2017: Newsletter #2
[A quick meteorological-status update in advance. We are now in Day 3 of wonderful summer sunshine after the Deluge of 2017 – about which you may have heard on the Weather Channel or in slightly damp Sunday letters from your sons. From a camper standpoint, everything is back to normal, with the exception that Polar Bear dips are on hold until the Mississippi hue of Lower Baker returns, in a couple of days, to normal. The state roads to our entrance are open and, with a little resourceful wading with boats to carry cargo in and out past our new river/beach road, we are again in full contact with the world at large – all the more so since, pre-rain, we parked three of our vans across our bridge right next to Route 25A. In fact, we should get a short mountain trip off in them this afternoon! We’ll try to post a special newsletter with more details of the weather event and some choice photos over the coming days. Meanwhile, the boys are thrilled to have experienced an inundation to equal the famous flood of 1973, and they are showing as much pluck and enthusiasm as ever! Perhaps more!]
The first week of the 2017 season has sped by with the alacrity of the speediest Junior camper hurtling into the pond during the morning Polar Bear dip – and his chilliest compadre scampering back to shore afterwards. Cabin groups are well on their way to becoming bona fide little families (or, in the case of the Senior, big ones), bonding closely not only over their morning dip but also over clean-up for inspection, joint trips to their mail slots to retrieve letters from home, three plentiful meals a day (and the daily 3:30 Fruit Bowl), lusty singing in the mess hall at lunch and supper, trips up local mountains or overnights at the Adirondack shelter on Pemi Hill, paddling to cabin cookouts across the lake at Pine Forest and Flat Rock, the nightly tick check (new to the Pemi routine), and drifting off to sleep to the soothing drone of their counselors reading from Roald Dahl or J. K. Rowling. (Some of this cabin business you parents will undoubtedly have heard about through the outgoing mail.)
Occupations (as, again, we call our instructional periods for some arcane early twentieth-century reason) have gone extremely well across the full range of offerings – in athletics, music, art, and nature studies. Particularly well-received have been the options offered by Visiting Professionals Kevin O’Brien (who winningly combines tuition in both lacrosse and yoga) and Steve Broker (who seems to know more about ornithology than Audubon himself, and this year came to camp with over a dozen stuffed bird specimens from Yale University’s renowned collection). The trip program is briskly out of the gate, despite some rainy weather. Trip Specialists Nick Davini and Fiona Walker have led a 3-day jaunt up Owl’s Head in the Pemigewassett Wilderness (the first ascent by any Pemi group, to the best of my knowledge), while their colleague Sam Papel has inaugurated our new practice of a “trippie” and Junior cabin counselor teaming up on an extended (two-meal) version of the traditional Junior overnight up Pemi Hill. The result is the equivalent of a family trip with an expert guide, and initial reviews are highly positive. In addition, inter-camp sports have begun most energetically, with competitions in seven different sports in six different age groups against three of our neighboring camps. Oh, did we mention that casting for this year’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe is now complete? Rehearsals begin this week, looking forward to lavish productions on the nights of August 8th and 9th. To risk cribbing from a trendy clothing line, here at Pemi, “Life is Good!”
We thought we’d follow up on this general overview with some particulars from the athletic fields and wooded trails alike. First, an account of June 28th’s Baker Valley 13’s Soccer Tournament, from head coach Steve Clare:
Baker Valley 13’s Soccer Tournament
In the annual tourney hosted by Camp Moosilauke, Pemi’s first opponents were from Camp Kingswood. It was a cautious start from both teams, each defending well but neither dominating midfield; 0: 0 at half-time.
Pemi started the second half strongly with two early chances going just wide. In the fourth minute, Elliot Jones won possession on the half-way line and played a great through ball to Luca McAdams, who in turn played the ball in to Andrew Roth at the edge of the box. Andrew beat a defender and then the keeper with a deftly placed left-footed shot. Pemi 1: 0.
Two minutes later, Pemi scored again. Pressing high up the pitch, Nelson Snyder used his pace to intercept a Kingswood pass and played the ball forward to Andrew. Andrew ran forward into Kingswood’s penalty box, taking the ball to the goal line and, although closely marked, managing to cut the ball back across the goal for Paul Clusky to score from 6 yards out.
Most of the remainder of the game was played in Kingswood’s half, Pemi passing the ball around with confidence, with numerous shots being saved or sent just wide. Kingswood managed a couple of counterattacks but were unable to beat Pemi’s solid defense. Final score, Pemi 2: Kingswood 0.
Pemi’s second game was against Walt Whitman (WW). With just 2 minutes on the clock, Luca was brought down in the box by a clumsy challenge. Paul scored from the penalty spot; 1-0 Pemi.
Like last year, we thought that WW’s fairly casual style of play might lead to a goal fest, but, also like last year, Pemi found its style disrupted for the entire game. WW’s keeper made a couple of superb saves to deny Pemi further goals. Final score, Pemi 1: WW 0.
Our final game was against host camp Moosilauke, and we utterly dominated possession; goalie Gordon Robbins didn’t get a single touch of the ball in the first half! Early shots from Andrew, Luca, Paul and Matteo Benenati all went over the cross bar. When a 25-yard rocket from Luca also crashed off the cross bar, we were delighted to see Isaiah Abbey follow up the rebound and head the ball into the net for his first goal. Luca scored Pemi’s second with a cracking shot from distance that caromed off the inside of the right-hand post. Two nil Pemi.
Simon Taylor volunteered to go in goal for the second half so Gordon could play in the field. Again, Pemi dominated possession. As with Kingswood, Pemi’s defense were solid in breaking down attacks from Moose, with special mention going to the superb Tristan Land.
Pemi’s third score saw Matteo beat three Moose defenders as he entered their penalty box from the right, finding space to shoot across the goal into the left side of the net. Moose’s keeper denied further goals with several outstanding saves, yielding a final score of Pemi 3: Moose 0.
A 3 in 3 BVT victory! Well done, players. We’ve still work to do, but what a great start to 2017!! Special thanks to Julian Hernandez-Webster for refereeing all three games and to assisting coaches Andy McDonald and JP Gorman.
Thanks to Steve for the coaching and reportage both. Now to Sam Papel for short narratives of last week’s Pemi Hill jaunts:
New Pemi Hill Adventure for Juniors
Junior Six took to the hill trail last Tuesday around 4:00 P.M. on the inaugural Trippie-accompanied Pemi Hill adventure and charged quickly to the top. At the Adirondack shelter, a favorite Pemi destination since the 1960’s, Tristan Barton, Priester Davis, Thomas Davis, Will Silloway, Hudson Williams, Charlie Wood, and Ian Zimmerman learned how to tie some important knots, and built a roaring fire. Later they had a hearty dinner of mac and cheese with bacon and chicken, as well as some “cinnamon roll delights” for dessert. The boys also bushwhacked up to the old logging road, and explored the woods above the spring. After dinner, a few games of hotly contested Presidents filled their time, and the boys went to sleep straining their ears for an echo of Taps from down the hill. In the morning, I cooked up some pancakes and bacon and the crew headed down the hill just in time to be late for first hour. Overall, a great kick-off to a new Pemigewassett tradition.
Junior 2’s journey up Pemi Hill, two days later, was slightly delayed by the rain. Nevertheless the intrepid Andrew Boss, Robbie Judd, Jake Landry, Matteo Saffer, John Warren Stickney, and Max Weber set off for the shelter at 4:30, with some brand new Junior-sized internal frame packs, courtesy of REI. Despite the steady drizzle, they made good time up the hill, arriving a mere 30 minutes later. After consulting the USGS Topo map, Jake, Robbie, and I bushwhacked up to the old logging road. After exploring, a giant meal of bacon mac & cheese was avidly devoured by all. Unfortunately, a certain Trippie forgot dessert (although he hopefully made up for it in the morning with chocolate chips and brown sugar on the pancakes!) Before bed, the boys again learned some useful knots, and played a few games of mafia before going to sleep listening to the storm. In the morning, breakfast went much more quickly than the first go-around, and the boys made it down the hill ready to rock first hour. So, after a week’s trial, reviews of the new, guide-squired Pemi Hill are distinctly positive.
Thanks to Sam, both for the implementation of an exciting new program and for the crisp account. Now to fellow Trip Leader Fiona Walker for a report on Pemi’s first trip ever up Owls’s Head, perhaps the remotest of New Hampshire’s 4000-foot peaks.
Inaugural Trip to Owls’s Head
The season’s first three-day started after lunch last Tuesday, leaving from the trip operations center/Snack Shack. By the time Andreas [Geffert], Christopher [Ramanathan], Owen [Wyman], Dexter [Wells], and Cameron [McManus] had completed their final gear checks and we had everyone loaded in the van, it was approaching 3pm, and we arrived at the Lincoln Woods Visitor Center at around 3:45. After getting everyone’s pack straps adjusted, with rain jackets at the ready, we walked a whopping 2.8 miles on flat ground to the junction of the Black Pond Trail, where we asked the boys to assess different areas where we could possibly set up camp for the next two days. After about thirty minutes of looking, the boys settled on a great area next to the Pemigewassett River that provided ample room for cooking, sleeping, and bear-bagging. I will say that watching these kids put up tents was quite entertaining. One camper (who shall remain nameless, although his parents may recognize him from what follows) commented, “It’s 2017 already! Why don’t we just have those tents that pop up when you pull them out of the bag?” After the tents were solidly pitched, we all enjoyed a steaming pot of pesto pasta. Unfortunately, due to some rain coming in, our post-dinner course of hot chocolate was cut short. Luckily we were able to clean up fast and stay dry in anticipation of the next day’s climb.
Day 2 called for a 7:15AM wake-up call and breakfast at 8. We left camp at around 9 and headed off onto the Lincoln Brook Trail. A long slog was lightened when we introduced the boys to a game called Contact, which takes about an hour to explain and which required another hour for them to solve the first clue. We arrived at the base of the Owl’s Head Trail around 1PM, and while fellow Trippie Nick Davini and I were keeping a careful eye on return time, we decided it was safe to continue up for another hour before calling it. I think I speak for everyone when I say the last mile felt like five, as the trail was a challenging mix of rocky soil and granite. The boys were such troopers, though, and they powered to the top despite their soggy shoes and heavy packs. One of the drawbacks of bagging a 4000-footer whose summit is just below tree line is that the view you’d have from a Lafayette or Washington is not quite there. These guys definitely deserved a spectacular vista, given their grit and general good humor. There was, however, a clear cut towards the middle of the trail that allowed for a beautiful view of the Franconia Range and the Lower Pemigewassett Wilderness.
Although it took us a little over three hours to hike those two miles, everyone was in good spirits at the bottom of the trail. Despite the late start on return, we made it back to camp in just two and a half hours, with plenty of daylight to spare. After all that, the boys decided that the only way to solve their wet foot problem was to take part in a Pink Polar Bear [aka a dip in cold stream water] or, as they preferred calling it, Hypothermic Polar Bear. They are still inquiring about their Hypothermic Polar Bear badges, which I don’t believe is a thing Camp Pemi yet offers. I told the boys, though, that I would be willing to follow up about the possibility of such an award for the future.
The next morning we packed up camp at 9AM and left around 9:45 for a 10:30 pick-up with TRJR at Lincoln Woods Visitor Center. After a hasty stop at the Kancamagus Country Store for a soda and candy, we made it back to camp with all body parts intact, minimal blisters, and (for Nick and me) both our jobs. All in all, I’d say it was a great start to the 2017 Pemi Trip Program. Thanks to Andreas, Christopher, Owen, Dexter, and Cameron for being such stalwart hikers! Pemi can now add a formidable little climb to its list of mountaineering accomplishments!
So there are some snap shots of Week One. Stay tuned for more coverage of Instructional Occupations, the Nature Program, Art, Music, and the like. For now, we’re truly relishing the lively company of 170 young men who, from everything we can see, are making the most of their time in the wilds of New Hampshire, sun-lit or rain-washed alike.