Camp Pemi’s Response to COVID-19

March 24 Update

Pemi community,

Two weeks ago, Directors Kenny Moore and Danny Kerr, along with Pemi Board President Tom Reed, sent Pemi’s first update on our response to COVID-19 to our current families. You will find that message from March 10 below.

Since then, our COVID-19 committee, Pemi’s administrative team, and Board of Directors have discussed this situation on an almost daily basis. Leaning on information from the medical community and government agencies, we continue to monitor the evolving issues surrounding Coronavirus. The health and safety of our camp community, our campers, parents, alumni, & staff, is paramount and central in each conversation. 

In a broader spectrum, we’re also meeting weekly with directors of our neighboring camps: Merriwood, Moosilauke, and Kingswood. This group is likely to expand to include a few others with whom we have close ties. We’re all in this together, and the camaraderie, respect, and affection for one another that we share is especially buoying at this time.

The New Hampshire Camp Directors Association has reached out to all member camps (~100) and will act as a key resource for us. The organization will serve to speak with one voice as we seek guidance from those agencies whose support we will need as summer draws near. Our own Kenny Moore sits on the board of nhcamps.org, so we should be among the first to hear news as it emerges over the coming weeks and months.

During an uncertain time, frequent and transparent communication is essential in moving forward together as one camp community. Although we are scattered throughout the world, the Pemi spirit is alive and well. Stay tuned to Pemi’s Facebook page and Instagram account for new and creative ways to connect with the Pemi community. We look forward to bringing Pemi into your home very soon.

Our next scheduled update will follow the Board of Directors meeting on April 4 & 5. At that time, we will be back in touch to share further news and information. Should you miss one of our direct email communications, they will be posted on our blog.

Until then, Good luck, long life, and joy!

March 10 Update

Dear Pemi Families and Friends,

Though Opening Day of our 2020 season is still months away, we are looking forward with growing eagerness to a wonderful, active summer in the White Mountains, where our campers can be unplugged and relieved from the stresses of hype and social media, knowing that the adults charged with their care will remain, as always, connected and vigilant.

Pemi’s long history means that we have had considerable experience with challenging communicable disease outbreaks in the past, including the swine flu epidemic of 2009. You can be sure that we will respond to the national and international presence of COVID-19 in ways that rigorously prioritize the health and safety of your sons—always our topmost considerations.

One of the hallmarks of Pemi over the years has been our clear and timely communication with parents and guardians of our campers. Although Opening Day is still over three months away, you can expect to hear from us over the coming weeks and months with relevant updates based on the evolving situation and the advice of government agencies and the medical community.

We are monitoring global and regional developments with the novel coronavirus on a daily basis through the information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, World Health Organization, and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. We encourage you to refer to these and other professional sources for factual and objective information.

Meanwhile, we have formed a special committee, made up of directors, board members, and a pediatric emergency room physician who is a veteran of our summer staff to lead our response as we prepare for the season in the most thoughtful and professional way possible. We have also been directly in touch with the American Camp Association, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, and other excellent summer camps in our area to identify best practices and plan for the summer, most all of which reflect the high standards that we have implemented in the past and are familiar with.

For now, thank you for your trust in Camp Pemigewassett. Do feel free to contact us with any emerging questions or concerns.

Best to you all,

Tom Reed, Jr., Board President
Danny Kerr, Director
Kenny Moore, Director

Links of Interest

Cans from Campers – Video describing our Opening Day Food Drive

Pemi 2019 Video Slideshow

Why Summer Camp? – The American Camp Association

Sleepaway Camp: Expense…or Investment?

Is summer camp an expense or an investment?

Parents unfamiliar with the tradition of sleepaway camp might consider the cost and reasonably ask, “Why send my child away when the community center has a pool and tennis courts?”

Simply put, the character traits that children strengthen and develop as they navigate life in a unique learning environment away from home—supported by well-trained professionals there for that very purpose—are profound and lifelong.

Reading between the lines

Consider testimonials, such as from this father:

“He learned more about himself and his strengths in one summer at camp than he did in the entire school year”

Or from campers’ letters home:

“I went off the high dive – six feet high! My instructor helped me conquer my fear! I feel very, very accomplished!”

“I’m about to go on a 2-day hike. I’m excited and am wearing sunscreen.”

“I know that the bonds that I’ve created with the friends in my cabin will never break. We’re now like brothers and we plan on staying that way.”

While these anecdotes from our families speak to every parent’s hope when delivering a child into the care of others—a healthy, happy, and fulfilling summer—a deeper dive between the lines reveals that camp has nourished and quickened the development of character strengths that will serve these campers well in their future success as students, employees, citizens, and life partners. How can we calculate the worth of independence, adaptability, willingness to try new things, perseverance, responsibility, and appreciation for the differences and strengths of others?

The value of character strengths in schools, colleges, and the world-at-large

In 2016, the American Camp Association launched a 5-year study “to explore the lasting impacts and the ways camp experiences prepare young people for college, their careers, and their lives beyond camp.” The professional organization has gathered, compiled, and now is publishing exciting findings that provide data to support our testimonials.

Coincidentally in 2016, a group of educators, aware that character strengths are fundamental to an engaged life, formed the Character Collaborative to elevate non-academic factors and character-related attributes in the admissions process. Their goal is to identify reliable, unbiased indicators of character strengths to better recognize students of promise. Today, members include college admission, independent secondary schools, national educational associations, and research organizations.

This is significant in light of the question, “Is camp an expense or an investment?” Summer camp offers a unique experiential education that leads to the development of character strengths in its campers—exactly what schools, universities, and employers are looking for in applicants, and what most adults seek when forming relationships and choosing life partners.

How do camps support the development of character strengths?

Camp Pemigewassett’s campers take a break from technology and the pressures of social media that can so absorb and deeply influence them during the school year. Being screen-free gives our boys the space to develop critical communication skills, learning how to live and get along with others by negotiating social interactions directly and personally. Being unplugged also frees up time spent on screens—perhaps hours of a day—to fully engage in camp’s program activities.

Pemi has four main program areas and boys are encouraged to expand their comfort zones by trying new things. This ‘liberal arts approach’ to summer camp allows each boy to shine in what he already knows and loves to do, to discover new talents and interests, and to appreciate the gifts of others. With the breadth of options and depth of instruction in each program, boys don’t outgrow camp, and our veteran campers emerge as well-rounded young men.

The Sports Program attracts athletes to Pemi with excellent coaching, skill progression, opportunities for competition, and for the pure joy of participation. It offers valuable lessons about how to compete, work as a team, respect officials and opponents, and set personal goals. In addition to further developing athletic proficiency, our athletes also often discover an interest in environmental science or talent in a musical instrument—something that won’t happen at a camp focused only on sports.

The science-based Nature Program is nationally acclaimed, with a vast range of activities to explore. In the end, though, we teach the boys to be comfortable in the natural world, to view it with endless fascination and enjoyment, and to feel an obligation to act as good stewards both now and in the future. Many a camper, inspired by this program, has gone on to science fair projects, college majors, and even professions.

In the Trip Program, boys learn: the rewards of sustained effort in what can sometimes be demanding conditions; the benefits of advanced planning as they organize gear and supplies for what can be days away from civilization; the kind of teamwork that includes collective decision making and responsibility for the welfare and happiness of the entire group. Campers have shown us admission essays for high school and college that capture life lessons they learned on a camp trip.

The Arts round out the program. Pemi “culture” celebrates creativity: it’s fun to sing, make a ping pong paddle, explore mixed media, learn an instrument, or participate in a musical. Nothing illustrates camp’s supportive environment more than at campfire when a young boy bravely stands to sing in front of 250 people. Once the hushed silence and then the resounding applause have passed, the boy, wreathed in smiles and standing two inches taller, is clearly realizing, “If I can do that, what else can I do?!”

As with many summer camps with a long and storied past (Pemi was founded in 1908), our traditions kindle the feeling of being a part of something unique and special, and keep our campers and staff coming back year after year to further develop their interests, values, and relationships with one another.

Finally, our alumni network is global, and is a resource for campers, alums, counselors, prospective parents, and beyond. For example, our Counselor Internship Initiative connects talented Pemi counselors with alums to gain crucial professional experience in the spring and then return to work at camp for the summer in positions of greater leadership and responsibility.

So, is camp an expense or an investment?

Yes, on face value, residential summer camp can be expensive, though indeed many offer scholarships and financial aid. But behind the numbers lie experiences that can lift and inspire your children to be their best selves, often in ways that launch them in directions that you or they might never have anticipated, and all the while immersed in a joyful, healthy, and natural environment.

Alumni far and wide document the impact of living and learning at summer camp. Beyond schools, resumes, and jobs, a 96-year old alumnus may have said it best: “My life’s happiness bag is heavy and stuffed with Pemi experiences.” Looking back on a life well lived, amid memories of truly foundational influences, many would say that the true value of summer camp dwarfs its cost in dollars and cents.

(This article will be published in an upcoming “summer camp” edition of the Greenwich Sentinel)

~Dottie Reed