Principles of Leadership at Pemi

Fourteen members of the Pemi staff recently met for a weekend of planning and discussion. Principles of Leadership at Pemi is a collaborative effort that developed as we addressed the question, “what does it mean to be a leader at Pemi?”

1.We believe in leading from the front.

Leaders at Pemi have traditionally “led from the front.” We believe it is imperative that we model the ideas and behaviors that we endorse and that we ask others to live by.

We strive to take the initiative to do what needs to be done, not just ask others for their effort and commitment.

Leading from the front allows us to maintain our humility and appreciation for those whom we lead.

When we lead from the front, we also model passion, good grace, and humor.

2. Good leaders are good listeners.

We recognize that we are at our best in leading when we have a clear sense of how others are doing – what they are thinking and how they are feeling; this only comes via attentive and thoughtful listening.

When we listen closely, we help others take us where we should all go, not necessarily where we initially thought we should go.

By being good listeners, we gain trust from others who see us as interested in their journey and, therefore, see us as their advocates.

Active listening also mandates patience on our part and a commitment to whomever we are leading.

3. Pemi Leaders understand the need for a variety of styles of leadership at camp.

Allowing for a variety of leadership styles helps us to recognize our own strengths and weaknesses and allows us to continue learning from others.

By recognizing that there are many styles of leadership, each of us may contribute to leadership at camp without being threatened by the talents and passions of others around us, no matter what their role at camp may be.

Exposure to a variety of leadership styles leaves room for us to continue to grow in our own roles as leaders.

A variety of leadership styles presents campers with many role models with whom they might identify and emulate.

4. Leaders at Pemi mentor others and develop new leaders each summer.

Part of our job each summer is to pass along the legacy of the leaders who came before us and to prepare for when other younger staff will step into new roles at Pemi

By mentoring others in our ideas of leadership, we see the values and beliefs that are at the core of the Pemi experience brought to the “outside world.” The Pemi spirit is then engrained in other families, schools, institutions, and communities.

5. Pemi leaders accept the reality that there are times for both praise and constructive criticism and correction.

We are charged with being honest in a way that is constructive, caring, and not judgmental.

Honesty insures that we will maintain the highest standards in our community and in our work with campers, staff, and parents.

Honesty allows us the privilege of contributing to growth and maturity in those with whom we work and guide.

We believe everyone ultimately wants to be counseled with honesty, care, and integrity.

Our most honest leaders are admired and remembered with appreciation and even affection. At the same time, we realize that wanting to be liked can stand in the way of being an effective mentor. Better that affection evolve from respect than from treating people without the highest expectations.

6. Pemi leaders believe in decision-making by consensus but also confirm that it is our job to make the most difficult decisions from time to time.

We recognize that it is our responsibility to make the occasional tough call when consensus can’t be reached or when the situation requires an immediate decision.

Making difficult decisions is a responsibility we embrace with the best interest of Pemi foremost in our minds.

That being said, our first model of decision-making is via consensus, with true credence given to everyone’s passionate voice and position.


Lessons That I Learnt from Being a Bean Soup Editor by Justin Thomson Glover

I have been asked to write an introduction to the Saffer, Geoff Morrell (yes that one!), Karl See, and Justin T-G years of Bean Soup, which range between – according to my slightly hazy memory –  1987 through to – in various fits and starts – to the early/mid 90s.

 As I have a fair amount of trouble remembering events such as: the previous week, why I went into the kitchen, or what I may or may not have done to upset my wife and children – it is with some trepidation that I cast my mind back 25 years ago to a small community about 4000 miles away from where I am currently sitting (Spreyton, Devon, England).  But to kick start some thoughts, I thought a list of lessons that I learnt from being a Bean Soup editor is as good as place to start, since the experience of writing, speaking, and listening to the journals of the Pemi community was a fairly influential part of my existence – up til now.  Or at least that’s what my therapist says.

Anyway a list of jumbled and ill-thought-out comments follow below, which already does much to remind me of the mind-set that I experienced as an editor all those years ago.

Pemi Editor List:

  1. Giving yourself time to write an article is generally a good thing but a situation that never seemed to occur due to enormous amounts of “faffing” (an English word – not sure if it exists across the pond?!),  idleness, and constant belief that the whole thing might go away if you waited long enough;
  2. Giving yourself no time at all is stressful, scary, and not necessarily a good thing but remains my ongoing professional and social modus operandi.
  3. Not being funny is generally a bad thing and can lead to mental scarring;
  4. Tom Reed Jr’s standard of article writing means that at least one part of Bean Soup can compete with the best writing in the world. I’m currently working with a couple of vaguely famous screenwriters and I bet they couldn’t have written the epic oeuvre “One Armed Brake-person”;
  5. Sitting on a precariously balanced metal chair 4 feet up on a rickety table over a group of bemused looking 8-year-olds is not advisable;
  6. Having a co-editor who can write very funny articles at a drop of hat is a bad thing, and the noise of a highly appreciative audience’s laughter at his very funny article is a terrible thing to hear when you realize that the article you are about to read parodying an event involving a canoe, a camper, and a cake might not work as well as you initially hoped;
  7. Any article that contains a list is probably a good thing as there is an expectation from the audience that at least one item must be funny.  Even if none of the items do succeed in hitting the spot, the audience do at least appreciate that you can count.  It also allows you to include the word “pagoda,” which never fails to amuse, unless you try and use it in front of a room full of accountants as part of a detailed business presentation or as a way to break the ice with a potential girlfriend;
  8. Reading an article, finishing, and then being able to hear a pin drop is character forming;
  9. Being in the Lodge hearing 200 people laugh at an article and feeling the electricity of a unique camp community buzz all around you and realizing that you are part of one of the great communities in the world is a good thing;
  10. Parodying a Pemi song is life-affirming:

A Song that could be parodied:

Bloomer Girl

In the style of Rakim, KRS – One, Snoop Dogg, and Dr Dre:  Very much unaccompanied with a fair amount of blowing and self-inflicted drum beats with a slight look of wariness and humbleness combined with a pinch of macho pride.

****: ****; *****:  ! ! !
Bloomer Bloomer Girl;
*******; ******:
********; *****,
Bloomer Girl.


A new song called “Pagoda” – in the style of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”

I would hope that if we could get the Junior camp to memorise the words it might go viral very quickly.

Caught in a bad smell

Caught in a bad smell

Ooh what a bad smell

That’s quite a bad smell.

Were you at Pemi during the 1980’s?  If you are interested in receiving one issue or more from 1980-1989, please let me know. I will be happy to send you any given issue or issues in PDF form.  You may contact me at alumni. Stay tuned for future releases.  ~Nikki Wilkinson Tropeano

Update on Northern Pass

In March 2011, we learned that Northern Pass posed a threat to Pemi land. The blog post, Help Us Stop High Power Voltage Lines Over Pemi, inspired many Pemi alumni and friends to take action. It worked. Shortly after, we published good news in Pemi Dodges Proposed Power Lines. The Spring, 2012, edition of Forest Notes (the publication of Society for the Protection of NH Forests) has an update on Northern Pass. 
Principal points:
1) Northern Pass has been blocked by legislation from using eminent domain as a tool for acquiring a route for the transmission lines;
2) SPNHF raised more than $850,000 in only five weeks to allow the Society to purchase a conservation easement on The Balsams in Dixville Notch and block that proposed Northern Pass route;
3) Burial of the transmission lines within existing state-owned rights-of-way (highways and railroads) is being examined as an option.
Thanks to all who have supported the effort to protect northern New Hampshire!