The Four Docs, the founders of Camp Pemi.

The Four Docs, the founders of Camp Pemi.

Welcome to Pemi’s new blog! Check this space often for news from camp, information on Pemi’s history and traditions, discussion on camp-related topics, and the occasional profile of a Pemi alum, camper, or staff member.

We plan on offering a wealth of information– varied, useful and possibly even entertaining– in this space. We hope that it grows into a forum where everyone in the Pemi family can participate, be they parents, campers or staff. We also hope to include as many voices as possible, both in the blog items to come and in the comments field below. We’ll explore topics that pertain to campers, like Pemi’s diverse programs or the possibility of homesickness, and to parents, like the challenges of “letting go,” or how colleges might view the camp experience.

Since 1908, Pemi has been on a remarkable journey. As those who know Pemi well can attest, Pemi’s excellence comes not just from the singularity and warmth of its community, but also from the balance it strikes between tradition and change. For example, most Pemi boys still start each summer day with a jump in Lower Baker Pond, but happily we no longer have to cut ice from the lake each winter to use as a refrigerant during the summer, as we did in the early twentieth century. In short, Pemi has been around a long time, and has evolved a great deal since its birth. While boys at camp still have to write a letter (on paper!) home each week, here we’re happy to embrace the digital age.

To celebrate the launch of the new web site and this blog, we turn to our Pemi alums, and ask: Did one or more of Pemi’s program areas– sports, nature, music and the arts, trips, the waterfront and boating– influence your passions or professions? And what ideas might you have for how this space can be used?

Please submit a comment below to join the discussion. (If you don’t see the comment field below, click on the “Full Post and Comments” link above, just underneath where it says “Welcome.”)

–Rob Verger

Rob Verger, a freelance writer, is a former Pemi camper and staff member. His work has appeared in the Boston Globe, the Travel Channel’s website WorldHum.com, the Valley News, and other publications.

17 thoughts on “Welcome

  1. Pemi was a wonderful piece of my youth. Each summer was a new adventure, and I enjoyed my first four summers on Lower Baker in a huge way!
    Pemi’s athletics were always a great time, and my skills increased each summer through the patient teaching of my counselors.
    Pemi inspired me to become an educator. Many of my favorite counselors were teachers during the school year and their influence led me later to a career in education.
    My sons are now Pemi campers and I enjoy my trips to Lower Baker even more to see life at camp through their eyes as third generation Murphy campers!
    Happy New Year everyone!

  2. I don’t really know where to begin with this, but I’ll aim for a short, quick version. Hope it’s not too hard to follow.

    OK- so I went to camp for 4 years as a camper. That and the chance to work with Rob talked me into coming back and working on staff for 5 years.

    While on Pemi’s staff I learned too much to sumarize here, but I learned how to teach. Not only that, but I learned how to teach “the things that I love.” Remember that phrase.

    I learned how to teach, and decided that is what I needed to do. I proceeded to go and get a master’s degree in education from the University of Texas. After being in the classroom and figuring out that setting wasn’t the right one for me, I am now in the right setting and still teaching… just not in the academic world.

    I am a fulltime flyfishing guide and instructor. There is absolutely no way I would have ever wound up in this wonderfull position I am in if it were not for Pemi. While on staff at Pemi I talked Rob into letting me teach flyfishing as an occupation and to allow me to lead afternoon trips to nearby rivers to flyfish with the boys.

    In my efforts to keep this short, there are a ton of life lessons, teachable moments, and witnessed achievements that are being totally skipped over, be it as a camper or counselor. To say that camp shaped my life would be not giving it enough credit. To say that Pemi made it possible for me to learn how to make a living doing something I absolutely love to do… that’s getting much closer to the point, but even then that does not mention the life long friendships that were made along the way.

    So I came up with more of a total package answer than maybe the question was asking for, but there was no way to narrow down the fields in my case. I learned how to row a boat at Pemi and I learned how to teach at Pemi. I do both now for a living, and I’m quite happy doing so. I am now able to teach “the things that I love” and I can, without a doubt, credit Camp Pemi with the foundation needed to make that happen.

    Phil Landry
    camper (1988-91)
    staff (1995-98 and then once more in 2001)

  3. Congrats, great new website.
    I can count a number of ways my future was shaped at pemi. I first picked up a guitar and took lessons at pemi and went on to perform all over the world and my newest cd “Artists Around the World” is all my original compositions for guitar with other instruments which are performed by world renowned musicians. (www.stephenfunkpearson.com).
    The arts aren’t my only pemi-inspired lifelong passion. I live 1/2 my time in Belmont, NH where I spent the last 15 years working to acquire property to protect a lovely cove on Lake Winnisquam from development and now have a farmhouse and 3 cabins by the lake that I rent out in an eerily pemi-like setting (www.cabinsonthecove.com … some pemi parents have even rented my cabins).
    thanks and good luck,
    Steve (camped in the 60’s)

  4. Wow! I enjoyed every aspect of Pemi as “a boy” for 3 summers. As a nephew to Ed See, how could I NOT like it? (I must say, though, at that point I had no idea of the level of connectedness that Ed had with Camp Pemi.)

    I loved the setting on Lower Baker Pond, the lack of humidity in the air, and the variety of sports offered, as well as riflery, archery, and wood shop. But, I think the most influential camp activities to me were the mountain trips, What-Is-It? contest, and Gilbert and Sullivan productions.

    Hiking the Presidentials in 1966, on a 4-day trip, using a Pemi-supplied Army surplus wood-and-canvas pack “frame” that I lashed my canvas duffle bag to, getting to the top of Mt Washington, and seeing Wildcat Ski Area across the way, had the biggest impact on me. I thought “I sure love the summers up here, and I love to ski. I would love to live in New Hampshire.” And that’s where I have lived for the past 35 years! I have enjoyed visiting other places, but NH is for me.

    I came back to Pemi as a counselor for 5 summers–2 times as a Junior Camp counselor, 3 times as a trip counselor taking overnight trips. Every summer seemed to be better than the previous one.

    My greatest passion is to be outdoors, and that is what I try to do, every chance I get. Whether it’s hiking, kayaking, biking, sailing, skiing, snowboarding, golfing, or playing tennis, I love to be out in nature, regardless of the weather.

    I was a member of the National Ski Patrol for 14 years. I have been singing as a tenor in the same church choir for over 30 years.

    And, probably the biggest influence Camp Pemi had on me, was meeting the first bookkeeper to be hired after Stubby Stearns. That would be Ellen Shamonsky, who I married in 1977.

    camper ’66 ’67 ’68
    counselor ’72 ’73 ’74 ’75 ’76

  5. Four years as a Pemi counselor (late ’50s) cemented a love of water, mountains and nature in general. These passions inspired my recreation on multiple continents during my foreign service career, and continue in a new location (Ogden, UT), where I have hiking out the back door, wonderful skiing at Snowbasin and other nearby resorts and look forward to exploring lakes, mountains and national parks near and far. Thanks to Al Fauver, Tom Reed and Doc Nic for the variety of opportunities they provided in hiring me in the dual role of waterfront director and counselor.

  6. Hi All – I was a camper from 83 to 88 (Junior 1 to Senior 2), a late season addition to the cook’s house in 9O, and a junior counselor in 91. I was lucky enough to beat tecumseh, hike the mahoosucs, win a tri-state soccer tournament, take the lead (female) role in Pirates of Penzeance, win the Pemi Brave, and enjoy countless other awesome memories while a camper at Pemi. I now live in Africa (Namibia) but look forward to sending any future sons to Pemi for seven good weeks every summer.
    Regards, Oliver Pierson

  7. The opportunity to share a few thoughts about Pemi produces instant writers block…simply because the prevailing question is ‘where do you start?’ Pemi holds so much responsiblity in shaping the person I am today (the good parts, that is). The Summer of 1984 was my first and I remember how scared I was unpacking my trunk in Junior 4 not knowing anyone other than Chris Long, who joined me in coming to Pemi from a previous sleepaway camp in Maine. Chris’s first Summer was his last and my first Summer led to 8 more both as camper and staff. I can easily say no one place in the world means more to me than Pemi. I arrived an immature little boy and left an immature older boy…BUT…I discovered so many things to appreciate. The importance of sportsmanship, trying new things, giving, the beauty of the outdoors, and just how to live with others began at Pemi for me. To sum up my feelings about camp, Sky Fauver said it pretty well at the 100 year reunion. When I mention Pemi to my friends outside of the camp community, many of them roll their eyes and laugh at the mention of it. A 35 year old guy still talking about sleepaway camp. But it’s ok if they ‘don’t know’…’we know’ what it’s all about. We are all so lucky to be in the know about such a special, special place.

  8. When I arrived at Pemi in 1976, I had a one track mind for sports. If my memory is correct, I took baseball as an occupation every week for two summers. I finally visited the Nature Lodge and ended up developing a significant interest in the program. Throughout my trips around the world (Navy career), I have appreciated the natural beauty of the visited ports and had the opportunity to go on several nature trips during my time-off (hiking, whale watching,etc). Even while the ship cruised through the Pacific Ocean, I appreciated taking a few minutes to watch the stars – they always reminded me of standing the “night patrol” duty (As a counselor in the 1980’s) during those PEMI clear but cold summer nights. Then and now, I remain extremely grateful to PEMI for expanding my horizons in many different ways and for all the developed friendships that endure to this date. Warm regards to all. Jaime Garcia

  9. I recall back in 1976 watching is disbelief as my parents drove away. They tell me I had this “You’re actually going to leave me here?” look on my face as the dust rose behind the car as it headed down the road from Upper 2. I wandered into the cabin, and met Fred Rittner, serving as a first year assistant counselor for my cabin. In the great scheme of things, there was probably not a better way that the Pemi experience could have started for me. Fred convenienced me to join the swim team. I guess that worked out fairly well, as the last I knew, there was still a record or two on the board from the 1978 15’s that still has my name listed.

    I returned as an assistant counselor in 1980 and found myself under the guidance of cabin couselor, yep, Fred Rittner. The next five summers probably shaped the person that I have become. While working on the waterfront, rifle range and ski boat occupations, and working with the young men in my cabins, the meaning of giving of one self for the betterment of others truly sank in. “And I wonder if anyone’s better for anything I’ve done or said” is probably the truest single line that tells us what Pemi is about and what it should continue to be long after our time on the shores of Lower Baker is over. It has pretty much provided the core values around which I run my business, help with the youth programs at my church and raise my children.

    I can not say enough about the guidance and faith that Tom Reed Sr. had in me, and I give his leadership during my time there full credit for the memories, magic and formation of all his many Pemi Men. In this era of false hero’s, he is truly a real one for alot of us.

    I would hope that the blog could be used to help reconnect with many of my long lost friends. Scotty, Sternsy, Happy Hayes, Seebeck, how you guys all doing?


  10. Imagine stumbling upon this blog while checking on the spelling of Pemi as I write another page in a memoir. I was delighted to see it actually getting some action. I first attended camp there in 1959 and loved it for five consecutive summers. I would cross paths with Doc Nic in Sea Island; Fauvers on various ski slopes; and chatted with Tom Reed (jr) just this past winter. I remember fondly my endless hours in the Nature Lodge where I mounted countless specimens of butterflies, moths, trees, ferns, etc. I remember some fine friendships, especially one with Bill Westfall. He was a counselor and we exchanged correspondance up until he tragically died. I learned a lot at the camp and am so glad to see it thriving. I look forward to contributing to this blog and reconnecting with anyone who may recall this skinny blond kid.

  11. My son, Charlie, went to Camp Pemi for the first time two days after turning 9 years old. The uniqueness of being part of a long Pemi tradition is instilled in the boys from the start. Not only are the outdoor activities, nature, sports and comraderie thrilling but the boys gain a sense that they are part of something bigger. Charlie was touched that his cabinmate was a fourth generation of Pemi campers. One of Charlie’s first questions to me after camp was “can I start the Pemi tradition for our family so that my sons and grandsons go to camp there?” I was moved that a deep thought could come from a 9 year old but that is what Pemi does!

  12. I attended Pemi as a camper from 1973-78. I was 10 years old when I arrived at Pemi. Of all things to happen that year was a flood. Water covered the main entrance to camp, no cars, trucks, buses, etc. Could not cross the bridge. Counslers bought people over in row boats, 300 yards into camp. The question going through the minds of the Directors at that time was how can parents of new campers, leave their sons with us without seeing the main entrance? At first I was affraid to swim my distance, but Bill Dickerman maid a believer out of me. He and I worked on different swim strokes, he gave me individual attention after rest hour. Then one day he came to me and said, how about swimming your distance? I aggred to, and I did so. I was very happy that I accomplished something. I was the last person in my cabin swim my distance, and one of the last in the junior camp to do so. I had many happy experiences as a Pemi Camper, and I hope the tradition continues.

  13. I went to Pemi in 1958-59. My older brother was a counselor in one of those years. I wasn’t a typical camper — I hated mountain climbing and I’m still afraid of heights. However, Pemi is where I learned to swim, canoe, and shoot (which came in handy when I went into the army,) and I loved the woods and water. Watching someone learn to fly fish, encouraged me to take it up years later. Oddly enough though, the thing I remember most was the music, I still find myself singing “The Bloomer Girl” or the odd college song on occasion. Pemi offered a great deal even to a book worm like me, and I loved the old books in the lodge, some of which must have dated back to the camp’s founding. I’m glad it continues on.

  14. For Your Pemi Archives: My brother just sent some info from your website, and asked me about my memorable camp experiences at Pemi back in the Summer of 1940, when I was one of the youngest campers….Ed See was our counselor…and was noted that particular summer for his “Six Years as a Camper…Six Years as a Counselor.”
    I was known that summer as “Cue Ball.”

    When I last stopped by Pemi…probably the Summer of 1992…it was after camp season, but some of your team was there enjoying a picnic….I recall that you told me that Ed See had just stopped by a few days earlier.

    Doc Win was the director who helped me “Swim The Distance”…As I recall, I was among the three last campers to “Swim The Distance”….and we were each taken under the wing of one of the directors….It was a great triumph when on the same day…all three of us finally “Swam The Distance.”…There was a huge celebration at Dinner that evening…with a Special Cake for the Three Campers who at last made it! It was a wonderfully affirming and motivating experience.

    I also still have the “What Is It” Nature Award I received in 1940 for naming so many of the “What Is Its” which each day appeared in the Nature Center. It is framed on my book shelf for such special momentos.

    Not sure why I never returned to Pemi, as that was a splendid, horizon expanding summer for me….Of course the war years changed a lot, and our family existed on the salary then available for professors at small colleges….

    Rest of this is “optional reading,” as little of this is pertinent to Pemi, except for my comments about my last visit in 1992: I went to a much simpler camp [Quinebarge on Lake Kanasatka] the summers of 1943-44-45…and then to Putney Work Camp in Vermont the summers of 1946-47. Both Quinebarge and Putney were very strong on instilling the “virtues of hard labor” ethic….which led me next into five summers 1948 through 1953 of work on railroad track maintenance and construction gangs in Illinois, Ontario, Alaska and Wyoming….

    Following Swarthmore College graduation, my service as an Army Draftee, and then Harvard Business School, my career was with the Railroads…most satisfying, as we never ran out of problems. Now, my wife and I live in a Quaker retirement community north of Baltimore…When our grandchildren come to stay with us for a few days…as the two oldest will again shortly…we call this “Camp Broadmead”…They have a great time, as they can move freely all around our acreage and trails and paths..and enjoy a range of activities.

    At one time, I had a dream of our son coming to Pemi, but we became immersed in the Quaker Camping Programs of our Baltimore Yearly Meeting [our group of Quakers] starting in the 1970’s….with our son and daughter** involved…much like Ed See…six years of camping followed by several years of counseloring. And now our grandchildren are involved with Catoctin Quaker Camp. I served as Clerk of our Camping Program Committee thirty years ago, and our son has been Clerk of the Camp Property Management Committee for the Baltimore Yearly Meeting Quakers.

    **From your website, you mention many Oberlin connections….that is where our daughter graduated, and then met and married her husband…

    Not sure whether you need to hear from former campers, but the thoughts I shared with my brother [Tom Fetter lives over in Vermont] earlier this evening provided a real nostalgia high.


    Bob Fetter
    Broadmead E-2
    13801 York Road
    Cockeysville, MD 21030-1837
    Phone: 443-578-8228

  15. I attended Pemi as a camper from 1977-78.
    I didn’t know what to expect. My uncle, Ron Mosher was a camper in the 40’s.
    I learned quite a bit in those two summers.
    I excelled in the track and field area. I won the Pentathlon both years I was there.
    Who can forget the trip to Hanover as a senior!
    I just recently connected with PEMI…Facebook is a wonderful thing!
    I am saddened with the news of Fred Rittner….thirty years is a long time to lose touch with some of my fondest memories as a teenager.
    I reside in Largo Florida now with my wife and three dogs. Our kids are grown and gone…Grandkids visit from time to time…
    I would like to reconnect with some of my friends from that time period…just to say hi and reminisce.

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