Welcome to the first quarterly installment of the Pemi Alumni Newsletter. Our aim is to connect Alumni to camp and each other with updates throughout the year. A particular thank you to the Alumni who completed the communications survey distributed earlier this year. Your feedback was invaluable!
This first edition comes just before the launch of Pemi’s 108th season, and will give you a glimpse of the summer ahead. It’s been an active off-season at Pemi, and the details follow.
Pemi’s buildings and grounds team is supremely talented. Reed Harrigan, Head of Buildings and Grounds, and his crew’s diligent work throughout the harshest of New England seasons is truly inspiring, and while many of the projects are out of sight, literally below the surface, the B and G team’s efforts allow the Pemi program to enrich hundred’s of boys lives.
Last fall, the team spent substantial time beautifying the Intermediate cabins to make them look as sharp as the now one-year-old Upper 4 and Upper 5. Many of Pemi’s electrical and phone wires received upgrades and were placed underground, allowing unobstructed natural views throughout camp.
Over a record-breaking winter this year, the main area of focus for Reed and crew was building a new staff residence, in the Junior Camp. This cabin is placed strategically in the hillside where the Junior Tent once stood. Ken Morrell, Pemi’s in-house master builder, created this two bedroom, lofted cabin with a screened-in porch overlooking the Junior Stream. It has quickly been highlighted on Zillow as the most sought after housing option in the town of Wentworth.
Those lucky to be with us this summer will quickly notice improvements in Pemi’s water system, with new accessible water fountains dotting the Pemi landscape. A new roof for the Rittner Fountain, a new waterski dock, and new kayaks will greatly enhance our program. And cars and joggers alike will experience jaw-dropping awe with the newly paved entrance off of Route 25A.
Here’s to Reed and his team, for a job well done!
Pemi experienced a strong enrollment season, hitting capacity in January. We are thankful for the families who continue to place their trust in us; we take the care of their boys seriously and we strive to provide the best environment for young men to thrive. Special thanks to current Pemi family members who shared a kind word about the magic of camp to their friends and family. Our word of mouth network is strong due in large measure to our parents and Alumni.
Two hundred fifty-seven boys will make Camp Pemi their home away from home in 2015, with eighty-seven boys staying for the full season.
Of those boys eligible to return from 2014, 86% chose to do so. Sixty-six boys, roughly 25% of our campers, will be in their first season at Pemi, and on the other end of the spectrum, another 25% of campers will be in their fifth or more summer.
We also have a great balance of legacy campers, those who have had a family member who spent a summer on the shores of Lower Baker as a camper or staff member.
Our camper population represents 9 countries and 23 states, and of those states, over 120 different municipalities are the winter home to a Pemi boy.
In just a few short weeks, the traditional staff introduction newsletter (now available through this blog) will shed light on the entire Pemi staff for 2015. We are very excited about this year’s staff, which offers a great balance of Pemi veterans mixed with newcomers, each one bringing a keen interest in working with boys and, together, a myriad of talents.
70% of Pemi’s program staff from 2014 will return, and nearly 80% of our cabin counselor staff have spent at least one summer at Pemi. Three program heads, Archery, Sailing, and Waterskiing, are entirely new to Pemi, and will infuse fresh ideas and teaching techniques to their program areas, continuing our standard of excellence.
It seems that every year a Pemi alumnus, after years away from Lower Baker, decides to re-join the staff and 2015 is no different. Erik Wiedenmann is returning after five summers away and will serve as the Division Head for Senior Camp. We’ve decided to share his story, a unique and engaging one, for the entire Pemi community to enjoy.
Erik, a native of Berlin, Germany, was a camper at Pemi for four summers, before joining the counseling staff in 2010 as the counselor of Lower 4. He attended Tufts’ five-year, Dual Degree program (BA/BFA) with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, studying Comparative Literature and Visual Arts (Illustration and Animation). After this summer at Pemi, his plan is to move to New York to work in publishing with the goal of writing children’s books.
After receiving a grant from Tufts in the fall of 2014, Erik took to the road to write a children’s book based on traveling throughout South America. He intended to travel for seven weeks, but stayed several months, becoming immersed with the local culture and practicing his Spanish. Erik took advantage of his surroundings, including a trip to the Chilean Patagonia with new friends. “Because I was the most experienced of all of us, I basically became a trippie, taking charge of packing lists and food supplies. Pemi instilled a certain appreciation for nature in me.”
Near the end of his stay, Erik began teaching English as a second language in Buenos Aires and discovered a newfound passion. “It was very fulfilling. I had never really studied education and teaching before, and I found myself really enjoying the new material at a deeper level.” Erik’s thirst for travel continued well after the grant money disappeared, and he decided to continue his year of travel with a second trip, now to Asia.
The first stop on his Asia trip was India, followed by Nepal, which Erik loved, finding peace hiking through the Himalayas. His hiking continued in Thailand, where he made his way from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur, in order to catch his flight to Japan where he would spend the last seven weeks of his journey.
In Japan, Erik also taught English as a second language to both adults and children. “Though the Japanese are said to be fairly reserved and shy, the students were so warm-hearted and enthusiastic, it was truly such a pleasure to teach them. I also learned so much about Japanese culture in speaking to them. Of all the countries I visited, it is perhaps the one that left the greatest impression on me.”
His trip re-affirmed his conviction to work with children, a passion first felt back in 2010 as a counselor at Pemi. And with the 2015 summer ahead of us, Erik is thrilled to be returning to the place where it all started. Keep your eyes out for his first (hopefully of many!) children’s book that is currently a work in progress. To follow Erik on his journey, visit his website, www.erikwiedenmann.com, and to meet this fine young man, visit Senior Camp in 2015.
Each and every Pemi summer is memorable, yet 2015 offers a genuine “once in a lifetime” event. On August 15, current Pemi board member and former director, Al Fauver will celebrate his 100th birthday! Alumni are invited to join the grand celebration the following day, Sunday, August 16. For further details, click here, or to RSVP.
As always, we encourage our extended Alumni family to swing by to see Pemi firsthand, should your travel plans point you towards the shores of Lower Baker. We’d love to stay connected in person, or virtually, and I invite all Alumni to actively participate in our growing Alumni network. Please submit Alumni Notes, attend Alumni Events, and help connect us to ‘lost’ Alumni. Interested in being featured in the fall’s newsletter? Let me know! Have personal or professional news to share? E-mail me, and you will be included in the winter release of Alumni News.
Good luck, long life, and joy!