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2023 Newsletter #3

Hello from the shores of the expanded Lower Baker Pond!

Enjoying Lower Baker Pond before the latest rain

It’s been quite a week here at Pemi, with athletics events for campers of all ages, a major milestone in the Nature Program, and a series of trips to the heights and depths of our region, all with a side of rain! Given that unlike most of us currently at Pemi, most of you have probably been paying close attention to recent weather reports in the northeast, I’ll start this week’s newsletter out by stating that all is well here in Wentworth! We did indeed see some heavy rain over the last few days, and the waters of Lower Baker Pond have extended beyond their typical boundaries and encroached onto the shoreline, but our roads remain fully accessible, our fields are playable, and our spirits are even higher than the water levels! In this update you’ll learn more about Saturday’s BVT Day, the 20th annual Baker Ponds New Hampshire Butterfly Count, caving and AMC hut trips, and so much more – and that will still only represent a sample of all that’s gone on at Pemi in the last seven days! Before moving on to those exciting details, however, I want to give a shoutout to our buildings and grounds crew. They always do excellent work, but the rain has meant that we’ve called on them to do even more, and they’ve risen to the occasion with smiles and the deepest of care for Pemi. Many thanks to Frank Roberts, Jason Ames, Phil Benoit, Sam Papel, Nolan Benoit, and Connie Ball for their hard work in ensuring that the Pemi facilities continue to operate at their finest!

Ultimate Frisbee activity working on throws

Fortunately, the majority of the rain has been falling from the late afternoon onwards, meaning that Week 2 and 3 activities went on nearly full steam ahead. Boys enjoyed dozens of activities all across our program areas, from arts to nature to sports. In the wood shop, boys have been working on boot jacks as an introductory project this year, allowing them to create a practical item that can be customized through woodburning, painting, or drawing and then taken home and used! This week many boys are also working on building wood-slat folding chairs that are simple, sturdy, and easily transported. Patty Frank has returned for the duration of the summer, and she, Dan Fulham, Nolan Katcher, and others have helped the Pemi arts program ramp up with a number of theatrical offerings this week including improv, monologue, and sketch comedy. The laughter I can hear in the Senior Lodge while writing this newsletter provides clear evidence of how much the boys are enjoying these activities! Likewise, campers continue to take advantage of a talented music staff instructing them in activities such as piano, advanced guitar, and rock band. Especially exciting, Andy Bale has returned to Pemi for the next two weeks to teach a variety of photography activities. A professional photographer and university lecturer who first joined us in 2010 and most recently in 2018, Andy brings a wealth of photography knowledge and experience to Pemi. He’s jumped right back into the action, and it’s been wonderful to see campers out and about honing their skills and growing their passion for photography under his tutelage. With the sun shining and week 3 well under way, it should be another wonderful week of activities as our first session campers head down their final stretch of Pemi 2023.

Pemi athletes enjoyed the opportunity to compete against other camps in track & field, tennis, ultimate, archery, basketball, baseball, and soccer this past week. On Wednesday, July 5th Pemi hosted the BVT track meet, with campers of all ages eligible to compete in either the 11&unders, 13&unders, or 15&unders age groups in the mile, 60-yard dash, high jump, long jump, and shot put. Pemi campers had a banner day, including many who had never been part of a track meet before, winning each age group and the meet overall by a wide margin. The 15s had an especially impressive performance, as they swept the points in multiple events and earned almost all the points for their entire age group. Luke Myre in the mile, Jackson Heller in the dash, Will Jones in the shot put, and Toren King in the long jump stood out for their dominant performances. Will Bartlett paced the 13s, winning the mile and coming second in high jump, while Brecken Putzel and Tyson Madkins stole the show for the 11s with strong performances in the mile, dash, and long jump. The following afternoon saw our 10s tennis team in action for the first time this summer – and for the first time ever in the case of several players! Wade Fleming had a masterful day on the court at #1 singles, establishing himself as a Pemi tennis star in the making, while we also saw excellent play and sportsmanship from Brandon Lyu, Chris Castellano, and Will Bonner.

12s Hoops on BVT Day

On Saturday we took part in BVT Day – a day of Baker Valley Tournaments for a variety of sports and age groups. In the morning 10s basketball, 12s hoops, 13s baseball, and 15s ultimate all competed, and the afternoon saw 10s soccer, 12s baseball, 13s soccer, and 15s hoops in action. The 15s basketball platoon travelled to Walt Whitman with 26 players, but we managed to get everyone involved and saw tenacious play from a number of boys. Leo Fauver dazzled as our court general, and we had strong contributions from Toren King, Jackson Heller, Manny Smith, Jake Landry, Will Jones, Leo Martin, Atticus Barocas, Leopold Colloredo, Tommy Newman, Will Sharp, Noah Sami, Archer Knight, Jacob Cloutier, and more! Despite rotating 26 players through, we won one game and played competitively in all three. Carlos Martiarena led the way offensively for 13s soccer, and they also saw strong play from Patrik Ula and Alvaro Otaolaurruchi in the attacking third, and Bennet King, Alex Harwich, and Miles Waitzkin (goalkeeper) defensively! With two wins and a loss on the day, it was an overall BVT victory for the 13s soccer squad. Some further great play on the day came from Noah Katz, Graysen Woodbury, Evan Robicheau, and Princeton Jackson in 12s baseball; Jack Pinnow, Tom Mele, Ezra Otubusin-Reese, Anthony Evans, Kai Karsan, Isaac Paula, Noah Paula, Sam Chapin, and Kierat Jolly in 12s hoops; and Ben Comey, Benny Candia, Ahran Santiago, Carr Polsinelli, Julian Blaustein, and Will Bonner in 10s hoops. All in all, it was a great day of teamwork, competition, and sportsmanship!

Exploring the Palermo Mine

It was another beautiful week to explore New Hampshire’s wondrous ecosystems, and our boys took full advantage thanks to a number of exciting Nature program opportunities. Will Bixby, Mason Winell, Benjamin Desiato, Max Fox, Sam Fox, and Teegan Bowers joined Deb and Michaella on another trip to the Palermo Mine last Thursday, where they learned about and collected a number of fascinating minerals and rocks. The next morning Deb was up and back at it well before Reveille, as she, Nick Gordon, and Tami Harrah led the latest installment of Birding Before Breakfast. They were accompanied by Ahran Santiago, Christian Moreno, Timmy Lorig, Brandon Lyu, Parker Brown, Brian Lorig, and Thomas McNelly. They saw and heard a whole host of different birds, with the highlight being a great blue heron – a first time witnessing this beautiful bird for several boys on the trip!

The big event of the week for the Nature Program was the 20th annual Butterfly Count! The Baker Ponds New Hampshire Butterfly Count dates back to 2004, when then-Pemi staff member and parent Paula Goldberg, working with Larry Davis, coordinated with her good friend Nate Erwin of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History’s Insect Zoo to establish our count and have it become part of the North American Butterfly Association’s annual national count. Here are a few words from Paula to help provide further background on this great Pemi tradition:

At Pemi, the Butterfly Count started as a modest attempt to engage Pemi campers in a citizen science opportunity. The focus of the count is the observation and counting of butterfly species and numbers. Although the butterfly count circle is difficult for a large group of participants to cover in one day, Pemi’s Nature Program staff and campers manage to survey many rich and diverse habitats close to camp, from fallow farm fields to wetlands, and to rocky areas in the foothills of the White Mountains. Spending a day in the field is not without its rewards. It’s often hot and sunny. Mercifully, the day ends at Moose Scoops in Warren for ice cream and a tally rally with all the day’s participants. Through the years, count participation has expanded to local and summer residents in large part due to the tireless work of George Dewolf, a friend of Pemi and Wentworth resident, and a group of interpretive volunteers at Quincy Bog, a favorite destination for off-campus nature field trips. Count “regulars” now include local butterfly enthusiasts from around the state, teachers and college professors, and natural resources specialists who help to cover areas in the count circle Pemi campers don’t reach.  

The Butterfly Count Crew!

On-the-ground work for the Count started early in the week when River Hambleton, Luke Gonzalez, Deb, Nick, and Luke Larabie ventured out into the surrounding areas to scout out new Count locations. Then on Friday, Paula and Nate arrived at Pemi to look for locations to plant goldenrod and Joe-pye-weed in order to attract and feed monarch butterflies during their southern migration in September. Finally, on the day of the Count, River Hambleton, Luke Gonzalez, Charlie Zimmerman, Noah Goebel, Manfred Creane, Daniel Desiato, Finn Cashman, and Johnny Thibault headed out into the fields to see what they could find. Joined by Deb, Nick, Eli Brennan, Andrew Kanovsky, Megan Spindler, and special guest Pemi alumnus Will Ackerman, the group spotted the highest number of butterflies in our 20-year history of this project! Many thanks to Deb, Nick, Paula, Nate and others for their tireless work in allowing Pemi campers to participate directly as citizen scientists!

Caving in New York

This past week also included several of the marquis overnight trips that take place each summer: the caving trip (a trip operated by the Nature program), the Madison Spring Hut trip, and the Lakes of the Clouds Hut trip. For the caving trip, boys travel to Schoharie, New York to visit a series of world-renowned caves. This year’s group – Ian Baldwin, Stefan Armitage, Atticus Barocas, Jake Landry, Austin Greenberg, Jackson Heller, Paul Schwaegler, Will Jones, and Toren King – had an incredible experience exploring Schoharie Cavern, Knox Cave, and Clarksville Cave. They had the chance, accompanied by trip leaders Larry Davis, Phil Landry, and Jake Hurst, to see stalactites and dripstones, navigate a variety of different technical features, and turn off their headlamps to experience the total darkness that can only be found underground. Thousands of feet above them, the Madison and Lakes of the Clouds Hut groups had their own chance to be awed by natural beauty – in their case, the majesty of the Presidential Range in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Summiting Mts. Madison, Adams, Jefferson, and Washington, these boys took in some of the most stunning views in our area while also pushing their physical limits. The Madison group consisted of Alex Atkinson, Andrew Cahill, Will Cahill, Cole Johnstone, Lincoln Thorner, Leopold Colloredo, Finn Cashman, and Iñigo Otaolaurruchi, with Charlie Scott and Jarrod Henry as the trip leaders. Staying at Lakes of the Clouds were Justin Hires, Seth Delany, Leo Ventimiglia, Colin Ross, Luca Buchbinder, Hadrien Le Baud, Noah Sami, and Peter Sharp, accompanied by Josh Scarponi and Sam Maynes. Both Presidentials groups had nearly perfect weather, affording them the chance to take in hours of panoramic views as they trekked along the ridge. In addition to these capstone trips for 15-year-olds, we had three-day trips go out to Mt. Moosilauke, the Kinsmans, and the Franconias. The Moosilauke group was Isaac Flecker, Ezra Otubusin-Reese, Anthony Evans, Charlie Knapp, Darren Calhoun, and Graysen Woodbury; Kinsmans consisted of Alex Harwich, Noah Littman, Bennett King, and Ben Kriegsman; and the Franconias crew was Rowan Stewart, Ben Jones, Leo Fauver, Miles Waitzkin, Max de Haut de Sigy, Will Sandor, Leo Martin, and Sasha Honig.

Week 2 Songwriting performs at Campfire

Believe it or not, the last few days included even more than has already been mentioned. Six of our 16s arrived on Sunday – Merrick Chapin, Giacomo Turco, Will Silloway, David Kriegsman, Matias Trinca, and Jake Merriam – to complete wilderness first aid training before flying out to Colorado (where they’ll be joined by Boone Snyder) for a three-week expedition involving canoeing, service work, and backpacking. Stay tuned for more details when they return! Campfire on Saturday included Nico Richards with a magic trick; Julian Blaustein with some science trivia; Yaseen Usman with a joke; Asher Brown, Everett Wooldridge, Brecken Putzel, Charlie Milgrim, and Julian Blaustein with a performance from their songwriting activity; Benjamin Desiato, Princeton Jackson, River Hambleton, Anthony Evans, Benjamin Welch, James Davis, and Jerry Lavelle with an improvised soundpainting demonstration; and some words of wisdom from Week 2’s Pemi Kid activity group of Kavin Aggarwal, Sam Chapin, Everett Goodnow, Danny Follansbee, Finn Cashman, and Hugh Fogelson! On Sunday evening Deb continued her practice of telling the community about 1908, the year of Pemi’s founding, this time with the story of the Great New York to Paris Automobile Race. It was a thrilling tale that helped give all of us a snapshot of life at the time that Docs Gar, Win, and Reed were beginning this grand experiment. Bean Soup on Monday included lots of laughs as always, but also a bit of a pep talk from Dan Fulham on making the most of every moment at Pemi. Camper of the Week went to Benjamin Desiato for his ability to quickly and easily start the campfire up Pemi Hill after his counselors, who shall remain nameless (but who can be found in the Staff Bios newsletter under Junior 2, and who jointly won Counselor of the Week) tried and failed for nearly an hour. Well done, Benjamin!

It was another week of growing closer, building bonds, and coming together as a community at Pemi. Judging by the energy in the Mess Hall, which tends to be a great barometer of the camp-wide mood, Pemi’s 2023 campers and staff are having an incredible experience. It’s hard to believe, but we’re under a week away from the end of the first session of our 116th summer. On Monday, July 17th we’ll say goodbye to our first session campers, and wish our 15s well as they embark on the Allagash canoe trip for a week. The remaining full session boys will enjoy a day at a nearby water park, followed by a cookout on Senior Beach, and a special Polar Bear down at Junior Point on Tuesday morning with doughnuts and hot cocoa! Throughout the day on Tuesday, we’ll welcome in our second session boys as they begin their Pemi summer. It’s always a bittersweet two days balancing the sadness of saying goodbye to so many outstanding community members and then welcoming in an equally impressive group. For now, however, our focus remains on making the rest of the first session every bit as magical as it’s been to date! We’ll be back next Wednesday with our Week 4 newsletter.

– Pat Clare

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