- Daily Life at Pemi
- Newsletters 2022
2022 Newsletter #8
Greetings from Camp Pemigewassett!
I’m writing, sadly, not from the placid shores of Lower Baker but rather from the confines of a South Boston apartment. Like (almost all of) our boys and staff, I’ve made the journey away from Pemi and back to the outside world. While it’s been nice to reconnect with family and friends who I hadn’t seen since early June, there’s no denying that I miss the spirit, energy, camaraderie, and simple beauty of life at Pemi. I’m writing today to belatedly deliver the eighth and final newsletter of the 2022 Pemi season. You’ve likely heard many stories from the summer already, you’ve probably debriefed many of the highs and lows, and chances are you’ve shifted much of your attention to the new school year. Nonetheless, I want to provide you with this final snapshot into the closing days of our 115th summer – and what a summer it was! Between the athletic events, backpacking and canoe trips, unrivaled nature offerings, and arts of all variety, Pemi boys had the chance to experience a vast range of activities this summer, whether dipping in to try something new or digging deep to advance their skills. Far more importantly than that, however, the boys reveled in the chance to live in community with one another and the staff, to develop their interpersonal and emotional skills, to deepen their sense of empathy, to escape from the deluge of the digital world, and to join together as we navigated through the joys and challenges of 3.5 or 7 weeks of life at Pemi. Pemi’s 115th summer will undoubtedly go down as one of our best, and I could not be more grateful to have had the chance to share moments of this experience with you all. As the school year progresses, please keep Pemi on your mind and know that we’d always love to hear from you about how everything is going wherever you may now be. With that, on to the final days of Pemi 2022!
As mentioned in newsletter #7, the final week of camp revolves around our Pemi Week competitions, where cabins within each division and sub-division compete for the title of Pemi Week Champion. Boys have the opportunity to display skills across the breadth of the Pemi program and cabins spend valuable time working together towards a common goal to wrap up the summer. In line with how we operate all summer, boys do their best to win, but the true pleasure comes in the journey undertaken as a group, and we ensure that we never take the competition (or ourselves) too seriously throughout the week.
Pemi Week 2022
Over the course of several days, each cabin had the opportunity to send two participants to the archery range for the Divisional Archery Championships. In the Lower-Juniors Julian Blaustein earned the win and Patrick Mclaughin came second. The Upper-Junior title went to Shields Waitzkin who managed to outduel his brother Wills for the top spot. The Lower-Lower crown went to Connor Smillie, with runner-up honors to River Morgan. Not to be outdone by his younger brothers, Miles Waitzkin won the Upper-Lower competition by beating out Bryce Madom. For the Uppers Aubrey Bailey held off Jake Landry to get the win, and in the Seniors Paul Schwaegler once again demonstrated his prowess on the range, putting together an impressive round to outscore second-place finisher Max Weber. A massive thanks to Steve Clare, Scout Brink, Dexter Wells, Quinn Markham and all the other staff members who made archery one of the most popular and successful programs at Pemi this summer!
Serena Williams may have put on a show in Flushing Meadow, but Pemi’s tennis stars turned in some impressive performances of their own on the red clay in Wentworth. Nick Sargent defeated Danny Follansbee to win the Junior Divisional Tournament, Patchett Grant bested Toby Dubner for the Lowers’ crown, Colin Ross held on to beat Rohin Shah in the Uppers, and Giacomo Turco outlasted Ollie Phillips in a match that pitted two 15-year-olds and longtime Pemi campers against each other. The four winners all now have their names hanging on the Divisional Tennis Trophy in the Mess Hall. Meanwhile, out on Lower Baker, sailing races were held for the Lowers, Uppers, and Seniors. Tom Mele triumphed in the Lowers, with runner-up honors to Spencer Bergendahl. Aubrey Bailey continued his winning ways from archery, earning the sailing victory over Tomas Yafar. In the Senior division Toren King wore the crown despite an impressive attempt by novice sailor Lucas Vitale to chase him down at the end. Toren won the coveted Pemi Racing Trophy, meaning that his name has also found its way into the Mess Hall for posterity.
On pentathlon day boys competed in any or all of long jump, high jump, shot put, the mile, and the 60-yard-dash. Cabin and individual points are awarded in each of these competitions and then tallied for a cabin and individual winner in each age group. Nico Aponte-Rios and Hudson Eng battled to an impressive tie in the Lower-Juniors pentathlon, with Dash Cantor as the runner-up. In the Upper-Juniors J5 cabinmates Emmit Baggish and Ozzie Baugher put on dazzling displays and pushed each other all day long. Emmit earned the victory in the end, but there’s no doubt that each boy performed better for having the other by his side in every event. In the Lower-Lowers another cabin duo – Lower 3’s River Morgan and Graysen Woodbury – battled it out, with River emerging triumphant and Graysen taking second place. The Upper-Lowers saw Miles Waitzkin and Clayton Johnson tie for second place with Frankie McLaughlin earning the victory. Reminiscent of their Upper-Junior counterparts, the Uppers combination of Luke Myre and Rohin Shah went toe-to-toe all day long. Luke came out on top ultimately, but these two boys demonstrated what competition and sportsmanship are all about. They fought their hardest in each event but also encouraged each other and celebrated the other’s effort every step of the way. It was beautiful to witness. Not to be outdone, the Senior pentathlon came down to the wire too. Jackson Heller, thanks to his consistency across all five events, just beat out Blake Riley, who turned in a couple of stellar performances. With all five events for each age group taking place in a single morning or afternoon, the pentathlon is a physically demanding day, and Pemi boys of all athletic abilities turned in efforts to be proud of. While the winners absolutely deserve attention, some of the best performances came from boys trying an event for the first time – whether that be a boy who couldn’t clear the first height in high jump but still had a blast launching himself onto the mat or a boy who struggled through every step of the mile but now knows that he can go the distance. As it so often does, the pentathlon provided boys of various skill levels the chance to learn something about themselves, all while their cabinmates cheered them on the whole way.
Down on the waterfront, the swimming championships represented another opportunity for boys to try new events and push themselves for the good of the group. Unlike earlier swim meets in the summer, the Pemi Week meet features teams that have only 6-10 boys each. This means that every camper who is able to participates and that most of them must swim events that they wouldn’t normally compete in. It’s a fun and safe setting to try new strokes, and many boys emerged from the water with the newfound knowledge that they’re actually pretty good at swimming fast! The Lower-Junior competition saw an impressive group of young swimmers take to the water, and Hudson Eng came out on top with runners-up accolades to Archie Costello and Michael Vitale. In the Upper-Juniors there was a veritable school of young fish, as Emmit Baggish and Henry VanDerzee tied for first and Ozzie Baugher and Gabriel Gleiser split the runners-up honors. The ties continued in the Lower-Lowers, with Declan Cockburn-Schiff and Zach Pierson earning the win; Trip McNulty took home second. In the Upper-Lowers Marcus Vitale put in a dominant performance to win it, while Bryce Madom displayed exceptional talent in his second-place finish. The Uppers saw Rohin Shah earn the title with Tristan Souchaud and Miles Whitcombe tying for second. Senior 3 cabinmates and Pemi stalwarts Boone Snyder and Lucas Vitale won for their division with Max Weber as the runner-up. While she had to head home to the UK to start work as a medical doctor prior to Pemi Week, huge thanks are nonetheless owed to Charlotte Jones for her tireless work on the waterfront this summer. As she’s done for many years, Charlotte prepared Pemi’s swimmers to compete at their very best while also dedicating countless hours to teaching the basics of swimming and water safety to those boys new to the water. All the boys who raced during Pemi Week did her proud. Appreciation must also be given to Donovan Lass who, despite not actually being a Pemi swim coach, threw himself into the task of organizing and running a swim meet with his typical joy and energy, ensuring that the races went off without a hitch. Thanks as well to the many counselors and staff who lifeguarded, provided supervision on the beach, and timed races.
Combining elements of the aforementioned pentathlon and swimming championships, Pemi’s triathlon differs from the traditional swim-bike-run format. Boys still begin in the water, but they then transition directly to running before making their way to a canoe. The first two boys from each cabin to arrive hop in the boat and paddle to the finish line, meaning that the triathlon combines individual and team elements to form a thrilling race. Individual awards are given based on the end of the swim-run combo, while the first boat to reach the end earns first place for the cabin. In the Lower-Juniors, Michael Vitale took first with Hudson Eng the runner-up, and Junior 1 won the cabin competition. In the Upper-Juniors Ozzie Baugher just barely beat out cabinmate Gabriel Gleiser for first and the two of them then cruised to a J5 victory in the canoe. Following a similar pattern, the Lower-Lower duo of Adam Aronis and Zach Pierson from L4 took 1-2 and then paddled their way to cabin victory. In the Upper-Lowers Johnny Thibault earned the win, followed by Marcus Vitale, and Lower 5 got the cabin win. In the Uppers Rohin Shah and Luke Myre battled it out yet again, but this time it was Rohin who took first place. On the cabin side, Upper 1 earned the victory. For the Senior Division, Merrick Chapin won the individual portion, Lucas Vitale got second, and the Lake Tent took the cabin crown.
While many of the Pemi Week competitions are athletics based, the Woodsdudes’ Day competition features events that call on boys’ knowledge of backpacking safety, their nature identification skills, and their ability to perform campcraft such as fire building and tent assembly. It’s always an exciting day that allows a wide range of boys to earn crucial points for their cabin. Due to the nature of the competition, and in a similar vein to Games Day, no individual results are presented. On the cabin level, however, the winners were Junior 3, Junior 5, Lower 4, Lower 7, Upper 3, and Lake Tent. The boys in these cabins demonstrated great breadth of skill and knowledge related to spending time in the wilderness. Head of trips Jud Landis deserves hearty thanks for his organization on the day, as do head trip counselor Alice Riley, trip counselor Eric Bloch, head of nature Deb Kure, and many others who lent a hand.
Those of you who have a son back home proudly sporting his Pemi Week t-shirt are certainly already well aware of at least one winning cabin, but now you can see the full list of winners. Every division featured extremely close matchups and when Kenny announced the results in the Mess Hall, the anticipation and suspense were palpable. Seeing the campers and their counselors anxiously awaiting the results made it clear just how much enjoyment Pemi Week brings to the community. This makes the motto from the Pemi Week 2022 t-shirts especially appropriate: “Fun!” That’s what Pemi Week and the entire summer are about in so many way – the opportunity for the whole community to have fun in each other’s company and to find fulfillment and happiness in growing, struggling, and bonding altogether. In that sense, there are no “losers” of Pemi Week, but rather a number of cabins that rose above the rest throughout the week to earn the title of “Champion.” Your 2022 Pemi Week Champions are:
Lower-Juniors: Junior 1
Upper-Juniors: Junior 5
Lower-Lowers: Lower 4
Upper-Lowers: Lower 7
Uppers: Upper 2
Seniors: Lake Tent
Congratulations to all of the victors! It’s especially exciting, and rare, to see the youngest and oldest cabins win in the same summer!
While much of the final week revolves around Pemi Week competitions, there are a number of other events that take place as well that are true highlights of the summer. One of these is the annual musical. For decades Pemi has exclusively produced Gilbert and Sullivan operettas at the end of each summer, but as previously mentioned, we decided to embrace the idea of trying something new this summer by adding Newsies to our rotation of shows. Despite the change from a G&S production, however, Pemi retained our traditional theater critic, the estimable Clive Bean. In the following paragraphs, he offers his thoughts on the show, written shortly after the dual-billed opening and closing day. Enjoy!
This past Wednesday, the Pemigewassett Opera House offered its first full-on dramatic production in four years—Walt Disney’s Newsies, Junior (not to be confused with Tom Reed, Junior or Junior Mints). Mounted with vision, energy, and endless patience by rookie (at Pemi, although elsewhere she is an established professional) director Patty Frank, the production reminded its very lucky audience that Pemi’s drama program is an artistic force to be reckoned with. Ms. Frank, clearly unworried by possible charges of nepotism, laid major production responsibility on her husband, Dave, and gave one of the plum leads to her own daughter. Fortunately, Michaella’s performance as the Bowery’s leading impresario and performer, Medda Larkin, was one of the brightest stars in the show’s glittering crown.
At the center of the show were the newsboys of 1899 New York, and the large ensemble of Luke Young, Clayton Johnson, River Hambleton, Graysen Woodbury, Mason Winell, Connor Smillie, Lucas Zhang, Alex Burgin, Davis Morrell, Evan Robicheau, Julian Blaustein, Dash Cantor, Will Dennis, Leo Martin, and Julian Whitcombe was stellar throughout. The standouts were too many to mention, but surely Danny Follansbee’s performance as the youngest of the crew, Les Jacobs, was as polished, professional, and just darn cute as it could possibly have been. As Les’s older brother, Davey, Nick Paris commanded the boards with rough assurance, nicely balanced by a moving brotherly sensitivity. Front-runners for winning the Pemi Tony for “papes-hawkers,” though, are unquestionably Jake Landry, as Casey/Crutchie, and Braden Richardson, as Jack Kelly. Fans of Method Acting will probably say that Landry nailed the part of a physically challenged lad by drawing on his own orthopedic disaster earlier this summer, but for moving and bang-on singing and for always being in perfect character, Jake was simply wonderful. Meanwhile, as Crutchie’s BFF, Braden managed the show’s biggest part with steady professionalism and as good a “New Yawk” accent as you’ll ever hear outside of Yankee Stadium.
Well stocked with good guys, the show boasted some consummate bad guys as well. Brilliantly cast as the heartless Delancey brothers, Simon Taylor and Donovan Laas brought chilling menace to multiple scenes—Laas showing such a dark character that he gave Tom and Dottie real, if temporary, pause about the wisdom of Abby’s marital choice. Rhys Jones was superb as the paper distributor, “Weasel” Wiesel, even though his accent had to have been from the southern reaches of the Big Apple—say, somewhere near New Orleans. Showing more talent for menace than his nice-guy image would suggest, Charlie Malcolm was highly creditable as the Refuge’s Warden Snyder, and he even managed to add a few contemporary political licks to his lines. King of the villains, though, was Dan Fulham as calculating publisher Joseph Pulitzer. Dan had clearly developed his character by mashing up Cal Hockley from Titanic and Stewie Griffin from Family Guy, but he could honestly have acquitted himself well opposite Christian Bale in the original, 1992 film. Nick Gordon, Sam O’Hara, and Tami Harrah lent excellent support in Pulitzer’s office, the news world’s equivalent of the Death Star.
Newsies was partly chosen to provide more male parts than the average Pemi production, but that didn’t stop Eli Brennan and Owen Gagnon from donning slinky ladies’ outfits and stealing the show as Miss Medda’s Bowery Beauties. Words simply fail to describe their nuclear impact. Chloe Springis and Alice Riley crossed fewer gender boundaries in their roles, but they were fine additions. Top honors for show-stopping solo, however, go to Scout Brink, who was stunning as Katherine Plummer/Pulitzer. Her rendition of the enunciation-nightmare song, “Watch What Happens,” was about as good a number as this reviewer can remember hearing, and she earned every decibel of a huge applause.
Unwilling to settle for nepotistic casting, Director Patty guaranteed her future on the Pemi payroll by offering cameos to power players beyond Charlie Malcolm. Directors Pat Clare and Kenny Moore were type-cast as law-and-order cops, Moore bringing a firm and principled response to a riot scene that it would have been nice to see a leader do on Capitol Hill a few years back. And speaking of GOP helmsmen, TRJR was lured out of retirement to play Governor Teddy Roosevelt, a man he physically resembles about as much as a broomstick resembles a pumpkin.
Our final kudos go to Ian Axness, whose taking a seat at the piano marked the point at which Newsies’ potential to be great musical drama became a reality. All of the elements were there in advance: inspired directing, meticulous production, and a dedicated and talented cast. But it was Ian who was the keystone to the arch. How lucky we were to have the maestro of Pemigewassett Gilbert and Sullivan step in and replace a cold, recorded soundtrack with his virtuoso keyboard flourish. If I may indulge in a shamelessly alliterative sentence, Patty planned the parade, and Ian played the Pied Piper.
All in all, it was a triumph. Attending Pemi’s first-ever matinee, the Juniors and Lowers in the audience were into the show from the very start, and the cast fed off their energy. As for the evening’s performance with Uppers and Seniors, it was even better. How wonderful it is to have real, fully produced musical drama back in the Baker Valley. We honestly can’t wait to see what next year brings.
P.S. For a full cast listing and credits for the stage and lighting crews, see the Playbill in this December’s print edition of Bean Soup.
Many thanks to Clive for that excellent review, and I certainly echo every sentiment expressed. As with many institutions of a certain age, Pemi can sometimes approach change warily and slowly, but in this case no one present could doubt the wisdom and success of giving Newsies a shot!
Speaking of unqualified successes led by stellar Pemi rookies, Pemi Week also saw the presentation of the 2022 art show, put on by head of art Chloe Springis. The art show allows the entire community to bear witness to the creative work that boys of all ages completed throughout the summer, and there were some absolutely breathtaking end-products! From custom Pemi-themed ink blocks for t-shirt printing to intricate line drawings to sprawling murals, Pemi’s artists created stunning works this summer. The art show let all of us see the fruits of their labor, as the countless hours down in “art world,” which is tucked down at the farthest end of Junior Camp, can often go unnoticed by those who don’t make it down there on a regular basis. While designed and successfully implemented to showcase camper work, this gallery also illustrated the inspirational job that Chloe did in her first Pemi summer. Stepping into a program that had seen steady leadership for the last several summers, Chloe led Pemi’s art activities with a remarkable mix of humble deference to Pemi ways and the creative confidence to put her own mark on art world. As demonstrated by this show, her efforts were hugely successful. Many thanks are due to Chloe and her team for another brilliant summer of the visual arts at Pemi!
At the risk of over-taxing your patience, I’d like to offer a few more congratulations and thanks to some of the boys who were recognized at our Final Banquet. Before doing so, however, a huge shoutout is owed to those who put on that delectable meal. Pemi’s kitchen crew, led by the veteran hand of Tom Ciglar, delivered delicious food all summer long. Chefs Michael McMurray, Andrew Winell, and former Pemi camper/counselor Fitz Stueber served up healthy, hearty, and tasty meals day in and day out, and they did it all with smiles on their faces. They were aided in their work by Quetzi Ramírez, Santi Martínez, Sandra Anzures, Christian Quintero, and Valeria Mopan Giraldo. This crew of incredibly kind, intelligent, and happy people took great care of our dietary needs all summer, while also integrating themselves into the Pemi program in innumerable ways, from Fitz stepping in and helping with soccer activities, to Quetzi talking with homesick campers, to Santi hitting with campers and counselors alike on the tennis courts. They took on one of the hardest jobs at Pemi with grace and humor, and we owe them massive thanks!
The full list of award winners for the summer is too long for inclusion, but you’ll find it in your copy of Bean Soup when you receive that mailing in December. There are several accolades, however, that deserve mention here. The one staff award given at the Final Banquet is the Joe Campbell award. Named for a legendary Pemi counselor, and voted on by the Pemi staff, the award goes to a counselor who embodies Joe’s qualities of “integrity, generosity, happiness, enthusiasm, modesty, and an unsurpassed ability to give laughter to all who knew him.” The 2022 Joe Campbell Award went to Ben Ross. Ben fully deserved the recognition bestowed on him by his peers, as anyone who spent even an hour at Pemi this summer would attest to. Well done and congratulations to Ben!
In the 50-odd years since its inception, the Clarence Dyke award, named for Pemi’s first head of nature, has been won only a dozen or so times. In addition to having a fully deserving winner this year, we also had the rare privilege of having four previous winners – Phil Landry, Matt Cloutier, Matt Kanovsky, and Nick Gordon – on hand to present it. They welcomed Barrett Bachner to their ranks, thanks to his tireless, selfless, and insatiably inquisitive work in the Nature Program throughout his years as a camper. Congratulations to Barrett!
Two of the premier awards given out each year are the Achievement Trophy and the Divisional Citizenship Trophy, with each going to the most deserving boy(s) within each division The Achievement Trophy is given to the boy, “who has made the greatest all-around achievement, measured by the dual consideration of distance gained and goal achieved.” The winners were Tyson Madkins for the Juniors, Miles Waitzkin and Evan Robicheau for the Lowers, Felipe Henriquez Lindeck-Pozza for the Uppers, and David Kriegsman for the Seniors. Congratulations to all of these deserving winners! The Divisional Citizenship Trophy goes to, “the best all-around citizen in each division whose generous and unselfish spirit gives success, happiness, and self-esteem to others.” This summer’s winners were Qi Ahipeaud and Cristian Moreno in the Juniors, Manfred Creane in the Lowers, Thomas Axel in the Uppers, and Merrick Chapin in the Seniors. Another round of applause for this group!
The final award given out at the banquet is the Founders Citizenship Trophy. The inscription for the award reads, “In memory of Doc Gar, Win, and Reed, on this trophy is inscribed each year the name of him who is considered to have contributed most to camp beyond the line of duty.” For his countless contributions to making Pemi’s 115th summer a truly magical and inspirational one, the award went to 15-year-old Barrett Bachner. Barrett’s kindness, moral compass, and desire to involve others (especially younger campers) in activities, along with the simple joy that he brought to every Pemi day, made him a fully deserving winner of this award. Congratulations yet again to Barrett!
We take the awards process seriously at Pemi, and each winner has fully earned the recognition garnered, but we also know that the Pemi experience is so much more than awards. To that end Kenny pointed out to the community that the most important prize from the Final Banquet was the Pemi ’22 pennant that each member of the community received. This simple cloth flag represents one’s inclusion in the summer, and there’s nothing more valuable than that. Every person who played a role in Pemi’s 115th summer helped make it the unforgettable experience that it was. From the youngest Juniors to the oldest staff members, all were crucial in helping us have a summer that was educational, inspirational, and fun! Thank you to everyone who made Pemi 2022 possible!
Final Thoughts on 2022
As I (finally) draw to a close, I’d like to briefly offer some final thanks and thoughts. To every parent, grandparent, guardian, or sibling who sent a boy off to Pemi for the summer, thank you for trusting us with his care and development. Pemi deeply values our partnership with families, and we know that it isn’t easy to let your loved one go for weeks on end. The faith you put in us to look out for your camper is something we cherish and take very seriously, and we’re humbled by the opportunity. To the extended Pemi family of alums, former parents, and friends of Pemi, thank you for your continued support. The Pemi network has ties all around the world, and it’s a lifelong community that will always look out for its own and others. If you want further proof of that, stay tuned for some thoughts on Family Camp and our 115th Reunion in the coming weeks. To the Pemi staff, the most heartfelt thanks and appreciation are owed. Pemi 2022 was the successful summer it was only because of the tireless dedication by this remarkable group. The camaraderie, teamwork, care, and selflessness on display all summer were surpassed only by the energy of the entire staff. It may be a fun job, but it is by no means an easy one, yet this year’s team made it look effortless, and all of us owe them our deepest appreciation and thanks. Finally, to the 258 boys who were part of Pemi’s 115th summer, thank you for your whole-hearted embrace of what it means to be a Pemi Kid. Your kindness, humor, challenges, accomplishments, care for each other, inquisitiveness, insightfulness, and focus on fun made this an historical summer for Camp Pemigewassett. None of what we do has any meaning without you. Thank you for playing your part in making Pemi 2022 such a resounding success!
With that I will send you into the off-season with a full heart and an immense sense of gratitude for getting to be a part of such an incredible summer. I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading these newsletters even a fraction as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. Having the chance to share snippets of life at Pemi with all of you has been one of the more joyous aspects of this summer, and I thank you for reading (slogging?) through such a long wrap-up to the season. While Pemi 2022 may have drawn to a close, please keep in touch over the coming months. Registration for Pemi 2023 is already open, and Kenny and I are in the process of planning a number of visits to a wide range of cities and towns throughout the off-season. We hope to see you at one or more fall/winter/spring event! From the bottom of my heart, thank you once again for your commitment to Pemi. I’ll leave you with the traditional end to a Pemi toast by wishing you good luck, long life, and joy!
– Pat Clare