Greetings! Welcome to the next installment of the Alumni Newsletter, Alumni Profiles, highlighting two Alumni who each spent a number of years as campers and as counselors at Pemi. As we look forward to the next issue, Alumni News and Notes, I love to include information about you; did you start a new job? Move to a new city? Randomly ran-into another Pemi person? E-mail [email protected] to share today, and stay tuned in the next few months.
In 1969, a ten-year old John Ravenal arrived at Pemi for his first summer as a member of Junior 4. After six years as a camper, John joined the staff in 1977 and would later serve as the Junior 1 Counselor for three summers in 1978, 1979, and 1981, with the later two summers being the Head Counselor or Division Head of Junior Camp. John distinctly remembers the familiar sights and sounds of being at Pemi. “Tattoo in the Junior Camp – the long bugle tune winding through the dusk, as campers dashed to their cabins and back out again to brush their teeth. Or looking through the low-burning campfire on the Senior Beach across Lower Baker Pond while singing the last lines of the Campfire Song.” Other memories include the camp traditions of Bean Soup and Gilbert & Sullivan, and more personal memories of long canoe paddles with friends and the bonds forged with cabin-mates in the cabin.
John attended Wesleyan University during his years as a counselor, earning his Bachelor’s degree in Art History. He followed his undergraduate degree with a Masters in Art History and a Masters of Philosophy in Art History from Columbia University. His education prepared him well for his career as a Museum curator. John was elected as the President of the Association of Art Museum Curators in 2009, and served in that position through 2011.
After serving as the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, John became the Executive Director of the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts in 2015. DeCordova is the largest park of its kind in New England, covering thirty acres with over sixty works as part of the sculpture park. Providing year round activities and rotating exhibits, DeCordova is vast resource worthy of a visit.
John credits Pemi for his love of nature and the outdoors, “especially hiking and camping, comes straight from Pemi trips, starting with Junior Camp overnights up Pemi Hill to five-day trips in the Rangeley Lake area and the Mahoosucs.” Other individual, specific memories are clearer for John, for example “when Tom Sunshine and I beat two senior counselors, Pete Barnett and Thom Brough in horseshoes, instantly becoming heroes among our fellow campers. Or when Dan Walker, Ken Troyer, and I tipped and swamped a Puffin during a sailboat race, something that’s nearly impossible to do, by forgetting to untie the jib sheet when coming about in a stiff wind.”
John acknowledges important lessons learned during his years at Pemi that have impacted his life and career. “The importance of civility, honesty, respect, and teamwork in creating and sustaining a well-functioning society. This was ever on view at Pemi, and those lessons have stayed with me.”
Campbell Levy works for Turner Public Relations, directing media relations on behalf of the agency’s travel portfolio. Working in tandem with major news outlets, such as the New York Times and Outside Magazine, along with freelance journalists, Campbell ensures that his clients receive top-notch media placement. “I get to visit all of the destinations and resorts we work with to personally research and vet new stories, oftentimes traveling with journalists to make sure they get their story.” A few of his clients include The Bermuda Tourism Authority, Hyatt properties, and Travel Alberta, where he will soon spend ten days of adventure focused travel.
Growing up in Colorado, Campbell journeyed to Pemi as a first time camper in 1993 when he was twelve years old. The Levy family learned about Pemi from legendary Tennis Head Mac Dunlap, who was Campbell’s grandfather’s roommate at Dartmouth College. That first summer at Pemi, Sky Fauver was Campbell’s counselor in Lower 4, and harnessed his constant energy by categorizing him as the ‘Energizer Bunny.’ After four remarkable summers as a boy, Campbell joined the staff as an Assistant Counselor in 1998, earning both his silver Fiver-Year-Bowl, and helping to bring bronze back to Lower Baker. Memories from that summer have been permanently etched in his mind. “Pemi shaped me immensely and continues to do so to this day. It taught me independence and confidence, I’m not sure I would have gained otherwise.”
Before beginning his career in Media Relations, Campbell enjoyed work in the outdoor/adventure industry as a backcountry ski, climbing, and rock guide, arborist, and park ranger. This work directly related to his experiences at Pemi. “Overnight trips at Pemi were the introduction that led me to becoming a backcountry guide. I attribute this in no small part to people like Riley McCue. I do maintain a healthy obsession with nature, including a continued passion for butterflies and moths via Larry Davis and Russ Brummer. I know I would not have become as enamored with nature and the outdoors as I have without Pemi.” Campbell continues to be an outdoor enthusiast, bicycling in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains near his home in Evergreen with his brother, and Pemi Alumnus, Christian.
Campbell was quick to recall many vivid memories of his time at Pemi. “Who can forget Senior life with Kevin O’Brien as my counsellor, and trips to the Pagoda with Max Linsky. I’ll also never forget the year as an Assistant Counsellor while hanging out with James Finley, Porter Hill and Chris Gillick.” Campbell offers some final advice, “Pemi is a rare place where you can start anew in an incredible variety of pursuits. You might find love for something entirely unexpected. Keep in touch with fellow campers, there’s nothing I love more than reminiscing with friends, and even those who I was not as close with at camp. Above all else, Pemi provided me with friends in surprising locations the world over.”
Thanks to John and Campbell, and remember, send in your Alumni News.
Good luck, long life, and joy!