Summer 2010: Newsletter #7

Download this newsletter as a PDF.

With 2011 applications ready to go on-line in a week, it seems an appropriate time to cast a glance back at the past season – this time in the company of a group of stellar Seniors for whom 2010 was the last of many rich years together as campers. It’s become a Pemi Week custom on the last Sunday of the season for a representative sampling of our fifteen-year-olds to speak to the assembled camp family about their time at Pemi. Over the last half-dozen years, we’ve made substantial efforts to enhance the natural mentoring role of our older boys with various programmatic offerings, like the Senior-Junior campfires or special mountain trips and cook-outs matching our youngest cabins with our oldest. As a nine-year old said just recently, “Pemi is a place where anybody can talk to anybody else,” and the Seniors’ willingness to reach out to the younger boys plays a crucial role in forging that sort of trusting and caring community.

Hence, on the morning of August 8th – at the dawn of yet another of the perfect summer days that seemed especially to grace the 2010 season – we all filed into the Lodge to hear from a group tapped by Charlie Malcolm to speak about their years at camp. Charlie kicked things off by reminiscing about the recent wedding of long-time Pemi camper and staff member James Finley, who proposed to his bride on Rte. 25A between camp and Wentworth and who invited roughly twenty-five members of the Pemi family to the July festivities in York Harbor, Maine. Charlie recalled the entire group serenading Kate Gillen, the bride, with Pemi’s own “Bloomer Girl Song,” and remarked that many of the closest friendships in his life had been forged at our camp. At a gathering such as James and Kate’s, he said, the ease with which those friendships are resumed after years of separation is truly remarkable. He then turned to Nick Barber, Matt Cloutier, Harry Eifler, Alex Fauver, Teddy Gales, Peter Ionno, Nate Kraus, Timmy Ogle, Owen Ritter, and Gus Walsh to answer a few questions. They were simple and direct ones, and the first answers were predictably spare and cautious, as boys unaccustomed to addressing 250 others found their footing.

Charlie: “So, did any of you experience homesickness when you first arrived?” Nick Barber: “I did.” (Quiet chuckle around the room as one of the most confident and accomplished young men at camp admits to this so readily.) “But I was in the Junior Camp, and I got comfortable pretty quickly being part of a little community within the big community.”

Charlie: “What’s the biggest change you’ve experienced at Pemi?” Peter Ionno: “I got a lot taller.” (A bigger chuckle) “So I guess I get to be part of things like this.” (Charlie nods.)

“What advice would you give to the younger guys?” Owen Ritter: “To make the most of every opportunity here. Say, the Nature Program. Every day I see things I should have done and wish I had more years to take advantage of.” Matt Cloutier: “Yeah, the Nature Program has been terrific for me – pinning a butterfly – or, even better, helping someone else up there. I learned to step outside my comfort zone here, and maybe to help others do the same.” Harry Eifler: “All sorts of things open up here, even if you feel you’ve done them already. I took four years of classical music lessons, but the chances to do other kinds of music here have been amazing.”

“How would you compare athletics here to athletics at home, or at school?” Timmy Ogle: “There are more opportunities here – more sports, more levels. You can prepare for, say, the soccer season at home and broaden yourself in other ways.” Matt: “It makes a difference sharing a cabin with your team-mates – different in the cabin, and different on the field.”

“If you could start all over at Pemi, what would you do more of?” Teddy Gales: “I absolutely hated hiking until I got to Lower 6.” (More chuckles) “Now I love it. Katahdin? The best trip ever, man. And the Allagash? It was just amazing.” (Other boys on those trips nod enthusiastically. Younger boys seem to take note, file that away.)

“What do you think about the difference between the half and full seasons?” Alex Fauver: “This is my first full season, and it’s just lots more of a good thing. I got to work much harder on soccer, and my water-skiing really improved.” Nick laughs: “I had an argument with my Mom. She wanted me to go to a jazz camp too. I told her that at Pemi you can do everything. Love everything. Try everything – sports, music, shop. It’s so varied, every day can be different.”

“Why do you think this year’s fifteens bought in to Pemi so completely? I mean last year’s Seniors were great, but you guys really leaned into it!” Owen: “For me, the Allagash canoe trip was key. There we were, out in the middle of nowhere. Nobody else around. The interdependence, the togetherness, it was just amazing!” (More nods from Owen’s trip-mates up front. You can begin to feel the atmosphere in the room take on some kind of charge. The words start to summon facial expressions that speak for themselves, the emotions to radiate palpably.) Teddy (an eight-year veteran who will win the Founder’s Citizenship Trophy in just four more days): “I have a family at home. I have a family at Pemi. And this is my last year.” (He looks at all the others sitting there with him) “I just love you guys!” (Shy smiles all around, and more than one forefinger dabs at an eye.) Peter: “The 14s and 15s are much closer this year. I don’t know why. We just are, and it’s great.” (Charlie turns to this year’s 14s in the audience: “You guys got that, right? Next year. You’re the fifteens!”) Nate Kraus: “Like Peter said. I think being positive is infectious!” (Nods all round, in front; in the audience.)

Charlie: “So Pemi’s been going through some transitions for the last several years. What do you think are the enduring Pemi qualities? What do you want to see here in thirty years?” Owen: “Traditions. Whatever. Polar Bears. Singing in the Messhall. The tennis fence.” (Everyone laughs.) “I want to drive in here in thirty years and see the tennis fence right where it is – and kids playing.” Matt: “Everyone can come back in thirty years. You can always come back.” Nick: “Pemi has no expectations. You can try new things, just be who you are. But there are expectations.” Charlie: “What are they?” Nick: “To be the Pemi Kid.” (Major laughter throughout the room). “Try new things, like I said. Reach out to the younger campers. Do it all.” Charlie: “Be leaders!” (Nick agrees.)

“So, lots of you guys were Juniors. What Seniors did you look up to then?” Peter: “Teddy was actually my idol in Junior 4.” (Teddy looks shocked, blushes, laughs.) “Seriously!” (Teddy laughs some more.) “I wanted to be that kind of spark for everybody else that Teddy’s always been,” (Everyone at the front of the room nods. Everyone in the Mess Hall will nod when Teddy’s name is read on Thursday night when he is tapped as “The best all-around camp citizen who has given the most to camp beyond the line of duty.”) Nick: “Brian Forster. Brian played the sax. He was so much better than I was, so much older. But he never talked down to me. It was like I was his equal, almost.”

Gus Walsh breaks in spontaneously to ask the other boys if they’re planning to return to Pemi as staff members. Owen: “Definitely! Definitely!” Peter: “Are you kidding? When you can be part of all this . . . and get paid!” (More laughter. But it’s true. Pemi does pay its staff!) Matt: “I don’t think anyone here wants to grow up.” (Matt looks around. The room has gone completely quiet. Perhaps the birds are singing outside, but all eyes are on this remarkable group of young men, and it’s almost like we’re all holding our breaths together. This strong and fearless athlete, this infectious enthusiast of the Nature Program, this wonderful waiter to the boys at Junior Two goes on.) “I couldn’t live without Pemi.” (Teddy nods at Matt and leans over to embrace Harry, for two years his fellow performer in the wonderfully comedic mime group, Geese in the Shadows.) “I want to perform with this kid forever. I want to come back,” says Teddy, the tears flowing from his eyes, “. . . and do this all over again!”

How we wish they could. But the torch must be passed. Who better to be passing it than these boys?

Charlie nods at the group, who hug each other now like the quiet celebrants of a great mystery. “Thanks, guys. Thanks.”

–Tom Reed, Jr.

Imagination and Improvisation at Pemi

The following article comes from Dwight Dunston, counselor in Senior 3 and Bean Soup co-editor.

I believe that in all aspects of camp life, and life outside of camp as well, there may be situations when one needs to be able to think and react quickly. Thus, the importance of a fun occupation that I teach: comedy improvisation.

During the second week of camp, I had the opportunity to teach the comedy improv occupation with counselors Wesley Eifler and Jeremy Keys. In a class with about 14 boys ages 10-15, we played a number of different games that often required us to create our own worlds in which we would act out a scene, most of which ended up being a bit ridiculous but were still very entertaining. There was one game in particular which required all of the boys to work together to make a story simply from a title suggested by the group. When one of the counselors pointed to a camper, the camper began narrating the story and would continue to do so until the counselor pointed at someone else. The next boy would first have to finish off the word or sentence of the previous participant, and then add his own twist to the story. Needless to say, the stories didn’t always relate to the initial title, but the entertainment value was much higher than the care for attention to detail. Although each game had certain guidelines and rules, the main goal was not to see how well the kids could play the games– we simply wanted the boys to be as creative and innovative as possible even if it meant looking a bit silly.

Comedy improv forces an individual to use his imagination, to react in a timely manner, and to be comfortable with looking a bit silly. If the boys took nothing else away from the occupation, I hope they learned that improvising is a way to better the imagination. And I hope that they had a laugh doing the occupation, as well.

-Dwight Dunston

Summer 2010: Newsletter #6

Download this newsletter as a PDF.

This week’s newsletter comes from Charlie Malcolm, Pemi’s veteran Director of Athletics.

Last Friday, Camps Pemi and Tecumseh squared off in their annual and hotly contested rivalry.  The two of us have competed against each other for over a century, the last forty-three years for the coveted bronzed hat of former Tecumseh Director George Munger.  Mr. Munger was a highly competitive man who led the University of Pennsylvania football to eighteen consecutive winning seasons.  To this day, his competitive spirit has driven the Tecumseh camp program.  The story of Mr. Munger’s “Hat” is worth highlighting, for it captures one of the philosophical underpinnings of the day.

In 1967, Pemi and Tecumseh competed, as they had for a half-century, on two separate days.  Tecumseh won the first day convincingly 9-3 and scored many of their wins in swimming.  Legendary Pemi waterfront coach Terry Sweetser convinced his lads that they could reverse the outcome if they were willing to put in the time and effort to improve.  Tom Reed Sr. wrote in this very newsletter about the boys who accepted the challenge and eventually led Pemi to an exciting victory in swimming that pushed Pemi over the top on Day Two.  “What price work, sacrifice, courage, conditioning, self-respect, and respect for teammates?  We submit that no Pemi swimmer involved and few Pemi spectators will forget these races for a long time.”

Tom Sr. then describes the moment the Hat was introduced to the rivalry and the values that forged the tradition. Amidst the Pemi throngs assembled in the messhall, “cheer after ear-splitting cheer for teams, for individual performers, for coaches and two spontaneously for our hard-fighting rivals, Tecumseh.  And then, unaccountably, silence.   Here are all the Tecumseh boys on our porch; their director, George Munger, takes off his familiar straw hat, gives it as a token to Tom, and turns and leads a deafening Tecumseh cheer for Pemi….In a flash, it points up for everyone what athletic competition ought to be and these days so seldom is.”

While “The Hat” has shaped and motivated competition for the last forty years, for the first decade of competition the Pemi boy woke up at four in the morning to walk four miles to the Wentworth-to-The-Weirs train.  At Weir’s Beach, the boys boarded the steamer Governor Endicott to cross Winnipesauke and land at the Tecumseh swim docks.   After spending the night under the stars, contending with the mosquitoes, the boys woke up to a full day of competition involving both campers and counselors.  The Pemi community would spend a second night there before returning to the shores of Lower Baker.  Clearly, the strenuous life of Teddy Roosevelt carried the spirit of the endeavor.

Today, we wake up at a leisurely 6:30 AM to the rousing cheers of our senior campers, who often play a Rocky theme song.  A brisk breakfast at 7 AM and onto the yellow school buses at 7:30 AM.  Kenny Moore masterfully keeps the 11-, 12-, and 13-and-Unders on target for smooth, organized departure.  After an hour bus ride, the Pemi contingent arrives at Tecumseh with 50 minutes before the starting gun, serve, or kick-off.  Meanwhile, at Pemi, the final dragging of the senior infield takes place, Jeff Greene rolls a few courts, water is delivered to each venue by the “Trippies,” the game balls are in place for the contests, and last of the breakfast tables are cleared.  The moment of anticipation builds as the Pemi home contingent of 10- and 15-and-Unders await the unmistakable rumble on the bridge from the arriving Tecumseh buses and vans.

The first morning contests were under way at 9:30 AM at both camps.  At Pemi, the 10-and-Unders found themselves locked in a tight baseball game.  Chris Houlihan mowed down the Tecumseh line-up in the first.  In the bottom of the first, Patterson Malcolm worked a two-out walk and Houlihan hit a deep shot to center that found a well-positioned Tecumseh fielder for the final out.  Unfortunately, Tecumseh scored five runs in the second when their number-nine hitter delivered a gapper to left center that scored two runs.  Three more runs unearned runs would follow for a commanding five -run lead.  Pemi battled against a very strong Tecumseh pitcher, but they could not find a hole in a very confident defense.   The 15’s Tennis team also found themselves in an equally competitive match.  The highlight of the match, and maybe the day, was Nick Barber’s victory in number-one singles.   After winning the first set, Nick dropped the second and ended up in a super tiebreaker and down by three points.  He was cool, calm, and focused as he skillfully dispensed of his talented, spirited, and flamboyant opponent.  Pemi ended up losing the match 5-2 with Austin Dorsey winning his match at 4th singles.

The second morning events at Pemi were the 10-and-Under soccer match and the 15-and-Under baseball game. The 10’s displayed amazing determination after their set-back in baseball.  The game was an up-and-down affair on the big, steamy field. Pemi scored first when Mikey Suski found an opening and blasted a shot that bounced off the goalie’s chest and into the goal.  Tecumseh evened the score when they scored on a free kick just outside the box, knotting the game at 1-1.  Pemi nearly pulled ahead when Patterson Malcolm’s free kick sent Jackson McNear in alone at the back post, the redirection nibbling the edge of the post.  With the wind at Tecumseh’s back in the second half, our visitors put us on our heals for a fair amount of the second half.  Sam Berman was brilliant in goal, making several game-saving stops. Malcolm, Johnny Seebeck, Owen Freid, and Jackson Welch defended a flurry of attacks and bought time for Pemi to mount dangerous counter-attacks. With Tecumseh committing three defenders to stop him, Suski whistled a shot just past the top right corner, and another rolled along the goal line before the Tecumseh keeper sprawled back for the ball. The game ended with a fair 1-1 tie, with both teams displaying incredible focus and commitment.

While the 10’s battled their way to a tie, the 15’s baseball team played in a “classic.”  Tecumseh rolled out one of the most polished three-pitch lefties seen in “camp” baseball.  However, Pemi received an equally impressive effort from Tecumseh Day warrior Danny Murphy.  Murphy entered the game 3-1 when pitching against Tecumseh and always finds his best game on this day.  Tecumseh scratched out a 2-0 lead while taking advantage of a few Pemi miscues. Undaunted, the Pemi nine hustled their way to a one-out single in the bottom of the sixth; Stan Barlow stole second and then scored on Owen Gray’s prodigious shot to straight away center.  If the ball had been hit to left, it would have hit the laundry room; if it had been hit to right, it would have cleared the tennis courts; unfortunately it was hit to dead center and rolled toward the tent-drying area. After coach Kerr called aggressively for the steal of third, Pemi could not deliver the tying run.  In the top of the seventh, Tecumseh loaded the bases with no outs, and Pemi miraculously escaped damage when a fly-out to center, a poorly timed tag-up at third, followed by a diving tag of a wayward runner resulted in a triple play.  In the bottom of the seventh, with lunch waiting on the table, Pemi could not scratch home the tying run.  Win or lose, it was clear that everyone who played or watched the game felt the intensity of the moment and the dominating respect for the game, and came away with a deep appreciation of the value of the day.

While Pemi found themselves down 0-3-1 at home, the 11’s, 12’s and 13’s started off their morning with clear momentum.  The 13’s swim team won a tight match-up 29-26. Will Oberlander took the butterfly with an impressive 34.58, and Will Nuelle won the freestyle.   The meet came down to the final relay race, and Daniel Traver, Sompy Somp, Oberlander, and Nuelle delivered a powerful performance and outswam Tecumseh by five seconds for the victory. The 11’s tennis team lost a heartbreaker 4-3.  Pemi received victories from Mitchell Cornell at second singles,  and doubles victories from the Duval brothers and Malcolm Roesser and Colin Alcus.  Thomas Bono lost 8-6 in a determined effort as the 11’s fell just short of helping Pemi sweep the early round of action at Tecumseh. Perhaps the most exciting match of the day at Tecumseh was the 12’s soccer game.  Despite holding 70% of the play, Pemi found themselves down 1-0 with eight minutes to go in the game.  With the tennis and swim teams cheering their side on, Julian Hernandez-Webster, “Man of the Match,” beat several defenders down the left flank before rifling a shot off the corner cross bar. The ball careened down into the box and Tecumseh was called for a handball. Hernandez-Webster buried the PK to tie the game and seize the momentum. With the defense of Ben Chaimberg, Zach Leeds, Charlie Parsons, and the inspiring Nat Healy shutting down Tecumseh’s attack while center mid Max Pagnucco ran the midfield, Pemi kept up a withering attack. With three minutes to go, Pemi served a corner kick into the box, and Will Robbins alertly jumped on the loose ball at the 18 and delivered a stunning volley “side netting” for the 2-1 victory.  After the final whistle sounded, Pemi held that same 2-1 lead at Tecumseh and had clearly built some momentum heading into the second round of events.

Our opponents at Tecumseh are rarely unnerved by athletic challenges. They spend two straight weeks preparing for Pemi Day. Each practice is held in the exact order and time of their future Pemi Day contest.  The Day marks the end of their inter-camp sports schedule, a crescendo event with tremendous build-up and pressure to win.  Each year they arrive with a wide range of Mohawks to celebrate the day, and their campers embrace Munger’s competitive drive that often pushes their teams forward during critical stages of the game.  The 11’s baseball team ran into a well-prepared Tecumseh nine that delivered a convincing 9-0 victory.  Colin Alcus pitched well for Pemi in defeat,  as we were unable to get our bats going.  Defensively, John Galbreath, Jamie Nicholas, and Mitchell Cornell played particularly well in the field.  The 12’s tennis team dropped an exciting match 4-3. Pemi garnered victories from Arthur Root at third singles and doubles victories from Will Robbins and Charlie Parsons along with Ben Chaimberg and Max Pagnucco.  Andrew Coe fought gallantly in defeat at first singles.  The 13’s Soccer team played perhaps Tecumseh’s top soccer team.  Pemi’s defense led by Carl Pohlman, Hartwell Green, Oliver Kafka, and a spirited Daniel Traver (whose hustle and determination set the bar for Pemi) held Tecumseh at bay for much of the first half.  Ben Nicholas and Oliver Gronloh orchestrated a creative attack, while Eric Gronloah and Sompy Somp put Tecumseh on their heels with strong dangerous runs.   Tecumseh scored first, but Sompy Somp delivered a goal to tie the game before half time.  Eric Rolfs was simply brilliant in goal for Pemi to keep the game tied at 1-all.  In the second half, Tecumseh flooded the flanks with dangerous athletic runs that put Pemi on their heels and eventually jumped on the scramble for loose balls in the box for the 3-1 victory. With Tecumseh’s impressive 13’s soccer triumph, they now held a commanding 7-2-1 lead on the day.  However, of the ten events, only one game was truly a lopsided affair.

After a very competitive morning at Pemi, followed by a late lunch, the 10’s tennis team and the 15’s soccer team met their respective opponents.  The 10’s fell quickly to a very talented Tecumseh team 7-0.  Patterson Malcolm, Ted Orben, Jackson McNear, and Sam Berman battled tough Tecumseh opponents in singles for Pemi.  The 15’s soccer game is one of the more keenly anticipated affairs between both camps’ “varsity” teams. Tecumseh scored first when soft Pemi marking left their left mid wide open at the 18, and he delivered a deflected shot through a screen of players that eluded Pemi keeper Dan Fullham.  In need of some mojo, Pemi unleashed Dana Wensberg and Danny Murphy up top, and their hustle and determination created some much-needed energy for the blue and gold. Eventually, Peter Ionno delivered the charging Murphy a perfect through ball, and he was taken down in the box. Ionno thereupon coolly struck the PK home to knot the game at 1-1. Tecumseh came out and played a very spirited second half; however, the defense of Owen Grey, Gus Walsh, Will Meinke, and Alex Fauver kept the Tecumseh attack at bay. Meinke played flawlessly at the sweeper position, while Alex Fauver single-handedly shut down his flank with crushing tackles and alert outlet passes. When Tecumseh did unleash shots, Fulham kept the ball out of the net and delivered long, towering kicks deep into Tecumseh’s zone. As Pemi stepped up their effort, they unleashed dangerous counter-attacks to the inspired Matt Cloutier.  With five minutes to go, Cloutier nearly scored the game-winner on a partial breakaway. Although the match ended in a 1-1 draw, the level of play displayed by both teams would reach the level of most high school varsity programs.

The 10’s and 15’s then made their way to the waterfront after a long day of heated contests. The 15’s met a very talented and deep Tecumseh swim team, but Peter Montante, Michael Montante, Daniel Fulham, and Buck Baskin swam a great free relay race despite being in a lopsided meet. The 10-and-unders were led by the dynamic swimming of Chris Houlihan, Byron Lathi, and Tanner Nugent.  The meet came down to the final free relay, but the gallant team of Houlihan, Lathi, Ted Orben, and Owen Freid fell just short, as Tecumseh pulled off the meet 30-25.

The afternoon events at Tecumseh continued a trend of disappointing losses for Pemi. The 11’s soccer team played one of the more impressive tactical matches of the day, as coach Cory Fauver played an “umbrella” defense with an extra defender to keep Tecumseh’s talented team at bay. Will Harned was spectacular in the net behind the defense of John Galbreath, Will DeTeso, Will Jones, Nick Pigeon and Harry Tuttle.  In the second half, Pemi countered with great midfield play by Jamie Nicholas, Thomas Bono, Mitchell Cornell. With only a few minutes left on the clock, Tecumseh was awarded a curious free kick after a ball was played out of bounds due to a Pemi injury. Tecumseh took advantage of the opportunity to seize the victory 1-0. The 12’s baseball team was also locked in a nail-biter, as Ned Roosevelt pitched a gem for Pemi (nine strikeouts and two walks), but the team could not deliver the key hit despite having runners on base in every inning.  Charlie Parsons and Nat Healy delivered two hits apiece in the losing effort. 13’s Tennis fell to a very strong Tecumseh team 7-0. Pemi received an excellent effort from Daniel Traver and Alex Baskin at number one doubles, and from Andreas Sheikh at two singles.

The final events at Tecumseh were the 11’s/12’s swim meet and the 13’s baseball game.  While the 12’s received a great effort from Julian Hernandez-Webster in the breast and IM and from their relay team of Max Pagnucco, Patrick Sullivan, Florian Dietl, and Cole Boland, they fell to a very strong Tecumseh team. The 11’s meet, like the 10’s’, came down to the final relay race. Tommy Witkop won the 25 butterfly by several lengths, while Colin Alcus and Thomas Bono went 1st and 2nd in the breast.  In the final and crucial free relay, Pemi lost by .06 seconds to drop the meet despite the heroic efforts of Witkop, Andrew DiGaetano, Alcus, and Bert Oberlander.  Amazingly, this was the third meet out of five that was decided on the final relay race. The 13’s finished the afternoon with an impressive 6-1 victory in baseball. Will Nuelle led Pemi on the mound, while Will Parsons and Daniel Traver provided crucial offense. Pemi played flawlessly in the field for coach Ben Walsh, who led his second team of the day to victory against Tecumseh.

The final score on the day was Tecumseh 15, Pemi 3, with 2 ties. As you can garner from the details of the day, the majority of the contests were spirited, close affairs. However, beyond the results of the individual contests, Pemi and Tecumseh’s athletes played with determination and incredible sportsmanship.  In the mess hall at noon and in the evening, players comfortably mingled and shared stories of the day and made connections. At Tecumseh, Jim Frazier presented Danny Kerr with a framed Tecumseh jersey embroidered with Thomas L. Reed Sr.’s name.  Jim, a former Denver Bronco, shared the deep respect and admiration he had for Tom, dating back over Jim’s sixty years of competition between the two camps.  While at Pemi, I spoke to our communities about how much Tom Reed appreciated competition and sportsmanship, especially the importance of respecting our opponents. I am confident Tom would have been very proud at the overall commitment of both camps to the true spirit of the day. Each individual is a guardian of a most honorable tradition, and I know we collectively met the challenge of competing with determination and grace.

~ Charlie Malcolm

Director of Athletics

Summer 2010: Newsletter #5

We wish you could all have been here this morning as another spectacular summer day dawned on Lower Baker. It was hard to imagine Pemi looking any more beautiful than it did last night after Taps, with a just-past-full moon washing the grounds in its velvet light. But shortly before Reveille this A.M., as we looked down on the pond from the hilltop, vertical wraiths of mist drifted down the still water on the slightest of breezes, translucent with the rising sun. Five or six feet in height, they could have been pilgrims wending their tranquil way towards some holy site. As it was, they vanished silently with the sun’s rising heat just as the boys broke from their cabins and charged into the lake for their Polar Bears. A mystical moment while it endured, and all the more so for its fleeting tenure.

As many of you know, our annual competition against Camp Tecumseh is renewed this Friday, and much of our energy this week has been going into preparations for that august day. Given the breadth of Pemi’s program, though, we haven’t abandoned music, art, nature, or trips. As we write, Jack Davini, Matt Fazekas, and Caleb Tempro are practicing piano in the Lodge, Dottie Reed is immersed in yet another Dyeing Wooly Critters occupation, and Deb Kure is enthralling yet another gaggle of our youngest campers in Junior Environmental Exploration. The Lake Tent and Lower Six have just trundled out of camp for a day trip up Mt. Cube (2800 feet), and three overnights involving Juniors and Lowers will be summiting Mts. Cube , Cardigan (3200 feet), and Carrigain (4700 feet) as well. (Now there’s an alliterative array!) What better time, in fact, to scribe a newsletter about our Trip Program?

Pemi has always tried to offer campers activities they can’t necessarily pursue at home, and our prime location amidst New Hampshire’s White Mountains lets us offer a range of wilderness experiences that might be hard to come by during a boy’s school year. Our hiking options range from day jaunts on local peaks (like Cube!) to extended backpacking trips in the Franconia or Presidential Ranges, and even as far away as Mt. Katahdin, in Northern Maine. Among the highlights for older boys are overnight stays at the high mountain huts run by the Appalachian Mountain Club, located at or above tree-line in spectacular alpine settings. Many a Pemi boy has consolidated his love for the high peaks at these rustic hostelries, watching the sunset with his mates following a hearty and delicious meal, then ducking back to the hut for a game of cards and a cup of hot chocolate before lights out. Outings closer to home include overnights at the Adirondack shelter on Pemi Hill directly behind camp (there’s one tonight for Upper Two!), or a paddle by canoe or kayak across the lake for supper at one of our sylvan cook-out spots (two tonight, for Junior One and Lower One!) We also run a number of paddling trips on local rivers, but the capstone of the Pemi canoeing program is the annual trip to the Allagash Waterway in Maine, where eight or ten of our seniors spend four days on remote and unspoiled lakes and rivers where they’re more likely to see moose grazing on the flora along the shore than encounter fellow travelers of a human sort.

We think that the trip program represents a crucial aspect of the broad Pemi program. Boys learn to reap the rewards of sustained effort in what can sometimes be demanding conditions. They learn the benefits of advanced planning as they organize gear and supplies for what can be days away from civilization. They learn a different kind of teamwork than they witness on the athletic field, including collective decision making skills and a sense of responsibility for the welfare and happiness of the entire group. And they also learn to appreciate both the power and the fragility of their natural environment, becoming wiser and more ecologically responsible in the process. Year after year, Pemi alumni tell us that the time they spent in the White Mountains was one of the most life-enhancing components of their camp experience.

This has all been pretty abstract. Let’s dip into specifics with accounts of recent Pemi outings penned by the participants themselves. First comes the record of Upper Four’s overnight at Greenleaf Hut in Week Three, as recalled by Abby Reed, Co-head of the Junior Camp who leapt at the chance to go on what is one of the very best of our mountain offerings. The second comes from Lake Tent denizens Mason Challinor, Teddy Gales, and Nick Barber, recently back from that banner Allagash expedition mentioned above. Abby’s account is fairly straightforward. The other is, well, rather Bean Soup, filtered through the inventive brains of some of our oldest and most spirited campers. Enjoy!

First from Abby: On July 14, 2010, the first-session members of Upper Four (plus a few lucky staff tag-ons) embarked upon the Old Bridle Path, a trail snaking up into the Franconia Range of the White Mountains. Our destination was the Greenleaf Appalachian Mountain Club Hut, a high-altitude hostel perched on the shoulder of Mt. Lafayette (5,260 ft.). Encouraged by the prospect of good company and a hearty, home-cooked meal at the hut, we began hiking in the early afternoon, led by U-4 counselor Sam Seymour. Following him were campers Brendon Armitage, Sam Davitt, Max Livingstone-Peters, Danny Murphy, Ben Nicholas, Carl Pohlman, Zach Popkin, and Nate Williams, as well as BUNACer Nick Ridley (counselor of many of the boys during the 2009 summer) and me. As we gained altitude, the warm deciduous forest gave way to the smaller flora of the slightly chillier subalpine zone. Our collective breath was taken away by the first real view, on a rocky outcrop affording a spectacular panorama of the ridgeline we were to traverse the following day. Although the very top of the ridge was shrouded in clouds, the view gave us a real sense of the altitude we had gained and the ground we would cover come tomorrow.

After one more hour of steady hiking, we emerged from the alpine treeline into a rocky clearing commanded by the sturdy Greenleaf Hut. While certainly not luxurious—no hot showers or turn-down service here—Greenleaf is spacious, clean, and comfortable, boasting a large kitchen/dining area with four long tables and spectacular views of mile-high Mt. Lafayette. Flanking this communal space are three rustic but comfortable bunkrooms (each bunk with a pillow and three wool blankets) and two basic bathrooms, complete with composting toilets and cold running water. Not bad for an inn so high that it’s literally in the clouds!

After claiming their bunks, the Pemi boys offered their assistance to the hut Croo and set the tables for dinner. Afterwards, we headed back outside to listen to the hut naturalist explain the ins-and-outs of maintaining a high-altitude hostelry. Among the hut’s distinctive features are its solar panels, wind turbine, and composting toilets, all of which decrease the hut’s reliance on propane. As the naturalist explained measures taken to deter an over-inquisitive black bear from the hut’s compost heap, we all appreciated the challenges posed by running an altitudinous B&B far from the conventional comforts of civilization.

By 6 o’clock, our stomachs were starting to grumble and we gratefully sat down to a hearty dinner prepared by the Croo chef. Along with the other hut patrons, we feasted on curried lentil soup, salad with homemade dressing, bread fresh from the oven, honey-baked ham, rice, and veggies. A quick rain shower passed through as we ate, but the sun came out just in time for dessert (fudge bars), bringing a vibrant rainbow with it. After dinner, several of our group walked to a nearby rocky lookout to watch the sun set over the valley, and many took advantage of the hut’s small retail shop to purchase synthetic Greenleaf t-shirts as souvenirs (and as extra layers for the next day’s breezy summits). After playing a few card games and writing a group entry in the hut log book, we headed to bed, pleasantly full and sleepy.

We woke at 6:30 the following morning to a song performed by a Croo member, and sat down at 7 to a hearty breakfast. Afterwards, two of the Croo performed a silly but informative skit instructing us in the proper way to fold our wool blankets in preparation for the next patron. The weather was sunny and clear, and after packing up our gear, we began the day’s hike. The first mile was a rocky scramble up the shoulder of Lafayette, and we were rewarded for our efforts with a spectacular 360-degree view of the White Mountains from the summit, including the verdant Pemigewassett Wilderness to the east. After snapping a few photos, we continued on our way along the Franconia Ridge, which, as it coincides with the Appalachian Trail, afforded us a chance to chat in passing with thru-hikers and casual “goofers” alike. As the morning progressed, the trail led us into and above fleecy white clouds, and we summitted Mt. Lincoln and Little Haystack in quick succession.

Then, after hiking a solid five miles, we found ourselves at the top of Mt. Liberty. With yet another 360-degree view unfolding around us, we sat down together and enjoyed a traditional trail lunch of pepperoni, cheese, crackers, carrots, raisins, and cookies. With an entertaining story from Nick Ridley to send us on our way, we embarked on the last segment of the trip, a challenging 2.5 mile downhill stretch that brought us back down into the valley. We returned to camp proud of our efforts, with memories of great views, great weather, and great company to sustain us throughout the winter months.

Now for Mason, Teddy, and Nick’s account of the Allagsh trip, led by Pemi veteran staff members Andy Kirk and Noble Macfarlane:

Maine… the final frontier…  This is the voyage of the canoe trip: Pemi.  Our 5-day mission, to explore new waterways, to seek out new wildlife, to boldly go where few campers have gone before.

Star date 7/19/10: Captain Andrew Tiberius Kirk leads an inexperienced crew of 10 into the Maine Wilderness.  After discovering that a U-Haul trailer nullifies the ability to achieve warp speed, the crew began a grueling journey into the unknown.  Ten hours, several bacon, egg, and cheese bagels, and a posse of five-dollar foot longs later, the crew had arrived in what can only be described as Moose Country.  Chief Navigator Andy Kradjel’s intense desire to see “meese” drove him into an uncharacteristic fit of anxiety, which ironically prevented him from seeing the first four moose the crew actually  encountered.  After a meal of herbivoric food made by resident Vulcan Noble MacFarlane, the crew fell asleep.

Star date 7/20/10: The crew awoke the next morning and promptly put into the river.  Chief Navigator Kradjel, overcome with excitement, was no match for the foot-tall rocks of the Chase Rapids.  After turning the canoe back over, Andy and his damp companion were able to catch up with the rest of the crew and join them at Long Lake.  One hour into the trek across the lake the crew spotted their first moose of the day.  Resident dare devils Ritter and Levi managed to get within ten feet of the beast before returning to the rest of the group.  That evening the crew replenished their bodies with the delicacy known as mac and cheese and quickly returned to their resting pads for some much needed sleep.

Star date 7/21/10

The crew awoke to the scent of boiled oats and dehydrated fruits.  After a quick packing check the crew was off for their longest trek of the journey – 24 miles.  The day began with a rhythm of both excitement and good cheer as four more moose were spotted along the riverbanks.   But the good cheer would come to an end when a torrential rainstorm dumped gallons of water on what would have been dry clothes.  But all was not lost for the rain soon stopped and after a meal of oversized burritos, the crew returned to their quarters for some R and R.

Star date 7/22/10

The fourth day of the trip started as an extremely uneventful day for the crew only encountering one moose and going over very few rapids.  The men were getting restless and needed some fun, luckily a water fall and countless hours of swimming revitalized the crew enough to get to the final campsite where they are like kings and played hours of Frisbee.

Star date 7/23/10

The men of Pemi finally reached the end of the river at 8:30am that day and began the long journey home.

All in all it was an unforgettable trip.  Final count 11 moose, 9 bald eagles and 2 rabbits.  Thank you Andy and Noble for this amazing experience.

Finally, let me confess that I leapt at the chance to drive one of yesterday’s trips to the trailhead – at the base of Mt. Carrigain in the middle of the Pemigewassett Wilderness. Amidst the preparations for Tecumseh, it didn’t “fill,” but we decided to send it anyway. As a result, the staff/camper ration was remarkable – basically 1 to 1, as Trip Leader Hester Tittman, AC Matt Casey, and former staff member Dan Reed teamed up to supervise Tommy Witkop, Nick Bertrand, and Sparky Brown. The ride to the trail lasted over an hour and a half, as we wound our way over the shoulder of Mt. Moosilauke, the gorgeous Kancamagus Highway, and the Bear Notch Road before heading North into Crawford Notch and west up the Sawyer River. No sooner had seatbelts been buckled than Sparky proposed a word-guessing game that kept us all rapt until we rumbled across a backcountry bridge into the parking lot. You may know it. I didn’t. Someone comes up with a word (say, “elephant” — no proper nouns) and reveals its first letter (“e”) and the others attempt to guess what it is. “Is it a purple vegetable?” If the “word-holder” can say “No, it’s not an eggplant,” he’s safe. If he can’t think of a purple vegetable, ANY purple vegetable, beginning with an “e” – and others can – one of the guessers says “Contact,” and then counts to three. On three, if anyone else in the group of guessers also says (in this case) “eggplant,” the word-holder has to reveal another letter of the word. And so it goes, until the word is guessed – and the guesser comes up with the next challenge.

Maybe you had to be there, but the energy and laughter and merriment that filled the van for 90 minutes were amazing, and time honestly flew. It’s hard to recall a time that more fully epitomized the cliché “Fun for young and old.” I have to say that, once everyone had hopped out of their seats and shouldered their packs and started up the road towards the trailhead, it was all I could do not to lock the van and tramp right off into the cool woods along with them, ill-prepared as I would have been. On the best of trips, the rapport we had enjoyed begins to develop a day or so in, as logged miles and rest stops and meals shared around a campfire begin to work their magic. This time, it was all there from the start. Given the majesty of the mountain they’re climbing today – set in the very center of a mammoth circle of 4000-foot peaks – it’s hard to imagine the heights of camaraderie they will achieve. We should all be so fortunate. More mystical moments – the lasting stuff of life-long memories.

— Tom Reed, Jr.

27 July 2010

“Building a Community: One Rock at a Time”

Dottie Reed, Head Administrator at Pemi, has a truly excellent feature story in the current issue of the American Camp Association’s Camping Magazine. In it, she talks about the wonderful (and relatively new) Pemi tradition of rock painting, and its rewards, which are both tangible and intangible. Here is one of the more fascinating paragraphs of the article:

The tangibles are paint, rocks, shingles, and brushes. The intangibles are collaborative decision making, stewardship of place, creative expression, reasoning and communication skills, and unplugged imaginative play. Campers come to recognize the interrelatedness of people, topography, and structures within communities as they position their “houses” along the river, and the “library” in the center of town. They even find ways to express opinions on sustainability and ethics, as was the case when one camper painted a blue and gold Walmart to anchor the outskirts of our “Pemi Rocks” town. His nine-year-old friend countered with a painted rock positioned across the street: a sign that simply stated, “Buy Local.”

Read the full story, titled “Building a Community: One Rock at a Time,” here.

Summer 2010: Newsletter #3

Download this newsletter as a PDF.

Greetings yet again from Zip Code 03282, where we are enjoying our third straight week of clement weather. The long spell of sunshine has allowed the full program to move along at a great pace and, even if the emerald luster of the grass has morphed ever so slightly towards brown, we’re liking it all pretty well. Polar Bears are anything but chilly, bringing to mind, well, seals lounging on a marina dock in Monterrey. Today’s occupations unfolded seamlessly, including new offerings like Sam Seymour’s innovative “All about Lower Baker Pond” (a “pan-eco” study of our lake that would make Al Gore proud) or Anna Ciglar’s “Celtic Knotwork,” and we look forward to Deb Kure and Cody Ladden’s equally innovative Nature offering “In the Night,” entering its second iteration once the sun has set over Pemi Hill. (No, not shades of True Blood and Twilight, but a rich combination of astronomy, optics, and nocturnal zoology.) Trip leaders Peter Scheuermann and Paige Wallis are finishing up an 8-mile paddle on the Connecticut River with Peter Montante, Owen Grey, Jonathan Kenkel, Ian Lewis, Owen Ritter, Oren Wilcox, Andy Kradjel, Nate Kraus, and Gus Walsh.

Meanwhile, Lower Seven is setting up their tents at the Eliza Brook campsite in the Kinsman Range, as part of their three-day; various denizens of Uppers One and Two look forward to a stream-side repast at the Rattle River Shelter, first stop on their four-day in the Carters; and Upper Three is sitting down to an honest-to-goodness dinner table at the Greenleaf AMC hut high on the shoulder of mile-high Mt. Lafayette. To quote the ubiquitous t-shirt, “Life is Good.”

Last Saturday was Kingswood Day, as teams in four different age groups competed in soccer, baseball, and basketball with our neighbors from Lake Tarleton. As Athletic Director Charlie Malcolm summed it up afterwards, it was an extremely friendly affair, and even though Pemi came up short on aggregate wins, 5-7, the contests were close, spirited, and conducted with flawless sportsmanship.

Sunday began with Danny Kerr delivering an inspiring meditation on heroism, striking while the LeBron James iron was still red-hot to speak about the kinds of people who have influenced him the most, in terms of consolidating the values and perseverance one needs in order to live a productive and ethical life. First among them was Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics, who memorably said that the mark of the mature man was not the wish to die nobly in pursuit of a great cause but rather the desire to live humbly in pursuit of one. Danny followed with somewhat more private tales – about Dick Hoyt, a father who has participated in over a thousand races (Iron Man competitions among them) as the “team-mate” and motive force for his disabled son Rick, and about Barnes Boffey, the legendary director of Camp Lanakila – before ending with a vignette on Martin Luther King. The boys were spellbound, and when Danny had finished, more than a few were moved to forget our longstanding tradition of “no applause” for Sunday meeting messages.

Danny’s thoughtful and clearly inspiring musings were delivered just after breakfast, making room in the evening for, yes indeed, the airing of a tape of that day’s World Cup Final between The Netherlands and Spain. The Lodge was full of both orange and blue shirts, as Charlie Malcolm had earlier enjoined all attendees to don the colors of their favorites. But in the buzzing crowd (sans vuvuzelas, thank goodness) were actual representatives of the two countries involved – Max Van Paasschen and brothers Kai and Per Soderberg hailing from the land of windmills and superior skaters and the trio of Diego and Pepe Periel and Rodrigo Juarez joining us from Iberia. It’s not often we let current events find their way so quickly and directly into the life of the camp, but when Andres Iniesta slotted the ball into The Netherland’s net in the 116th minute and the Pemi crowd went wild, it was clear that plugging back in for this particular event was a pretty acceptable idea. Diego, Pepe, and Rodrigo are still on “nube nueve” (does it translate?), and word is that Max, Per, and Kai haven’t sighed deeply for at least twenty-four hours.

Other bits and pieces of what has been a great week since our last communique? Thursday last witnessed the institution of what may become a new Pemi tradition: “Chillin’ with Lit.” After four days of temperatures pushing 90 degrees (very rare in these parts), the thought was to do something that capitalized on the heat rather than simply enduring it. Tom Reed, Jr. announced in the messhall that he would be reading a story down at the senior beach at 8:15pm, and that everyone was free to come and listen from the water, immersed up to their necks in the cooling billows of Lower Baker. Expectations were that maybe twenty or thirty boys would be lured down to so elevated a cultural event. But when the assembled crowd was finally counted, one hundred souls had gathered to hear Tom’s reading of W. F. Harvey’s “August Heat,” a finely-crafted tale in the Poe vein that documents the dire effects thermal stress can have on the human psyche. (If you’ve never read the piece, check it out here.)

Sent into the water by Ken Moore, with the oldest campers closest to the lane lines and the youngest closest to shore, the boys took a comfortable and cooling pose and listened with a rapt attention that evoked the wedding guest enthralled by the Ancient Mariner. One of the nicest things about the whole affair was that it could just as well have been done at camp a hundred years back, in its opening seasons: no electronics; nothing trendy; just scores of over-warm people listening to a good yarn in a truly cool setting while the sun set tranquilly in the west. Should we again be hammered by heat, be it in July or August itself, we may just repeat the event, and we welcome your suggestions for appropriate readings.

Sunday, Jeff Greene re-energized one of his most successful brainchildren; his account follows.

In the real world, there is no such thing as Quarter Century Doubles, but it’s an idea that makes a lot of sense at camp. In our version, the age of the two doubles partners must equal 25 years – no more, no less. At camp, this creates a unique tournament format, where you end up with some very interesting combinations, although some are naturally better than others. Usually, as in all other doubles, the best-balanced teams who work together and communicate effectively on the court tend to do the best. However, we always get some surprises, and Sunday was no exception.

The event went very smoothly, with both the main draw and a consolation draw for first-round losers to ensure that everyone got to play at least two matches. Twenty-one teams entered our tournament, which meant that forty-two players overall participated in the event – almost 25% of the population at Pemi. To get that many campers playing in one afternoon event on just five courts required coordination and precise scheduling, but it all ran like clockwork and was an impressive collective feat indeed by players and staff alike. An executive decision was made to play the finals of both divisions a day or two later so that we could hype the events conclusion. The finals, conducted on Tuesday, pitted the top seeds, Arthur Root (12) and Sam Davitt (13) against the unseeded combo of Nick Barber (15) and George Enman (10).

Meanwhile, in the finals of the consolation draw (or “back draw”), we had Dana Wensberg (14) and Leonard Schmitz (11) vying for the title with C.J.Klinsky (13) and Adair Simpson (12). The results? Nick and George defied the odds-makers to triumph in the main draw, and a rare shower halted play in the back draw before the winners could be determined.

Any time that we run an in-house event, we’re looking for active participation on a broad scale, solid competition rather that lopsided matches, and exemplary sportsmanship all-round. By all accounts, this event (which had taken a year’s hiatus) lived up to all expectations. Keep up the good work, fellas. (And many thanks to Jeff both for running the tourney and giving us this account!)

Finally, we’ll hear from Zach Barnard on an event that, every year, anchors our efforts to have the oldest boys at Pemi take the youngest campers under their wings as mentors and friends.

Junior One and Lake Tent, properly known as the “bookends” of Camp Pemi, took a trip to the Flat Rock Café on the evening of July 12, 2010. Four canoes, firewood, three boxes stuffed with sloppy joes, buns, PB&J, cookies, juice and marshmallows, eleven paddles, eleven life jackets, and eleven hungry bodies later, we found ourselves paddling across Lower Baker Pond. Nick Barber steered Jack Hahn and Quinn O’Keefe; Teddy Gales steered Spencer O’Brien and Darren Mangan; and Zach Barnard steered Harrison Potts and Henry Seebeck. Mason Challinor and Chris Dollman, future Alagashers, led the group with their spectacular canoeing skills. The lake was bright gold, energized by the evening sun. We arrived at Flat Rock in great time and enjoyed some fun games.

We bonded over the famous “One Duck” and Teddy started a fantastic fire. Chris cooked the sloppy joes over the fire, and Nick, Mason, and Zach helped with serving, including a stellar PB&J performance by Mr. Barber for Harrison. We ended the evening with roasted marshmallows by the campfire, a thorough search for trash in and around the campsite, and a quick paddle back to camp to catch Bean Soup. The evening was a blast, and Junior One’s bonding time with the senior-most boys far exceeded prior expectations. The boys of Lake Tent showed a maturity and patience that was perfect role-modeling for the Juniors. We are all certainly looking forward to more excursions together, learning about our surroundings and each other on future trips.

We’ll close with that snapshot of camaraderie across the camper generations. We are looking forward, though, to seeing a number of you parents of full-season campers on the first of two visiting week-ends, beginning this Saturday morning. Travel safely to your rendezvous. A bientot.

— Tom Reed, Jr.

Summer 2010: Newsletter #2

Download this newsletter as a PDF.

Dear Pemi Parents and Friends,

What a wonderful first week we have had! The energy of the boys and the staff has been amazing, the weather quintessential New England (until this most recent heat wave), and the smiles on the faces of the whole Pemi community have been inspiring. Each night as I walk through the divisions it is wonderful to see the flashlights and headlamps in each cabin, signs that counselors are reading stories to their campers as they begin the process of learning to live harmoniously in a group of their peers.

The first week of camp has been a whirl-wind of activities, with trips heading out into the White Mountains and beyond, occupations in full swing, contests against other camps under way, and traditional evening activities, like Bean Soup and Campfire, there for the community to enjoy. The busy week culminated with a number of Independence Day activities, including the annual “Pee-rade,” Counselor Hunt, and Vaudeville Show in the Lodge. More on the Pee-rade in a moment.

Trips began this week with day outings to favorites like Mt. Cardigan, Mt. Cube, and Mt. Moosilauke. In the past few days, three- and four-day overnight trips have gone out to the Sandwich Range, the Kinsmans, and the Carters; and today, the second of two jaunts to AMC huts in the high Presidentials has also hit the road. Individual cabins have been enjoying delicious suppers prepared over an open fire at Flat Rock and Pine Forest, right here on Lower Baker Pond. Wow! Tom Reed Jr. estimated that 120 campers went out on trips last week, and we’re just getting warmed up.

One other trip highlight worth noting was the first of two annual Caving Trips that Larry Davis led to Schoharie, New York. Stay tuned for details on the trip in a future missive.

“Occupations,” which are the four hours of skill and activity teaching, began Monday, June 28. Campers participated in such occupations as the Silver Cornet Band, Beginning Butterflies and Moths, Archery, Introduction to Photography, Temari Balls, A Capella, Conditioning, Wood-working, and Instructional Swim, to name just a few. Department Heads and their staff spent a great deal of time planning each hour, and the teaching that followed was meant to lay the groundwork for the contests, trips, and performances which we also enjoyed during the week. A second week of occupations is just finishing and we look forward to witnessing the lessons learned from week two very soon.

As for contests against other camp, teams have played baseball, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, and even Ultimate Frisbee this week against our friendly rivals from Camps Moosilauke, Kingswood, and Walt Whitman. Some highlights of these contests included Nate Kraus coming up big as goalie for 15-and-under Lax (especially noteworthy as this was Nate’s maiden voyage in goal) and Jonathon Kenkel’s hat-trick during a Baker Valley soccer game against Walt Whitman.  The week of contests culminated in our annual day of competition against Moosilauke, which included fabulous play all-around, excellent sportsmanship, and the continued commitment to give every boy on the team quality playing time. For those of you keeping score at home. Pemi won six of these games, come up short three times, and tied one. Here’s a run down on the day from Athletic Director Charlie Malcolm:

This past Saturday, on a spectacular summer day, Pemi played their annual contest with their friends from Upper Baker, Camp Moosilauke. Doc Nick’s wonders, the Pemi 10-and-under baseball team, traveled to Moose and lost a close game 4-3.  Grant Noble pitched three scoreless innings in relief, and Pemi fought its way back to a 4-3 deficit with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 6th before having the door shut for the Moosilauke victory.  Also at Moose, the 11’s soccer team jumped out to a 4-0 halftime lead as Jamie Nicholas and the German twins, Christopher and Leonard Schmitz, combined with the Spanish connection of Pepe and Diego Periel to put Moose on their heels for a 6-2 Pemi victory.  The 11’s basketball team dropped their morning contest 19-16 despite a gallant effort provided by Lorenzo Ortiz, John Stevenson and James Pumphrey.  At Pemi, the “flagship” 15’s baseball team jumped out to a 7-0 lead behind excellent pitching from Dan Murphy and Nick Barber.  Timely hitting by Barber and Max Hernandez-Webster and aggressive base-running by the team kept our visitors under constant pressure.  The 13’s tennis team defeated Moose 3-2 behind stellar singles play of Ryan Meltzer and Alex Baskin and the inspiring doubles play of Sompy Somp and CJ Klinsky.  The 13’s soccer team played to a spirited 0-0 draw.  Ben Nicholas creatively orchestrated the attack while Carl Pohlman dominated the back line for Pemi.

After a much deserved rest hour and plenty of hydration, Pemi looked to continue their strong effort and commitment to each other.  The 10’s tennis team won a hard fought match 3-2 as Nick Toldalagi and Cortie Fischer lost close matches to talented 11s players while Patterson Malcolm delivered a 6-3 win to push Pemi to the victory.  The 12’s basketball team lost 25-14 to a very talented Moose team with Jack Purcell and Matt McCaffrey providing Pemi with inspiring play.

With Pemi holding a slim 4-3-1 lead in the overall standings, the Pemi 13’s baseball crew provided a decisive blow with a convincing 12-1 victory.  Daniel Reiff delivered a prodigious shot deep into neighboring Camp Merriwood to set the offensive tone while Michael DiGaetano drove in four runs with three hits.  Zack Leeds and Ryan Cassidy shut down the Moose bats with stellar pitching.  The 15’s lax team finished the day with an impressive 7-1 win.  Nate Kraus, under short preparation, delivered a 93% save rate while Gus Walsh was silky in his distribution on the attack and Nate Williams found the back of the net several times.  The sportsmanship and spirited play were equally impressive for both camps as Pemi carried the day 6-3-1.  This Saturday Pemi will take on their friends from Camp Kingswood before going up against Lanakila and Tecumseh in subsequent weeks.

As mentioned, the annual Pee-rade was one of the many highlights of Pemi’s Independence Day observances. Here’s TRJR’s take on this year’s edition, augmented by Dottie’s documentary photographs:

The Juniors!

Pemi’s Fourth of July celebrations have been highlighted, for as long as anyone can remember, with a splendiferous parade – fondly re-dubbed “The Pee-rade.” This year was no exception, and the 2010 edition was right up with the very best. In the distant Pemi past, every cabin mounted a “float” – some on wagons, some in wheelbarrows, some mounted on a cot hand-carried like a sedan chair – which passed by the judges’ stand like a flotilla of comic medieval pageant wagons. A few featured some dialogue, but the majority were tableaux vivants depicting memorable moments from national and Pemi history – The Boston Tea Party, Washington Crossing the Delaware, Betsy Ross sewing the first flag (and, naturally, the first Pemi T-shirt), or the Four Docs of Pemi plowing the camp potato patch with an infamously stubborn team of horses named Prince Helly and Mary Ootch (our own version of the Myth of Sisyphus). As modern drama emerged when the pageant wagons gave way to static performances in the courtyards of inns, so has the Pee-rade morphed into a series of comic skits acted out in front of the cultured Pemi Ancients who judge them. While most of the skits are planned little more than forty-five minutes in advance, their verve and inventiveness can be dazzling. Nothing like giving creative boys a captive audience (bearings gifts of Skittles) to get the inventive juices flowing like oil through a faulty blow-out preventer.

Lower 3

This year, as for time immemorial, the whole Junior Camp combined forces in a single act, less (we think) owing to their innate modesty than to a calculated scheme to get Skittles for all. Dressed in a stunning array of red, white, and blue, the lively denizens of Juniorville belted out a hearty rendition of “It’s aGrand Old Flag” that stirred our patriotic souls to the roots. Shades of “We Are the World,” with a cast of fifty and an average age of ten.

In the Lower Lowers, runners-up were Cabin One led by Brit Counselor Matthew Wadge, doing his best Simon Cowell impression in “Lower One’s Got Talent.” Tom Moore made a fair bid to take top honors with a stirring version of the camp Grace, but this year’s Susan Boyle was John Stevenson, reprising his act from the previous night’s campfire, crooning “Hey, Soul Sister” while strummin’ on the ol’ ukelele. The divisional crown, though, went to Lower 3 with a possibly actionable docu-drama on the famed Pemi sport “Frisbee Running Bases,” stressing the “Hammering Techniques” that staff are alleged to employ on the hapless camper participants. That Neil Band (Anderson Cooper for the Day) made the game sound like something invented by the Khmer Rouge seemed to please the sensation-crazy judges. We are pleased to confirm, though, that the humor the boys were going for was a kind that apparently depends heavily on exaggeration.

Lower 7

Coming in second in the Upper Lowers was Cabin Five, who re-enacted (or imagined) the job interviews of various Pemi senior staff, Charlie Malcom and Sam Seymour among them. Frighteningly like Associate Head of Nature Den Kure was AC Wesley Eifler, who managed to impersonate the most energetic soul and infectious teacher at Pemi in ways that sent the real Deb racing for a mirror to make sure she wasn’t already looking into one. Top spot, though, went to Nick Ridley’s crew in Lower Seven, with Sparky Brown, Hugh Grier, Nathaniel Kaplan, Sam Larson, Zack Leeds, Finn Tierney, and Max van Paasschen posing as an elegant septet of Michelin-attuned diners having to put up with the limitations of Pemi cuisine, deceivingly touted by Nick in a way that assure his future in deceptively varnished television infomercials if he ever chooses that route.

Upper 1

You really “had to be there” to appreciate fully Upper Four’s revamping of a Larry Davis Maine Story presented just last week and centering on a Down East farmer who lets his neighbor repeat his own fatal dosing (with turpentine) of his ailing cattle just because his simple comrade asks about the attempted cure and not about the results. Transplanting the narrative to Pemi and replacing the ill kine with campers and the turpentine with Germ-X Hand Sanitizer (a Pemi staple), Dan Murphy as Danny Kerr and Nick Butler at Tom Reed, Jr. would have brought down the house, if the Pee-rade hadn’t been an open-air affair. Snatching away the Skittles, though, was Upper One’s paean to the Birth of the Pemi Kid(s), with Alex Truitt as the long-suffering Mom and the core narrative bearing a suspicious resemblance to the tale of the Annunciation and the birth of Jesus. (Assertions of Pemi’s sanctity could hardly be pressed any further.) Diehard fans of Monty Python might have felt the torch had been passed to Ben Walsh’s own loony crew.

Senior 1

Finally, the Seniors were paced by Lake-Tenters Chris Dollman, Mason Challinor, Nick Barber, and Teddy Gales in an equally loony skit about Mason travelling back in a plywood time machine (undoubtedly built with hand tools in our own Woodshop) to the first Pemi Bean Soup season in 1910. Perhaps because the moral cribbed so thoroughly from The Wizard of Oz, though (Mason jetting back to the future intoning “There’s no place like home!”), the judges – who value originality above all else – gave the nod to Senior One. Their deal? A politically fractious examination of the new Pemi Package Policy (flat packages only, on a minimalist scale, and only infrequently). Just when it seemed the very institution of Pemi would combust amidst the heat of the debate over the new rules, up stepped Abe Lincoln to take a bold stand for the inherent (and, yes, God-given) fairness of uniform package size and delivery schedule. Actually, it was Dan Fulham, who looked for all the world like the Stove-piped Log Cabin Nation-saver himself. But any skit which so thoroughly confuses the triumphs of the Nation with the trivialities of Pemi invariably sweeps the judges away, and this year was no exception.

All in all, it was a Grand Old Seventy-five minutes of Pee-rade, and not even the sight of four score and seven staff members plunging off the high dive after being caught in the ensuing Counselor Hunt generated more camper smiles than 2010’s inspired acts.

Here’s to 2011!

I want to mention an exercise I did with senior staff (Charlie Malcolm, Kenny Moore, Larry Davis, Brian Mitchell, James Finley, Porter Hill, Tom Ciglar, and Tom Reed Jr.) in May, which gave me great insight into the Pemi “experience.” I asked this group what they thought were the Values and Beliefs that shaped Pemi, and this question inspired us to write a “vision piece,” which has been posted on the Pemi Blog; enjoy!

Finally, let me hasten to thank you parents specifically for sharing your sons with us this summer. I know from experience how hard it is to stand back and let them develop and grow elsewhere, without your having the chance to see and be with them at this exciting time. Please know that we take this responsibility very seriously and feel tremendous gratitude for the days and evenings we have with the wonderful boys who make up Pemi 2010.

–Danny Kerr

Summer 2010: Staff bios

The 2010 Pemi staff atop Mt. Cardigan during pre-season training.

Pemi’s greatest asset has always been the remarkable staff that dedicates itself, each summer, to making the Pemi experience rich, unique and nurturing for each boy, and this summer is no exception. While for a few of the staff this is their first summer at Pemi, the vast majority has years and years (and in some cases, years and years and years!) of experience on the shores of Lower Baker. We are grateful for their dedication and work ethic, impressed by their multitudinous talents, and humbled by their dedication to Pemi.

Cabin Counselors:

Zachary Barnard (J1): A former Pemi camper, Zach is entering his sophomore year at Boston University. He is from Savannah, Georgia, and he’s greatly looking forward to seeing new parts of the world, making new friends from around the globe, and pursuing a newfound passion in psychology.

Michael Zabar (J2): From New York City, Michael was a camper at Pemi for seven years. This is his first summer as a counselor. A rising sophomore at Tufts University, Michael will be instructing in soccer and basketball this summer.

Jeremy Keys (J3): A rising senior at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, Jeremy is from Downingtown, PA. A huge Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies fan, Jeremy runs track at Dickinson and has played the cello for over 10 years. “I heard about Pemi from one of my best friends (Dwight Dunston) who told me it was an amazing opportunity to have fun working with kids, build outstanding relationships with great people, and try new things. I am excited for my first season at Pemi and am looking forward to a memorable summer.”

Michael Benham (J4 and Junior Division Head): From Grafton, NH, Mike is a graduate of a five-semester program at the Collective School of Music in New York City, majoring in Electric Bass Performance. Mike took the winter off from school, save for studying privately on the upright bass. This spring, Mike completed a month of residency at the Zen Mountain Monastery in Mt. Tremper, NY. He’ll be teaching jazz, bass, ensembles, and Zen meditation. “I aim to make myself a resource to juniors and camp staff and build a burnin’ quintet.”

Alastair Bowman (J5): Originally from Middlesbrough in the North East of England, Alastair has spent much of his life living abroad, including Nigeria, Oman, and Scotland. He has finished high school and taken a gap year before starting a course in Philosophy at St. Andrews in Scotland. “During my gap year I completed a charity trip to India and look forward to a summer at Pemi, where I hope to help the campers have as good a time as I am sure I will.”

Alexander Hadden (J6): From Weston, MA, Alex has just completed his freshman year at Elon University where he will be majoring in Communications. This will be his ninth summer at Camp Pemi, his third on staff. He will spend most of the summer on the waterskiing dock teaching wakeboarding and waterskiing.

Conner Scace (JT): From Mishicot, WI, Conner recently graduated from Elmira College where he majored in Biology. Conner will be teaching various nature occupations this summer. “I developed an interest in insects over the course of three visits to the Smithsonian. I will be moving to New Haven, CT, to start my master’s in Environmental Science with Larry Davis in the fall.”

Matt Wadge (L1): Hailing from Salisbury in the UK, Matt has just finished a gap year and will be heading to Bangor University in North Wales to study Marine Biology and Oceanography. “This is my first season at Pemi, and I am looking forward to having a great summer.”

Henry Eisenhart (L2 and Lower Division Head): Henry is a rising junior at St. Lawrence University. This is his eighth year at Pemi and his second on staff. This summer he will be teaching baseball, soccer, basketball, tennis, and music. “I learned a lot last year, and now am ready to continue that learning and take on the role of lower-lower division head.”

Alex Reese (L3): This is Alex’s eighth summer at Pemi, his third as a staff member. From Wyomissing, PA, Alex studies psychology and economics at Johns Hopkins University. “This summer at Pemi, I hope to spend a lot of time on the baseball diamond and tennis courts preparing for Tecumseh Day.”

Erik Wiedenmann (L4): Hailing from Berlin, Germany, Erik moved to the USA to study Visual Arts and Literature at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University, respectively. After four years as a camper, this is his first year back as a cabin counselor. His interests include drawing, painting, and sports. “I am very excited to be back at Pemi, and am looking forward to another fantastic season.”

Will Clare (HT): From Manhattan, NY, Will is currently a student at Miami of Ohio, having previously attended The Loomis Chaffee School. “I will be teaching lacrosse and various other sports, and this is my tenth season at Pemi.”

Ted McChesney (L5 and Lower Division Head): From Richmond, VA, Ted is a rising senior at the University of Virginia where he double majors in history and French. This is his tenth year at Pemi, and this summer he will be teaching tennis, baseball, swimming, soccer, and basketball. “I am looking forward to another great summer on the shores of Lower Baker.”

Kevin O’Brien (L6): Hailing from Potomac, MD, Kevin was on the Junior Olympic archery team for Maryland and Virginia before heading to Kenyon College, where he is a rising junior. An avid rugby player, Kevin is a neuroscience major with a focus in bio-psychology and comparative neuroscience. This is his first summer at Pemi, where he is the Head of Archery.

Nick Ridley (L7): A returning counselor from North East England, Nick will be a third year chemistry student at Edinburgh University this fall. “I spent my first season at Pemi last year and since then, having had a wicked summer with the guys in Lower 7, I’ve been desperate to get back out here. I’m really looking forward to catching up with some of the faces from last summer over the next seven weeks.”

Ben Walsh (U1): Ben is returning for his ninth year at camp (his third on staff) after spending a gap year in the Middle East. In the fall he will be a freshman at Carleton College. This summer, he will spend the majority of his time coaching baseball and soccer.

Fitz Stueber (U2): Currently at Washington and Jefferson College, Fitz is an international business major who also plays varsity soccer. This is Fitz’s sixth year at Pemi, his first on staff. This summer he will be teaching soccer and woodworking.

Mark Winter (U3): This is Mark’s first year at Camp Pemi. From Newcastle, UK, Mark is in his second year at Leeds University in England. This summer he will be teaching percussion.

Sam Seymour (U4 and Upper Division Head): A rising senior at Vassar College, Sam has spent seven years at Pemi. This will be his third year on staff. Sam is looking forward to working with this year’s very strong lacrosse staff and continuing the program’s winning tradition, as well as teaching basketball, goalkeeping, and nature occupations. “My exposure to the nature program at Pemi has been very exciting. I’m hoping to continue learning under the guidance of our stellar nature staff while passing that knowledge along to the campers.”

Cory Fauver (S1 and Senior Division Head): This will be Cory’s eleventh season at Pemi, including Pemi West. He will be the head of the windsurfing program this summer, in addition to coaching soccer and ultimate Frisbee. Cory is a rising junior at Carleton College. “This year I hope to assist the senior campers in taking leadership roles across camp.”

Alexander Buteux (S2): Zander hails from Madison, NJ, and attends the University of Denver, studying engineering and business. A goalie on the Division 1 men’s lacrosse team, Zander will be instructing lacrosse, soccer, and windsurfing. This is his eighth summer at Pemi, and first as a counselor. “I took five summers off in between and I’m very excited to see the other side of the camp experience.”

Dwight Dunston (S3 and Senior Division Head): Dwight just graduated from Dickinson College where he majored in English and minored in Poetry. This fall he will be entering a Master’s program in Poetry at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. Here at camp, he will be teaching basketball, track & field, poetry, and comedy improv. “In my second year here at Pemi, I hope to once again provide a safe and exciting atmosphere for the campers where they can grow and learn new things from the counselors and also from each other.”

Chris Dollman (LT): A native of Edinburgh, Scotland, Chris is a rising junior at the University of St. Andrews where he studies Financial Economics. Chris will teach sailing and soccer this summer. “This is my second year at Pemi – the Pemi bug got me! I plan to build on the really enjoyable year I had last year and make the 2010 season memorable.”

Assistant Counselors:

Austin Blumenfeld (Assistant Counselor J1): This is Austin’s fifth summer at Pemi. In the fall, he will be a senior at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, NY. Austin will be teaching baseball, track, and tennis. “I look forward to having a great summer with the campers.”

Willy Rittling (Assistant Counselor J2): From Brookline, MA, Willy graduated from Brookline High School this past June and will be attending Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY, this fall. A three-year Pemi veteran, Willy will be teaching running, windsurfing, and other water sports this summer.

Adam Sandler (Assistant Counselor J4): This will be Adam’s eighth summer at Pemi and his first on staff. Adam will be teaching lacrosse, swimming, and fishing. “Pemi has been my home away from home since I was nine years old and I am really excited to be a part of the staff that makes this place so special.”

Richard Komson (Assistant Counselor J5): From New York City, Richard is a rising senior at the Loyola School in Manhattan. He spent six summers as a Pemi camper and attended Pemi West last summer. This summer Richard will teach nature occupations as well as athletics.

David Bowes (Assistant Counselor J6): David is entering 11th grade at Mercersburg Academy in PA. Originally from Stamford, CT, he now hails from Washington, DC, along with his brother Daniel (a camper this summer). “I love sports and competition, and hope to play college lacrosse. I currently swim as well, and will be playing football for the first time in the fall. Pemi is a long tradition in my family (my grandfather and father attended), and I am very excited to join the Pemi legacy this summer.”

Aidan Daniell (Assistant Counselor L1): Aidan just graduated from Brooks School and will be heading to Wesleyan University in the fall. Aidan will be teaching waterskiing, lacrosse, and soccer. “I decided to be an Assistant Counselor here at Pemi because I loved it here so much as a camper. I hope this summer I can help to create the best experience possible for the campers and counselors.”

William Sargent (Assistant Counselor L2): A recent graduate of the Westminster School, Will will be a freshman at Union College next year. This summer at camp he will teach tennis, lacrosse, and various waterfront activities. “I also hope to go on a couple of camping trips throughout the summer.”

Andrew McChesney (Assistant Counselor L3): Andrew is a rising senior at Millburn High School where he plays both hockey and lacrosse. A six-year Pemi veteran, this is Andrew’s first time on staff. This summer he will be spending most of his time on the lacrosse field or at the boathouse.

Wesley Eifler (Assistant Counselor L5): A rising senior at Choate Rosemary Hall, Wesley is from New Canaan, CT. He was a camper at Pemi for seven years and, after taking one year off, he is back as an AC. This summer he will be teaching baseball, photography, and sailing. “Over the course of the summer I would like to bring back occupations like improv and guerrilla theater.”

Cody Ladden (Assistant Counselor U1): From West Boylston, MA, Cody just completed his junior year at West Boylston Middle/High School. Passionate about nature, weather, and the outdoors, Cody will be teaching nature, archery, and swimming this summer. “I hope to make many excellent friends during my first summer at Pemi.”

Jay McChesney (Assistant Counselor U3): Hailing from Richmond, VA, Jay is a rising senior at St. Christopher’s School where he plays squash and lacrosse. This is Jay’s seventh summer at Pemi, and he will be teaching lacrosse, swimming, and sailing. “Pemi is the place where I first learned how to sail and it is something I really enjoy now. I hope I can pass my love for sailing on to Pemi campers.

Bridgid Ruf (Assistant Counselor): This is Bridgid’s second summer at Pemi. Hailing from Southport, CT, Bridgid just graduated from the Lawrenceville School and will be attending Wellesley College in the fall. Bridgid also plays viola and piano. “I am looking forward to teaching music lessons, performing at campfire and Sunday meetings, as well as participating in the Gilbert and Sullivan show this summer.”

Olivia Walsh (Assistant Counselor): From New Canaan, CT, Olivia is a rising junior at Northfield Mount Hermon School. For the past eight summers Olivia has been a camper at the Aloha Camps, but she is excited to spend this summer at Pemi with three of her brothers. A varsity rower and soccer player, Olivia will be spending most of her time this summer teaching swimming and sailing. “I am really looking forward to these next seven weeks.”

Program Staff:

Jamie Andrews (Trip Counselor): Jamie has returned for his twelfth summer at Pemi and fourth year on staff. He is looking forward to sharing the pristine beauty of the White Mountains with campers. Jamie is a rising junior at Kenyon College, majoring in Political Science. In camp he will be instructing at the waterfront and on the rugby pitch.

Ian Axness (Head of Music): After moving to NYC last September, Ian is currently working with various arts institutions as a freelance accompanist, music director, and intern. This will be his fourth summer at Pemi. He will be teaching piano, instrumental group improvisation, and Gilbert & Sullivan occupations, in addition to performing/accompanying throughout the season. Also very excited to serve as Co-Head of Campfire and Bean soup editor!

Anna Ciglar (Head of the Arts Program): Anna is back for her eleventh summer at Pemi. She teaches middle and high school science at a small private boarding school in Rindge, NH. She plays the bagpipes and competes all over New England as a piper. She is also an instructor in Scottish Highland Dancing. “At Pemi I teach things like Ukrainian eggs, temari balls, and duct tape crafts. I can usually be found in the company of my 4-year old son, Jonathan, who wants to be a Pemi kid when he is bigger.”

Larry Davis (Director of Nature Programs and Teaching):  A geologist, caver, flautist, and former NCAA soccer referee, Larry has spent 41 years on the Pemi staff. He received his AB from Washington University in St. Louis and his Ph.D in Geological Sciences from the University of Rochester. During the off-season, Larry is a professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of New Haven.

Porter Hill (Assistant Administrator): This is Porter’s twentieth summer at Pemi, his thirteenth on staff. Currently a third-grade teacher at Greenwich Country Day School, Porter will spend the first few weeks of the summer at Pemi teaching soccer, baseball, and nature.

Evan Jewett (Head of Shop): Evan has spent the last several years working as a cabinetmaker, furniture crafter, and finish carpenter. “I am excited to pass along my skills to Pemi campers. Along the way, I hope also to impart my great appreciation for finely crafted wooden pieces, be they artistic, decorative, or purely functional.”

Deb Kure (Associate Head of Nature Programs): After studying Geology at the University of Rochester, Deb attended the first Nature Instructors’ Clinic at Pemi in 1993. That led to seasonal outdoor science teaching and trip-leading jobs at outdoor schools, ranches, and camps across the US. After five and a half years as an Outreach Instructor with the Education Division of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, a move to New Hampshire brought Deb back to Pemi in 2008. “I’ve been delighted to be involved with such an in-depth nature program. Trips to area mines and geology hotspots of the White Mountains are an especial treat to enjoy with campers! A move this year to Austin, Texas, has made returning to the North Woods and the Pemi family each summer all the more mandatory!”

Noble Macfarlane (Trip Counselor): A native of San Francisco, Noble just graduated from Brown University. This is his tenth summer at Pemi. While not on trips, Noble will be instructing campers in competitive swimming, piano, and nature. Noble is also a lifeguard, Wilderness First Responder, organist, and mathematician.

Brian Mitchell (Head of Staff): This is Brian’s eleventh year at Pemi and his seventh on staff. This summer he will be the Head of Staff, overseeing counselor and assistant counselor responsibilities. He currently lives in Baltimore, MD, where he teaches upper school math at the Boys’ Latin School of Maryland. He is also the 9th grade Dean and a coach of JV boys’ soccer and lacrosse.

Ken Moore (Director of Water Activities): From Rocky River, OH, Ken is the Head of Waterfront and has also helped coordinate staff hiring for the past two winters. This is Ken’s eighteenth year at Pemi. During the school year Ken teaches history in the Upper School at Lake Ridge Academy and has recently been named Director of Alumni Affairs. Ken received his BA from Kenyon College and his Master’s in Education from the TAP Program in Cleveland.

Abby Reed (Co-Head of Junior Camp): From Carlisle, PA, this is Abby’s fifth summer working at Pemi (although she’s been around for many more summers!). In January Abby will graduate from Middlebury College, where she studies English literature and art history. “This summer I’m excited to be Co-Head of the Junior Camp, and I’m also looking forward to teaching swimming and nature.”

Dottie Reed (Head Administrator): This is Dottie’s twenty-third summer at Pemi, and the first as a year-round staff member. Though she’ll spend a few hours a day in the office, she hopes to be out and about with campers, enjoying art projects, conversations, and being a surrogate mom to anyone who might want one. “It has been a fascinating off-season, working on the new website, blog, and online capabilities. I hope you have enjoyed the results!”

Peter Scheuermann (Trip Counselor): This is Peter’s second year at Pemi. He is a rising junior at Carleton College, where he studies geology. Peter will spend the first session at Pemi before heading to Lima, Peru, in August for a study abroad program. “I hope to lead some great rain-free trips this summer.”

Fred Seebeck: Fred joined the Pemi family forty-seven summers ago, when he was in Junior 3. During the off-season he is a teacher and coach at the Loomis Chaffee School. “Since my first summer at Pemi, my experiences as a counselor and coach at Pemi have led me to a very fulfilling 34 year career in secondary education. I cannot fully express my gratitude for these gifts.”

Paige Wallis (Instructor): This is Paige’s first summer at Pemi. A rising junior at the University of Vermont, Paige studies English and history and will be teaching swimming and life guarding this summer. “I can’t wait to experience all that is Camp Pemi.”

Kelsey Wensberg (Childcare): Kelsey is returning as a second year staff member at Pemi. From Darien, CT, Kelsey attends Portsmouth Abbey School in Rhode Island. This summer she will be looking after staff children. “I’m looking forward to making many new friendships as I did last year. Pemi truly is a blessing and I’m so excited to be back once again.”

Johanna Zabawa (Co-Head of Junior Camp): This is Johanna’s sixth year at Pemi. From Afton, MN, Johanna works as a family social worker at Moreland Elementary School. This summer she is excited to be co-heading the Junior Camp and coaching baseball.

Summer 2010: Newsletter #1

Download this newsletter as a PDF.

We didn’t necessarily wait deviously until this particular afternoon to draft the first newsletter of the 2010 season – so that we could write about the all-but perfect temperature (75 degrees with a steady northwest breeze making it feel more like, well, 70 degrees); about the vibrant blue sky back-grounding the occasional puffy cumulus cloud; or about the 10-and-under round-robin soccer tournament unfolding on the pitch outside our window with some of the excitement of the World Cup, arguably better officiating, and not a vuvuzela to be heard. Nevertheless, it is wonderful to be able to generate our first summer missive in such favorable conditions for happy and productive camping.

We’re well into our third full day of Pemi’s 103rd season, and the program is in full swing. As noted, the 10s are out playing the beautiful game with three of our neighboring camps, the team anchored by 4-year veteran Patterson Malcolm, talented newcomer brothers Pepe and Diego Periel, and talented second-year brothers Carson and Cortie Fischer. Meanwhile, the 12s hoops team has travelled to Camp Moosilauke just up the Baker Valley from Pemi for the inaugural roundball match of the year, led by Daniel Bowes, Bryce Grey, and Jack Purcell. As we write, the archery and track squads are practicing for upcoming events later in the week, and wafting in from the Main Lodge come the lilting sounds of various campers and staff auditioning for this year’s Gilbert and Sullivan production, HMS Pinafore. Any minute now, Uppers 1 and 2 will be returning by bus from their day hike up Mt. Cube, the blocky granite peak right at the head of our valley, Thompson Bain, Hartwell Green, Dan Bivona and others having summited Pemi’s most-climbed mountain – Thompson actually following in the footsteps of his father Andy, a camper here thirty or more years back. Returning after supper will be a smaller group including Buck Baskin, Jimmy Gorman, and Sam Papel, all of them seniors hoping to join the Katahdin expedition next week and getting their legs in shape with a quick circuit hike up Mt. Lafayette in the Franconia Range. They will have had 60- to 80- mile views from the summit today, vistas stretching all the way from Mt. Washington in the east to Mt. Mansfield and Camel’s Hump in the west. So, yes, the season has well and truly begun.

Looking back over the past several days, we had a wonderful time greeting and speaking with all of you parents who dropped your boys on Saturday. (We admire your emotional fortitude, as we do every year, in driving away from the ones you love so well, and we are ever grateful for the trust you express towards us by doing so.) That night, as usual, we catered shamelessly to the culinary tastes of boys, sending tray upon tray of pizza out into the happily resounding dining hall, only to follow the entrée with a perennial Pemi dessert favorite, ice cream Rockets. One of the non-edible highlights of the meal was Danny Kerr’s welcome to the assembled multitudes as Pemi’s newest director, that and the truly thunderous applause that ensued. Less momentous historically, but still engaging, was Abby Reed’s appearance on – and speech from – Johanna Zabawa’s shoulders, as two moderately tall co-heads of the Junior Camp announced that they were replacing the impossibly tall Rob Follansbee, last year’s J.C. honcho (on sabbatical in 2010.)

Saturday night featured the inaugural campfire, indoors (yes, in a fireplace, not on the floor!) owing to threatening weather conditions, but spirited and talent-laden nevertheless. Staff members Gordon DiQuattro, Mike Benham, and Henry Eisenhart kicked things off on the five-string banjo and stand-up bass and sax respectively, courageously followed by campers Carson Fischer with a joke, Sean O’Conner demonstrating the sub-brachial air-expulsion funky noise-rendering technique (polite decorum allows us to describe it no more plainly), and The Buffalonians (Peter and Michael Montante and Daniel Fulham), with a moving ballad about their home town.  (Or was it ridiculous? It was tough to tell.) Easily as unlooked-for and stunning as Susan Boyle’s first appearance on Britain’s Got Talent was Robert Loeser’s rendition of “What a Wonderful World,” done a cappella and with flawless poise and phrasing. Nick Barber surged back onto the Pemi jazz scene, joining Benham for Wayne Shorter’s “Witch Hunt,” Mason Challinor juggled bowling pins and anything up to twelve balls (running chain saws next week? perhaps not), and then first-year campers André Altherr and Jack Elvekrog strode in sequence into the spotlight, delivering themselves of (André) a song about the presidents and a (Jack) a song about the 50 state capitals, both of them with death-defying elocution and speed. Other staff acts ensued, including another of Nature Head Larry Davis’s wry Maine stories, with Nathaniel Kaplan’s riddles and Ezra Nugiel’s professionally finished “Downtown” (from Little Shop of Horrors and not Petula Clark!) wrapping up the camper contributions. We hope for the next campfire to be under the open skies, but this one was a definite keeper.

Sunday brought the first Polar Bear dips of the season, health checks, swim tests, pick-up sports, and letters home. Many of you will have received the latter by the time you read this, and we hope that said communiqués are at least 100 words in length (including salutation to parents, siblings, and family pets) and are full of excitement and enthusiasm. As history has shown, however, these first letters can also carry some intimations of sadness mixed in with the declarations of love. Missing home is, of course, natural, and arguably a potent confirmation of family affection and solidity. Still, we know from personal experience that to hear anything other than “Everything is going just perfectly!” can really yank on a parent’s heartstrings. Just remember that, the times when they’re happy, their last thought is to write home – and the times when they’re not, writing a sad letter seems like the only thing to do. Please do be in touch if you receive lots of such letters, or receive them over a protracted period. We’ll be more than happy to ramp up our vigilance of the ways your boys are adjusting even further. But if you can be strong and patient – and write back cheerful letters that ask your sons to describe what they’re doing – homesickness usually diminishes within a very few days.

Sunday’s evening meal was a whole-camp cook-out in front of the mess hall, with the picturesque panorama of Mt. Carr right there above the ballfield to enhance the cuisine. At 8PM, everyone gathered in the Lodge for an illustrated talk on the history of Pemi – the first of seven Sunday evening addresses designed to enlighten and entertain in equal measure. Tom Reed Jr. took the audience back to the first days of camp, documenting everything from our early dependence on horses for transportation and pond-cut ice for refrigeration to the enduring comradeship to be found in mountain trips, team play, and song.

Monday marked the start of occupations, our daily instructional activities, and featured over seventy offerings in sports, nature, music, and art. The weather held perfectly, letting us get our daily routine established with a vengeance. In the afternoon, the 15s Ultimate Frisbee juggernaut headed off to some neighboring camps for the kick-off sports competition of the year, and came home having out-scored its collective opponents 11 to 10. The fact that the score in actual matches was Pemi 1 Opponents 2 scarcely detracted from the fact that a good time was had by all. Coach Cory Fauver has already written an article that will appear in this winter’s bound volume of Bean Soup, and we’ll observe the no-spoiler ethic by holding back all of the details for now. He did, though, sing the praises of Mason Challinor, Peter Ionno, David Levi, Jonathan Kenkel, Nick Barber, Nate Kraus and numerous others in this most civilized and Athenian of games. Read all about this, and all other Pemi undertakings, this December.

Speaking of Bean Soup, last night’s was the first reading of that august journal’s 101st volume. Joining second-year editor Ian Axness on the editorial perch was Dwight Dunston, who quickly demonstrated that his verbal deftness as an English major at Dickinson College (who is additionally headed off to earn an MFA in poetry at the University of East Anglia) is buttressed by trenchant social insight (noticeably satiric) and biting wit. Such is the stuff of great Bean Soup editors, and Axness and Dunston promise to be one of the best duos of recent decades. The staff having been here for over ten days and the boys only three, the first ladling of the Soup was, as usual, somewhat fuller of staff “news” than camper. But next week’s reading will overflow with accounts of this week’s camper goings on, and we look forward to seeing your sons blushing to the accounts of their athletic triumphs, laughing at their foibles revealed, and sharing the unique bond that comes from a community that knows how to see the joke in everything without ever (well, hardly ever!) sacrificing understanding and common cause for the sake of a quick laugh. The boys’ love of the Monday night institution was evident from the very first, as Ian and Dwight found their way to the front of the room amidst wild shouts and applause. The tuition-paying audience’s potential to be meaningful contributors themselves was equally evident in some extremely witty haiku penned by Harry Eifler and Henry Pletcher, among others. All in all, it was a fitting way to cap the third day of camp (and not least welcome, in the eyes of this writer, for the fact that the questionably desirable award for “Director of the Week” is now, by virtue of Danny’s having joined us, very likely to go every once in a while to someone other than yours truly.)

Well, that’s it for now. Danny and I will follow with more in a week; look on-line for pictures of the 2010 season; and please see the Pemi blog for bios of the 2010 Pemi staff.

— Tom Reed, Jr.

Wild Foods: Pemi’s Tastiest and Most Popular Occupation

Over the years, Wild Foods has become our most requested occupation. In a sense, it has also become a victim of its own success. (For those of you unfamiliar with Wild Foods, it is truly an amazing educational and culinary experience. Boys in the occupation join Larry Davis, Pemi’s Head of Nature, and create foods made largely or entirely from what grows naturally in Pemi’s ecosystem. Foods have included stuffed grape leaves, wild mint tea, jam from wild berries, and more.)

But, many campers are understandably disappointed because, despite repeated requests, they don’t get into the occupation. Many parents have contacted us to voice appeals on behalf of their sons. So, we think that it is time for a new policy that will mitigate some of these difficulties.

Here is some background. Each week the occupation is taught during third period, and enrollment is limited to only eight campers. No camper is allowed to get Wild Foods twice during the summer. Still, there is only a total of 48 “slots” during the summer, and so only 48 campers can come up as winners in this lottery. Yet, in some weeks, over 50 campers request it, and over the course of a typical summer over 125 different campers may ask for it. A large number must be disappointed.

There are three possible solutions to the problem: 1) offer the activity more frequently, such as two occupation periods a week; 2) enroll more campers at a time; 3) limit enrollment to older campers only.

The first two of these run into the fact that our resources are limited. There are only so many wild strawberries out there, and only so many Indian cucumber roots (the use of which kills the plant). Over the years, we have carefully managed our “harvests” so that they are sustainable. Increasing the pressure on the Indian cucumber supply would lead to their disappearance, for example. While this could be an interesting lesson in and of itself, it is not one that we wish to demonstrate. Furthermore, only Larry Davis teaches this activity, and if he is teaching two periods of it, then he is not available to teach other activities.

So, the only option left is to limit enrollment to older campers, and this is what we have decided to do. This summer, only uppers and seniors will be able to request Wild Foods. Should we find that there are empty spots, we then will open it up to Upper Lowers. We think that, by putting these restrictions in place, we will be able to place most of the campers who request it into the activity sometime during the summer, and thus fewer campers will be disappointed. For the younger campers who will no longer be eligible, it will be something to look forward to as they progress through their Pemi career.