• Bean Soup
  • Camp Pemigewassett
  • Pemi History

Bean Soup: From Lodge to Mailbox

Death, taxes, and Bean Soup. There’s such comfort in certainty.

Yes, it’s that time of year when campers and staff from the previous season start checking the mailbox for a distinctive package. When it finally arrives, the annual green or red tome serves as an amulet of time travel, whisking us back to Monday nights in the Lodge when we’re surrounded by the warmth (and, yes, the healthy scent) of recently hard-charging bodies and the sound of juniors shuffling chairs as they scuttle to the front row, when the entire camp community is gathered under one roof to listen, laugh, and occasionally wince as our Bean Soup editors do their best to recount the week’s events, hoping to hit that just-acceptable sweet spot between actual history and actionable libel.

1910 Bean Soup foreword
1910 Bean Soup foreword

So how do those Monday night readings/performances morph into written form? Here’s an overview of the journey from the auditory, front-of-the-room Bean Soup to the tangible Bean Soup that lands in the mailbox….

Creating the Soup:

  • Bean Soup editors keep their eyes and ears open, and carry little notebooks wherever they go. Day and night.
  • Editors encourage campers and staff to submit articles, poems, anything. They provide prompts for inspiration.
  • Campers submit articles (often quickly handwritten in soft lead pencil. Often barely decipherable. Proper spelling, punctuation, and writing in straight lines often seem to have been forgotten in the giddy heat of the moment.)
  • Coaches, staff, and instructors submit articles on the week’s matches, trips, etc. These are often typed on laptops and printed in hard copy so the lines are straight.
  • On Sunday and Monday afternoons, Bean Soup editors sequester themselves. They share notes, decide on an intro and on recipients for director / staff member / camper awards of the week, propose a song re-write, a top-10 theme, etc…and get busy writing. Fast. The pressure is on. If they’re lucky, someone brings them a sandwich for supper.
  • Pre-Soup nerves. Editors Peter, Ian, and Dwight.  2011.
    Pre-Soup nerves. Editors Peter, Ian, and Dwight. 2011.

    About 15-minutes before Bean Soup begins, the editors descend upon the office to print copies of their work from which to read aloud. They skim camper and staff submissions to decide which they have time to read and in what order. Those that aren’t read out loud are stashed in that week’s file for the printed version.

  • Following Monday night’s Bean Soup, the editors sigh, wipe the sweat off their brow, and file the printed and handwritten offerings that they’d just read along with the submissions that weren’t read. They head out of the office and reach for their little notebooks to start again.
  • All of the above, over and over, for 7 weeks.

Gathering the Soup:

  • Establish a timeline that works backward, ensuring delivery before the holidays, which means starting soon after the docks have been put away.
  • Someone with the heart of a saint, the eyes of an eagle, and the patience of Job types up all of the campers’ handwritten articles that were submitted over the course of the summer.
  • Bean Soup editors compile their digital work and beg staff who dutifully wrote and submitted articles in hard copy to resubmit them electronically so their articles don’t have to be typed by the above said soul.
  • Gather mid-season / final awards.
  • Pull weekly summer newsletters from the Pemi Blog into one file.
  • Create rosters of campers and staff from the database.
  • Schedule Open Houses for the coming season.
  • Ask Danny to take a break from writing final letters to write the foreword.

Prepping the Soup:

  • Final formatting edits on digital proof.
    Final formatting edits on digital proof.

    Translate from various formats into Word and compile in traditional order: Foreword, Open Houses, Summer Newsletters, Weeks 1-4, Mid-Season Awards, Weeks 5-7, G&S program, Final Awards, Camper and Staff rosters.

  • Proofread by at least four eyes.
  • Send the Word file to the designer who places everything into the Soup’s traditional layout.
  • Receive a hardcopy proof.
  • Find all of the mistakes that the first round of proofing missed. No, “Belinowiz” does not have a “t” but “Slamowitz” does. Mark in red pen.
  • Send back to designer.
  • Receive a second hardcopy proof.
  • Find the mistakes that the first and second rounds of proofing missed. Mark in red pen.
  • Send back to designer.
  • Receive a digital proof and mark final changes.
  • Send finished page layout file to the printer.

Distributing the Soup:

  • BeanSoupsMailBins
    Customs slips completed, labels on, bins ready to go to the PO.

    Order envelopes.

  • Create mailing labels for campers (singles and siblings) and staff.
  • Complete ~25 international customs slips. (How do you determine the value of Bean Soup?)
  • Put labels on ~300 envelopes
  • Receive delivery of ~375 Bean Soups!
  • Stuff pre-labeled envelopes with one or two or three Soups and load up postal bins.
  • Load up car and deliver to the PO.

Reading the Soup:

  • Find a typo within the first few pages.
  • Laugh (and wince) all over again.
  • Bathe in the warmth of having been in a place where we learn to laugh at ourselves and to give second chances. Maybe even to editors.
2014 Bean Soup
2014 Bean Soup





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