2014: Newsletter # 3
This week’s Newsletter comes from Assistant Director Kenny Moore, who heads up Pemi’s instructional program.
During the second week of occupations, across four instructional periods, Pemi provided the boys with 75 different activities to choose from. That averages just over 18 different choices each hour. Many of these occupations, like Tennis, are divided by age groups or by the participant’s base of experience or knowledge. This allows beginners, intermediates, and advanced participants all to receive the appropriate level of guidance and support from the instructors. In order, for example, to truly understand and appreciate Advanced Butterflies and Moths, one must have the basics gained in Beginning Butterflies and Moths.
Pemi’s in-camp instructional program focuses on sports, nature, music, and the arts. The trip program stays active throughout most occupation days with day hikes opportunities. If the weather on a Thursday looks amazing, Tom will, say, send out Lower 1 and Lower 2 to Stinson Mountain and Lower 5 and Lower 6 to Mount Cube. This week alone, more than 8 cabins hit the trail to enjoy the White Mountains! We take every opportunity to immerse ourselves in the beauty of our surroundings, and the occasional break from their occupations can be useful to the boys.
For years, Pemi’s mainstay activities formed the base of the occupation program. Alumni will remember their Ponds and Streams occupations, their time on the baseball diamond, in Silver Cornet Band rehearsals, or even their time constructing a jewelry box for mom in the Wood Shop. There is plenty of inherent value in these tried-and-true Pemi offerings. Far beyond the confines of classroom walls, our mainstay occupations allow the boys to investigate traditional interests in new and different ways.
But Pemi’s program is dynamic, and continues to adapt with the addition of new programming that capture the boys’ expanding curiosity. These new occupations are driven by the Program Heads and the instructors. If you are an avid Pemi newsletter reader, I’m sure you’ve realized we are fortunate to have a very talented staff this summer. Their energy and passion transfer over to the boys, making their occupations buzz with excitement. Veteran campers thoroughly enjoy these exciting new offerings, and new campers have yet another opportunity to try something they have encountered nowhere else.
Over the past few years, Pemi has brought in Visiting Professionals to help provide added expertise in existing program areas or even in new, untapped areas. Jeanne Friedmann, the Head Crew Coach at Mount Holyoke College, joined us last week to give lessons on sculling. Senior campers Hugh Jones, Will Jones, Ezra Nugiel, and Jack O’Connor learned quickly from Jeanne, who managed to line up a few single and dual sculls to grace Lower Baker. The early morning calm provided a picturesque backdrop, as well as perfect water conditions for the boys to learn various positions and techniques to guide the scull through the water. Hugh, a quick learner with some previous experience, stayed on to assist with the next group, the Uppers, and helped with the teaching. We’re so thankful to Jeanne for bringing this long-awaited opportunity to Pemi, and we hope to be able to make this week of instruction a yearly event.
Down in the Junior Camp, between the Lake House and Junior 1, sits our recently renovated Art Building, where Head of Art Laura Bubar and her team constantly capture and focus the boys’ attention with new and interesting projects. During the 2nd hour, a group of 10’s worked on their Aluminum Foil Paintings. Callum McNear explained the process to me. “Start with cardboard and draw your design with a Sharpie, and then go over those lines with hot glue.” After wrapping his newly sketched lightning bolts with aluminum foil, he pressed down very carefully, creating ridges from the glue underneath. The collection of these paintings, spread out on the lawn to dry, was just so cool!
While Aluminum Foil Paintings have been popular in the Lower and Junior Divisions, the Seniors love Ben Ridley’s Graffiti Occupation. One of the most popular occupations over the past the few years, Ben’s unique offering works with the group on elements of design, typography, and stenciling. Will DeTeso, John Stevenson, and Nate Bluenthal quickly got to work on their stencils down in Art World. Per Soderberg was designing a sword stencil, taped to a plywood board. Seeing such a wide range of boys so enthusiastically engaged in the Art World is both remarkable and encouraging, especially in an era when so many school are cutting back on Arts instruction.
Pemi has a Rock Band to complement the traditional Silver Cornet Band. Led by Ben Ridley and Becky Noel, the group worked this week on a 90’s classic, Zombie, by the Cranberries, taking yours truly on a trip back to my youth! With Ben on the drums and Becky managing the bass guitar, Nick Case provided the real power on his guitar and Robert Loesser piped in on vocals. After their jam, Ben and Robert coordinated the timing between the drums and vocals, while Nick and Becky worked to find the perfect volume on their amps. With several participants out on trips this particular day, we had an excellent 1-1 staff-camper ratio allowing for especially intense and profitable instruction! I’m hopeful we might see the final polished version of this song at an upcoming Vaudeville or maybe even an impromptu show at Sunday cookout.
Our athletic program, similar to our other key activity areas, has a long history of success in improving the skills and commitment of our athletes. Equipped with the skills and passion developed at Pemi, many campers have gone on to compete at the highest high-school and college levels. This year, to further improve our coaching and instruction, we created the inaugural F.A.S.T. Program. During Weeks 2, 3, and 4, we offer Focused Athletic Skills Training (or F.A.S.T) in soccer, baseball and lacrosse. Charlie Malcolm, Pemi’s Athletic Director for more than twenty years, stacked a team of experienced and skillful soccer coaches including two NEPSAC Varsity Soccer Coaches (Charlie from Northfield Mount Hermon and Simon Jarcho, former Varsity Coach at Vermont Academy), two Division 1 players, and one semi-pro player, to lead 37 boys in an intensive week’s worth of 2-hour clinics. We love that we can offer boys a true Pemi experience but also give them the high level of instruction and field time they desire. These boys should feel more than confident in their skills when they return home to early fall practices.
After using the first week of soccer occupations as a base for evaluation, the Soccer Staff developed a series of technical and tactical progressions to address during F.A.S.T. Simon, who played Varsity soccer at Colgate University, developed and managed the talent-laden 11- and 12-year-olds, while Charlie guided our older boys. Each day, the group progressed from a warm-up that isolated a specific technical skill on to a functional drill. Passing and receiving to really open up the field of play was the emphasis on Tuesday. Starting with a 4 v 4 scrimmage, the boys attacked two sets of goals, with the drill evolving to an 8 v 8 scrimmage, designed to add pressure and game tempo. I’d bet that the individual growth gained during the Soccer F.A.S.T. rivals what a boy could manage at any top soccer clinic.
New staff members inject life into the Pemi program each and every year, and in 2014, we’ve seen the introduction of Volleyball! Maggie Boomgaarden leads the charge, providing the structure and guidance for beginners to learn the sport and for the advanced players to improve. Each day, the group began with passing and setting drills, before they learned nuances of the game to apply to the scrimmage held at the end of each occupation. Foster Piotrow and Ben de Weaver fought hard in the camper/counselor scrimmage by working on their communications skills while Cedar Gadbois and Reed Cecil showed excellent hustle with a few digs.
Archery is a mainstay camp activity, and at Pemi this summer, we’ve offered archery to beginners, intermediates, and advanced bowmen. Jonathan Merrin, Pemi’s Head of Archery for the third straight summer, taught a Tournament Archery class that focused on the upcoming archery meets at Camp Robin Hood as well as our own Baker Valley Invitational. Jonathan had his group using three arrows to find their aiming point. After the first end (the set of three shots), he asked the group about what they had learned from each arrow, teaching them that a tournament-level archer gains useful information from each shot – and that success results from their diligent concentration. Kevin Green and Nathan King listened attentively, set to improve their routine by incorporating new information from each shot arrow.
Each week, Larry and the crew in the Nature Lodge offer over twelve different occupations. New to 2014 is Geology Lab, taught any given week by two of our three resident Geologists. This novel offering provides an in-depth examination of a specific Geology topic: Field Geology, Plate Tectonics, Water Geology, etc. Normally these topics are covered briefly during the Advanced Rocks and Minerals occupation, but we now have a full 5-day focus of study. During the second week, Deb Kure and Dan Reed focused on Plate Tectonics, investigating how the sections of the earth interact to power the geologic drama that causes many of our natural disasters. They used models to demonstrate how the tectonic plates move to further illustrate those natural geologic elements. The success of the Geology Lab is directly linked to the passion and excitement that our resident Geologists exude.
As you will have gathered, some of these occupations provide specifically-focused, advanced levels of instruction while others offer great introductions for beginners in the programmatic area. In Week Two, all of them were popular with a different group of boys, allowing us to fulfill our mission to ‘inspire and support boys as they find their distinctive path to become successful young men with a passion for all that they do.’
Maybe it’s the archivist in me (my other hat being Alumni Director) that is reminded of one of our favorite sayings, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” During a drop into the Nature Lodge to check out the Geology Lab, I saw Larry leading five 8- and 9-year-olds into the forest to collect items for their Junior Nature Book. This activity, introduced by Larry’s predecessor Clarence Dike over eighty years ago, repeats every summer and still resonates strongly as an invaluable opportunity to engage with the natural world around us.
The Pemi program is all about balance, with offerings in four program areas, instruction for varying levels of experience, and especially with our ongoing effort to introduce new opportunities to complement our mainstay occupations. This balance provides the setting for each and every camper to be active and engaged, each and every day. What a joy to see! Perhaps that’s what alumnus Bill Wyman—who just visited his 9-year old grandson Owen—was referring to when he claimed to our assembled community in the messhall, “nothing has changed since I was here in 1949.”
~Kenny Moore, Assistant Director