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2023 Newsletter #4

Greetings from sunny Wentworth!

The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and it’s a beautiful start to the second session of Pemi’s 116th summer! To those at home who might be tuning into these newsletters for the first time this summer, welcome aboard! Each week we’ll strive to provide you with a snapshot of what’s gone on here in the last 6-8 days, while recognizing that to try and capture all that happens at Pemi in a single update would be a fool’s errand. You’ll read about some highlights, some details, and typically lots of names, but please know that you won’t hear about everything. You can get further inside glimpses of life at Pemi by signing in and seeing our twice-weekly photo posts on Thursdays and Sundays. Remember also to check out our Instagram and Facebook accounts for more photos and updates – and on Friday, July 28th we’ll be dusting off our Twitter account to provide live updates on Tecumseh Day. Newsletters are usually posted sometime between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning, but with our changeover days occurring on Monday and Tuesday, it’s a late edition this week. Read on to learn more about the end of first session, our Full Season Extravaganza, and the opening days of second session! 

The final days of first session often feel like a nonstop whirlwind, as activities, special events, and good times continue right up until departure day. There’s no slowing down! In the last few days boys had the chance to go on several trips, including a special Nature program overnight to the Connecticut Lakes with Deb and Nick; participate in Kingswood Day; serve yet again as citizen scientists during the Loon Count; volunteer at a relief station for the Prouty; perform in our new midseason arts showcase; and enjoy the Birthday Banquet! Boys had fun all the way through until the minute they drove out of camp.

Departing on Thursday, Deb and Nick took a group of boys – Manny Smith, Alex Atkinson, Justin Hires, Leopold Colloredo, Luca Buchbinder, Seth Delany, Atticus Barocas, and Will Jones – on a reprived Pemi Nature trip: a two-day journey to the very northern edge of New Hampshire and right up to the Canadian border. Exploring the Connecticut Lakes, which are the headwaters of the Connecticut River, they had the opportunity to see an incredible boreal environment, learn about the local flora and fauna, and spend time in pristine wilderness that, despite being only a few hours away, feels like an entirely different environment compared to the lands around Pemi. With Canada to both their north and west, the boys enjoyed seeing a boreal chickadee, a black bear, and a variety of other wildlife. Based on the rave reviews upon their return, it’s safe to say that while this may have been the first Connecticut Lakes trips in decades, it won’t be nearly as long before we send a similar trip out again!  

Luke receiving instruction on a photography field trip

Not stopping with just one incredible trip, the Nature staff also provided boys with several more opportunities to take in the beauty all around us. Joined by Deb, Andy Bale, and Jacob Smalley, the crew of Marcelo Emal-Langrand, Vikram Jay, Luke Wiesel, and Finn Cashman headed to the Connecticut River for a photography trip. Boys also had the chance to participate in the annual New Hampshire Loon Count on Saturday morning. This local census helps scientists track the loon population in the state, providing valuable insights for ongoing conservation efforts. As with the Butterfly Count described last week, this represents another time when Pemi campers can directly engage in the work of being citizen-scientists to help professional scientists in their endeavors. It required an early wakeup and dedicated observation, but the boys got to enjoy a peaceful, quiet stretch out on the water on a beautiful morning. Many thanks to Finn Cashman, Wally Snow, Toren King, Teegan Bowers, Cristian Moreno, Charlie Zimmerman, Oscar Violette, Brian Lorig, and the nature staff for their efforts!

The Prouty volunteers

Saturday also saw a group of civic-minded boys wake up before 5am to volunteer at our relief station for the Prouty. This charity bike ride raises money for cancer research in the search for a cure. Our volunteers pass out snacks, beverages, and good cheer in spades as the riders tackle the toughest stretch of the 100-mile ride. The ride organizers were filled with compliments for our team, and we loved to see the generosity of spirit they displayed. Tremendous thanks are due to Danny Follansbee, Marcelo Emal-Langrand, Cameron Mark, River Hambleton, Sidney Harris, Manfred Creane, Noah Goebel, Brecken Putzel, Sam Chapin, Kavin Aggarwal, Patrik Ula, and Johnny Thibault! A special thank you must also go out to Michaella Frank for taking on the task, during both the offseason and summer, of coordinating with the Prouty and organizing our effort!

Leo driving to the hoop in 14s basketball

On Saturday campers participated in Kingswood Day, our annual day of friendly competition with our good friends over at Kingswood. They share our belief in the crucial values of sportsmanship, participation, and playing hard but fair, so it’s always a wonderful day that makes our athletes better, lets boys try out new sports and positions, and provides a culminating athletic experience for the first session. Here at Pemi in the morning, we started off with 13s baseball and 15s soccer followed by 14s hoops, while at Kingswood we had 11s basketball and pickleball. In the 15s soccer match, we played against a Kingswood team that combined their 15s and some 16-year-old CITs to help push our boys even further. It was a spirited game that included two stunning goals: one by a Kingswood midfielder in open play, and one a free kick by Pemi’s Ian Baldwin from a solid 30 yards that soared into the top corner. Despite coming up short in a hard-fought 2-1 result, Pemi saw great play from Austin Greenberg, Joshua Lawson, Lincoln Thorner, Alex Baron, Leo Ventimiglia, and Jake Landry in goal. 13s baseball had great play all around in a decisive win. The 14s hoops team came to play in a game that, in hindsight, the players themselves described as “a defense-optional affair.” With a scoring barrage from Leo Fauver, tenacious rebounding from Leo Martin, and great all-around play up and down the court from Luke Myre, Joshua Lawson, Luke Young, and more, the Pemi 14s earned a big win in one of their few opportunities to play together as a stand-alone age group. Throughout the day there were many other impressive performances and demonstrations of teamwork and sportsmanship. You’ll have to check out Bean Soup this winter for full details. It was a perfect wrap-up to the athletics season for our first session boys, great preparation as we head towards Tecumseh Day for our full season boys, and an all-around fun day of competition and cheering from everyone involved!

Blue Day performing at the arts showcase

On Saturday night we held a new special event: a midseason arts showcase, with musical and theatrical performances that reflected the hard work, dedication, and talent of so many Pemi artists! Boys from the Week 3 Monologue activity – Darren Calhoun, Luke Gonzalez, Carter Bowers, and Finn Cashman – had us in stitches with short performances interspersed throughout the program. Similarly, the Sketch Comedy activity group of Carter Bowers, River Hambleton, Isaac Paula, Benjamin Welch, Luke Wiesel, and Charlie Zimmerman had us roaring during their original skit entitled Pemi Water Taxi. The Pemi staff impressed with musical performances by Tom Reed, Larry Davis, and Nick Gordon (If You Go In from Iolanthe); Larry Davis on the flute; Evan Anderson on the cello; and Michaella Frank singing The Hours Creep on Apace from H.M.S. Pinafore. Ludmila Zamah performed a classical Indian dance routine, while her sons Saleem and Yaseen delighted us with a technological hip-hop dance. Evan Bruno, Nate Lavelle, and Ethan Onysko played beautiful piano pieces; Connor Smillie and counselor Luke Larabie showcased Connor’s developing improvisation skills during a guitar duet; and the jazz ensemble of Manfred Creane, Wally Snow, Evan Anderson, Luke Larabie, and Dan Fulham transitioned mid-performance from soothing to energizing during a highly skilled jam session. Shaking the rafters even further were rock performances from a number of groups: Loon Doom – Miles Waitzkin, Connor Smillie, Wally Snow, Marcelo Emal-Langrand, and Dan Fulham played an original song; Blue Day – Toren King, Wally Snow, Leo Ventimiglia, and Bryce Madom on the vocals – covered Green Day’s Brain Stew; and the ensemble of Leo Ventimiglia, Colin Ross, Bryce Madom, Alex Atkinson, and Luke Larabie brought down the house with a cover of Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam by The Vaselines. Coming only a short time after the 4th of July Vaudeville, this was another masterpiece of Pemi arts. I know of no other place where a boy can spend his morning on a canoe counting loons, play in multiple sporting events in the morning and afternoon, and then perform in an arts showcase that evening. Saturday truly represented a full Pemi day!

Junior 3 campers blowing out the candle on their birthday cake

On Sunday we held our annual Birthday Banquet where we dined on a delicious feast, celebrated everyone who has a summer birthday, heard greetings from around the nation and world, and sent our first session boys off in style. Massive thanks are due to our kitchen crew, Bean Soup editors, art staff, and office folks for all of their work in making this special event another resounding success. We had birthday greetings from our international campers, representing the UK, France, Austria, Spain, and South Africa; the red-headed members of our community; in Mandarin from staff members; and a Texas-sized one from our campers and staff from the Lone Star State. After the greetings, Dan and Nolan read personal birthday limericks for each celebrant. Weaving in humor, compliments, and nods to favorite camp activities, these odes gave each birthday boy and girl another special moment in the spotlight. Before heading down to the Senior Lodge for the first session awards ceremony, we took the rare (and we think actually never-before-done at Pemi) opportunity to recognize a camper with one of our major end-of-season awards at the halfway mark. For his unsurpassable passion for, dedication to, and talent in the music program, Wallace Snow was awarded Doc Reed’s Musician Trophy. If another boy equally deserves recognition by the end of the summer, we will award co-winners, but Wally was so undeniably worthy of this honor that we wanted him present, as a first session 15-year-old, when he received this honor.

First Session Awards

We wrapped up the evening and the first session with an awards ceremony to recognize areas of accomplishment throughout the summer. Boys received their polar bear, distance swim, music, drama, and athletics patches, along with archery, sailing, shop, swimming, and water ski recognitions. It was incredible to see all that our boys managed to accomplish in just three short weeks. Whether it was playing on six sports teams, winning the What-Is-It contest, doing polar bear every morning, or managing three and a half weeks away from home when that felt overwhelming, every single boy at Pemi did so much that he should be proud of. That’s why the last item given out at the ceremony is the most important one: the “P ’23” pennant, signifying that one was a member of the Pemi 2023 summer. We already miss the first session boys, but we’re so impressed by what they did and so grateful for all that they brought to the Pemi family.

Full session boys and staff at Whale’s Tale

After the always bittersweet events of Sunday evening, we said goodbye to our first session boys on Monday morning. Meanwhile, our full season boys were off either to the Allagash waterways of Maine (our 19 full season 15s) or to nearby Whale’s Tale waterpark! The waterpark trip is a great day where boys can enjoy getting out of camp, going on the slides and rides with their friends, and spending time in our smaller community of full season campers. We were especially lucky that the weather held; in fact, it was one of the nicest days of the summer to date! Upon our return to camp, we had a special cookout down on Senior Beach, with music playing, boys on the basketball courts, groups sitting around the campfire circle, and everyone enjoying a relatively quiet, relaxing night. The original plan had called for a movie in the Senior Lodge that evening, but with all the fun going on outside, we quietly scrapped that. The boys were too wrapped up having fun to even notice. It wasn’t until Taps that one or two boys started asking about it, but not a single one was upset that they’d spent the evening outside playing instead!

Before welcoming in our second session campers, we had a special polar bear down at Junior Point, the historical site for polar bear in the early days of camp. We jumped in the lake and then had doughnuts and hot chocolate – our “Dunkin’ Docs” tradition. At breakfast that morning, Kenny talked to the boys about how they had an opportunity that day to be leaders by showing kindness in welcoming in all the new boys to camp. Even the boys who are halfway through their first summer are veterans now compared to the boys arriving for their very first Pemi day, and we asked them to take advantage of that and hep the new guys adjust. The Pemi veterans far exceeded our expectations and have been wonderful in helping welcome our next wave of campers.

Junior 1 at opening dinner

Opening day of the second half provided all the energy of opening day back in June, as waves of returning and new campers finally arrived for the start of their Pemi 2023 adventure. With our older guys coming in throughout the morning, it was so fun to see friends reuniting and sharing their excitement at being back on the shores of Lower Baker. In the afternoon we welcomed in the majority of our new, younger campers. Many were seeing camp for the first time in person, and the wide-eyed stares and shouts of joy were wonderful to witness. While there were, of course, some teary goodbyes, it wasn’t long before those same boys were running around, learning the ins and outs of Pemi life, and devouring slices of homemade pizza at our opening dinner. We had a thunderstorm roll in towards the end of dinner, which gave us the opportunity to stay in the Mess Hall a bit longer and get ahead on a few announcements that typically happen over the course of the first several meals. Once the weather moved through, we went down to the Senior Lodge for an indoor campfire.

Campfire in the Senior Lodge

Gathered together in the Lodge, we had another round of stellar performances. 10-year-old Finn Shapiro, having been at camp for all of about three hours, got up in front of everyone and told a soccer joke that went over great with everyone except the Paris Saint-Germain fans in the audience. Tomas Yafar wasted no time in getting back onto the keyboards and amazed with a beautiful piece on the piano, as did Ethan Onysko, continuing his strong track record of Pemi performances. River Hambleton, Luke Gonzalez, Connor Smillie, Bryce Madom, and Manfred Creane teamed up to sing Blackbird, and campfire stalwarts Jud Landis and Tom Reed, Jr. sang Up On Cripple Creek. Julian Blaustein impressed us once again with another rendition of his incredible science facts. We heard from expert story tellers Nick Gordon giving us the legend of how Ananzi became the first spider, and Larry Davis with another Maine classic about a fisherman who determines it wasn’t himself who was lost at sea because his boots were turned up, not down. As it always does, the simple fact of being all together and locking arms for The Campfire Song created an instant sense of community. From veteran 15s to brand new 8-year-olds, all present could feel that they were part of a special group.

With Week 4 activities kicking off on Wednesday morning, the second session has started off at full speed. Next Tuesday’s newsletter will be chock full of details about the opening week, including a 14s canoeing trip that left Wednesday morning, hut trips to Greenleaf and Madison Springs departing Thursday, Junior cabin trips up Pemi Hill, nature field trips, sports practices and games, cabin bonding, and so much more! We couldn’t be more excited for the next phase of our summer, and I look forward to sharing many more details in the weeks to come!

          – Pat Clare

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