Some Things Old and Some Things New

Pemi’s Nature Program

Introduction
If longtime Nature Head (from 1927-1969) Clarence Dike were to walk into the Nature Lodge today, he would find many things familiar and many things that were not. Over the years, I have written about novel ways in which we’ve expanded the program. Here, however, I want to highlight some of the ways in which we’ve updated and enhanced traditional occupations and activities to keep campers of all ages engaged, from beginner to advanced levels.

Some Things Old
Some things just don’t change. I love this sequence of photos that shows the “history” of butterfly nets here at Pemi. We make our own, using a length of mosquito netting, heavy duty cotton thread, a hoop fashioned from a wire hanger, and a stick cut from our woods.

1.NETS

The first picture (circa 1940’s?) shows Clarence Dike himself helping a camper; the second, 1972, a camper with Rob Grabill—who prior to becoming director was in instructor in the Nature Program; and the third, a 2015 crew (with staff member Sara Crayton at the wheel and “bug instructors” Matt Kanovsky and Chase Gagne), headed out to a field for collecting using their homemade nets.

What-Is-It?

What-Is-It? contest

Clarence would have recognized the display for the “What-is-it?” contest, too, though its “home” in the Nature Lodge has been relocated. Each day a new “natural” item is put out for campers and staff to identify. The camper in each division (and the staff member) with the highest score for the summer gets one of our specially created nature awards (another holdover from the Clarence Dike era). The “new” innovation this year is that, after 45 years of running the contest, I have ceded oversight to Associate Head of Nature Programs Deb Kure. She has brought her enthusiasm and salesmanship to it and participation has never been higher.

Some Things Old (but updated)

Milkweed pods, anyone?

Milkweed pods, anyone?

Wild Foods has long been one of the most popular activities at Pemi. We have been cooking and eating milkweed shoots, flowers, and pods for years. We have also had a “native American garden” for 5 years now in which we attempt to grow varieties of the “three sisters” (corn, beans, squash) that closely resemble those used by the Native Americans 600 years ago. Last year was the first in which we had any kind of a corn crop. So this year, for the first time, we shelled and ground it then used it to make pancakes with wild blackberries (also collected here). Served with some of Alum Bob Zock’s dark, flavorful maple syrup, they were a real hit.

Our own corn!

Our own corn!

Looking at bear scratch marks

Looking at bear scratch marks

Along with bringing back Bush Lore, we also updated our “Animal Signs and Homes” occupation. Finding an old bear den way up in the woods several years ago inspired this activity. The occupation is designed for all ages and includes not only learning about animal homes and shelters but also identifying such signs as territorial marks, feeding signs, and of course “scat,” the polite name for “poop.” This last, of course, provides all kinds of information about what the animal was eating and how it ate it.

Some Things Old (but augmented)
“Chemical” (film) photography dates back to the mid-1800s. We’ve had a darkroom at Pemi since before the digital era. In 2015, under the guidance of visiting professional Andy Bale and experienced darkroom enthusiasts Erik Wiedemann and Mark Welsh, we had an explosion of interest. There is something special about not knowing what your photograph will look like until it is slowly revealed in the developing tank under the red “safe light.” Pemi supplies the film, the cameras, and the darkroom supplies. Of course, we do digital photography too and our new special nature/photo trips (see below) have lead to some spectacular photographs.

Prints made in the darkroom

Examples of prints made by campers in Pemi’s darkroom

Surface tension, as illustrated by soap bubbles

Surface tension, as illustrated by soap bubbles

“Weird Science” has long been a staple for Juniors. Here we introduce the boys to the wonders of collapsing cans (vacuum), strange material behavior (Oobleck-corn starch and water), exploding balloons (expanding air), and much more. We use old-time physics demonstrations al la the old “Mr. Wizard” (am I really dating myself?). This past summer, under the guidance of engineer-in-training Sam Papel and future geneticist Thom Kelly, we expanded “Weird Science” to older campers. Highlights included giant soap bubbles (surface tension) and the infamous “egg-drop,” an engineering school staple. For this, the boys had to design a protective enclosure for a raw egg (using natural materials found in the woods) that would keep it intact when it was dropped off the porch of U4 onto the road. By the way, every boy succeeded in protecting his egg.

I have led caving trips at Pemi for over 30 years. In most summers we take a beginning trip that includes three caves and an advanced trip that includes two very challenging (physically and mentally) caves: Knox and Gage. This year was no different. However, for the first time in many, many years, my sister, Emily Davis, a world-class caver (never, please, “spelunker”) led the trips. Sam Papel, 2015’s counselor of J1 who’d experienced all the trips when he was a camper, assisted. Emily challenged the boys, as usual, with the “Gun Barrel” in Knox Cave, which is 50 feet long and about 1.5 feet in diameter.  This year, she also offered to take them through the “Lake Room” in Gage to view some spectacular “rimstone dams.’ Traveling to the dams meant going for a swim in the lake. Fortunately, Sam Papel is a lifeguard so this was possible. However, it is not easy. The water temperature is 46° F and you must actually swim (in your caving gear) for about 25 feet. The four boys who did this agreed that it was well worth the effort.

Emerging from the gun barrel; "Lake room"; example of rimstone dams (Texas)

Pemi camper emerging from the gun barrel; the “Lake room”; example of rimstone dams (location,Texas)

Some Things Old (but revamped)

homemade shelter

All set to spend the night in a homemade shelter

When Nuwi Somp (from Papua New Guinea, father to campers Sompy and Brandon) was here in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, he led a popular occupation called “bush lore” in which he taught skills learned in the jungles of his homeland, but adapted to our New England habitat. “Bush lore” goes way back here in North America. Obviously the Native Americans needed these skills and when many New England summer camps were founded, in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, teaching them was part of their mission. So, we brought bush lore back this summer focusing on classic outdoor skills such as fire making, way finding, and shelter building. The week’s activity culminated with participating campers and their instructor building individual shelters in the woods and spending the night in it. We taught this occupation twice during the summer and the boys who did it during week 3 had the additional challenge of rain overnight. I’m pleased to report that most stayed dry and comfortable.

Some Things New
We had some innovations this year also. To my mind, the most important of these were the combined nature/photography trips. Some of these went to familiar nature trip destinations such as Quincy Bog in nearby Rumney or Sculptured Rocks. Others went to new spots such as Sabbaday Falls (along the Kancamagus Highway) and to property owned by the Spiess family (who generously granted us permission to visit several times) in Piermont, NH. We have nicknamed this location “The 200” as it is about 200 acres in size. It provided locations both for collecting butterflies and for photography.

On location in "the 200"; Quincy Bog and Sculpured rocks, as photographed by Will Raduziner

On location in “the 200”; Quincy Bog and Sculptured Rocks, as photographed by Will Raduziner

Sabbaday Falls is interesting geologically. It formed when faulting exposed a basalt dike, which then eroded quickly forming a deep gorge with waterfalls. There are also subsidiary waterfalls leading into the gorge. It provided both a wonderful setting to talk about White Mountain geology and to work on a variety of photographic techniques. Of course, it also provided a perfect location for just contemplating the beauty of nature.

Sabbaday Falls

Sabbaday Falls

The Role of Innovation
Pemi’s Nature Program celebrated its 90th anniversary this year, 2015. Since 1926, our approach has been science-based with emphasis on collecting and field observation. Early traditions, such as shooting birds to get their wings for display, are rightfully gone. Changes such as those outlined here have kept Pemi’s program vital and up-to-date. We have made it even more science-based, as rigorous, perhaps, as any high-level middle or high school program. Yet it is still rooted in outdoor observation of nature, something that you cannot get in a classroom, whatever the level of digital effects. Already, we are thinking of ways that we can update, revamp, or augment our existing activites and of new activities that we can introduce. Stay tuned.

~ Larry Davis

Wrapping up 2015: A Chief, a Toast, and Clive Bean

Hello to one and all from the slightly muggy precincts of the Baker Valley, where true summer weather seems to be making a belated but assertive appearance. We’ve yet to deploy our Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome over the Pond and switch on the air, but the thought has obviously occurred to us.

Noah, center, flanked by past Chiefs

Noah, center, flanked by past Chiefs

It seems impossible that our 2015 campers left us one week ago! We hope and trust that they are all back in the bosoms of their families – be it at their real winter homes or at seasonal digs at Chatham or Edgartown – sharing happy memories of their time with us, but also picking up the threads of their non-summer lives with relish and determination. As many of you may have heard, the season ended on a huge high note, as one of our wonderful 15s, Noah Belinowiz, earned his Chief Award on the last day of the season – joining only twelve other alums who have garnered the honor over the past four decades. The distinction requires thorough and consistent commitment to and accomplishment in virtually every area of the Pemi program – athletics, trips, nature studies, and community service – and when Danny informed the curious and eager crowd in the messhall the last night of the season that Noah had made the grade, the response was thunderous. To add to the momentousness of the occasion, six of the previous dozen to have joined the unique tribe were present at Campfire – Jim Willard, Chris Carter, David and Henry Spindler, Brent Johnstone, and Noah Aberlin. What a well-deserved honor for Noah – and what a note on which to end the year! You could see in the faces of many younger campers gathered around the fire – Brent’s son Drew among them – the determination to “Go for it!” in the coming summers. Good luck to them – and profound thanks to Noah for giving us all such an inspiring evening as we wrapped up 2015.

Al Fauver's 100th birthday celebration

Al Fauver’s 100th birthday celebration

Speaking of celebrations of inspired, ongoing involvement in the Pemi community and program, we dialed it up to 11 and well beyond on Sunday evening with our long-anticipated celebration of Al Fauver’s 100th birthday. Over 160 alums and friends filed into the messhall past Al’s signature red truck parked by the flagpole and greeted Al and Bertha with the warmth and affection that Al has earned a thousand times over in more than eight decades of tireless and inspiring service to Pemi. Few of us are likely ever to attend a party thrown for a person rounding out a century of good works on this ball of rock hurtling through space – and none of us will ever attend one for a man who has done more for an institution than Al has done for Pemi. In keeping with his modesty and love of everything Pemigewassett, the bulk of Al’s response to all the kudos coming his way was to ask his son Peter to read the lines of Doc Reed’s “Campfire Song”: “I wonder if anyone’s better for anything I’ve done or said?” The assembled and effusively-appreciative multitudes in the room answered the question with a resounding “Yea!” It was a signal moment in Pemi history and a chance to concentrate our profound thanks to Al for everything he has done and been. Thanks also to all of you who attended and to the many who sent their best wished and fond recollections.

Now, to wrap up this last “in-season” missive, let’s send along Danny’s toast from the Final Banquet and Clive Bean’s review of this years Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. 

Danny's annual toast to the Pemi community

Danny’s annual toast to the Pemi community

May I propose a toast?

Here’s to the summer of 2015 at Camp Pemigewassett, the 108th in Pemi’s rich and storied history, a summer that has come and gone, as it always seems to do, in the blink of an eye – although in many ways it seems a lifetime ago when we all began to arrive in early June for the Life Guard, Nature, and Wilderness First Aid clinics, way back when Lebron James and company were still battling for that elusive Cleveland championship and campers and young counselors were still attending graduation parties.

Here’s to a summer that concludes so late in August that leaves are turning an autumn tint, fall athletic teams have already begun to practice, and, as Pemi boys are returning to their cabins for an 8:30 taps, there is barely a shred of daylight left – a summer that by all accounts has been a wonderful success, made possible by the collective efforts, wisdom, and care of the Pemi men and women in this room.

Here’s to the 254 (exactly) campers who graced the shores of Lower Baker Pond this summer, 87 of whom were here as full session campers and who enjoyed Pemi’s third, now annual, trip to Whale’s Tale Water Park. (Yes, Eli Brennan, that makes it an official Pemi tradition!), campers from 21 states of the United States and 7 countries around the world, and here’s to the new Turkish flag Larry added to our collection in the mess hall this summer to commemorate Haluk and Mert’s first year at Pemi. Here’s to the 66 campers who made the decision to attend sleep-away camp for the first time, the 36 who have or will collect their five-year bowls (perhaps a record?), and yes, Ezra Nugiel, Patterson Malcolm, and Andrew Virden, here’s to campers in their ninth!

Here’s to the talented and dedicated counselor staff at Pemi in 2015, to the cabin counselors and assistant counselors, the young men who share such close quarters with their boys, and who, for some magical reason, are often able to inspire, mentor, and capture the imagination of their campers in ways even their own parents and we senior staff cannot.

Here’s to the hard working crew that Reed Harrigan leads so vigorously and affably each day: Brian, Judy, Sam, Kenny, Dennis, and Chris: to Office Managers extraordinaire, Heather and Kim, who never get enough credit; and here’s to Mama Dottie, the “glue” at Camp Pemi, who holds us all together, doing tasks both large and small and caring for campers with her maternal grace, wisdom, and a large helping of love as well.

Here’s to the kitchen crew this summer who tackled the herculean task of providing us with delicious meals three times a day, and to our fabulous nurses, Emily and Debbie, whose enthusiasm, great cheer and care were so vital as we waged another, though more successful, war against another pesky virus.

Here’s to the amazing four-cornered program at Pemi, to the Kenny, the “kid from Cleveland” who masterminds it all, to Laura down in Art World, to Charlie and all the coaches in the athletics’ program who always put first values such as sportsmanship, effort, and participation ….boom!

Thank you to Tom and the trippies who sent over 100 trips tramp, tramp, tramping over the White Mountains of New Hampshire and canoeing down the mighty rivers of Maine; to Dorin and the beautiful music she and her staff helped us create; to Emily, Tighe, Paige, and Molly and all the exhilarating, yet safe, fun we had on the water; to Harry O in the shop, Chris (and family!) on the tennis courts, Larry and Deb in the Nature Lodge, Steve on the archery range, all of the other instructors who brought major energy and mojo to occupation periods every day. And let’s not forget Head of Staff Ben for overseeing his charges with such proficiency, thoughtfulness, and humor. Gosh we love that Walsh family!

Here’s to the things that were unique to Pemi in 2015; the camp community gathering to scream and yell for the Woman’s National Soccer team in their World Cup final’s victory; the jackets and hats we wore on the coldest 4th of July in recent memory; sleep-in Sundays; Rubik’s Cube madness; TCU chants: Germ-x and wet wipes at every meal; the new Johnson family ranch down in J-Ville; more camper tournaments than I can ever remember; Cans from Campers; the Counselor Apprentice Program (thank you Dwight Dunston); and more NY Met’s chatter than can hardly be tolerated…imagine if they actually won something.

Here’s to all-camp events at Pemi: Bean Soup when we laugh at ourselves and anticipate “Things to Look For,” Campfire when we entertain ourselves as the moon drifts low o’er the hillside and finally drops in the West, and to Sunday Meeting when we contemplate such things as the importance of time spent in the natural world, profiles in courage, the adventures of our Pemi West boys, and how taking a chance can enhance your life in countless way and possibly even make you a YouTube sensation…or close enough.

And speaking of taking chances, here’s to some of those who were brave enough to do so this summer: to Jed our first-time bugler who plays his guitar like Eric Clapton, but had never touched a bugle before embracing this responsibility this summer; to first-year counselor Andy Calver for taking on the considerable mission of presenting a Sunday Meeting; to Jack He who came all the way from the Sichuan Province in China to attend Pemi; Andrew Virden for braving the mighty Allagash with just one healthy arm; to all the campers who performed at Campfire, did their distance swim, or slept under the stars for the first time.

Here’s to our 15-year-old campers – to the unprecedented leadership they provided, to their three wins on Tecumseh Day, and to the lifelong friendships that they have created. I know from personal experience that some day you’ll participate in each other’s weddings, be Godparents to each other’s children, and, hopefully, before that, become the next generation of counselors at Pemi.

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

And, finally and most importantly as we close the 2015 season, here’s to patriarch Al Fauver, as we prepare to celebrate this Pemi great’s 100th birthday. Songs may be sung and bells may be rung in praise of his years of giving, but we’ll never be able to thank Al enough for all he has done over the years to make Camp Pemigewassett the extraordinary camp that it is.

Here’s to Camp Pemigewassett 2015.

Good luck, Long life, and joy!

Thanks to Danny for the re-inspiring toast – fitting tribute to a season led with such commitment and gusto. Now we’ll close with our local theatrical maven’s commentary on this year’s comic opera:

Clive Bean Reviews The Mikado

The highlight of the 2015 Wentworth summer stock season went down on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings with Camp Pemigewassett’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado. Both dramatically and musically, the show was absolutely top drawer. Our highest plaudits must go to Director Dorin Dehls and one-man pit orchestra Luke Raffanti, whose season-long efforts combined to give us a final product worthy of a northwoods Tony Award. Word has it that cinematic director Martin Scorsese, who is interested in making a film of the operetta, has approached the pair. When queried by Bean Soup in this regard, however, Dehls strangely responded, “You talkin’ ta me?”

Chorus of men and schoolgirls

Chorus of men and schoolgirls

Setting up a super solid bass line for the performance was a men’s chorus made up of Sam Berman, Pierce Haley, Tucker Jones, Suraj Khakee, Owen Lee, Matt Bolton, Andy Calver, Will Henry, Harry Morris, Ben Walsh, and Erik Wiedenmann – all of whom represented nobleman of Japan with an effortless ease that suggested they had been born with silver chopsticks in their mouths. Complementing them perfectly was the Schoolgirl chorus of Ted Applebaum, Eli Brennan, Jonathan Ciglar, Andreas Geffert, Oliver Giraud, Tanner Howson, Michaella Frank, and Becky Noel. So fetching and fashionable was the lot that, on both nights, they drew a substantial applause even before they ever opened their mouths. Fortunately, they decided not to leave good enough alone and they actually sang their parts for the rest of the show – most commendably, it happens.

Henry, Drew, Christopher, and Owen

Henry, Drew, Christopher, and Owen

Strangely enough, the production’s original “Three Little Maids” morphed this year into four. One role underwent a process of mitosis, generating Peep-Bo (Singing Part), played wonderfully by Christopher Ramanathan, and Peep-Bo (Speaking Part), well-matched by Henry Moore. Owen Wyman was a superb Pitti-Sing, the spunkiest of the schoolgirls and the one most willing to call her male companions on any bit of testosterone-driven idiocy. Rounding out the trio – or make that the quartet – was Drew Johnstone, playing the young bride Yum-Yum with real confidence and melodic verve. Drew’s lovely presence on stage was commanding enough to still all discussion of whether the name Yum-Yum was more appropriate for a plate of sushi than for a romantic lead.

Caleb and Drew

Caleb and Drew

Playing Yum-Yum’s love interest was Caleb Tempro, whose part as a rebellious teenager was the result of anything but type-casting. Rumor has it that Caleb is a pretty nice guy – and that he makes a point of listening to his counselor Erik Wiedenmann at least once a week. Anyway, Caleb was musically moving and mellow, and handled the acting part of the deal with a suave cool that garnered him this year’s Johnnies Plaque for Dramatics.

George

George

Reasonably fresh from his famed video performance as The Pemi Kid, George Cooke played Titipu nobleman Pish-Tush with style and assurance, seasoning the part with a chill sarcasm that only a fifteen-year old American can deliver. He shared a number of effective scenes with Larry Davis, who reprised his role as the pompous but corrupt Lord High Everything, Pooh-Bah, for perhaps the tenth time. Once again, just as four years ago, a Republican National Committee deeply troubled by the ascendancy of Donald Trump has reportedly sent out feelers trying to enlist Larry as a more mainline candidate than the dude with big hair. When Larry responded that he was only pretending to be a public servant, Committee Chair Reince Priebus responded, “So? You’ll fit right in.”

Larry, Nicholas, George

Larry, Nicholas, George

Tom Reed, Jr

Tom Reed, Jr

Joining Larry in re-working an oft-performed part, Tom Reed, Jr. returned to the boards as the titular Mikado himself. Some of the harsher local pundits remarked that Tom should never have quit his day job at Dickinson College, but other voices were more charitable. Wife Dottie, for example, pronounced that in playing the totally unhinged and criminally ill-tempered monarch, Tom had finally discovered the core of his being. She went on to borrow a line from the show: “He’s under treatment for it.”

Ezra

Ezra

Any of you who were lucky enough to have taken in either performance will realize we’ve been saving the best for last. Nicholas Gordon, star of the world premiere of Metal Boy: The Musical in 2012, tackled the gigantic role of Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, with understated comic brilliance. His final sequence of numbers with the play’s answer to a preying mantis female, the jilted harridan Katisha, all but brought the house down. Meanwhile, Ezra Nugiel has been a star of the Pemi stage from the beginning of his nine-year run, gracing vaudevilles, campfires, and previous G&S productions alike with his singular verve and talent. Never has Ezra been better, though, than in this year’s performance as the aforementioned Katisha. We are in fact hard pressed to recall any performance ever in Wentworth that has surpassed Ezra’s. It was not just his stellar falsetto delivery of vocal numbers – literally of a professional quality. His acting in the role of an over-the-hill spinster might suggest that, like Benjamin Button, Ezra has been living his life backwards and was able to bring that end-of-life bitterness to the part because he’d already been there. Both Pemi cabin-photo evidence and biological science declare this is impossible – but the bottom line is that Ezra positively stole the show – and then found a way of giving it back by making everyone in the cast around him better. Hat’s off to a continually rising star. It feels as though, if this dude wants to go into theater big time, the sky’s the limit.

So, clearly, a wonderful theatrical time was had by all, on and off the stage. We advise you to book early for next year’s production of The Pirates of Penzance. This year’s male chorus has already been practicing a key line: “YAAAAHHHHRRRR!!!”

— Clive Bean

On a final note, we ask our 2015 parents to take a moment in the next (busy!) days to log in to your Pemi accounts and send us a thought or two via the post-season survey found in the Forms & Documents section. Your feedback, both positive and constructive, is invaluable as we look towards 2016.

 

Ethan Schafer, November 21, 1975–August 8, 2015

It is with a profound sense of loss that we pass along news that Ethan Schafer died on Saturday August 8, 2015 following a major cardiac event. Ethan, 39, husband to Kelly and father to Andy (6) and Adam (3), was a Pemi camper, counselor, and dedicated alum.

We will write more about Ethan and the wide-reaching, sustaining effect he had on family, friends, colleagues, and the camp world, but here is a glimpse of Ethan’s relationship with Pemi….

Ethan’s first summer at Camp Pemigewassett was as a ten-year old in 1986. He went on to spend six summers as a fully-engaged Pemi camper, exploring all facets of Pemi’s diverse program. In 1991, Bean Soup honored him with the Camper of the Year Award, shared with Danny Kusik. The following was read aloud to the gathered camp community and published in the bound version of the Soup:

This award is going to two Pemi campers. They have both given this camp so much that it seems hard to think of this place without thinking of them. They are both leaders in their division, and are respected for the friendship they give to those in their cabin and all the many others who are around them. Both love camp and realize that it has been an important part of their lives. They have come to camp year after year, where they have settled on the soccer field, baseball diamond, and tennis court. They have won victories that have inspired themselves and others. They have shared loss and been able to bounce back with enthusiasm and energy. In every way, these two campers represent what a true Pemi camper should be. They are the 1991 Pemi kids. 

Ethan with Tyler Casertano, 1998

Ethan with Tyler Casertano, 1998

In 1993, Ethan transitioned to the Pemi staff and quickly became one of Pemi’s best counselors. He spent the majority of his time with the youngest boys, demonstrating an uncanny patience and rapport with youth. In 1996, Ethan was voted by his peers as the winner of the Joe Campbell Award – which bears this text:

Inscribed heron is the name of the Pemi counselor who most fully embodies those qualities which made Joe Campbell one of the best-loved counselors in Pemi history – integrity, generosity, happiness, enthusiasm, modesty, and an unsurpassed ability to give laughter to all those who knew him – qualities by which he contributed immeasurably to the success of every Pemi season of which he was a part.

As a child psychologist, Ethan continued to support and mentor Pemi counselors by leading pre-season staff training workshops. In August of 2015, Ethan was to assume a seat on Camp Pemigewassett’s board of directors.

Calling hours will be from 5-8 pm on Wednesday, August 12 at Billow Funeral Home, located at 85 North Miller Rd. in Fairlawn, Ohio. Ethan’s funeral service will take place at 10 am on Thursday August 13 at Faith Lutheran Church, 2726 West Market St., also in Fairlawn. It will be followed by a private burial service.

Education was of the highest priority to Ethan. His family asks that, in lieu of flowers or similar gifts, friends, family, and anyone else that knew and loved him consider donating to The Schafer Children’s College Fund that has been set up to support Andy and Adam.

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We invite you to share your memories of Ethan—whether in short line or detailed story—in the comments section below. For those of you who subscribe to Pemi’s blog and, as such, receive this in your inbox, please visit this post in order to leave a comment. Thank you.

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Tecumseh Day: Through the Eyes of the 15s

Summer 2015: Newsletter #6

For over a hundred years, Camps Pemigewassett and Tecumseh have locked annually into a spirited athletic competition. This year, our 15- and 10-and-unders traveled to Camp Tecumseh, sited majestically on a plateau boldly overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee, while the 11, 12, and 13s age groups remained on the comfy confines of Lower Baker Pond. The differences in setting are as unique as our respective camps in terms of culture and program.

Over the years, I have written extensively about each team’s contest and attempted to capture the flow of the day as I chronologically covered each age group’s experience. This year, I will let our 15-year-olds share their journey and tell their story of the day, as they embraced their last Tecumseh Day as campers, while also coming to grips with the last days of being a boy at a summer camp. Perhaps their story is more important than the scores and tallies of the day, as a majority of our 15s have been at Pemi between five and, in some cases, nine years. As you read their story, I hope it will capture the transformative magic of being a 15-year-old at an all-boys camp.

I waited until Sunday, after a few days had washed away the raw emotion of the day, before I spoke with several 15-and-unders about their Tecumseh Day. Sam Berman, Jivan Khakee, and Owen Fried have each experienced the full range of outcomes on this day. So here are their stories and perceptions of Tecumseh Day 2015.

Preparation

Each summer, the 15-and-unders come together to orchestrate the tone and build-up for the big day. The seniors struggle with the range of ages at camp and how best to reach each group and individual with an age-appropriate message. Clearly, what might be effective for a senior might not work for a junior in his first season or even week at Pemi (our Second Session boys will have just joined us the week before). Any Pemi alum can tell you that the energy and passion on Tecumseh Day far exceeds that of any prep or high school rivalry. I asked the boys what they learned from the week of preparation leading up to the Day and how it impacted their division.

Owen Fried

Owen Fried

“As a 15-year-old, it really felt different to me this year. In the past, you just worried about your age group, but this year I felt a responsibility to get camp going. I was more worried about the younger kids. The fifteens got together and talked a lot about trying to find the balance between getting kids pumped for the day versus putting emphasis on focus. As the week went on, I began to notice we cared more about each other in Senior Camp. This year, we have 24 15-year-olds in Senior Camp, so I think the energy of Tecumseh Day began to pull us together.” (Owen Fried)

Jivan

Jivan Khakee

“It’s different as a fifteen-year-old; you feel more important; you realize pretty quickly you need to lead younger kids and be good role models, lift your performance, and be generally at a higher level. In terms of leading camp, I learned that words really matter and we all need to be careful about how we talk about the strength and weaknesses of particular age groups. The younger campers hear everything and it can be destructive if they hear that a fifteen-year-old doesn’t believe they have much of chance. At the end of the day, I think stepping up to lead the other campers brought out the best in us.” (Jivan Khakee)

“Last year, I only came for the first half and that was a big mistake. It was way too short. I never felt like I fully bonded with my cabin. Our relationships weren’t as strong and Tecumseh Day is a big part of building our relationships.” (Jivan Khakee)

Arriving at Tecumseh

After four days of practice in very hot and humid conditions, the 10s and 15s boarded the buses at 7:30 AM for the one-hour ride to Center Harbor. Most of the 15s were returning to Tecumseh for the first time since winning the day in 2012. (They were home as 13- and 14-year-olds.) As 12-year-olds, they had sprinted up the hill above the waterfront after they won the final swimming race to celebrate with their fellow Pemi community members.

“I hadn’t been to Tecumseh since we won The Hat in 2012. When we left that day, I remember the joy of winning but I also remember how devastated their camp was to lose The Hat. We would always joke about how hard their counselors were on their campers, making them do push-ups and stuff like that, and we also would check out their Mohawks [hair cuts]. In the build up to ‘Beat Tecumseh,’ it kind of shapes how you think about the camp. However, when I got there this year, I quickly realized they’re not that bad … they get along and care for each other, too. All the campers and counselors I talked to were really nice. I did notice, though, during the tennis matches that they were pretty stressed out about losing. There seemed to be more on the line for them. To fail would be unacceptable for them.” (Owen Fried)

The Morning Events

The 15s started their day with a grueling tennis match and against an uneven Tecumseh line-up. At number one singles, Carson Hill demolished a far less talented opponent, while Will Merhige at four singles had his hands full against a tenacious and capable competitor.

Sam

Sam Berman

“One of my favorite memories of the day was watching Will Merhige battle in his tennis match at number four singles. Almost everyone was watching Timmy Coe’s exciting tiebreaker victory at number two singles, and Will was essentially alone taking on what looked like one of their top tennis players. Will won the first set but was tied in the second set when Coe won and everyone from both camps lined up around his court to watch what would be the deciding match. He kept to his game plan, driving the Tecumseh guy back with deep shots and then finishing him off by going to the net. Impressive!” (Sam Berman)

JonahWhile the 15s were battling their way to a hard-fought 4-3 victory in tennis, the 10-and-under baseball team under the cool leadership of Wesley Eifler played in a “classic.” On the mound was Pierce Cowles who delivered three innings of commanding pitching and also managed to bang out four hits at the plate while scoring two runs. When Cowles found some trouble in the third inning, Eifler astutely went to his bullpen and Jonah Reay slammed the door with three plus innings of shutout ball to preserve the 2-1 victory. The 10’s defense made no errors, and several sensational plays by Reay helped secure the victory, thus creating some awesome Pemi energy in the morning. When the final out was recorded, everyone rushed on the field to celebrate.

“I was watching the 15’s tennis match, but kept one eye looking through the fences to the 10- and-under baseball game. I could hear and feel the intensity of the game, and I wasn’t even there. You would hear the crack of the bat, wild cheers, and one side celebrating a run or an out. I wish I had watched that game, but you couldn’t help but feel the waves of energy pulsating up the hill.” (Jivan Khakee)

GradyWith Pemi jumping out to two victories at Tecumseh, and the campers unaware of Pemi dropping all three events at home, the 10’s soccer team and the 15’s baseball team stepped into their second events brimming with confidence. Grady Nance, who attends the Haverford School in Philadelphia, archrival of the majority of Tecumseh kids who attend Episcopal Academy (and ironically Haverford is also former school of the new director of Tecumseh, Doug Knight!) mowed down Tecumseh’s top hitters, setting the tone for the remainder of the game. Robert Cecil, who spent his free afternoons taking extra hitting practice after spending a full year away from baseball, delivered a thundering bases-loaded double to plate the three runners ahead of him and give Nance ample run support to deliver a crisp 6-0 Pemi victory. The 10s, unfortunately, ran into one Tecumseh’s best teams, conceded a goal in the opening minutes of play, and went onto to suffer an 8-0 loss.

“If I had to do one thing over, I wish we or I had spent more time with the Juniors after they lost that soccer game. We were so excited about winning baseball and how our division was doing, I think we might have missed a chance to help them get ready for tennis and swimming in the afternoon.” (Owen Fried)

The Afternoon Events

JasperThe two camps entered the Tecumseh dining hall with the score 6-4 in favor of Tecumseh. At Pemi, the 13’s soccer team delivered an impressive 4-1 victory in soccer against a very strong Tecumseh team. Jasper Nusbaum was incredible in the Pemi goal while Arlo Grey, Wyatt Intrator, Spencer Hill, and Will Laycock delivered the goals for Pemi. Tecumseh won 12s soccer (3-0) and Tennis (5-2), 11s Tennis (6-1) and Baseball (9-0), and 13s swimming (46-14), so the atmosphere and momentum at each camp were distinctively different.

After lunch, the 10s tennis team lost 5-2 while the 15-and-under soccer team battled against a very determined Tecumseh side. For the majority of the first half, Tecumseh kept Pemi pinned in their end of the field and eventually scored as a deflected shot changed direction and drifted painfully past the incredibly talented Nick Bowman to the upper corner. Pemi unleashed a blistering attack in the second half as the team moved Patterson Malcolm forward and played balls more directly. A Malcolm header rolled just wide of the net, and Riley Walsh’s volley rung the cross bar as Pemi kept the pressure on. Despite a much better second half, Pemi lost 1-0 to an extremely fit Tecumseh team that never subbed once.

Patterson2“Watching Patterson Malcolm give 150% – no 200% – on the soccer field with a strained quad — was pretty amazing. He chased down every ball. It was unbelievable. When he collapsed on the field in exhaustion and tears at the final whistle, we all ran to pick him up. That was pretty special.” (Jivan Khakee)

The 15s and 10s were clearly dejected after tough losses to start the afternoon, and both age groups walked slowly down to the waterfront fully aware that winning the day was not likely in the cards. Anyone who has been at a Tecumseh Day knows that the final swim meets often bring out the best in our respective campers, especially when the meet involves our youngest and oldest campers as they come together as one group cheering each other on. The 15s are a talented squad, and Tecumseh always has plenty of depth. Both these factors highlighted the remarkable meet that transpired.

“One of my favorite memories of the day was watching Noah Belinowiz break the record in the breaststroke. We had just lost a really close soccer game and were a little down. His excitement over breaking the record—the way he jumped out of the water and pumped his fist—I think it woke us back up and got us fired up to compete in the swim race.” (Jivan Khakee)

SwimmingWell, compete they did! After jumping out to an early lead with record-shattering performances by Belinowiz, Grady Boruchin in the backstroke, and Robert Cecil in the freestyle, Tecumseh’s overall depth reeled Pemi in and tied the meet going into the final event, the freestyle relay. This set up one of the greatest races ever witnessed, as both camps rolled out talented relay teams.  Belinowiz, Luke Silver, Boruchin, and Cecil delivered a legendary performance while breaking the record in the process.

“On the last relay of the swim meet we were all in a state of disbelief when they announced the score was tied.   We all started cheering like crazy during the last race. I think I lost my voice as Robert Cecil pulled away from Tecumseh’s anchor in the final lap and finished first to win the race and the meet.” (Owen Fried)

It was a fantastic performance and exemplified the emotional and physical endurance of our oldest campers. While the 10s came up short in their relay, you could see their clear joy and admiration for their big brothers. After the cheers on the beach were exchanged, our community walked up slowly to the Tecumseh mess hall to close out the day. Each 15-year-old occasionally looked back over his shoulder, knowing his athletic journey at Pemi and this bold tradition was finally over.

“I felt sad, not about losing the day: we had done our best and won three of our four events. It was more about the realization that this age group will never be together again, competing on Tecumseh Day.” (Jivan Khakee)

“At the end of the race, I wasn’t sad about losing the day, because our age group had a great day and, for most of the Seniors, we had already lost, tied, and won a Tecumseh Day over the course of our time at Pemi. Not many campers have experienced each one of those outcomes.” (Owen Fried)

“It didn’t hit me that this marked the end of competition for our age group until the buses rolled into camp. The last time we rode those buses back from Tecumseh we carried The Hat and everyone was there to greet us and celebrate. This year I think I was even more amazed because, when we came back, there were just as many people waiting for us, and we all felt part of a strong community.” (Sam Berman)

MoonBusWhen the buses and vans returned to Pemi, hugs, high fives, tears, stories, and laughter met the competitors. Several Seniors addressed the throng of campers and told them how proud they were of their efforts, regardless of the outcome. The boys were also met by one of the most incredible full moons just rising from the east, orange and bold as it reflected the final light from the setting sun. It was clear to everyone that our 15s, the majority of whom first came to Pemi as Juniors, were also ascending at a pace worthy of awe and appreciation. They simultaneously held onto to their last days of being boys on Lower Baker while at the same time taking major steps forward in becoming capable and caring young men.

– Charlie Malcolm

Moon2

From Novels To Novelties

Summer 2015: Newsletter #5

The following newsletter comes to you from Director Danny Kerr…

Greetings from the sun drenched shores of Lower Baker Pond! As we begin the new occupation week, energy abounds as the boys begin preparation for Tecumseh Day, the annual full day of competition we engage in with Camp Tecumseh in Moultonborough, NH. Tecumseh Day has been taking place every year for more than one hundred years (with a couple of years off in the early 20th century during war times), meaning this friendly rivalry is older than the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry! The boys are certainly fashioning an energetic “hop” to their step in moving from point “A” to point “B” each occupation hour as we look forward to a tremendous day of competition at week’s end. More on Tecumseh Day in next week’s Newsletter!

cabinReadingLast night, as I made my way back towards the Lake House, I stopped outside of a couple of cabins to listen as the boys settled in for their night’s sleep. I did so with the full knowledge that I would be hearing a page or two of some wonderful book that was being read by each counselor to his boys, as the boys slowly drifted off to sleep for the night. Truly, one of the many wonderful traditions here at Pemi is counselors reading aloud to their boys each night, choosing from the many volumes of age appropriate literature we have here in the Pemi library or perhaps reading a favorite childhood story they have brought from home. The quiet that descends on the divisions as this nightly ritual takes place is heartwarming, as the boys travel around the world and back in time listening to these riveting adventures of classic characters. As a follow up this morning, I asked a few of the campers what their counselors were reading aloud to them and what they enjoyed most about this age-old Pemi practice; here are a few of their thoughts:

First I spoke with Chris Ramanathan in Junior 4, whose counselor Wes Eifler is reading A Barrel of Laughs, a Veil of Tears, by Jules Feiffer. Chris mentioned that he loved the nightly reading and that “Wes always chooses great stories that help me fall asleep. The stories remind me of home. My father reads to me at night, too!”

Jack Henry, in Junior 5, said his counselor Will Henry is reading Silverfin by Charlie Higson and that the nightly reading has “helped me get used to being away from home and go to sleep each night.” For Junior Camp specifically, I think of the lovely image of the water slowly lapping up against the shore, right outside of the Junior cabins, as these young boys doze off into a warm and cozy rest!

Lower 5 is listening to Holes by Louse Sachar, which was one of my own three boys’ favorite novels when they were young. Camper Finn Lincoln mentioned how much fun it is to hear this piece of literature every night, as his counselor Chase Gagne “always seems to know the perfect place to stop, to keep us most excited and anticipating the next evening’s installment!”

Finally, I asked 15 year-old Pemi veteran Caleb Tempro what he had most enjoyed about his many summers’ worth of nighttime book reading. Caleb pointed out how it was “always so quiet and still” when his cabin was read to at night and how the evening’s chapters provided opportunity for great follow up conversation amongst the boys, especially when they were new and just getting to know each other. Nice!

In summation, one of the most endearing qualities of life at Pemi is the opportunity the boys have to enjoy each other’s company and entertain themselves in an “unplugged fashion,” and nighttime reading in the cabins is a vivid example of the simple way of living that supports this approach to healthy summer fun.

Read more about Pemi’s tradition of counselors reading to their boys after Taps.

On to a different topic!

One of the many enriching opportunities we offer our boys each summer is the chance to take occupations with “Visiting Professionals,” the veteran and professional teachers, craftsmen, and scholars who come to Pemi each summer for a “visit” and to share their passion and knowledge in their field of expertise. Most of our Visiting Professionals are teachers, retired teachers, or professionals in their field who would love nothing more than to spend their entire summer at Pemi but who can commit themselves only to a shorter stint because of the “real life” demands on their time. So, feeling mutually that it’s a “win/win” to have these folks here for part of the summer, we bring them in, tell the boys about the opportunities that await them, and then witness and enjoy the infusion of energy, wisdom, and skill these highly talented and energetic people bring to Pemi each summer.

Who are these Visiting Professionals, you ask? In 2015, we are fortunate enough to have four Visiting Professionals join our learning community: Andy Bale, Jeanne Friedman, Stephen Broker, and Jim Dehls. Let me tell you a bit about each!

"Rock Band" - Light Painting with Andy Bale

“Rock Band” – Light Painting with Andy Bale

Andy Bale, who teaches photography at Dickinson College, just spent two weeks at Pemi teaching photography, the fifth time he has worked here as a Visiting Professional. How cool to give a Visiting Professional a “Five Year Bowl.” Andy is the first to whom we have bestowed this five-year recognition! Andy taught a variety of photography occupations in his two weeks at Pemi, beginning with “Darkroom Photography” (quite the throw back in this day of digital imagery!) and “Cyanotype Photography.” True to his professional life at a liberal arts institution, Andy did some interdisciplinary teaching by offering “Nature Photography” and “Location Photography” and also offered a very cool option for six to eight boys each night to engage in “Light Painting.” We love having Andy with us, he brings an abundance of enthusiasm and expertise and we look forward to the possibility of having him be the first Visiting Professional to receive the Ten Year tie!

Sculling with Jeanne Friedman

Sculling with Jeanne Friedman

Jeanne Friedman returned this summer once again to teach sculling, which is a class of rowing for one rower at a time (as opposed to crew which is for more than one). Jeanne’s son Jacob attends Pemi, which is how I realized the opportunity to cajole her into considering a week as Visiting Professional. Jeanne recently retired as Head Coach of the Women’s Crew team at Mt. Holyoke College, where she led Mount Holyoke’s crew team to four Seven Sisters Championships, one NEWMAC Championship, and numerous medals at ECAC and New England regional championships in her 20 plus year tenure at Mt. Holyoke. Yes, we love to hire over-qualified instructors to teach our boys at Pemi and Jeanne certainly falls into that category!

Ornithology with Steve Broker

Ornithology with Steve Broker

Steve Broker is a retired high school and college ecology teacher and current state bird recorder for the great state of Connecticut. Steve joined the Nature Program and spent the first week at Pemi teaching ornithology and an occupation called “Reading the Woods,” which taught the boys how to unravel the history of our beautiful wooded area through the lingering clues of prior settlement and development, the natural environment, and wetland ecology. Stephen was introduced to Pemi many years ago, as his father Tom was the Waterfront Director here in the 1930’s! When asked about his return to Pemi this summer, Steve offered this: “It was a thrill to finally follow in my father’s footsteps. He always spoke so reverently about his days at Pemi. I look forward to returning next summer and hopefully for many summers beyond.” Sounds good to us, Steve!

A Cappella performance with Jim Dehls

A Cappella performance with Jim Dehls

Jim Dehls was a Pemi camper and counselor (1959-1965 and 1968) and is parent to daughter Dorin Dehls, Head of Music, now in her seventh summer at Pemi. Jim’s passion is music, and while at Pemi this week he will be teaching drum circle, assisting with Gilbert and Sullivan, and teaching A Cappella. Jim taught high school chorus in Groton, CT for 25 years and is presently the Director of Music at Christ Church Episcopal in Pomfret, CT., where he also teaches private voice and piano lessons. Jim says about his time at Pemi, “I get more back than I give! I love the place so much; how nice for me to be able to re-join the staff again after so many years away!” Jim, by the way, was a primo water-ski instructor in 1968 and one of his goals for this week is to get back out on a slalom ski after years and years on dry land. That’s just the kind of spirit we love to see in Pemi alums!

So, while we are confident that our day-to-day summer staff provides excellent, ongoing instruction for the boys, this infusion of professional instructors for a few weeks each summer is quite the boon. They bring not only their expertise but also, in each case, a real love of education and an appreciation of all that Pemi does so well.

– Danny Kerr

 

A Day in the Life of the Trip Program

Summer 2015: Newsletter # 4

Thursday, July 16, 2015. Perhaps the best day thus far in the 2015 season – meteorologically speaking. High pressure built into the region the day before, and under the crystal clear skies, the night of the 15th was a chilly one – temperatures down into the forties in our valley, the upper thirties a bit further north. It’s a good thing you sent your boys with sufficient bedding! The morning Polar Bear dip was brisk, to say the least, what with a vigorous, clearing-weather gale whipping down the lake. It sent our usually stoic senior staff dashing from immersion to the bathhouse, whooping and squealing like four-year-olds. We must admit that our own aged toes were a mite numbed.

SunriseHike

Sunrise hike for seniors

By the time reveille blew at 7:30, twenty-one Senior campers (including all of Senior 3 and Lake Tent) had been up for four hours. They had been awakened by Trip Counselors Harry Morris and Matt Bolton and Head of Staff Ben Walsh for a sunrise hike up Mt. Cube, a 2800-foot peak just to our northwest, right behind Pemi Hill. Travelling in two vans, they arrived at the Rivendell Trailhead at 3:45 in full darkness, working their way by headlamp up through the woods while the stars blazed unblinkingly high above the leafy canopy. They arrived at the South Summit at about 5, with the eastern sky already consumed in a molten glow, and by quarter past the hour they were ensconced on the quartzite ledges of the North Summit, settling down to watch the sun pop up over the horizon at about 5:20. The temperature was somewhere in the low to mid forties and, with a northwest wind tearing through at 30 or 35 miles per hour, all were glad to have brought the requisite fleeces and Gore-tex jackets. Noshing on Pop-Tarts (not Lewis and Clark grub but sufficient to the moment), they sat there in modest awe as the Trippies boiled up water for hot chocolate and, before Big Sol was more than four or five degrees off the eastern hills, they joined in a steaming toast to brotherhood, effort, and natural beauty. Perhaps they will fill you in on some more details. Meanwhile, we sorely wish we’d been up there with them.

Mooselauke

Optional climb up Mt. Moosilauke

The day featured a big Baker Valley swim meet at Camp Walt Whitman, just up Cape Moonshine Road from us. With so many boys participating in all age groups, it didn’t make sense to organize any routine cabin-based day trips, so Trip Counselor Michael Kerr took names after breakfast for an optional climb up Mt. Moosilauke. The peak is one of those required for a Brave or Chief Award, so a number of stalwart souls signed up for the outing: Ben Caspersen, Mac Hadden, Pierce Haley, Jackson Morrell, and Drew Johnstone. The van trip to the trailhead at the Dartmouth Outing Club Ravine Lodge took about thirty-five minutes, after which they stretched their legs, donned their packs, and headed on up the Gorge Brook Trail, one of the pleasantest in the vicinity for its moderate grade as it meanders along a stream tumbling down over moderate boulders in the shade of white birches. A couple of hours of effort put them on top of the biggest free-standing mountain in New Hampshire, the bane of Appalachian Trail through-hikers for the fact that all of the altitude they gain climbing up to the summit from the little mountain hamlet of Glencliff (2000 feet up to 4800 feet) they loose on the northeast side as they drop down into Kinsman Notch. As our party lunched behind the windbreak provided by the ruined foundations of the old Tip-Top House Hotel, they could see the Adirondacks some ninety miles to the west. The Franconia Range, ten miles to the northeast, looked close enough to touch. After downing their repast of pepperoni, cheddar, crackers, and cookies (with some carrots and celery thrown in for fat-free health), they set off down the path of the old Carriage Road by which Victorian tourists use to ascend to the Tip–Top House in, yes, horse-drawn conveyances. Descending a newly-cut trail just south of the old Snapper Ski Trail, they were met by Driver Ken Morrell and, after a brief stop at a local establishment for soda and candy, they made their way back to camp, tired but happy.

Speaking of tired but happy, a select group of Lower Intermediates arrived back at camp just before lunch, accompanied by Trip Counselor Kim Bradshaw and Assistant Counselor Zach Popkin. Nicky Harwich, Lucas Caramanica, Gus Bachner, Ben Popkin, Nelson Snyder, and Nicky Paris had just spent three days in the Waterville Range, scaling Mt. Osceola in the process. Your correspondent had actually dropped them off Tuesday afternoon amidst showers forecast to be light and fleeting but that had actually settled in with a modest vengeance. Despite the adversity, they managed to set up camp alongside the Mad River that runs down into Waterville Valley and enjoyed a tasty supper and a dry night’s sleep. Wednesday, under the very same clearing skies mentioned above, they made their way up the steep trail that scales the mountain’s eastern buttress, lunching on the top of the East Peak as the last of the clouds scurried off towards Maine. The way back to the campsite took them along the rocky, spruce-studded shores of the Greeley Ponds, two small but pristine mountain lakes tucked into the steep-sided ravine at the head of the Mad River. There are few bodies of water in the state that are as appealing in their remote beauty, and generally trustworthy reports are that the scene was much appreciated by our boys. After a chilly night wrapped up snuggly in their tents, they made it back to camp for lunch on the 16th with lively tales of a deluge survived and a rugged peak ascended. Altogether three days well spent!

Right after said lunch, Andrew McDonald, TH Pearson, and the boys of Upper 3 set off for Greenleaf Hut, high on the shoulder of Mt. Lafayette (5200 feet), kingpin of that same Franconia Range that our crew on Moosilauke could all but touch from the southwest. Ben Burnham, Reed Cecil, Jake Cronin. Teddy Foley, Harrison Green, Michael Kelly, Miles Schiff Stein, and Patrick Snell took the Bridle Path up to the hut, where they thoroughly enjoyed the fabled fare and hospitality of the Appalachian Mountain Club Croo before heading up towards the summit of Lafayette to watch a spectacular sunset. Few pleasures, in our humble opinion, surpass those to be found when you spend a night in a high mountain hostel as the night wind pulls at the eaves and window frames and the stars sparkle brightly overhead in numbers beyond calculation. Dawn brought another gourmet meal and the infamous “blanket-folding-skit” which educates all guests in the official AMC way of handing bedding. After brushing their teeth, filling their water bottles, and re-stuffing their packs, our boys set off again up Lafayette, its summit a mile away and a good thousand feet above the hut. From there, the Franconia Ridge Trail, much of it above tree line, led them down over Mt. Lincoln and Little Haystack, with arresting views of the cliffs of Cannon Mountain and North and South Kinsman to the west (not to mention Mt. Moosilauke) and the whole of the remote Pemigewassett Wilderness to the east. They could easily see Mt. Washington anchoring the Presidential Range, with the tracks of the Cog Railway (all too easy a way up the Northeast’s highest mountain!) clearly visible. Ten years ago, the boys would have seen smoke from the coal-fired steam engines that have gradually been replaced by bio-diesels. What is lost in a scenic sense has, of course, been gained in sustainability.

Upper Five

Upper Five

Hmmmm. In following Andy, TH, and the boys across the ridge, we seem to have gotten to July 17th. Let’s backtrack to the 16th, when the same van that dropped them at Lafayette Place for their ascent to the hut traveled back down Franconia Notch to the scenic Flume, where it picked up the residents of Upper 5, who had begun the same route the day before. Mssrs. Meinke, Seniff, Adams, Allen, Beesley, Bowman, Edlin, Franciskovich, Jones, Katcher, Mangan, and O’Brien may have enjoyed a slightly different menu at the hut than Upper 3, but they too, after supper, pored over the old log books – and found, no doubt, the autographs and comments of Pemi boys, counselors, and even directors of years, decades, and even centuries past. There’s a brotherhood of mates on the day’s trail. There is also the brotherhood of boys experiencing the same rugged paths and gorgeous vistas seventy years after their iPhone-less predecessors. It’s hard to say which is the more compelling!

It feels like we’re nearing our word limit, so let it be said that July 16th also featured al fresco suppers across the lake for Junior 3 and Lower 3, a night at the shelter on Pemi Hill for Lower 6, and a pre-Allagash whitewater training paddle on the Pemigewassett River for Will Raduziner, Andre Altherr, Kevin Green, Patterson Malcolm, Greg Nacheff, Andrew Virden, Ezra Nugiel, and Sam Berman. Under the vigilant eye of staff members Reed Harrigan (former White Mountain National Forest Ranger) and Matt Bolton (who will lead the trip to Maine), these eight put the finishing touches on weeks of training for the Allagash. The next day, Reed and Matt took out the other eight participants who equally enjoyed a fun and edifying afternoon on the water, getting comfortable with the conditions that will prevail under Churchill Dam when they put in just before this reaches you. As for their progress beginning Monday down their wilderness waterway, more perhaps to follow – either from us or from the horses’ own mouths!

So, there’s a glimpse of July 16, 2015 – an “average day” for the Pemi Trip Program, with something between a third and two fifths of the camp population involved. Oh, by the way, we also do sports, nature studies, the arts, and music here! We trust, though, that some wonderful memories were made outdoors on that eventful Thursday in the White Mountains. We also suspect there were some valuable lessons either learned or reaffirmed: lessons about fastidious preparation; about personal commitment and perseverance; about patience and encouragement; about both respecting and appreciating the remarkably beautiful setting in which we find ourselves. It was not at all a bad way to spend twenty-four hours!

  • Tom and Danny

 

Music, Sports, Trips, and…Power Yoga!

Summer 2015: Newsletter # 2

messhallAs we scribble away at this on Sunday, July 5th, we can say with all honesty that Pemi 2015 is off to a terrific start. One dependable gauge of a successful seasonal kick-off is singing in the Messhall, which we indulge in at every mid-day and evening meal. Seldom have our collective croonings been more lusty than this past week, as we have picked up old favorites like “We’re From Camp Pemigewassett” and “The Happy Wanderer” with all the passion and spiritual frenzy of a revivalist choir, complete with hand and body motions for every other word. You haven’t experienced Pemi until you’ve seen 250 young men, women, and boys all but soaring under the Big Top as they sway back and forth, side to side, belting out the lyrics to “The Man on the Flying Trapeze.” First-year pianist Luke Raffanti has been remarkable picking up the downbeat from Oberlin keyboard predecessors like Ian Axness and Josh Hess with unerring deftness and musicality. Speaking of fast musical starts, we all stand in awe of English rookie counselor Jed Cutler who is doing our bugling despite never really having picked up a horn until a couple of months ago. If he maintains his learning curve, Freddie Hubbard and Wynton Marsalis beware!

Speaking of music, tryouts for this year’s Gilbert and Sullivan production, The Mikado, have recently moved through call-backs to the posting of the cast. So flooded was director Dorin Dehls with talented camper aspirants that more of the principal roles are going to tuition-paying individuals than we can ever remember. Only the parts of Pooh-Bah and the Mikado himself require a performer truly broken and embittered by the trials of a long life such that it was necessary to cast older and more jaded sorts (Larry Davis and Tom Reed, Jr. respectively.) Meanwhile, romantic royal rebel Nanki-Poo will be played by Caleb Tempro, hesitant headsman Ko-Ko by Nicholas Gordon, chief nobleman and bottle-washer Pish-Tush by George Cooke, the fetching if somewhat vain Yum-Yum by Drew Johnstone, generally wise schoolmaiden Pitti-Sing by Owen Wyman, her mischievous schoolmate Peep-Bo (on successive nights) by Christopher Ramanathan and Henry Moore, and G&S’s answer to Maggie Thatcher and Liz Taylor rolled into one, Katisha, by Lower Baker dramatic mainstay Ezra Nugiel. Campers in the choruses include Ted Applebaum, Eli Brennan, Jonathan Ciglar, Andreas Geffert, Oliver Giraud, Tanner Howson, and Simon Taylor (all of them Schoolgirls) and Sam Berman, Pierce Haley, Tucker Jones, Suraj Khakee, and Owen Lee (all of them Noblemen – in both role and character.) The show is bound to be brilliant. (Parents of boys in the cast are welcome to attend—either Tuesday, August 11 or Wednesday, August 12—though if you can’t, don’t fret as DVDs will be available).

GarfieldTripDespite a couple of soggy days, the Trip Program has also been quick out of the starting gate. Lowers 5, 6, and 7 and Upper 3 have already enjoyed al fresco suppers across the lake at Pine Forest and Flat Rock, and Ridley Wills and the boys of Junior Three spent Wednesday night at our Adirondack shelter on Pemi Hill, enjoying by full moonlight the newly cleared view of Mt. Carr, six miles distant at the bottom of our valley. Juniors 1, 2, 5, and 6 have all scaled Rattlesnake Mountain, a modest but strategically placed (and actually snakeless!!) eminence in the Baker Valley over towards Plymouth from which views of West Rumney down below are charmingly reminiscent of an HO-gauge train layout. Add ascents of our immediate neighbor Mt. Cube by Lowers 1, 2, 3, and 4, an optional, pick-up jaunt up Mts. Welch and Dickey near Waterville, and two abbreviated back-packing trips and our total outings for Week One hit sixteen – with only three real fair-weather days we could work with. The most ambitious expedition was that led by specialist trip counselors Harry Morris and Michael Kerr, on which Noah Bachner, Wilson Bazant, Jacob Berk, Pierce Haley, James Allen, Nick Bowman, and Matt Edlin spent a gorgeous night at Garfield Ridge tent-site northeast of Mt. Lafayette – proceeding the next day across the ridge to Galehead Hut and then down the Gale River Trail to Route 3. Surely there were many moments of accomplishment and satisfaction on all of the other jaunts, though, and we look forward with keen anticipation to next week’s three trip-counselor-led overnights and pair of pilgrimages to the two AMC huts in the Presidential Range.

sportsAs with trips, so with sports. Last week saw the 13s and 11s soccer teams acquitting themselves well on the pitch in our annual Baker Valley Tournaments (one standout being David Armini, who netted 5 goals in three matches for the younger team!). 10s baseball dropped a close one to our neighbors at Camp Moosilauke, but on Friday, in a Bonanza day of sports involving all age-groups and including soccer, basketball, ultimate Frisbee, baseball, and lacrosse, Pemi ended the day with 21 wins against 6 losses and 1 tie. As important for us as the victory count was the fact that the entire day was marked by the best of sportsmanship to balance the competitive spirit. Also of note was the last of the update announcements in the Messhall that evening, when Ezra Nugiel rose to announce that the Pemigewassett Nature Team had enjoyed singular success in a local butterfly field – with a special shout-out to ninth-year camper Patterson Malcolm who “most impressively chased his insect all the way from one side of the field to the other.” Ezra’s encomium brought down the house with laughter, but it did make a nice point about the range of things Pemi guys can get pumped about.

yogaIf you were to walk down to the Boat House right now you would see, arrayed along the shore, five compact single shells, just rented in anticipation of returning Visiting Professional Jean Friedman (mother of Jacob Smalley and Emerita Coach of Rowing at Mt. Holyoke College), who will be teaching three hours of occupations this coming week. Jean’s classes were a huge hit last summer, even before everybody in the world had read The Boys in the Boat, and the sign-ups in 2015 are sure to be energetic. Jean’s residency, by the way, follows that of former counselor and current prep-school teacher and lacrosse coach Kevin O’Brien, who spent the better part of last week with us passing along some key lax-at-summer-camp pointers to first-year Lacrosse Head Max Breschi (Yup, nephew of Joe B. at UNC!) When he wasn’t out on the field, Kevin was teaching Pemi’s first ever occupation in Power Yoga (which he assures us is not an oxymoron.) Talk about innovation, you should have been in the Lodge on Wednesday to see roughly 70 campers and staff members staying out of the rain and getting into the Cobra Pose, the Boat Pose, and (our personal favorite) the Downward-Facing Dog Pose.

We can only imagine what the original Four Docs, all of them stoic athletes from Oberlin College, would have said to see their Spartan brand of baseball in the rain devolve into chakra-quests on an indoor yoga mat. And speaking of the cosmically unprecedented, the decision has just been taken to postpone this week’s regular Sunday evening meeting and, instead, watch as a camp the finals of the Women’s World Cup Soccer Tournament between the United States and Japan. Back in 1908, our Sunday meeting was undeniably Protestant in form and content, and while for multiple decades now we’ve gone completely Humanist and non-sectarian – and taking full note of the fact that, in many parts of the world, Football itself is virtually a religion – it’s easy to imagine there will be some ancestral grave-spinning going on as we tune in to Fox for the big match. After all, one of our signature Pemi tunes, penned and scored by Dudley Reed, confirms that at Pemigewassett “we sport on land and water, /far from Eve’s disturbing daughter.” Then again, the parenthetical thought that follows is, in truth “Though, perhaps, we hadn’t oughter!” Okay! So let’s just take this to mean that, even back in the last century’s teens, folks at Pemi were already suspecting that gender attitudes might need some re-working. So, we’re fully prepared to move ahead with our radical Sabbath-night plans. We can already hear the chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A!” issuing from man, boy, and woman alike as Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, and Hope Solo take the field. Here’s to the Eves of America, fierce, fit, and fighting for glory!

Speaking of patriotism, we could easily go on to document all the varied components on our annual Fourth of July celebration – Pee-rade, Vaudeville, Counselor Hunt and all. We shall, however, leave them to your boys to describe, either in their letters home or as part of your excited and informative post-camp de-briefings. For now, we will sign off with renewed observations that the summer is starting off very well indeed. We look forward to being back in touch in a week’s time.

— Tom and Danny

And So It Begins…The 2015 Season!

Summer 2015: Newsletter #1

A warm hello from our cool (and breezy) valley, where the sun is just re-establishing its celestial presence after a somewhat rainy Sunday. The campers have all arrived safely and are right now just finishing up their third hour of morning activities (long called, as some of you may recall, “occupations.”) This will be the first of our weekly Newsletters, with which we’ll endeavor to keep you in the know about goings-on at Pemi, 2015. We well know that, write home as they may every week, our campers aren’t always lavish with their epistolary details.

Bertha and Al Fauver with this year's staff shirt…"Al's Crew"

Bertha and Al Fauver with this year’s staff shirt…”Al’s Crew”

Staff Training began on Friday, June 19, with a meeting in the Lodge at which the entire crew introduced themselves to each other. Stealing the show were Al Fauver, son of one of our founding trio, Gar Fauver, and Al’s wife of seventy-four years, Bertha. Al will celebrate his hundredth birthday on August 15, so his brief word of thanks and encouragement to this year’s staff came with considerable impact.

Many present in the room had actually been around for more than an afternoon and welcome-to-Pemi supper. Chase Gagne, Thom Kelly, Sarah Crayton, and Matt Kanovsky had all participated in the five-day Pemi Nature-Education Clinic run by Program Head Larry Davis, a nationally renowned workshop for staff from many other camps and boasting full academic accreditation at the University of New Haven (where Larry teaches.) Archery Head Steve Clare and Head of Canoeing Tighe Burnham had been off to specialty clinics at other camps, and British Trip Counselor Kim Bradshaw had gotten her first taste of the White Mountains via the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Mountain Leadership School.

In the days following Al’s inspiring speech, the staff split their time between practical work in preparing the grounds and equipment (putting in the swimming docks, assembling the soccer goals and lining the pitch, weeding and lining the ball diamond, etc.), going over lesson plans and instruction techniques with the various program heads, and sitting through detailed and informative “classroom” sessions on everything from health concerns to cabin management and dealing sympathetically with inevitable bouts of camper homesickness. Hard as it is to believe, there was once a time (eighty or more years back) when the staff arrived in New Hampshire on the same train with the campers – and then proceeded to set everything up shoulder-to-shoulder with their charges, all of them hopefully learning in the hectic process to function together as part of a happy community. Whatever we may have lost in cultivating camper responsibility for creating and maintaining their own camp environment, we believe we have gained immensely in preparing the staff to be effective and supportive coaches, teachers, and surrogate parents. We trust it is reassuring to know, for example, that every single counselor leading a day hike over the next six weeks will have been up Mt. Cardigan on a model outing with Trip Head Tom Reed, Jr. – and that any staff member not already certified in Wilderness First Aid received that training during pre-season. (Our mass climb, incidentally, was spectacular, as we enjoyed a picnic supper on the bald 3200-foot summit with 360-degree views of the Presidential and Franconia Ranges of New Hampshire and Mts. Ascutney, Pico, Killington, Camel’s Hump, and Mansfield in Vermont.) Read bios of our 2015 staff members.

As many readers will have experienced first-hand, Opening Day this past Saturday went off without a hitch, with impending rains holding off until every last camper was tucked warmly into bed after the year’s first “Taps.” For the second year running, veteran campers re-joined us in the morning, giving everyone a chance to unpack and catch up with their buddies before lunch. As a result, when new boys arrived at 2:30, our veterans could turn their full attention to making them welcome, which they did with remarkable graciousness and good cheer. Within minutes, roof ball—one of the sports played few if any other places in the world than Pemi—was already beginning its season in the Senior Camp.

"Cans From Campers" collected well over 400 items for local food pantries.

“Cans From Campers” collected well over 400 items for local food pantries.

What looks to be a wonderful Opening Day tradition also got off to a spectacular start on Saturday – “Cans from Campers.” Brainchild of the fourth generation of Reeds and Fauvers (they being Pemi’s two founding families), the program garnered a remarkable total of 423 separate cans or boxes, each of them gratefully acknowledged by Dan Reed and Sarah Fauver and stacked in and around a roadside kayak which ended up looking like a cross between Noah’s Ark and a polyethylene cornucopia. Head of Art Laura Bubar had painted a 3×5’ sign for the occasion featuring our signature Pemi kid running with (you guessed it!) a can of Spaghetti-Os. On Monday or Tuesday, Dan will drive the haul down to the New Hampshire Food Bank, where we reckon it will provide well over a thousand servings for people a little less fortunate than we. As we said, it looks like becoming a wonderful tradition, and our neighbors at Camp Merriwood are already planning on emulating this plan for public service. Here’s hoping it catches on across the entire camping industry!

Saturday campfire

Saturday campfire

campfire2

Drew Johnstone with Nico and Vinz’s “In Your Arms”

Following our traditional Opening Day evening meal of pizza and Hoods Rockets (how shamelessly can we cater to the universal tastes of boys 8 to 15?), the entire new camp family headed down to the Senior Beach for the inaugural campfire of the season. Masters-of-Ceremony Dorin Dehls and Steve Clare orchestrated a stylish launch to the dramatic and musical year, kicked off by the veteran guitar-vocal duo of Becky Noel and Dan Reed performing David Guetta’s “Titanium.” Mac Hadden kept up the musical momentum with a remarkably professional guitar number, followed by our own incarnation of The Riddler, Tanner Howson. Dash Paris impressed one and all with a flawless rendition of Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird,” although if Dash had picked up the tempo any more, he might have had a second fire going on his fretboard. Tom Reed, Jr., followed with a dramatic rendering of the 19th-century classic “Casey at the Bat,” although (having just retired as an English professor) he couldn’t be dissuaded from turning the Campfire Circle into a temporary classroom by evincing a moral: that you don’t need to swing for the fences to succeed at a place like Pemi. Just be a Blake or a Flynn and start off by getting on base. Next up was Jivan Khakee with a swinging jazz clarinet number and Drew Johnstone with Nico and Vinz’s “In Your Arms.” Speaking of axillary body parts, Noah Anderson then demonstrated that his thumb can bend absolutely anywhere in a 360-degree range (yikes!) and Nate Blumenthal reprised his long-notorious elbow-lick. First–year Brit Andy Calver proved that shaggy-dog stories thrive on the other side of the Pond as well this (the punch-line was something like, “It’s a knick-knack, Paddy Black. Give the frog a home”) and if there was ever any doubt that a slender twelve-year-old could deliver a rocking cover of Boston’s “More Than a Feeling,” Alex Goldman put it to rest. Wrapping it all up was Larry Davis with another of his classic Maine stories (the moral for this professor being that turpentine is not the tonic of choice for an ailing horse) and, finally, Doc Reed’s classic “Campfire Song.” As we swayed there with our arms tossed over our neighbor’s shoulders, and with Venus and Jupiter high in the western sky and a half moon dropping low over Pemi Hill, we could all feel the great potential of the summer lying before us.

2015 Pemi West participants

2015 Pemi West participants

Sunday, after lunch, we all bid a ceremonial farewell to the six veteran campers headed off to Washington State for the 2015 edition of Pemi West. Griff Barlow, Nate Blumenthal, Nick Case, Will Jones, Will Katcher, and Jack O’Connor left the mess hall and made their way down through a double line of two hundred well-wishers to the van in which Athletic Director Charlie Malcolm was set to drive them to Boston for an early morning flight. The intrepid half dozen arrived at Pemi five days ago and went through a rigorous two-day training program in Wilderness First Aid, their studies interrupted occasionally by an hour’s break on the tennis courts or out on the lake in kayaks. Former L7 counselor and Pemi West alum Nate Kraus is second in command for this year’s expedition in Olympic National Park, and he made the most of his time here with the boys ensuring that they were adequately equipped and briefed for the adventure to come. They join Pemi West Director Dave Robb at Seattle-Tacoma Airport on Monday afternoon and then fly on to Port Angeles for what is sure to be an exciting and educational wilderness sojourn. We will update you on their progress towards the summit of Mt. Olympus as details come in. Special thanks to Assistant Director Kenny Moore for having handled all of the details of recruiting, staffing, and preparing for this year’s program.

Well, it feels like we’re coming to a reasonable place to leave off. We’ll therefore say goodbye for now with the promise of more details on our adventures and accomplishments in a week’s time. Meanwhile, thank you all for entrusting your sons to us. We couldn’t be happier about having their energy and enthusiasm brightening our little corner of the mountains.

– Tom and Danny

Introducing Pemi’s 2015 Staff Members

2015 staff, Mt Cardigan

2015 staff, Mt Cardigan

Each pre-season we ask our staff members to submit a short bio for this first blog post of the season. Introducing Pemi’s 2015 staff…

Danny Kerr (Director): This will be my 6th year as director at Pemi and I am looking forward to another terrific summer. During the school year, my wife Julia and I live in Keene, NH. We have three boys aged 25, 23 and 20. When not doing the director thing, I very much enjoy coaching baseball at Pemi, playing the guitar and basketball with the boys, and recruiting any camper or counselor I can to join the legion of small, but dedicated, New York Met fans, seemingly a futile effort at this point. See you on the shores of LBP!

Tom Reed (Director and Head of Trips): I was brought to Pemi as a two-week-old child and I have been a camper, counselor, and staff member for well over fifty years—long enough to know I like the place. I am just wrapping up a thirty-eight year career teaching English Literature and film at Dickinson College—my ‘other job.’ I will be running the Trip Program at Pemi, writing weekly newsletters, leading messhall singing, and working with the ‘Mikado’ production…and likely a few other odds and ends as well.

Ken Moore (Assistant Director): Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, I moved with my wife, Sarah, to New Hampshire in July of 2013 when I began working for Pemi year ’round, serving as Alumni coordinator, overseer of Pemi West, and point person for social media and general outreach. We live in Plainfield, near Kimball Union Academy where Sarah serves as the Director of Marketing/Communications. This will be my 23 summer at Pemi.

Dottie Reed (Head Administrator): This will be my 28th summer at Pemi. Though I work year ’round for camp with a range of responsibilities, during the summer I facilitate Pemi’s connection with the outside world with photos, newsletters, counselor reports, blog articles, and other such communications. My office window is always open for visits when I’m not out and about enjoying Pemi’s beautiful camp grounds. During the off-season, I live in Carlisle, PA.

Kim Malcolm Kim Malcolm (Administrator): This is my 24th year at Camp Pemi. During the offseason I live at Northfield Mt. Hermon School with my husband Charlie and 2 children. I am also a physical therapist.

Heather Leeds (Administrator): I’m excited to be working in the office for my 7th year at Pemi! During the winter I live at Northfield Mt. Hermon School with my husband Greg and our three children. I am director of Full Circle Elementary School where I also teach.

Cabin Counselors (CC) and Assistant Counselors (AC)

J1 – Andy Calver (Co-counselor with Sam): Hello! I’m from London and this is my second time in the states, first time on the east coast, and my first year as a Pemi staff member where I’ll be spending a lot of time on the soccer field. I’m looking forward to meeting all of the Pemi boys and to doing my very best to make it a marvelous summer for all.

J1 – Sam Papel (Co-counselor with Andy): This will be my first year on staff, but I spent 8 years as a camper on the shores of Lower Baker and one on the slopes of Mt. Olympus with the Pemi West program. I was born and raised in Nashville TN and I am well used to being the resident Southerner at camp. I have just completed my freshman year at Vanderbilt University where I am studying mechanical engineering. I have been looking forward to my return to New Hampshire, and I am very excited to experience Pemi from a new perspective!

J2 – Teags Burnham (CC): This will be my second summer at Pemi. I am from Fletcher Vermont and attend Clarkson University in Potsdam New York. I enjoy cooking, playing hockey, and guitar as well. This summer I will be teaching various athletic activities such as soccer, lacrosse, tennis, archery, and water sports.

J2 – Jackson Seniff (AC): My name is Jackson Seniff and I am from Coronado, California. I am 17 years old and entering my junior year at Coronado High School. I swam and played water polo for Coronado for 7 years and am currently coaching rugby and throwing the discus and shot put for the track team. I was a camper at Pemi for 2 years and was a part of the 2014 Pemi West Program. While at Pemi this summer I plan to teach and coach in both waterfront and rugby occupations.

J3 – Ridley Wills (CC): I am an upcoming sophomore communications major at TCU. I am from Nashville, TN and I was a camper for 8 years. At Pemi I participated in everything from nature to baseball. I cannot wait to give back to this place.

J3 – Matt Kanovsky (AC): I am from Briarcliff Manor, New York, and am currently a rising senior at Regis High School in Manhattan. This will be my 10th season at Pemi, including Pemi West, and I am eager to get back into the camp community. I am excited to teach nature, photography, and “how to have fun”…!

J4 – Wes Eifler (CC; Division Head): I was born and raised in Connecticut and I am a senior at American University where I am studying Elementary Education and History. This summer will be my 12th at Pemi and my 5th on staff. This year I worked in the 4th Grade at the National Presbyterian School. Next year I will continue my student teaching and finish my teaching degree. Throughout the summer I will be coaching baseball and instructing in other activities around camp. I am thrilled to be back at Pemi for another summer!

J4 – Andrew Appleby (AC): My name is Andrew Appleby and I’m from Houston, Texas. I am originally from Darien, Connecticut but moved to Houston 3 years ago. This will be my 6th year at Pemi and my first year on staff. As a camper I enjoyed sailing, swimming, hiking, all the sports camp offers, as well as the great nature and wildlife all around camp. I am outgoing and love working with kids. I am excited to be back on the shores of Lower Baker Pond.

J5 – Will Henry (CC): My name is Will Henry and I’m a rising sophomore at Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, where I am currently studying politics, religion, and linguistics. This is my third year on the Pemi staff, and I’m looking forward to teaching canoing, archery, and waterskiing. I’m also going to get out on as many trips as I can, and maybe even try my hand and voice at a little theater.

J5 – Zach Leeds (AC): This will be my 8th summer at Pemi (including Pemi West) and first summer on staff. I live at Northfield Mount Hermon School where I will be a Senior next fall. I am looking forward to coaching soccer and baseball this summer.

J6 – Max Breschi (Co-counselor with Gus): I am from Carlisle, Pennsylvania and I just finished my first year at Bates College in Maine. This will be my first summer at Pemi where I mainly will be with the lacrosse program. I am looking forward to a great summer with everyone!

J6 – Gus Walsh (Co-counselor with Max): After a brief absence from Camp Pemi, I’m glad to be returning this summer. While I’ve been away, I graduated from St. Paul’s school and had an amazing gap year experience. My travels led me to an orphanage in Tanzania, a marine conservancy in Madagascar, Chinese language institute in China, and a memorable trip to the Middle East. I’m excited for my first semester at Macalester College this fall. Boom.

L1 – Luke Raffanti (Co-counselor with Thomas): I’m from Northern California. I am excited for my first summer at Pemi, where I will assist with this year’s Gilbert and Sullivan show, The Mikado, and teach piano. In May I graduated from Oberlin College, where I studied piano and environmental studies.

L1 – Tom Strnad (Co-counselor with Luke): I am from Palo Alto, California and am currently heading into my junior year at Penn State University where I study Energy Business Finance. This summer will be my fifth at Pemi and first on staff. I’m looking forward to coaching sports, archery, and everything in between. It’s going to be a great summer and I can’t wait!

L2 – Theo Nickols: I am from Northumberland, U.K, Hadrian’s Wall country, I am coming back to Pemi for my second season. I am currently studying Environmental Science at the University of Nottingham and I cannot wait to be coaching tennis and basketball again; its going to be another fantastic summer!

L2 – Zach Popkin: I’m from Washington, DC and I’m excited to be returning to Pemi where I was a camper for five years. This will be my first year as a staff member. I just graduated from the Maret School and will be attending Dickinson College in the fall. I’m an avid sports fan and look forward to working this summer with the nature program and coaching various sports occupations.

L3 – Thom Kelly (CC): I’ve just completed my second year at Cardiff University (Wales, UK) studying biotechnology and genetics. I am taking a training year this September in Germany, so you may well see me hurriedly trying to cram the German language into my head! I have experience with ecology in the UK, and I really look forward to working alongside staff and campers to experience all the Pemi nature program has to offer this summer!

L3 – TH Pearson (AC): I am from Hastings on Hudson, NY, and this will be my second year on staff. I recently graduated from Hastings High School, and I will attend Sewanee: The University of the South in the fall. I am excited to help the campers with sailing, photography, and lacrosse this year.

L4 – Nathan Nacheff (CC; Division Head): This will be my sixth year at Pemi, second year as a counselor, and first year as the Division Head of the Lower Division. I am from Short Hills, New Jersey, but I go to school at Hobart College where I am currently a rising junior. I spend my time at school studying English and Economics, as well as writing for the school website. I plan to be in the wood shop quite a bit this summer, as well as on numerous sports fields. I am eagerly looking forward to another wonderful summer at Pemi!

L4 – Michael DiGaetano (AC): Hello my name is Michael DiGaetano and I am from Piedmont, California, which is in the heart of the bay area. This will be my 7th summer at Pemi and my 2nd as a counselor. I love swimming, basketball, hiking and pretty much everyone that Pemi has to offer. I will be mainly working by the waterfront as a lifeguard and swim coach.

L5 – Chase Gagne (CC): I am from Goffstown, New Hampshire. This spring I completed my sophomore year at the University of Maine where I study wildlife ecology, and this year will be my first at Pemi. My passion lies with insects, both aquatic and terrestrial. I am thrilled to be able to teach occupations that will help campers develop a knowledge and appreciation for bugs of all shapes and sizes!

L5 – Ned Roosevelt (AC): This summer will be my seventh on the shores of Lower Baker Pond and my first year as an Assistant Counselor. I’m from New York City, and am currently a rising senior at Northfield Mount Hermon School. I play Varsity Tennis (2 years) and am the manager of the National Prep Basketball Champion Team (3 years). I look forward to meeting you all and extending the same warm welcome to you that I received back in the day. I’ll be helping out with the sports programs, mainly tennis and baseball. See you on the courts and on the fields!

L6 – Max Livingstone-Peters (CC): This will be my eighth summer at Pemi. I’m from Middlebury, Vermont, and attend Flagler College in Saint Augustine, Florida. This summer I’ll be heavily involved in the waterfront and swimming program, as well as a bit on the soccer pitch and in the ski boat. I feel very lucky to be at Pemi again and am looking forward to another amazing summer.

L7 – Nick Davini (CC): I’m a rising sophomore at the University of New Hampshire, and this is my seventh year at Pemi, third on staff. I’m a recently declared Anthropology major, and plan on being a Spanish major or minor in the future as well. This year, I’ll be a cabin counselor, focusing mostly on the woodshop, archery range, and various athletics.

U1 – Dylan Quigley (CC): I am originally from Hopewell, New Jersey. I spent my high school years at a boarding school north of Boston. I lettered in soccer, basketball, and baseball. After high school I went to college out in Minnesota, and have spent the past two years living and going to school there. I spent five years as a camper at Pemi and haven’t been back in six years, and am looking forward to returning as a counselor.

U1 – Michael Kerr (Trip Leader): This will be my third year as a counselor at Pemi, and my first summer as a Trip Leader, a position I’m especially looking forward to having attended Pemi West. I spent last year as a student at Champlain College studying psychology. I look forward to leading hikes through the Green and White Mountains of New England.

U2 – Jed Cutler (Co-counselor with Toby): I live in Shoreham-by-Sea, which is on the south coast of England. I am interested in music and play a number of instruments mainly of the stringed variety. I have recently been teaching myself the piano and trumpet. This will be my first year at Pemi and I will be teaching guitar. I’m looking forward to this summer.

U2 – Toby Pilkington (Co-counselor with Jed): I’m from Manchester England and this is my first summer at Pemi. I study Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science and I’m really excited to coach tennis, teach guitar, and to get involved with the Nature Program.

U3 – Andy MacDonald (CC): I reside in sunny Scotland in a city near Glasgow called Stirling. I’m a massive sport lover and will hopefully be showing the boys how it’ done when it comes to tennis and soccer. I’m currently at University in Dundee studying Sport & Management. I look forward to the summer ahead and I’m sure I’ll love my 1st year at Pemi.

U3 – Matt Bolton (Trip Leader): Hello all! I’ll be returning for my 4th summer here at Pemi and my 3rd as a Trip Leader. I use my summers in New Hampshire as a beautiful excuse to escape the daily grind of New York City, where I work as a part-time grocer, part-time freelance designer while studying Fine Art at New York University. I can’t wait to spend another season sharing the beauty of the White Mountains with the boys!

U4 – J.J. Strnad (CC; Division Head): I’m from Palo Alto, California and I just finished my third year at St. Olaf College where I play football and am majoring in math and computer science. I’m very excited for my fifth summer at Pemi and my second on staff. In addition to being a division head, I will be helping out with the many sports that Pemi offers.

U4 – Harry Morris (Trip Leader): Hello! I am from West Hartford, Connecticut. This will be my seventh summer at Pemi and my second year on staff. I have just graduated from Wofford College and I am looking forward to spending another summer leading trips through the mountains!

U5 – Will Meinke (CC): This is my 9th year at Pemi and 3rd on staff. I’m a rising senior at Fairfield University, majoring in Environmental Studies. I’m excited to help out in waterskiing, soccer, and more.

S1 – Ty Burnham (CC): I’m from Fletcher, Vermont, and this will be my 3rd year at Pemi. I went to Northfield Mount Hermon, and graduated with a degree in Finance from the Isenberg School of Management. This summer I look forward to teaching canoeing, coaching soccer, and helping out wherever I can.

S2 – Fritz Windover (CC): Hello! My name is Fritz Windover and I am returning to Pemi for my second summer. While I call Bennington, Vermont home, I currently reside in Lewiston, Maine while attending Bates College. I’m excited to get back to coaching soccer and ultimate frisbee.

S3 – Erik Wiedenmann (CC; Division Head): I was born in Berlin (Germany)—the son of an American mother and German father. After completing high school in Berlin, I moved to the United States and enrolled in a five-year Dual Degree Program (BA/BFA) between Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, majoring in Comparative Literature and Illustration. Since completing the program in 2014, I spent the past year traveling around South America and Asia as part of an artist research project. I was a camper at Pemi for four summers (2002-2005) and also went to Pemi West (2006). I returned to Pemi as a counselor in 2010 and am delighted to be back once again this year.

LT (CC) – Jesse Pritchard: My name is Jesse Lee Pritchard and this is my first year at Pemi. I graduated from Yale University in 2014, where I played varsity basketball for four years and majored in English. This past year I began teaching American Literature and coaching basketball at Northfield Mount Hermon. I have heard only great things about Camp Pemi and am excited to join such a strong community.

Program Staff

Kim Bradshaw (Trip Leader): I’m from Nottingham in the UK. My interests at home and away are football, hiking, camping out, being an adult instructor in the ACF and having lots of fun and making memories. This is my first year at Pemi and I intend to make it as fun & memorable as possible. I am going to be a trip leader so walking, enhancing team work, sight-seeing and exploring is going to be what I will be doing this summer. Let the memories begin.

Laura Bubar (Head of Art): I’m back for my second summer at Camp Pemi as Head of Art. I am an artist, photographer, and middle school art teacher in Freeport, Maine the land of L.L.Bean. I can’t wait to dive into new and exciting art projects this summer!

Tom Ciglar (Messhall Manager): Happy to be returning to Pemi after 5 years away, this will be my 14th year at Pemi. I’ll be helping to manage the Messhall and teaching various occupations. I live in Rindge, NH with my wife Anna and son Jon. During the school year I’m an administrator at a small boarding school.

Steve Clare (Head of Archery): I live in Cornwall in the UK. I’m a self-employed substance misuse teacher & support different schools with specialist lessons. I coach kids soccer & run two under-11s teams. My interests include Everton Football Club, Formula 1 motor racing & DJ’ing. I have a 14-year old son called Morgan—I’m a little older than most overseas staff!! This is my first year at Pemi and I’ll be instructing archery & helping with footie (soccer!). I can’t wait to join the team & help ensure the boys have a great summer.

Sara Crayton: Hi! I’m very excited to join the Pemi staff this summer as part of the Nature Program! I’m from Farmington, Pennsylvania, and just graduated from Washington & Jefferson College with a biology degree. I’m passionate about ecology and can’t wait to share that with the campers this summer.

Larry Davis (Director of Nature Programs and Teaching): This is my 46th year at Pemi. My ‘day job’ is Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of New Haven where I teach geology courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level. I have AB and AM degrees in Earth Sciences from Washington University in St. Louis and a PhD from the University of Rochester. In the past, I was an intercollegiate soccer referee. I enjoy playing the flute, chasing waterfalls, and teaching geology in the field

Dorin Dehls (Head of Music): I can’t wait to start another fantastic summer! This will be my seventh year at Pemi. During the school year I teach as an elementary music teacher and chorus director in West Haven, CT. I greatly look forward to beginning production of the Gilbert and Sullivan show The Mikado, hearing the sounds of Silver Cornet, Rock Band, and A cappella rehearsals throughout camp, filling the Mess Hall with singing, and watching the performances at Campfire and Vaudeville once again.

Michaella Frank: I am so excited to be working at Camp Pemigewassett! I am from Avon Lake, Ohio. My interests include basketball, reading, swimming, hiking, singing, and playing the saxophone. Basically if it’s fun then I’m game for it! This will be my first year at Camp Pemi and I will be assisting in several activities but my main activities will be basketball and vocal and instrumental music. I am so happy to be given the chance to work at Camp Pemi and I can’t wait to meet new people and make friends with everyone.

Chris Johnson (Head of Tennis): I am thrilled to come back for my second year at Camp Pemi as Head of Tennis. I am a proud resident of Cleveland, Ohio and a huge, but long suffering, Cleveland sports fan. During the year I teach fourth grade, coach boys and girls tennis, and coach a little basketball as well. I hold a Masters Degree in Administration and serve on the Executive Board of the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association. My wife, Ashley, and my two kids, Clayton and Lauren, are looking forward to joining me again this summer at camp.

CJ Jones: Hi! My name is Charlotte, but most of my friends at home call me CJ. I come from Salisbury, in the south of England and this will be my first visit to America. I am a triathlete and love to swim, so I was thrilled to see just how big a lake Pemi has to offer. I am looking forward to exploring the beautiful countryside surrounding Camp and am very excited to join the Pemi team as a lifeguard, getting to know all the children and staff and to working with you all this summer.

Nate Kraus (Pemi West; Trip Leader): I can’t wait to be on the shores of Lower Baker for what will be my 9th summer at Pemi! I’m a rising Junior at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, where I am majoring in anthropology and minoring in Management & Business. I’ll be spending the first four weeks of the summer hiking with 16-year old Pemi alumni in Olympic National Park. Upon my return I’ll lead hikes as a trip leader at Pemi back in New Hampshire. It should be a great summer!

Deb Kure (Associate Head of Nature): Studying Geology at the University of Rochester sparked my love of Field Trips, and of learning and teaching outside! I’ve led outdoor science programs since then, through camps, museums, and trips programs throughout the US. During the school year I’m an Educator with Quarrybrook Outdoor Learning Center in southern New Hampshire. We are excited to be celebrating the Nature Program’s 90th season this summer!

Harry MacGregor (Head of Shop): I am a longtime resident of Canaan, New Hampshire with a professional background in commercial, industrial, and residential construction. I also owned my own business focusing on custom woodworking. I’m looking forward to my 5th year at Pemi.

Molly Malone (Head of Waterskiing): I am from Chippewa Falls, WI where I am the high school orchestra teacher. My passion in life is waterskiing, and I am so excited to be the Head Waterski Instructor at Pemi! In my free time I ski as much as possible (water, cross country and downhill), run and lift, travel, play violin in our local symphony and piano at church. I am looking forward to a fantastic summer!

Becky Noel: I’m so excited to return for my second summer at Lower Baker Pond, to get back into Pemi’s music programme and onto the waterfront. This past year has been my first at the University of Manchester, UK where I study anatomical sciences, play for the water polo team and have been involved in musical theatre. I can’t wait to have another wonderful summer with the boys!

Emily Palmer (Head of Sailing): I am originally from Hampshire, England but spend most of my time either in Canterbury at University learning history or in Minorca, where I spent my last three summers. This year however, I feel it is time to move on to bigger and better things and am very excited to be at Pemi. I’m first and foremost a lover of sailing and windsurfing so will be spending most of my time teaching these areas, this said I thoroughly enjoy all sports so hopefully will get to teach a range of activities. Can’t wait to meet everyone and begin this epic summer!

Paige Wallis (Head of Swimming and Waterfront): I am originally from Vermont and graduated from the University of Vermont in 2012 with a degree in English and History. This past year I worked in Waterville Valley, NH as a dorm parent at the Waterville Valley Academy and as the Freestyle & Snowboard Coordinator for WVBBTS. This will be my 6th summer at Pemi and I am looking forward to another great season!

Ben Walsh (Head of Staff): I will be returning to Pemi for my twelfth summer following an exciting first year as a teacher at Forman School in Litchfield, CT. I hope to provide the staff with well-coordinated, fun options as they look to find things to do outside of camp on days off. This summer I hope to perform for the first time ever at campfire, be a true contender in the ‘What is it?’ contest, and craft something yet to be named in the shop. I look forward to helping throughout the athletic program and around camp in general.

Caretakers of our Physical and Mental Well-Being

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

HBA Akinci (Kitchen Staff): I was born in 1992 in Istanbul and attending in Bosphorus University in Teaching Physics Department. This is my first year at Camp Pemi and first trip to US. I am thrilled to have a chance to meet different people and culture. I believe that it will help a lot to improve my English. I will be working as kitchen staff. I like to play basketball and swimming. I believe that I am really good with children and students. I did teaching physic and math to the students at mid school level. Also, I love to be in the nature especially catching fish and I like to travel with my friends.

Viachesla Barshchevskyi (Kitchen Staff): I’m from Ukraine, city Kyiv (this is the capital) that will be my first year in Pemi. In fact my first time overseas as well. I will be working as a Kitchen staff and I have some experience in this kind of work from my Local camp in Ukraine! I’m a second year student of Kyiv national lingustic University and my major is tourism. I so glad that I will be working at Pemi and will do my best to contribute to the boys’ great experience.

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

Emily Martyn (Nurse): This is my second summer as a Pemi nurse, and almost certainly the first time Pemi has employed a midwife! In May I received a Master of Science in Nursing from Yale University to become a nurse-midwife. (I am not planning on using those skills at camp). My certificate in nursing is from Yale as well, and I also have a BA from Kenyon College. I look forward to a happy and healthy summer!

Debbie Spencer (Nurse): I am a native Floridian, transplanted to New Hampshire 2 years ago. I have spent many summers on Great Pond in Maine and on NH’s Lake Winnipesaukee. I have been a nurse for 36 years with experience in trauma, procedural, and school nursing. This will be my 1st year at Pemi, and I’m thoroughly looking forward to keeping you all healthy so you can spend your days having fun, fun, and more fun. I am ready to help in anyway I can. You will also see me in my free time working on a quilt.

Elaine Kiessling (Head Chef): I have three children, one granddaughter and another grandchild due in October. I also have four rescue dogs. I am originally from CT and have lived in NH for eleven years. I spent over 20 years in Emergency Medicine before I returned to my first love, cooking! I work as a head chef for Woodsville High School during the school year. Summer camp is my happy time though. I love cooking from scratch and working with local foods. This is my first year at Pemi. I hope everyone will let me know some of their favorite foods so I can incorporate as many as possible into our menus.

Tomasz Gapczynski (Kitchen): I’m from Poland and I’m 24. In Poland I study history (mainly medieval times) and help my parent at running their company. At Camp Pemi I will work as a Kitchen Assistance and this my first time at Pemi. This is going to be a great time here. I love nature, so the localization of the camp is just perfect.

Mert Turan (Kitchen): I am from Izmir and I am studying at Sabanci University in Istanbul. This will be my 1st year at Pemi. I enjoy playing tennis and soccer. Also, I like to travel anywhere. I look forward to being part of kitchen.

Visiting Professionals

Andy Bale: I began making photos 27 years ago as a sophomore in high school. My career has taken many forms, with the most rewarding one in 2001 when I was given a chance to teach a photography course. I was totally hooked. Currently I teach at Dickinson College in Carlisle PA. Most recently I’ve been working with the Ese Eja, a small marginalized indigenous tribe in Peru and in late 2016 a hardcover book will be published through a generous grant from The Genographic Legacy Fund of National Geographic. I have some wonderful projects planned for campers, including pinhole photography, cyanotypes, and light painting. I will be running an occupation called Location Photography where we leave camp each day in search of new and exciting places to photograph.

Stephen Broker: My career in science education included 25 years teaching physical and life science courses in the New Haven, CT Public Schools and 8 years in university graduate administration at Wesleyan University and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. I also taught as adjunct lecturer at Yale College, University of New Haven, and Quinnipiac University. My academic interests center on ecology and evolutionary biology. My field research is on breeding Peregrine Falcons and Common Ravens in Connecticut and marsh birds at Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

 

 

 

Pemi West News

Evan, wearing green, during the 2014 Pemi West Trip

Evan pictured on the left with the 2014 Pemi West group.

For the past three years, Evan Jewett served as Director of the Pemi West Program, our 4 week wilderness skills and leadership program in Olympic National Park. Evan first began his career with Pemi in 2010 as Head of the Woodshop. In his role as Pemi West Director, he brought a wealth of backpacking knowledge and leadership skills training to the program. Earlier this fall, Evan decided to step down from his position to explore other opportunities. We want to thank him for his years of most effective service and wish him the very best in his future endeavors.

After an extensive search, we are excited to introduce Dave Robb as the next Pemi West Director. Dave’s Pemi experience began in 2011, when he served as an instructor for the Pemi West Program. His involvement in the camping world began earlier as a Rock Climbing instructor at Kingsley Pines in Raymond, ME. Later, Dave served as both the Teen Leadership Instructor and Adventure Director, supervising and training the Adventure staff.

Dave Robb, Pemi West's New Director

Dave Robb, Pemi West’s New Director

Dave was also part of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Sonoran Year Course, spending 135 days backpacking, sailing, and rock climbing, among other activities. Following this, Dave decided to pursue a career in teaching leadership and wilderness skills. That pursuit led Dave to Evergreen State College, where he earned his BA in Outdoor Education and Adventure Leadership. At Evergreen, he was instrumental in establishing the new Outdoor Program, designing and implementing lesson plans pertaining to life in the backcountry. He also served as the Program Coordinator for the Challenge Course, planning, constructing, and developing the High and Low Ropes Courses

In 2013, Dave served as a National Crew Leader for the Student Conservation Association (SCA), overseeing a team on a 30-day conservation project. His interest in trail maintenance and other outdoor related community service projects will be put to excellent use with Pemi West. Dave currently is an instructor for the High Trails Outdoor Science School in Big Bear California, where he teaches outdoor science classes and plans large group activities.

The Pemi West crew in 2011, with Dave in orange coat, nearby a friendly llama! Llama’s are frequently used in Olympic National Park to resupply groups in the backcountry.

“I am very excited to be the new Director of Pemi West. It feels great to be part of a fantastic wilderness leadership program, with a rich history and large potential for growth. Olympic National Park is one of my favorite places on Earth, and I can’t wait to be immersed in the massive trees, and steep alpine of that incredible wilderness. To guide young adults through this paradise, while covering leadership, backpacking and mountaineering, natural history, and conservation service, is a privilege. I look forward to the adventure ahead.”

For the 2015 participants, we are confident that Dave’s leadership will make for an incredible program. Further information regarding the trip will be forthcoming from both Dave and me. If you have any questions, please be in touch. For now, we are delighted to welcome Dave back to the Pemi family, and we look forward to his leadership of Pemi West.

Kenny Moore
Assistant Director