Hello to one and all from the slightly muggy precincts of the Baker Valley, where true summer weather seems to be making a belated but assertive appearance. We’ve yet to deploy our Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome over the Pond and switch on the air, but the thought has obviously occurred to us.
It seems impossible that our 2015 campers left us one week ago! We hope and trust that they are all back in the bosoms of their families – be it at their real winter homes or at seasonal digs at Chatham or Edgartown – sharing happy memories of their time with us, but also picking up the threads of their non-summer lives with relish and determination. As many of you may have heard, the season ended on a huge high note, as one of our wonderful 15s, Noah Belinowiz, earned his Chief Award on the last day of the season – joining only twelve other alums who have garnered the honor over the past four decades. The distinction requires thorough and consistent commitment to and accomplishment in virtually every area of the Pemi program – athletics, trips, nature studies, and community service – and when Danny informed the curious and eager crowd in the messhall the last night of the season that Noah had made the grade, the response was thunderous. To add to the momentousness of the occasion, six of the previous dozen to have joined the unique tribe were present at Campfire – Jim Willard, Chris Carter, David and Henry Spindler, Brent Johnstone, and Noah Aberlin. What a well-deserved honor for Noah – and what a note on which to end the year! You could see in the faces of many younger campers gathered around the fire – Brent’s son Drew among them – the determination to “Go for it!” in the coming summers. Good luck to them – and profound thanks to Noah for giving us all such an inspiring evening as we wrapped up 2015.
Speaking of celebrations of inspired, ongoing involvement in the Pemi community and program, we dialed it up to 11 and well beyond on Sunday evening with our long-anticipated celebration of Al Fauver’s 100th birthday. Over 160 alums and friends filed into the messhall past Al’s signature red truck parked by the flagpole and greeted Al and Bertha with the warmth and affection that Al has earned a thousand times over in more than eight decades of tireless and inspiring service to Pemi. Few of us are likely ever to attend a party thrown for a person rounding out a century of good works on this ball of rock hurtling through space – and none of us will ever attend one for a man who has done more for an institution than Al has done for Pemi. In keeping with his modesty and love of everything Pemigewassett, the bulk of Al’s response to all the kudos coming his way was to ask his son Peter to read the lines of Doc Reed’s “Campfire Song”: “I wonder if anyone’s better for anything I’ve done or said?” The assembled and effusively-appreciative multitudes in the room answered the question with a resounding “Yea!” It was a signal moment in Pemi history and a chance to concentrate our profound thanks to Al for everything he has done and been. Thanks also to all of you who attended and to the many who sent their best wished and fond recollections.
Now, to wrap up this last “in-season” missive, let’s send along Danny’s toast from the Final Banquet and Clive Bean’s review of this years Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.
May I propose a toast?
Here’s to the summer of 2015 at Camp Pemigewassett, the 108th in Pemi’s rich and storied history, a summer that has come and gone, as it always seems to do, in the blink of an eye – although in many ways it seems a lifetime ago when we all began to arrive in early June for the Life Guard, Nature, and Wilderness First Aid clinics, way back when Lebron James and company were still battling for that elusive Cleveland championship and campers and young counselors were still attending graduation parties.
Here’s to a summer that concludes so late in August that leaves are turning an autumn tint, fall athletic teams have already begun to practice, and, as Pemi boys are returning to their cabins for an 8:30 taps, there is barely a shred of daylight left – a summer that by all accounts has been a wonderful success, made possible by the collective efforts, wisdom, and care of the Pemi men and women in this room.
Here’s to the 254 (exactly) campers who graced the shores of Lower Baker Pond this summer, 87 of whom were here as full session campers and who enjoyed Pemi’s third, now annual, trip to Whale’s Tale Water Park. (Yes, Eli Brennan, that makes it an official Pemi tradition!), campers from 21 states of the United States and 7 countries around the world, and here’s to the new Turkish flag Larry added to our collection in the mess hall this summer to commemorate Haluk and Mert’s first year at Pemi. Here’s to the 66 campers who made the decision to attend sleep-away camp for the first time, the 36 who have or will collect their five-year bowls (perhaps a record?), and yes, Ezra Nugiel, Patterson Malcolm, and Andrew Virden, here’s to campers in their ninth!
Here’s to the talented and dedicated counselor staff at Pemi in 2015, to the cabin counselors and assistant counselors, the young men who share such close quarters with their boys, and who, for some magical reason, are often able to inspire, mentor, and capture the imagination of their campers in ways even their own parents and we senior staff cannot.
Here’s to the hard working crew that Reed Harrigan leads so vigorously and affably each day: Brian, Judy, Sam, Kenny, Dennis, and Chris: to Office Managers extraordinaire, Heather and Kim, who never get enough credit; and here’s to Mama Dottie, the “glue” at Camp Pemi, who holds us all together, doing tasks both large and small and caring for campers with her maternal grace, wisdom, and a large helping of love as well.
Here’s to the kitchen crew this summer who tackled the herculean task of providing us with delicious meals three times a day, and to our fabulous nurses, Emily and Debbie, whose enthusiasm, great cheer and care were so vital as we waged another, though more successful, war against another pesky virus.
Here’s to the amazing four-cornered program at Pemi, to the Kenny, the “kid from Cleveland” who masterminds it all, to Laura down in Art World, to Charlie and all the coaches in the athletics’ program who always put first values such as sportsmanship, effort, and participation ….boom!
Thank you to Tom and the trippies who sent over 100 trips tramp, tramp, tramping over the White Mountains of New Hampshire and canoeing down the mighty rivers of Maine; to Dorin and the beautiful music she and her staff helped us create; to Emily, Tighe, Paige, and Molly and all the exhilarating, yet safe, fun we had on the water; to Harry O in the shop, Chris (and family!) on the tennis courts, Larry and Deb in the Nature Lodge, Steve on the archery range, all of the other instructors who brought major energy and mojo to occupation periods every day. And let’s not forget Head of Staff Ben for overseeing his charges with such proficiency, thoughtfulness, and humor. Gosh we love that Walsh family!
Here’s to the things that were unique to Pemi in 2015; the camp community gathering to scream and yell for the Woman’s National Soccer team in their World Cup final’s victory; the jackets and hats we wore on the coldest 4th of July in recent memory; sleep-in Sundays; Rubik’s Cube madness; TCU chants: Germ-x and wet wipes at every meal; the new Johnson family ranch down in J-Ville; more camper tournaments than I can ever remember; Cans from Campers; the Counselor Apprentice Program (thank you Dwight Dunston); and more NY Met’s chatter than can hardly be tolerated…imagine if they actually won something.
Here’s to all-camp events at Pemi: Bean Soup when we laugh at ourselves and anticipate “Things to Look For,” Campfire when we entertain ourselves as the moon drifts low o’er the hillside and finally drops in the West, and to Sunday Meeting when we contemplate such things as the importance of time spent in the natural world, profiles in courage, the adventures of our Pemi West boys, and how taking a chance can enhance your life in countless way and possibly even make you a YouTube sensation…or close enough.
And speaking of taking chances, here’s to some of those who were brave enough to do so this summer: to Jed our first-time bugler who plays his guitar like Eric Clapton, but had never touched a bugle before embracing this responsibility this summer; to first-year counselor Andy Calver for taking on the considerable mission of presenting a Sunday Meeting; to Jack He who came all the way from the Sichuan Province in China to attend Pemi; Andrew Virden for braving the mighty Allagash with just one healthy arm; to all the campers who performed at Campfire, did their distance swim, or slept under the stars for the first time.
Here’s to our 15-year-old campers – to the unprecedented leadership they provided, to their three wins on Tecumseh Day, and to the lifelong friendships that they have created. I know from personal experience that some day you’ll participate in each other’s weddings, be Godparents to each other’s children, and, hopefully, before that, become the next generation of counselors at Pemi.
And of course, here’s to the Fauver Family and the Reed Family who, in their loving, wise, and supportive way, continue to expect nothing short of excellence from each of us every summer and who see the stewardship of Camp Pemigewassett as their chance to make the world a better place, one boy at a time.
And, finally and most importantly as we close the 2015 season, here’s to patriarch Al Fauver, as we prepare to celebrate this Pemi great’s 100th birthday. Songs may be sung and bells may be rung in praise of his years of giving, but we’ll never be able to thank Al enough for all he has done over the years to make Camp Pemigewassett the extraordinary camp that it is.
Here’s to Camp Pemigewassett 2015.
Good luck, Long life, and joy!
Thanks to Danny for the re-inspiring toast – fitting tribute to a season led with such commitment and gusto. Now we’ll close with our local theatrical maven’s commentary on this year’s comic opera:
Clive Bean Reviews The Mikado
The highlight of the 2015 Wentworth summer stock season went down on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings with Camp Pemigewassett’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado. Both dramatically and musically, the show was absolutely top drawer. Our highest plaudits must go to Director Dorin Dehls and one-man pit orchestra Luke Raffanti, whose season-long efforts combined to give us a final product worthy of a northwoods Tony Award. Word has it that cinematic director Martin Scorsese, who is interested in making a film of the operetta, has approached the pair. When queried by Bean Soup in this regard, however, Dehls strangely responded, “You talkin’ ta me?”
Setting up a super solid bass line for the performance was a men’s chorus made up of Sam Berman, Pierce Haley, Tucker Jones, Suraj Khakee, Owen Lee, Matt Bolton, Andy Calver, Will Henry, Harry Morris, Ben Walsh, and Erik Wiedenmann – all of whom represented nobleman of Japan with an effortless ease that suggested they had been born with silver chopsticks in their mouths. Complementing them perfectly was the Schoolgirl chorus of Ted Applebaum, Eli Brennan, Jonathan Ciglar, Andreas Geffert, Oliver Giraud, Tanner Howson, Michaella Frank, and Becky Noel. So fetching and fashionable was the lot that, on both nights, they drew a substantial applause even before they ever opened their mouths. Fortunately, they decided not to leave good enough alone and they actually sang their parts for the rest of the show – most commendably, it happens.
Strangely enough, the production’s original “Three Little Maids” morphed this year into four. One role underwent a process of mitosis, generating Peep-Bo (Singing Part), played wonderfully by Christopher Ramanathan, and Peep-Bo (Speaking Part), well-matched by Henry Moore. Owen Wyman was a superb Pitti-Sing, the spunkiest of the schoolgirls and the one most willing to call her male companions on any bit of testosterone-driven idiocy. Rounding out the trio – or make that the quartet – was Drew Johnstone, playing the young bride Yum-Yum with real confidence and melodic verve. Drew’s lovely presence on stage was commanding enough to still all discussion of whether the name Yum-Yum was more appropriate for a plate of sushi than for a romantic lead.
Playing Yum-Yum’s love interest was Caleb Tempro, whose part as a rebellious teenager was the result of anything but type-casting. Rumor has it that Caleb is a pretty nice guy – and that he makes a point of listening to his counselor Erik Wiedenmann at least once a week. Anyway, Caleb was musically moving and mellow, and handled the acting part of the deal with a suave cool that garnered him this year’s Johnnies Plaque for Dramatics.
Reasonably fresh from his famed video performance as The Pemi Kid, George Cooke played Titipu nobleman Pish-Tush with style and assurance, seasoning the part with a chill sarcasm that only a fifteen-year old American can deliver. He shared a number of effective scenes with Larry Davis, who reprised his role as the pompous but corrupt Lord High Everything, Pooh-Bah, for perhaps the tenth time. Once again, just as four years ago, a Republican National Committee deeply troubled by the ascendancy of Donald Trump has reportedly sent out feelers trying to enlist Larry as a more mainline candidate than the dude with big hair. When Larry responded that he was only pretending to be a public servant, Committee Chair Reince Priebus responded, “So? You’ll fit right in.”
Joining Larry in re-working an oft-performed part, Tom Reed, Jr. returned to the boards as the titular Mikado himself. Some of the harsher local pundits remarked that Tom should never have quit his day job at Dickinson College, but other voices were more charitable. Wife Dottie, for example, pronounced that in playing the totally unhinged and criminally ill-tempered monarch, Tom had finally discovered the core of his being. She went on to borrow a line from the show: “He’s under treatment for it.”
Any of you who were lucky enough to have taken in either performance will realize we’ve been saving the best for last. Nicholas Gordon, star of the world premiere of Metal Boy: The Musical in 2012, tackled the gigantic role of Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, with understated comic brilliance. His final sequence of numbers with the play’s answer to a preying mantis female, the jilted harridan Katisha, all but brought the house down. Meanwhile, Ezra Nugiel has been a star of the Pemi stage from the beginning of his nine-year run, gracing vaudevilles, campfires, and previous G&S productions alike with his singular verve and talent. Never has Ezra been better, though, than in this year’s performance as the aforementioned Katisha. We are in fact hard pressed to recall any performance ever in Wentworth that has surpassed Ezra’s. It was not just his stellar falsetto delivery of vocal numbers – literally of a professional quality. His acting in the role of an over-the-hill spinster might suggest that, like Benjamin Button, Ezra has been living his life backwards and was able to bring that end-of-life bitterness to the part because he’d already been there. Both Pemi cabin-photo evidence and biological science declare this is impossible – but the bottom line is that Ezra positively stole the show – and then found a way of giving it back by making everyone in the cast around him better. Hat’s off to a continually rising star. It feels as though, if this dude wants to go into theater big time, the sky’s the limit.
So, clearly, a wonderful theatrical time was had by all, on and off the stage. We advise you to book early for next year’s production of The Pirates of Penzance. This year’s male chorus has already been practicing a key line: “YAAAAHHHHRRRR!!!”
— Clive Bean
On a final note, we ask our 2015 parents to take a moment in the next (busy!) days to log in to your Pemi accounts and send us a thought or two via the post-season survey found in the Forms & Documents section. Your feedback, both positive and constructive, is invaluable as we look towards 2016.