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2024 Newsletter #2

Greetings from Wentworth!

While this is somehow only the second newsletter of the 2024 summer, it feels like everyone in camp is a years-long veteran already. The boys are fully into the rhythm of life at Pemi – they’ve formed bonds with their cabinmates, they run around camp as if they’ve been here forever, and they’re shaking the rafters in the Mess Hall with the spirit and energy of their singing. We’ve had stunning weather almost every day since the rainy opening weekend, meaning that trips have continued to go out, nature excursions happen daily, and our athletics schedule has proceeded nearly uninterrupted. Even more importantly, the community has wholeheartedly embraced our summer theme of character. From Seniors bonding with their Junior buddies to waiters helping out substitutes filling in for boys on trips to teammates picking each other up during games, Pemi campers are looking out for one another and the beautiful space that we’re lucky enough to call home each summer. We’ve (somehow) reached the halfway point of the first session, and it’s been heartwarming to witness the community so quickly unite around the concept of character and looking out for one another in all that we do. Read on for more details from the past week here at Pemi!

Junior/Senior Campfire

Last Wednesday saw the opening Junior/Senior Campfire down on Senior Beach. A favorite Pemi tradition, these gatherings include Juniors being teamed up with a Senior buddy who they get to know and who can help them with their adjustment to camp. As the counselors read off the pairings, Juniors lit up when their Senior buddy greeted them with a big high-five and started asking about their first few days at camp. Some of the Seniors quickly got a taste of what life on staff will be like in a couple summers as they did their best to keep up with Juniors who wanted to go from rock skipping to shooting hoops to roasting marshmallows to the beach volleyball court in what seemed like just a matter of seconds. Luckily, Pemi’s Seniors are more than capable of matching the Juniors’ energy. They delighted in showing their younger buddies the secret of how to angle a rock to make it skip higher or farther, helping them get that perfectly-golden-brown marshmallow, and answering the non-stop questions that came their way. We’ll have more opportunities to get the Junior and Senior campers together, including a few special nights where Seniors will go down to Junior Camp at Taps and read to the cabin that their buddies are in.

The Olympic torch is lit!

As was briefly introduced last week, another Pemi event that brought together boys across our full age range was the Pemi Olympics. For this new first session tradition, campers were split into four teams, each led by a group of 15-year-olds. The older campers were responsible for creating a “country” name and a national flag to go along with it. Channeling their inner Bean Soup editor mindset, the 15s came up with entertaining Pemi-themed names: the Independent Republic of the Squash (the IRS), the Communitive Counties of Pemi (the CCP), The United SixPence, and the People’s Democratic Republic of Lower Baker. The opening ceremony was held on Senior Beach, where the chairmen of the Pemi Olympic Committee, Donovan Laas and Josh Scarponi, emerged clad in togas to announce the Games’ beginnings. They were assisted by Pemi’s head of archery Steve Clare who shot a flaming arrow into an Olympic pyre floating in the lake – or, as Bean Soup was quick to point out on Monday when awarding Steve Staff Member of the Week honors, Steve very nearly shot the arrow into the pyre, leading Josh and Donovan to wade out into water to light the Olympic fire.

Olympic cannonball Competition

Over the course of the next five days, the teams engaged in a variety of competitions as they competed for the Olympic gold and the coveted prize of the first-ever Pemi Olympics t-shirts. The events were a mixture of traditional Pemi games (wiffle ball, capture the flag, frisbee golf) and special Olympic events (an Olympic-themed trivia bowl in the Senior Lodge, a cannonball competition, and Zabawa’s Amazing Amulet Race). The games were designed to fit around the existing Pemi schedule to ensure that the rest of our expansive program didn’t miss a beat. This meant, for example, that on an afternoon when there were 10s and 15s sporting events, there was Olympics wiffle ball for 11-13-year-olds. It also allowed boys an additional option during free time, such as the Thursday night post-dinner trivia game that was open to campers of all ages. The Olympic chairmen and other event leaders provided daily score updates after each set of events, and a board on the Mess Hall porch provided a running tally during the games. As we moved into the weekend, the Olympics scoreboard was very much the talk of the town.

Campers taking aim with water balloons

On Sunday afternoon we held the final event to determine which team would take home the gold (t-shirts). Each team had a series of tasks during an Amazing Race style relay race, complete with clues that directed them towards their next event and, ultimately, towards an “amulet” that was their ticket across the finish line. Teams were in the library racing to put together a puzzle, then off to the basketball court where team members from each age group had to hit a certain number of shots (layups for Juniors, free throws for Lowers, 3-pointers for Uppers and Seniors). Down at the Green Monster, a group of defenseless but fearless counselors, joined by one assistant director, were at the mercy of each team as they raced to see how quickly they could hit us a dozen times with water balloons to earn their next clue. The defenseless counselors did manage to lob the occasional balloon back towards the campers to encourage them to keep throwing at us, although when 15-year-old baseball pitcher Luke Young wound up and unleashed an 80-mph balloon, we perhaps regretted giving him that extra bit of motivation. I was lucky enough to receive a direct hit courtesy of Junior 1’s Ben Bonner instead of Luke.

The Olympic champions

As each team successfully completed their respective last task, they learned that their final destination was Junior Point. Sprinting down as a team with the trophy they’d been handed at their sixth and final station, they arrived by the water to await the big announcement. The Olympic Chairmen tallied the results of the relay race, quickly crunched the numbers, and emerged from the Junior Lodge to announce that the Independent Republic of the Squash were the 2024 Pemi Olympics champions! The boys received their winners’ t-shirts, and at every meal since there’s been at least a dozen boys and counselors in the Mess Hall sporting the distinctive gold tees. It’s safe to say that the Pemi Olympics are here to stay!

9s Soccer

With all of this going on, our regular Pemi program somehow didn’t miss a beat at all. It’s been a whirlwind of activity across the spectrum, including a first week and weekend filled with loads of athletic competitions. In a rare 9 & under soccer game last week, Pemi’s youngest campers demonstrated that the future of our athletics program is quite bright indeed. Easily handling everything that our neighboring camps threw at them, Pemi’s 9s played incredible soccer, paced by Max Dennett’s eight goals across three games. The team saw excellent play from Henry Matlack, Miller Grandbois, Holden Burr, Saleem and Yaseen Usman, George Kingdon, Niam Santiago, Morgan Greene, and many others. Best of all, these boys had clearly taken to heart our message that Pemi athletics is first and foremost about having fun while being good teammates and sportsmen. Winning all three games was a nice bonus, but the boys showed that they know how to play the right way. Our 15s soccer team had a bit of a tougher go in their opening fixtures, but they also played with spirit and camaraderie that mattered far more than the results. With strong play from Tim French, Florian and Aurelian Henry-Labordere, Miles Whitcombe, Lenny Herbert, Carlos Martiarena, and others, the 15s had a fun and spirted afternoon that bodes well for success later on this summer.

On Saturday we had our annual BVT Day. While the one aforementioned blip in our string of perfect weather occurred Saturday afternoon, we still managed to get in a full morning of fun-filled competition across all age groups. 10s hoops played three games, earning strong results in each of them thanks to great team play from the likes of Dash Bowman, Will Bonner, Asher Goldring, Holden Burr, Russell Howland, Miller Grandbois, Max Dennett, and Henry Matlack (as a spirited assistant coach). 13s baseball played at Pemi, with Graysen Woodbury getting the start on the mound. In addition to his strong pitching performance, Graysen turned a first-inning double play in the top half of the frame and followed that up with an extra base hit in the bottom of the inning. The team also received strong pitching from Will Dennis and Thomas McNelly, who tossed a scoreless final inning. Angus Eslick pinch-ran and scored a run and then made a beautiful underhand toss to throw out a runner at home. While we lost 5-4 in the end, it was a nail-biter of a game and tons of fun. 12s basketball and 15s ultimate also competed in the morning, and you’ll be able to find more details on those events in Bean Soup.

Long jump at the BVT track meet

Continuing in the athletics realm, Pemi hosted the annual BVT track meet on Monday afternoon. This event sees scores of campers from Kingswood, Moosilauke, and Walt Whitman descend onto Pemi’s grounds to compete in the long jump, high jump, shot put, 60-yard-dash, and mile across all age groups. Pemi’s track stars had a banner day thanks to great turn out and participation from boys aged 8 to 15. In the 11 & unders, Wilkes Goobic took home first place in the shot put and long jump, Jarmani Torres won the high jump, and Bennett Purdy won the mile by a mile. For the 13s Tom Mele won the shot put and was joint winner in the high jump along with Anthony Evans. Graysen Woodbury and Tyson Madkins tied for first in the mile while Sam Reppucci won the 60-yard-dash. In the 15s we had strong performances from James Davis (1st in shot put), Frankie McLaughlin (1st in high jump), and Rowan Stewart (1st in long jump). All three age groups took first place overall, leading to a decisive Pemi victory for the meet.

Yesterday (Tuesday) we had teams compete in 11 & under street hockey at Walt Whitman and 13s basketball here at Pemi. The 11s hockey team – Parker Brown, Wilkes Goobic, Phil Preiss, Ashe Pages, Jasper Gandhi, Max Dennett, George Kingdon, and honorary 11 Danny Follansbee – went 2-1, displaying strong team play despite Pemi not having a street hockey rink for them to practice on. We had great basketball performances from James Williams, Alex Fernandez, Ezra Otubusin-Reese, Tyson Madkins, and Anthony Evans. Tyson also deserves a special shoutout for giving a detailed, poised, and highly entertaining Mess Hall announcement recapping the team’s 3-0 afternoon. Pemi’s coaches normally make these announcements, but we love it when campers want to volunteer to speak in front of the whole community, and Tyson set the standard for what a great camper announcement should look like.

Juniors 1 & 4 heading up Rattlesnake

Pemi’s trip program has also continued to take full advantage of the beautiful weather we’re experiencing this session. Tuesday saw another five (yes, five!) overnight trips leave camp, with groups heading to the Presidentials for hut trips, the Kinsmans ridge, Smarts and Cube via the Appalachian Trail, and Junior 1 to the Pemi Hill shelter. Right around the time this newsletter gets sent out, it’s entirely likely that the Madison Springs – Everett Wooldridge, Tim French, Will Bixby, Ethan Onysko, Kavin Aggarwal, and Ben Jones – and Lakes of the Clouds – Rowan Stewart, Sasha Honig, Connor Smillie, Jonathan Thibault, Miles Whitcombe, Lenny Herbert, River Hambleton, and Bryce Madom – groups will be passing each other as they trek opposite directions on the Presidential ridge. Meanwhile, the Kinsmans crew – Jaime Diaz, Charlie Knapp, Thomas McNelly, Sam Reppucci, Graysen Woodbury, Nico Richards, and Steven Castleman – will have completed their six-mile hike to the Eliza Brook Shelter yesterday afternoon and will be traversing the Kinsmans Ridge today, summitting North and South Kinsman, before heading to the Kinsman Pond campsite tonight and hiking down past Lonesome Lake Hut and out past the Kinsman Falls and the Basin in Franconia Notch tomorrow. The Smarts and Cube group – Boden Wein, Wade Fleming, Bennett Purdy, Kaz Sulski, Chris Castellano, Ahran Santiago, Micah Tolbert, and Nicholas Brown – will spend most of today checking off a large number of miles in Pemi’s collective quest to hike every mile of the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire this summer. The group will also have the fun experience of having been dropped off in Lyme, NH at the start of their trip yesterday but then returning to camp entirely by foot via the Pemi Hill trail tomorrow. It’s been a banner start to the summer for the Pemi trip program!

The nature program, meanwhile, continues to offer boys unparalleled opportunities to explore the ecosystems around us. Next week’s newsletter will feature an extended description of the nature program, as Head of Nature Deb Kure will be spearheading a special Bio Blitz this weekend to help celebrate the 100th summer of a formal nature program at Pemi. We’ll hear much more from Deb next week. To ensure that the program doesn’t get short shrift this week, however, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the special field trips that have gone out this week. On Monday a group went to the nearby Quincy Bog, a favorite photography and exploration location that we visit a couple times each summer. Yesterday Deb, Megan, and Landon took a group to a property that Deb has nicknamed The 200, because it’s a 200-acre property whose owner has granted Pemi special permission to explore it. The property’s caretaker, Brian Van Guilder, was Pemi’s longtime head of waterskiing, and he was kind enough to show the Pemi group around the beautiful natural setting that includes a rock wall and sugar maple lined entry before sprawling into meadows, woodlands, and a waterfall that lends itself to stunning nature photography. The crew of Jared Maltese, Benny Evan, Vikram Jay, Arthur Johnson, and Alex Andersson had a blast walking around with Brian and the Pemi nature staff, and they learned a ton in the process.

Piano lessons in the Jr. Lodge

If this is your first year reading our newsletters, you’re probably quickly figuring out just how much happens every day here at Pemi. Believe it or not, these newsletters offer only a tiny glimpse of all that goes on in a Pemi week. I didn’t even have time in this edition to go into some fantastic campfire performances, including an amazing story by Pepito Rodriguez, beautiful piano improvisation by Max Fox, and an entertaining short dramatic production by Roger Kriegsman and head of drama Patty Frank. I also failed to detail Tom Reed Jr.’s inspiring Sunday Meeting followed by his triumphant return to the editor’s table as a Bean Soup guest editor on Monday night. It’s simply too hard to keep up with all that happens in a given Pemi week, even as life moves peacefully along in our screen-free natural setting. Check back next week to read about our 4th of July celebrations, archery and swim meets, even more trips, and a special feature on the nature program!

– Pat

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