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115th Reunion Newsletter!

After a hugely successful 2022 season, including record attendance at our third annual Family Camp, members of the Pemi family gathered together to celebrate our 115th summer! These reunions, held every five years, are a special opportunity for the Pemi community to travel back to the shores of Lower Baker for a weekend of reminiscing, camaraderie, and old camp favorites. After all the disruptions of the past two and a half years, it was especially gratifying and meaningful to have so many Pemi alums back at camp at one time. Well over 120 alums, family members, and friends of Pemi made the trip to Wentworth. While a full recounting of the weekend’s activities is impossible, I’d like to offer a snapshot of some of the highlights and memorable moments.

Right off the bat, a special mention should be made of our oldest alumnus present: Bob Fetter of Cockeysville, MD. Bob spent one year at Pemi, in the summer of 1940, when he was a camper in Ed See’s cabin and went by the nickname of Cue Ball. Despite Bob’s having just the one Pemi summer, and being now in his 90’s, his memories of Pemi are fond and strong enough that they prompted him to make the trip from his brother’s home in Vermont to be at Pemi for the full weekend. Now having lived to be nearly a hundred, Bob answers a resounding “yes” to the Campfire Song’s query about remembering his time as a boy sitting by the campfire at Pemi with a group of the nation’s best.

Jon Fauver delivering remarks during the Staff Lodge dedication

Although two of the men who did the most to make decades of Pemi summers so memorable are no longer with us, the 115th reunion nevertheless gave us a chance to celebrate, commemorate, and thank Al Fauver and Tom Reed, Sr. for their immeasurable contributions to camp. This took the form of the dedication of the Staff Lodge in their honor on Saturday evening. Their sons – Fred, Jon, and Peter Fauver, and Tom Reed Jr. – spoke of the dedication, joy, and care that these legendary directors and owners brought to the Pemi family. As we gathered on the stone patio behind the Staff Lodge, the impact that Al and Tom had on generations of Pemi men, women, and children could not have been more obvious. Having so many members of the Pemi family reunited offered a wonderful opportunity to pay tribute to those lifelong friends. The dedication also gave Pemi the chance to thank the dozens of members of the community who generously donated funds in order to make this impressive new building a reality. The Staff Lodge has had an instant and enormous impact on staff morale, which was only possible due to the collective selflessness of the former campers and staff members who never got to benefit from its luxuriousness.

A group prepares to leave for Mount Cube on Saturday

Prior to the dedication on Saturday evening, Reunion had been in full swing for a day already. Attendees started rolling in on Friday afternoon, when they were met by, among others, Kenny Moore, Tom and Dottie Reed, Peter and Deborah Fauver, and members of the 2022 Pemi staff. After taking COVID tests, folks had time to move in to their weekend accommodations and to dive back into life at Pemi. About 15 minutes and 10 seconds after their 15-minute rapid tests were started, a group of young alumni including Henry Day, Henry Eisenhart, Ned Roosevelt, and Daniel Reiff were already out on the tennis courts. In similar fashion, it didn’t take long before soccer balls were being kicked around, the Nature Lodge was abuzz with visitors, and various watercraft were dotting Lower Baker. In true Pemi fashion, folks were making the most of every second at camp.

Kenny and Pat welcome attendees on Friday evening

Dinner on Friday evening was a casual cookout down on Senior Beach. The kitchen crew of Tom Ciglar, Michael McMurray, Fitz Stueber, Sandra Anzures, and Quetzi Ramirez put together a delicious meal of burgers, hotdogs, salad, and more. Head of Buildings and Grounds Frank Roberts and his crew of Jason Ames, Phil Benoit, and Sam Papel had placed numerous picnic tables down on the beach, providing comfort for the festive gathering. Additional attendees continued to trickle in throughout the evening, finding food, drink, and friends waiting for them whenever they arrived. Kenny and I took the opportunity to welcome folks with some brief remarks and then it was right back to catching up and reminiscing.

Pemi’s Field of Dreams on Friday night

Once the sun had dipped below Pemi Hill and the fiery glow out Vermont way began to fade, a large contingent migrated from the beach over to the baseball outfield for an evening of night wiffleball. Thanks in large part to the efforts of Phil Landry and Zach Leeds, a fully lit wiffleball stadium had been constructed a week prior and left standing for both Family Camp and Reunion. It proved immensely popular, as the outfield filled up with alums, spouses, and children of all ages. Charlie Malcolm took the point on organizing rounds of games, ensuring that everyone who wanted to play got to play. As the games unfolded, others drifted over to hang out, toss glow-in-the-dark frisbees, and enjoy a perfect summer night under the glowing Milky Way.

The Mount Moosilauke crew prepares for departure

Saturday offered a full day of activities, with trips heading out to Mts. Cube and Moosilauke, program areas open and ready for visitors, and a number of special sessions throughout the day. In the morning, attendees – including the number of Saturday-only visitors who augmented our ranks – had the chance to chat with members of the Reed and Fauver families, hearing about their continued presence at Pemi; their insights into camp’s past, present, and future; and their memories of Pemi through the decades.

Reed and Fauver family members host a chat in the Library

In the afternoon David Spindler offered another chance to stroll down memory lane by giving a presentation on the history of Tecumseh Day. David’s talk – exhaustively researched using old Bean Soups, archival materials from Tecumseh and other institutions, and first-hand recollections – took participants through Tecumseh’s earliest days, detailed how George Munger’s arrival shifted their history and that of our rivalry, and brought us up to the 21st century. With a mix of well-documented history, humor, and speculation about Tecumseh Day’s origins, it was an enthralling session that included contributions from the likes of Roger McEniry, Peter Cowles, John Wallace, Fred Seebeck, Larry Davis, Tom Reed Jr., and others. Many thanks to David for the time and energy he put into his presentation! For those looking to relive their glory days in another fashion, a spirited game of Obie/Ivy soccer was played out on the pitch at the same time. The pace may have been a bit slower, the passes slightly less crisp, and the hamstrings substantially tighter, but it was nonetheless a great opportunity to get back out on the Pemi field and run around.

Jim Willard prepares to play Flag Lowering, with Critter Tamm and Fred Fauver on hand to help lower the flag

After a jam-packed day and the Staff Lodge dedication, the group ascended the steps to the Mess Hall for a delicious banquet. The spirit in the building was incredible as we all gathered to enjoy the food and each other’s company. At the end of the meal, Kenny led a series of announcements, updates, and thanks, followed by a highlight familiar to past reunion attendees: starting with the 2020s, Kenny asked folks to stand and be recognized for any decade in which they had been at Pemi. As the decades rolled back, the crowd sometimes thinned but sometimes grew, demonstrating how Pemi bonds endure through time and how the passion for camp continues on in so many alumni for a lifetime. Finally, Bob Fetter stood to be recognized as the sole representative of the 1940s at Pemi!

Fred Fauver and Tom Reed Jr. during Campfire

After dinner we headed to Senior Beach for campfire. As one might expect, the performances ranged from the heartfelt to the absurd. Performances from Tom Reed Jr. and Fred Fauver, the Eisenhart family (Doug, Gilly, and Henry), and, of course, Larry Davis stood out as highlights, while a soliloquy from Alex Reese had the audience longing for the days when an errant act would be unceremoniously ripped off stage by “the hook.” The clear star of the evening, however, was Don Hyde and his telling of the story of being the last boy left at camp on departure day. It was a charming, humorous, and ultimately poignant tale that ended with the revelation that Fred Rittner had been the unnamed counselor in the story who provided Don with a laugh and a feeling of warmth and inclusion during what was otherwise the anxiety-inducing experience of being the last kid to be picked up by his parents. We concluded the night’s program with “The Campfire Song,” and while it’s always a special experience singing that song on Senior Beach, doing so with decades’ worth of former campers, staff members, and Pemi family members brought an extra level of serenity and nostalgia to this rendition.

On Sunday morning some folks hit the road early, others enjoyed an impromptu Brad Jones Day born of post-Taps revelry, and still others gathered in the Senior Lodge for a chat with me and Kenny about Pemi 2022 and beyond. We had a lively and thoughtful conversation as alums asked questions, shared thoughts, and provided feedback to help us on our mission to strive always to be better. By the afternoon we were down to a core group that was sticking around for the next day’s Rittner Run, the 39th annual iteration. Channeling the Pemi spirit of volunteerism, those staying another night jumped in and helped break down camp, with the most notable task being the assembling of a throwback Dock Crew. The Reunion version consisted of Fred Seebeck, Bob Zock, Phil Burnett, Kenny Moore, Paige Wallis, Will Clare, Nick Ridley, Ben Walsh, Henry Eisenhart, Matt Cloutier, Teddy Farkas, Josh Scarponi, Nick Davini, Jack Davini, Steve Clare, and yours truly (and likely some others whom I’ve forgotten and would like to apologize to).

Jon Fauver, Bill Dougherty, and Doug Eisenhart reunited for the first time since Lower 2 in 1961!

All in all it was a fantastic weekend, reminding us why Pemi is such a remarkable place and family. Despite many attendees being back for the first time in years or even decades, the most common refrain I heard from folks all weekend was “It’s exactly how I remember it,” or variations to that effect. Former cabin mates, staff members, and friends reconnected and shared stories and laughs as though they’d only just seen each other yesterday. Jon Fauver, Bill Dougherty, and Doug Eisenhart were reunited for the first time as a trio since they’d been in Lower 2 together…in 1961! Pemi bonds last a lifetime, and the 115th Reunion was proof of just how meaningful those relationships are for so many.

If you weren’t able to join us this year, we hope that you’ll be able to attend the 120th Reunion in 2027! We also hope to see you at any number of regional Pemi gatherings in the coming months or for a visit to the shores of Lower Baker next summer. If you did attend, and you’ve read this far, I’d love it if you could send me any photos that you took from the weekend. You can email them to [email protected]. Thanks to all who attended, and we hope to see you again soon!

Wishing you all good luck, long life, and joy,

– Pat Clare

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