In Pursuit of “The Hat”

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

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Saturday, August 12, 1967

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

The Era of “The Hat”

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

George Munger and Tom Reed, 1993

George Munger and Tom Reed, 1993

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

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

July 27, 2012

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

– Fred Seebeck

Chef Stacey Dishes Up Thanksgiving Tips

Humor has long been a hallmark of Pemi, and anyone who attended the 2012 Final Banquet will long remember what may have been the best prank ever delivered by a Pemi chef.

“Parade of Turkeys”

As Pemi alums will recall, the sacred “parade of turkeys” launches both the Birthday and Final Banquets. The Pemi chef is responsible for roasting 25 hefty turkeys, one for each table of 10 hungry people. A musical crescendo hails the big moment, whether piano, trumpet, voice, or bagpipes. With the doors to the kitchen uncharacteristically closed but with the entire messhall filled with the aroma of Thanksgiving, the expectation is palpable. Suddenly, the “out door” swings open, and 25 waiters emerge, each with his silver platter weighted by a golden-crusted turkey. Marching in line, each waiter does a full circuit of the messhall before delivering the prize to his table.

Stacey’s Final Banquet prank

This year, however, Chef Stacey Saville-Moore—new to Pemi in June and quick to pick up on the role of good humor in the community—roasted 25 two-pound Rock Cornish game hens. When the waiters emerged carrying their miniature turkeys, confusion momentarily filled the messhall until everyone erupted in laughter and leapt to a standing ovation. Stacey peeked out from the kitchen with a smile full of delight and satisfaction. This was one of those “once in a lifetime” pranks, and those of us who were there are likely to remember it for a long time. Needless to say, the waiters delivered their game hens and returned to the kitchen, bringing out some of the most beautiful and moist turkeys that have ever graced the messhall.

Now that Thanksgiving truly is upon us, it seems only fitting to get some advice from the expert. Stacey shares her favorite biscuit recipe and offers tips for the perfect Thanksgiving turkey. Thanks, Stacey!

I have now been married for over 30 years and marrying a southern man can be somewhat of a task when you are a newly married bride and must compete with the table of the southern granny.  My husband’s granny was a wonderful little spitfire, reminiscent of the granny on the Beverly Hillbillies, but Doug’s granny was as straight-laced as they come, and certainly no moonshiner. However, she did love to feed her family. The very first time I met her, as a very nervous nineteen year old, she made me feel welcomed and loved. She also fed me a meal that seemed to never end. I always think of her hospitality when I feed people around my own table.

She shared many recipes with me and I treasure them, but she did not have a biscuit recipe. I watched her make biscuits several times but could never quite get them the way she did. So, after many a year of trial and error, I have put together a recipe that my husband approves of, and more importantly, one that I am proud to serve at my table. I must also say that my chef instructors heartily approved of this biscuit when I served them in culinary school. A+

Stacey’s biscuits, fresh from the oven

BISCUITS

4 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 TBS sugar
1 tsp salt
3 TBS baking powder
1 Cup Butter, chilled (yes, I said butter, no substitutions)
2 eggs
1 Cup milk

• Sift together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

• Cut butter into small cubes and either use your hands or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mix. (I use my hands because I can flatten the pieces of cold butter into discs, which helps the biscuits rise into layers as they bake) If you are using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles small peas.

• Add milk and eggs and stir by hand until dough comes together.

• Form dough into a large mass and put it onto a floured surface. Gather it together and pat out with your hands. Do not knead this dough. The more you handle biscuit dough, the tougher the biscuits will become. Also, you do not want the bits of butter to soften or melt. Roll your dough into about a 1/4 inch thickness (about 1/2 inch for thicker biscuits) and cut. (For authenticity use a baking powder can with the ends cut out, but any round cutter will do.) 

• Place the biscuits on an ungreased sheet pan. I like to keep a small amount of space between the biscuits to give them a bit of a crunch all the way around, but some people like to let the biscuits touch. It is totally a personal preference. If you do let the biscuits touch, allow for a little more bake time, just a couple of minutes should do it.

• Bake for about 12-15 minutes in a preheated 450 degree oven. Just let the biscuits turn a little golden.

• Serve warm with butter, jam, apple butter, molasses or maple syrup.

Behind the scenes at Final Banquet

ROASTED TURKEY

Never have I roasted as many turkeys as I did at Camp Pemi! (at the same time anyway!) I do not stuff my birds with any type of stuffing. I used to stuff my bird with a sage and pork stuffing made with breadcrumbs, the way my mother did. Then I married a southern boy and he was raised on cornbread stuffing. So now I serve both of these stuffings on the side and stuff the turkey with fruit.

Before roasting said bird, I rinse the turkey in and out and pat dry with a paper towel. Stuff all empty cavities with fruit of your choice. I like to use a combination of apples and oranges. Quarter the fruit and stuff. No need to peel or seed the fruit. Roast your turkey according to directions.  I start the turkey off at a high temperature to brown and crisp the skin, and then turn the oven down to slow roast. Always, always cook your turkey to an internal temp of 165 degrees. Now, to basting… do I baste? Yes, yes and yes! Now here is the quandary; what to baste with? Keep it simple. Olive oil. That’s all there is to it. Brush that beauty with a little olive oil, sprinkle with a little cracked black pepper and some sea salt, and pop into the oven. Then, every 30 minutes or so, brush with more olive oil. If you cook to an internal temp of 165 and slow roast your bird with a fruit stuffing, it will be tender and juicy.  Remove the turkey from the oven when done and let rest for about 15 minutes, remove and discard the fruit and carve. The turkey, I promise you, will be delicious!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

 ~ DGReed

Read more about Meals at Pemi!

 

What is it About Camp Friendships?

I see it at every major life event—weddings, graduations, baptisms, bar mitzvahs, any time family and friends gather to celebrate a significant milestone—that huge smile and even bigger hug when one very long time camp friend sees another. The immediate connection and feeling of absolute familiarity take over, transcending time, geographic limitations, and the busy pace of our lives. Yes, camp friends are our best friends, one of the many, many benefits of the years a boy or girl spends at a summer camp like Pemi.

As the years roll along—and thanks to the 21st century opportunities offered through social media, email and Skype—I have been able to keep in even closer contact with my decades old camp friends than I ever thought possible. So, recently, I wondered why are these camp friends my best friends? Not only did I marry a “friend” whom I met at camp more than 25 years ago (Julia and I really did begin as friends), but my children’s God Parents are camp friends, my weekend get-always are very often to visit camp friends, the largest contingent of friends I have on Facebook are camp friends, and the idea of missing a camp reunion and the opportunity to spend a few more precious days with these best friends—at the actual place where these deep bonds were formed—is not an option! So, what gives? Why are our camp friends so often our best friends?

I have a few theories, including the uncomplicated life we enjoy at camp that affords us the time to develop these close relationships, the success and growth we experience side-by-side, and quite simply, that camp is a place we can return to for so many summers. Indeed, many of us were lucky enough to begin camp at eight or nine years old, and we continued through our school and college years, into our young adult years and even beyond. These are all sound premises, but admittedly, I don’t have an exact answer to this very happy reality.

In his book “Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow,” author Michael Thompson interviews a group of five woman in their forties, all with families of their own, who first became friends at a summer camp. Together, they’d progressed through the ranks of young camper, senior camper, counselor in training and head counselor. Thompson, too, could not find an exact answer as to why camp friends are so often our best friends, but he came up with a few theories of his own after speaking with this group. These include the ritual activities and traditions at camp, the freedom and opportunity to be the person you want to be at camp, the shared love of camp, and the physical intimacy of the unfettered cabin life that campers enjoy. Each of these theories makes sense, but the sum, of course, is far greater than the individual causes, to the degree that even Thompson admits there is something else going on here that perhaps no one can completely identify.

So what are your theories? My guess is that if you are reading this you’ve been in touch with a camp friend very recently (I know I have) and that you’ve also developed and maintained these deep camp friendships over the years.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this wonderful reality of the summers we spend at camp! Fire away!

~ Danny Kerr

 

Summer 2012: Final Newsletter, #8

It’s Tuesday, August 14th, and boy is it quiet here at Pemi! The sun is out, there’s a soft but steady breeze wafting down the lake, the grass has greened up after some Pemi Week showers – but there are about ten people, total, on camp grounds. Our 105th Reunion is coming up this weekend, with some 170 folks scheduled to attend, but we’re currently enjoying a brief lull between the regular season and that special alumni event. Many of the staff who will be helping out at week’s end are grabbing some much-deserved time off – some in Boston, some in Vermont, and a major group spearheaded by Jay and Andrew McChesney paddling down the Saco River from Conway NH to the state of Maine. So, all in all, it’s a perfect time to scribe the last Newsletter of the 2012 season.

It seems appropriate to begin with a toast Danny offered at our Final Awards Banquet last Thursday evening. It does a wonderful job reminiscing about many memorable aspects of the season – with appropriate gratitude for the inspiring and often selfless contributions of so many.

Danny offers a toast at Final Banquet

May I propose a toast…

Here’s to summer 2012 at Camp Pemigewassett, the 105th in Pemi’s proud history, a summer that began seven weeks ago for campers, eight weeks ago for staff, and as many as ten weeks ago for counselors attending the Wilderness First Aid Clinic, the Nature Clinic, or Life Guard Training Clinic. (We won’t even try to calculate how many weeks ago Zach Barnard began his summer.)

Here’s to a camp season that ends with days growing shorter and the first hints of autumn in the air, a summer that by all accounts has been a spectacular success, made possible mostly by the people in this room.

Here’s to the 270 campers who graced the shores of Lower Baker Pond, campers from over twenty of these United States and twelve foreign countries; and here’s to the Chilean and United Arab Emirates flags that we added to our collection in the mess hall this summer, as well. Here’s to campers in their first year at Pemi and, yes, TH Pearson, here’s to a camper in his eighth.

Here’s to the dedicated counselor staff at Pemi in 2012, to the cabin counselors and AC’s who become family with the boys, to the program staff that teach them skills that will inspire them for a lifetime, and to the administrators who do their best to support and guide both the staff and the campers throughout the summer.

Here’s to the hard-working maintenance crew that Chris Jacobs leads so vigorously each day, allowing us safe access to this beautiful campus; to Heather Leeds and Kim Malcolm in the office (who never get enough credit), and here’s to Stacey Moore and her crew who confirmed for us what we hoped was true – that the days of delicious food cooked from scratch and fresh produce from the nearby farms of New Hampshire and Vermont can still a part of the Pemi dining experience.

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

Here’s to the wonderful program at Pemi and to Kenny Moore for keeping everyone moving in the right direction; here’s to Deb Pannell down in Art World, to Charlie Malcolm and all the coaches in the athletics program, to Tom Reed and the dozens of trips that head to the mountains each week, to maestro Ian Axness and the beautiful music we enjoy, to Larry Davis’s world-class nature program, to Jeff Greene and Boomer [the robotic ball feeder] and the thousands of tennis balls we hit each summer, and to all of the great things that happen down on the waterfront.

Here’s to the weather, so many beautiful days— long days with crisp mornings, blazing afternoons, and that peaceful golden haze across the pond at day’s closing that we never tire of stopping to admire. Here’s also to the thunderstorm on July 17th that gave a unique welcome to our new second-half campers and that left its mark on a tree outside the mess hall, a subtle reminder of the power of Mother Nature.

Here’s to athletic contests against our friendly rivals in the Baker Valley, contests hard-fought, the victories, the ones that got away, and of course, here’s to our Tecumseh Day victory (wow, did I just say that?) and to the celebration that ensued, not just here at camp, but throughout the ranks of Pemi alums scattered around the world.  And, thank you Charlie for so poetically explaining to us that the Hat “does not represent winning; it represents our journey together. You, Camp Pemigewassett, are the Hat….”

Here’s to the things that are so uniquely Pemi: leaning flag poles, Pink Polar Bear, the Pee-rade, saxophone on senior beach at sunset, FRB, distance swims, Woods Dude’s Day, dope stops, the Pemi Kid, and the everlasting quest to discover “What’s a bean?” And of course, here’s to Metal Boy (Tom’s personal creation) and to the wonderful mid-season performance this summer that he inspired. 

Here’s to all-camp events at Pemi, Bean Soup when we’re loud and we laugh at ourselves, Campfire when we’re creative and artistic, and Sunday Service when we’re reflective and thoughtful about such things as history at Pemi, the beauty and power of water, “tipping points,” life-changing travel experiences, and the notion that there are many ways to be a Pemi Kid.

But most importantly, here’s to the life-long friendships that are created each summer at Pemi – and to the reality that Pemi is a place where you will likely discover worthy passions to inspire you for the rest of your life.

Here’s to Camp Pemigewassett 2012.

Good luck, long life and joy!

Many aspects of the Banquet itself are rich in tradition and significance: the salute to the chefs (this year especially fervent given Stacey Moore’s wonderful success on the culinary front); the penultimate singing of “The Marching Song,” basically Pemi’s national anthem; the annual observation that, for all of the accomplishments celebrated at this “awards feast,” perhaps the most meaningful memento to be carried away is the simple triangular felt banner that each diner finds at his place (this year, obviously, “Pemi ’12”) signaling not a deed or an act or a victory over self or opponent – but simply being a member of a committed and supportive community. That said, each year’s “special awards,” voted on by the entire staff, bring the evening to an emotional conclusion in ways that will not soon be forgotten. Think Academy Awards, but about exemplary boys, and many of them totally off-script. We’re not sure we’ve ever shared all of the inscriptions, so it makes sense to offer them to you here, together with 2012’s “winners.”

Jivan Khakee and Jack Purcell

The Johnnie’s Medal, “For Dramatics,” went to Nick Gordon for his stellar rendition of the title character in the first-session Pemi-premiere musical, Metal Boy. Earning the Scott S. Withrow Gilbert and Sullivan Award for his lead in Pirates of Penzancewas Ezra Nugiel. And the third of the “performing arts awards” – Doc Reed’s Musician Trophy, “In memory of Doc Reed for . . . the camper who has contributed most to the music at Pemi” – recognized both Jivan Khakee (clarinet) and Jack Purcell (guitar).

Byron Lathi and Sam Grier

Sam Grier and Byron Lathi shared the Pemigewassett Competitive Swimming Trophy, “Awarded to that member of the team whose swimming ability, competitive spirit, and sportsmanship combine to make him a leader among his teammates.” The Pemigewassett Soccer Trophy, recognizing “that boy who has demonstrated the greatest command of the sport of soccer, exemplified by his interest, determination, ability, and sportsmanship, went to Pepe Periel and Jamie Nicholas. Al Fauver, iconic former director, read the inscription not only for the Swimming Trophy (Al was a star swimmer at Oberlin, one of the early collegians to adopt the butterfly stroke) but also for the Fauver Baseball Trophy, “In memory of Doc Gar and Doc Win and the competitive spirit exemplified by them”: the winner this season was Oscar Tubke-Davidson, star pitcher and hitter for the 12-and-under team. Culminating the athletic awards, as always, was the Counselors’ Athletic Trophy, “for fine sportsmanship and all-around athletic proficiency and interest.” This year, the award went to Thomas Bono and Patterson Malcolm. Surely one of the highlights of the evening was Athletic Director Charlie Malcolm reading his son’s name for this honor (after carefully recusing himself from all discussion.)

Caleb Tempro

It is not every summer that the Courage Award is granted. The inscription is as follows: “To the boy in camp who has displayed exceptional courage in overcoming pain, adversity, or self-doubt; in confronting danger to himself of his fellows; in standing by his convictions; or in defending the rights and convictions of others – and so has helped us all to find and draw upon our own reserves of inner strength as we meet the tests of life.” Bravery has always been very much in evidence at Pemi, whether it be facing a hurler with a wicked curve ball or a trail steeper than one thought possible. We have never thought this award, though, is about anything vaguely “routine,” even if it is something like coping with the pain of a broken bone. This year, however, marked the culmination of one wonderful camper’s multi-year journey from an all-consuming fear of deep water to becoming a valuable member of the competitive swimming team and ultimately “swimming his distance,” covering half the length of the lake in water over fifty feet deep. Caleb Tempro’s name was met with a palpable rush of recognition and appreciation.

Andrew Kanovsky, Phineas Walsh, and Hugh Jones

Every year, it’s truly remarkable how each of these special awards commands the rapt attention of the whole camp family – and how thunderous is the response not only to the naming of the recipients but also to that moment when the winners hang the plaques back on the wall in anticipation of next season. None of the honors, however, equal these last three in terms of communal impact and appreciation. They are not about physical skills – or easily-measurable deeds – or formally-calibrated acts. They are about character, and about the opportunities, both individual and communal, that any educational institution like Pemi holds closest to its heart. The Achievement Trophy reads “Inscribed each year hereon is the name of him who has made the greatest all-around achievement, measured by the dual consideration of distance gained and goal achieved.” Winners this year were Andrew Kanovsky and Phineas Walsh (Juniors), Nicholas Gordon (Lowers), Hugh Jones (Uppers), and JJ Murray (Seniors.) The Divisional Citizenship Trophy goes to “the best all-around citizen in each division whose generous and unselfish spirit gives success, happiness, and self-esteem to others.” (What greater gifts to others?) Singled out from a strong group of nominees for 2012 were Teddy Foley and Tate Suratt (Juniors), Nick Toldalagi (Lowers), Pepe Periel (Uppers), and Zach Leeds (Seniors.) And finally, the Founders’ Citizenship Trophy: “In memory of Doc Gar, Win, and Reed, on this trophy is inscribed each year the name of him who is considered to have contributed most to camp beyond the line of duty.” This year’s winner was in his fifth year at Pemi, coming to us all the way from Papua New Guinea. Unremittingly active, continually sunny, infallibly kind and considerate, Sompy Somp brought the house down when his name was read and he strode modestly to the front of the room. This was Pemi operating on a global scale, and a truly fitting ending to a festive and emotional occasion celebrating a banner Pemi year.

Finally, the promised review of Pirates of Penzance, submitted (as always) by Clive Bean, North Woods cousin of Clive Barnes and maven of all things cultural in the upper Baker Valley.

Folks in the theater world sometimes say that a shaky dress rehearsal augurs a great show. If you’d been in the Pemigewassett Opera House this past Monday evening, you might therefore have been moved to predict that Tuesday’s Opening would be a triumph. Either that or . . . total Armageddon.  That final practice session was about as smooth and professional as the Boston Red Sox season so far.  But, lo and behold, when the curtain parted on the day that really counted, what ensued was one of the most spirited and finished Gilbert and Sullivan productions in recent Pemi memory – maybe of all time.           

Ezra Nugiel and Dorin Dehls

Anchoring the show were Ezra Nugiel and Dorin Dehls as the romantic leads, Frederic and Mabel (well before Mabel started sneaking Splenda and flinging that silverware!)  Sterling performer in skirts in multiple past productions, Ezra stepped back into trousers with all the dramatic cachet and vocal deftness that Pemi audiences have come to expect of him. In make-up vaguely reminiscent of Johnny Depp’s in his own Pirates shows, Ezra convincingly and quickly won the tender heart of Dorin, who partnered him in the show’s set of lovely duets with truly professional finish.  Her acting, moreover, was consistently beyond the mark.           

Robert Loeser, Phineas Walsh, and Andre Altherr were wonderful as Mabel’s co-daughters of the paternally preternaturally prolific Major General Stanley, Edith, Kate, and Isabel. (Proof, incidentally, that a show CAN have its Kate and Edith too!) The trio handled their older sister’s idiosyncratic dating proclivities with real sensitivity and tact – and subsequently inspired the Penzance constabulary’s mortal combat with some convincing maidenly bloodlust. Back on the piratical side, John Stevenson was a highly effective Samuel, providing his seafaring bros the odd life preserver and dark lantern with all of the efficiency of a Victorian Amazon.com.           

Henry Eisenhart

Pirates can’t work without a strong Ruth, and Henry Eisenhart played the none-too-bright piratical-maid-of-all-work with all of the daffy energy of Ben Walsh announcing cabin soccer matches. Henry is headed off to Australia for the coming year, and his remarkable knack for having fun in ladies’ clothing bodes well for his success in Brock Ellis’s upcoming Down Under revival of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – which, if you don’t know it, is about three Aussie Pemi Kids who decide it would be way cooler to be Bloomer Girls. Good luck, Henry. Just watch out for those rough lads in short shorts from Australian Rules Football.           

Robert Loeser, Larry Davis, and Andre Altherr

Returning to his role as the fiercely independent Pirate King, Larry Davis outdid himself with self-righteous bluster, liberally sprinkled with credulous simplicity. Veteran Major General Tom Reed, Jr. matched Larry in confusion and irritability in the show’s fabled “orphan/often” dialogue, the two college professors amply proving that having a PhD degree is no guarantee of an ability to communicate with any kind of clarity.           

One of the hallmarks of the Ian-Axness-era G&S is impeccable choral work, and both the “girls” and mens’ ensembles delivered themselves of sharp and engaging performances. Will Adams, Sam Berman, Richie Carchia, George Cooke, Jack Elvekrog, Hugh and Tucker Jones, Suraj Khakee, Ben Ridley, and Dash Slamowitz made it clear that, just because you slam Camp Tecumseh, that doesn’t mean you can’t look smashing in a dress. (Bridgid Ruf, by the way, was terrific as a girl – even though she didn’t have to pretend! Tra la la, tra lal la, tra la la la! The Wellesley Blue for me!) Meanwhile, on the x-chromosome side, Nick Bertrand, Ben Chaimberg, Teddy Farkas, Owen Felsher, Hugh Grey, Max Nugiel, Dylan O’Keefe, TH Pearson, Fred Seebeck, and Ian Steckler honored their tattoos, scars, and bandannas with bang-on cut-em-up performances.           

Police

All this was wonderful. Positively stealing the show, though, was the chorus of Police, with Jamie Andrews, Bryce Grey, Pierce Haley, Dan Reed, Owen Ritter, and Dan Willard making poignant cowardice visible (and audible) in ways that haven’t been seen since Monty Python’s Brave Sir Robin “personally wet himself at the Battle of Badon Hill.” Deftly orchestrating their lily-livered lunacy was Mike Plecha as their ‘beater-wearing Sergeant. There have been great Sergeants in the past, including Larry Davis and Fred Seebeck; but Mike inhabited this role like none before him. A flawless Cockney accent all but guarantees that, if Mike is ever in search of a job, all he needs to do is go on a crash diet and he can easily take over from the Geico gecko.      

Ian Axness and Owen Fried (page turner)

Special thanks go to many folks behind the scenes. To Zach Barnard for his exhaustive refurbishing of the sets and for all of his other tech and production work. To Dorin Dehls for indispensable direction assistance and vocal coaching. To Deborah Fauver for her sustained and generous work with costumes. To Penelope Reed Doob for her great sensitivity and wit in staging.  Top kudos and mega thanks, though, go to Ian Axness, as always the lynch pin to Pemi’s Gilbert and Sullivan productions as both musical director and pianist extraordinaire. This was Ian’s sixth show here – two Pinafore’s, two Mikado’s, and two Pirates. He has never been better at making sure everything happened when and as it had to, from casting the show through early rehearsals to the finished production. Given the state of the dress rehearsal we refer to at the top, he never had to be so patient. The proof, though, is in the pudding. And all of the top drama critics in the Greater Wentworth area agree that this was one of the best G&S shows in decades, if not since the original London production in 1880. Pour, o pour the private sherry.  It’s time to celebrate!

[Thank you Clive. May your sugar bush run copiously come March – and keep braking for moose!]

Well, it is time more broadly to celebrate a wonderful Pemi season, capped nicely by both the Tecumseh Day victory and the upcoming 105th. As we wait for the next set of cars to rumble across our bridge with their eager (and somewhat older) occupants this coming Friday, we also look forward to next June and July, when you, our gentle readers, bring your sons back to us for another season. In the mean time, enjoy having them back in the nest, thank you for your trust, and have a wonderful Fall.

— Tom and Danny

 

 

 

2012 Summer Newsletter: #7

As we sit in the Pemi “West Wing” this morning of August 6th, the truck from E&R Laundry is filling up with green camper bags and pink staff bags for the last laundering run of the summer. Hard to believe that the next time these Pemi shorts and T-shirts, these Smartwool and Champion socks, these Manchester United and Barcelona jerseys go in the wash  . . . it will likely be in your very own Maytags and Kenmores!

Time may be flying, but it’s a beautiful day in this little valley (after some much-needed rain last night) and, as always with “Pemi Week” stanzas, it will be filled to the brim with varied (and sometimes frenzied) activity. Lowers and Seniors are down at the beach locked into the Divisional Swimming Championships, in which almost every camper participates (many, we’d bet, secretly imagining themselves to be the next Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte.) Uppers are working through the middle rounds of their Tennis Tournament, and select Seniors will soon be out on the lake for the opening races of their Sailing Championship, taking advantage of the brisk north-westerly breeze that often accompanies clearing weather up here. Meanwhile, there’s a Junior Soccer Tournament unfolding as well, with all of Doc Nick’s wonders assigned to three teams for a spirited round-robin competition that begot thunderous applause when it was announced in the mess hall this morning. (Who, we wonder, will be today’s Clint Dempseys and Lionel Messis and Tim Howards?)

Grand Opening of the 2012 Art Show

This afternoon, Uppers and Juniors will don their jammers and head to the waterfront, many Lowers and Seniors will move to the tennis courts, other Lowers and Seniors will head to the soccer pitch, and the preliminary races of the Windsurfing Championship will get underway on the white-capped lake. Meanwhile, Deb Pannell, Dottie Reed, and Harry McGregor will have finished the installation in our Library of the Annual Pemigewassett Art Show – and then host the gala opening, complete with cornucopial cheese platter, fresh fruit, and delicious sparkling punch. (Everyone gets firsts. For seconds, you have to answer some searching trivia questions about the items on display!) Then, after an early supper, the G&S cast trundles down to the Lodge for the dress rehearsal of Pirates of Penzance, while Ryan Fauver hosts the rest of the camp in the Mess Hall for the second of this season’s Vaudeville Shows. Did we say we were busy this week?

Did we say we were busy last week? Advanced Caving Trip to Schoharie, New York, with Zach Leeds, Dan Bivona, Harry Cooke, Alex Baskin, Dylan O’Keefe, TH Pearson, Sompy Somp, Max Von Passchen, and Dan Reiff marveling at their subterranean adventures.

The annual trip to Mt. Katahdin in northern Maine (details below). Uppers 1 and 2 overnighting at Greenleaf Hut in the spectacular Franconia Range on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. Florian Dietl, Daniel Bowes, Max Pagnucco, Charlie and Will Parsons, Julian Hernandez-Webster, and Hugh Grier joining staff members Peter Siegenthaler, Juan Gallardo, and Dan Reed for a spectacular traverse of the Presidential Range, staying at the recently renovated Madison Springs Hut. Richie Carchia, Owen Fried, Jack Wright, Alex Sheikh, Johnny Seebeck, Jamie Zusi, and Greg Nacheff tri-summiting Mt. Tripyramid on a (yes!) three-day. Simultaneously, some thirty miles west of them, Hugh Gray, Ben Chaimberg, Nate Blumenthal, Charlie Scott, Nat Healy, Patrick Sullivan, Jamie Nicholas, and Colin Alcus summiting Mt. Moosilauke on the same schedule. The entire Junior Camp on an afternoon field trip to the Science Center of New Hampshire on Squam Lake. A second geology field trip to Crawford Notch just west of the Presidentials (details below). The entire Lower camp headed off to Lebanon, NH for a pizza dinner followed by a viewing of Ice Age IV. (Remember? Before climate change?) The entire Upper Camp traveling to Manchester to take in an AA league baseball game (details below). The entire Senior Camp hosting the lasses from Camp Merriwood for an afternoon of sports, a barbecue on the beach, and a brief evening of what we are assured is still called “dancing.” The same lads, the next day, heading south for Hanover Day, with supper at that much-favored bistro “Everything but Anchovies” and a screening of Dark Knight Rising. All terrific fun, and great ways to side-step any possible feelings of let-down after our magnificent day against Tecumseh at the end of Week Five. By the time Saturday rolled around, with the annual Brad Jones Day and the thirtieth iteration of Games Day, everyone was ready for a sleep-in and an afternoon “at home.” Add to Saturday’s activities an evening showing of How to Train Your Dragon and Pemi Week was well off and running.

Now for some of the “details” promised above. First, we hear from Jamie Andrews who, together with Ben Walsh, led the trip up Katahdin, Maine’s highest peak and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. They were joined on this always-memorable jaunt by Nathaniel Kaplan, Thompson Bain, Alex Baskin, Spencer Cain, Dan Reiff, Andreas Sheikh, Ben Stone, and TH Pearson (many of whom had just returned from caving!)

Mount Katahdin, a wilderness monolith at the end of the AT in Maine, is an arduous climb. It has tough bouldering sections, and long stretches of exposed trail making its traverse particularly dangerous in inclement weather. Due to these factors, Pemi’s group headed off any storm danger by starting our hike at seven AM, ascending the AT Hunt trail. With a cooling morning drizzle pattering on our heads, we quickly climbed the first few miles until we reached the aforementioned bouldering section. Without tree cover, a dragon’s spine of stone stretched out upon the ridge ahead of us. We adopted a slower pace, and eventually passed through the “gateway,” onto the flat terrace near the top of Katahdin. The weather cleared some, with the mountains behind us looking like islands jutting through a sea of clouds. Covering the last mile and a half through the flatter alpine zone, the Pemi boys made it to the top just in time to eat lunch and witness a group of thru-hikers complete their trek. With beards to their chests and 2,100 miles at their backs, the trekkers yelped and yodeled like the proverbial “Happy Wanderer,” celebrating their final ascension. We turned to head down after a hearty meal of crackers, ‘roni, and cheese, with the sun becoming fully uncovered for the first time in the day. We had heard of potential thunderstorms in the later afternoon, so we booked it down over the sharp ridge-top and back into tree cover. Feet sore from 10.4 miles and smiles wide from surprise trip-candy, we made it back to camp around four PM, ate delicious pepperoni-potato chowder, and drifted to sleep in our tents.

A truly memorable day! Now, here’s Deb Kure, super-mega-ultra-dynamic Associate Head of our Nature Program, who led last week the second of 2012’s outings to Mt. Willard (taking Athletic Director Charlie Malcolm along as a reward for his teams’ acceptable performance against Tecumseh. How cool is it, by the way, that any camp’s storied AD is the first to line up for a geologically-oriented Nature Trip?)

Crawford Notch

What? There’s a nine-mile, perfectly symmetrical U-shaped glacial valley in our White Mountains? One which campers are likely to see in their future geology textbooks? Time to pack a trail supper, load up the van, and hit the road!

Twice a summer in recent years, we’ve ventured out to “take a closer look” at Crawford Notch. Driving there via Franconia Notch and driving back over the Kancamagus Highway provides an ideal geology field trip route. Campers of all ages and interests have enjoyed the 1.6-mile walk to the cliff summit of Mt. Willard, at the north end of the Notch. The final approach is a memorable tree-arched path, with The View opening a little more with each step, until you’re on the edge of the precipice face-to-face with a glacier-bulldozed trough so symmetrical that it looks like a giant forested skateboard half-pipe. The Presidential Range forms the east wall of the Notch – with Mt. Washington sometimes visible in to the northeast – and the Willey Range forms the west wall. Weaker Conway granite allowed the more-than-one-mile-thick Continental ice sheet to gouge and scour a U-shaped valley, in between the resistant volcanic igneous and metamorphic rock of the ranges, 13,000 years ago. Seeing this natural wonder – and beginning to understand the prodigious forces and protracted time scale that led to its creation – is always something of a scientific and a spiritual education.

Great to have campers who consistently realize the artistic and scientific majesty of this view – and to be able to introduce them to the adventure and excitement of a field-based science!

And now for a national-pastime-oriented word from Danny, who spear-headed the Upper trip to Manchester – and is rumored to have thrown out the first pitch (although details of the deed have proven hard to come by!)

This past Thursday, August 2, the Upper Division campers asked their counselors to “take them out to the ballgame” and the counselors took them literally by putting the boys onto a Pemi bus and heading to the big city, Manchester, NH, to watch the Manchester Fisher Cats “play ball.” The ride to the Queen City was a smooth one, and the boys arrived in plenty of time to enjoy an all-you-can-eat feast at a guest tent in the stadium, featuring burgers, sausage, chicken, salad, and cookies – with an abundance of drink, as well.

As game time approached, the boys settled into their seats, directly behind home plate, to enjoy the contest. The Pemi lads showed their enthusiasm throughout, chanting the names of the Fisher Cats batters, starting a “wave,” and screaming in glee at every hit, of which there were many, as the game turned into a slugfest between the home team and the Erie Sea Wolves. In total, 31 hits were banged out in the eventual 9-7 Erie victory. A fun time was had by all, and we look forward to a return date in 2013!

And this brings us right up to yesterday. One of the highlights of Sunday morning was our weekly Meeting being focused on Pemi West, our mountain leadership program based in Washington State. Three of this year’s participants – “students” Dan Fulham and Nathan Tempro and staffer Dan Reed – treated the entire camp to a spectacular slideshow of their trip, accompanying their inspiring images with some riveting words about how well this kind of challenge can paradoxically forge both team-work and independent, individual growth in those lucky enough to be a part of it. We’ll be in touch this fall about 2013’s edition of PW, which will be open to motivated and adventurous16-, 17-, 18-year-olds, male or female, Pemi alums or not. Suffice it to say, though, that more than a few eyes were opened Sunday morning to the allure of this exciting wilderness adventure with a distinctive “Pemi stamp.”

That takes us close to our word limit (a coy way of saying it’s almost time for lunch – and we do get excited about lunch these days, given Stacey’s cuisine.) We’ll close with an extremely fresh bit of news coming from Zach Barnard, who teams with Henry Eisenhart (whose birthday is today!) as one of our two fine division heads in the Junior Camp. This treats the latest installment in our Big Guy/Little Guy mentoring initiative.

Senior and Junior buddies gather for s’mores

Yesterday evening, the Juniors and Seniors gathered around the newly created Junior Campfire Circle. Situated right on Junior Point, the circle overlooks the lake, sheltered from gusts of wind by the plants along the stream. Every Junior was paired with a Senior buddy, and to the tune of three or four s’mores each, the campers had a great time finding marshmallow roasting sticks and getting their hands and faces sticky. Everyone then quieted down and gathered around the fire together, Seniors sitting with their respective buddies. The counselors asked questions such as “What types of things do you do here that you don’t do at home?” and “What advice can you give to each other for the last week of camp?” The introspection and concern, as well as the thoughtfulness and maturity in so many of the answers, was awesome. We had a great time together, and we’re all looking forward to being together once again, next year!

We’ll close with that. Tune in next week for this year’s final missive, complete with Clive Bean’s annual review of our Gilbert and Sullivan production. Until then!

— Tom and Danny

Summer 2012: Newsletter #4

Tuesday, July 17. Changeover Day! Ninety first-session campers wrap up their 2012 seasons, and ninety eager second-session boys take their places. As David Byrne might say, “How did we get here (so quickly)?” A remarkable stretch of clear weather no doubt helped, as everything seems to go more quickly when the sun shines. But we trust that the proverbial speed with which tempus seems to fugare when you’re having a good time may have had something to do with it as well.

Moose Day

The last several days have been fraught with engaging activities. The world premiere of Metal Boy: The Musical graced the Pemi boards last Friday evening (on which see more below.) Saturday was Moosilauke Day, as we squared off against out storied rivals on Upper Baker Pond in a host of sports in multiple age groups. It was good to welcome the families of some of our full-season campers on this, the first of two visiting days. It was also good to prevail in the majority of the day’s contests, leaving Pemi with aggregate victories in all three of our first-session sports fixtures: Kingswood Day, Baker Valley Tournament Day, and Moose Day. Even more important though, as Danny pointed out in the Mess Hall that evening, was that the competition had been spirited and fair, and the sportsmanship flawless.

Saturday evening featured our weekly campfire, with numbers substantially augmented by our visitors. Fred Fauver and Tom Reed Jr. kicked things off with “The Lion Bitin’ Song,” with which their fathers Al and Tom had regaled the masses from the 1940s to the 1970s.  Having so many families there brought out scads of new camper acts, and more than one parent commented that s/he hadn’t known “Junior” had it in him to perform in front of 300 people. Such may be the impact, though, of our mantra, “Never be afraid to try something new.”

Counselor Hunt

The dreaded Annual Counselor Hunt, postponed from the Fourth of July, took place on Sunday afternoon, with many staff successfully flushed out of their hiding spots by fiercely intent camper/hunters – and many of them undertaking entertainingly ridiculous plunges from the high-dive as a “penalty” for being found. Top honors to Michael McKeand, braw Scots counselor of the Hill Tent, for being the first Pemi staffer ever to hide – and swim – in a kilt! That night, Head of Staff (and masterful maven of Pemi Improv) Dwight Dunston entertained – and moved – the community immensely with a wistful, wise, funny, and celebratory account of where Pemi fits into his remarkable life trajectory.

Birthday Banquet toast

Yesterday was the annual Tecumseh Track Meet, with over sixty of our campers traveling to Lake Winnepesauke for a Pemi-Tecumseh warm-up, followed by a sumptuous end-of session banquet, which doubled as a chance to celebrate the birthdays of all campers and staff whose natal anniversaries fall during the season. Chef Stacey’s turkey-with-all-the-fixin’s feast put the final touches on what has been nothing less than a brilliant five weeks as the new Pemi Escoffier. The program ended with Birthday Greetings from around the world and limericks for all of the celebrants, penned and voiced in the best Mead Hall style by resident bards Ian Axness, Peter Siegenthaler, and Dwight Dunston. Then it was down to the Lodge for first-session awards and the last Bean Soup of the stanza. As evening crept over our little valley, the spirit in the room couldn’t have been warmer, as we all relished our last moments together as a full group. To live together amiably for three and a half weeks is great in and of itself. To laugh together good-naturedly just makes it that much better. Thanks to Ian, Peter, and Dwight for making that laughter so infectious and easy.

What happened earlier in the week? Here are a few details, from various sources. First, from Paige Wallis, head of our Swimming Program:

Pemi Swimmers

On Tuesday July 10th, an eager group of Pemi swimmers made the trek over to Walt Whitman for that camp’s annual swim meet. Upon arrival, the Pemi team prepared to jump in and warm up in Walt Whitman’s outdoor pool, located just yards away from their lake. The meet consisted of a Free Relay, four individual strokes, and finished with a Medley Relay. The 11s Free Relay team of Nick Carter, Diego Periel, Teddy Foley, and Isaac Sonnenfeldt put up the first points for Pemi. Throughout the afternoon, Pemi continued to compete with great sportsmanship and speed. The 15s Free Relay team consisting of Jamie Marshman, Jackson Seniff, Nick Pennebacker, and Sompy Somp amazed the Pemi coaches with their velocity in the water. Robert Cecil glided through the H2O with ease and precision, winning Pemi points in the 13s Freestyle, Backstroke, and Medley Relay. Jack and Nick Carter brought a great energy to the11s team and tied for first in the Butterfly. The 15s Medley Relay was the final event of the day. Alex Baskin, Nick Pennebacker, Sompy Somp, and Jamie Marshman came in second, fighting hard against a skilled Walt Whitman team. There was lots of hard work and energy from Pemi team, and by the end of the day Pemi came out on top with a 178 point win! Great work, Pemi swimmers!!!

Now, let’s hear from Jonathan Merrin, Head of Archery. (Will you be able to tell from his language, we wonder, that Jon hails from Merry Old England?)

Pemi attended the Silver 25th-anniversary Robin Hood Invitational Archery tournament on the 13th of July. Even though it may have seemed a less than auspicious date for a Pemi to take on a old rival, our band of top archers set off, come what may, on their quest to claim a victory against formidable competition from a brace of other camps.

Our bold and daring band took the line for their battle with great gusto. With words of encouragement and a Pemi cheer for luck still ringing in their ears, they launched their arrows with deadly accuracy.  They acquitted themselves with the honour and valor of knights – nicely balanced by the dignity and humility befitting Pemi Kids.  To come in third out of five camps, falling only to Robin Hood and Lanakila (in whose programs archery plays a substantially greater role than in ours), they shot with a steely determination befitting champions.

To be sure, Pemi’s leaders were right up there with the tournament’s best. With sheer skill and unwavering concentration, Kai Soderberg came in second in his 12-and-under age category, narrowly dropping a championship shoot-out with a score of 255. Following that, Nathaniel Kaplan’s stunning score of 277 set a new record high tally for Pemi, garnering him sixth place on Robin Hood’s storied all-time Wall of Fame. We mustn’t forget two rising stars in Thomas Bono and Hugh Jones, who had only been doing archery for a week before their first competition. Those who saw their high standard of performance after such a short apprenticeship won’t soon forget it.

Alas, after a long day, Pemi’s brightest could not bring the trophy home, but we acquitted ourselves with distinction, setting a new benchmark and firing hope for future attempts at the title with our rising young stars.

Next, this word from Track Coach Dwight Dunston:

This past Wednesday, July 11, 2012, marked the annual Baker Valley Tournament Track and Field Invitational, hosted by Pemi. After a short Rest Hour, our boys set out to the track, thoroughly sun-screened and well hydrated for what would prove to be a successful day. Camps Moosilauke, Walt Whitman, and Kingswood arrived with their athletes in tip-top shape and ready to compete, which meant that Pemi’s task of holding on to the title as reigning champion of the meet would not be an easy one.

For the 11-and-Under age group, Diego Periel, Whit Stahl, and Reed Cecil got the day started off on a good foot, posting top times in the 60m dash, coming in 1st, 3rd, and 4th, respectively. Stahl then turned around and placed 4th in the 400m dash, while teammates Will Moore and Nick Carter captured 2nd and 3rd. In the shot put, Periel and Quinn McConnaughey showed their strength by coming in 1st and 3rd. Ben Burnham and Will Moore showed off their springs by coming in 2nd and 4th in the long jump, and Jackson Smith and Tate Suratt leapt to 2nd and 4th place finishes in the high jump. Pemi swept the mile, with Carter, McConnaughey, Cecil, and Stahl coming in the top four positions. 

The 13-and-Under crew got out to a strong start, finishing 1st and 3rd in the 60m dash behind the speed of Andrew Merrell and Dylan Cheng. In the 400m dash, Nick Todalagi captured second out of the fast heat. In the mile, Patterson Malcolm came out strong, finishing second, and teammate Pepe Periel finished four seconds behind him to capture 3rd.  Periel turned around and grabbed 2nd in the high jump, while Jack Elvekrog garnered 4th. Ben Ross, Patterson Malcolm, and Ezra Nugiel finished 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, respectively, in the long jump, and Robert Cecil and Dylan Cheng finished 3rd and 4th in the shot put.

Perhaps the story of the day came from our Seniors, who certainly led the rest of the camp from the front. In the mile, Pemi pushed the pack, with Ben Chaimberg, Dylan O’Keefe, and Nick Bertrand coming in 1st, 3rd, and 4th. Chaimberg would go on to win the 60m dash and the 400m as well (a very impressive feat indeed!), with John-Henry Bahr finishing 3rd in the 60m and Jackson Seniff finishing 4th in the 400m. Bahr would later show he had more than speed by winning the shot put, with J.J. Murray Jr. finishing 2nd. Jack Cathcart and Dylan O’Keefe finished 3rd and 4th in the long jump. Pemi then swept the high jump in the order of Bertrand, Barr, O’Keefe, and Chaimberg.

 At the end of the day, Pemi managed to gather enough points to win the track meet and retain the title for one more year. We are now looking forward to our next meet, which will be this Monday at Tecumseh. Congratulations to all of the boys who participated. Can’t wait to see what you accomplish next!    

Gramps, Metal Boy, and Pemi Counselor

Finally, in case you missed Saturday’s review in the Times, Friday’s world premiere of Metal Boy: The Musical lived up to every kilowatt of the advanced hype. For those of you who don’t know the quirky story on which Ian Axness’s show is based, it involves a little metal camper (we get ‘em here more often than you’d think!) who risks terminal rust in order to help his Pemi teammates win our annual athletic day with Camp Tecumseh. As fate would have it, the story itself has always ended with Tecumseh Day being just two weeks off  — and the narrator enjoining Pemi to “Use every day!” in preparation. Lo and behold, this year’s battles with Tecumseh come exactly two weeks after show night, so an odd cosmic propriety seems to have been in place. Interviewed by the videographer after the show (see the interviews here, on YouTube), Ian was heard to say that the story’s vision of an artistically crafted humanoid who turns out to be a fiercely-competitive athlete appealed to his sense of Pemi’s programmatic hybridity. Similarly, staging a dramatic tour de force such as Metal Boy even partially in order to spur Pemi’s real, flesh-and-blood athletes to greater effort and determination seems a wonderful blend of the Athenian and the Spartan. But back to the show.

Ian’s libretto was based on the trilogy of Metal Boy stories scribed by Tom Reed Jr. towards the start of the last decade. The music Ian culled from a variety of Pemi songs, Gilbert and Sullivan tunes from last year’s Mikado and this year’s Pirates, and two numbers from You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. Staging involved a clever black-box design by Zach Barnard, who also masterminded all other aspect of the production. We mentioned some of the cast in a previous newsletter, but suffice it to say that Metal Boy’s “Fellow Campers” Dan Bivona, Harry Cooke, Jack Davini, James Minzesheimer, Bill O’Leary, and Jackson Welsh turned in performances worthy of Tony consideration, while “Juniors” Jacob Berk, Brady Chilson, Matt Edlin, and Spencer O’Brien came through as the true infant prodigy kids they are. Lucas Jansky was hilarious as Skin-Bag (so named because that’s the way real boys evidently look to a guy with a steel epidermis), his best number being one in which he explains to Metal Boy the difference between a Squish House and a Pagoda. Peter Siegenthaler narrated with the finish of a James Earl Jones. Harry Eifler was brilliant as the ostentatious yet ever-so-slightly-cynical Counselor (type casting?), while Bridgid Ruf and Austin Blumenfeld played Mom and Dad with the warmth and wisdom of June and Ward Cleaver. Tom Reed Jr., played Gramps like the doddering old man he is, while Larry Davis played himself with a total self-immersion that would have taken Stanislavsky’s breath away. Appropriately stealing the show, however, was MB himself, realized with assured musicality and remarkable dramatic flair by Nick Gordon. He brought tears to more than one spectator’s eyes, and to a few cast members’ as well. (Fortunately, that was the way it was supposed to be!) The production was a double-header, with the curtain rising at 7PM and then again at 8, and when the second show closed with a standing ovation, it was clear something truly remarkable had taken place. If you’re interested in a DVD, let us know!

Well, that about does it for now. Stay tuned for next week’s number, when Assistant Director Ken Moore will review some highlights of Pemi’s diverse Occupations program. Until then, we hope you all enjoy cool and clement weather. Thanks to all the boys who made the first half of the 2012 season such a success. We miss you already, and look forward to the next time we meet.

— Tom and Danny

Summer 2012: Newsletter #1

It’s 10 in the morning, Tuesday, June 26th, and we’re now well into the third full day of Pemi’s 105th season. As we sit here in the “West Wing,” the sound of Owen Fried working through Pachelbel’s Canon under the attentive ear of Ian Axness drifts into the room, as Owen preps to perform at an upcoming Sunday meeting. Out on the courts, Jeff Greene and his staff run the twenty boys in tennis occupation through some lively drills – and off the lake come the sounds of Sunfish slapping through choppy waves while the ski-boat tows a wake-boarder through the same. All’s as it should be, despite some pesky gray weather we’re expecting to clear in a day or so.

2012 staff on Mt. Cardigan, preseason

It was good seeing many of you on Saturday as you dropped your boys off on Opening Day. That day’s showers actually broke a mild drought we’d experienced during staff training week so, on balance, it was okay to see Jupiter Pluvius roll back into our valley to green things up again. By Saturday, the staff was anything but green, having been through a week plus of orientation – and certification in everything from Red Cross Lifeguarding to Wilderness First Aid. We’re really excited about the group of young men and women who will be looking after your sons this summer, and hasten to refer you to the blog post detailing their backgrounds and interests.

One of the most gratifying developments so far is the quality and quantity of food coming out of the Pemi kitchen. We’re delighted to have hired a new chef, Stacey Saville-Moore from Richmond, Kentucky and she and her crew are most definitely living up to the Michelin-guide-style reviews that came from her references. The initial acid-test of any Pemi kitchen is, of course, the pizza turned out on opening night, and Stacey’s was right up there with Frank Pepe’s in New Haven. Stacey also pleasantly surprised us by lining up a source for the traditional first-night dessert – Hood Rockets. We’d been told they’d finally gone the way of the Edsel, but Stacey proved us wrong. She’s already confessed to loving this place. We’re already thinking we’re reciprocating.

Henry Eisenhart and Harrison Green

Saturday’s evening program featured our inaugural campfire, thankfully held outdoors as the skies cleared and left the pond laced with drifting mist fired to glowing pastels as the sun dropped in the west. First on the playlist was a spirited, all-hands-on-deck round about the Chicago Fire of 1871, featuring blood-curdlingly loud yells of “Fire, Fire, Fire!” Campers Phineas Walsh and Andre Altherr then calmed the crowd with a guitar solo of the Beatles’ “Blackbird” and an old British ballad, respectively. They were followed by a staff trio of Bridgid Ruf (also on mandolin), Zach Barnard, and Dorin Dehls with a stealthily-philosophical number about multiple voices becoming “one.” Ben Ballman stepped up boldly on his first Pemi day ever with a riddle that tested the geometrical acumen of the average camper, and then Robert Loeser returned triumphantly to the virtual microphone with an unaccompanied cover of “Somebody to Love” that left this correspondent sockless. In pursuit of his one-man campaign to preserve 90’s indie rock, AC Harry Eifler then brought in Peter Siegenthaler to accompany him on guitar on “The Aeroplane over the Sea” (“Oh, yeah,” you’re all saying to yourselves, “the song by Neutral Milk Hotel.”) After some quotable quotes from Jeff Greene on the importance of play and playfulness, a lakeside sax improvisation Henry Eisenhart (age twenty-two) and Harrison Green (age ten), and our annual visit from Maurice Gagnon, world-champion moose-caller (who, if truth be told, always looks suspiciously like Nature Director Larry Davis), it was “The Campfire Song,” back to the cabins, and a cozy tuck-in to freshly made beds as the crescent moon dropped quietly over Pemi Hill.

Sunday dawned brilliantly, as more than a few of your boys awoke to what may have been the unusual stimuli of the sun pouring directly through an open window or doorway onto their pillows – and dozens of birds testing their chirps as they stretched their wings in trees mere feet away. A live bugle rendition of “Reveille” finished the job (thanks to Ryan Fauver in the Upper camp and Teddy Farkas in the Junior), and then it was a few calisthenics and into the pond for the season’s first polar bear dip. A busy day followed: swim tests, health checks, weight checks, all-camp photo, cabin photos (on both of which more later), letters home, team practices, group-building scavenger hunts, and 2012’s first free swim. Stacey and her crew get Sunday afternoons off, so supper was a cook-out run by the division heads, with the whole camp spread out on the lawns in front of the messhall. Trip Counselor Richard Komson played DJ, and more than a few barbecue chefs, food-servers, crowd-managers, and diners were seen to prance and gyrate to the likes of Freddy Mercury, The Boss, and the Supremes. Timeless stuff – and rock-solid fun for young and old (no pun intended). The first Sunday meeting honored our more personal past, with a look back at the first two generations of Pemi directors and the qualities that helped them make this camp what it is – all of which we hope were presented to the night’s audience as things that campers might find it worthwhile (and possible!) to emulate.  True history out of the way, the evening ended with a recently-recovered, seven-minute, b&w silent movie assembled here in the ’40s and ’50s – “Foolish Flashes” – depicting Pemi in ways more reminiscent of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin than the current camp recruiting video. Ask your sons for details – but the message (if there was one) is that one of the more underappreciated ways to guarantee that you accomplish something in life is not always to take yourself too seriously.

Helping, as always, with the task of greasing the skids of institutional progress with the lubricant of laughter was last night’s first reading of Bean Soup, now in its 103rd year as the opinion leader of Pemigewassett. A crowd of 240 gathered in the Lodge at 7:30 in the evening, eagerly awaiting the arrival of this year’s editors, Ian Axness and Peter Siegenthaler. When these two strode to the front of the room and mounted the table that is the traditional bully pulpit, no one was disappointed: BS got off to one of the strongest starts we can recall. We’ll spare you the details for now, confident that some of you will seize the opportunity to read the thing itself when it arrives at your homes next December, all tastefully printed and bound. If, that is, you can wrest the copy from your enthralled sons. (BTW, will Bean Soup ever be distributed for Kindle and Nook, we wonder? And are the Four Docs rolling in their graves even as we ask that question?) Suffice it to say that one of the most memorable features of the evening was a part of an initiative this year to enhance opportunities for leadership for our oldest campers. Halfway through the Soup, Ian and Peter invited Lake Tent denizen Harry Cooke to join them for the week’s “Senior Moment.” Harry delivered himself of a masterpiece of terse whimsy involving (of course) life-searching questions about pagodas and their placement – serving notice, in the process, that he himself is very likely to be a Bean Soup editor before too very long.

That brings us up to this morning – and, as we wrap this missive, we’re pleased to say that not a drop of rain has fallen in the whole forenoon. The forecast for the end of the week is a good one, and plans are already afoot to get some Lower and Upper Intermediate backpacking trips into the mountains on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Speaking of mountains, participants in Pemi West, our mountain leadership program in Olympic National Park, arrive in Port Angeles this afternoon, joining leaders Evan Jewett, Dan Reed, and David Paolella for what will surely be a transformative experience in their young lives. We half wish we could join Dan Fulham, Peter Montante, Alexander Dietl, Sam Papel, Nathan Tempro, and Sam Harrigan as they shoulder their packs and head off towards Mount Olympus. Then again, there’s plenty that’s equally exciting going on here. Stay tuned for further details.

— Tom and Danny

2012 Pemi Staff

 

 

 

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.

And now, the 2012 crew:

Danny Kerr (Director): I am happy to be at Pemi for my third summer and, though it is hard to believe, this is my 41st summer overall at summer camp. I still very much think of myself as a New Yorker, but my wife and I are now happily settled in Keene NH. While at Pemi, I look forward to once again coaching 15 and under baseball, sharing my dog Bodie with the boys, and supporting the staff and campers in every way I can.

Tom Reed (Director): I am the grandson of one of Pemi’s founders, in my 53rd summer as a camper or staff member. I head Pemi’s extensive Trip Program (and am known to write a Bean Soup article or newsletter or two). I took my degrees at Yale and the University of Virginia and, in my spare time, am Professor of English at Dickinson College.

Ken Moore (Assistant Director): Born and bred in Lakewood, Ohio, I teach 9th grade history at Lake Ridge Academy where I also serve as Director of Alumni Relations.  This is my twentieth summer at Pemi, some as a boy, counselor and Division Head, and more recently as Waterfront Head and now as Assistant Director. I organize and implement Pemi’s massive daily Program.  My BA is from Kenyon College and my MAED is from University School’s Teacher Apprentice Program through Ursuline College.  This summer I hope to continue our institutional goal of encouraging boys to try new activities as well as to build previous skills to a newfound level of excellence.

Fred Seebeck (Assistant Director): Having begun my Pemi career in J3 way back in 1963, I look forward to spending parts of yet another wonderful summer at Pemi during pre-season, pre-Tecumseh week, and Pemi Week.  The allure of some reminiscing with old friends during the 105th reunion offers a special incentive to be at Camp again this summer, as do the terrific staff and awesome campers that we always seem to attract.  Warm wishes to you all out there in cyberspace, and see you at the Reunion!

Dottie Reed (Head Administrator): I have the privilege of working year ’round for Pemi and am thrilled that the 2012 season is finally underway. During the winter, I live in Carlisle Pennsylvania with my husband Tom (little did I realize when we married 25 years ago what that would lead to). I coordinate a range of nuts ‘n’ bolts, from forms to photos. I also recommend that every parent read Homesick and Happy.

Judy Ireton (Accounts): this is my sixth summer at Pemi where I handle the camp bookkeeping, camper accounts, employee payroll, and support the office staff. During the winter, I work for Pemi from my Inverness, Florida home, where I also enjoy travel, reading, and spending time with friends.

Cabin Counselors

J1- Zach Barnard (Division Head): This past year, I was fortunate to spend ten weeks traveling and exploring Europe as well as the Alaskan wilderness. In between my travels, I worked at Pemi, back home in Savannah, Georgia, and in Oberlin, Ohio. I’m so lucky to finish up this incredible year on the shores of Lower Baker where I plan to teach in the Nature and Art & Music programs, and more importantly, to serve as the Junior One counselor for my third year, introducing the next generation of our youngest campers to the wonders of Pemi.

J2- Austin Blumenfeld: I’m from Chappaqua, New York and am a rising sophomore at Binghamton University.  This will be my sixth summer at Pemi and second on staff.  Some of the areas in which I will be teaching and assisting with include baseball, tennis, frisbee-running bases, and waterskiing.  As a former camper who spent a vast majority of time strictly on the athletic fields, I hope to encourage current campers to step out of their comfort zone and take part in activities that they wouldn’t typically participate in.  I look forward to seeing you and your sons up on Lower Baker and a great 105th summer at Pemi!

J3- Adam Sandler: I am 19 years old, from Westchester New York and am excited to return for my tenth summer at Pemi, my third on staff. I look forward to passing on my own enthusiasm to campers for fishing, lacrosse, the art program, frisbee, and waterfront activities.

J4- Jay McChesney: I am from Richmond Virginia and spent last year at the University of Vermont pursuing a political science major and playing on the club squash team and will be a sophomore next year at Sewanee: The University of the South. This will be my ninth summer at Pemi and I will be teaching mainly sailing and lacrosse but hope to explore some new things here as well.

J5- Ben Ridley: I am from north of England, and just finished my second year at the University of Leeds studying Graphic and Communication Design. This will be my second year as a counselor at Pemi and I really look forward to helping with the music and arts program.

J6- Henry Eisenhart (Division Head): I’m from Natick, Massachusetts, and just recently graduated from St. Lawrence University where I received in a BA in Environmental Studies and minored in music. This is my tenth year at Camp Pemi and fourth year on staff. This summer I will be the co-Division-Head along with Zach Barnard in the Junior Division. Throughout the summer I will spend my time teaching various athletics and music. I’m really excited to be back on Lower Baker for an awesome summer!

JT- Matt Bolton: I am a rising sophomore at New York University, where I am studying studio art and this will be my first year at Pemi. As an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America, I enjoy hiking, canoeing, and everything outdoors. I will be teaching in the art and photo departments here at Pemi. I’m looking forward to a fun summer, and sharing my knowledge of the wilderness and my love of art with the boys.

L1- Mike Plecha: This is my second year at Pemi and I will teach basketball, baseball, soccer, and swimming, A capella, and anything else I am asked to help with.  During the academic year, I study Music Industry at Northeaster University. I am excited to return to Pemi and to work with the wonderful kids and staff that make this camp so special.

L2- Conner Scace (Division Head): I have finished my second year as a graduate student working with Dr. Larry Davis at the University of New Haven and currently live in West Haven, Connecticut. This will be my third year at Pemi instructing nature and basketball occupations. I am looking forward to another summer at Pemi, alongside a great staff. I want to encourage campers to try new things, make new friends, and have fun this summer.

L3- Ryan Fauver: I’m from Chatham NJ and will be a sophomore at Skidmore College in the fall. This is going to be my tenth summer at Pemi. I’m the camp bugler and am looking forward to spending long hours in the Junior Lodge working with the Silver Cornet Band and other music occupations.

L4- Max Nugiel: I have just finished my sophomore year at the University of Vermont pursuing a degree in Political Science and Economics. My first time back since my six year run as a camper, I cannot wait to have an amazing summer on the shores of Lower Baker once again. I will be coaching soccer and track and also helping out in the music program and will encourage campers to explore everything Pemi has to offer.

HT- Mike McKeand: I am from a small village called Biggar in Scotland but originally from the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebridees. I come from a very rural background and so have a natural love of the outdoors, as well as sport with rugby being my real passion. I will be helping mainly with the nature program but also with soccer and woodworking. This will be my first time at camp and so I am looking forward to new challenges and new experiences!

L5- Will Clare (Division Head): I am from New York City where I currently study accounting at Hunter College. I am returning to Pemi for what will be my 12th summer, seven as a camper and now my fifth as a staff member. I will be one of the division heads for the lowers and will teach lacrosse, tennis, and a variety of other sports.

L6- David Bowes: My name is David Albright Bowes, from Washington D.C. I just graduated from Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania where I was President of the Student Body and played football, wrestled, and played lacrosse during my senior year.  In the fall I am going to be at Bowdoin College, where I will proudly be playing lacrosse for the Polar Bears. I am excited for a great summer at Pemi!

L7- Willy Rittling: I just finished my sophomore year at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY where I am majoring in Business Financial Information and Analysis. I currently live in Brookline Massachusetts. This summer I will help in the woodshop and also will teach windsurfing and rugby.

U1- Andrew McChesney: I am from Short Hills NJ and am a rising sophomore at Trinity College in Hartford Ct. This will be my eighth summer at Pemi, third on staff, and I can’t wait to get back! I plan to be teaching lacrosse, sailing and other occupations. My goal for the summer is to create a fun and welcoming community for all the boys.

U2- Sam Ubersax: I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended Pemi as a camper for two summers. I just finished my freshman year at Amherst College where I play on the Men’s Tennis Team and will be a Resident Counselor for “First Years” next fall.  I look forward to helping out with the tennis program and any other athletic activity that may require assistance.

U3- Charlie Shiverick (Division Head):  After graduating from Colgate University in 2010, I have spent the last two winters in Vail, CO working as a Snocat operator and for the Vail race department. This will be my seventh summer at Pemi, and third on staff. I am the head of waterskiing and also will teach some baseball and help out wherever else I’m needed.

U4- Galen Ryan: I am 20 years old, from Riverside, IL, and am a rising junior at Carleton College in Northfield, MN where I am a Psych major. I play for the Carleton Ultimate Team and plan to go to medical school. This is my second summer at Pemi and in addition to being a cabin counselor I look forward to teaching Ultimate frisbee and swimming.

S1- Ian Steckler: I’m from Chevy Chase, MD and am a rising junior at Washington University in St. Louis.  This will be my fifth summer at Pemi, my first as a counselor.  I’m looking forward to coaching basketball and baseball as well as instructing sailing and guitar.  I can’t wait to get after it, and I hope to encourage campers to make the most of each day.

S2- Thomas Scarf: I’m currently studying Politics and International Relations at the University of Hull in the north east of England, with an aim to work in the British Civil Service upon graduation. Coming from an international family and having lived and travelled across the world has given me a unique set of experiences that I believe will benefit the boys at Camp Pemi. I am looking forward to coaching soccer and getting involved in other outdoor pursuits, especially hiking, sampling the spectacular views found in New Hampshire.

S3- Ben Walsh (Division Head): I am excited to spend my eleventh summer at Pemi; this will be my fifth on staff. I am a rising junior at Carleton College where I enjoy everything, so make sure to have your kid look there. This summer I hope to make sure fingernails get dirty and later cleaned.

LT- Peter Siegenthaler (Division Head): Originally from Millbrook, NY, I am a freelance photographer and gardener when I am not at Pemi. This will be my fifth summer on staff, during which I will be a head of the Senior Division. I will be instructing occupations in the nature and arts program, and I will also be a co-editor of the infamous Bean Soup.

Assistant Counselors

J1- Buck Baskin: I am from Glastonbury, Connecticut, just outside of Hartford. I am going to be a senior at Choate Rosemary Hall, a high school in Wallingford, Connecticut. I am an Assistant Counselor at Pemi. I spent three summers at Pemi, and I spent last summer with Pemi West. I’m looking forward to sharing the Pemi experience I had as a camper with the campers who are coming this year.

J2- Teddy Farkas: I am from New York, NY and just graduated the Trinity School and will be heading to Kenyon College, in Ohio, in the fall. This will be my seventh summer at Pemi and my first year on staff. I hope to be teaching water polo, swimming, and lacrosse while at camp this summer. I’m very excited to come back to camp after a few years away and hope to show the campers as great a time as I had as a camper.

J3- Gus Walsh: My family lives in New Canaan, Ct but I go to boarding school in Concord, NH (St. Paul’s School) where I just finished my sophomore year. This is my eighth summer at Camp Pemi and my first year as an assistant counselor. I look forward to spending time playing sports and creating art masterpieces.

J4- Juan Gallardo: I am from Los Angeles, CA, and recently graduated from prep school in western Massachusetts. Next year I will be a freshman at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. I will be teaching both Track and Soccer; also, I will be an assistant counselor in Juniorville where I will hopefully have tons of fun and make lots of new friends with the campers.

J5- Harry Eifler: This summer will be my ninth at Pemi and my first on staff after one summer away. All three of my older brothers also attended Pemi in summers past. These sentences make me sound like I’m making an e-harmony account; I’ll try to be a bit less formal. This coming year I’ll be heading into my senior year at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connecticut, another home away from home. On a personal note, I enjoy playing the piano, singing, and taking long walks on the beach.

J6- Will Meinke: I am 17 years old, from Westport, Connecticut. This coming fall I will attend Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva NY, and will major in economics.  This is my seventh summer at Pemi, and my first on staff. I look forward to contributing to the soccer program, on the waterfront, and much more!

L1- Sam Maher: I am eighteen years old from Sheffield, MA. I graduated from Berkshire School this spring. This fall I will be a freshman at Bates College. I was a camper at Pemi for four summers, and this will be my first summer as an Assistant Counselor. I love acting and singing in chorus, and I have also loved rowing crew. I look forward to having a great summer at Pemi and meeting all of the campers.

L2- Owen Ritter: I am from New York, NY, entering my senior year of high school at the Dalton School, where I play varsity football and lacrosse and participate heavily in the music program. This will be my seventh summer at Pemi, and I look forward to helping with music as well as sailing and lacrosse.

L4- Payne Hadden: I am from Weston, MA and am returning to camp for my tenth summer on the shores of Lower Baker. I just finished my senior year at St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH and will be attending Colgate University in the fall. I will be teaching soccer, basketball, swimming, wakeboarding and lacrosse as well as helping out in many different programs areas at camp.

L5- Nate Kraus: I’ve been a part of the Pemi family for four years now (five if you include Pemi West.) I live in Williamstown, MA. I’m a rising senior at the Millbrook School in Millbrook, NY, where I play varsity tennis and act as Vice President of the student body. I like to play tennis, sail, play music, and do just about everything else Pemi has to offer. I’m thrilled to be back at Lower Baker Pond this summer.

U1- Andrew Brummer: I’m from Chatham, New Jersey and I just graduated from Newark Academy in Livingston, NJ. I am looking forward to attending Colgate University in the fall, where I will be a freshman. This is my ninth summer at Pemi, and I hope to continue my work on the tennis courts, soccer pitch, and waterfront.

U3- Stan Barlow: I’m from Belmont, MA, and I am a rising senior at the Brimmer and May School in Newton, MA. This will be my third year at Pemi, not including the Pemi West trip I took last summer; but my first year on staff. I look forwards to assisting with basketball, soccer, and most of all baseball; and perhaps even teaching beginner’s guitar. I look forwards to getting back into the amazing community that Camp Pemi offers, and I would love to see a victory on Tecumseh Day!

Trip Leaders

Jamie Andrews (Head of Trips): I’m from Columbus Ohio, and just graduated from Kenyon College. This will be my fourteenth summer with Pemi, and my fourth season leading trips for camp. Outdoor experiences are few and far between for kids these days, so I think the opportunity to get out in nature is important and enlightening for many Pemi campers. I’m also incredibly intelligent and good looking, please hire me for a job.

Brock Ellis: G’day America! This will be my first time visiting your beautiful country. I’m a primary school teacher and taught grade 5 last year, in Sydney. I’ve taken this year off teaching to travel and have the best time I possibly can. This is obviously my first time at camp, and I can’t wait to get in and have a go doing anything and everything. I studied at the University of Notre Dame Sydney, a product of your Notre Dame University. I’ve spent the earlier part of the year backpacking across Europe, and can’t wait to be in North America.

Dan Willard: I am from Cranberry Township, PA, and I have just finished my freshman year at Bucknell University, where I am studying Chemical Engineering with an Environmental Concentration and minoring in Engineering Geology.  After five years as a camper, I am very excited for my first year on staff as a trip counselor.  The trip program was a huge part of my camp experience, and I can’t wait to share a love for the outdoors with the campers this year.

Program Staff

Ian Axness (Head of Music): Born and raised in Los Angeles, enlightened at Oberlin, I now live in New York City where I freelance as a pianist and theatrical music director.  I will be teaching piano, improvisation, songwriting, and Gilbert & Sullivan occupations this summer, in addition to writing/editing Bean Soup and generally avoiding physical exertion. This is my sixth summer at Pemi.

Larry Davis (Director of Nature Programs and Teaching): A.B., A.M. in Earth Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis. PhD in Geological Sciences University of Rochester. Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of New Haven. This is my 43rd year on Pemi’s staff. Flutist, caver in chief, wild foods chef, collector of waterfalls, lover of all things “natural.”

Dorin Dehls: I am from Woodstock, Connecticut. I am please to say that this will be my fourth year returning to Pemi. I recently graduated from Central Connecticut State University with a degree in Music Education and I am excited to return as part of the music staff. I can’t wait to get started on this year’s production of Pirates of Penzance, and I look forward to seeing some bright new faces along with Gilbert & Sullivan veterans in the cast this year!

Dwight Dunston (Head of Staff): This will be my fourth year at Pemi and I am very excited for another wonderful summer on Lower Baker Pond. This past year I worked at Friends’ Central School right outside of Philadelphia as a Communications Assistant and Track & Field coach. While in this new position, I lost count of how many times I found myself talking about my life in the summer. Needless to say, it is so great to be back at this place, surrounded by all these wonderful people.

Emilie Geissinger: I am from Darien, CT and will be going into my junior year at Bates College.  This is my second year working at Pemi.  I am majoring in Biology and am a member of the Bates swim team and water polo team.  I will be teaching swimming and am excited for another summer here in New Hampshire.

Jeff Greene (Head of Tennis): This is my fourteenth summer at Pemi as Director of Tennis. During the non-Pemi season, I coordinate and direct an adult tennis program on weekends and an after school children’s tennis program for the town of Harrison, NY. This is the 50th anniversary of my first summer sleepaway camp experience.

Deb Kure (Assistant Associate Head of Nature): Since studying Geology at the University of Rochester, I’ve loved teaching outdoor science through camps, museums, and trips programs throughout the US.  During the school year I work for Camp Fire USA in Austin, Texas, leading students and families in outdoor programs.  Delighted to be back in the Northern Forest, for my fifth summer in the Nature Program!

Harry MacGregor (Head of Shop) – I grew up in Lowell, MA and for the last 30 years have lived in Canaan, New Hampshire.   I have had a long career in commerical, industrial and residental construction.   I have owned my own business focusing on custom woodworking.  My focus at Camp Pemi will be to bring my knowledge of woodworking to the campers, and I am happy to be returning for my second summer.

Charlie Malcolm (Director of Athletics): I have spent close to thirty summers on the shores of Lower Baker as camper, pagoda boy, counselor, and Athletic Director. I teach at the Northfield Mount Hermon School in the History Department and live in a boys’ dorm. I lead trips abroad and coach soccer and baseball at NMH, as well. My soccer team has won two New England Prep Class A Championships and I hold an Advanced National Coaching License. My father attended Pemi, I met and married my wife Kim at Pemi, and our two kids, Patterson and Victoria, have been blessed to spend all of their summers at Pemi.

Jonathan Merrin (Head of Archery): I am from London, England and this is my first summer at Pemi, where I am going to be Head of Archery.  I hope to have a great summer at Pemi, and can’t wait to meet the campers and have lots of fun.

Deb Pannell (Head of Arts): I live with my husband, Jim, and our two sons in Tiburon, a small town north of San Francisco where I teach fifth grade. I am delighted to return to Pemi for my second summer!  My son Ethan (14), is a Pemi camper. We have many new, exciting projects in store as well as old favorites. My goal this summer is to involve as many boys as possible in the creative fun that will take place in the art building!

Bridgid Ruf: I am from Southport, CT and just finished my second year at Wellesley College, where I am studying economics. I am thrilled to be back for my fourth summer on staff, and I am looking forward to teaching music and waterskiing occupations as well as spending time in the junior camp.

Megan Smart: I graduated from Durham University with a degree in Biology in 2010, and since then have been working in Genetics in a hospital in Cambridge. I am looking forward to being amongst the views and mountains of Pemi, given that Cambridge is possibly the flattest place on earth. Not only is this my first time working at camp, this is also the first time I have been to the US, and I am very excited about teaching Nature here this summer!

Paige Wallis (Head of Swimming): Originally from Norwich, VT, I just graduated from the University of Vermont in Burlington with a dual degree in English and History. This is my third summer on the shores of Lower Baker, where I will be the program head of swimming and one of the main lifeguards in camp. In addition to working on the waterfront, I will continue to help out in Junior Camp.

And those who take care of all of us…

Kitchen Folk

Dan Atkinson: I’m from Sunderland in the north east of England, which isn’t the most exciting place in the world I’ll admit. I thought the experience of coming to Pemi would not only give me an enjoyable summer, but also give me the opportunity to experience a difference culture and a way of life I’m not familiar with. Working in the kitchen will be an interesting time, as I’ve never done anything like it before, but in the long run I feel it will be very beneficial and I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Sean Colclough: I am a British university student currently studying graphic design in Plymouth. I hope to gain some new skills and experience in the kitchen. This will also give me the opportunity to experience a new environment and culture. Making new friends from a different country is also something I am looking forward to.

Kristen Cole: I am a graduate of University of Vermont, where I focused on Environmental Studies and Education. I am from Greenwich, CT, and I spent the last year skiing and working out at Snowbird, UT. After visiting Pemi for the past three years, I am thrilled to join the staff managing the Mess Hall and helping incorporate local produce into the meals.  I will also be working in the Nature Lodge and wherever else I am needed!

Kristn Higson: I’m from Manchester England! The heart of football (soccer), so as you could imagine I am a huge football fan! My experience at Pemi will help me so much; I’m really excited to get to know the different culture and the different people. The kitchen will be difficult but very rewarding in terms of life experiences. I am hugely looking forward to the challenge of Pemi and the different way of living, so bring it on!

Stacey Moore (Head Chef): I’m originally from New York but currently live in Richmond, KY. I’m married with four grown children and now am delighted to be feeding the big Pemi family. I have 26 years experience as a chef with a special passion for baking, and aim to incorporate fresh produce, fruits, and dairy goods from local farms into our menu.

Gabriel Southren-Burns: I am currently studying the Built Environment at Sheffield Hallam University. I am from a small village called Corbridge, Northumberland, approximately 30 minutes drive from Newcastle, England. I will be working as a member of the kitchen staff, helping to set up and clear away all meals.

Health Staff

Monica Mangan: I’m excited to be in cool, green New Hampshire instead of sunny and hot Tucson were I live the other ten months of the year with my husband Rich and our son Darren (a camper at Pemi). This will be my third summer as one of the dynamic Nurse-duo of Pemi’s Health Center.  I have 25 years as a pediatric nurse and, at summer’s end, will start a new chapter in my nursing profession where I will work as a School Nurse in Tucson.

Laura Patterson, RN HNB-BC CCAP: I am returning to Camp Pemi for my third year as one of the two staff nurses.  During the academic year, I work in the Health Center at Colby College in Waterville Maine.  I am certified as a holistic nurse and as a clinical aromatherapist and I enjoy blending complementary modalities with traditional methods of health care to provide the campers with the best of both worlds while at Pemi.