• Newsletters 2017
  • Summer 2017
  • The Arts

Final Banquet Toast and Review of Iolanthe

2017: Newsletter #7

Incredibly, as we write this, the last day of Pemi Week is bringing the 2017 season to a close, and the camper population is organizing clothing and gear for some carefully supervised packing. It’s been a great season, the challenges of the July Deluge notwithstanding, and for all of their eagerness to be back in the cozy precincts of Home, the boys are already beginning to look a trifle wistful. It’s hard to underestimate the strength of the bonds that are formed up here and, for a good many campers, the dawning awareness of how much they will miss their cabin mates, compadres, and counselors lends all the more richness to the moment. This afternoon will feature the final ladling of Bean Soup (this edition always setting aside most of its edginess to celebrate with sincerity those among us who have given the most to Pemi this summer), and then comes the Final Campfire and cabin parties. As we throw arms over our companions’ shoulders and sway, for the last time this year, to the strains of the Campfire Song, we’ll be asking ourselves if “anyone’s better for anything we’ve done or said.” By all available evidence, many should feel extremely comfortable with the answer.

Traditionally, this last newsletter is comprised of Danny’s toast to the season at the Final Banquet and Clive Bean’s reviews of the year’s Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. We can’t think of a very good reason to alter formula.

Danny’s Toast to 2017

Here’s to the summer of 2017 at Camp Pemigewassett, the 110th in Pemi’s rich and storied history. A summer that has come and gone, as it always seems, in the blink of an eye, though in some ways it seems a lifetime ago when we all began to arrive in early June, back when campers and young counselors were still attending graduation parties, nine Pemi Wester’s were still breaking in their hiking boots for their trip to Washington, and those of us first to arrive were companions to the unlikely presence of a horde of cluster flies that reminded us that nature has its own course of action each spring. 

Danny's Final Banquet toast
Danny’s Final Banquet toast

Truth be told, the summer of 2017 really began before that, way back in October when scores of our returning campers and families sat by their computers until the stroke of midnight on Oct 14th to apply for Pemi’s 110th summer. Congratulations to Ben Herdeg, whose application was the very first one we received that early morning. Who will be the first camper to apply for 2018?

Here’s to a summer that concludes as the leaves on Route 25A are beginning to turn an autumn tint and Pemi boys are returning to their cabins for an 8:30 taps with barely a shred of day light left, a summer that by all accounts has been a wonderful success, despite the major curveball Mother Nature sent our way on July 1 when two steady days of rain caused the second “great flood” in Pemi history.

Here’s to the 260 (exactly) campers who graced the shores of Lower Baker Pond this summer, campers from 29 states (more than half of the states in the union) and from eight countries around the world; and here’s to the new Moroccan flag we added to our array of international banners gracing the Messhall. Here’s to the 91 campers, perhaps a new record, who made the decision to attend sleep away camp for the first time, the 19 who have, or will, collect their five-year bowls and yes, Phineas Walsh: here’s to campers in their eighth summer. 

Here’s to the talented and dedicated counselor staff at Pemi in 2017, to the cabin counselors and assistant counselors, the young men who share such close quarters with their boys, and who, by some magical means, are able to inspire, mentor and capture the imagination of their campers in ways even their own parents and we senior staff sometimes can not.

Cheers to the incredibly hard working crew that Reed Harrigan leads each day with such vigor, dedication and love; Frank, Dennis, John, Patterson, Aliza, and Jackson; to our Office Managers extraordinaire, Heather and Kim, who do so much more than manage the office, and here’s to Dottie who always seems to have time for us, despite attending to tasks both large and small and caring for campers and counselors with a large dose of maternal grace, wisdom, charm, and a heaping helping of love, as well.

Cheers to the chefs and kitchen crew this summer, led by our Dining Service Director Tom Ciglar, the crew that tackled the herculean task of providing a community of 260 with delicious meals three times a day and did so with a smile, a sincere desire to meet the needs of everyone in the community, and with freshly baked bread each day, too. And how ‘bout that day we had chocolate cake for breakfast!

Here’s to Kenny, our new father-to-be, whose love for Pemi is so evident as he oversees transportation, Pemi West, the daily and weekly schedule and so much more. Thank you, Kenny; we’d never want to do it without you!

Cheers to Deb Pannell and all the creative endeavors down in Art World (wow, what an Art Show!), to Charlie, our big-hearted Athletic Director and all the coaches in the athletics’ program who always put Pemi’s values of sportsmanship, improved skills and participation first. Boom! 

Kudos to Tom and the trippies who sent scores of trips tramp, tramp tramping over the mountains. I can’t imagine the Pemi trip program without you at the helm, Tom, but after 40 plus years of overseeing the program, I guess we’ll just say thank you for your magnificent work in managing over 4,000 trips since you began the task, with an eye for detail, safety, and a love for the mountains that will be very hard to replace.

Here’s to Reese, Amy, Deb Fauver and Becky for another remarkable G & S performance and to Becky and her staff for a summer of beautiful music at Pemi.

To Emily, Charlotte, Harry, Alan, and Molly, and all the exhilarating, yet safe, fun we had in the water, to Lianne in the shop, Chris (and family!) on the tennis courts, Larry and Deb in the Nature Lodge, Steve (and his many titles) on the archery range… oosh!…and all of the other instructors who brought major energy and mojo to occupation periods every day. And let’s not forget Head of Occupations, Dan Reed, for overseeing the schedule of 172 boys this summer… with the proficiency, thoughtfulness and positive vibe one rarely sees in a man his age; thank you Dan!  

And a special thank you to our nurses, Amy and Kaitlyn who, despite their tender years, created a model for great camp nursing this summer.

Here’s to the things that were unique at Pemi in 2017; eight beautiful new Mad River canoes, “Games Day” at night and a “Feature Movie” in the afternoon, helicopter birthday rides, the new floating docks down on Senior Beach, canoe rides for our Manor residents to get to work, two new baseball backstops and a new senior diamond lovingly crafted by Pemi’s own Dave Mellor, Charlie Malcolm.

Here’s to all-camp events at Pemi, Bean Soup when we laugh ourselves and anticipate “things to look for” (Thanks Dan and Wes!), Camp Fire when we entertain ourselves to some of the most majestic sunsets one will ever see (Thanks, Steve and Kim!), and to Sunday Service when we reflected on such matters as the 110 year history of Camp Pemigewassett, Living in the Moment, and the Miracle Mets of 1969.

And here’s to the beauty of Camp Pemigewasett: the mist on Lower Baker Pond each morning, the stunning reflection we enjoy off of the lake each evening, the spectacular sunsets . . . and that mesmerizing sound of the water lapping up against the shore as campers fall into a warm and deep sleep each night.

Here’s to our eighteen 15-year-old campers, to their combined 92 summers at Pemi (yes, you heard that right!) and to the lifelong friendships they’ve 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 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.

Here’s to Camp Pemigewassett 2017.

Good Luck, Long Life, and Joy! 

~ Danny Kerr

Clive Bean Reviews Iolanthe

Camp Pemigewassett’s dramatic season reached its pinnacle last Tuesday and Wednesday nights with a brace of fine performances of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe. The quaint 1882 operetta, which has been performed at Pemi since 1979, turns on some eerily contemporary themes – untraditional marriage matches and functionally-challenged forms of government. We can only hope that the happy resolution of the play taught everyone in the cast and audience something about the values of social open-mindedness and hard and honest work in governance.

Cole Valente and Larry Davis
Cole Valente and Larry Davis

Enough earnest pontification. The show is a delightful froth of wit and whimsy, and Lower Baker’s sub-division of D’Oyle Carte played it with infectious energy and joy. Leading the way was Cole Valente, strutting the boards for the first time as the Fairy Queen. He was as coolly imperious as Maggie Thatcher and as buff as Wonder Woman, something that a tuft of carefully unshaven facial hair did much to augment. Delivering his lines and songs in a powerful falsetto and with impeccable comic timing, Cole brought down the house when his/her sudden desperate need to find a spouse led him to snap up Larry Davis’s Private Willis like a female Praying Mantis devouring her mate. (Larry, incidentally, was marvelous as the dutiful and willing Westminster guard.)

Scout and Weston
Scout and Weston

Equally compelling in delivery and comic acting alike was Scout Brink as the fetching shepherdess Phyllis, beloved by all but hopelessly devoted to the half-fairy, half-mortal Strephon, who was played most convincingly by Weston Delehanty. Bedecked in spectacular costumes (and looking more or less like Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI slumming on a rural picnic), Scout and Weston performed a series of lovely duets with all but professional finish. 

John Kingdon excelled in the title role of Iolanthe, Strephon’s fairy mother, who got the dramatic ball rolling years before the action starts when she broke the quintessential fairy rule of not marrying a mortal. John’s stage presence set a high standard for camper and staff participants alike, and he delivered his songs and dialogue with accuracy and feeling. Other staunch camper leads were Owen Wyman as Celia, Oliver Giraud at Leila, and Jake Landry as Fleta – a trio of charming ladies-in-flitting worthy of Tinkerbelle and absolutely crucial to the play’s loving resolution. 

John, Oliver, Owen, Jake
John, Oliver, Owen, Jake
Eli and Nick
Eli and Nick

Matching this trio was the inseparable duo of Nick Davini and Eli Brennan as Lords Mountararat and Tolloller, a couple of over-privileged and under-educated peers who spar for the affections of Phyllis but ultimately realize that friendship can sometimes be more important than success on the dating scene. Eli played the sycophantic lord with the oily extravagance of a White House lackey, while Nick’s pinched gyrations with a monocle would have gone down wonderfully in a Monty Python sketch.

The most remarkable of the leads, no doubt, was Nick Gordon as the eminent Lord Chancellor, once-and-future husband to Iolanthe and father to Strephon. Nick literally awoke in London on the day we opened and jetted across the Atlantic for his date with dramatic destiny. He had been away from Pemi for two weeks on a pre-arranged music program and had never rehearsed the show with the entire cast. Stepping onto the stage at midnight, body time, Nick managed to get through a powerfully difficult role with stunning composure and skill, earning arguably the loudest applause of the night with his brisk rendition of “The Nightmare Song.” Kudos to the lad for turning what came close to a nightmare of travel and lack of practice into a virtual triumph!

Nick Gordon
Nick Gordon

A G&S show is only as good as its choruses, and this years Fairies and Lords were rock solid. Ted Applebaum, Charlie Bell, Julian Berk, Harry Cooke, Tommy Gorman, Jaron Josephs, Luke Larabie, Henry Moore, Sam Papel, TRJR, Braden Richardson, and Augie Tanzosh managed to drown their longstanding Whig vs. Tory differences in a tsunami of affection for their fairy fiancées. And as their Fairyland femmes fatales, Nate Broll, Jon Ciglar, Lucas Gales, Andreas Geffert, Austin Greenberg, Jackson Heller, Andrew Muffett, Becky Noel, Christopher Ramanathan, Nelson Snyder, and Sam Young, were as fetching and fascinating as any “girls’” ensemble in recent memory. 

Chorus of Fairies
Chorus of Fairies
Chorus of Lords
Chorus of Lords
HMS Pinafore
2018! H.M.S. Pinafore

Special congratulations go out to Director Reese Eifler, Music Director Becky Noel, Wardrobe Mistress Deborah Fauver, and Pianist Extraordinaire Amy Comparetto. Under their dedicated and patient direction and care, the most difficult of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas in Pemi’s repertoire came to life with a vibrancy that left both nights’ audiences craving for more. Stay tuned for 2018, when H.M.S. Pinafore sails up the Pemigewassett River into Lower Baker Pond for a reprise of the inaugural Pemi G&S of 1951. Book your boxes now!

With that, we’ll officially close the blogging book on Pemi 2017! Thank you to all you parents who entrusted their boys to us for the year. We hope we’re sending them home to you a little wiser, a little more confident, a little more grateful for the opportunities you have afforded them, and a little more determined that others should profit in the future from the things they do and say. We also hope that, in one way or another, that future finds them returning to our valley with fond recollections of this sometimes soggy year.







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