2016 Newsletter #3
[This week’s Newsletter comes from Assistant Director Kenny Moore. Kenny heads up our general program, and he offers here some observations on daily “occupations,” as we have long called our instructional activities, and on community service at camp as well.]
Each new week of Pemi occupations starts on Monday, although planning has begun the previous Tuesday. First, the Program Heads meet to map out the upcoming week. We’ll look at the pre-set general camp schedule; which trips are heading out, the athletic calendar, or other special events. These help determine what individual offerings each of Pemi’s Programs will be offering for the boys. The Program Heads will then reach out to their instructors to discuss occupation possibilities, and return their schedules to me. Combining them is a puzzle, as I balance options for every division each hour, and ensure that instructors are not double-booked. What results is a pretty amazing collection of choices, as evidenced by Week 3’s Occupation Choices. Click the link, take a look, and choose wisely!
Counselors review the week’s offerings with each of their campers individually to pick out a First and Second Choice for each hour of occupations. As you can see, some popular and space-limited occupations are deemed first-choice only: Waterskiing, Woodshop, Sailing, and Archery are extremely sought after and fill up quickly. Not a good idea for a Second Choice. Having a good back-up is essential!
More than 1,000 occupation choices are input for our 170 campers, and through a variety of filters, the result is 170 individual occupation schedules. Next up, staffing. Understanding how many boys are in a particular occupation – say Track & Conditioning with 22! – will help guide the number of instructors given to that occupation. Our teaching staff is comprised of a shade under 60 people, with some specializing in one program area and others being generalists who fill much-needed roles in a variety of areas. Camper-Counselor ratios dictate placement for water-related activities, as safety is always the priority.
On Monday mornings, all the hours and days spent planning the week come to fruition, as the entire community heads off to first hour, each with his individual plan of action. The occupation week lasts for five days, before we begin the process again. Once the hour is up and running, the opportunity to walk around camp and see the interaction between campers, counselors, and instructors is priceless. Witnessing boys trying something new and different, older boys assisting younger campers, and the joy of being together, outside, in this beautiful location shows the program in its most vibrant form. The dynamism truly gives the camp its energy. Here’s a peek….
Upper-Senior Woodshop is a two-hour block of time for our oldest boys to create and develop projects. Noah Bachner was in the midst of sanding his beautifully crafted Adirondack Chair, a project that he started last week under the guidance of Harry MacGregor, Pemi’s Head of Woodshop. Emmanuel Abbey appeared close to finishing his small chest, awaiting further help from Harry. Counselor Michael DiGaetano assisted Ian Hohman by hanging up Ian’s project, a job board for his cabin (U3). Ian wood-burned each of his cabinmate’s names on the wheel, along with various Inspection jobs on the mounting board, promising a daily spin to improve the efficiency of cabin clean-up. A Wheel-of-Fortune for tidy living spaces. Smart thinking, Ian!
Staying within our Art Program, a trip to Laura’s Art World illustrated a pretty spectacular scene; the interaction between our oldest campers and our youngest. Campers in her Hemp/Paracord Occupation ranged from Senior 1 (Patrick Snell & Suraj Khakee) all the way down to Junior 3 (Sam Young). Laura provided instruction for their first day’s lesson: learning how to braid. Next, I took a trip down the road to Junior Nature Book, a classic Pemi occupation dating back multiple decades, and found another group of campers of all ages. Lake Tent denizen Pierce Hayley assisted Juniors Kieran Klasfeld & Augie Tanzosh, picking up leaves of red-oak and striped maple for their books. Pierce, who has completed his Junior Nature Book (JNB), is studying for his JNB Field Test, a requirement for the Pemi Brave.
Just up the road from the Junior Nature Book Occupation, I found Jack Cottman out in the field for Advanced Digital Photography. Jack was in search of insects for his macro-photography assignment, aiming to get as close as possible. Inside the Nature Lodge, Ray Seebeck led a group in Nature Drawing, another mixed-age occupation. Senior Henry Jones worked diligently on his dinosaur drawing, meticulously matching the image from his book. Walker Bright and Nate Broll followed his example, drawing the “eye of the tiger,” looming within a grassy landscape. The group is first practicing the skill of drawing from nature by sketching from a book. Later in the week, they will add color and choose a subject outside in nature itself.
The first two hours of each occupation week provide the best time for our Gilbert & Sullivan choruses to rehearse with very limited interruption. Last week, Major General Stanley’s Chorus of Wards learned their classic tune, “Climbing over Rocky Mountain,” and were asked to sing it without music. I think they fared pretty well. (Check it out for yourself.) Sounds like they’ll be ready for Opening Night on August 8.
Over in Tennis for 12 & 13 year olds, Chris Johnson officiated a game of Tennis Survivor, a game designed to eliminate unforced errors. Each participant kept track of his own score, aiming to have the lowest possible. Points would accumulate for unforced errors, whereas points would be subtracted if the shot were a “winner.” Players would alternate shots, and Jamie Acocella and Mac Hadden worked seamlessly on one side of the net.
Next up in 12 & Under Baseball, sixteen campers worked between three hitting stations: soft-toss, the batting cage, and live-action batting practice on the diamond. Colgate-bound Zach Leeds threw meatballs to Andreas Geffert and Ollie O’Hara for batting practice, while Gray Klasfeld and Jonathan Gelb helped each other with their hand-eye coordination for soft toss.
Just beyond the baseball diamond on the Rittner pitch, the 15 & Under Soccer Occupation neared its conclusion. The group was locked in an 8 v. 8 scrimmage, focused on long range passing. Graham Winings did his best Kyrie Irving impression (Yes, I know, wrong sport. Stay with me) by offering up a perfect through-ball to the feet of fellow Clevelander Elliot Muffet, who, a la LeBron James, perfectly placed the ball past the keeper into the back of the net. (This born-and-bred Clevelander had to get one Cleveland Cavaliers reference in here somewhere, right?!) Before the scrimmage, coaches Ben Walsh and Darryl Mainoo instructed their nineteen players in two specific drills. First, partner-passing with increased width and distance, and then the three cone drill, a very precise rotating drill that allows each player to adjust to the varying distance of his passing partner. Tiering instruction by starting with an essential skill, building it up, and then applying it to a game environment is a tried-and-true method at Camp Pemi.
In Beginning Archery, Instructor Steve Clare spends the majority of the first day of each new week reviewing the rules for the range. His current group, he reported, was super attentive, listening with great interest. This focus allowed the boys the chance to shoot two rounds of arrows with their remaining time. For beginners, Steve replaces the normally colorful Archery targets with blank canvasses, asking the shooters to just think about hitting the target. Aslan Peters did more than that, and had two perfectly hit center shots during the practice. As the group becomes more comfortable and knowledgeable in the coming days, Steve will guide them through sighting, scoring, and pace.
The routine of occupations provides the structure necessary for us to accomplish our goals of learning and/or improving upon a wide range of skills and knowledge bases. Older campers work alongside younger campers, allowing special relationships to form and grow. The connection between an instructor and a camper also strengthens as staff teach not only practical skills, but also other values as well: how to be confident in experimenting with something new, how to help out a teammate when in need, how to treat one another, and how to develop as an individual within our supportive, inclusive community. Occupations really are Pemi magic.
In the very early days of Pemi, campers and counselors would arrive simultaneously to work on the facility for the current camp season. Since then, boys have always helped improve the facility by assisting the staff via Camp Aide jobs, or by giving back in other ways. Shop projects or other community-service-type initiatives have dotted the landscape for many years.
In recent years, Pemi campers have taken on a few Community Service initiatives supporting our surrounding communities. This is a great opportunity for the boys to connect with the larger Wentworth, Upper Valley, and greater New Hampshire communities. We’ve talked before about the Cans from Campers initiative, benefiting the New Hampshire Food Bank, which has been tremendously successful in just two years of existence. Other camps have joined the effort, and we anticipate that this project will grow dramatically in the next few years.
For at least the last five years, Pemi, under the guidance of Deb Kure, has assisted The Prouty, a fundraising event to benefit Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center. There are many ways to participate in this athletically-driven fundraiser, including golfing, rowing, walking, and cycling. More than 5,000 people participate in this annual event, and Pemi is proud to assist the cyclists that ride 77 or 100 miles. Our Stop And Go (SAG) site, next to the Mt. Cube Sugar Shack on the top of Mount Cube, is at mile marker 25 and has become a crowd favorite of the cyclists, owing to our good cheer and our food, intended to refuel and replenish.
This summer, we’ve partnered with the town of Wentworth to help celebrate our camp-town’s 250th Anniversary. Pastor Margaret Bickford of the Wentworth Congregationalist Church led the way for the Celebration Committee, which has scheduled events each month for the town to gather together and celebrate their historic anniversary. Back on July 3, a group of Pemi Seniors traveled down to the Town Hall to assist the Committee for their Fourth of July event. “America, a Music Tribute,” was an inspiring performance and a genuine example of the strength of small-town America. Backed by a group of singers performing patriotic tunes, a narrator intermixed snippets of famous speeches in American History. Pemi provided refreshments, and worked to clean up the venue once the show ended. In addition, this week another group of Pemi boys will travel to the Wentworth Green, to paint the road-posts in preparation for the Market Day event on August 6. Pemi’s Silver Cornet Band will take the show on the road to perform at this annual event. And finally, members of the town will be invited to see our Gilbert and Sullivan show, The Pirates of Penzance, on August 9.
Our hope is that involvement in projects with the town of Wentworth will become a yearly phenomenon, further connecting Pemi with the surrounding community in ways that teach invaluable lessons about responsible citizenship.