhere on his John Deere tractor, while Athletic Director and Grounds maven Charlie Malcolm, co-owner Peter Fauver, and Assistant Director Kenny Moore all buckled down to various essential tasks, often joined by keen volunteers from amongst our paying customers. In a further nod to normalcy beyond the morning’s inspection, we still required the boys to write their routine Sunday letters home. We admit to some curiosity about what they may have told you all about the recent cataclysm. If you have any amusing examples you are willing to share, please do.

Water basketball, flood-style

Water basketball, flood-style

That afternoon – still beautifully sunny – brought more activities, including water-basketball for the Seniors. A reprise of one of ’73’s most memorable post-deluge entertainments, this bizarre combination of water polo and hoops proved hugely popular and was repeated the following day for Uppers. (Check out this video captured by drone of Pemi’s water basketball, by Red Dog Aerial Video!). Meanwhile, Commodore Emily Palmer manned the safety boat and, with the assistance of TRJR and the rest of the trip crew, ferried an entire camp’s laundry bags (~240) from their cabins to the other side of the flooded bridge, where they were loaded into our sequestered vans for a Monday pick-up. By 5 PM, ten hours into his day, Reed on his John Deere had most of the camp’s roads beginning to look normal; certainly navigable if need be.

Saturday campfire, on Sunday. New location.

Saturday campfire, on Sunday. New location.

Speaking of roads, following our traditional Sunday evening cookout and because the campfire circle was still under three feet of water, we held our traditional Saturday night gathering for the first time on Sunday night AND with the bonfire built on the road just in front of the mess hall. The Senior camp had teamed up to bring all the benches up from athletic fields to which they had been moved to avoid the rising lake waters, and they made a cozy little semi-circle for the camp family to gather. The setting couldn’t have been lovelier, with a back-drop consisting of our green athletic fields stretching out for hundreds of yards, framed on either side by the wooded slopes of our valley (already blued with the coming night’s shadows) and the sunlit ramparts of Mount Carr, all the way down past Wentworth, modulating, as the evening progressed, from flaming yellow to glowing orange to amber. The entertainment was as good as ever – including Dan Reed and Becky Noel’s sweet rendition of Jason Mraz’s “Lucky,” Will Weber’s second tour de force on classical guitar, and Peter Moody’s infectious group-sing extolling the virtues of Bazooka Bubble Gum. As we swayed, finally, to the timeless words of the Campfire Song – “I wonder if anyone’s better for anything I’ve done or said” – many present could pat themselves modestly on their backs for the efforts they had made over the past 48 hours to pitch in at a time of crisis.

Monday, July 3

Monday brought still more brilliant sunshine, and a new week of occupations kicked off with each and every activity that didn’t involve swimming (either purposeful or inadvertent) carrying on as usual. That afternoon, Juniors 3 and 4 headed off under gorgeous blue skies for Rattlesnake Mountain, the only oddity being that the campers were piggy-backed through shallows to rowboats by the longer-legged members of the 15-and-under tennis team, also waiting to leave camp (and assisted in their St. Christopherian kindnesses by office-staffers Kim Malcolm and Heather Leeds). The boys were then towed to the newly emerged bridge by Sam Dixon, Will Katcher, and TRJR. Rarely if ever have Pemi hikers begun their mountain ascents with a voyage by sea, such as Dantrell Frazier, Teddy Rose, Atticus Barocas, Henry Ravanesi, and their cabin mates enjoyed Monday last. Surf and Turf, would it be?

First provisions arrive since the flood

First provisions since the flood

Monday afternoon also saw Tom Ciglar making a trip to the local grocery to top up provisions and supplies in the kitchen, and by 5PM Reed Harrigan had safely driven one of the camp pick-ups through hub-deep water to the bridge. It boded well for a dry roadway the following morning and, along with that, full communications with the outside world – Sysco food deliveries, FedEx, and the friendly UPS man alike. By 7:30, the weekly ladling of Bean Soup had begun in the Lodge, and the staple Pemi “Clam Song,” with its macabre narrative of a mollusk-sliced foot, was presented in re-written form to celebrate recent events – its infamous choral “Blood! Blood! Blood!” of course now altered to “Flood! Flood! Flood!” And so, as often happens, the wry and resilient human spirit responds to adversity with exultant laughter. Thanks, Wes Eifler, Harry Cooke, and Dan Reed, for lending your imagination and wit to the Pemi recovery.

Back to camp as usual

A few odds and ends of that recovery remained to be achieved, most notably a program of laboratory testing of our lake water to make absolutely certain that it was safe to let the boys swim in the pond. One week following the flood, we received the all-clear from the lab technicians, and at 5 PM Saturday the 8th, Charlotte Jones and her lifeguards oversaw the first swim since the storm clouds rumbled into our valley just a week before. Overall, not a bad rebound after a fifty-year deluge!

–TRJR

Videos and images of the 2017 Flood:

Junior Camp

Junior Camp

Junior Squish

Junior Squish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visitors arrive by boat

Visitors arrive by boat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ferrying 240 laundry bags to the bridge for Monday morning pick-up

Ferrying 240 laundry bags to the bridge for Monday morning pick-up

View from the Library

View from the Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volunteer clean-up crew!

Volunteer clean-up crew!

 

Rebuilding the road

Rebuilding the road

 

Reed Harrigan

Reed Harrigan

From Experiment to Trend to Tradition

2017: Newsletter #3

The following comes from the pen of director Danny Kerr…

Greetings from the sun-drenched shores of Lower Baker Pond! As we begin our third week of occupations, energy abounds and the boys are looking forward to a wonderful week of program, trips, and competition, as well as next weekend’s Birthday Banquet, our traditional, celebratory send-off for our first-session campers. Boy do these camp days fly by!

Over the course of its storied 110-year history, Camp Pemigewassett has developed countless traditions. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that traditions are both ubiquitous and gratifying for the entire Pemi community. Campers and counselors who take part in these customary rites and activities know that by doing so, they become part of Pemi’s history. In many ways, the camp experience here is still a great deal like when Teeden Boss’ father was at Pemi in the 1980’s or when Charlie Broll’s grandfather was a camper in the 1940’s. Visiting alumni often remark with a smile that things seem just like they did when they were at camp, however long ago that was. They are reassured, along with every year’s returning campers and counselors, that Pemi still provides a reliable and familiar environment in comparison to an outside world that constantly demands and presents change.

Seven-year senior camper Eli Brennan and I joke that when we try something new at Pemi, it’s an “experiment”; when we do it twice, it’s a “trend”; and when we do something for a third time, it’s a “tradition.” The idea of “new” traditions may seem like an oxymoron, but the truth of the matter is that some traditions do eventually go by the wayside and others become a familiar part of the Pemi year. With this in mind, I thought it would be fun to look at some of the traditional activities that are a part of the Pemigewassett experience in 2017, and also hear what the boys see as especially valuable about those rites and customs.

Variation: "Pink polar bear" dip in the stream

Variation: “Pink polar bear” dip in the stream

Certainly a traditional and signature part of the Pemi experience is the morning “Polar Bear” swim, the quick dip right after reveille that everyone in camp, be they camper or counselor, young or experienced, Yankee fan or Red Sox fan, participates in for at least the first week of each session, and is something most campers choose to do every day of the summer. Truly, one of my favorite moments of the summer is the first day of Polar Bear, as 40 juniors dash with unbridled enthusiasm towards Junior Beach and their first Polar Bear plunge of the session. I asked a couple of our veteran campers, Teddy Foley and Suraj Khakee, both of whom have done Polar Bear every day of each of their summers (seven for Suraj, six for Teddy), why they still choose to hit the pond each dawn after so many icy plunges over the years? Suraj said he “love[s] the routine of doing the same thing each morning and bonding with the other campers who Polar Bear.” Teddy said that Polar Bear not only “wakes me up in the morning and makes me feel fresh and ready to go for the day,” but also allows him, on a daily basis, to enjoy “one of the most beautiful natural gifts at Pemi, Lower Baker Pond, with friends in a big group.” The Polar Bear plunge really becomes a crucial part of one’s picture of being at Pemi, such that when alums come for a visit, a work weekend, or a reunion, they invariably gravitate towards Lower Baker Bond upon waking, knowing this is really the only bona fide way to start a Pemi day!

FRB in Junior Camp

FRB in Junior Camp

Jacques Barzun, the social commentator, wrote more than a quarter of a century ago, “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball.” Well, one could almost say, “whoever wants to know Pemi had better learn about Frisbee Running Bases (FRB),” which has become the unofficial favorite pastime at Pemi. Kenny Moore, our local Camp Pemi historian, says the game was introduced in the mid 1980s and quickly overwhelmed the previous crowd favorite, Capture-the-Flag. Well, that makes for over three decades worth of summers of mad dashing from one of three bases as campers try mightily not to be “tagged” by either a flying (and specially soft-built) Frisbee, or a counselor carrying said “kryptonite.” Nothing elicits a more boisterous cheer in the Messhall than an announcement that FRB is on the docket after dinner, and there is hardly anything more entertaining than witnessing the thundering herds run from base to base as they try to claim the title of “last tagged” for that game before all who suffered the fate of being caught are invited to rejoin and another game begins. I asked a couple of campers why they love FRB, and here’s what they had to say: Duke Hagen in Upper 2 said he loved playing games with counselors who “are trying their hardest but still can’t get us most of the time,” because “we’re fast and they’re not!” (Some staff might disagree!) Luke Larabie, a first-year camper and hence new to FRB, said he loves the “thrill of not getting caught and being one of the last few in the game.” Luke especially loves the last two minutes of each round, when the safe haven of being on a base is no longer in play, because then it’s “even cooler to survive.” I’ve never seen FRB played at any other camp or school I’ve known, so it truly seems to be a Pemi original. Perhaps we should challenge our storied rivals at Camp Tecumseh in a round on July 28th?

Another favorite tradition here at Pemi is counselors reading aloud to their boys each night, choosing from the many volumes of child and teen literature we have here in the Pemi library, or perhaps reading a favorite childhood story they themselves have brought from home. The quiet that descends on the divisions as this nightly ritual begins is heartwarming, and the cabins are filled with the tales of adventurous characters from beloved classics, old and or less old. As a follow -up this morning, I asked a few of the campers what they were reading and what they enjoyed most about the nightly ritual. Nate Broll said that Lower 1 was enjoying Candy Makers, by Wendy Mass, and that he loves fiction generally, and especially the fact that the story is told from the perspective of four boys about his age. Nate said that the reading at night helps him fall asleep, and that it offers the kind of comfort he “get[s] at home with Mom and Dad.” I had the pleasure of putting Upper 3 to bed one night last week; they quickly quieted down as I began the opening chapters of Dickens’ Great Expectations. Teeden Boss in Junior 2 said that Wes is reading them Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl (a favorite of mine as a boy, too), and that it reminds him of “when [he] was young and Mom and Dad read to me!” Finally, Luke Gonzales in Junior 1 said they are reading Big Friendly Guy, also by Roald Dahl, and that he loves the reading because he’s always “really, really tired at night” when he gets into bed, and the reading “makes me go right to sleep and makes the morning come so quickly!”

Singing in the Messhall

Singing in the Messhall

Singing in the Messhall just before the dessert course at every lunch and dinner is a tradition that everyone looks forward to. The songs we sing range from Pemi originals, many of them written by one of Pemi’s Founders, Doc Reed, to songs of Americana, college fight songs, and more. Pemi prides itself on being an inclusive community, and singing is about as inclusive an activity as there is. Ty Chung, in Upper 5, said that singing in the Messhall was great, in part because it’s “been happening for so long and is such an essential part of being a Pemi camper.” “Everyone can sing,” Ty pointed out. “It’s so much fun and adds to the group camaraderie and spirit of Pemi.” First-year camper August Matthews says the singing at meals is “fun because they’re all such great songs. I love the cheers and claps in them, and they make me laugh.” It is hard to keep from smilingl, or even laughing out loud, when we sing songs like “The Man on the Flying Trapeze,” “Mabel,” or “The Marching Song,” as the whole community sings with hearty enthusiasm, swaying to the beat, doing the sometimes crazy motions, or clapping along.

Traditions, whether they are as old as Camp Pemi itself, like singing in the Messhall, or relatively new, like FRB, are an essential part of a Pemi summer. They offer a familiar rhythm and a sense of being connected not only to the present community but also to people and times long ago. Of course, this is not to say that we are not keeping up with modern times, but that is a topic for another newsletter! Campers grow up and become adults, counselors leave for year-round jobs and to raise families, and we all change, year after year; but when we come back to Pemi, we can relive through these traditions all of the wonderful memories of our own camp days, whenever they happened to be. As the world changes in what often feels like a relentless way, Pemi is enduringly Pemi. What a comforting thought.

 

Alumni Newsletter – 2017 Preview

Welcome to the next installment of the Pemigewassett Alumni Newsletter. In this edition, we will preview the upcoming summer giving one and all an update on the 2017 Pemi campers, staff, and our gorgeous facility.

2017 CAMPERS

In 2017, two hundred and sixty two boys will attend Camp Pemigewassett with eighty-one campers enrolled for the full seven week session. Eight countries (United States, United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Spain, and Venezuela) will send boys to Wentworth this summer. Within the United States, twenty-eight states are represented, with boys from Rhode Island, Mississippi, and Minnesota joining the ranks for the first time in a few years. Seven states have double-digit representation, including California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont. Metropolitan areas like Washington, D.C., Cleveland, and Chicago also have strong contingents. Should make for great banter in the Mess Hall.

Thirty-four percent of the boys will be in their first season at Pemi, and on the other end of the spectrum, thirty percent are in their fourth or more summer. Eleven boys are in either their seventh or eighth summer! We enjoy having these savvy veterans and camp leaders to help the youngest and newest boys along. Mentorship between the campers is always a hallmark of the Pemi experience, and recent efforts have furthered mentorship opportunities.

Photo from 2015 – Ezra Nugiel, middle, with his Junior buddy, D. Johnstone (left), and also pictured is Ezra’s Senior buddy from 2010, Ridley Wills, completing a cycle!

For example, the Junior – Senior buddy program, which began a few years ago, pairs each Senior camper with a Junior counterpart. A few scheduled campfires allow the boys the chance to get to know each other, and begin building a connection. During the day, and throughout all informal times in between, these pairings form meaningful relationships, as the Senior becomes a role model for the Junior camper. Just recently, our earliest junior buddies have now become Seniors and have completed the cycle with first hand experience of the program.

PEMI STAFF

We are fortunate to have a slew of Pemi veterans back on staff in 2017. More than seventy percent of our counseling staff were once Pemi campers, and roughly the same number are returning staff members from 2016. Every year, we are excited for new staff to join the ranks, to infuse the institution with new ideas and ways of thinking. Coupled with our great retention rate, the 2017 Staff is sure to be stellar. Stay tuned for the next blog posting to read further details about each staff member.

Don Webster instructing Pemi boys on the art of bunting.

To wet your appetite, we’d like to highlight one Pemi counselor who is returning to camp after a few years away. Julian Hernandez-Webster is back on the shores of Lower Baker, and represents three generations of Pemi. His grandfather, Don, started back in the late 1950’s, serving as the Head of Senior Camp, and also a baseball and tennis coach. No surprise to our avid readers, but Don was a graduate of Oberlin College. Steve Webster, Don’s nephew, was next in line, spending ten summers at Pemi. Then, Don’s two sons, Jake and Andy joined the ranks in the late 70’s. Andy, Julian’s father, learned a trio of water sports (sailing, canoeing, and waterskiing) during his camper days, and later coached soccer and baseball when as a counselor in Senior Camp.

After five years as a camper, many with older brother Max also in attendance, Julian is set to begin his first year as a counselor and looks forward to his new role at Pemi. Julian remembers his own counselors well, Ted McChesney and Ben Ridley specifically, and aims to model his own style after them. “Ted was great as my first counselor, he did an excellent job of encouraging me to try all sorts of new activities, a value that is one of Pemi’s best. And it was a privilege to have Ben Ridley as my Senior 3 counselor. I hope to bring the positive energy that I saw in Ben, and I hope I can consistently brighten the moods of the boys in my cabin.”

Julian is a rising Junior at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA, majoring in Sociology and contemplating adding a second major in Spanish. The study of Sociology, analyzing the way societies operate, is an important field to Julian, and he is eager to pursue research opportunities including studying abroad in South America. He is active at Bucknell outside the classroom by playing club soccer, he serves as a member of LACOS, the Hispanic/Latinx student organization, and Speak UP, an organization advocating against behaviors and ideas leading to sexual misconduct.

Julian, bottom row, second from left, with his Senior 3 cabin-mates in 2013. Four others will join Julian on staff this summer!

Pemi has had a huge impact on Julian and his family, and they have been vital in  continuing the traditions of the institution. When asked about a favorite Pemi story or memory, Julian thoughtfully responded with an eloquence that deserves to be shared in full.

After the final campfire when I was 15, my cabin-mates were lamenting the end of our Pemi careers as campers. There were tears after the campfire, during the walk back to the cabin, and then quiet as none of us wanted to say goodbye to each other. Ben Ridley walked into our cabin and decided to take us out to the baseball field. It was after taps and the camp was dark and silent, but the sky was stunning. We laid on the grass in the outfield of the baseball field, staring out into the cosmos, and took turns swapping stories and laughing about our journeys at Pemi. Ben told us that even though we were done as campers, the bonds that we forged were special enough that they would last until we saw each other next. I looked around and in my cabin-mates I saw brothers, and I know that what Ben said was true. I have met up with most of the boys from the outfield that night and each time it was as if no time had passed, and our friendship continued just as strong as it was when we were 15.

FACILITY UPDATE

A new cross section joins together the traditional twin piers.

Our facility is in excellent shape, and weathered an unusual New England winter and spring that offered a host of challenges. Guided by Reed Harrigan, Pemi’s Head of Buildings and Grounds, vast improvements can be seen as soon as you cross over the bridge to paradise. Looking to your right, you’ll immediately notice a new dock system for Senior Beach and two new floats beyond. These modern, easy to install floating docks accommodate the unpredictable water levels that have become the norm, and most importantly, the docks ensure increased water safety and support improved swimming instruction.

As you continue down Pemi’s road, you’ll notice to your left, the field-leveling project. Starting in the fall of 2016, these new flat playing fields allow lacrosse and baseball to co-exist in Senior Camp, much to the chagrin of those ardent admirers of the national pastime. The Mess Hall looms large over the grassy surface, with a newly paved driveway leading to the loading dock. Behind the Mess Hall now lives a generator to provide electricity to the building and to the office, allowing Pemi operations to continue unfazed in the event of a power outage.

A new superb playing surface for baseball and lacrosse.

Back on the road, now to the Boat House, two new rowboats flank the pride of the Pemi fleet; eight fresh, strikingly sharp, green Mad River Canoes. These gems immediately enhance our growing Canoeing Program, and support better canoeing instruction to venture beyond Lower Baker for river canoe trips. Other improvements dot the landscape and continue to enhance the program opportunities for the boys.

Stay tuned for upcoming summer Pemigewassett Newsletters that will be distributed via the blog. We hope you’ll subscribe to stay up-to-date with Pemi news and information. In the meantime, find us on your favorite social media platform for daily summer updates.

Penelope Reed Doob, August 16, 1943–March 11, 2017

Penelope Reed Doob

Penelope Reed Doob

Penelope Reed Doob died peacefully on March 11th, in Toronto, Ontario, after a long and brave battle with Parkinson’s disease. A member of Pemi’s Board of Directors, she was 73 years old.

Penelope was the granddaughter of Pemi co-founder Dudley “Doc” Reed and his wife Clara Jane, the daughter of Tom and Betsy Reed, and sister to Tom Reed, Jr. She spent all of her early summers at Pemi before going off to Camp Interlaken, first as a camper and then as a counselor. Pemigewassett was nevertheless her first love, and on her last visit to Wentworth in the summer of 2015, she made it clear that it was her favorite spot on earth – this from someone whose many travels had taken her as far afield as Australia. Aside from her role on the Pemi Board, she contributed directly to the camp program for decades, first helping Betsy with our annual Gilbert and Sullivan productions and then taking over as producer and co-director of the lively operettas.

Beyond the Baker Valley, Penelope was a Professor of Dance, English Literature, and Women’s Studies at York University, where she also served as Chair of the Department of Dance, Associate Vice President of Faculties, Associate Principal of Glendon College, and Academic Director for York’s Center for the Support of Teaching. Her teaching and research areas encompassed Medieval and Renaissance studies, dance history and criticism, sexual stereotypes in opera, literature, and dance, and non-fiction writing. She published three books: Nebuchadnezzer’s Children: Conventions of Madness in Medieval Literature; The Idea of the Labyrinth from the Classical Period through the Middle Ages; and, with Charlotte Morse and Marjorie Woods, The Uses of Manuscripts in Literary Studies. She also co-authored legendary Canadian principal dancer Karen Kain’s autobiography, Movement Never Lies.

Penelope’s reviews and feature articles appeared in publications such as the Toronto Globe and Mail, the Ottawa Citizen, Dance Magazine, Ballet News, Performing Arts in Canada, and Ballet International. She developed more than 20 documentaries for the CBC Radio program, The Dance, and wrote extensive historical program notes for the National Ballet of Canada.

A graduate of The Lincoln School in Providence, Rhode Island, Penelope went on to major in English Literature at Harvard University, where she graduated summa cum laude. She took her doctorate at Stanford University, her dissertation there becoming her first book, on medieval madness. Among her academic honors, she was the recipient of Woodrow Wilson, Kent, and Guggenheim Fellowships. Despite a lifelong fascination with the arts, she was also keenly interested in the sciences, and was a founding President of Reed McFadden, a medical research company focusing on HIV/AIDS.

Despite her singular academic abilities and professional accomplishments, Penelope was as proud of her family’s involvement with Pemi as she was of anything in her life. An aficionado of international opera and ballet, she was as happy to watch mealtime singing in the mess hall as she was to watch Placido Domingo or Natalia Makarova perform at Covent Garden. As brilliant and engaged as Penelope was, she was also patient and caring. She was principled but never doctrinaire, inspiring but never condescending, a most serious person who could, oh so often, be seen laughing on the very edges of bodily control. As her resume suggests, she was never afraid to try something new. If you are willing to imagine the Pemi Kid as a girl rather than a boy, she could easily have been the model. We are richer for her presence and will miss her greatly

Plans for commemorating Penelope are still taking shape. We will pass them along as they become clearer. The family has decided that donations in Penelope’s memory might be directed towards The Parkinson’s Foundation, The Humane Society, and Public Broadcasting (PBS or NPR). All were organizations in which she believed and which she supported over the years.

~Tom Reed, Jr.

 

Allyson Fauver Joins Pemi’s Administrative Team

As reported earlier, Pemi’s Board of Directors and the nine members of the fourth generation of Pemi’s two founding families have met both in person and via phone on several occasions over the past couple of years to lay the groundwork for a smooth transition to Pemi’s future. While many of the third generation will continue to be presences at camp during the summer and serve both in supportive and hands-on ways year ’round, we are eager to make provisions for more practical experience for those who’ve expressed interest.

Allyson Fauver

Allyson Fauver

With that in mind, we’re delighted to introduce a newcomer to Pemi’s staff, though she is far from a rookie. As a “G4” member, Allyson Fauver spent many beloved summers at Pemi, living “up the Hill” along with her grandparents, Al and Bertha Fauver, while her father Fred was on staff and her brother Jon was a camper. In 1999, Allyson served as support staff for Pemi West. More recently, she’s worked behind-the-scenes as a board member and now serves as Treasurer.

With preparations for the 2017 camp season upon us, Allyson’s role is expanding to assist director Danny Kerr with numerous administrative tasks previously overseen by Dottie Reed, including supporting parents and staff through the crucial and involved process of submitting required forms. As a self-proclaimed “organization, paperwork, and details person,” Allyson couldn’t be better suited to serve Pemi in this central capacity. (In the meantime, Dottie and Tom are enjoying settling in to their new home in Sarasota, Florida, and look forward to being at Pemi for the summer!)

Allyson’s favorite memories of growing up on the shores of Lower Baker? I never wore shoes. The Nature Lodge was my favorite spot, especially the aquarium of mussels, frogs, and minnows, the rock polisher, and the bank of ferns out back. Cookout was my favorite meal of the week, and I loved helping deliver crates to cabins from the back of the big truck. (I’m sure I was a big help.) I always looked forward to the costumes of Gilbert and Sullivan, and was eternally delighted by Tom Reed, Jr’s, ‘I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General.’” 

Allyson earned a BA in International Studies from Marlboro College in Maine and a JD from the University of Maine School of Law. She currently lives in Bozeman, Montana, where she is the founding partner of Solve, a team of three colleagues dedicated to supporting nonprofit and social profit institutions.

We’re thrilled to have Allyson in the trenches and know that our community will benefit greatly from both her professional skills and her deep love of Pemi.

~ Dottie Reed

 

 

 

 

Alumni Profiles

Greetings! Welcome to the next installment of the Alumni Newsletter, Alumni Profiles, highlighting two Alumni who each spent a number of years as campers and as counselors at Pemi. As we look forward to the next issue, Alumni News and Notes, I love to include information about you; did you start a new job? Move to a new city? Randomly ran-into another Pemi person? E-mail [email protected] to share today, and stay tuned in the next few months.

John Ravenal

In 1969, a ten-year old John Ravenal arrived at Pemi for his first summer as a member of Junior 4. After six years as a camper, John joined the staff in 1977 and would later serve as the Junior 1 Counselor for three summers in 1978, 1979, and 1981, with the later two summers being the Head Counselor or Division Head of Junior Camp. John distinctly remembers the familiar sights and sounds of being at Pemi. “Tattoo in the Junior Camp – the long bugle tune winding through the dusk, as campers dashed to their cabins and back out again to brush their teeth. Or looking through the low-burning campfire on the Senior Beach across Lower Baker Pond while singing the last lines of the Campfire Song.” Other memories include the camp traditions of Bean Soup and Gilbert & Sullivan, and more personal memories of long canoe paddles with friends and the bonds forged with cabin-mates in the cabin.

Senior 1 - 1973

SENIOR 1 1973 From L-R, on roof – Brett Raimondo & Will Moffett, in cabin – Mark Hansson & Jeff Hoyt, on chimney – Doug Winston & John Ravenal, on ground – Bill Bernhard, Ian Fox, and Stuart Grey, seated – counselor Peter Barnett

John attended Wesleyan University during his years as a counselor, earning his Bachelor’s degree in Art History. He followed his undergraduate degree with a Masters in Art History and a Masters of Philosophy in Art History from Columbia University. His education prepared him well for his career as a Museum curator. John was elected as the President of the Association of Art Museum Curators in 2009, and served in that position through 2011.

After serving as the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, John became the Executive Director of the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts in 2015. DeCordova is the largest park of its kind in New England, covering thirty acres with over sixty works as part of the sculpture park. Providing year round activities and rotating exhibits, DeCordova is vast resource worthy of a visit.

John credits Pemi for his love of nature and the outdoors, “especially hiking and camping, comes straight from Pemi trips, starting with Junior Camp overnights up Pemi Hill to five-day trips in the Rangeley Lake area and the Mahoosucs.” Other individual, specific memories are clearer for John, for example “when Tom Sunshine and I beat two senior counselors, Pete Barnett and Thom Brough in horseshoes, instantly becoming heroes among our fellow campers. Or when Dan Walker, Ken Troyer, and I tipped and swamped a Puffin during a sailboat race, something that’s nearly impossible to do, by forgetting to untie the jib sheet when coming about in a stiff wind.”

John acknowledges important lessons learned during his years at Pemi that have impacted his life and career. “The importance of civility, honesty, respect, and teamwork in creating and sustaining a well-functioning society. This was ever on view at Pemi, and those lessons have stayed with me.”

Campbell Levy

Campbell Levy works for Turner Public Relations, directing media relations on behalf of the agency’s travel portfolio. Working in tandem with major news outlets, such as the New York Times and Outside Magazine, along with freelance journalists, Campbell ensures that his clients receive top-notch media placement. “I get to visit all of the destinations and resorts we work with to personally research and vet new stories, oftentimes traveling with journalists to make sure they get their story.” A few of his clients include The Bermuda Tourism Authority, Hyatt properties, and Travel Alberta, where he will soon spend ten days of adventure focused travel.

Top Row (l-r) Counselor Kevin O'Brien, Jacob Wolkowitz, Max Linsky, Michael Sasso, Justin Fischer, James Finley, Taylor Morgan, and Tom Luders. Bottom Row (l-r) Chris Gillick, Dae Soon Acker, Porter Hill, Campbell Levy, and Jeff Wells.

SENIOR 3 – 1996 Top Row (l-r) Counselor Kevin O’Brien, Jacob Wolkowitz, Max Linsky, Michael Sasso, Justin Fischer, James Finley, Taylor Morgan, and Tom Luders. Bottom Row (l-r) Chris Gillick, Dae Soon Acker, Porter Hill, Campbell Levy, and Jeff Wells.

Growing up in Colorado, Campbell journeyed to Pemi as a first time camper in 1993 when he was twelve years old. The Levy family learned about Pemi from legendary Tennis Head Mac Dunlap, who was Campbell’s grandfather’s roommate at Dartmouth College.  That first summer at Pemi, Sky Fauver was Campbell’s counselor in Lower 4, and harnessed his constant energy by categorizing him as the ‘Energizer Bunny.’ After four remarkable summers as a boy, Campbell joined the staff as an Assistant Counselor in 1998, earning both his silver Fiver-Year-Bowl, and helping to bring bronze back to Lower Baker. Memories from that summer have been permanently etched in his mind. “Pemi shaped me immensely and continues to do so to this day. It taught me independence and confidence, I’m not sure I would have gained otherwise.”

Before beginning his career in Media Relations, Campbell enjoyed work in the outdoor/adventure industry as a backcountry ski, climbing, and rock guide, arborist, and park ranger. This work directly related to his experiences at Pemi. “Overnight trips at Pemi were the introduction that led me to becoming a backcountry guide. I attribute this in no small part to people like Riley McCue. I do maintain a healthy obsession with nature, including a continued passion for butterflies and moths via Larry Davis and Russ Brummer. I know I would not have become as enamored with nature and the outdoors as I have without Pemi.” Campbell continues to be an outdoor enthusiast, bicycling in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains near his home in Evergreen with his brother, and Pemi Alumnus, Christian.

Campbell was quick to recall many vivid memories of his time at Pemi. “Who can forget Senior life with Kevin O’Brien as my counsellor, and trips to the Pagoda with Max Linsky. I’ll also never forget the year as an Assistant Counsellor while hanging out with James Finley, Porter Hill and Chris Gillick.” Campbell offers some final advice, “Pemi is a rare place where you can start anew in an incredible variety of pursuits. You might find love for something entirely unexpected. Keep in touch with fellow campers, there’s nothing I love more than reminiscing with friends, and even those who I was not as close with at camp. Above all else, Pemi provided me with friends in surprising locations the world over.”

Thanks to John and Campbell, and remember, send in your Alumni News.

Good luck, long life, and joy!

Betsy Mook Reed, May 15, 1917–June 13, 2016

Here, after a busy but excellent summer at Camp Pemi, is the follow-up promised in our earlier post noting Betsy Reed’s death on June 13th.

Betsy died at the Thornwald Home in Carlisle, PA, where she had been living since May, 2014. She was literally only four blocks from Tom and Dottie’s house in town, and she announced within a day of first arriving there that she felt “so safe” amongst such “lovely people.” “Aren’t we lucky?” was for months and months to come her most frequent utterance, always delivered with a twinkling smile. Betsy quickly became the establishment’s songbird, spontaneously breaking into lilting melodies at all hours, for all present – residents, staff, and visitors alike. Even on the morning of June 11th, two days before she died, she brought our visit to a close with her final song – wordless, without any real identifiable melody, but offered with an unmistakably brave and generous spirit, as though to say in the only way she could manage, “Let my last message to you be wrapped in a joyous air.”

Betsy Mook ReedFollowing Tom’s passing in July of 2010, Betsy had spent her winters in their beautiful apartment in Oberlin, Ohio, to which they had moved from Providence twenty-one years earlier. For decades, they relished the remarkable musical and cultural offerings afforded by the College and Conservatory, and Betsy had learned to embrace the Cleveland Indians at least as warmly as she had the Red Sox. (Tom, by the way, always maintained his boyhood loyalties to his White Sox.) After Tom’s death, she was lovingly looked after both in Oberlin and at Camp Pemi by John Peck and Phyllis Rothemich, dear friends from Warren, New Hampshire, who became family in every important way. All the while, she kept Tom’s ashes on a gate-leg table near her dining room chair, labeled with this handwritten note in which you might catch a whiff of her pragmatic whimsy: “The ashes of Thomas L. Reed, Sr. To be sprinkled at Camp Pemigewassett, Wentworth, New Hampshire, along with those of Betsy Mook Reed – when available.”

Betsy Mook ReedBetsy was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 15, 1917, the daughter of DeLo Emerson Mook, a prominent Cleveland lawyer, and Vivian Maynard Mook, a former grade school teacher. Vivian died when Betsy was only three, and for a number of years, she and her older brothers Emerson and Maynard were looked after by a series of housekeepers, not all of whom were, in Betsy’s estimation, perfect Mary Poppinses. After a number of years, though, DeLo married Lois Tuckerman, who became an almost ideal stepmother for the three children: brilliant, attentive, and forever determined to live a life of intellectual fulfillment in an age when women weren’t always afforded that opportunity. Lois’s one shortcoming, according to the ever-stylish Betsy, was that she didn’t care very much about the principles of fashion. (One of the most remarkable things about Betsy, as some of you will remember, was her startling adeptness at climbing one moment into painter’s clothes and transforming a room from ceiling to floor and then, ten minutes after cleaning her brushes, emerging from her dressing room looking prepped for an Richard Avedon portrait). Among the joys of Lois and Betsy’s life together, though, were the summers they spent at DeLo’s wilderness hunting camp in Quebec, where Betsy remembered fishing with First Nation guides and eating wild rice that they had harvested in the bottoms of their birch bark canoes.

As a graduate of Harvard Law School, Betsy’s father wanted her to attend Radcliffe, but Betsy had her sights set on a completely co-educational institution, and Oberlin College, some thirty miles from the Mook homestead in Cleveland Heights, became their compromise. Once at Oberlin, Betsy continued the involvement in choral music she had begun in High School, and she soon decided that a major in English best suited the love of the classics she had cultivated with a very literate father and stepmother. She was also quickly noticed as one of the most beautiful young women on campus, and when it emerged that she and the dashing Tom Reed (four-letter athlete and stellar English major in the class just above hers) were seeing each other on a regular basis, it was widely deemed a match worthy of Hollywood.

Tom and Betsy were married on May 17th, 1941, with Tom’s longtime best friend and Camp Pemi compatriot Al Fauver standing as his best man. Tom had begun his graduate studies in Art History at Harvard, but the war led him to enlist in the U.S. Navy, where he served on the medical staff in the Induction Center in New York City. Their daughter Penelope was born in August of 1943 – in New Hampshire, Betsy having retreated to her in-laws’ house at Pemi during one of the hottest summers on record. Son Tom Reed, Jr., followed in June of 1947, after which Tom, Sr., took a position on the Art History faculty at Brown University.

Betsy Mook ReedAs their years in Providence unfolded, Betsy’s love of working with children (together with a remarkable talent for woodworking that she had picked up who-knows-where?) led her to jobs, first, at The Gordon School and, then, at Providence Country Day School, teaching what was then quaintly dubbed “Manual Training.” Summers, of course, were spent at Camp Pemi, where in the summer of 1951, Betsy and Scott Withrow were the motive forces behind the first-ever Gilbert and Sullivan production at our camp, HMS Pinafore. The show featured Betsy as Josephine and the future mayor of Indianapolis, Bill Hudnut, at Ralph Rackstraw. She thereafter kept that ball in the air for well over half a century, making Pemi an incalculably richer place as a result.

Betsy’s later involvements in Providence included her taking an apparel design course at the Rhode Island School of Design (to which Tom had moved in the mid 1950’s) and then teaching the same at Providence’s storied Handicraft Club. Her circle of friends and former students in Providence was huge and appreciative, so when she and Tom moved to Oberlin in May of 1989, some of us were worried that she would miss the connectedness involved. Always outgoing and gregarious, though, she and Tom quickly established themselves as dynamic members of Oberlin’s community of cosmopolitan seniors. They continued to love and indulge in European travel, something they had begun with Penelope and Tom, Jr., on Tom, Sr’s year-long sabbatical in 1953-54. It was then, in fact, that Betsy first and indelibly established her capacity to travel with a modestly-sized suitcase yet emerge every day as though Edith Head and a dozen wardrobe assistants had seen to her apparel.

Betsy Mook ReedEffortless grace. That, whether it was apparent or actual, was Betsy’s essence. Her kindness flowed from her soul – instinctually, it seemed. She was willing to tackle absolutely anything and, by the time she had thought about it for a moment or two, her impeccable planning flowed into speedy execution and, thence, into most satisfactory completion. She was beautiful, but in a modest way that never called attention to itself. She sewed, and entertained, and built as though a needle and thread, Amy Vanderbilt’s books on etiquette and cuisine, and a hammer and Skil-saw had been the equipage of her cradle. In another age, she could have been anything. In her own, she was happy and fulfilled attending to the world she found around her – as an adoring but sometimes skeptical wife, a loving yet challenging mother (to hundreds of camp boys as well as Penelope and Tom, Jr.), an inspiring teacher, and a spirited fellow traveler to all who knew her. “Hurricane Betsy,” is what Tom, Jr. liked to call her – “wreaking order wherever she goes.” Order and joy.

A celebration of Betsy’s life will be held some time in the coming year, perhaps in conjunction with Pemi’s 110th Reunion next summer. In the mean time, contributions in her memory may be sent to Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, where Betsy volunteered; The World Wildlife Fund; or The Fred Rittner Pemi Campership Fund.

~ Tom Reed, Jr.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Betsy Mook Reed, May 15, 1917 – June 13, 2016

Pemi's 50th Reunion, 1957

Pemi’s 50th Reunion, 1957

We want to pass along the word that Betsy Reed died Monday afternoon, June 13th, in Carlisle Pennsylvania.  Tom and Dottie were at her side as she made the peaceful crossing. She had just turned 99, “nearly a hundred.” The sadness of the news is tempered by the fact that Betsy had enjoyed a long and wonderful life and was as ready to go as anyone could possibly be. We imagine that Tom Sr. had been looking impatiently at his watch for several years, and Betsy finally closed the books on her busy worldly engagements and went to join him with a ravishing smile on her face. Al Fauver may have been in the vicinity with a pitcher of whiskey sours.

 

Summertime mother and grandmother to generations of Pemi boys

Summertime mother and grandmother to generations of Pemi boys

We will send out a longer and more detailed account of Betsy’s storied life within the next weeks, together with information about where charitable contributions in her memory might be sent. There will also be a memorial gathering at some future time, most likely at the camp she graced for over seventy years. In the mean time, hers has been a long life filled with, and producing, much joy. It was our supreme good luck to have had Betsy Mook Reed in our world for so many years.

 

TRJR

Alumni Magazine – 2016 Preview

Welcome to the June Edition of the Pemi Alumni Newsletter, giving you a glimpse of the summer ahead. It’s been a busy, active off-season for Pemi, and the details follow. Enjoy!

Facility Update

IMG_0278

New hearth, and communal area around fireplace

Work on Pemi’s facility begins immediately after closing day in August, and this past year, Reed Harrigan and his Buildings and Grounds team began the project of restoring the Senior Cabins.

Re-pouring the fireplace hearth, updating the interior of the cabins with fresh bunks and shelves, refinishing the historic floors, adding necessary electric updates, and power washing the exterior brought new life to these iconic structures. Inside, we re-configured the bunks to allow additional space around the fire-place, creating a communal area for each cabin to use during the evenings.

Many of the electrical lines around Pemi have been buried, enhancing our natural views throughout camp. In Junior Camp, the cabin porches received an additional banister to aid in drying bathing suits and towels, and an upgrade on their bunk beds. B&G also converted the Junior Lodge Porch to be the center of the Waterskiing World, with specific storage areas for skis and wakeboards, and lifejackets.

This spring, the team devoted time to improving the Small Dining Room in the Mess Hall; replacing the ceiling and electrical work, and adding new bathrooms for our visitors and female staff members off the back. The trained eye will also noticed new shingled roofs on the library and Senior Lodge.

As you can see, it’s been an incredible busy year for Reed and his team. We are so so thankful for their energy in maintaining the facility, making it one of the best in New England!

Enrollment Update

Over the winter, wonderful enrollment leaves Pemi primed up for the 2016 season. Of those able to return this summer, 82% chose to do so, a spectacular statement to the fun had on the shores of Lower Baker in 2015.

For 2016, we have 85 boys for the Full Session, and 86 for each 1st and 2nd session, totaling 257 boys. Seventy-six campers will enjoy their first summer at Pemi, approximately 29% of the camper population, whereas fifty-five boys will be in the fifth or more summer, or 21%. We love that ratio, allowing our savvy veterans the chance to spread the Pemi love to a new era of boys. We are also thrilled that we have sixty-eight legacy campers this summer. In addition to Pemi traditions, it is beautiful to see camping as a family tradition for so many.

Our campers come to us from 25 states, in 129 separate communities, and 8 different countries, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Venezuela, France, Mexico, Hong Kong, and Papua New Guinea. We have more than 10 boys coming to Pemi from at least 8 states, including New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, California, and Vermont.

The Senior Lodge before and after

The before and after shots of the Senior Lodge Roof!

Pemi West

It has been a banner year for Pemi West enrollment too, with a total of 14 participants heading to Olympic National Park for their 4.5 week outdoor adventure. This will be the first time in ten years that we have a co-ed trip and  two groups participating at the same time.

Pemi West participants now begin and end their journey in New Hampshire, arriving a few days before the boys to become certified in Wilderness First Aid. They then fly together to Seattle, where Dave Robb, Pemi West Director, is on site to pick them up. We are very excited to reinstitute rock climbing into the Pemi West curriculum this summer.

In 2014, we added a Counselor Apprentice Program for Pemi West participants, offering a two-week option for those interested in experiencing Pemi life from the staff perspective. We have 8 participants in the program this year, who will be capably guided by veteran Staff member, Sam Seymour.

Pemi Board Update

Camp Pemigewassett is governed by a Board of Directors, charged with the general oversight of the operation of Pemi, both programmatic and fiscal, ensuring that camp fulfills its mission.

Pemi’s Mission – See further specifics here

Since 1908, Camp Pemigewassett’s abiding mission has been to inspire and support boys aged 8 to 15 as they find their own distinctive paths in becoming self-reliant, caring, and successful young men with a passion for all that they do.

The group is comprised of up to 11 members, representing both of Pemi’s founding families (including the fourth generation of owners) and non-family members. Current board members include: Tom Reed (President), Fred Seebeck (Vice-President), Allyson Fauver (Treasurer), Penelope Reed Doob, Peter Fauver, Fred Fauver, Jameson Fauver, Dan Reed, Roger McEniry, and Greg Bowes.

New interior of Senior 2

New interior of Senior 2

Board members serve three-year terms, with the possibility of serving up to three terms before cycling off. They meet six times annually, twice in person, and four times telephonically addressing large, big picture topics and strategic issues. Work is also done through a variety of sub-committees addressing specific strategic areas, including Governance, Recruitment, Scholarships, and Capital Improvements.

A number of recent projects, including the refurbishment of the Senior Cabins, the extension of the Senior Lodge, and the new staff house, are examples of Pemi’s Five Year Capital Improvement Plan. This plan, crafted by the board, is strategically identifying ways to maintain and improve the physical plant long into the future.

Staff Profile – Henry Pohlman

Almost every summer there are a few former campers who return to Pemi after years away to serve in the counselor ranks for the first time. This summer, after five summers away from the shores of Lower Baker, Henry Pohlman is back, and we are thrilled to have him. 

Pohlman Cousins

Neal, Carl, and Henry Pohlman

Henry’s first summer was in 2006, as an 11 year old in Lower 2 with Jack Bierwirth as his counselor. Pemi was not a new concept to Henry, as his father John attended camp in the late 70’s and served on the staff in the early 80’s. In fact, John’s brothers Bill and Bruce also spent time at Pemi, following in their fathers’ footsteps, Jim Pohlman, who was the family’s first connection with Pemi. Dock Nick recruited Jim through an Oberlin College connection; Jim attended Oberlin and played tennis for the Yeoman.

Henry’s cousins (Bill’s sons), Neal and Carl also attended Pemi as campers in the 2000’s, adding to the impressive tally of summers under the Pohlman family name, Thirty-four summers now in total for this 3-generation Pemi family.

Henry is a rising Senior at Denison College in Ohio, double majoring in Biology and Neuroscience. After taking a Neuroscience class during his Sophomore year, Henry became fascinated with the field, finding the many intriguing parallels with other sciences; psychology, biology, chemistry and even philosophy. This next semester, Henry will participate in a directed study in neuroscience focused on public outreach. “I’ll be designing a series of presentations over the semester tailored to different communities, such as the neuroscience of aging to a retirement community, or concussions to high schools coaches. I’m very excited to undergo this project, as presenting is one of my greatest academic joys.”

Denison Soccer

Seeing the field

Beyond the classroom, Henry is a member of the Mens’ Soccer team at Denison. Next season, he will be one of the captains, hoping to lead the Big Red to the NCAA Tournament. Henry, a defensive midfielder, guided Denison to a 13-3-1 record in 2015, consistent placing in the top 25 national rankings.  He is also a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity serving as the philanthropy chair.

This summer, Henry is excited to coach soccer and to help out on the waterfront. He can’t wait to hike again in the White Mountains, with a newfound appreciation for these experiences. “As a camper, I did not give the hikes we went on nearly enough credit, one of the coolest places to go hiking in the country.” One of his most memorable moments was a day hike up Mt. Washington, experiencing the infamous wind on the summit, and great camaraderie with his fellow cabin mates.

U4 '09

Upper 4 in 2009

Henry also fondly remembers his 2009 Upper 4 Cabin, led by his counselor Sam Seymour. Henry remembers Sam as always in a good mood, making sure that every camper got the most out of every day. “As a counselor, I’m hoping to emulate that same mentality, and push my campers to not waste a day, because looking back, the summer does fly by.”

Stay tuned to the first newsletter of the 2016 summer, which will include more details on all of Pemi’s 2016 staff.

As always, we encourage our extended Alumni family to swing by to see Pemi firsthand, should your travel plans point you towards the shores of Lower Baker. We’d love to stay connected in person, or virtually, and I invite all Alumni to actively participate in our growing Alumni network. Please submit Alumni Notes, attend Alumni Events, and help connect us to ‘lost’ Alumni.

Interested in being featured in the fall’s newsletter? Let me know! Have personal or professional news to share? E-mail me, and you will be included in the Winter release of Alumni News.

Good luck, long life, and joy!

Kenny Moore