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News from Camp Pemigewassett and Danny Kerr

In tandem with Pemi’s Board of Directors, Danny Kerr has been at the center of a multi-year planning process focused on smooth and measured management succession at Pemi. This past January, Danny shared with the Board his plan to retire as a Pemi director in just under two years’ time, at the end of the 2021 season. Five months ago, we were set to share this momentous news with the extended Pemi community when the COVID crisis threw a wrench into that plan, as it has for so many others and in so many ways. We thought it best to resolve the uncertainties of the 2020 season before we turned to the news. Now that our inaugural Pemi Family Camp is underway—with Danny at the helm—this seems like an appropriate time to pass along the official word.

Director Danny Kerr, Camp Pemigewassett
Director Danny Kerr

From Tom Reed, for the Pemi Board of Directors:

For a dozen years now, Danny Kerr has inspired our campers, their families, and Pemi staff alike with his dedication to fostering the lifelong benefits of the summer camp experience—so it is with mixed emotions that we join him in sharing news of his plan to retire as a Pemi director at the end of the 2021 season.

Danny first came to us in 2009, after more than two decades as a camper and staff member at The Aloha Foundation’s Camp Lanakila and nine years directing their Horizons Day Camp. Given his long tenure with those excellent institutions, Danny could easily have come to Pemi with a pre-established idea of how camps are best run. Very much to the contrary, he set aside what he wryly called “my other camps” in order to absorb everything he could about Pemi’s long and honored traditions (including, he might initially have been sad to say, early morning Polar Bear dips!) and to help us continue thriving as the camp we have always been.

At the same time, he brought his experience to bear in ways that have benefitted Pemi immensely—as, for example, when he instituted in his first summer the most effective staff evaluation and mentoring process we’ve ever had. Danny’s management style has been to hire talented and committed staff, make sure they know what they are doing in our particular setting and feel supported, and then let them do their jobs. The result has been a self-motivated community where staff feel empowered and trusted, with the space to exercise their talents and effect their goals.

In a similar fashion, Danny brought “Positive Counseling” to our pre-season staff training. This approach to working with campers has helped scores of our boys each year learn to identify their challenges clearly, recognize their choices, and take personal responsibility for finding solutions. He has worked magic fostering self-awareness and self-determination among our campers, and his deft example will inspire our staff for many years to come.

Danny’s timely notification to us last January and his continued participation in the planning process guarantee that his fellow director Kenny Moore will be more than prepared and supported when Danny hands their shared reins fully to Kenny at the end of the 2021 season. Our Transition Committee is currently designing a new full-time position for Pemi’s management team, and we recently hired Kenny’s wife, Sarah, in a part-time position to tap her professional expertise in enrollment management. These two new positions, together with the upcoming launch of an exciting new website, add to our energy and enthusiasm moving forward.

There will be occasions in the future to add to our appreciation for Danny’s steady leadership of Pemi. Let me close, though, with sincere if preliminary thanks for the many committed and principled seasons he has given us as director. We have profited from his wisdom, candor, patience, kindness, and capacity to forge community. We wish him and Julia many happy and healthy years of new adventures and projects.

Tom Reed, Jr.
For the Pemi Board of Directors

From Director Danny Kerr:

Under the category of, “One never knows what is coming around the corner,” this is a piece I wrote back in January . . . but now the time is right to share my thoughts on my exciting news!

Ah, the seasons of life…

It has been an honor and a pleasure to be director of Camp Pemigewassett since 2010. Hence, it was with some sadness but also great excitement about the years in front of me that I wrote to the Camp Pemigewassett Board of Directors after the New Year to tell them of my plan to retire from Camp Pemigewassett at the end of the summer of 2021.

Where did these past eleven years go? The thought of leaving a position I love at the (somewhat!) young age of 61 was one I knew I needed to really think through, but after much reflection, Julia and I feel we are ready to start the next chapter in our lives. Leaving behind the rewards of working with such inspiring leadership, appreciative parents, and fun-loving boys as I have found at Pemi will be challenging, and I feel very blessed that I have had the opportunity to serve the Camp Pemigewassett community for what will have been 12 summers by 2021.

Directors Kenny Moore and Danny Kerr, Camp Pemigewassett
Directors Kenny Moore and Danny Kerr

I have learned so much in my time at Pemi, and while next summer will undoubtedly bring its own unknown wonders and lessons, I know I will be leaving Camp Pemigewassett ready for the next chapter in its storied and proud history. Pemi will be in fantastic hands, beginning with Kenny Moore – the most loyal, dedicated, and skilled leader one could ever hope to find; and the wise, caring, and capable Board of Directors, dedicated to envisioning and enacting the future of Camp Pemi. Truly, watching my good friend and now fellow director Kenny Moore’s ascension from middle manager to Assistant Director to full Director has been incredibly gratifying, and I know he will hit it out of the park, Cleveland Indian’s style, as senior Director of Camp Pemi. I also know there are other young men and women on the Pemi staff ready to embrace a next opportunity for leadership.

When I first began my career in education, I was sure of a couple of things. One was that I never wanted to have a “desk job.” The other was that the most significant impact I could have in education would be at a summer camp with a commitment to creating a nurturing and supportive community, where values like honesty, compassion, and integrity were modeled and articulated throughout the summer; a community that was dedicated to helping young boys become the persons they wanted to be. I found this community and so much more at Pemi, and I am proud and grateful that I have had any small hand in maintaining, sharing, and growing Pemi’s fine traditions.

Lou Gehrig once claimed to be the “luckiest man on the earth.” When I look at how I have spent these past thirty plus years, with the goal of retiring while I could still keep up with my sons on the ski slopes (I may be a bit generous with myself here!), I can only say, “Move over Lou. You have company.”

But there is still plenty to do before I truly do cross the Pemi bridge for the last time as director in August 2021. With this in mind, do know that I will continue to give Camp Pemi, its campers, staff, and families my very best in the days, week and months between now and then. There is still plenty to do, many families to serve, boys to “play ball” with, counselors to mentor, and lessons to be learned and to share with others. I look forward to doing all of those things and to the exciting possibilities beyond.

Danny Kerr
Director, Camp Pemigewassett

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