Ander Wensberg’s Next Chapter of Pemi Involvement


Ander Wensberg

As things wind down at the end of a highly successful season, we would like to take a moment to extend our profound thanks to Ander Wensberg for four years of energetic and productive service on the Pemi Board of Directors. Ander is not leaving us but will now assume a central role conceiving and creating a new Pemi Advisory Committee, broadening the scope of counsel and experience on which camp is able to draw. Ander joined the Board in 2009 at a key time of transition and he served a vital role ushering Pemi into a new era. His expertise in media and especially video was instrumental in upgrading the Pemi website. He also masterminded and oversaw the process by which Bean Soup has been digitized and made available to Pemi alums in electronic form.

Along with his brother Peter, Ander arrived at Pemi as a camper in the 1970s and proceeded up through the ranks to cabin counselor as one of the truly charismatic leaders of camp. Aiding and abetting him was longtime friend Fred Rittner, whose campfire and vaudevilles skits with Ander still set the bar for Pemi lunacy and laughter. Ander and wife Lisa’s son, Dana, was also a longtime Pemi camper, and their daughter Kelsey a staff member for multiple summers.

The entire Pemi community joins the Fauvers and Reeds in thanking Ander for his many contributions of spirit and effort over the years, and we look forward with great expectations to this next chapter of his Pemi involvement.

As we envision an Advisory Committee comprised of members whose skills and expertise are targeted to meet the current and ongoing needs of running a top-flite and well-rounded boys’ camp, we invite alumni to contact us with their suggestions and insights. Ander and we are keenly interested in your thoughts.


Newsletter 8: Farewell to 2013

We’re back, after a modest hiatus, to offer a final newsletter for the 2013 season. While the boys have been home for over two weeks, we’ve not been entirely idle. We completed the 31st Annual Rittner Run on a glorious August Monday, finishing in record time with over 50 runners participating. The Shareholders, Board of Directors, and Senior Staff and Program heads have all had their end-or season meetings, reviewing a fine year and beginning to plan for 2014. The physical plant has largely been put to bed – floats and docks stacked on shore, tennis courts and soccer goals disassembled, boats ashore and stowed in cabins, etc. Today, while Kenny Moore mows the athletic fields on the Ferris, new gutters are going up on the Lodge, and Reed Harrigan and crew are finishing up the painting of the Messhall – inside and out. Danny managed to grab a few days and head over to Deer Isle Maine with Julia, staying at a charming little B&B while they caught their breath – and Dottie and Tom are just back from three days on the western border of Algonquin Park in Ontario, where they enjoyed some time with family, scenic canoeing, and a couple of lazy afternoons in the sun. Now, though, there are final reports to write, software systems to roll over for a new year, the 2014 application to prepare, and winter Open Houses to schedule. Mild but contented exhaustion yields to anticipation and excitement yet again. As we begin to look forward, though, we thought we’d take a moment to look back at two of the signal moments of Pemi Week – the opening night of our annual Gilbert and Sullivan performance and Danny’s toast for the Final Banquet. We hope you enjoy these two final windows into Pemi, 2013.

Clive Bean Reviews Iolanthe

Tuesday night (August 6th!) witnessed the triumphant return to the Pemigewassett Opera House of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe, last produced on these shores in 2003.  As musically complex as it is memorable, the show is unusual for us in that it requires two distinct sets and especially elaborate costumes – all considerations that led to the hiatus in performances. Anyone lucky enough to be in the audience on Tuesday or Wednesday will acknowledge, though, that the challenging revival was more than justified by the performance. No less a G&S aficionado than Dorin Dehls’ father Jim – camp alum and lifelong musical professional – said it was the most energetic and entertaining Pemi performance he had ever witnessed. This reviewer is not inclined to question that judgment.           


Music Director, Ian Axness

Much of the credit for the stellar quality of the show obviously goes to our musical staff, with Music Director Ian Axness being aided this year by fellow Oberlinian and pianist superb Josh Hess. As a result, Ian was able to concentrate on musical direction as Josh manned the keyboard. Never have the men’s or “girls’” choruses been stronger, and few shows could boast similar finish or verve in the leads. With Josh playing for the performances, Ian was able to conduct each night from the orchestra pit (aka a low bench and pillow) and further sharpen the show even as it unrolled. We should also mention that Ian joined Josh at the pianoforte for the show’s overture, which they delivered with the varied lyrical grace and power one might expect from a duo that has been sharing the same keyboard all summer.           


George Cooke as Iolanthe

Iolanthe opens with the entrance of a flock of fairies. The first to step – or perhaps flit – onto the stage was Matt Cloutier, who managed to appear shorter and more solid than a fire hydrant and more pixie-ish than Taylor Swift in a giggle fit. Matt had recently shaved his beard, but a healthy crop of chest hair gave due notice that the Peers would have some tough ethereal customers do deal with to deal with. For a full roster of Matt’s winged Fairyland compatriots, look for the full program in this year’s published Bean Soup; but we’ll note here the dramatic and musical strength of Tucker Jones as Leila, Jacob Berk and Andrew Altherr as Celia (first and second nights), and Will Adams as Fleta. The most powerful fairy of all was the Queen Herself, frighteningly played by Nick Ridley in a long flowing tutu that nonetheless managed to reveal some buff biceps that wouldn’t look bad on Brian Urlacher. No wonder the Peers were terrified of him. Rounding out the Fairy brigade was the title character herself, Iolanthe, played by George Cooke with a dramatic flair that ended up garnering him the Johnnies’ Plaque. Never was George out of character as he represented the fetching female who risked her life for love.          


Larry Davis, Teddy Gales, Tom Reed Jr.

Anchoring the men’s chorus were G&S veteran counselors Henry Eisenhart, Fred Seebeck, Ben Ridley, and Dan Reed, ably abetted by Ben Chaimberg, Nick Bertrand, and a host of talented campers. (Again, see Bean Soup). Chaimberg came close to matching George Cooke in character consistency, playing lordly arrogance and privilege in a way that only someone from Hanover NH could manage. Larry Davis and Tom Reed, Jr. reprised their past roles at Lords Mountararat and Tolloller, no doubt cashing in on their years’ experience as college professors to play two self-absorbed gentlemen who think the world revolves around them. Their innate sense of superiority was nowhere more apparent than when, in the lovely quartet “Perhaps I may incur your blame,” Hugh Grey as the lowly Private Willis broke into their number like Cinderella coming to the Ball. Who was this upstart pipsqueak in scarlet? Well, we say, nothing less than one of the best performers of the night, in this reviewer’s humble opinion. Bravo, Hugh Grey – and good on the Fairy Queen for finally choosing you as a husband rather than this pair of entitled ninnies.          


Ethan Pannell and Dorin Dehls

Ethan Pannell gave us Strephon with a strength and confidence – both musically and dramatically – that garnered him this year’s Scott Withrow Gilbert and Sullivan Award. No one worked harder on this role than Ethan, and no one gave a more creditable performance. Contesting the right to be deemed the most professional player of the night, though, were Dorin Dehls as Phyllis and Teddy Gales as the Lord Chancellor. Dorin matched her truly operatic voice with Oscar-worthy acting, reminding us yet again how lucky we are to have a person of her talent in our ranks. Meanwhile, Teddy mastered what is likely the most demanding role in all of G&S, whipping through his three patter songs with the finish and confidence of a musical Demosthenes and playing his Mildly Dirty Old Man role with a dexterity that makes it clear Teddy wasn’t lying in his resume when he told Danny he was going into the theater as a career. If his “Nightmare Song” wasn’t the show-stopper, his trio with Davis and Reed was. Everything Teddy touches seems to turn to gold, so we caution all of you to avoid at all costs shaking hands with him.          


Deborah Fauver

Thanks for a terrific production also go to Penelope Reed Doob, as Producer/Director, and Ezra Nugiel, who migrated this year to the other side of the curtain as Assistant Director. The look of the show was immeasurably enhanced by Associate Producer and Costume Director Deborah Fauver, who spent countless hours and days assembling the togs and props the show required. Major kudos also to Megan Fauver Cardillo (Jake’s mom), who brought vibrant new life to Betsy Reed’s original sets. Speaking of whom, easily the most moving moment of the night came in the Fairy Queen’s love solo when she delivered a verse recognizing Betsy for over fifty years of service to Pemi as the founder and sustainer of the annual Gilbert and Sullivan extravaganza. The show literally stopped, as the audience rose to applaud the person without whom none of these wonderful evenings would ever have happened. In a show about fairies, you look for magic. The real magic opening night was Betsy blowing the cast a kiss from her 96-year-old lips. Wow!  

Wow indeed. What a show! If you missed it, make sure to pick up the dvd. Never has a Pemi show been more engaging or had more energy or talent poured into it. The bar moves ever higher. Here’s to 2014, when our distinguished repertory company turns its attention to HMS Pinafore. Book early. Little Buttercup is already topping up her inventory.    — Clive Bean

And now for Danny’s toast, offered at the start of the Final Banquet on Thursday, August 8th, after Al Fauver, Tom Reed, Jr., Dan Reed, and Ian Axness had delivered the customary four-part, a capella banquet grace.


Danny Kerr

Here’s to the summer of 2013 at Camp Pemigewassett, the 106th in Pemi’s proud history – a summer that began seven weeks ago for campers, eight weeks ago for staff, almost ten weeks ago for counselors attending the Wilderness First Aid Clinic, the Nature Clinic, or Life Guard Training Clinic, and 13 weeks ago for the gang that met in Nahant, Mass on that rainy weekend in May to begin sharing our dreams, ideas, and inspirations for this 106th Pemi summer.

Here’s to a summer that ends with days growing shorter and temperatures low enough to merit sleeping bags at night, a summer that by all accounts has been a spectacular success, made possible mostly by the people in this room.

Here’s to the 257 campers who graced the shores of Lower Baker Pond this summer, campers from 23 states of the United States and 7 foreign countries, and here’s to the Slovakian, Czech, and Hungarian flags that we added to our collection in the mess hall this summer, as well. Here’s to campers in their first year at Pemi – and yes, Ben Chaimberg, Nick Bertrand, Nick Thomas, Arthur Root, and Matt Kanovsky, here’s to campers in their eighth.

Here’s to the dedicated counselor staff at Pemi in 2013 – to the cabin counselors and assistant counselors who share close quarters and become family with the boys, and who, for some magical reason, are able to inspire, mentor, and capture the imagination of their campers in ways even their own parents cannot.

Here’s to the program staff at Pemi that so enthusiastically shares their own knowledge with our boys and have perhaps inspired them to follow in their footsteps in whatever their field of expertise may be. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a Pemi boy has discovered a passion, while at camp, that lasts a lifetime.

Here’s to the hard-working crew that Reed Harrigan leads so vigorously each day – Brandon and Ken and Jason and Jacob and Chris, who allow us to take full advantage of this beautiful campus; to Heather, Kim, and Judy in the office who never get enough credit; to Stacey, Ruth, Nancy, Betty, Chloe, Servacs, David, Daniel, Vladimir, David, and Tibor, who spoiled us each day with delicious food cooked from scratch, and fresh produce from the nearby farms of New Hampshire. And, of course, here’s to Monica, Laura, and Kellyn, who cared for us and nursed us back to health when the Coxsackie virus made its way through the ranks.

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

Here’s to the wonderful program at Pemi and to Kenny for keeping everyone moving in the right direction; here’s to Deb and Amy down in Art World; to Charlie and all the coaches in the athletics program; to Tom and the dozens of trips that he was able to send out this summer, despite the cantankerous weather pattern; to maestro Ian and the beautiful music we enjoy; and to Larry and Deb and the world-class nature program they manage.

Here’s to the weather this summer, despite its vicissitudes – the crisp mornings, blazing afternoons, and peaceful golden haze across Lowe Baker Pond at day’s closing that we enjoyed in these final weeks; and here’s to our capacity to get the most out of the stormy days we braved in the first part of the summer.

Here’s to the things that made 2013 feel unique: helicopters and Iolanthe; the new two-day changeover and a day at a Whale’s Tale’s water park that our full season campers enjoyed; all-camp Frisbee Running Bases in the outfield of the big baseball diamond; the “serious duty” that Junior Camp staff performed; and the British Invasion that brought us so many talented international staff this summer.

Here’s to those things that are so uniquely Pemi: the Pee-Rade, Pink Polar Bear, Sound-Painting, Larry’s stories at Campfire, distance swims, Woods Dude’s Day, dope stops, the Pemi Kid, and the ever-lasting quest to discover “what’s a bean?”

Here’s to all-camp events at Pemi: Bean Soup when we laugh at ourselves and anticipate “things to look for”; Campfire, when we are treated to, amongst other things, beautiful music, riddles, Greek myths, or even the opportunity to watch someone lick his elbow; and here’s to Sunday Meeting, when we’re reflective and thoughtful about such things as the storied history of Pemi, the unlimited potential for rakers not leaners, and the heartfelt reflections of a group of campers entering their final week as Pemi “boys.”

And finally, here’s to our 15-year-old’s – to the leadership they provided and to the lifelong friendships that they have created. I know from experience you’ll be in each other’s weddings, be godparents to each other’s children and, hopefully, be the next generation of counselors at Pemi.

Bryce, Hugh, Daniel, Zach, Nick, Ben, Arthur, Max and Matt, Julian, Rosie, Cole and Ethan, Jack, Theo, Patrick, Nick, Jackson, Matt, Graham and Nick; thank you for being models each day of what it means to be a Pemi boy – and for your uncanny capacity to say just the right things to those many younger boys who look up to you.

Here’s to Camp Pemigewassett, 2013.

Good luck, long life and joy!


With that traditional, tripartite Pemi wish, we’ll sign off with this year’s newsletters. We look forward, though, to being in touch via other channels in the very near future and throughout the year. For now, thanks to all Pemi parents for your indulgence and trust. We hope your sons have come back to you with a bounce in their steps, a twinkle in their eyes, and an arresting tale or two of happy and productive times in our midst.

— Tom and Danny

Newsletter # 7: Pemi’s Nature Program


Matt Kanovsky, 8-year Pemi camper

Most people who are new to Pemi are struck by the breadth of opportunities offered. Indeed, we encourage our campers to stretch their boundaries of experience by exploring our four program areas: Sports, Nature, Music Art & Drama, and Trips. However, we like to think that equally impressive is the depth of instruction that an older camper can enjoy should he choose to hone his skills in a particular area. This past Sunday, several of our 15-year old campers spoke on the role that Pemi has played in their lives. Matt Kanovsky, in his 8th and final year as a camper, reflected on his experience with Pemi’s Nature Program and how he was able to dig deeper and deeper as his interest in the natural world grew. How fitting, then, to have Larry Davis, Director of Nature Programs and Teaching, offer this week’s newsletter, in which he describes how this particular program area has responded to the “thirst for more” from campers who develop passion and focus.

Pemi’s Nature Program encompasses a wide range of activities including collecting trips, day-long excursions to places such as Crawford Notch, informal outings, and overnight caving trips. But the heart of the program is our formal instruction, which takes place during the occupation periods. Each week we offer 14-16 different activities over a range of “skill” levels, from beginning to advanced. For example, during Week 6 we taught at the beginning level: Rocks and Minerals, Butterflies and Moths, Ponds and Streams, Junior Nature Book, Birding, and Nature Drawing; at the intermediate level: Wild Foods, Digital Photography, Rocks and Minerals, Darkroom Photography; and at the advanced level: Mosses, Caddisflies, Butterfly and Moth Field Studies, Reptiles and Amphibians, and Bush Lore, for a total of 15 choices. Over the course of the summer, we offered a total of 37 different activities. Some appear every week, others appeared a couple of times, and a few appeared only once.

In this newsletter, I want to tell you a bit more about our occupations. While I will describe a range of these, I want to focus especially on some new, advanced ones that we developed this year. Our hope was not only to offer some challenges to the campers who spend a lot of time with us in the Nature Lodge, but also to give everyone a chance to explore aspects of our environment that they might not have noticed in the past.

Traditional Occupations

Some of our boys come to us with extensive experience in nature field studies. However, most do not. So, we want to offer attractive activities, in a variety of areas, that will allow them to begin their exploration of nature. While time and space do not allow a detailed description of these, I can discuss some of the characteristics that these “introductions” share.

(1b) Per at StreamFirst, our overarching objective is to get the boys to look at and observe the world around them. We want to help them “see.” This idea is stated in our Mission Statement for the Nature Program (modeled after one written by Allen H. Morgan of the Massachusetts Audubon Society):

To capture the attention of the inquisitive mind, bring to it an affection for this planet and all of life, and to foster an intelligent understanding of man’s position in the natural balance of things.

In order to do this, we have to take them out into nature, not just talk about it. We want to show them, not just tell them. Our 600 acres provide us with a wonderful variety of plants, animals, rocks, and more to look at, and we can easily access most of what we need to see during an occupation week of five, 50-minute periods.

(2) R&M Deb:Plate T (D)Second, all our beginning occupations have set, detailed lesson plans. Our objectives include introducing the boys to the “nature” of the subject matter. For example what “makes” an insect or a butterfly or a moth. Or, “what’s” a mineral? We also want them to learn how an animal lives, how a mineral is formed, why some plants like shade and others like full sunlight…. We want them to learn about basic collection and preservation techniques. Finally, we want them to become familiar with some of the basic terminology that scientists use to describe things, not too much jargon, but enough so that they can read further if they wish (and many do).

Lastly, we hope to bring them to the point where they will formulate their own questions. “Why do moths fly toward light?” “Why are the leaves on the seedlings in the forest so big?” “Why can’t the piece of coal that I found in Mahoosuc Notch come from there?” Science is about questions, not memorization of facts. You must seek answers directly from nature and only observation of what’s “out there” can lead you to them. This gets us back to the first objective that I mentioned, getting the boys to look at and observe the world around them. If they do this then the questions (and maybe, the answers) should follow.


If we are successful in our introductory occupations, then we leave the campers wanting more. In order to provide this, we need staff with specialized knowledge. Beyond that, they also need to understand about teaching in the outdoors and that is one of the reasons why we run a pre-season Nature Instruction Clinic.

This summer we worked hard to find staff that could fill some of the gaps in our knowledge base. As most of you know, both Deb Kure (Associate Head of Nature Programs) and I are geologists. While we have extensive knowledge of most things natural, it is generally of the self-taught variety. We have always had a “bug person” too, most recently, Conner Scace (who was back with us as a visiting professional this year). His bug “specialties” are ants, wasps, and bees, along with dragonflies and damselflies. We wanted staff with formal training in ecology, wetlands, other insect groups, and related areas such as nature photography. We were very fortunate to find excellent people to fill our gaps. I’d like to reintroduce them to you.

Daniel (“Danno”) Walder has a degree in conservation biology from Plymouth University in England. He has done research on bracken in the British Isles and has also worked on projects in Mexico and Spain. Prior to arriving at Pemi, he spent many weeks trekking in Sri Lanka. He comes from a farming family. His knowledge of ecology and wildlife is extensive.

Kevin Heynig is studying for a degree in biology at Northern Michigan University, with an ecology concentration. His interests focus on aquatic insects and their environments. He has done research on caddisflies in Lake Superior and field research on other aquatic insects.

Mark Welsh is studying biomedical science at the University of Dundee. Besides his abilities in biology, he is also a serious photographer who works with both film and digital media. He said in his application materials, “Photography is a great passion in my life and I would relish any opportunity to pass it on to anyone, be they young or old!”

Matt Cloutier will be entering Middlebury College this year, studying for a degree in biology with an emphasis on entomology. Matt became passionate about butterflies and moths as a Pemi camper and, in 2011, was the 12th recipient (since 1974) of the Clarence Dike Memorial Nature Award.

Conner Scace (Visiting Professional) just completed his M.S. degree in environmental science at the University of New Haven. He did thesis work, with me, on fish populations in interior ponds on San Salvador Island, Bahamas. In the fall he will be entering a one-year-long program that will end with his becoming a certified biology teacher in Connecticut. As I said above, his passion is ants and related insects. We were very fortunate that he was able to join us for three weeks this summer.

Stephen Broker (Visiting Professional) is newly retired from teaching ecology in New Haven Public Schools. He also taught wetlands ecology at the University of New Haven. He is the Connecticut State Bird Recorder and an expert in “reading the landscape,” that is, reading the record of human occupation from characteristics of the landscape as seen in the field. Steve’s father was waterfront director at Pemi in the late 1930s so his week with us was, in a way, a homecoming for him.

New Occupations

While we have always had “advanced” level occupations in butterflies and moths, geology, and various insects, and specialty occupations in non-flowering plants, wild foods, photography, and wilderness skills, the backgrounds of our staff allowed us to offer many new and even more advanced activities this summer and to substantially update some that we have offered occasionally in the past. It is worth listing them all below before I use the rest of my time and space to describe a few of them.

Bees and Wasps
Aquatic Insects
Dragonflies and Damselflies
Butterfly and Moth Field Studies
Animal Homes and Signs
Reptiles and Amphibians
Wetlands Ecology
Bush Lore
Reading the Landscape
Advanced Darkroom Photography



Caddisfly larvae cases and adults

Caddisflies are aquatic insects with a two-stage life cycle. The larvae are fully aquatic and most build cases out of twigs, stones, or leaves. They feed on detritus, small insects, and plants. The cases serve as both camouflage and protection. But, since they have to drag them around while foraging, the construction material depends on how heavy they need to be to keep the larva from being washed away. So, if the habitat is a stream, then sand or small pebbles are used. If a shoreline or quiet pool, then leaves or twigs might be the choice. In fast-moving streams, the cases are attached directly to rocks and, rather than foraging, the larvae wait for the stream to bring food to them. The case construction and design is specific to a specific species (which in turn is adapted to live in a specific habitat). The adults are the reproductive stage and, as is common with many aquatic insects, they do not feed. All of this forms the background for this specialized occupation. Both adults (they fly readily to light) and larvae (along with their cases) can be collected and observed. Most important, however, is the observation of how they adapt to their preferred habitat and the questions about why they have those specific adaptations. This can lead to thinking about trade-offs between protection and energy expenditure for foraging versus the energy obtained from the food. We have at least 30 different kinds of caddisflies here (maybe more as we are just beginning to look at them) so the possibilities for study are wide.



collecting ants

Of course, anyone who’s ever had a picnic, knows about ants. They are everywhere. At Pemi, we have at least 10 kinds and some, such as carpenter ants (they tunnel and bore into wood) and Appalachian Mound Builders (they bite) are troublesome. Regardless they all display a sophisticated level of social organization that can be observed both in the field and in captivity. Our ant occupation includes study and discussion of social organization, observation of foraging behavior, collection of examples, collection of queens, and temporary establishment of captive colonies for observation in the Nature Lodge (later released back into the environment). Sometimes we get to observe ant “wars” where two separate colonies battle over territory. The questions that can be generated are legion. How and why did ants develop the social structures that they have? What are the advantages of this structure? Why are almost all ants female and almost all sterile (except the queens)? As always, we try to generate answers to these by observation in the field (which includes the uncertainties) rather than by looking up the answers on the internet (which, of course, are always right).



Ecology quadrat

Ecology is, of course, a very broad field of study. The main purpose of this occupation is to teach the campers about data collection techniques, analysis, and interpretation. This summer, we looked at plant distribution and diversity in several Pemi habitats including grassy fields, open meadows, and the forest floor. The basic tools for this work include a “quadrat” (basically a one-meter-square “frame” that can be placed anywhere), a hand lens, and identification books. The quadrat is used to “select” areas of equal size and all plants and animals within it are counted and catalogued. Our grassy fields are, of course, manmade habitats. Forest floors are in deep shade while open meadows are usually in full sunlight. This selection of habitats provides starkly contrasting examples of diversity (the number of different species) and population (the number of individuals of each species). What we found was that the manmade habitat was the least diverse (we prefer to have our grassy areas just grass and spend hundreds of millions of dollars assuring this result). The open meadows were the most diverse, with the forest floor in between (although with generally low diversity). These are, however, just facts and the fun comes from asking “why?” and then testing the possible answers to see what fits best. This is, of course, the scientific method. But, instead of just talking about it, in our ecology occupation we are actually doing it. Beyond that, this is no canned laboratory experiment. We are generating questions to which we really don’t know the answers.

Butterfly and Moth Field Studies

fieldWe have been collecting butterflies and moths at Pemi since the beginning of the Nature Program in 1929. Of course, back then, this is how nature was “done.” While we continue to collect butterflies and moths, we have tried to modernize it. We limit collection to just one of each species. We teach proper collection and preservation techniques. We strongly encourage the labeling of collections not only with the name of the species, but also with information about when and where it was collected. Still, this is only one of the ways that these insects are studied today. One important newer technique is to capture, mark, and recapture. This is a way of estimating population numbers. It works particularly well with butterflies. A location is chosen and butterflies are captured. But, rather than killing them, their wings are marked (using an indelible pen) so that the individual can be identified. Then, they are released. The key is to return to the same site on successive days. Of course, some of the captured butterflies will be ones that are already marked. In fact, the more days you do this, the more greater the percentage should be of marked butterfly recaptures. Through a series of arithmetical manipulations of the data, it is possible to estimate population numbers based on the proportions of new captures to recaptures. The real power of this technique is when it is used in successive years to observe population changes (and we intend to do this). The questions generated from the data (again, just “facts”) might include why different species have different relative populations, how populations change over time, how populations change with changing plant succession (could be coupled with the techniques of ecological quadrat studies), and much, much more.

Bush Lore

BushLoreBesides natural history studies, our program also includes some introduction to wilderness and outdoor skills. Bush Lore was first introduced by Nuwi Somp in the 1990s. Nuwi brought the bush savvy that he gained in the jungles of Papua New Guinea to us here in New Hampshire. He built, with the campers, fish traps, snares, fish spears, and other tools using age-old techniques and patterns from his homeland. His only rule was that you had to eat whatever you caught. It turned out, however, that what worked in PNG did not necessarily work with our animals here—a very interesting lesson. This year we instituted a new version of this. It included map and compass reading, tracking, a discussion and simulation of hunting skills that would have been used by Native Americans here in northern New England, a discussion and simulation of field dressing of animals, shelter building, tinder bundle firestarting, and more. In other words, we tried to present, in five days, as complete a snapshot of ways to survive in the woods while living off the land as we could. This could also be followed by more advanced activities where we actually try to build skills in some of the shelter building, wayfinding, and tracking techniques.


I hope that you have enjoyed this foray into our new, expanded list of occupations. We instituted these because we wanted to offer our campers a chance to go beyond introductions. Older campers need new challenges as they continue to return. We need to be able to keep the interest of both the boy who wants to specialize and the one who has been here for seven or even eight years and who wants something new. I believe that we have succeeded. We will continue to refine the occupations that we have instituted this summer (along with those that have been in place for years and years) and, I hope, produce new offerings in years to come.

~ Larry Davis
Director of Nature Programs and Teaching