The 35th Annual Rittner Run kicked off the celebration of Pemi’s 110th Reunion. On Thursday, August 17, forty Rittner Runners departed Pemi at 6 AM, headed to Fryeburg Maine to begin the 75-mile relay run back to Pemi. The relay is divided into 30 odd legs, some measuring as long as 4.5 miles and others as short as 1. Vans shuttle runners to the exchange points while conversations and stories are shared between current staffers and Alumni, both reminiscing about the season that just concluded and other past seasons. During the 2017 run, Head of Swimming and triathlon enthusiast Charlotte Jones led the way with 34 miles, with many others tallying in the high teens. Once back at Pemi, the Runners paraded by Senior Beach towards the Rittner Fountain onto Pemi’s soccer pitch for their annual photo and ‘tis I, Spartacus!’ cheer. After a quick dip in Lower Baker, the group headed to the Mess Hall for the Rittner Banquet. A delicious meal from Tom Ciglar’s trusty hands, and libations from Peter Cowles’ Aspetuck Brewery greeted the runners, followed by announcements, stories about Fred Rittner, and information about the Rittner Fund and its impact. Fred Rittner’s fellow counselors in the early 80’s and his former campers offered memories and legendary anecdotes.
To learn more about the Rittner Fund, please visit their website, and mark your calendars for the 2018 Rittner Run on Monday, August 13, 2018.
A cloudy, rainy dawn on Friday resulted in a scattering few for Polar Bear. The weather eliminated the hiking and golf trips for the day, but a quick scheduling pivot resulted in a trip to the Museum of the White Mountains to see their exhibit on Summer Camps. Pemi, like many of our neighbor camps, contributed to the exhibit with artifacts and memorabilia demonstrating the importance of the Summer Camp experience. At Pemi activities in the Nature Lodge, Library, and the Senior Lodge with active fires allowed folks a quieter morning before the bulk of arrivals. Just before lunch, Bob Fetter, an alumnus from 1940, arrived with his Junior Nature Award and All Camp photograph that he had saved from his only Pemi summer in 1940. Two true gems for the Pemi archives, and more info on his fellow octogenarians later.
After lunch, hearty souls ventured to Junior Pointe for some waterskiing, others made their way out in sailboats, and a few climbed aboard the HMS Reilly McCue for some fishing. Charlie Malcolm led a group in a cutthroat game of croquet (ask Paul Fishback!), and then a rousing game of Frisbee Golf. The library was active with Pemi trivia, led by current Pemi staffers Steve Clare and Andy MacDonald, and the Junior Lodge was alive with music led by Ed McKendry (Uncle Eddie to some), Ian Axness, Henry Eisenhart, and Michaella Frank. This talented Reunion Ensemble would play for us during the Happy Hour, and then later again at Campfire. To cap off the rainy afternoon, Larry Davis led the first Pemi discussion group of the weekend. Larry, a Climate Reality Project trainee, led the group in a question and answer session on this increasingly important topic.
Now with more than 100 Alumni present, the Mess Hall filled with joy as Alumni greeted one another during Happy Hour, reminiscing and catching up. The rain tapered off, and we all enjoyed an outdoor Campfire on Senior Beach. A spectacular musical array ensued. Danny and Uncle Eddie serenaded us with Melissa by the Allman Brothers, Ian played the surpassingly lovely Boating Song on his glockenspiel, (You read the correctly!), Tom Reed and Michaella performed Ukulele Lady, the Reunion Ensemble played House of the Rising Sun, Parker Shiverick played the violin, and Eisenhart once again claimed the lake as his pillow with a saxophone solo. Larry Davis provided the classic story, Learning How to Shoot, before we all joined together for the Campfire Song. Undoubtedly, one of the best Reunion campfires we’ve ever seen.
A sunnier, albeit chilly morning saw more Polar Bears on Saturday. Shortly after breakfast, two hikes Mount Cube led by Nick Davini, and Mount Moosilauke led by Sam Papel departed in Pemi vans. Morning activities included Archery, a canoe paddle to the Lower Lake, doubles on the tennis court, open baseball on the newly improved Senior Diamond, tie-dyeing in the Art Building, waterskiing, and sailing. Just as our campers are offered a wide range of wonderful activities to choose, so too are our Alumni. In the library, the fourth generation (G4) of Pemi’s founders met with Alumni interested in learning more about the Reed and Fauver families. Of the 9 G4 members, five were present; Jonathan Fauver, Allyson Fauver, Megan Fauver Cardillo, Sarah Fauver, and Dan Reed discussed Pemi and shared their vision for the future.
After a well deserved Rest Hour, afternoon activities began with Obie-Ivy soccer, an Environmental Exploration with Deb Kure for our 12 & Unders, a Wild Foods Extravaganza with Larry, a Spider Walk with former Nature guru Paula Golderberg, more Tie-Dye with Megan Cardillo, and the chance to swim your distance with the waterfront staff. Five swimmers made the distance from Senior Beach to Junior Camp under the watchful eye of former Head of Swimming, Paige Wallis in the rowboat, and current Head of Swimming Charlotte Jones donning the lifeguard buoy. Notable swimmers included current trip counselor, Nick Davini who, after 9 years at camp, owned up to never having swum his distance, Sarah Fauver, another first time distance swimmer, and taking home first prize, Scott Petrequin who, at age 86 (!), successfully swam his distance, making him the oldest Pemi person to ever accomplish the feat. Later at the Reunion Banquet, the cheer for ‘Distance Swimmer Petrequin’ was quite possible the loudest chant in 2017!
As Obie-Ivy ended, many players cooled off during Free Swim in Lower Baker, and enjoyed a well-timed, unplanned, landing by a sea-plane. Others decided to opt for a more intellectual pursuit, joining Alumnus David Spindler, a leading expert on the Great Wall of China, for the weekend’s second Pemi Discussion Group. David shared slides and stories about the Great Wall and his experiences traveling the monument.
The Reunion Banquet was full of joy and cheer, with all the traditional pomp and circumstance of a Pemi Banquet. Alumni became waiters once again, marching the turkeys out of the kitchen as Axness performed his version of the Game of Thrones theme, Fire and Ice, on the piano. One lucky soul at each table claimed the carving knife to slice the birds. Tom Ciglar and his crew presented the turkey feast with mashed potatoes, stuffing, farm fresh corn on the cob, and freshly baked bread. Anyone who has tasted Tom’s bread is surely salivating.
During announcements, Pemi recognized the newest distance swimmers and honored Alumni by decade. We arrived at the 40’s – 1940-1949, and four gentleman, Bob Fetter, Bob MacBeth, Scott Petrequin, and Sandy Ross, stood to a rousing round of applause and standing ovation. Finally, in recognition of Alumni who are Pemi veterans of at least 10 years, Pemi gifted a 10-year tie. A new Pemi tradition!
Bean Soup, led by former editors Josh Fischel and Ian Axness, joined current editor Dan Reed for the special Reunion edition. Combining old classics, along with freshly written articles, this trio had the audience laughing away in the Mess Hall. Song re-writes like I’ve got Mike Pence (Sixpence), and a new “Reunion Edition” of the ever-popular Mess Hall announcement were highlights.
A beautifully crisp Sunday morning greeted Polar Bears for the final dip of the weekend. After breakfast, all gathered in the Senior Lodge for a memorial service in honor of Betsy Reed. Larry Davis and Ian Axness began the service with a lovely duet followed Zach See’s utterly moving Church Call on the bugle. I’m sure that the stirring music bellowing out over the lake set a tone that Betsy would have thought magnificent. Tom Reed Jr. eloquently shared stories and memories of his mother, as did Peter Fauver, Bertha Fauver, Dan Reed, Abby Reed (read by Allyson Fauver) and Dottie Reed. The service was beautiful, each speaker reinforced Betsy’s kindhearted demeanor, good will, humor, grace, and love of life.
Shout out to our spectacular Reunion Staff; Ian Axness, Paige Wallis, Ed McKendry, Larry Davis, Charlie Malcolm, Deb Kure, Harry Morris, Ben Walsh, Steve Clare, Charlotte Jones, Nick Davini, Sam Papel, Ned Roosevelt, Becky Noel, Kilian Wegner, Nick Hurn, and bartenders extraordinaire Andrew MacDonald and JP Gorman.
And, of course, a special thank you to the nearly 150 Alumni who returned to the shores of Lower Baker in honor of Pemi’s 110th season!