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2023 Newsletter #7

Greetings from Pemi!

Hard as it is to believe, we’re well into the final week of the 2023 Pemi summer. The last few days have seen us finish up our regular weekly activities, conclude the trip and athletics season, and transition into Pemi Week – our week of inter-cabin competition and games. It’s in full swing, with boys currently participating in the pentathlon, cabin soccer, and divisional tennis finals. Our end-of-summer events are right on the horizon, with the play debuting today, Final Banquet tomorrow, the last Bean Soup and campfire of the summer on Friday, and several more celebratory moments sprinkled throughout. Last night we had our second half Vaudeville, which included some fantastic acts from Pemi campers and staff. In true Pemi spirit, we’re sprinting our way to and through the finish line; there’s no slowing down until after we’re done! With last week’s newsletter focusing on Tecumseh Day, there’s so much to catch up on in this edition – enjoy!

The Greenleaf group on Franconia Ridge

During week 6 we sent out the final round of trips for the summer, which included several marquee excursions such as Greenleaf Hut, the Mahoosucs, and Mount Katahdin. The Katahdin group – Jake Landry, Teddy Rose, Will Cahill, Austin Greenberg, Leo Ventimiglia, Max Weber, Andrew Cahill, Lincoln Thorner, and Paul Schwaegler, accompanied by EJ Burnett and Jacob Kunkel – had the opportunity to summit the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail on a picture-perfect day. After making the drive to Baxter State Park in Maine, the boys set up camp at the Katahdin Stream campsite on Monday night, arose early on Tuesday, and set off up the Hunts Trail. With the sun shining, temperature in the mid 70s, and low humidity, the boys couldn’t have asked for better weather. With such an experienced group of Pemi hikers, they cruised up and greatly enjoyed the chance to hike this majestic mountain. We suspect that this experience planted the seed for many of these guys to participate in Pemi West next year.

Headed up Carrigan Mountain

Simultaneously, the Greenleaf group of Oliver McDonough, Miles Whitcombe, Colin Pham, Mason Winell, Will Bixby, Peter Sveen, and Robert Dorros, with trip leaders Alice Riley and Will Chapin, set off on the Old Bridle Path up to the hut, where they dined on delicious hot meals and then trekked across the Franconia Ridge and down the Liberty Springs Trail. The Mahoosucs trip also set off last week, headed to a remote section of northern New Hampshire that encompasses the most challenging section of the Appalachian Trail. Dominic Watson, Sasha Honig, Bryce Madom, Samson Charron, Gavin Stannard, Andrew McCullough, and Noah Littman made easy work of the trail, relishing the opportunity to push themselves in one of the most isolated wilderness settings that Pemi hikers encounter. Under the guidance of Quinn Markham and Tommy Christopher, they had a wonderful experience spending four days out in the woods. Two other overnight hikes went out as well, with Scout Brink and Margot Hoogers leading Charlie Toomey, Marcus Vitale, Zach Pierson, Gabri Hutchinson, Davis Morrell, Dennis Taft, Henry VanDerzee, and Luka Strugar to the Carters Range. It was a first overnight trip for several of these boys, and despite facing a few unexpected challenges, they all came back eager to repeat the experience in the future. Similarly, Will Dennis, Finn Stephan, Princeton Jackson, Ozzie Baugher, Henry Bloede, Shields Waitzkin, and Devran Efe enjoyed an overnight trip to Carrigan Mountain during a stretch of outstanding weather.

In addition to these boys, many more guys went out on day hikes during week 6, ensuring that all campers who wanted to had the opportunity to get up into the mountains. Juniors 1 and 2 – Hibbard Brown, Jeffrey Eng, Haben McNulty, Charlie Moskoff, Henry Nevius, Rafe Romine, Thomas Baine, Charlie Foster, Felix Grant, Henry Howe, Jack Moskoff, and Leo Schrippa – went up Rattlesnake Mountain last Wednesday, and Lower 6 – Alex Burgin, Angus Eslick, Gray Axel, Nick McCay, Patchett Grant, Sam Weber, and Will Dougherty – summited Mt. Cube on Thursday. On Wednesday evening, Tom Mele, River Hambleton, Adler Howe, Wills Waitzkin, Johnny Thibault, Brendan Obrien, Hunter Young, and Finn Cashman joined Michaella and Patty Frank, Deb Kure, and Hattie McLeod on a sunset hike up Mt. Cardigan. This nearby peak offers stunning 360º views, with an especially long sightline extending west towards the Green Mountains of Vermont. The boys loved the chance to sit on the rocky summit by the Cardigan fire tower and watch the sun dip below the horizon before they headed back down with the aid of headlamps. Despite a few stretches of rainy weather over the last two months, the 2023 trip program was massively successful. During the second session, over 110 campers took advantage of the opportunity to get out on a trip in one way or another!

Exploring Palermo Mine!

As you know if you’ve been reading these updates all summer, the boys also could get out into the natural environment just about every day through the Nature program. To kick off week 6, Cairo Clapper, Brandon Lyu, Thomas McNelly, Lincoln Thorner, Will Cahill, Johnny Thibault, Bryce Madom, Sasha Honig, Finn Cashman, and Timmy Lorig joined Nick Gordon, Deb Kure, Matt and Andrew Kanovsky, Charlie Scott, and Pierce Haley for a special edition of Birding Before Breakfast. They went over to the shores of the Connecticut River, where they were joined by longtime Pemi birding expert Wayne Scott, Charlie’s father. Wayne has taught generations of Pemi boys about birding, and this group relished spending the morning observing and learning with Wayne. The next day a large group went with Deb and Megan Spindler to the Palermo Mine, one of the premier sites in the northeast for mineral observation and collection. Will Dougherty, Hunter Young, Ryan Kittredge, Stefan Armitage, Nico Aponte-Rios, Roger Kriegsman, Miles Taylor, Parker Brown, Henry Nevius, James Wasnkick, Connor Smillie, Rudi Wei, and Hibbard Brown spent the afternoon exploring the mine, examining different specimens, and adding to their own personal collections. If they come home loaded up with a heavy rock collection, our apologies! Ben Miller, Hunter Young, Thomas McNelly, Alex Atkinson, Kai Karsan, and Tomas Yafar went over to Indian Pond with Deb and Nick to explore the ecosystem on a nearby lake and take stunning photos. For a final major Nature trip, Deb, Nick, and Larry Davis took a group over to the newly opened Maine Gem and Mineral Museum in Bethel, ME. They ate lunch on the road and then spent the afternoon checking out exhibits on geological history, collections of rare rocks and minerals, and the largest display of lunar and Martian meteorites on Earth! Based on the excitement when the boys got back to camp, I suspect that we’ll be making return trips to this museum for years to come.

While Tecumseh Day serves as the spotlight event of the athletics season, it is not the end of intercamp competition each summer. During Week 6 several age groups had the chance to compete against our nearby neighbors in basketball, baseball, and soccer. The 13s basketball team headed to Walt Whitman for a BVT. They had great play on the day from Qi Ahipeaud, Wyatt Orraca-Cecil, Anthony Evans, Jameson, Purdy, Tate Dyreson, and many others. 15-year-old Jackson Heller also joined in as an assistant coach, volunteering to spend his afternoon sharing his hoops knowledge and passion. A combination of 11s and 13s tennis also went to Walt Whitman last week for a tennis BVT. Nick Sargent, Patrick McLauglin, Henry Bloede, Hayward Hodge, Mason Winell, Noah Littman, Matthew Kusik, and Vittorio Campanile represented Pemi well on the courts, with guys getting the chance to play both singles and doubles throughout the afternoon.

Hudson on the mound for 10s baseball

Thursday afternoon was our last day of intercamp competition, with three age groups in action.  The 10s baseball team had a thrilling game here at Pemi against Camp Moosilauke. With stellar pitching from Connor Pike, Hudson Eng, Chuck Kilcullen, and Felix Grant, active bats from Connor and Hudson Eng, and some heads-up base running from Finn Shapiro and Jeffrey Eng, the 10s managed to pull out a 4-1 win. Over at Moosilauke, 11s hoops and 13s soccer were in action. On the courts Coach Frank said that Pemi saw strong play from Dennis Taft, Luka Strugar, Nelson Braun, and Tyson Madkins, along with some guest coaching and cheering from 12-year-olds Anthony Evans and Qi Ahipeaud. Over on the soccer pitch, the 13s put in tremendous effort, especially Wyatt Orraca-Cecil, Oliver McDonough, Colin Pham, Miles Waitzkin, Connor Davenport, and Matthew Kusik. This final day of competition served as the perfect culmination of the 2023 athletics’ season, with boys getting one more opportunity to don their Pemi t-shirts and play alongside their friends.

Enjoying the art show in the library

It’s also been a banner stretch for the arts program. Getting into the spirit of the trip and nature programs, art instructors Chloe Springis and Sam Maynes led a group of boys to the Pinnacle Conservation Area in Lyme, NH for an art hike. Chase Riley, Zander Sargent, Jackson Heller, Porter Hutchinson, Carter Glahn, Manfred Creane, Josh Lawson, Luke Myre, Chris Cappillo, Oliver Nevius, Julian Blaustein, Will Dougherty, and Miles Taylor climbed up Pinnacle Hill in order to sketch, draw, or paint the vista they were overlooking. Earlier this week, their finished pieces, along with countless other beautiful works of art, were displayed in our annual art show! Camper and staff artwork decorated the shelves, walls, rafters, and even floors of the Counselors’ Memorial Library, giving us all the chance to see a selection of the creative, skillful, and simply beauty works of art that campers created this summer. Boys also enjoyed some light refreshments as they walked around, making it a true gallery experience!

Staying in the art world, we also had our final Vaudeville of the summer on Tuesday evening. We had outstanding solo performances from Henry Nevius, Cairo Clapper, and Will Dougherty on the piano; Miles Taylor on the drums; and Nick McCay on the saxophone, plus ensemble pieces with Kai Karsan, Atticus Barocas, Bryce Madom, Connor Smillie,and Ethan Onysko as part of two different rock groups that brought down the house. Pemi music has been at its highest level in years this summer thanks to the tireless work of our music staff and the dedication from expert and novice musicians alike.

In next week’s final newsletter, you’ll get Pemi theater critic Clive Bean’s full review of our end-of-season show, The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood. Often described as Robin Hood meets either Mel Brooks or Monty Python, this witty and hysterical show, while a departure from Gilbert and Sullivan, continues Pemi’s long tradition of putting on full length productions that make you laugh and think. The boys and our staff members have been putting in long hours in the run up to the show, and we can’t wait to see the finished product!

Almost awake and ready for breakfast!

The art show, Vaudeville, and the play are all components of Pemi Week, our week 7 tradition that includes cabin competition within divisions along with other spotlight events. The week kicks off on Saturday morning with Brad Jones Day, when campers and counselors are allowed to sleep in as late as they want. There’s also a delicious buffet breakfast on offer for anyone who wakes up for it – this tends to be very popular with our younger campers. While no official recognition is given out for latest sleeper, 15-year-old Porter Hutchinson took full advantage of the chance to sleep in and had to be woken up by cabinmates in order to make it to lunch on time. The afternoon sees the actual competitions begin in the form of Games Day. Consisting of a variety of individual and team events, Games Day is always one of the most fun and popular days of the summer. One boy from each cabin competes in the cold-water musical chairs, Skittles eating contest, and cookie face-off; while teams from each cabin take part in the crabwalk relay, the sack relay, and the egg toss.

Celebrating Senior 3’s cold-water musical chairs victory!

Having finished second overall in 2022, Senior 3’s Max Weber was on a mission in the cold-water musical chairs. He watched the younger campers come up a chair short one-by-one, meaning they had to take a seat in a bucket of ice water before departing the circle. In the end we had the unusual situation of the final five participants being from the four Senior cabins and then one Junior. Michael Vitale, Nick Vitale, Chris Cappillo, Max, and Paul Schwaegler kept circling and racing for chairs until only Max and Paul, representing Senior 3 and Lake Tent, remained. Max overcame his heartbreak from last year, earning his cabin the victory in his final attempt. While the Seniors dominated musical chairs, it was, incredibly, the 11-year-old Lower 2 duo of Ozzie Baugher and Nicholas Kusik who won the Championship of the World Egg Toss. They were the only team left standing, and Nicholas was nearly to midfield of the soccer pitch with Ozzie still on the endline, when they finally came up just short and their egg splattered. It was a display for the ages!

Continued bonding and fun in the Mess Hall

Pemi Week events have continued since Saturday, with the triathlon, swim championships, Woodsdudes Day, pentathlon, cabin soccer, archery, and sailing championships all either finished or well underway. You’ll get the complete rundown of these events, along with the individual and cabin winners, in the final newsletter. Boys are working hard to earn the coveted Pemi Week t-shirts that go to every boy in the victorious cabins. As with all our competitions at Pemi, however, the focus of Pemi week has nothing to do with finishing first. It’s a week that’s all about bonding and spending time together as a cabin while stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying a little bit of everything. Cabins grow closer than ever in these final days, while boys also get to spend loads of time with all of their friends throughout their division. With events across the entire program area, Pemi Week sees boys packing all they can into their final days of the summer. It’s such a privilege to see so much camaraderie, spirit, joy, and kindness taking place as we race towards the end of another spectacular Pemi summer. Check back in next week for details on the last few days of camp, as well as some closing thoughts and reflections on our 116th summer!

— Pat Clare

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