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2023 Newsletter #2

Hello from the shores of Lower Baker Pond!

On the heels of a wonderful celebration of the July 4th holiday, we’re geared up for a stretch of hot, sunny weather here at Pemi! Some rain during the first week of camp has done nothing to dampen spirits, as the Pemi 2023 community has had an exciting start to camp, filled with highlights from across our expansive program offerings. In addition to daily events, we had a grand day filled with special Pemi traditions to mark Independence Day yesterday. This year’s festivities included the 100th anniversary of the fabled P-Rade, and our campers and counselors did not disappoint! Read on below to learn all about our 4th of July traditions, the wide range of trips from the past week, sporting competitions for all ages, and musical offerings from campfire to Vaudeville that demonstrated the remarkable range of talent in our Pemi family.

Birding with Nick Gordon

Pemi’s storied Nature program ran its full slate of activities, with perennial favorites such as birding, ponds and streams, wild foods, and more, and supplemented them with daily trips to take advantage of the incredibly diverse ecosystems around us. The first Palermo Mine trip of the summer set off with Deb Kure and Nick Gordon on Thursday, as Timmy Lorig, Julian Blaustein, Ben Desiato, and Daniel Desiato got the chance to explore this world-class reserve of mineral specimens. On Friday morning an intrepid crew arose before Reveille to join Deb, Nick, and Evan Anderson on an early morning birding trip. Carr Polsinelli, Timmy Lorig, Asher Brown, Cristian Moreno, Darren Calhoun, Daniel Desiato, Ev Goodnow, Brecken Putzel, Brian Lorig, and Spencer Bergendahl were lucky enough to see and hear a wide variety of species, with the highlight being the sighting of a scarlet tanager. While most of these trips allow boys to engage in hands-on field science in New Hampshire’s forests, bogs, mines, and wetlands, the Nature program also led a special trip to the nearby McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord. The boys visited their planetarium to learn more about the stars and constellations visible to us this time of year at Pemi. The group of River Hambleton, Connor Smillie, Alex Harwich, Wallace Snow, Ethan Onysko, Thomas McNelly, Geoffrey Cook, Stefan Armitage, and Evan Robicheau had a blast, and they’re now excited to get out on a clear night with Pemi’s telescope and find the views that they’ve scouted out.

11s soccer enjoying the game!

On the athletics front we had competitions every weekday afternoon plus a full day of games against Camp Moosilauke on Saturday. Highlights from throughout the week included hard-earned goals for Will Bartlett and Ben Araujo in 12s soccer vs. Moosilauke, followed by the defense – especially Noah Katz, Tyson Madkins, and goalkeeper Tom Mele – locking things down in the back. In the 15s soccer BVT, ultimately shortened by rain, Pemi saw skillful goalscoring from Austin Greenberg and Alex Baron, as well as disciplined and technical midfield play from the trio of Lincoln Thorner, Josh Lawson, and Noah Sami, in his Pemi debut. The 12s tennis team, aided by a few intrepid 11s, went on the road to Walt Whitman for a BVT on Monday. Danny Follansbee had a 3-0 day at #1 singles, and Kai Karsan went 2-1 at #2 singles despite playing against a #1 singles player in his lone loss. The team received great play all around from Jack Pinnow, Rudy Wei, Tom Mele, Noah Katz, and Will Dennis on their way to a 2-1 record. Best of all, the Pemi boys displayed stellar sportsmanship, upholding our highest standards even when others didn’t. Throughout the various Saturday competitions, outstanding performances came from Noah Littman and Noah Katz on the mound in 13s baseball, along with Patrik Ula and Lenny Herbert in their first baseball games; Colin Ross, Ian Baldwin, Will Sandor, Luca Buchbinder, and Wallace Snow in 15s ultimate; goalie Nico Richards, Miles Waitzkin, Sam Chapin, Ryan Kittredge, Will Bartlett, and Patrik Ula in 13s lacrosse; and Luke Myre, Austin Greenberg, Luke Young, and Carter Glahn in 15s lacrosse. While these individual contributions were undeniably praiseworthy, and several of the results broke for Pemi, most notable were the ways in which our athletes and coaches upheld the spirit of our athletic program by prioritizing sportsmanship, participation, and teamwork. In a sports landscape that often puts end results on a pedestal, Pemi athletics remains steadfast in our conviction that winning or losing matter far less than the values that can be learned, practiced, and perfected through sport.

Day hike up Black Mountain

Directly in line with that philosophy, Pemi’s trip program strives to instill in our boys the idea that time spent on the trails or waterways derives its value from the journey, not the destination. Some overcast and outright rainy weather provided our trip counselors with the perfect opportunity to teach this lesson. A couple of the overnight trips mentioned in last week’s newsletter had to return one day early due to inclement weather, and sight lines of the visually stunning peaks and valleys of the White Mountains were limited. Nonetheless, the boys returned to camp having thoroughly enjoyed themselves. As Everett Goodnow, a member of the three-day trip to Mt. Osceola put it, “it was awesome! It was wet and rainy, and we had such a good time!” In addition to the overnight hikes, several day trips went out in the last week. Juniors 2 and 3 – made up of Max Fox, Sam Fox, Ben Desiato, Teegan Bowers, Niam Santiago, Carr Polsinelli, Benny Candia, Jasper Gandhi, Will Bonner, Timmy Lorig, and Brandon Lyu – ascended Rattlesnake Mountain last Thursday, representing the first time that several of those boys summitted a mountain. In a slightly unusual mixed-age day trip that allowed boys to spend time with fellow campers they might not normally interact with as much, Lower 2 and Upper 3 – Ben Miller, Benjamin Welch, Princeton Jackson, Isaac Flecker, Charlie Knapp, Baz White, Johnny Thibault, Oscar Violette, Charlie Zimmerman, Ethan Onysko, Noah Goebel, Miles Waitzkin, and Manfred Creane – hiked nearby Mt. Cube on one of the nicer days of the summer to date. On Monday Scout Brink and Will Chapin led another mixed-age trip – consisting of Cameron Mark, Kavin Aggarwal, Ahran Santiago, Derek Shan, Max Wiesel, Charlie Zimmeran, Oscar Violette, Johnny Thibault, Parker Brown, and Darren Calhoun – up Black Mountain. With six (yes, six!) overnight trips set to depart today, and one more tomorrow, it’s shaping up to be another banner year for the Pemi trips program!

Manfred on the clarinet

After the full day of athletics and various open program areas on Saturday, we gathered down at Senior Beach that evening for our first outdoor campfire of the summer. While we all enjoyed the opening campfire, it felt like a significant milestone to finally be together again on the benches that ring our official campfire circle. We had excellent performances from Jake Landry on the guitar, Manfred Creane on the clarinet, Daniel Desiato with an impressive feat of dexterity, the Three Wise Men Plus Jackson, Saleem Usman with dance moves that brought down the house, and Week 1 Soundpainting – Mason Winell, Daniel Desiato, Luke Gonzalez, Charlie Knapp, Bryce Madom, Charlie Milgrim, Connor Smillie, Wallace Snow, Baz White, and Charlie Zimmerman – with creative and wildly entertaining improvisation. The Pemi staff also provided beautiful performances, with musical offerings from Megan Spindler and Margot Hoogers; Jeanne Bowers, Jud Landis, and Tom Reed Jr.; Ali Sheikh and Dan Fulham; and Evan Anderson on the cello. Larry Davis finished the acts off, as always, with a story – this time the crowd favorite “$10 is $10.” Sun setting down the lake in front of us, we locked arms and ended the evening with the Campfire Song.

Flag football on Sunday

Sunday’s at Pemi are typically our least structured, most relaxed day of the week, but there’s always plenty to choose from. This Sunday we had to battle the added factor of some on-and-off rain, but we used that to our advantage in a number of ways. The day began with our “Sunday sleep-in” and a buffet breakfast available from 8:30-9:30am. Boys could wander in at their leisure, but at 8:00am sharp there was already a line forming that wrapped all around the Mess Hall porch. Boys enjoyed a delicious meal before heading back for inspection cleanup. In a change to our traditional morning schedule, soap bath at Senior Beach was replaced with a morning free swim instead. It wasn’t the type of day that drew scores of boys into the water, but several still took advantage of an extra opportunity to jump in the lake. On Sunday afternoon with rain continuing to fall, the boys had all sorts of exciting options to choose from. Younger campers had a flag football tournament down on the Junior Camp field while older guys had a big game of barrel ball out in the baseball outfield. Counselors Henry Moore and Ry Dean-Slobod also hosted a Settlers of Catan tournament in the library. For those who needed a break from the rain and the action, we also had a very rare Sunday afternoon movie playing in the Senior Lodge with a fire going in the fireplace in the back. A number of boys popped in to enjoy the film (“Rio”), but most boys were out and about all afternoon! Given the weather, our Sunday evening cookout became a cook-in, but the food remained the same and boys thoroughly enjoyed their burgers and sausages, accompanied by salad, chips, and cookies. A classic cookout meal that left everyone satisfied!

Sunday Meeting this week featured our in-house bird expert, Junior Camp division head Nick Gordon, talking to the community about the pair of loons that call our lake home. Nick gave a highly informative talk, accompanied by beautiful photos and sample loon calls, that taught boys much about both loons in general and the pair on Lower Baker specifically. He regaled us with the tale of a young loon trapped on our lake as it began to ice over, with an eagle eagerly perched nearby, and the heroic efforts of local wildlife experts and Pemi buildings and grounds team members to save it.  Above all, Nick’s talk served as a reminder to us all to appreciate the simple yet majestic beauty of the creatures we cohabitate with both here at Pemi and in the world more broadly. At a time when the haunting loon call might as well be sounding a warning to us all about the threats to our natural wonders, Nick’s ode to these birds undoubtedly inspired the Pemi family to redouble our efforts at protecting our planet.

The audience roars during Bean Soup

Week 2 began with a flurry of activities, trips, games, and Bean Soup. Boys started the day by learning their week 2 activities schedules and then dove right in during first hour. The Black Mountain hike mentioned earlier started the busy week of trips, while 12s tennis and 13s basketball kicked off a full week of sports. On Monday evening we were treated to another hilarious and humbling serving of Bean Soup, as the editors, accompanied by guest editor Alice Riley, made sure to let us know exactly how we’d screwed up in the past week and how we might do better moving forward. Taking advantage of the gift Nick had given them, they also presented us with the three “bird” calls of a wild Nick Gordon. Tired from a day of activity and laughter, we retired to our cabins to prepare for the 4th of July.

After a regular morning of activities, our festivities began in earnest at lunch. Tom Reed Jr. gave a heartfelt speech about how Independence Day is both a celebration and a call to action to ensure that we continue to simultaneously build up our bonds of unity and fulfill our promise of equality and justice for all. Evan Anderson, Megan Spindler, and Molly Malone then provided a strings trio to accompany us in our annual rendition of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” which had a new twist to it: for the first time in the memory of anyone present, our British community members sang “God Save the King” alongside us instead of “God Save the Queen.” We exited to the final line of “let freedom ring” and the sound of our bell.

Upper 4 presented “The First Bean Soup”

Pemi’s 100th P-Rade, our annual 4th of July parade where each cabin puts on a brief skit, started out in front of the Senior Lodge for the national anthem, but inclement weather quickly chased us inside. Just as none present could remember a rendition of “God Save the King,” those of us at camp also believe that an indoor P-Rade was a first – it only took 100 years! At the time of this writing, divisional winners have yet to be announced by the judges, but I can confirm that they had some tough decisions to make. The Junior Camp kicked things off with a line-by-line enactment of the Junior Camp song that drew cheers and laughter from the audience. In the Lower-Lowers, highlights included Lower 3’s trip to Pine Forest and Lower 4’s original skit and song “The Pemi Dream” sung to the tune of “Yellow Submarine.” Lower 6 kicked off another P-Rade first: a 3-part, multi-cabin saga, “The Kennysey,” which told the Odyssey-esque epic of Kenny’s travels from Ohio to New Hampshire to assume his role as Pemi director. Strong performances from the Uppers included “the First Bean Soup” from Upper 4, an ode to New Hampshire’s rehabilitated (but quickly hunted, in this telling) bear population from Upper 5, and “The Kennysey, Book II” from Upper 3. While Senior 3 and Lake Tent provided excellent competition with “The Kennysey, Book III” and “A Day of Pemi Activities” respectively, Senior 2 stole the show in this author’s opinion. They started off seemingly singing “Party in the P-Rade” set to “Party in the USA,” but they quickly stopped and launched into a strike announcement: until they received their inspection candy from last week’s victory, they would refuse to participate in the P-Rade and called on others to join them. We’ll soon know whether the judges agree with this assessment or not, but for my money it was the standout performance of the day.

Slightly delayed by thunder in the area, we were able to take advantage of a lull in the storms to conduct the ever-terrifying counselor hunt. Staff members were given five minutes to hide anywhere around camp (except for in, on, or under manmade structures) and then campers had ten minutes (though it felt like ten hours) to find the counselors and identify them by name. Those unlucky folks who were discovered, including yours truly, were brought by their captors down to Senior Beach. From there they were transported by boat out to the high dive and then had to jump off in whatever attire they’d been discovered in. Fate was on the side of the campers, as the weather held steady just long enough for every discovered counselor to take the leap before we were chased back inside prior to dinner.

Manfred and Wallace perform

After a spirited dinner that demonstrated the unflappable nature of the Pemi community, we headed to the Senior Lodge yet again for Vaudeville. To say that the 2023 Vaudeville was one for the ages would be to massively understate just how impressive it was. Thanks to the tireless efforts of head of music Daniel Fulham, we were spoiled by a well-rehearsed, carefully planned, and incredibly executed set list. Wallace Snow and Will Jones kicked things off with a bass and piano duet; Daniel Desiato and Darren Calhoun rocked out on the drums; Colin Ross played a piano medley of tunes from various Zelda games; Manfred Creane, Wallace Snow, and Dan Fulham jammed on clarinet, bass, and drums; Marco Welt debuted an original piano composition called “Sunflower;” Baz White, Derek Shah, and staff member Evan Anderson played beautiful piano solos; and a number of rock ensembles turned the energy up to 10 and had the lodge roaring. These included Toren King, Wallace Snow, and Bryce Madom performing an edited version of Greenday’s “Basket Case” under the band name “Blueday,” as well as counselor groups playing songs by Blink-182 and Alanis Morissette. On the patriotic front, our strings trio from lunch played “America the Beautiful” and we closed the night out with Luke Larabie wowing us with his rendition of Jimi Hendrix’ “Star Spangled Banner.” The talent and passion on display throughout the evening were incredible to witness, and equally impressive was the unbridled joy and enthusiasm from the audience. Performers and viewers built off each other’s energy, leading to a truly magical evening.

With so many trips leaving today, a track meeting starting up here at Pemi right now, the Butterfly Count and BVT Day on Saturday, and more, the week ahead promises to be similarly filled with fun, laughter, friendship, and kindness. I look forward to sharing more details with you soon!

– Pat Clare

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