• Milestones
  • Newsletters 2024
  • Pemi Traditions

2024 Newsletter #1

Hello Pemi Families and Friends,

Welcome to our first newsletter of Pemi 2024! These weekly missives will give you a glimpse into the goings-on here at camp, from the everyday activities to weekly events to trips, athletic contests, special events, and so much more. They’ll typically be posted and sent out on Tuesday afternoons or Wednesday mornings, depending on the rhythm of each particular week. You can also keep up with Pemi news via our social media accounts and the twice-weekly photo albums that are posted. The albums can be accessed via your CampInTouch account or on the Campanion app. A quick note as well on the photos in the newsletters: you can click on any of them to enlarge and view the full-size image. With that introduction and housekeeping out of the way, read on to learn more about the first few days of Pemi’s 117th summer.

As Pemi’s counselors and staff gathered together for breakfast on Saturday, June 22nd, the energy in the Mess Hall could have powered a small city. After a busy week (or more for some) of staff training, we couldn’t wait for the campers to arrive. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long – our first camper actually arrived right in the middle of breakfast! After he joined us for a quick bite, his counselor walked him over to his cabin while the rest of us took a final moment together as a staff. Kenny had us all take a deep breath, enjoy a moment of silence ahead of the upcoming noise of a fully energized camp, and then off we went in our 2024 staff polo shirts.

Fresh off the bus and walking to Junior Camp!

Our oldest campers arrived in the morning, providing them with the chance to reconnect with old friends, meet the new boys in their age group, and get settled in prior to lunch. It didn’t take long before guys were out on the soccer field, tossing frisbees, and exploring the Nature Lodge. The overcast weather on Saturday morning did nothing to dampen the spirits of our older campers flooding back into their summer home. Conversations about the recently finished school year, the upcoming summer, and memories from prior summers filled the Mess Hall at lunchtime. There was a sense of pure joy as our community started bonding together. During announcements Kenny spoke to the assembled group about the importance of welcoming in our younger campers that afternoon. He asked everyone to think back to their first Pemi moments and to pay back the warmth, kindness, and support that we’d all received when we each began our own Pemi journeys. Needless to say, our older boys rose to the occasion spectacularly that afternoon.

As our younger campers poured into Wentworth, the unbridled excitement reached new levels. Boys who had spent months hearing about Pemi on Zoom calls, meeting with us at open houses, and studying the Pemi schedule and lexicon at home finally had the chance to hit the ground running. Wide-eyed 8-11-year-olds streamed into camp – some purely excited, others feeling pangs of nervousness as they embarked on this brave new challenge. As so often happens, the initial encounters with their cabin counselors went a long way towards putting new boys at ease. The obvious care, passion, and confidence that Pemi counselors project gave boys and parents alike a clear indication that they’d arrived at the right place.

Lower 7 enjoying Opening Day dinner

We dined Saturday night on our traditional opening meal of pizza, salad, and ice cream. In a later newsletter you’ll meet our full kitchen staff, led by Tom Ciglar and with his team of four returning chefs and a prep crew that boasts six additional veterans. Needless to say, we’re in good hands when it comes to eating this summer. As the meal progressed, it was a beautiful sound hearing all of raw enthusiasm for Pemi 2024, especially as I walked by the Junior tables.

Towards the end of dinner, we had our first round of Mess Hall singing as a full group. This tradition dates back to the earliest days of camp, and indeed many of the songs we still sing were written by Dudley Reed, one of Pemi’s three founders, back in the nineteen-teens or so. Today we’re led in singing by Dud’s grandson, Tom Reed Jr., who helps carry forth Pemi’s proud heritage of continuous Reed and Fauver family owner- and leadership. New boys reached for the songbooks while veteran campers sang the familiar songs from memory, and it was obvious to all as the notes reverberated through the rafters that Pemi 2024 is going to be a summer for the ages.

A campfire story from Holden

Inclement weather forced us inside for the opening campfire, but the performances were so top-notch that we hardly noticed the different setting. Members of Pemi’s Nature staff – Deb, Eli, Megan, and Tavi – kicked things off with a song, and then a trio of Senior campers brought back the first round of a campfire staple: The Three Wise Men. Carter Glahn, Luke Young, and Marcello Emal-Langrand took up this campfire favorite where an audience member asks a question, and the Wise Men answer it by going down the line saying one word at a time. It’s always good for side-splitting laughter, and this year’s self-appointed sages seem fully prepared to carry on this crowd favorite. We next had a card trick from Chris Castellano, who was able to successfully guess a volunteer’s card even after the deck seemed to have been shuffled and shuffled beyond any discernible pattern. Campfire stalwarts Manfred Creane and Connor Smillie took the stage with their counselor Thomas Groot for an incredible blues jam. They’d never played together before as a trio, but they took such obvious joy in improvising together and displayed such obvious talent that it’s safe to say this will be a group we’ll see on stage again and again this summer. Making his debut in the Pemi campfire circle a mere four hours after arriving to camp, Junior 1 camper Holden Burr had us on the edge of our seats with a seemingly scary story, only to send the audience bursting into laughter at the end when he delivered the comedic punchline. Holden was followed by two campfire classics – the tale of how Anansi became the first spider, and Larry Davis’s “Beginner’s Luck.” It was as strong a run of stories as I’ve seen during an opening campfire, but truly the best delivery of the three (with no disrespect to storytelling veterans Eli and Larry) came from the newly arrived eight-year-old. Bravo, Holden! We closed, as we always do, with a group rendition of The Campfire Song – another Dudley Reed original. It’s a soothing and beautiful song that includes four lines that form the core of our Pemi ethos: “And I wonder if anyone’s better / For anything I’ve done or said / And whether good will in the heart may / Offset mistakes of the head.” With arms draped around each other and these lyrics floating over us, the Pemi community felt whole and back together again after another schoolyear apart.

Trying the new gaga pit in Junior Camp!

With Opening Day now in our rearview, we were full speed ahead on Sunday morning. Each division rotated through swim checks and a series of different games and activities. The Junior Camp had their own Junior Camp Extravaganza down on their field where they played classic Pemi games like frisbee running bases and roof ball while also breaking in our new gaga pit, and playing catch, tether ball, and more. We had a few heavy weather cells move through Sunday afternoon, but the boys followed our lightning protocols expertly despite many of them only learning them for the first time at lunch that day. A bit of extra time in the cabins provided each group with an unexpected opportunity to bond early on through card games, conversation, and safe observation of a heavy mountain storm. Watching a big rainstorm move through Pemi is a surprisingly beautiful sight, and after it let up, I heard many campers remarking about how cool it was to experience a natural phenomenon in a new way like this.

The first Sunday of camp traditionally culminates with a cookout and the opening Sunday Meeting. We’re constantly encouraging Pemi campers to try new things, however, and so on this particular Sunday we took that advise to heart ourselves in the office. We’d already made the decision to switch Sunday cookouts to Wednesday this summer, and with the rain having moved through and blue skies back above us, we decided that we might as well continue to shake things up a bit. Instead of holding Sunday Meeting, we had frisbee running bases down in Junior Camp and a massive game of capture the flag for Lowers, Uppers, and Seniors in the outfield. Standing in the outfield and watching boys and counselors alike running around, laughing, cheering, and getting some energy out allowed me to easily and unquestionably see that we’d made a good choice to buck tradition some more. It was an evening of pure and simple fun!

Week 1 Junior swimming

Monday morning marked the first day of activities for the summer. Boys headed off from inspection to the archery range, wood shop, Nature Lodge, art building, boathouse, Senior Beach, playing fields and everywhere else all across camp to begin Week 1. Veteran campers helped new boys find their way, counselors led from the front by jogging to their first hour activity, and just like that we were off and running. Pemi boys get to pick their own schedules, and it was so much fun at lunch hearing campers talk about how happy they were with the activities they’d selected for themselves. It might seem like such a little thing, but the pride boys get in having created their own distinct path for the week is a powerful feeling. It gives them a real sense of ownership over what they’re doing along with the confidence to know that they’re able to find their own way and their own fun. Our counselors will continue to work with the boys each week to help them craft schedules that balance old favorites, brand new activities, and the full breadth of Pemi’s program.

Sunday night may have looked a bit different than normal, but some traditions are too sacrosanct to be messed with, and so on Monday evening we all piled into the Senior Lodge for the first ladling of the 115th volume of Bean Soup. A unique bit of the Pemi experience, Bean Soup blends together a newspaper, SportsCenter, and Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update to create a record of each Pemi summer. Campers and staff write articles about games, trips, and special events, while the Bean Soup editors write a version of the week’s events that get us laughing uncontrollably and that, every now and then, contains more than just a hint of truthiness. This year’s editors, Nolan Katcher and Ali Sheikh, set the bar very high with this first serving. Campers and counselors alike were cracking up all evening long, and it’s safe to say that this Pemi tradition is in good hands for 2024.

Preparing for a day hike

With the weekend storms behind us, Tuesday saw Pemi’s trip program go from 0 to 60 at the snap of a finger. Eight trips went out during the course of the day: a four-day trip to the Carters, a three-day traverse of the Kinsmans Range, day hikes up Cube, Moosilauke, and Rattlesnake, canoe trips for supper at Pine Forest and Flat Rock, and a Junior 3 overnight up Pemi Hill. The Carters group of Charlie Toomey, Haven Hoag, Kavin Aggarwal, Vikram Jay, Mason Winell, Jonathan Thibault, Luke Gonzalez, and Max Wiesel, and led by Bennett Braden and Owen Caligiuri, will spend four days in some of the most remote and pristine wilderness in northern New Hampshire on a trek that has inspired Pemi’s older campers for decades. The Kinsmans crew of Parker Brown, Charlie Sills, Harrison Charlebois, Darren Calhoun, Will Dennis, Colin McLean, Charlie Milgrim, and Wills Waitzkin, joined by counselors Raz Rehan and Tavi Machin, will traverse a beautiful section of the Appalachian Trail while summiting several peaks and enjoying a stretch of ridge hiking as they go.

The weather cooperated perfectly for our day hikes, allowing all three groups to enjoy warm, breezy mountaintop lunches. The Rattlesnake hike consisted of Juniors 2 and 6 – Kingston Bowen, Miles Chu, Miller Grandbois, Morgan Greene, Russell Howland, Geo Bonner, Will Bonner, Dash Bowman, Benny Candia, Juan Cediel, and Sam Fox – many of whom were enjoying their first ever mountain ascent. The Cube group – Steven Castleman, Noah Goebel, Lenny Herbert, Ethan Onysko, Miles Whitcombe, Manfred Creane, Sasha Honig, Carlos Martiarena, Connor Smillie, Luke Wiesel, and Everett Wooldridge –went up the back side of the mountain, ate up top with views of Lower Baker Pond, and then came down the Appalachian Trail back to Rt. 25A and just a couple miles from camp. Our oldest campers, meanwhile, enjoyed a strenuous day hike up Mt. Moosilauke with Charlie Malcolm and Henry McLeod. Cormac Anderson, Aubrey Bailey, Marcelo Emal-Langrand, Carter Glahn, Florian Henry-Labordere, Will Sandor, Luke Young, River Hambleton, and Leo Martin tackled this hike with great attitudes and enjoyed some of the best views up top that a Pemi day hike offers.

Canoeing across Lower Baker

Lower 4 – Henry Hornblower, Ben Miller, Mitchell Plante, Oscar Quinn, Finn Scott, and Sebastian Velez  – paddled across the lake to cook dinner over the fire at Pine Forest. Upper 3 – Anthony Evans, Ezra Otubusin-Reese, Sam Reppucci, Nico Richards, and Graysen Woodbury – did the same at Flat Rock. These trips across the lake give boys the opportunity to help cook a meal while dining lakeside and bonding as a cabin. The quick change of scenery and chance to eat outside provide for a beautiful meal, and the chance for a post-dinner dip in the lake on a beautiful evening can’t be beat. Junior 3 – Charles Golay, George Kingdon, William Moore, Carr Polsinelli, Pepito Rodriguez, and Niam Santiago – were joined by Scout Brink and Lew Mason for the inaugural trip up Pemi Hill for 2024. Scout, a veteran trip counselor and middle school science teacher, has revamped the Pemi Hill trip to include an afternoon on the hillside above camp learning camp craft and leave no trace principles while exploring the woods. This new addition to the Junior trip program is sure to be a hit!

The athletics and nature programs are also fully underway. On Monday a group of boys – Ben Jones, Wade Fleming, Oscar Quinn, George Kingdon, Kaz Sulski, and Carlos Martinez – ventured over to the Palermo Mine for mineral collection and geological exploration. On Tuesday afternoon the intercamp sports season got underway as the 11s hoops and 13s soccer teams went over to Moosilauke for Baker Valley Tournaments. The hoops team saw great rebounding from Sebastien Velez and Jarmani Torres, strong all-around play from Makua Ferry and Bennett Purdy, and incredible hustle from Finn Scott, Nick Brown, Sam Wetherald, and JJ Otubusin-Reese. The 13s soccer team, shorthanded by trips, brought a group of 11-13-year olds and still managed to more than hold their own. Baz White had an early candidate for goal of the season with a clean volley off of a Ben Araujo corner kick. With strong play from Graysen Woodbury, Sidney Harris, Wilkes Goobic, Tyson Madkins, Jaime Diaz, Nico Richards and more, the team got their age group off to a great start.

As is hopefully clear, once the Pemi season gets going, it really gets going. We’re only five days into the summer, but already it’s all systems go. This afternoon we’ll kick off the Pemi Olympics (more on that next week), another trip has already left camp this morning, Saturday will see eight more sporting events as part of our annual BVT Day, and tonight we’ll have our first Junior/Senior Campfire where the Juniors will meet their Senior buddies. The spirit and kindness of the Pemi community are in full force in just a matter of days; it’s going to be an amazing summer!

– Pat Clare

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