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Decisions, Decisions…Afternoons at Pemi
Summer 2015: Newsletter # 3
This week’s newsletter comes from Kenny Moore, Assistant Director and Head of Program.
For as long as I can remember, Pemi has always offered occupations in the morning, giving us structure to start off each day. Three hours of instruction in music, nature, athletics, woodshop, art, and water sports work in unison, like a finely-wrought watch, to keep Pemi moving forward. Occasionally, we will have schedule changes that provide moments for improvisation; a gorgeous New Hampshire day often acts as a trigger for Tom to send off day trips to nearby Mt. Cube or Rattlesnake. But all in all, an occupation morning has a rhythm that keeps building momentum as the day unfolds.
Our routine changes each afternoon, with a variety of optional activities. Daily options are announced in the Mess Hall during lunch, and each boy chooses which activity will occupy his afternoon. While we do not require official sign-ups for our older campers during these afternoon events, we do ensure that all boys are engaged in some way or another, either in an organized camp event, or perhaps in a more quiet afternoon with a good book while folded up in a strategically-placed Crazy-Creek. All Junior campers have assigned activities, ranging from Waterskiing, to Baseball, to Woodshop. They sign up each week for the period following rest hour (4th Hour), identical to how Occupation sign-ups operate, and attend those activities for the duration of five days. This makes sense to us, as we work with our youngest on how to make wise choices and also to manage free time.
Balancing assigned activities, chosen activities, and free time is vitally important for us at Pemi, as we continually strive to provide the best environment for our boys to thrive. Boys flourish in balanced environments, feeling comfortable within the structure of morning occupations, empowered with the decision of choosing activities during the afternoon, and confident as they learn to make the most of their free time. For the afternoon periods, the counseling staff initially facilitate the decision-making process, guiding each camper to make his own choice during these afternoons. It certainly helps that our engaged and active counselors offer fun activities to capture the boys’ interest.
JJ Strnad, our favorite St. Olaf football player, hosted two such activities this past week: Beginning Juggling and Chess. Ben Popkin, Kai Soderbeg, and Teddy Foley each practiced with specially-designed juggling balls, and once they found the rhythm and technique, they moved on to tennis balls. A larger group joined JJ for his Chess Clinic, which began with a talk about strategy and subsequent games for the boys to show off their moves. Nine-year old Brian Wolfson won all of his matches against some fairly stiff competition. Alex Volpe, Lucas Gaffney, and Nathan King thoroughly enjoyed their afternoon in the library.
Many afternoons are anchored by athletic events organized by Charlie Malcolm, who works in tandem with our neighboring camps to craft many opportunities for our boys to compete as a team in a positive atmosphere. On any given day, we send two to three sports teams to compete in friendly round-robin tournaments. This past week, Pemi competed in four tennis tournaments, two soccer tournaments, one basketball tournament, and hosted both the Annual Baker Valley Track and Track and Field Meet & Archery Meets. In the 11s Tennis Tournament, held here at Pemi, Ben Casperson won all of his matches at third singles, securing Pemi’s 2nd place finish overall. Luca McAdams lost a nail-biting final match 8-7 at first singles, and exhibited great sportsmanship to his opponent. Later that evening during evening announcements in the Mess Hall, Luca took over the role of Coach to report on the event!
In Track, we witnessed several spectacular performances by the Senior Team. Patterson Malcolm ran a blistering 5:08 in the Pemi cross-country mile, while tent-mate Ezra Nugiel exhibited excellent form to win the Shot-Put. Kai Soderberg ran a flawless 440 to take first, and Johnny Seebeck won both the High Jump and the 60-yard dash. (Stay tuned for details of this talented group’s performance at the Tecumseh track meet.) To prepare for many of these competitions, coaches call team practices on the days leading up to their tournament. Both players and coaches, alike, enjoyed this extra time for learning technical skills and the chance to build teamwork. A great use of an afternoon!
Time in the afternoon also works perfectly for extended trips, so Larry and Deb took full advantage, offering afternoon trips from the Nature Lodge. Nicky Harwich and Tanner Howson loved the chance to collect rocks and minerals at the Palermo Mine, a local gem (get it!) that grants exclusive special access to Pemi boys. The hand-sized clear quartz samples highlighted the trip. And speaking of Geology in your face, Deb and Danny led a van full of Uppers and Seniors to Mt. Willard to witness one of New Hampshire’s best views, Crawford Notch, just to the southeast of Mt. Washington. As the group emerged from the trees, eyes popped and jaws dropped as the stunning symmetrical glacial valley unfolded before them.
Chase Gagne, a wetlands expert on our staff, led a group of budding ecologists to our own swamp to collect specimens to display in tanks in the Nature Lodge. Nick Gordon and Eli Brennan, along with another six friends, gathered bullfrogs, tadpoles, and a huge supply of crayfish. Continuing on with the discovery theme, the Junior Camp, led by Division Head Wesley Eifler, traveled en masse to the Squam Lakes Science Center one afternoon. Consensus was that the black bear and coyote exhibits were the best, along with the nature-themed interactive play-scapes. The predator-prey adventure area gave Doc Nick’s Wonders the chance to take on the role of a red-squirrel, burrowing through tunnels and balancing on rocks and logs.
Each afternoon, Lower Baker Pond too is full of activity. Molly Malone, Pemi’s new and brilliant Head of Waterskiing, keeps the boat moving throughout the day, accommodating all types of water-skiers and wake-boarders. Down by the boathouse, a group of boys have recently taken up paddle-boarding. Using a windsurfing board and a canoe paddle, Will Leslie, Robert McNamara, Simon Taylor, Jackson Morrell, Ben Pigeon, and Emmanuel Abbey started a new popular trend! Dozens of boys enjoy boating each and every afternoon, and boat fleets move back and forth throughout the afternoon. Over on Senior Beach, Paige Wallis and the Swim Staff offer daily activities ranging from stroke work for the competitive swimmers, to fun water-basketball or water polo, and even volleyball on the shore. Lucas Jansky and Sam Beesley, to name two, took full advantage of optional waterfront time to improve their swimming strokes.
Warm weather and abundant sunshine provided the perfect backdrop to our first of many (hopefully!) trips to the “Swimmin’ Hole” in nearby in Rumney. A deep pool forms at the bottom of a small waterfall, allowing swimmers to slide down a natural waterslide or jump safely off nearby rocks. You can even swim underneath the waterfall! The group of 14-year-old Uppers, along with yours truly and Max Livingstone-Peters serving as lifeguards, couldn’t contain their excitement and pledged to get back the next chance we have.
Rehearsals for this summer’s Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, The Mikado, occur each and every afternoon in the Senior Lodge. Dorin Dehls and Luke Raffanti strategically rehearse key scenes, asking for specific leads and choruses to participate. Jed Cutler also offers an Open Jam Session for those born to rock, down in the Junior Lodge. Patrick Snell, Simon Taylor, and Dash Paris regularly attend these daily rehearsals, and they performed this past Sunday during the all-camp cookout. Special kudos to Nathan King, who joined the group on trumpet!
And finally, the resurgence of Frisbee Golf! The 1992 Pemi Open course, re-laid in terms of a chart found in the depths of the archives, allowed Jivan Khakee, Reed O’Brien and Matt Edlin the chance to test out the course designed by Charlie Malcolm and former Pemi Staffer, Sam Martin. The par 7, 6th hole proved daunting; it includes a toss over the tennis courts (a major hazard!), but the boys prevailed. Jivan even recorded a score under-par, and now with the green jacket in hand he has become the pied-piper of the FOLF movement. (It helps that he’s a skilled jazz clarinetist!)
What a fun week of afternoon activities for the boys and staff alike, discovering new places and new activities. Be sure to ask your favorite Pemi boy about his afternoons once you see him next, and stay tuned for further updates on Pemi happenings.