#7: Setting the Standard

2019 Newsletter Number 7

[This week’s letter comes from Associate Director Kenny Moore]

On Tuesday, August 6, two visitors from the American Camp Association (ACA) spent the day at Camp Pemigewassett as part of our regular accreditation process. Every five years, we host an official visit to share our policies and procedures with the ACA. The national organization sets forth industry-accepted and government-recognized standards and accredits more than 2,500 camps throughout the country. ACA visitors are all camp professionals who volunteer their time to ensure that camps across the country are following the best practices in the camping industry. Five years ago, I became an ACA visitor, which provided me with a wealth of knowledge about the accreditation process and also the camp industry as a whole. We can gain so much from sharing our ways of doing things with like-minded peers and learning about similar institutions.

Just this past winter, the ACA revised their accreditation standards in an effort to streamline the process and to better meet the needs of camps in the present day. The new organizational scheme is broken down into seven sections, each with a primary focus on the operations of a camp. These apply not only to residential camps but also to day camps, short-term camps, summer programs at schools, and vendor groups using camp facilities. Here are the seven sections:

CR – Core/Foundational
AD – Administration
FA – Facilities
HW – Health and Wellness
ST – Staff Qualifications, Training, and Supervision
PD – Program Design and Activities
PA – Program Aquatics

In total, these sections list one hundred and seventy-six standards, many of which have multiple components. For each standard, there are a few ways to demonstrate compliance. The ACA stipulates whether written material is required or, alternatively, an observation from the visitor or a discussion of policy from the Camp Director. For example, CR.5 – Conditions of Facilities, Equipment, and Vehicles – “Are buildings, structures, grounds, equipment (including vehicles, if applicable) and activity areas maintained in good repair, and kept clean, safe, and sanitary?” Our description of our maintenance procedures and the visitor observation covers this standard.

Or AD.5 – Transportation Information for Parents – “Are parents or guardians of campers who are transported to/from camp provided written information? (Written documentation required).” We share materials and our transportation information as found in the Parent section of our website along with our safety rules for van/bus travel. This demonstrates compliance. There are some standards that ‘Do Not Apply’ to Pemi, such as PA.7 Swimming Pools (our lake does just fine for swimming and boating, thank you) or PD.16 Pony Rides (and we haven’t had horses here since the 1930s). These are scored as DNA.

The accreditation process starts early in the spring when Elizabeth Snell, the New England ACA Standards Coordinator, contacts Danny and me. She connects us with two other camp professionals to schedule an official visit day later in the summer as well as a pre-visit to get the ball rolling. The pre-visit includes thirty-five standards that are either scored by written documentation or Director interview, most of them falling into the Administration category. In April, Danny met with our visitor and shared our policies covering these standards.

Kim Malcolm's bookshelf

Kim Malcolm’s bookshelf

Also in April, our wonderful administrative coordinator Kim Malcolm began to organize Pemi’s personnel and materials for the official visit. Kim has successfully guided Pemi through multiple ACA visits over the past few decade, and we are incredibly lucky to have her spearheading our efforts. Adding to this year’s challenge was that, as I noted, the ACA updated their standards since our last visit in 2014. We all needed to spend time with these newly written and organized standards to be sure we understood these new requirements together with the new location of old standards.

Visit Day

While the accreditation process is a matter that technically involves only our staff, this year the campers got wind of what was going on and really took an interest. They know and love Pemi and wanted to be sure the visitors saw us for what we are. A signal that we were ready for our visit day came over loud and clear in the Mess Hall on Monday evening. In lieu of one of our traditional Tecumseh Day cheers, the crowd of interested boys excitedly chanted, “Na Na Na Na, Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey-ey ACA!” Each repetition was louder and quicker, adding palpable energy to the Mess Hall.

The tour on Tuesday morning started in the kitchen to check out Tom Ciglar’s operation in full swing. Visitors looked to be sure that the kitchen works in a clean and efficient manner. Tom showed us the walk-in-fridges, his dry storage, the dish-cleaning area, and the mechanical dishwashers, describing each and every process we use to ensure safety and cleanliness.

Next up at Buildings and Grounds, Reed Harrigan walked us through each of the bays of the maintenance shed, pointing out the locked cabinets containing hazardous materials as well as the electrical, water, and other utility maps that explain the infrastructural workings of Pemi. A quick trip then behind the shed, to see the Pemi fleet of vehicles—one school bus, four rental 12- or 15-passenger vans, and three rental cars, each equipped with a mileage log, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, and emergency flares.

Dr. Sabrina DeStefano

Dr. Sabrina DeStefano

Dr. Sabrina DeStefano toured our visitors through the Health Center, showing them the facility with the necessary secure storage for medications, our record-keeping process (thanks CampMinder!), and our quiet rooms for boys needing to rest and recuperate. After the Health Center, we visited Lower 1 to check out one of our permanent sleeping quarters. One of the visitors grabbed a broom and reached up to press the test button on the smoke detector, which beeped cooperatively in compliance. Then it was on up the hill to the Intermediate Shower House and Pagoda, to inspect one of Pemi’s bathroom facilities.

Next, we visited the Nature Lodge to hear Larry Davis discuss the Nature Program, most notably the Wild Foods occupation and the annual caving trip. (Larry, by the way, is a long-time ACA visitor himself, and is a wonderful asset to have in hand as we prepare to be visited ourselves!) Larry’s training and experience easily covered the requirements for both special programs. Brian Tompkins then showed us around the wood shop and its power tools, a place where safety is obviously paramount. Our visitors checked to be sure that guidelines were posted and that the operation followed them to a T.

Kim and Ken and our ACA visitors

The visitors then sat down with Kim and me at a picnic table in the sun to review the standards that we witnessed during our first walk-about. We positively cruised through the sections, as Kim had all of our paperwork arranged in precise order. When asked about our hiring policies (AD.24), Kim presents the documents explaining our process, starting first with our hiring checklist. “Here is the application for staff members, their reference checks, notes from their interview with one of the directors, and their results from the mandated background check.” Our visitors inspect each document, note that we are in compliance, and move on to the next standard. After an hour of paperwork, I take our visitors to observe a few more of our specialized activities.

Specialized Activities

The ACA defines a Specialized Activity as one that requires equipment or tools that necessitate supervision by a skilled adult. Archery, woodshop, hiking trips where cooking on the trail is necessary, or competitive sports where protective equipment is used (Lacrosse, Soccer, Baseball) fall into this domain. Our staff provides excellent supervision within all these activities either through their own experience in the field or through specific training.

Safety comes first on the Archery range

Safety comes first on the Archery range

At the waterskiing dock, Molly Malone explained how she runs her program, the use of lifejackets, and other aquatic safety regulations specific to her area. Chloe Jaques was teaching sailing from the safety boat as our visitors checked out the rules and safety guidelines for proper boating that were clearly posted in the Boathouse. At Senior Beach, Charlotte Jones discussed our process for classifying swimmers through our required swim check and also the buddy system we use for ensuring safety during Free Swim. On the Archery range, our visitors witnessed Steve Clare running the range in a safe, efficient manner, noting the correct use of equipment (in line with conspicuously posted rules), locked storage for bows and arrows, and documentation of the appropriate staff training.

The day was a tremendous success. ACA standards for accreditation allow for the taking of a few “No” answers to the hundreds of questions, but Pemi came away from this with nothing but “Yes’s”! Our visitors noted Kim’s complete understanding of the standards process, and in fact joked about hiring her away from us for their own camps’ next review. Pemi’s key operational areas—the kitchen, buildings and grounds plant, and the Health Center, all hummed along on an impressive level. We are so fortunate for their care, constant eye towards safety, and unfailing hospitality for all of us at Pemi. Moreover, our program heads demonstrated their extreme competency in running their areas in a safe and structured way that was, at the same time, fun and exciting. It was a true team effort across the board. You may not be surprised to learn that the boys, that evening in the mess hall, followed up on their earlier “Na Na Na Na” effort with a rousing chorus of “Perfect Score!”

–Kenny

[That’s it for now. We look forward to getting back to you next week with Danny’s season-summarizing Toast from Thursday’s Final Banquet and the legendary Clive Bean’s review of The Mikado, which opened last night in the Pemigewassett Opera House.]

#6: Tecumseh Day through the Lens of a Camera

Pemigewassett Newsletter #6

This week’s newsletter comes, as promised, from Charlie Malcolm. A history teacher and head coach of the boy’s varsity soccer team at the Northfield-Mt. Hermon School in the off-season, Charlie has been our Athletic Director for close to three decades. His ability to motivate Pemi coaches and teams to be keen, well-prepared competitors and, at the same time, flawless sportsmen is an annual marvel here.

How Pictures Tell Stories:
Rendering Tecumseh Day through the Lens of a Camera

Every year, I write the Week Six Newsletter summarizing our annual athletic competition with Camp Tecumseh.  In the last five years, I have written about the day from the Juniors’ perspective, the Seniors’ perspective, the Sports Center blow-by-blow version, and the quick summary of the day followed by an extended description of my trip in the Allagash Wilderness.  This year, I’ll provide you with a brief overview of what transpired and then discuss some of my favorite photos taken both home and away that capture why this particular Tecumseh Day was special.

All season we have been blessed by incredible weather and also by photos from Dottie Reed, Tom Reed, Johnny Seebeck, and various trip counselors and program directors as they capture the essence and daily wonderment of Pemi and the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  When I went through this season’s Tecumseh Day images, I was blown away by the quality and by the way so many photos captured a critical moment of a game or an essential lesson of the day.

Before I dive into the images with a corresponding narrative, I want first to walk through the build-up to the day, and what transpired in terms of wins and losses.  For various reasons, this Tecumseh Day felt especially good, and perhaps I should explain why. But let’s first start with what happened during our contests by the numbers.  We played Tecumseh in twenty events (baseball, soccer, swimming, and tennis) in the following age groups: 10-and-unders, 11s, 12s, 13s, and 15-and-unders. Our baseball program went 4-1, Tennis 3-2, Swimming 1-4, and Soccer 0-4-1.  In terms of overall age group records, the 15s finished 3-1, the 13s 2-1-1, the 12s 2-2, the 11s 0-4, and the 10s finished 1-3.

Pemi lost by the overall score of 8-11-1, but handily beat Las Vegas odds makers by 2.5 wins.  The Las Vegas line undoubtedly placed weight on the sub-par showing against Camp Kingswood a week earlier; on the limited one and a half weeks Pemi had to prepare, compared to Tecumseh’s three weeks; and on Tecumseh’s having twelve to fifteen additional campers in each of the 10, 11, and 12 age groups—odds that would be tough to overcome.

I’ll be honest, when the Las Vegas line of 6.5 wins for Pemi came in early in the week, I was shamefully leaning towards the under. Perhaps the three straight days of 90 degree temperatures shaded my analysis of our chances as the younger kids fought through the heat. Also, I had met with my counterpart from Tecumseh on Monday and knew the numbers for each division traveling to Pemi. Don’t worry, I didn’t share my concerns with the Pemi community, nor did I go to an off-track betting establishment and place a poorly considered wager.

What I didn’t sufficiently weigh was that our Seniors were doing an outstanding job inspiring their fellow Pemi campers to believe in each other and to give 100% in every contest.  I also didn’t quite appreciate the effect that outstanding coaching from a veteran Pemi staff—many certified Pemi warriors—would have on our boys. Ned Roosevelt, Patterson Malcolm, Henry Day, Nick Bertrand, Will Meinke, Andy MacDonald, Julian Webster-Hernandez, Nick Bowman, Charlotte Jones, and Chris Johnson are all veteran coaches or former campers who never back down.  Another influence I didn’t quite factor in was how many of our critical athletes playing central roles are the sons of former Pemi campers, raised on stories of mighty battles against our rivals from Camp Tecumseh. We are rolling out teams with boys named Cowles, Nook, Snyder, Applebaum, Burke, Greenberg, Judd, Broll, Schweagler, Silloway, Wyman, Somp, and others…they were not raised to wilt on this day of all days!  Nor did they!

You could feel the momentum building in the Mess Hall from the midpoint of the season. Once the Second Session boys arrived to join our Full Session campers, the Seniors unleashed “I believe…I believe that…I believe that we will win!” “Two more days,” and  “Where are my dogs at?” These exuberant, spontaneously wild cheers in the Mess Hall clearly had their effect.

While the 15s were amping up their energy and focus all week, the younger campers met the challenge of preparing with a wide range of success.  Just keeping track of shin guards, baseball gloves, tennis racquets, and swim goggles proved to be a fulltime job for the Junior Camp staff and this Athletic Director.  However, the Seniors instinctively found the delicate balance of inspiring younger campers without creating anxiety or nervous energy. This year they spoke from the heart and hit the perfect tone for the day.

Andrew Roth and Isaiah Abbey—both rehabbing from significant winter knee surgeries—were dealing with the crushing frustration of not being able to play in their last Tecumseh Day. Yet these Pemi veterans chose to provide steady leadership by channeling their personal disappointment into positive energy, selflessly lifting the boys.  I looked out at the excited boys in the Mess Hall and searched for the right words to set the tone. Seeing the Seniors’ commitment to the day and watching the community gradually become more unified shaped my message to the boys before they started the day of competition. Even so, something special was happening that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time.

Each year I send the boys off with some parting wisdom usually dredged from deep in my soul after years of Tom Reed Sr. mentoring me as a boy and as an athletic director. For Tom, the purpose of sports and especially our competition with Tecumseh was for each one of us to embrace the competition in a spirit of decency and respect for our opponents, making the most of the chance to embrace our shared humanity when we are most vulnerable to the self-serving temptations of competition.  For Tom, humility, hard work, and integrity were the most important attributes that coaches and players should uphold when representing Pemigewassett. Tapping my inner Tom Reed Sr., I merged his wisdom with the leadership the Seniors were providing the community to offer these final words before the boys left the Mess Hall for competition:

We play this day not to win “the hat,” but to become a better community.  The day will challenge you to be the best version of yourself, whether you are in the heat of the battle or on the sidelines cheering.  So much about this day is about coming together, lifting each other up, staying engaged in every contest, competing for each other, and having the courage to compete to the last whistle, pitch, serve, or race.  If at the end of the day we are a stronger, more committed community, and if each of you can look in the mirror and say, “Yes, I gave it my all” while upholding unwavering sportsmanship, then Tecumseh Day will be successful, regardless if we win “The Hat” or not.  This day will test you; that’s why we do it. Let’s go out there and compete for each other and become a stronger community.

Let the Games Begin…at Tecumseh

When you look through the photos of 10’s baseball, you can see and feel the intensity of a close game.  I want to highlight two players, Luke Young and Chase Nook, who met the challenge and helped carry their team to an inspiring victory.  Their stories capture to perfection how this day of competition creates opportunities for personal resiliency.

Luke Young calling his shotIn the last inning, with Pemi trailing 1-0, Chase Nook was standing on first base after working a critical lead-off walk. Luke points to the distance…is he calling his shot?  Luke is the younger brother of 2018 Fauver Baseball Trophy winner Sam Young, easily one of the best baseball players in camp who pitched a no-hitter for the 11’s baseball team last year on this very field.  From the shadows of his older brother, Luke Young delivered a mighty blow that split the Tecumseh outfielders and rolled fittingly all the way to Munger Hall, named after the legendary college coach and Camp Tecumseh director.  Luke stood on third as the Pemi faithful and bench went wild…and unleashed an even bigger smile.

After giving up a lead-off homer to a Tecumseh batter, Chase Nook immediately shook off self-doubt and battled to hold Tecumseh at bay for five straight shutout innings, giving Pemi a chance to seize the lead in the last inning. Think about it, your first batter takes you deep, the home team is going wild, and as ten-year-olds you’re on the road…and then you lean in and dominate!

With both camps surrounding the field and cheering wildly, the little big man on the hill got in the zone, blocked the pressure of the moment, and struck out the first two batters before finishing the game with a diving catch to secure the final out. Chase has the uncanny ability to slow the game down and focus with laser precision. His poise and moxie on the mound are essential ingredients to competing on Tecumseh Day. All week long, Chase had provided his age group with outstanding leadership and, when it mattered most, he delivered an effort for the ages.

With the 10’s baseball game triumphantly completed and the 15’s baseball game already starting, the crowd switched venues to watch the remainder of the 15’s Tennis match—4th singles.  Every coach, player, and fan at Tecumseh, from both camps, was watching this epoch tie-breaker that would determine the outcome of the 15’s Tennis match.

Pemi fans

Luca McAdams missed a week of practice to allow a sprained ankle to heal. Coach Nick Bertrand made the crucial decision to move the brash, competitive Luca from first doubles to 4th singles, sensing Pemi’s depth through doubles was sufficient to make this key change once he realized Luca was fully recovered.

Luca is a gamer and was an ideal athlete to embrace the pressure and challenge of a deciding match.  With the fans cheering wildly after each point, Luca delivered another clutch performance for the ages to secure an 8-6 super tie-breaker victory.  As the word reached the 15’s baseball team just starting the first inning, Pemi’s bats erupted with joy and confidence.

Pemi Alumni Power

With the winds of momentum clearly in Pemi’s sails, our so-far undefeated 15’s baseball team (6-0) sent their ace to the mound, Pierce Cowles.  Both Pierce and Chase Nook are sons of former Fauver Baseball Trophy winners, Peter Cowles and Bill Nook respectively. Cowles is no stranger to competitive baseball games as he has pitched Fairfield, CT deep into the Little League Playoffs, often at the expense of competing for Pemi.  He straddled the rubber, looked in at the catcher, and dominated his opponent with guile and determination.

At Pemigewassett: Playing the Next Game

While the story at Tecumseh was about individual perseverance, pressure, momentum, and steely competitors delivering big-time performances, at Pemi the boys were learning something about confidence, perseverance, staying focused when things aren’t necessarily going well, and the power of community and positive coaching to push individuals and teams forward.

While the 13’s swim team was falling to a talented Tecumseh squad, our 12’s soccer players were battling one of Tecumseh’s deepest teams.  As mentioned earlier, our 10s, 11s, and 12s were taking on much larger age groups in their contests and Tecumseh’s depth was particularly advantageous on the soccer field.  Giacomo Turco spent one summer as a Tecumseh camper before switching to Pemi and is always a warrior on Tecumseh Day as he takes on his former camp. Giacomo was the man of the match for Pemi. Though he made one spectacular save after another, he was noticeably upset after giving up two first half goals in net. Nick Bowman, a former Pemi goalie and Soccer Trophy winner, zeroed in on Turco to help him channel his frustration into determination, and we all watched as Giacomo continued his brilliant play in the second half of the game.  Turco then went on to deliver an outstanding effort for his winning tennis team. And after lunch, with energy to spare, Giacomo led his 12’s baseball victory by crushing a two-run double to provide the winning margin of victory. It’s a long day for our athletes and the positive coaching shown by Bowman is an essential ingredient in helping the boys reach their collective potential. For Giacomo, he just needed to reset before once again becoming a Tecumseh nightmare.

While Assistant Coach Bowman re-channelled Giacomo’s focus for the second half and the rest of the events to follow, Coach Patterson Malcolm rallied his team to fight to the final whistle.  At 3-0 and fifteen minutes to play in the game, Patterson astutely pulled off his tennis players to save their energy for the tennis match. As a coach, you must make critical and, at times, excruciating decisions on when to push for a result and when to back off in a given contest.  When Patterson sent in the reserves in this match, the Pemi faithful kept cheering the lads on, and the 12s hustled and scrapped until they managed to tilt the field in their favor, forcing the Tecumseh coaches to keep their starters in the game. Pemi’s efforts created several scoring chances as they pinged the crossbar and sent another off the post.  They fought their way to a respectful and inspiring finish to their match, building critical confidence for the remainder of the day. Next man up, play to the final whistle, positive community energy, positive coaching…all of these factors were in play and set the 12’s up for a very strong finish to the day.

As I mentioned before, there are big momentum swings on this day, and resiliency, the ability to leave a disappointing loss and move on to the next event, is a critical component of the day and an essential life lesson.   The 13’s soccer team came out flat after losing their swim meet 19-41 to start the day. With Tecumseh pounding at the door, Pemi’s goalkeeper, Ben Buie, kept the team in the game until they discovered their inner strength to compete.  To be honest, many of the Pemi fans initially watched this match passively as their team was pinned down in their end.  After Tecumseh finally scored, the Pemi community, with a little encouraging, woke up and lined up along the brown fence and began cheering enthusiastically, urging the boys to scrap and compete.  Andy McDonald’s team, after a fantastic week of preparation, responded with an effort worthy of their investment and received high praise from the veteran Tecumseh counselors on the sidelines. They were facing a Tecumseh team with six or seven high-level club players and they needed to respond with a desire to win big tackles and swarm defensively as a team.

Pemi evened the score when two pressing Pemi players stripped a Tecumseh defender and Fischer Burke deftly chipped the goalie.  When the crowd began cheering, the effort and determination that followed were the key factors that set up the goal. Pemi battled for 35 more minutes and earned a well-deserved tie against one of Tecumseh’s best teams in any age group.  With the tie, the 13’s had found their mojo and went on to win their remaining tennis match (6-1) and baseball game (6-3).

Afternoon of Competition

There is energy in both mess halls when the score of the day is close.  Pemi found themselves down only 4-5-1, and our collective spirits were high. The afternoon events test our athletes with fatigue and pressure as both camps strike to win each contest.  At Pemi we won 12s baseball and 13s tennis while dropping 11s Soccer. At Tecumseh, the 15s soccer and 10s Tennis lost to leave the score 8-6-1 for Tecumseh heading into the final swim meets and 13s Baseball game.  Pemi would need to win four of the remaining five events to win the hat.

Every boy who stepped up to the starting block knew the day was close and that he would have to muster his last ounce of energy.  Tecumseh’s overall depth at the waterfront made it especially challenging for us to win not only individual events but also have the depth to pull together two relay teams.  Nonetheless, in two of the races, Pemi had a shot in the final relay to win the meet.

Despite Pemi’s best efforts, Tecumseh was able to win three of the final swim meets. However, the 15s reminded us all that you must push yourself in the final race to give your team a chance.  When Tecumseh’s first place lane was disqualified, the 15s were in the position to win the meet, and they did!

At Pemi, the 11s ran into a very strong Tecumseh team while the 12s battled to the final race in another close meet.  While the swimmers gave every last ounce of effort, the 13s baseball team under Henry Day’s leadership kept the pressure on Tecumseh.

On the mound for Pemi was Billy Murnighan, sports glasses on and with the best “flow” in camp.  Like Nook and Cowles, Billy is a gamer who competes in sports without an ounce of nervous energy; he just goes about his business and gets results when the pressure is mounting on others.  One of the reasons campers like Billy are able to find this athletic nirvana is the positive coaching and community that has their backs as athletes. By the time Billy took the mound, you could feel a stronger community emerging at Pemi and witness an excellent coach by his side.  Billy delivered five innings of all-business baseball, leading his team to a gritty 6-3 victory. It was an amazing accomplishment, given this young man had already swum in the meet, played a shutdown outside midfielder in a physical soccer match, and delivered a 6-1 tennis victory.  It’s Billy’s unassuming, quiet leadership that often is the magic necessary to defeat a quality opponent like Tecumseh.

As the buses return to Pemi and the community gathers to meet our 15- and 10-and-under age groups, everyone is genuinely feeling deep appreciation for the day and our community’s response to the challenge of taking on a worthy opponent.  For the 15s, this is one of the more emotional moments of the summer, as they realize that they have competed in their last Tecumseh Day as campers. As the boys emerge from the buses and vans, the majority of them are wiping away tears as they come to grips with the passing of time, the end of being a boy at camp.  Fortunately, all of these young men can look in the metaphorical mirror and feel proud of their efforts, accomplishments, and most importantly, their collective leadership of the Pemi community. And if we and they are lucky, these boys will one day return to Pemi as coaches to impart the very wisdom and resolve they received from countless staff members over their years at Pemi.

Gratitude: The Final Lesson

One of the most important aspects of leadership and character Tom Reed Sr. would highlight for our community is the critical importance of expressing gratitude and respect for your teammates, coaches, officials, and most importantly, your opponent.  In the ideal sports world, a great sports competition is cemented by mutual respect, and each athlete, coach, and spectator is a guardian of this collective experience.

Perhaps the most important factors making the 2019 Tecumseh Day an exceptional experience were the total class and sportsmanship of the Tecumseh community.  Over the years, the relationship between our camps has only gotten stronger. As I moved through the day from greeting Tecumseh as they arrived on their buses to our final dinner in the dining hall, the feedback was universally positive. These are great kids led by excellent staff.  I watched kids thank bus drivers as they left the bus, teams collectively clean up their benches after every contest, thank referees and umpires regardless of the outcome, reach out and helped a Pemi competitor up after a hard tackle or injury, and compete with skill, conviction, and a genuine respect for the game.  I never like to lose to these guys, really, but the genuine respect we have for Tecumseh was only enhanced by their style and humility as they pulled out a hard-fought victory.

As for the Boys of Lower Baker, you can feel that we’re a tighter, more cohesive camp since Tecumseh Day.  The boys enthusiastically signed up for trips to Mount Katahdin, the Mahoosucs, Greenleaf Hut, and the Pemigewassett Wilderness.  Our younger campers are a little more independent and confident as they walk through camp. During Week Six occupations, our athletes are now embracing the Nature Program, practicing for the Mikado, painting in Art World, or off on a trip as they fully engage in all that Camp Pemi has to offer. There could be no surer evidence that Tecumseh Day, win or lose, makes us a better camp.

–Charlie Malcolm

Thank you Charlie, for everything!

We look forward to welcoming our kind readers back next week, for a newsletter from Associate Director Kenny Moore.

 

#5: Utopia Reconsidered

2019 Pemi Newsletter #5

There we sport on land and water,
Far from Eve’s disturbing daughter
(Though perhaps we hadn’t oughter.)

– From “Pemi,” by Dudley B. Reed

 

2019 Female Program Staff. FRONT: Sabrina Lawrence, Hattie McLeod, Hannah Roadknight, Charlotte Jones, Fiona Walker, (Sabrina DeStefano, MD) BACK: Chloe Jaques, Michaela Frank, Wendy Young, Deb Kure, (Dottie Reed), Scout Brink, Taiko Pelick. Program staff not pictured: Molly Malone, Deb Pannell

Women have been central to Camp Pemigewassett from the beginning, but their roles have happily evolved since our founding in 1908. Truth to tell, they were unquestionably most important to Pemi in the early days as nothing more or less than mothers to our campers and staff—positions that obviously loomed large in every individual male life but that we’d never suggest afforded women much honor or prestige at camp itself. Founders Gar and Win Fauver and Dudley Reed were all married when they launched Pemigewassett that first summer and, in fact, Doc Reed’s wife Clara had been persuaded to part with her wedding silver to come up with the purchase price of our first pair of draught horses—far more crucial to the fledgling operation than any sterling flatware or tea service. The hard facts, though, were that the wives of the first directors and of the early “masters” of music and nature instruction spent their days in almost complete isolation from the campers and counselors, dining in their own facility on the Hilltop above camp and cordially excluded from all public occasions save for a Sunday “church service” (with hymns and all—a feature of our mildly sectarian early days) and the frequent performances of the famed Silver Cornet Band. Everything else—Birthday and Final Banquets, Bean Soup, campfires, and so forth—was designated “boys only.” The early thinking was evidently that if camping in the Army was all-male and yielded disciplined, physically-hardened, and tightly-bonded soldiers, then the formula “weren’t broke” for summer camping either.

Head of Program, Wendy Young

Head of Program, Wendy Young

Although the skewed gender situation was “industry standard” for boys’ camps at the time, the second generation of Pemi directors’ wives arguably picked up the torch that had been consequentially lit by Rosie the Riveter in the man-depleted economy of WW II America. Betsy Reed, wife of Dudley’s son Tom Reed, Sr., teamed up with Scott Withrow in 1951 and established the Pemi Gilbert and Sullivan tradition, herself starring as Josephine Corcoran in the inaugural HMS Pinafore. Bertha Fauver, who had met Gar’s son Al in the White Mountains while she was an undergraduate at Smith College, frequently joined her husband in dispatching and picking up hiking trips and, in addition, played a central role in seasonal logistics and supply. At one point, there was some discussion of Betsy and Bertha establishing a sister camp to Pemigewassett, but that never came to pass, and the mission of Pemi remained resolutely male—no girls as campers, no young women on the teaching staff, and (hard as it may be to believe now) no mixed dining. When the current mess hall was built in the spring of 1966, what we now call “the small dining room” was formally designated as “the Ladies’ Dining Room.” Wives of directors and program heads had moved off the Hill to take their meals within mere yards of the boys, but a stout wall remained in between.

Associate Head of Nature, Deb Kure

Associate Head of Nature, Deb Kure

Enter the late sixties and early seventies, when so many things began to change so radically in the United States and across the wider globe. Perhaps the first betokenings we saw at Pemi involved sideburns and shaggy locks, the occasional pair of round, blue-lensed John Lennon shades, bell-bottoms at Sunday meeting, and Beatles or Jefferson Airplane covers at campfires. Many of the old restrictions fell in this new age of liberalism and enlightenment, as female office staff and nurses alike attended and contributed to Bean Soup, vaudevilles, and campfires. It wasn’t until the 1980’s, though, that Pemi hired its first woman as part of the program staff—as a key contributor, in other words, to the camp’s central educational mission. The operant thinking, conceived and urged by a number of the younger members of management, recognized that scores of our alumni had sworn through the years that they’d never lived in a place that came closer to embodying the ideal human community than Pemi: structured but fun, caring, appreciative of wit and wisdom, challenging but supportive, joyful, open-minded. Their lists of treasured qualities might have varied some, but they all sounded distinctly Utopian. But what message was Pemi sending, some of us asked, when you create a nearly ideal communal culture but include women only on the periphery—as nurses, in the office, in the kitchen? I’m not sure the term “patriarchal” was as current then as it has become, but the case seemed clear and, in 1984, Director Tom Reed, Sr. hired the first female staff member: Meg O’Neill, from the Washington D.C. area. A student at Mt. Holyoke, Meg came to us through her cousins in the Magovern family and taught and coached tennis for four eventful seasons, achieving bona fide legendary status.

Head of Sailing, Chloe Jaques

Head of Sailing, Chloe Jaques

There have been women working in program positions every year since, either in-camp or on the specialist trip crew. In some ways, they are “ancillary staff,” as they can’t practically serve as live-in cabin counselors, as the vast preponderance of our male staff do. But, these days, every Junior cabin has a woman associated with it, someone to be part of the reception team when the boys first arrive, someone to sit at the cabin table in the mess hall, someone to help with inspection clean-up or cook-outs across the lake, someone to be part of the little family that is each cabin. Meanwhile, when they’re out and about teaching and coaching in their various areas of expertise and enthusiasm, they are quietly but unmistakably making the point that anything boys can do, girls can do just as well. Well before Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe stepped into the global spotlight to demonstrate their dynamic leadership and stellar play, Pemi boys have been taught and inspired by women in almost every activity we offer. If Pemi still feels Utopian, it’s incontrovertibly a gender-balanced Utopia we’re now talking about.

Prior communications have already introduced the women of 2019’s excellent staff (and half-way through the season, we’re more convinced than ever that this year’s aggregate group is unparalleled in their energy and commitment.) Let’s take a moment to acknowledge, though, that something like half of our program areas are headed by a woman this summer. Wendy Young is a certified athletic trainer at Northfield Mount Hermon School during the winter and serves as Pemi’s overall Head of Program, planning and overseeing the weekly occupations that are at the heart of our educational mission. Last week’s superlative newsletter by Larry Davis echoed our delight that, as Larry steps down as Nature Head after fifty years of service, Deb Kure—now in her 12th Pemi summer—is set to pick up the torch, having already demonstrated her world-class chops as an outdoor educator. Charlotte Jones has rejoined us in the midst of her medical school course for another year as Head of the Waterfront (and celebrated Tecumseh-slayer with her 15-and-under swim team), and is set to receive her 5-year silver bowl. Chloe Jaques heads Sailing for the second summer, having taken over from the accomplished Emily Palmer. Molly Malone, a high school orchestra teacher in Chippewa Falls, WI, has rejoined us for year five as Head of Waterskiing, while Michaela Frank’s long and excellent service has now earned her the position of Head of Music (not to mention her coaching 11’s basketball). Hattie McCloud, back for a third year, is not only heading Canoeing but is also the official Pemi Bugler (and arguably earning the sobriquet “Mother [or is it ‘Sister’?] Time.”) And finally, Deb Pannell, a 5th grade teacher outside of San Francisco, is back for her sixth summer of making Art World one of the most exciting and creative realms your sons could ever venture into.

Head of Waterskiing, Molly Malone

Head of Waterskiing, Molly Malone

We thought you might be interested in hearing from this talented and dedicated group of women, so we asked each of them to respond to a few simple questions: “What do you imagine yourself saying about Pemi forty years from now?” And, “Do you think it’s important for women to serve in program positions at camp. Why?” Many of their answers to the first question echo those we have heard from our male staff for years. “I think the philosophy and goal to create an environment where kids can unplug, try new things, and make lifelong friendships is exactly what kids need in today’s society.” Or “Pemi made me realize when people are truly with the people they are physically with (and not preoccupied with cell phones) they really get to know each other.” Or “I’ll talk about the shared transformational experiences, youth and adult alike.” Or “Working at Pemi kick-started my desire to follow a career in teaching.”

Others spoke more directly, as you might expect, to the social challenges inherent for some in any “single sex” institution. “While coming into an all boys camp as a female counselor and program head is one that many people would consider to be daunting (including myself), it has been one of the best experiences in my life. I really enjoy being a role model for the boys. Working with them has been great, and they really respect you.” Or “Working here has equipped me with the skills required to work in male-dominated workplaces, as it allowed me to see this not as a barrier but as an opportunity to harness.” Or “I have grown so much, both in confidence and as a person. I have made so many lifelong friends and been given so many unique opportunities to try new things and become the leader that I am.”

Head of Canoeing, Hattie McLeod

Head of Canoeing, Hattie McLeod

To a one, respondents felt it was crucial for women to fill program positions at Pemi. Multiple people spoke to the importance of what we’ve called the Lower Baker “Utopia” reflecting the gender realities of the world outside the “Pemi bubble.” “A female-less existence is not what campers will encounter in any of their life, so let’s have the best of females to learn with here.” Expanding on the simple notion of the “realistic presence” of women were remarks like this: “I think it’s very helpful to have women on staff in general. I think it is a bonus to have them in leadership positions.” “The boys at Pemi will learn from and look up to both male and female role models in the real world, and it is important we provide that within the camp community.” Two respondents spoke to the need to “normalize” the idea of women in positions of leadership to allow for a fairer and more balanced future. Aside from modeling leadership or expertise, one woman made the simple but compelling point that “Pemi campers learn a great deal from the positive behaviors they observe. Respectful interactions among the women and the men on the Pemi staff serve as valuable examples for young boys.” And, finally, two comments spoke to our taking advantage of some arguably innate differences between men and women. “Diversity in gender has the added benefit of providing diversity of opinion, which allows better decisions to be made.” And then this: “I have heard from the boys who miss home that it is often their moms that they miss. It’s good for them to have ‘camp moms.’” (One wonders if a boy would be as willing to probe this particular aspect of his summer experience if there weren’t a woman around to listen.)

Head of Art, Deb Pannell

Head of Art, Deb Pannell

Now, let’s hear from the boys. I didn’t ask them to speak about our subjects as “women in the staff”—just as members of the staff. The group I consulted included: Carter Glahn, Richard Lewis, Anders Morrell, Jake Landry, Jackson Heller, Charlie Broll, Giacomo Turco, Charlie Orben, John Poggi, and Owen Wyman. On Wendy Young: “She does so many things for Pemi”; “Wendy is so hard working. She’s always doing things in the background to make everything work.” On Deb Kure: “Wow! What energy! And all of it always positive”; “She’s so enthusiastic it’s catching”; “A great teacher, really great!” On Charlotte Jones: “C.J. is really nice, always encouraging us to do our best, even if we’re not doing so well”; “She makes hard work fun, but she never makes it too hard.” On Chloe Jaques: “Chloe’s a great teacher, and she’s so kind”; “She’s always willing to help, no matter what she’s doing, even if she’s in the middle of something”; “What a nice person. Great accent, too.” On Molly Malone: “Molly’s a great teacher, too. Always supportive”; “She gives me the best tips, everybody, really”; “Man, is she patient. She’s never negative and, when I make mistakes, she never makes me feel bad about it. She just makes me see how to get better.” On Michaela Frank: “Energetic, funny, welcome, inclusive, that’s what I think she is”; “She always puts others before herself. She’s so encouraging.” Hattie McLeod: “I took canoeing with Hattie, and she’s a super teacher. Very organized but kind”; “She always says ‘Hi’ to me, and she learns everybody’s names”; “Hattie’s really funny for an English person.” And on Deb Pannell: “Deb is really energetic…and she’s so helpful and patient”; “She’s always in Art World, and makes everybody feel good about what they’re doing”; “Deb can be stern, but not too stern. I think she’s great at keeping everybody on task and just expressing themselves.”

Let’s wrap this us by coming back around to the excerpt from “Pemi” with which we began. There’s no question that Pemigewassett has been a very male enclave through the years, but I like to think that, when he wrote one of our signature songs way back when, Dudley Reed was very much aware that, although “sporting…far from Eve’s disturbing daughter” may have had some appeal and utility, it also risked straining some overarching propriety. Why else express that final, “though perhaps he hadn’t oughter” doubt? So, “perhaps” even in our earliest days, the ideological groundwork was being laid for cracking the artificial gender barrier and empowering some bona fide ladies to come in and demonstrate that one man’s “disturbance” can easily become another man’s “productive shake-up.” In any case, even the most stodgy and aged of us are more than willing to allow that, these days, some of our most charismatic and inspirational leaders are women. Long may it be so!

Head of Waterfront, Charlotte Jones, and Head of Music, Michaela Frank, flanking Dottie Reed in a “Proud to be Eve’s disturbing daughters” t-shirt, designed by then-Pemi staff member, Katie Schuler, ca 2006.

–Tom Reed Jr.

[Stay tuned for next week’s number and Charlie Malcolm’s account of Tecumseh Day, 2019.]

 

#4: Dr. Larry Davis: Reflections on 50 Years at Pemi

2019 Newsletter #4

This week’s newsletter comes from Larry Davis. We’ll let him introduce himself and the occasion, but it goes without saying that reminiscences from Pemi staff about a half century of service to camp are a real rarity. We can’t think of a more appropriate topic for one of our weekly communiqués.

Fifty Years of Teaching Kids About Nature at Pemi: Reflections on Then and Now

This is my 50th summer of teaching kids about nature at Pemi. While these anniversaries are arbitrary, it does seem to be a good time to reflect on where we were back then, where we are now, and how we got here. I started in 1970. Out there “in the world,” the Apollo 13 accident happened on the way to the Moon. The Viet Nam war was raging, and many men my age (21 at the time) were headed into that quagmire. It was the year of the first Earth Day. In the USA, the voting age was lowered to 18. Gasoline cost 36¢ per gallon and a bottle of Heinz Ketchup cost 19¢.

At Pemi, Tom Reed, Sr., Al Fauver, and Doc Nick were our three Directors. The only women on the staff were Kay Richards, our office manager, and two nurses. Women were not allowed in the Mess Hall for meals; they ate in the Big House “up the hill.” Two campers brought food up to them in a big box with long handles for carrying it. Women were also not allowed at camp fire or Bean Soup. All campers were here for seven weeks and occupations were in two-week blocks. Sunday meeting was “Church” (although that was changing), and we traveled to trips and athletic events on benches bolted onto the beds in the back of open trucks. 1970 was also the first year on staff for future Director Rob Grabill. Like me, he was never “a boy” (Pemi parlance for having been a camper).

For the rest of this newsletter, I’m going to focus on changes over the last fifty years in the Nature Program at camp. We’ll look at the way things were and how they’ve evolved into the way they are now. Enjoy!

People

Clarence Dike with the boys' butterfly and moths collections on the wall. Note the cut-off bird wings at the top left. A bit gruesome, but that’s what they did in the 1930’s.

Clarence Dike with the boys’ butterfly and moths collections on the wall. Note the cut-off bird wings at the top left. A bit gruesome, but that’s what they did in the 1930’s.

Clarence Dike, an English teacher and amateur naturalist from Atlantic City, NJ, ran Pemi’s nature programs for 42 years, the last being 1969. He was 79 when he retired. My run began the very next year. They were big shoes to fill, and as a 21-year-old geology graduate headed for grad school in the fall, I was out of my league (more on that later). In his later years, at least, Clarence had an assistant, a cabin counselor, helping him. I too had an “assistant” in my first year, and a good thing, too. He was Dr. William D. (“Dave”) Winter, a prominent Boston pediatrician and world-class, albeit amateur, moth expert. He had been “a boy” in the 1930s and learned directly from Clarence. Although I was nominally head of the program, he gave me the support and inside tips that I needed to be successful. He was the first of the extraordinary people that it has been my privilege to work with, and to learn from, over the years.

Rob Grabill helping Rob Wheatcroft make a butterfly net. (1973/4) Dr. Wheatcroft is currently Rohm Professor of Oceanographic Education at Oregon State University

Rob Grabill helping Rob Wheatcroft make a butterfly net. (1973/4) Dr. Wheatcroft is currently Rohm Professor of Oceanographic Education at Oregon State University

In 1971, Rob Grabill stepped into the role of nature assistant. By now I was a University Teaching Assistant working with undergraduates but still did not have a feel for how to work with 8-to-15-year-olds, especially in fields outside of geology. Rob was a natural, and not only did I learn more about butterflies and moths from him, but he also showed me the way to teach kids and get them excited about the insect world. Rob was very active in teaching nature until he became the Director, and, even then, he kept his hand in throughout his tenure by teaching the occasional lesson, leading a field trip, or taking kids out at night late in the summer to sugar for underwing moths. Rob’s magnetic personality and his status as a first-class athlete helped the program to grow in popularity, and we soon needed a third person to work with us. For several years, this was Hugh Bennett, another “bug” person (see a pattern here?). He was followed by many more, each of whom brought his (and later her, too) own set of skills and interests to us, further enriching our offerings.

Russ Brummer

Russ Brummer

By the 1980’s, things had grown enough that I needed a “number two” (fans of Star Trek will recognize this sobriquet). One of the first “number twos” was Russ Brummer, a former Pemi camper and later “Pagoda Boy,” who was studying biology and environmental science at St. Lawrence. Russ was (and is) a fantastic birder, knowledgeable about all things natural, a person with limitless curiosity, and beloved by both kids and his fellow staffers. Among his other accomplishments was, as part of his master’s work at Antioch-New England Graduate School, the creation of “Junior Environmental Explorations,” the program we still use to introduce new Juniors to nature. He also essentially ran the program during my year and a half part-time hiatus while I was working for the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

When Russ stepped away to full-time middle school science teaching, he was replaced by Christine Taylor, a person with a background in Forestry, then Paula Goldberg, a PA working in a pediatric cardiology practice and a great lover of spiders.

Deb Kure with camper, working on maps in Phillip Reed Memorial Nature Library.

Deb Kure with camper, working on maps in Phillip Reed Memorial Nature Library.

Finally Deb Kure, the current “number two” and soon (2020) to be “number one” as I step back from the role of program head and “retire” to the fun part, teaching, joined us in 2008. Deb had attended, as a just-graduated geology student at the University of Rochester, our first Nature Instructor’s Clinic (designed to teach instructors from other camps how to run their own nature program at their own camps) in 1993.

If I were to evaluate myself as a program head, I would say that my true genius was to give each of these colleagues the room to try out and refine their ideas, which were then added to the program. From each of them, I also absorbed as much as I could of their knowledge, enthusiasm, teaching techniques, and passion. The one thing we all had in common was an intense curiosity about the world around us and a willingness to answer a great question with, “Gosh, I have no idea, but let’s find out!”

The Building

Views of Nature Lodge: (A) Shortly after it was built c. 1930; (B) 2019

Views of Nature Lodge: Shortly after it was built c. 1930, and in 2019.

Interior of Nature Lodge Shortly after it was built (c. 1930). We still have and use the two tables with birch log legs.

Interior of Nature Lodge Shortly after it was built (c. 1930). We still have and use the two tables with birch log legs.

The Nature Lodge itself has both stayed the same and changed profoundly. Originally built around 1929, the Paul Moore Strayer Nature Lodge is a 36×18 foot (648 square feet) space with the long side facing the lake. As the picture shows, there were only two lights, naked incandescent bulbs, one over each of the two work benches on the side of the building facing uphill. Needless to say, despite the abundant windows, the building was very dark on a cloudy day and most of it was unusable during August evenings. On one of those evenings, Bertha Fauver (Al’s wife) walked in and, ever practical, noticed this fact, and the naked bulbs were soon replaced with 6-foot florescent fixtures (still here!). The following year, we added two more of these on the lake side of the building and have since added several spot lights at each end. The amusing thing about the lights is that each is on its own switch, except the middle spot light, which has two switches, one by the uphill door and one by the lake-side door. In today’s energy-conscious world, this means we are able to use only the lighting we need at a given time, no more. That original building had two big wooden tables (visible in the picture). We still have these, although we have rotated one 90°.

Interior of Nature Library shortly after it was built (c. 1996)

Interior of Nature Library shortly after it was built (c. 1996)

The big change was the construction of the Phillip Reed Memorial Nature Library in 1995. This 24×13 foot (312 square feet) addition increased our space by 50%. (By the way, right now is the first time in my fifty years that we’ve actually made these measurements!) It houses part of our library of nearly 1,000 books (field guides are in the main building), shelves for camper collections and mineral specimens, wall space for pictures and a bulletin board, two library-style tables and chairs (some say the most comfortable in camp) and our small nature “office” (where I am writing this newsletter). Both rooms are both spacious and cluttered. They house storage space (never enough), exhibit space, teaching stations, work benches, our teaching collections, and much more.

Teaching Philosophy

This is probably the area that has changed (as opposed to grown) the most in my time here. I came to the job as a practicing scientist (geology, of course!). Starting with Russ Brummer, all the “number twos” have also been scientists as have many of the teaching staff (many geologists, many “bug” people or ecologists, some biologists, a physicist or astrophysicist or two, and some engineers). This has led us to a very different approach than the one that Clarence Dike used, which was standard for his time.

Traditionally, the emphasis of nature studies at Pemi was on identifying and naming objects in nature. Boys captured butterflies and moths, collected ferns, flowers, and other plants and pasted them into books; put rocks in a box; and, in the early days, even shot birds and small animals and skinned them for display. Awards were given for the most specimens collected in each category (flowers, ferns, butterflies, etc.). This was the first thing that I changed. I felt that our program should be science-based and conservation -minded. We still collected things, but only one of each species. More emphasis was placed on the plant’s habitat or the animal’s behavior along with their places in the overall web of life. I instituted a “rule” that we would only display things in our building that came from our area. Exotic butterflies from Papua New Guinea are exciting and beautiful, but if we display those here it implies, to my mind anyway, that somehow what we have here is not “good enough.” Nowadays, this particular location-centered approach is known as “place-based” education. We established new criteria for nature awards, and I wrote a statement encompassing these that we still use today:

Prizes for various nature activities will be awarded not necessarily for the largest number of different specimens in a particular subject area, but to the boy who has, in the opinion of the nature instructors, the best understanding of what he has collected or of the subject area that he is interested in, who has the best-or­dered collection, and who, in particular, has the best ability, in the field, to recognize varieties and understand their relationship to each other.

Over the years, as each nature staffer added his or her own ideas to our approach, our teaching philosophy has evolved into one that I call informal, scientific, curiosity-driven, content-rich, place-based environmental education. It takes place mostly in the field so that we are actually seeing what we are discussing. It has proven to be a highly effective way to interest children in the world around them. We do have many practicing scientists (and even university faculty) who have gotten their start here. More importantly, however, we have turned out a huge number of future citizens who are aware of the world around them, its fragility, and our need to take care of it. On a lighter note, we’ve also turned out a huge number of people who know that being out in nature and seeing all kinds of “cool” stuff is just plain fun.

The Program

Occupations

In 1970, campers signed up for occupations in blocks that were two weeks long. There was no fourth hour so each camper had nine occupations over the course of a seven-week season (the last week was Pemi Week with no occupations). The choices were somewhat limited. In the nature realm, you just signed up for “nature” and, faced with 20 or 25 kids on the first day of the new two-week occupation block, we had to figure out what they were interested in and also how to satisfy those interests, especially given our limited staff. Later (1974 or ’75, but I’m not sure) we went to one-week blocks but we were still only listed as “nature”. In 1977, one of our staff members, John Ely, who had been a student of mine at Washington and Jefferson College, changed things forever. John was a serious student of beetles (most of the specimens in our reference collections were assembled by him). He wondered if he could offer a “beetles” occupation instead of just “nature”. This seemed like a terrific idea. So, I consulted the powers-that-be and we put it out there. It was an instant success. It was quickly clear that we ought to do this with all our areas of interest, and soon there were Rocks and Minerals, Ponds and Streams, Butterflies and Moths, Environmental Conservation, and many other nature occupations so that campers could choose what they’d like to learn about.

This illustrates just how growth in our program has taken place. Someone gets a good idea, we find a way to implement it, it works and becomes part of the overall “permanent” program. This requires a receptive program head, a dedicated instructor, and most importantly a camp administration that is willing to try something new. At Pemi we’ve always had the “try new things” attitude, and Directors and program heads have always been willing to put up the money necessary to start something new.

Over the years, mostly through this pathway, we’ve added photography, orienteering, wilderness survival, wild foods, and many, many more subject areas to our list of offerings. And we’ve expanded many popular occupations to include beginning and advanced instruction. Today, we offer five different occupations each week in each of the three morning periods. Some repeat every week. Others may come around only once or twice a summer. Overall, in a typical summer, we offer 30-35 different activities.

It’s also important to note that some of the occupations are generated by camper questions or requests. If they are interested, we’ll try to help them find out more. In fact, as I said above, we are curiosity driven, whether it be staff or camper curiosity. We are lucky to have a huge variety of habitats, geology, plants, animals, and features either on our own property or within easy striking distance, so there is lots to explore.

Trips

Beginning with my first year, we have augmented our morning instruction with afternoon field trips. When I found that we actually were in the heart of an old mining area, I couldn’t resist. We got in our truck and headed out to find some of the mineral localities that were listed in my old New Hampshire Mines and Minerals Localities book (I still use it). It was a bonanza! We quickly built a reference and teaching collection, and in the process the campers and I learned a huge amount about New Hampshire’s geology. One mine, the Palermo, turned out to be a world-famous locality. We still go every week, and we’re still finding new material.

In the old days, those trips were limited, as we had to compete with hiking trips and athletics for transportation. Now we have our own dedicated “Mobile Field Laboratory” (i.e., a nature van) and we take trips out most afternoons. Last week alone (when we had a visiting photographer teaching with us for the week), there were trips to Crawford Notch, the Palermo Mine, Franconia Notch and the Basin, north along the Connecticut River, and to a property owned by the Spiess family, who graciously allow us to visit. It is managed by Brian Van Guilder, a former Pemi staffer. It has 150-year-old sugar maples, waterfalls, beech trees with bear claw scratches, mushrooms, open woods, old stone walls, beautiful gardens, and more.

Reflection (Everything I know I learned at Camp)

Well, I have taken a long ramble through the woods and fields with you. It is time to wrap up with a bit of a reflection. A week ago Sunday, I did my annual Sunday Meeting. My title this year was “A Rock is in Back of it All, But Everything Else I Know About Nature, About Teaching, About Life, I Learned at Camp!” I started, in 1970, with a strong geology background that only got stronger as I completed my MS and PhD degrees in the field. That’s the “rock in back of it all.” But like so many others, I only knew about my narrow field and I had had little real teaching experience. My world was the world of academia, so it too was narrow. Pemi opened up worlds for me. I had a wonderful piece of the earth to explore and learn about every summer, my incredible colleagues and our campers taught me about teaching, and the community at Pemi taught me so much about life. All of these things I was able to take back to my university classroom and students, to my life outside of the classroom, and to colleagues near and far. And to think I actually got paid for that! Not bad at all.

[We offer profound thanks to Larry for this and, more importantly, for the underlying fifty years of unparalleled dedication to Pemi and everything our camp seeks to accomplish. His energy, vision, and innovative practices have been a constant inspiration to our staff and campers alike. We hope many of you can join us for a celebration of Larry’s long career in August.

 

#3: Trail Magic

Pemi Newsletter #3, 2019

Prouty volunteers

Prouty volunteers

Well, we’ve been busy. Take Saturday. At roughly 7 A.M., a group of campers joined Associate Nature Head Deb Kure in manning the local rest and refreshment stop on the bicycle route for the 38th Annual Prouty charity challenge. (The event, featuring multiple forms of fund-raising crowd participation, benefits cancer research and patient supportive services at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center.) This year’s community service participants? Charlie Koh, Brady Smith, Wilson Stavros, Cole Johnstone, Austin Greenberg, Philip Fauver, Barrett and Davis Bachner, Daniel Jones, Nathan Gonzalez, Charlie Shapiro, Landon Burtle, Connor Queenin, and Elijah Dorroh. The afternoon found a group participating in the annual National Butterfly Count. Joshua and Emmett Itoi, Leo Ventimiglia, Owen Wyman, and Ted Applebaum joined Deb, Nick Gordon, and Matt Cloutier to add data to that collected by two other central New Hampshire search teams. (Matt and Nick had both been part of earlier counts as campers!) They evidently identified over thirty species of Lepidoptera on a highly successful outing!

Meanwhile, on the athletic front, the morning featured a range of contests with our highly-respected neighbor, Camp Kingswood, followed by an afternoon of Baker Valley tournaments. Not that victories are everything (Pemi consistently touting supportive team play and good sportsmanship as far more important), we’re off to a good start this season. Veteran Director of Athletics Charlie Malcolm reports that we are 35-19-6 for the season. The breakdown by sport? Lacrosse is 8-0, Baseball 5-0, Soccer 5-5-5, Basketball 8-6-1, Tennis 8-7, and Ultimate Frisbee 1-1.

Finally, after a day chock-full of varied and worthwhile activities, the entire Pemi community retreated to the Campfire Circle for the third time this summer to enjoy a range of acts while the sun set brilliantly over Vermont way and a nearly full moon climbed high over Pemi Hill. It was a fitting capstone to a good week.

The second newsletter of the season was, unfortunately, already drafted when the camp community enjoyed one of the very best Sunday meetings in recent memory. It was inspiring enough that we felt it deserved to be at the heart of Newsletter #3.

As you’ll know from our initial 2019 communiqué, we’re fortunate to have back on staff two veteran trip leaders from past seasons: Sam Papel, who has taken over the Pemi Trip Program now that Dan Reed is pursuing his M.A. through his alma mater Middlebury College; and Nick Davini, who is heading up our inaugural Pemi West/Deer Hill collaborative outdoor leadership program in Durango, Colorado. (https://deerhillexpeditions.com/) Both of them already boasted considerable experience in wilderness travel and leadership, but they vastly augmented their outdoor credentials by spending the spring walking the southern half of the Appalachian Trail. Once the season is over, they will head up to Mt. Katahdin in the wilds of Maine and start south, finishing their trek at Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, the spot where they left off to join us at camp.

Sam and Nick were both long-term campers and cut their wilderness teeth in the Pemi outdoor program. Specialist Trip Leaders in 2017 and 2018, they’d frequently spoken of their desire to join the ranks of AT through-hikers, and this spring, they finally did it. Many of your sons run into this fabled brigade of committed backwoods walkers every summer on New Hampshire sections of the AT—on Mt. Cube in our back yard, Mt. Moosilauke just up the Pemigewassett Valley, in the Franconia and Presidential Ranges, and even in the Mahoosucs on the NH/Maine border. Our knowing, then, that Sam and Nick were of their rugged number and had already covered the first half of the 2200-mile trek created real excitement as 250 of us assembled in the Lodge to hear their tale.

Sam and Nick: day one of the AT

Sam and Nick: day one of the AT

After a brief introduction, in which they laid out the storied geographical and historical particulars of the Trail, they jumped into a highly accessible set of reminiscences about the various stages and developments of their trek, using a wonderful set of iPhone images to move the narrative forward. They began at Springer Mountain, Georgia, on March 9th, when the southern Appalachians were still in the grip of winter. In late spring and summer, the trail is aptly described as “the Green Tunnel,” with so much of it running through heavily wooded areas. As Sam and Nick set off, though, the trees were still bare of leaves, and their initial photos were a study in brown footpath and gray bark. They described their arrival at Neel’s Gap, thirty miles into the walk, where something like 30% of aspirant through-hikers throw in the towel—and then literally throw their tied-together shoes up into a tree to bear silent witness to the physical and psychological challenges of the AT undertaking. One of Nick and Sam’s admirable decisions was not to romanticize the walk but rather to use it as an example of the grit and faith and sometimes-hard-to-come-by belief in one’s self that any huge project can involve.

Like any smart through-hikers, both of them had pared their equipment down to a bare minimum, quietly making the point for all of us that material possessions can sometimes be encumbering and are best set aside. Staunch New Englander Nick, though, had severely underestimated the grip that Old Man Winter could still exert in March south of the Mason Dixon Line. After virtually freezing to death in his superlight sleeping bag despite wearing all of his clothing to bed, he had to spring for something more thermally beefy to use until the nights became more temperate. Another good message for planning a trip or, in fact, a life.

Communal moment on the AT

Communal moment on the AT

One of the most moving observations they had to offer touched on the phenomenon of “Trail Magic,” the wonderful pay-it-forward ethos that characterizes not only through-hikers as a group but also the folks who live and work along the AT. There were multiple times, they said, when they turned out to have underestimated the amount of food they would need before they reached their next re-supply. Small wonder, as through-hikers burn through 6000-8000 calories each day, and being in a state of hunger all the way around the clock is an accepted condition of life. As they would fire up their stove, though, waiting to cook their last, solitary package of ramen, other hikers would somehow notice and, without ever being asked, come over and say, “Here, guys. Take these two cans of tuna. I’ve got more than enough, and I’ve got a couple of extra Clif bars, too.” They also spoke of a hostel owner, one of many who maintain economical roofed and windowed crash-pads along the way, who gave them a ride into a nearby town and insisted on housing them gratis. At any number of places where the Trail crosses a road, they said, they would find ice-chests stocked with cold drinks and candy—at others, bearded dudes with their grills fired up, flipping free burgers for the long-walkers. What was perhaps most elevating about their telling us this, though, was their saying that the unquestioning sense of community and care they witnessed reminded them, above all, of Camp Pemi.

Sam shared with us the difficulty of pulling out of the hike for a week when a bout of Achilles tendinitis proved to be impossible to overcome. He retreated to his parents’ home in Nashville to recover, totally missing the fabled Smoky Mountain section of the Trail, something all north-bounders look forward to with huge anticipation. Nick confessed that the week of travel without Sam took him to the greatest depths he experienced. They had often hiked separately, Nick usually rising with (or before) the sun, and Sam often indulging in the opportunity to sleep in. Yet they had almost always camped together and predictably came to depend on their shared sense of companionship and common purpose to recharge their psychic batteries. As he slogged, solo, through icy slush and mud, with his life completely scrubbed of any outside distractions, Nick thought back over the past and found himself dwelling, for some reason, not on the things he’d done well but instead on things he might do a little differently if he could go back and do them over. At one isolated shelter, luckily, an older hiker with the trail name “Pops” picked up on Nick’s discouragement and gave him exactly the pep talk he needed: “You’ve gotta leave all that heavy stuff behind, son.” This additional dose of “Trail Magic” and the constant support of fellow travelers sustained Nick until Sam was able to rejoin him further north, a reunion that reportedly included literal shouts of glee and leaps into the air.

Eventually they made their way north, finding themselves more and more often in terrain that offered spectacular views—craggy ridge tops, rolling alpine meadows, winding, sun-silvered rivers seen from on high. Spring greened the woods, and birds of a hundred varieties scored their walk with their songs. The weather could still throw the odd curveball, as when they were assailed by a thunderstorm on a high and exposed ridge and had to choose between 1) sheltering in place and risking hypothermia or worse and 2) charging on, very vulnerably, until they could reach the true safety of a lower elevation. They wisely chose the second option, but, once again, they offered their audience a valuable lesson in decision-making, all in the hyper-accessible and unforgettable medium of an exciting narrative.

1000+miles in. Time to head to Pemi.

Harper’s Ferry, 1000+miles in. Time to head to Pemi.

Nick and Sam described the huge sense of accomplishment they experienced when, on May 20th—73 days into their walk—they reached Harper’s Ferry, for all purposes the mid-point of the AT. At the same time, they were extremely sad to place their adventure on pause, even if they were setting it aside only temporarily in order to spend another rewarding summer at Pemi. Their audience, too, was sad to have the evening end, so engaging and stirring had their presentation been. Their perfectly chosen coda to the talk was a lovely performance by Michaela Frank and Jonathan Verge (accompanied on piano by Taiko Pelick) of the song “Heavy,” by Birdtalker, a band Sam knows from Nashville. It’s message? “Are you feeling fearful, brother? Are you feeling fearful, sister? The only way to lose that feeling . . . replace it with love that’s healing. Leave what’s heavy, what’s heavy behind.”

Once the music was over, the crowd burst into applause—for the performers but, I think, even more for Nick and Sam. They had managed, with understated perfection, to convey not only the joys and trials and rewards of the journey already completed but also their eager anticipation of the further joys and trials and rewards of their planned Fall odyssey. It was impossible to sit there and not entertain the fantasy of, one day, lacing on your boots and following in their tracks. Just as easy, though, was to imagine other goals in life that might be quested for with keen ambition and courage and resilience and quiet faith in one’s fellow travelers. Many of us thronged up to shake their hands. Many more of us sat quietly and contemplated the depth and inspiration of what we had just heard and seen. One of our wonderful thirteen-year-olds, William Webber, stood silently in front of the last projected image—Sam and Nick, smiling with their arms around each other, at their halfway point at Harper’s Ferry. He stood there for a good two minutes, just looking. I asked him what was running through his mind. “As I looked at the two of them, half way through their journey, I thought about us all being on our own journeys, too—all of us in the room, whether we think about it that way or not. It’s like we’re all travelling together.”

We asked some other boys what had been going through their heads as they listened and looked: Ben Herdeg (S1) “I’m not a hiker, but it made me want to do the AT”; Will Sewell (S2) “It was really interesting. I was always thinking, ‘What will they talk about next?’ Everything was well said”; Luke Larabie (S2) “It was pretty awesome! I was amazed how much time the trip took. I may not be physically up to it right now, but maybe in the future I’ll do it”; Denver Yancey (J1) “It was a fun talk. It must have been pretty tiring for them. I’ve been on the Trail in Virginia. I’m not sure I’d do the whole thing, ‘cause I’m not a big hiker. It sounded pretty hard”; Lucas Gales (S1) “It was interesting to see and hear what it takes. I’d never met anyone who did it before, and it was interesting to hear how they dealt with their emotions and injuries. I kept thinking, ‘How cool!’”; John Kingdon (U5) “Super cool! I didn’t know they had to push their bodies so hard. I’ve been on hikes with both of them, and they’re incredible hikers. But this really pushed them. It must be really rewarding”; Cameron MacManus (S3) “It was really interesting. It sounds like a really good experience. Maybe I’d like to do it in the future”; John Poggi (L4) “It was really cool. They did so many miles. Just crazy. They went 20 miles a day, and camped in tents every night. I probably wouldn’t be able to do it, but it was really cool how they made friends and bonded with strangers. And I liked their trail names” [Nick was “Lord Hobo” and Sam “Disc,” after his love for Ultimate Frisbee]; Frankie McLaughlin (J4) “I fell asleep”; Owen Wyman (S1) “At first, I wanted to do it, but after the Madison Hut trip, I didn’t. It’s so difficult, a lot harder than I would have guessed”; Mike Warmington (U5 and a native of South Africa) “Hiking that distance is so cool. It’s amazing how they managed it. They had amazing views. I’d love to do it some time, especially with everything they said about Trail Magic.” What comes through most of all in the campers’ responses is the healthy balance the talk maintained between inspiration and realism. Life’s about challenges that are most attainable and rewarding if they’re not undertaken lightly.

2019 Pemi West'ers

2019 Pemi West’ers

Speaking of challenges that follow organically from the Pemi experience, this year’s Pemi West’ers left camp for the western wilds before breakfast on Saturday. With Nick as the Pied Piper leading the way, veteran campers Ailer Thomas, Bennet Braden, Eli Brennan, Hisashi Lonske, Ian Hohman, Jacob Smalley, Matt McDonough, Max Blohm, Mitchell Chin, Quinn Markham, and Sam OHara piled into the vans for the ride to Boston’s Logan Airport. This evening, they’ll be in Colorado, set to begin their adventure, including a week-long canoeing trip on the San Juan River, five days community service with a local Navajo tribe, and a week’s back-packing in the lofty San Juan Mountains. We look forward to sharing some of their tales with you in the near future. For now, farewell for another week. We hope your summers are unfolding as happily and productively as ours.

–TRJR

#2: Trips, July 4th, Vaudeville…

Pemi Newsletter #2, 2019

Hello, once again from Camp Pemigewassett, where we are now over a week into the 2019 season. Despite an unusually wet spring in northern New England, our weather so far has been fantastic: warm, sunny days, punctuated by spectacular sunsets, fading into cool, star-lit nights. Lower Baker Pond, which three weeks ago hinted to a brave swimmer how a real polar bear feels paddling between ice floes, has quickly warmed to a point where our obligatory Week-One “polar bear dip” isn’t unlike jumping into a 300-acre spa, sans the water jets. With an excellent staff taking hold in the cabins and instructional areas, with plentiful and tasty food in the mess hall, and with a full cadre of campers throwing themselves into the season with energy and commitment, life up here is good. Let’s take the opportunity to say a few words about what’s been happening.

Bookend Trip

Bookend Trip

Pemi’s trip program is the most weather-dependent component of camp operations, and first-year Trip Director Sam Papel has made wonderful use of the days so far available to him. A half-dozen cabins have already enjoyed cookout suppers across the lake at Flat Rock and Pine Forest, a pair of Junior cabins have overnighted at the Adirondack shelter up on Pemi Hill, and cabin day trips have summited Mt. Cube, Mt. Moosilauke, and Rattlesnake Mountain (so named not for its herpetological population but rather for its profile seen from afar.) This last peak was climbed by Junior One and Lake Tent in our annual “Bookends Outing,” as our oldest Seniors (Elliot Jones, Nelson Snyder, and Timmy Somp) teamed up with the cabin counselors to squire our youngest Juniors (Gray Axel, Will Bartlett, John Hood, Richard Rider, Rudi Wei, and Denver Yancey) to the bald rocky top in a very admirable big-brotherly way.

As for more ambitious trips, last Tuesday and Wednesday saw Trip Leaders Will Katcher and Johnny Saras leading a group up craggy Mt. Chocorua, reputed to be the most photographed mountain in the Northeast. A stalwart Lower Intermediate crew of Porter Hutchinson, Chris Cappillo, Philip Fauver, Will Jones, Charlie Parkes, Priester Davis, Henry Sawin, and Emmett Itoi enjoyed the trip thoroughly, returning to camp tired but happy and full of engaging tales from the trail. Meanwhile, Nate Blumenthal and Pierce Haley traversed the southern end of the lofty Presidential Range with an Upper group made up of Davis Bachner, Julian Berk, Connor Emmert, Stefan Luedtke, Dalton Smith, Dez Starks, Fernando Hokello, and Daniel Jones. They climbed up out of Crawford Notch, one of the world’s most signal U-shaped glacial valleys, up to the Crawford Ridge, spending the night at the hyper-scenic Naumann Tentsite. The next day took them past Mizpah Springs AMC Hut and then up over Mts. Pierce, Eisenhower, and Monroe before they dropped down the waterfall-festooned Ammonosuc Trail to the Cog Railway Base Station and their pick-up. Few Pemi backpacking trips could cover such remarkable terrain over such a short stretch of time, and these boys, too, returned for Wednesday supper tired but happy.

The central pillar of Pemi’s varied program—this year as every other—consists of the wide range of instructional offerings we teach on a daily basis, quaintly named “Occupations.” While some camps run their campers through a pre-established set of activities, often in lock-step with their cabin mates, we allow boys to choose what they’ll be doing individually. While they are always encouraged to go further with established interests, we also try to create a climate in which they feel comfortable trying things that are completely new to them. Another significant difference between Pemi and our neighbors is that boys choose occupations for a full week at a time, working their way through thoughtfully pre-planned curricula in each area. To bring in an academic parallel, it’s as though they’re not just attending lectures; they’re taking courses. One extension of this principle is that most of our occupations are taught at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels, so boys can stick with one area and really advance their skills and knowledge over the weeks and years. With this “expertise-building” shape in mind, our offerings evolve over the course of the season—in the Nature Program, for example, responding to each summer’s cycles as both flora and fauna emerge, thrive, and disappear. We thought it might be instructive, though, just to pass along the list of activities we offered in Week One.

In Art and Wood Shop: Dragon Eyes, Name Game, Ninja Rock Climbing, Sea Serpents, and Shop (Juniors and Lowers);

In Music and Drama: Auditioning and Gilbert and Sullivan, Character Building for Actors, Guitar (beginning and advanced), Piano (beginning and advanced), Mindfulness, Music Playing, Song Writing, Sound Painting, Stagecraft, and Ukelele;

In Nature/Photography: Animal Evidence, Birding (beginning), Butterflies and Moths (beginning), Environmental Sculpture, Junior Environmental Exploration, Junior Nature Book, Photography (advanced digital, beginning digital, beginning darkroom), Ponds and Streams, Rocks and Minerals, and Wild Foods;

In Sports and Athletics: Archery (Junior, beginning, intermediate/advanced), Baseball (for three separate age groups), Basketball (for three separate age groups), Canoeing (Lowers 1&2, Lowers 3&4, and Seniors Allagash prep), Lacrosse (for two separate age groups), Rugby, Sailing (Junior, beginning, and intermediate), Soccer (for three separate age groups), Swimming (instructional, Juniors 1&2, and Juniors 3&4), Tennis (for four separate age groups), Ultimate Frisbee (for two separate age groups), Wakeboarding, and Waterskiing (Junior, beginning and slalom).

Pemi celebrated the Fourth of July in perfectly clement weather, very much unlike the rainy conditions prevailing in Washington D.C. Tom Reed, Jr. kicked off the morning with observations in the mess hall that the flag we were all about to salute as it rose outside to the colors featured fifty stars all of the same hue, “united” in that fact just as the states they represent have long been united by common goals and interests. Sadly, he noted, hardening divisions between “red” and “blue” at many levels of state and national discourse and decision-making have troubled our union in ways that the vast majority of adults would love to rectify but that we seem to be struggling to bring to pass. Our brightest hope at the moment, Tom suggested, may well lie with the youth of America and the broader globe beyond, among whom the students from Parkland, Florida and Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzi stand out as inspiring examples of how those who have yet to grow into power can sometimes see and speak with a clarity and transcendent good sense that can elude those “in the trenches.” He urged the campers, as they were about to stand at respectful attention on the porch while Old Glory ran up the flagpole, to think about taking on the full mantle of citizenship sooner rather than later and to do their best to export the good social lessons they learn at Pemi to their school-year communities. Following that, we natives all joined with those British brothers and sisters in attendance this year in exemplifying identity in difference—singing, to one melody, both “America the Beautiful” and “God Save the Queen.”

For the second or third year running, Occupations ran as normal in the morning, but the sunny and warm afternoon featured the annual Fourth of July Parade (aka “The Pee-rade”), lately less a procession than a series of impromptu skits performed by each cabin group before a discerning panel of judges. This year’s offerings were, as always, a lively and inventive set of enactments of one or another aspect of global, national, or Pemi history. Garnering first prizes this year were the Upper Juniors, with a tribute to Nature Head Larry Davis (retiring this summer from that position after fifty years of stellar and brilliantly innovative service.) Stealing the act were Henry Shapiro as Larry Davis and River Hambleton as the sunny and sometimes frenetic Deb Kure, now assuming the mantle from Larry after years of inspiring service of her own. Among the Lower Lowers, Cabin One took top honors, with a stirring reenactment of the entire Battle of Fort McHenry in two minutes. As for Upper Lowers, Cabin Four carried the day with a skit called “Ever Since the Incident,” documenting the recent impact on our staff and their shopping habits of a recent diatribe against Walmart delivered by Drama Head Jonathan Verge. Philip Fauver was truly masterful as Pemi’s own Dr. Phil, sorting out and prescribing for those folks traumatized by Jonathan’s scathing anti-capitalist critique. Upper Three returned to Larry’s long and excellent run at Pemi with a fact-packed but hilarious “tribute quiz,” and Senior Two dusted their neighbors with a “Miss Pemi” dating show focused on what various staff members (and Miss Pemi suitors) might do to make ours an even better camp. Overall, the Pee-rade was an exemplar for witty invention, apt performance, and timely completion.

Vaudeville

Vaudeville

After supper we all retreated to the Junior Camp, where impresario Donald Turvill had arranged for the annual Fourth of July Vaudeville Show to unfold, al fresco, on the Junior Point. With the tranquil lake as a backdrop, third-year camper and guitar master Luke Larabie kicked the show off with a Jimi-Hendrix-style rendition of the National Anthem. Those who missed Woodstock fifty years ago might well have thought they were magically there, as the crowd sprawled on the grass enjoying the varied acts as the evening deepened. Other great camper performances included River Hambleton with King George’s “You’ll Be Back” from Hamilton, Michaela Frank’s ukelele group playing “My Girl,” Luke again (with Donald and Danny Kerr) in a three-way string jam, and Liam Stephan with a funky guitar blues. Staff members Jonathan Verge and Sabrina Lawrence showed truly professional chops with two vocal performances of their own, backed wonderfully by pianist Taiko Pelick. And closing the show proper, with the perennial crowd favorite “The Little People,” were counselors Matt Cloutier and Henry Day, experiencing a Pemi day as abbreviated as their foreshortened bodies. As milk, cereal, shaving cream, razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, quiche, and a half dozen other materials and foodstuffs went everywhere but where they should have gone (the “arms” of their concealed co-counselors showed them no mercy whatsoever!), the crowd roared by turns their incredulous horror and full approval. And so, with a grandiose fireworks display orchestrated by Buildings and Grounds Head Reed Harrigan, ably aided and abetted by Nick Davini and Danny Kerr, a near perfect Pemi Fourth came to a rousing conclusion. Thanks to all who made it such a great day! Including all of the Founding Fathers (and Mothers!)

Well, let’s leave it at that. This past weekend featured some rousing sporting events with our Baker Valley neighbors, but we leave it to your sons to fill you in more succinctly and sensibly than we would probably be able to manage. Tune in next week, though, for more news (of the true variety) from our happy little corner of the Granite State.

TRJR

 

#1: Welcome to 2019! Meet our staff…

Pemi Newsletter #1, 2019

Greetings from Wentworth, New Hampshire, where a gentle northwest breeze is wafting down the pond under partly cloudy skies. Birds are singing. Boys are laughing. Pianist Taiko Pelick is rehearsing a Mozart piano sonata in the Lodge. Pemi 2019 has been in full swing only since yesterday afternoon (as we write this Sunday morning), but it’s already apparent that the season has terrific potential to be a truly great one. As we wrapped up staff training on Friday, more than a few veterans allowed that this looked like being one of the best crews ever. Returning veteran campers arrived Saturday morning, and settled into their cabins and years-long friendships with quiet excitement. Lunchtime singing in the mess hall was thunderous, but when Danny charged all the old hands after lunch with being welcoming hosts to the first-timers arriving in the afternoon, you could see them all quietly remembering their own first arrivals at Pemi and resolving to greet the new boys with warmth and encouragement.

This year’s iteration of “Cans from Campers,” Dottie Reed’s wonderful initiative inviting families to bring food for donation to the local food bank, was cornucopial in its measure—maybe more plentiful and generous than ever. Thanks to all of you who contributed! Our traditional opening-night supper of pizza, green salad, and Hoodsie ice cream cups was a clear hit, and the camp fire that followed shortly after boded wonderfully for the entertainment we can expect in the coming weeks. Senior camper Henry Moore kicked the show off with a moving recitation of Emma Lazarus’s “The New Colossus,” the inspiring poem that graces the base of the Statue of Liberty and timelessly reminds us of our obligations to those less fortunate than we. Other highlights included Carter Glahn with his devil sticks, River Hambleton with an array of yo-yo tricks, and William Webber offering an all-but professional rendition of a Tomas Damas Étude for guitar. Andrés Segovia move over! As usual, we closed with Pemi co-founder Dudley Reed’s “Campfire Song.” 270 of us threw our arms over each other’s shoulders and swayed to words that should help us set a high bar for our interactions all summer: “And I wonder if anyone’s better for anything I’ve done or said.” If most of us can answer that question in the affirmative with some frequency, it will be a rich and transformative season.

Since it’s traditional for our initial newsletters to introduce our staff, let’s get to that with no further ado—pausing only to say that, in coming weeks, we will do our best to keep you posted on how the season is unfolding in all of our varied program areas. Our sincere hope is that the required weekly letters from your sons will also keep you abreast of developments up here, but experience tells us that there are more Hemingways peopling our cabins than Tolstoys. “Dear Mom and Dad. Camp is fun. We climbed a mountain. The lake water is cold. We saw a huge bullfrog. Love, Jimmy.” Think of their communications as haiku. Think of ours as “The Talk of the Town.”

~Tom Reed, Jr. (AKA TRJR)

And now for the Pemi Staff, 2019:

2019 Staff Members

Administration

Danny Kerr – Director – I am originally from New York City, and though I will always think of myself as a New Yorker, I now live in New Hampshire. During the summer, when not doing the director thing, I look forward to coaching baseball, teaching guitar, recruiting anyone willing to join the legion of long suffering New York Met’s fans and just hanging out with our campers. I am looking forward to my 47th summer at camp, 26th as a camp director, and tenth at Camp Pemi! Let the games begin!

Kenny Moore – Associate Director – This summer will mark my 27th at Pemi and my 6th as a year-round Pemi Director type. I love getting involved with many different aspects of the Pemi enterprise from Buildings and Grounds, to Alumni Relations, to legacy campers, and the staff. My wife, Sarah, and our son Winston recently moved back home to Cleveland, Ohio and are excited to spend our summers in Wentworth.

Tom Reed – Consulting Director – The 2019 season will be my fifty-ninth at Pemi. I began as a camper in Junior One, finished as a camper in Senior Three (no Lake Tent then), and worked on the staff as an Assistant Counselor, Counselor, Upper Division Head, Head of Program, Head of Staff, Head of Trips, and Director (Assistant, Associate, Full, and now Consulting). I’ll be leading singing in the Mess Hall again this summer, writing overlong (and overwritten) newsletters, and helping out with the Trip Program and Gilbert and Sullivan. I was formerly a professor of English literature and film at Dickinson College and now spend my winters writing fiction and hanging out with Dottie.

Allyson Fauver – Administrator – This year, I continue to help with off-season administration, parent support, and Forms (everyone’s favorite!). My favorite form is the Camper Questionnaire, where I get to read what campers are looking forward to, concerned about, and what they think makes a great counselor. I split my time between Montana, New Hampshire, and Maine, and always look forward to crossing the bridge and returning to the shores of Lower Baker Pond.

Heather Leeds – Administrator – I have been teaching and working with children for over 25 years. I am currently the co-director of a rural elementary school in western Massachusetts, and live at Northfield Mount Hermon School with my husband and 3 children. For the past 12 years, I’ve enjoyed spending the summers working in the Pemi office.

Kim Malcolm – Administrator – This is my 28th year at Camp Pemi. During the off-season I live at Northfield Mt. Hermon School with my husband, Charlie, and 2 children. I am also a physical therapist.

Dottie Reed – Administrator – If my abacus is functioning properly, this is my 32nd summer at Pemi. Our administrative team makes work seem like play on any given day during which, together, we manage the administrative and communication responsibilities of the Pemi season. I also enjoy orchestrating the postings of our weekly newsletters and the Thursday/Sunday photos. Tom and I will be at Pemi until the leaves fall in mid-October, at which point we’ll head south to our 8-month, off-season home in Sarasota, Florida where we relish daily outdoor living and an abundance of cultural events and opportunities.

Cabin Counselors (CC) and Assistant Counselors (AC)

J1 – Johnny Seebeck (CC) – This will be my 11th year at camp and I’m happy to return for my 2nd year on staff. I’m from Chicago, Illinois and will be finishing my freshman year at Caltech this spring where I am studying Astrophysics and running hurdles. I’m excited to help out with the younger campers and share my interest and enthusiasm for photography, astronomy, sports, and love for camp.

J1 – Pierce Haley (AC) – Hello! I’m from Boston, MA. This will be my ninth summer at Pemi, my second on staff, and I am excited to be an assistant counselor once again. I recently graduated from Buckingham Browne & Nichols high school and I am looking forward to spending my next four years at Colgate University. Outside of school, I love to sing, play guitar, row, and hike. This summer, I plan to help out with the music and sailing programs, as well as anywhere else I might be needed.

J2 – Skye Devlin (CC) – This will be my first summer working at Pemi! I live in Cornwall, Vermont, and just finished my freshman year at Hobart and William Smith College. I went to a summer camp in the Adirondacks as a camper for 8 years, but this will be my first time ever being a counselor. At Pemi I’ll be teaching basketball, baseball, and archery. My younger brother George is at Pemi for his second summer as a camper. I can’t wait to meet all of you!

J2 – Andre Richard (AC) – This year I will be a senior at Landmark High School in Beverly and I am from Andover, Massachusetts. I love history and the arts and I am an avid soccer player. I am interested in teaching and/or helping out with archery, soccer, art, as well as ultimate frisbee. I have been coming to Camp Pemi since I was 13 years old and I am looking forward to this summer’s adventures and competition.

J3 – Jack Davini (CC) – I’m from Plainfield, NH and this is my 10th year at Pemi. I love to play music, make art, and hike. This summer I’ll be teaching about local woods and wildlife. I’m looking forward to getting to know my second cabin as a counselor!

J3 – Ben Pigeon (AC) – I was a six-year camper at Pemi and am returning for my seventh year, my first on staff. I am going to be a freshman at Clemson University starting in the fall. I am from Miami, Florida but I have spent most of my life living abroad in six different countries. Some of my passions are playing soccer and basketball. I look forward to helping kids improve in basketball and soccer.

J4 – Nicholas Gordon (CC) – Hello! I am from Princeton, NJ. During the off-season, I am a student at New York University studying Music Education and Religious Studies. I am a big fan of Outdoor Science outside of the classroom and have spent time pursuing those interests in Central Park. At Pemi, I will mostly be teaching in the Nature Lodge specializing in birds, insects, and botany. This summer will be my 11th consecutive summer at Pemi and I can’t wait for another great summer on Lower Baker Pond.

J4 – Ali Sheikh (AC) – I am from Concord, MA and was a Pemi camper for two summers, first in J6, and then in L4. I enjoy waterfront activities a lot, as well as playing soccer and lacrosse. Looking forward to my first year on staff!

J5 – Daniel Bowes (CC; Division Head) – I am a lifelong resident of Washington D.C. I just finished my sophomore year at Lehigh University in their College of Business and Economics. Pemi runs deep in my family. I was a Pemi camper for 7 incredible summers and this will be my 3rd summer on staff. My grandfather and father were campers, and have remained active members of the alumni network. Although my brother was never a camper, he was on staff for 2 summers as well. I am excited to work with campers on the lacrosse field, the basketball courts, the swimming lanes, and as Division Head in the Junior Camp. I can’t think of a better place to spend a summer!

J5 – Nolan Katcher (AC) – This summer will be my ninth at Pemi and my second on staff. I am from Needham, Massachusetts and this coming fall I will be starting at American University. This summer I am looking forward to coaching tennis and helping out in nature occupations. I can’t wait for another great summer!

J6 – Donald Turvill (CC) – I’m a 22 year old from the great country of Scotland! I’ve just finished my third year studying Journalism at RGU in Aberdeen. Last summer was my first at Camp Pemi, where, aside from being a cabin councilor, I was involved with the music program, taking guitar, bass and drums classes as well as helping out with the camp band. Spending two months in the beautiful, remote Pemigewassett and the incredible weather it hosts made for an incredible summer. So much so, that I’m back for more!

L1 – Ben Ross (CC) – I just finished my first year at Bowdoin College, where I am a member of the rowing team and the frisbee team. I am excited to be back at Pemi as a cabin counselor for my third year on staff. I was a camper for four years and I am a Pemi West alum. I am looking forward to a great summer!

L2 – Noah Belinowiz (CC) – I am back for my ninth summer at Pemi after a short three year hiatus. I was a camper from 2009 to 2015 and a Pemi West alum (2016). I was born and raised in the Greater Boston area and this will be my first summer on staff. This spring I finished my sophomore year at the University of Colorado Boulder where I study geology and economics and enjoy being on the Colorado Crew team. I hope to spend most of my summer either teaching nature occupations or on the waterfront as I am a former competitive swimmer.

L3 – Phil Evans (CC) – I’m from Ireland and currently 20 years old and studying Maths and Computer Science student at Durham University in the UK. This summer is my first time at Pemi but I’ve heard so many good things about this place from my Dad, who was a former counsellor in the 80s, that I already know I’m going to love it. Water seems to be a key theme in all my hobbies and interests so surprisingly I’ll be involved in the sailing and swimming side of things at Pemi. Can’t wait to arrive and I look forward to getting to know you all!

L3 – Nicholas Bowman (AC) – I am returning for my seventh season at Pemi this summer. I am from Carlisle Pennsylvania and I am very excited to be a part of the soccer program as well as the ultimate Frisbee staff. As a goalkeeper I plan on hosting trainings throughout the week to supplement practices and provide our goalkeepers with more personalized and independent sessions. I am extremely excited for another summer on the shores of Lower Baker and cannot wait to meet this year’s campers.

L4 – Ned Roosevelt (CC; Division Head) – This summer will be my eleventh on the shores of Lower Baker Pond. I am a rising senior at Wheaton College where I am majoring in business and am on the tennis team. I look forward to meeting you and extending the same warm welcome to you that I received back in the day. I’ll be a Division Head this year and helping with the sports program. See you on the fields and on the courts!

L5 – Josh Scarponi (CC) – I’ve lived in Canterbury for a majority of my life, with a few years in Campton NH. I’m currently enrolled at Plymouth State University, studying English while going for a Teacher’s Certification for grades 5-12. I’ve played soccer and lacrosse since middle school, and I’ve been skiing ever since I could walk. I love New Hampshire and all the nature that it comes with. This is my first year at Pemi and I’m really looking forward to the summer!

L5 – Jake Cronin (AC) – I am so stoked for my 7th summer at Pemi, and first on staff! I hail from Chappaqua, New York and will be starting my freshman year at Penn State studying engineering. I love all sports (playing and following) but especially soccer, ice hockey, and tennis. I also love music and play the saxophone and piano. This summer I will be coaching soccer and helping out on the tennis courts. I will also be willing to take anybody on in Spongebob and Game of Thrones trivia. Looking forward to another great summer on the shores of Lower Baker!

L6 – Charlie Scott (CC) – I am from Hanover, NH and am a rising sophomore at the University of New Hampshire. I am a Recreation Management and Policy major, focusing specifically on music management. This will be my 10th summer at Pemi, second on staff, and first as a full-on counselor! I look forward to a great summer!

L7 – Jarrod Henry (CC) – Hi! I’ll be a junior attending the University of Central Missouri near Kansas City, Missouri. I’m majoring as a Professional Pilot with a minor in Business Administration and have already ascertained my Private Pilot certificate with my Instrument Rating and I’m currently working on my Commercial pilot’s license. Obviously besides flying, I love basically any activity you can imagine that takes place outdoors. I also love to compete in nearly all sports, although if anyone asks me to play soccer just know my feet are like bricks and I will regularly take shots from half field (as I’m sure you can tell, we don’t play much soccer in the mid-west). I was a camper at Pemi for 5 years and ventured on Pemi West and I’m honored to be able to return on staff for an amazing summer!

U1 – Patterson Malcolm (CC) – Originally from Gill Massachusetts, I am currently a rising-sophomore engineering major and soccer player at Swarthmore College in the suburbs of Philadelphia. This will be my third year on staff at Pemi and 13th summer in total on the shores of Lower Baker. I intend to spend my days coaching soccer and baseball, driving the safety boat, lifeguarding, and enjoying my summer with the boys.

U1 – Nate Blumenthal (See Trip Leaders)

U2 – Henry Day (CC) – I am from Canaan NH. I attend St. Lawrence University where I am on the Baseball Team and I am in an a cappella group called the Singing Saints. This will be my sixth year at Pemi (4 as a camper and 2 as a counselor). I plan on coaching Baseball, Tennis and possibly soccer I also plan on keeping the tradition of X-treme Sports alive.

U2 – Andrew Kanovsky (AC) – This will be my 11th summer at Pemi. I am from Briarcliff Manor, New York, and will be attending the University of Southern California this upcoming fall. I look forward to teaching soccer, lacrosse, and a few nature occupations, as well as being the only Kanovsky at camp for the first time in 10 years.

U3 – Andy MacDonald (CC; Division Head) – I eagerly await my 5th summer on staff at Pemi! I’m again looking forward to being the upper D head as well as helping out in the athletics programme and coaching soccer, tennis, and canoeing. At home in Scotland, I work across 3 schools as a sports coordinator, where I regularly use skills I have learned at Pemi in my day-to-day routine. I look forward to receiving my 5 year bowl at the end of summer banquet!

U3 – Will Katcher (See Trip Leader)

U4 – Jamie Nicholas (CC) – I am from Cornwall Ct. My connection to Pemi begins with my father Rob Nicholas. My Dad was a camper and counselor at Pemi back in the day. Rob Grabill taught my Dad how to play soccer in the 70s and was also around for a couple of years when I started at Pemi in 2006. Legends like Grabill have connected families and friends to Lower Baker’s timeless space. Soccer, baseball, tennis, and swimming at Pemi have always been my favorite activities, and I continue to enjoy these sports in a different light. Competing in sports has always been important to me and I strive to help campers find their strengths as I did with soccer.

U5 – Matt Cloutier (CC) – I am delighted to return to Pemi after three long years away from Lower Baker. This is my 11th summer and third on staff. I graduated from Middlebury College this past May with a degree in Environmental Studies, focusing both in policy and conservation biology. Most of my instruction will be with the Nature Program, but you can find me on the soccer pitch, baseball fields, or teaching guitar when Larry isn’t looking. I hail from Stamford, CT though Vermont has stolen my heart.

S1 – Nick Bertrand (CC; Division Head) – I grew up in Hanover NH, just 40 minutes down the road from Camp Pemi. I am entering my senior year at Case Western Reserve University where I am studying biomedical engineering and am a member of the varsity soccer team. I was a pemi boy for 8 years, spent one summer on Pemi west, and this will now be my 4th year on staff. I am looking forward to spending my 14th summer back at Pemi where I will be teaching a number of sports and other activities that camp has to offer!

S1 – Nick Davini (See Trip Leaders)

S2 – Henry McLeod (CC) – Hi! I’m a rising 2nd year at the University of Bath studying Aerospace Engineering. I come from Windsor, UK and I’m looking forward to spending the summer on the shores of Lower Baker Pond after hearing so much about it from my older sister, Hattie! I’m going to be a cabin counselor and will teach several water sports and drive the safety boat. I’m looking forward to meeting new people, enjoying camp life and having a great summer at Pemi.

S2 – Sam Papel (See Trip Leaders)

S3 – Cole Valente (CC; Bean Soup Editor) – Hello! I am from Princeton, New Jersey, and this will be my third summer as a Pemi staff member, previously spending three summers here as a camper. I am heading into my senior year at Dickinson College studying English, and this summer I will be spending time at the waterfront, making bean soup, and correcting grammar.

LT – Will Meinke (CC; Assistant Head of Staff) – I’m excited to be back for my thirteenth summer at Pemi! I’m from Westport Connecticut and will be involved in the waterski and soccer programs as well as being the Assistant Head of Staff this year. I’m looking forward to another exciting summer on Lower Baker!

Trip Leaders

Nate Blumenthal – I am a student at Middlebury College in Vermont where I study Political Science and Film. A seven-year Pemi camper and frisbee-running bases all-star (!), I am excited to take on the role of trip counselor for Pemi ‘19. Originally from Connecticut, I am passionate about the outdoors, baseball, and the positive impact that summer camp can have on children.

Nick Davini – I’m a longtime Pemi camper and counselor from Plainfield, NH. This summer I’ll be leading Pemi West along with Deer Hill Outfitters in Durango, CO. Before and after our three-week stint out west, I’ll be helping out with the Trip Program and coordinating the Counselor Apprentice Program.

Will Katcher – After a year hiatus, I’m excited to return to Pemi for my eighth summer, third on staff. This will be my first year as a trip counselor and I’m looking forward to getting back up into the mountains on some of the same hikes I went on as a camper. This fall, I’ll be a junior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where I study journalism.

Sam Papel – Head of Trips – I’m very excited for my 14th year at Pemi, 5th year on staff, and my first year as the head of the Trip Program! I was born, raised, and still live in Nashville, TN. This spring, I hiked XXX miles on the Appalachian Trail with Nick Davini before we stopped in order to work at Pemi this summer!

Johnny Saras – Hey, folks! I’m a born and raised New Englander excited to be returning home as a trip counselor for my first ever summer at Camp Pemi. At age eighteen, I flew off to Miami where I studied film and psychology, and at twenty-two I drove out west to work in Hollywood for a few years. These days I’m on fellowship at UC Riverside, where I’m getting my Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. If I’m not working on my screenplays or novels, you can find me hiking, reading, or running (I just ran my first marathon this Spring!).

Fiona Walker – I hail from Portland, Oregon and recently completed my Junior Year at Kenyon College where I am currently studying Psychology and Anthropology. This will be my third year at Pemi as a Trip Leader, which means you are most likely reading the same thing from last summer. I’ve always been an outdoor enthusiast and love sharing the joys of hiking and backpacking with Pemi campers. This summer will be my first as Head Trip Counselor and I look forward to working with an awesome group of new “Trippies!” Outside of my new role within the trip program I look forward to helping out with swimming and track & field as well as hopefully earning a top finish in the Pemi Staff Triathlon.

Program Staff and more…

Scout Brink – Hello! This will be my third year on Nature Staff! I am from upstate New York, near the Adirondacks and am very excited to teach campers the beauty of the woods. I majored in Environmental Science and am currently getting my masters in education. If I’m not in the Nature Lodge you can find me on the Archery range!

Steve Clare – Head of Archery – I’m back for my 5th Pemi summer. I live in Cornwall in the SW of England. I’m a freelance teacher, supporting schools with specialist lessons. I’ve coached youth soccer teams for 10 years & coordinate a weekly community soccer programme for players aged 5 – 11. I return to Pemi as Head of Archery & one of the soccer coaches. No doubt I’ll have a few additional responsibilities too. As always, I’m looking forward to playing my part in the Pemi family, passing on skills to the boys & seeing what I can learn too.”

Larry Davis – Director of Nature Programs and Teaching – This summer will be my 50th (!) at Pemi-all as a staff member. I did my undergraduate work in Earth Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis and my PhD in Geological Sciences at the University of Rochester. I am Professor Emeritus of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of New Haven having retired from there in August, 2018. In a past life I was an intercollegiate soccer official. I love to travel and have been to 48 of the 50 US states (missing Alaska and Hawaii). I play the flute, collect waterfalls, and plan to devote my retirement to getting kids out into nature.

Michaella Frank – Head of Music – This will be my fifth summer at Camp Pemi and my first year as the Head of the Music Department. I am so excited to continue teaching campers the joy of self-expression through music. I will also continue to coach basketball and promise to have junior camp dunking before our first game!

Chloe Jaques – Head of Sailing – Hi I’m from London, England. This will be my third summer at Pemi following the completion of my first year at Law School in the UK. I am excited to be continuing my position as the Head of the Sailing programme and assisting in other areas on the waterfront! I can’t wait for another great summer on the shores and waters of Lower Baker Pond. I am particularly looking forward to catching up with staff and campers from past years and meeting those who are new to the Pemi community and making great memories once again!!

Chris Johnson – Head of Tennis – I am looking forward to making my sixth year at Pemi a memorable one. I will once again be heading up the tennis program and helping to grow the campers games or introduce them to this great sport. During the year I spend my time in beautiful Cleveland Ohio teaching 4th grade and coaching high school tennis. I have coached my teams to three state titles and have had two individual champions as well. In my free time, I enjoy reading, spending time outdoors, and attending sporting events. I will be joined at Pemi by my wife, my daughter Lauren, and my son Clayton who will be a second year camper.

CJ Jones – Head of Waterfront – This will be my fifth year at Pemi (!). It’s just such a wonderful place. I’m very much looking forward to getting back onto the waterfront, coaching the boys in swimming and other water-based activities. I also love coaching the campers in track and field – Triathlon 2019 here we come! It has been a very sad year for me and my family, but one of love. The support from my Pemi family has only strengthened my love for this place. Can’t wait to be back on the shores of Lower Baker Pond and to singing songs loudly in the mess hall! Oh, and to beating Tecumseh…

Deb Kure – Associate Head of Nature – Hi Everybody! I’m thankful to be in my 12th Pemi summer! Studying Geology at the University of Rochester sparked my love of field trips, and of learning and teaching outside! I’ve led outdoor science programs since then, through camps, natural history museums, and trips programs throughout the U.S. During the school year I’m an Educator with Sierra Nevada Journeys in Reno, NV, leading classroom and field programs with 1st through 6th graders, and Family Science Nights! Northern Nevada has been a great new zone to explore – from Great Basin Geology to the Mining and Pony Express History to the Sierra Nevada Mtns!!

Donovan Laas – Visiting Professional – This is my first season at Pemi and I am very excited to join this wonderful family. I come from Cape Town South Africa where I teach 5th grade at an American International school. I will be helping out with tennis, archery and will be running a basic introduction to rugby and some pick up cricket games. I’m really excited to learn how to play baseball and to share a bit of South Africa with the Pemi community.

Beanie Lawrence – I am so excited to have my first summer at Pemi! I currently go to school in NYC but grew up in Lebanon, NH. When you can’t find me in the city, you can find me on the slopes or in the water. I’ll be working with the drama program this summer and a fun fact about me is that I’ve seen over 10 Broadway shows!

Charlie Malcolm – Athletic Director – I have been spending my summers on Lower Baker since 1976. My Dad attended Camp in the 1930s and his counselor was Tom Reed Sr. Since the early 1990s I have been Camp Pemi’s Athletic Director. When I am not at Pemi I teach history and coach soccer and baseball at Northfield Mount Hermon School. I hold a Premier coaching degree from the NSCAA. My NMH soccer team has won several New England Prep Championships (NEPSAC) and many of the players have gone on to work at Pemi. I am joined at camp with my wife Kim and our two kids, Patterson and Victoria.

Molly Malone – Head of Waterskiing (Second Session) – This is my 5th year as head waterski instructor. I live in Chippewa Falls, WI where I am a high school orchestra teacher. My main instruments are piano and violin, and I am a section leader in our community orchestra and play piano for two churches. While music is my vocation, waterskiing is my passion. I am blessed to be able to ski daily on a private ski lake (when the lake is liquid), and have found an incredible boyfriend willing to fly to Florida every 6 weeks in the winter to train on the water. If I’m not in school or on the lake, I’m in the gym working out! I’m excited to be back at Pemi. I have found a family away from home in an incredible setting!

Hattie McLeod – Head of Canoeing; Bugler – I’m from England, and I can’t wait to be back at Pemi for my third summer! I’m excited to be continuing my role of being the Bugler as well as taking on more responsibility as Head of Canoeing. I look forward to seeing old faces, meeting new ones and having another great summer on the shores and waters of LBP before starting my teaching career in the fall!

Deb Pannell – Head of Art – During the school year, I teach fifth grade at Mark Day School, which is located just north of San Francisco. I love working with my students in all subject areas, especially writing. Outside the classroom, my happy place is in the hills of Marin where I relish the opportunity to hike and take in the ocean views. Substitute lake views, and I’ll be enjoying these same pleasures during my 6th summer Pemi! I look forward to trying out plenty of fresh art projects and indulging again in our tried-and-true favorites. Most of all, I look forward to seeing the boys, and the growth in their confidence and skills that has occurred over the past school year.

Taiko Pelick – Pianist – Hello! I’m from Arlington, Texas. I’m excited to be spending my second summer at Pemi as the camp pianist! I am an Adjunct Professor of Piano at Mountain View College and Tarrant County College as well as a collaborative pianist in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, I’m looking forward to teaching piano to campers of all levels, playing piano for our singing in the mess hall, and of course playing for another fabulous G&S production!

Abby Reed – Visiting Professional – I’m thrilled to be back at Pemi for my 32nd summer (having first come as a 4-month old) and first ‘official’ summer on staff since 2012. I live in Cape Town, South Africa, where I teach high school English at the American International School of Cape Town. I look forward to helping out with swimming, archery, and photography, but most of all, I’m excited to reconnect with the incredible Pemi family!

Hannah Roadknight – I’m from the small town of Bexhill in the UK. I currently study Graphic Design for Publishing at Norwich University of the Arts, and love all things creative! I am a keen photographer, musician, and coffee enthusiast with a passion for cultural experiences. This will be my first year at Pemi, and I am so excited to be helping out with art, photography, and hopefully a little music!

Fred Seebeck – Visiting Professional – I’m excited to step in as Lord High Substitute Waterfront Head for my good friend Charlotte for a couple of weeks early in the 2019 season. For me, it will feel like a trip back to the 1970’s, teaching occupations, running swim practices, overseeing free swim, just as I did way back when. Let us hope for sunny skies and gentle rains (at night!) all summer long!

Brian Tompkins – Head of Woodshop – I’m from nearby Norwich, VT, and am a sculptor, a dry stonemason, and a former pro snow sports instructor, who was shaped and formed by camps, then burnished at “Camp Dartmouth.” I have lived and breathed the stone and trees, and have steeped in the very physical culture up here ever since. Directing the Wood Working occupation, with a fantastic staff and excellent resources, I’ll emphasize safety and enjoy steady effort. Pemi’s venerable wood shop continuously inspires all ages and turns out satisfyingly hard-won work.

Jonathan Verge – Head of Drama and Director of G&S – I return for my second summer on the banks of Lower Baker. I am the Director of Choral Music and Dramatic Arts at Lebanon High School in Lebanon, NH. I have a BFA in Musical Theatre from Syracuse University and many years of professional directing, producing, and acting experience in London, New York, and Chicago.

Erik Wiedenmann (CC; Head of Staff) – I was born to an American mother and German father in Berlin, Germany. Upon graduating from high school in Berlin, I completed my undergraduate studies at Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as part of a Dual Degree program (B.A./B.F.A.). After working in advertising for several years, I decided to make a change; I recently completed my first year at Hampshire Country School, where I taught German. I will begin my graduate studies in Education this fall. This will be my seventh summer at Pemi (third on staff).

Mark Warmington – Head of Waterskiing (First Session) – I am a well traveled South African Engineer and have 2 boys Michael and James. My first summer at Pemi was as a counselor in 1995, and I returned again in1997 and 1998 (that year we won the hat). I love teaching and playing with my kids on our farm in rural South Africa, showing them the joys of outdoor life and we all love water-sports especially waterskiing. I enjoy working with like minded people and sharing positive stories about life in general, with a few jokes thrown in.

Wendy Young – Head of Occupations – This is my second year at Camp Pemi and my first as Head of Occupations. A former college soccer and lacrosse player, I enjoy all things sports as well as the summer camp life. During the school year I work as a certified athletic trainer at Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, with 22 years of experience.

Caretakers of our physical and mental well-being…

Tom Ciglar – Director of Food Service – This is my 17th season at Pemi. During the school year I am the Director of Operations for Hampshire Country School in Rindge, NH, where I live with my wife, Anna, and son, Jonathan.

Nancy Cushman – Kitchen Staff – I live in West Fairlee, Vermont. This will be my 14th summer at Pemi. The rest of the year I work in a small elementary school with preschoolers. At camp, I will be helping prepare breakfast and baking all the yummy treats the staff and children get to enjoy.

Sabrina De Stefano – Camp Doctor – As the mother, sister and cousin to a handful of Pemi campers, I am delighted to return to camp this summer. I live in Mendham, NJ with my husband and three children: Matteo (13), Noah (9) and Grace (5). I work as a Pediatric Emergency Medicine Physician at Goryeb Children’s Hospital in both Morristown and Summit, NJ. I am passionate about children’s health, their physical and emotional wellbeing and recognize the importance of nature and play in a child’s development. As such, I consider it a privilege to be part of the Pemi staff and to share my expertise in caring for the campers this summer.

Barbara Fitts – Buildings and Grounds – Greetings! I thank God for opening up this wonderful position. It has offered me a mental break from “corporate America.” The camp is idyllic for all who work and play. The staff is caring, helpful and hard working. I am originally from MA. My folks moved up here in the late 70s. I have a wonderful church family close to home in Wentworth where I reside with my lovely 14 year old black lab.

Ricardo Hincapie – Kitchen Staff – I’m from Colombia and I’m an engineering student. This is my second time working at Pemi’s Kitchen. Let’s have some fun eating a lot.

Emrekan Kose – Kitchen Staff – I was born in 2000 in Aydin, Turkey. I have a brother. His name is Yasar. My mother is Semra. She is a nurse. My father is Mustafa. He works as a teacher. I study in METU. My department is Basic English. Next year, I will study Industry Engineering. I want to be teacher since in my childhood, so in my free time I work as a teacher. I have 3 students. I am a volunteer. They do not pay me any money. Instead of, they show me respect and they love me. I interested in intelligence games, such as chess, checkers, and strategy games. I play these games and I watch many video about these games on Youtube. After my classes end, I usually go to swimming pool. I like playing basketball and football, and I also like watching both of them. I spend a lot of time with children such as my cousins, neighbours’ children, and my students. Moreover, I love cooking, and I cook meals for my cousins.

Caroline Lonergan – Nurse – I am from Mendham, NJ. This is my first year at Pemi and I am a camp registered nurse. I have three children – Erin is 14, Ryan is 13 and Garrett is 11. I work as a registered nurse in a community hospital in rural NJ and also work as a substitute school nurse in my town. I always make time for my daily runs, and I also enjoy baking, reading and the beach.

David McMurray – Assistant Chef – Hello, I’m from Milton Mills, New Hampshire. I am a cook and this will be my second summer at Pemi. I’m very interested in cooking, hiking, reading and tiny homes. I hope to provide great food with a smile and work with new people on new and exciting meal options.

Michael McMurray – Chef – Hello! I’ve been a chef for 30 years with the last 7 summers at summer camps, filling kids with the energy that powers their day. I will be working in the Pemi kitchen for my second year. Last year was so much fun, and while being challenging, I knew I had to return. I am looking forward to another summer in the kitchen with Tom, Nancy and the rest of the crew. Have a great summer! I know that I will!”

Emrah Onder – Kitchen Staff – I was born in Bartin, Turkey on 10th March 1996. I’m study at Kocaeli Universty. My department is aviation management. My favorite hobbies: ride a bike, walk in the beach, playing volleyball and bowling, go to concert, theatre and cinema. I love playing and watching football. The best one listening music which are pop and rock music. My Features: friendly, outgoing, and always smiling, quick learner and multitasking. Learning different culture, meeting new people who come from various country, tasting delicious food and sometimes finding solutions to the problems and taking responsibilities would be amazing experience for me. These are some reasons why I want to be at Camp Pemi. It is going to be fantastic and let’s make new unforgettable stories.

Bryan Parks – Chef – I reside in Rumney, NH with my wife, daughter, and little one on the way. We moved to New Hampshire from Westfield, Massachusetts three years ago to serve at a camp. In addition to cooking I also love my job supporting students at Plymouth Elementary, playing guitar and practicing martial arts. I am very much looking forward to being a part of your summer staff food service team at Camp Pemi!

Penny Shortt-Newton – Driver – Hi! I live in Bath, NH. I’m a school bus driver for Butler Bus Services out of the North Haverhill office. I’ve been a bus driver for over 20 years now among other jobs that I’ve done over my lifetime and have a wealth of experience I bring with me. This is my 1st year at Pemi and I’m going to be driving campers around to various activities out of camp. I look forward to meeting each one of you! Happy Camping!

Liz Silloway – Nurse – I am a California native, a registered nurse, and the mother of a current camper. Our family has a long history with Pemi, but this will be my first summer at camp, where I will be working as a nurse. I love to travel, hike with our 2 crazy doodle dogs and my favorite sport without hesitation is skiing.

Allyn Smith – Health Center Staff – Hi! I am here from South Florida where I parent my three Pemi Boys, ages 11, 13, & 14. I work as a Reading Specialist and children’s yoga instructor during the academic year. This is our third season as part of the Pemi Family, though this is the first year I get to stay on campus and help in the Health Center. I am excited and honored to be here with all of our children this summer!

Michal Szewczyk – Kitchen Staff – I’m from Poland. I love doing sports (especially swimming) and math/programming. It will be my first year at Pemi. I hope I will meet new people and spend some great time there!

Sergen Tastan – Kitchen Staff – I was born in Agri city of Turkey in 1996. I am studing at ÔøΩanakkale Onsekiz Mart University. My major is Travel management and Tour Guidance and I am going to be graduate from University. I will be in Camp Pemi for a second summer, that’s why I am so happy. Thanks Camp Pemi for give to me this opportunity again.

Reed Harrigan – Head of Buildings and Grounds – I grew up in the Washington, D.C. area and graduated from Frostburg State College with a degree in Parks and Recreation. I decided that New England was where I wanted to be and took a job as recreational director at Waterville Estates, a resort community in Campton, NH. I then worked at a local high school, working with special education students and as a seasonal Forest Ranger in the White Mountain National Forest. I began working at Camp Pemi nine years ago, first as a bus driver and maintenance person, then as an instructor in canoeing and kayaking. This is my sixth year as year-round Facilities and Grounds Director.

Frank Roberts – Buildings and Grounds – This will be my third season at Pemi working with the Buildings and Grounds crew. My wife Erica and I live in nearby Groton NH with our daughter Hazel. We enjoy growing organic vegetables, hiking, and canoeing. Looking forward to another exciting season on Lower Baker!

Dennis Thibodeau – Buildings and Grounds – This is my sixth season at Pemi and I live in Rumney, NH.

Billy Ziegler – Health Center Staff – Hello everyone! This will be my second summer at Camp Pemigewassett, and I have really been looking forward to it all year long. These last few months I have been really busy with my job as a server. I grew up in Norwich Vermont, and have lived here more or less for my whole life. I love doing anything outside especially hiking. I’m super happy to be welcomed back and see some old friends as well as make some new ones!

#7: Danny’s Final Toast and Clive’s Review of Pinafore

We now seem, in some impossible way, to have gotten to the last day of the 2018 season. It has been an excellent one, by almost every measure. As though to add their own exclamation point, the weather gods have provided us with a magnificent August day for our various closing rituals: the annual USA vs. The World soccer match, featuring our best soccer talent in all age groups; messhall reprises of various numbers from this week’s Pinafore production (for more, see below); an afternoon of closely-supervised packing; the final Bean Soup, featuring the always serious and meaningful “Person of the Year” awards; the final camp fire of the summer; and finally individual cabin parties, which often end with all of the boys pulling their mattresses onto the floor and sleeping contentedly in a pile, like puppies.

Last night featured our Final Banquet, one of our best ever in terms both of the fare and of the warmth with which the community celebrated the various accomplishments and sterling character of their peers. One signal moment for a lot of us was when the winner of the Nature Program’s “What Is It?” Award in the staff category was announced. Garnering the prize for correctly identifying more items in the daily contest rotation than any other employee was Ned Roosevelt, best known at camp for his sunny and energetic personality (his nickname is appropriately “Rosie”) and for being a superb baseball and tennis player. Here, though, was a “jock” being recognized for the time he had put in each day of the season to learn more about the natural world in our little valley. It didn’t dampen the instructive impact that, the two nights previous, Rosie had also played a fetching Victorian lass in Pinafore, participating in our Gilbert and Sullivan show for the first time in his ten-year Pemi career. He’s always made it cool to thrash Tecumseh from the baseball mound or the tennis baseline, but now he’s made it clear that he thinks it’s cool to hang out in the Nature Lodge and even to rock a nineteenth-century dress and bonnet. We often pride ourselves on being a kind of Renaissance camp, but when a standout counselor like Rosie embodies true breadth of interest and commitment in as symbolic a venue as the banquet hall, that’s something special.

Let’s observe recent tradition and begin the body of this newsletter with Danny’s toast at the very start of last evening:

Danny’s Toast to 2018

Here’s to 2018!

Here’s to the summer of 2018 at Camp Pemigewassett, the 111th in Pemi’s rich and significant history. A summer that has come and gone, as it always seems to, in the blink of an eye, though in some ways it seems a lifetime ago when the Gloucester Six met in May to plan for the summer and also when the staff began to arrive in early June, back when campers and young counselors were still attending graduation parties, the Mess Hall tables were getting their shiny new coat of paint, and Russia (not the USSR) was readying for the start of the World Cup.

Truth be told, the summer of 2018 really began before that, way back in October when scores of our returning campers and families sat by their computers until the stroke of midnight on Oct 15th to apply for the present season. Congratulations, by the way, to Jacob Kunkel, whose application was the very first one we received that early morning. Who will be the first camper to apply for 2019? 

Here’s to a summer that concludes as the leaves on Route 25A take on an autumn tint and Pemi boys are returning to their cabins for an 8:30 taps with barely a shred of day light left…a summer that by all accounts has been a marvelous success, although, in truth, every summer is filled with its own particular nuances, personality, and a fair share of curve balls.

Here’s to the 253 (exactly) campers who graced the shores of Lower Baker Pond this summer, campers from 28 states, more than half of the states in the Union, and from eight countries around the world. And here’s to the new Vietnamese flag we added to our array of international banners that grace the mess hall in recognition of Dahn Le joining the kitchen crew this summer. Here’s to the 75 campers who made the decision to attend sleep-away camp for the first time, the 26 who have, or will, collect their five-year bowls, and, yes—Kevin Miller, Jamie Acocella, Eli Brennan, and Will Ackerman—campers in their eighth summer.

Here’s to Pemi’s talented and dedicated counselor staff in 2018. What an exceptionally strong crew we have this summer! Thank you to the cabin counselors and assistant counselors, the young men who share such close quarters with their boys, and who, for some magical reason, are able to inspire, mentor, and capture the imagination of their campers in ways even their own parents and we senior staff cannot.

Cheers to the incredibly hard working crew that Reed Harrigan leads each day with such vigor, dedication and love: Frank, Dennis, Aaron, Marcus, and Tess. Cheers also to our Office Managers extraordinaire, Heather and Kim, who organize all our lives. And here’s to Dottie, who always has time for us, attending to tasks both large and small and caring for our community with a heaping dose of maternal wisdom, grace, and love.

Big ups to the chefs and kitchen crew this summer (led by our Dining Service Director Tom Ciglar) who tackled the herculean task of providing a community of 275 with delicious meals three times a day and did so with a smile, a sincere desire to meet the needs of every soul, and with freshly baked bread each and every day. Was there ever a better summer for food at Pemi?! 

Here’s to Kenny, our new father and fellow director, whose love for Pemi is so evident as he manages staff, campers, alums, transportation, the daily and weekly schedule, and so much more.

Cheers to Deb Pannell and all the creative endeavors down in Art World (Wow, what an Art Show!), to Charlie, our wise and big-hearted Athletic Director, and to all the coaches in the athletic program who always put Pemi’s values of sportsmanship, improved skills, and participation first. Boom!  

Kudos to Dan Reed and the Trippies who sent scores of trips tramp, tramp, tramping over the mountains despite some un-cooperative weather…and thanks to them, too, for the quick thinking they provided in managing these trips and keeping our boys safe.  

Here’s to Jonathan, Taiko, and Deb Fauver for another remarkable G&S performance and to Michaella, Donald, and their friends for another summer of beautiful music. 

To Chloe, Charlotte, Nick, Will, and Molly and all the exhilarating, yet safe, fun we had in the water…to Brian for his “grateful” approach to running wood shop…to Chris on the tennis courts, Larry and Deb in the Nature Lodge, Steve on the archery range…and to all of the other instructors who brought major energy and mojo to occupation periods every day. And let’s not forget Head of Occupations, Dan Reed, and his understudy Wendy Young, for overseeing the schedule of 253 boys this summer with proficiency, thoughtfulness, and a positive vibe each and every day. Here’s also to Head of Staff Nick Hurn, who, despite his tender age, offered leadership and accountability at every turn. 

And thank you to our wonderful nurses, Emily, Jamie, Billy, and Sabrina for the countless hours, Band-aids, doctor’s appointments, and TLC administered at all hours of the day and night! 

Here’s to the things that were unique at Pemi in 2018: Winston Moore’s first (but far from last, I am thinking) summer at Pemi; Molly’s newly designed slalom course in water skiing; broad-brimmed straw hats on seemingly every head; a heat wave in July and another this week that tested our resolved and begged for a return of TRJR’s “Chillin’ with Lit;” X-Treme games at every turn; more dogs at Pemi than I can recall, and that one dog whose presence will always be a part of the Pemi landscape for me. 

Here’s to all-camp events at Pemi: Bean Soup, when we laugh ourselves and anticipate “Things to Look For”; Campfire, when we treat ourselves to great acts some of the most majestic sunsets one will ever see; and to Sunday Meeting, when we hear about fabled Pemi horses like Prince Hellie and Mary Oooch, the gift of music therapy, and the adventures of the 2018 Allagash paddlers.

And here’s to the beauty of Camp Pemigewassett: the mist on Lower Baker Pond each morning; the stunning reflection we enjoy off of the lake each evening; the spectacular sunsets…and that mesmerizing sound of the water lapping up against the shore as campers fall into a warm and deep sleep each night.

Here’s to our twenty-four 15-year-old campers, to their combined 108 summers at Pemi (Yes, you heard that right!) and to the lifelong friendships they’ve created. I know from personal experience that someday they’ll participate in each other’s weddings, be godparents to each other’s children, and hopefully become the next generation of counselors at Pemi. The system works!

And of course, here’s to the Fauver Family and the Reed Family who, in their loving, wise, and supportive way, continue to expect nothing short of excellence from each of us every summer and who see the stewardship of Camp Pemigewassett as their chance to make the world a better place, one boy at a time.

Here’s to Camp Pemigewassett 2018. Good Luck, Long Life, and Joy!      ~ Danny

And now, as the customary second act of this tradition final missive, let’s turn to fabled backwoods theatrical critic Clive Bean’s review of this year’s production of H.M.S. Pinafore.

 Clive Bean Reviews H.M.S. Pinafore

Director Jonathan Verge

Director Jonathan Verge

Those lucky enough to be vacationing in the Wentworth area last Tuesday and Wednesday were treated to a positively scintillating performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S Pinafore. The maiden effort of Director Jonathan Verge, the production was as well received as any in recent memory. Knowledgeable theater-goers leaving the house were overheard saying that they had been as lucky to grab a ticket as they would have been had they scored a pass to Hamilton or The Band’s Visit.

Braden Richardson

Braden Richardson

Positively stealing the show was Braden Richardson as Little Buttercup. Despite the diminutive name, Braden’s performance was anything but small. Sporting a flowing, blond, Beyoncé wig and a costume that found the common ground between the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper gear and Scarlett O’Hara’s most thrilling gown from Gone with the Wind, Braden consistently wowed the audience with his stellar if-calculatedly-over-the-top acting and his sultry, sub-contralto crooning. Honestly, this guy could make it on Broadway, and his performance ranks with the best-ever by a Pemi camper. No surprise he was the hands-down winner of this year’s Gilbert and Sullivan Award.

Nick Paris

Nick Paris

Partnering Braden strongly was Nick Paris, as the Pinafore’s Captain Corcoran. His was a hugely demanding role that involved his being on set for virtually all of the second act, and Nick’s performance, steadily matured through the full season’s rehearsals, was unquestionably one of the highlights of the show, garnering him the camp’s legendary Johnnie’s Plaque for Dramatics. Balancing pathos with baffled incredulity, Nick handled the complex assignment with aplomb, garnering his best laughs with an understatement that was a joy to see. Perhaps his most brilliant invention was to signal Corcoran’s fall in social rank (following revelations about some bad choices at a Victorian childcare facility) by switching from a crisp BBC accent to a Cockney drawl that could have come straight out of a Geico commercial. Well done, Nick.

Michaella Frank, Nick Bertrand

Michaella Frank, Nick Bertrand

Speaking of Nicks, Nick Bertrand strode the Pemi boards for the first time as Ralph Rackstraw, the lowly deckhand who has the rank-defying chutzpah to fall in love with Captain Corcoran’s daughter, Josephine. Nick looked every bit the romantic dreamboat, as evidenced by the avid ogling and dreamy sighs he provoked amidst the female chorus. His acting was especially strong, as he delivered tongue-twisting lines about “plunging into the Cimmerian darkness of tangible despair” with the comfort you’d expect of someone ordering a hot dog at the ballpark.

Ralph’s love interest was played wonderfully by Michaella Frank, a veteran of Pemi’s shows who stepped for the first time into a lead. Her powerful soprano was entirely equal to the demands of a sophisticated piece of operatic writing, and her acting matched her pipes. Speaking of Scarlett O’Hara’s best gown, Michaella wore it—and she positively rocked the thing.

Eli Brennan, Scout Brink

Eli Brennan, Scout Brink

Rackstraw’s rival for Josephine’s hand, Sir Joseph Porter, First Lord of the Admiralty, was played by long-time camper Eli Brennan, veteran of countless Pemi shows. Rumors abound that Eli secured the services of Paul Manafort to bribe Tom Reed, Jr. to give up his wonted role, but those rumors are Fake News. Eli totally mastered the accent, the bearing, and the condescending diction of the British Born Elite, and his delivery of the justly renowned “When I Was a Lad” was flawless. His character may be a bit of a social drone, but Eli’s performance was a huge contributor to the show’s drive.

Scout Brink shone as Cousin Hebe, Sir Joseph’s constant companion whose only goal in life seems to be landing a beau who’s related just-distantly-enough to avoid legal repercussions. Scout played her to coy perfection. Also joyous to watch were John Kingdon, as the Pinafore’s staunch and dependable Boatswain, and Pierce Haley, as the Carpenter’s Mate.

Larry Davis

Larry Davis

Finally, Larry Davis reprised a role that he has been playing to perfection for the last forty years: Dick Deadeye, a man about as handsome as Shrek, as cheery as Eeyore, and as charitable as Voldemort. Larry spat out Deadeye’s bitter lines with the vitriol of a swamp adder, and his duet with Captain Corcoran (in which he rats on the Good Guys) was a masterpiece of musical maliciousness.

Pemi operettas are only as good as their choruses, and this year’s were superb—lively yet disciplined, supporting the leads to perfection and never hi-jacking the audience’s attention. Kudos to the Relatives’ Chorus of David Kriegsman, Oliver Giraud, Noah Anderson, Chris Ramanathan, Jake Landry, Elijah Dorroh, Ned Roosevelt, Cole Valente, Gray Klasfeld, Owen Wyman, Luke Larabie, and Finn Wilkins. Powerful praise is also due the Pinafore’s amply-tattoed crew: Nathan Gonzalex, Augie Tanzosh, Aslan Peters, Thaddeus Howe, Felix Nussbaum, Teo Boruchin, Owen Gagnon, Charlie Bell, Henry Moore, Nelson Snyder, Andreas Geffert, Ben Herdeg, Dexter Wells, Lucas Gales, Nate Broll, Will Menike, Jacob Kunkel, and Tom Reed, Jr. You’d never want to battle yard-arm-to-yard-arm­—or sashay into a quay-side dance hall—with anybody else.

I’ve mentioned Jonathan Verge as Director. He may have been a Pemi rookie, but his unique combination of vision, high standards, realism, patience, organization, imagination, and fun vaulted him straight to the top. The players claim he was terrific to work with from casting to cast party, and the quality both of the singing and acting and of the pure physical look of the show testify heartily to his professionalism.

Taiko Pelick

Taiko Pelick, Musical Director and Pianist

Speaking of professionalism, Taiko Pelick was equally stellar as Musical Director and Master Pianist for every rehearsal and both performances. Relegated to accompanying the show from an improvised orchestra pit that might have induced claustrophobia in a groundhog, Taiko continued to demonstrate the meticulous musicality that has made her one of the truly great additions to the camp’s 2018 staff.

Hats off, too, to Director Verge’s Crew: Emmet Kelly, Ailer Thomas, Will Haughton, Andrew Muffett, Ryder McCoy-Hanson, Simon Taylor, Quinn Markham, Max Blohm, Ted Applebaum, and Landon Burtle. The sets were gorgeous, thanks to the labors of Reed Harrigan, Frank Roberts, and TRJR (whose mother, Betsy, first painted them sixty years ago!) And a final shout out to Costumer Extraordinaire Deborah Fauver who, for yet another year, handled the prodigious task of measuring, outfitting, dressing, and equipping more than forty cast members with her always dependable grace and good cheer.

H.M.S. Pinafore, 2018

H.M.S. Pinafore, 2018

So, the set is struck, the house is dark, and another Pemigewassett G&S has gone into the history books. If you missed it, it’s not too late to order a DVD. Nor is it too early to book your box for the camp’s 2019 production—as yet undesignated, but sure to generate more buzz than the full complement of bees at the annual Chelsea Flower Show. Be there!

Well, that feels like a wrap. We’ll leave any further accounts of Pemi’s 111th season to your sons—to be delivered in your cars on the way home…or around the dinner table as you relish your first post-season meal together as a family…or perhaps muttered by your Pemi boys in their sleep, as you stand in their doorways just before you go to bed yourself, grinningly happy to have your summertime adventurer back under the your own roof. Do stay tuned, though, in the coming weeks for emails about the enrollment schedule for the upcoming season. (Yes, planning is already underway!) The sun is setting farther south with every evening, but that equator-approaching process is unlikely to keep going forever. So, to borrow a notion and a turn of phrase from Danny, here’s to Pemi 2019! Meanwhile, best wishes for a happy and productive Fall.

—TRJR

 

 

 

#6: Tecumseh Day 2018

As promised, this week’s newsletter comes from Charlie Malcolm, Pemi’s Director of Athletics for decades. No one is better positioned than he to give you an account of our annual battle with Camp Tecumseh, our avid arch rivals ever since the opening years of camp. For those who have experienced it, our longtime rivalry is as spirited and intense as any between Harvard and Yale or Ohio State and Michigan. It is also marked by the highest level of sportsmanship, something of which both they and we are especially proud. Now, with no further ado, here’s Charlie. 

Introduction: The Challenge

In all my years as Athletic Director of Camp Pemi, I can’t remember an earlier start to mess hall cheers directed at lifting the community for our upcoming contest with Tecumseh. In the very first week of camp, the seniors started chanting the number of days left to Tecumseh Day. It felt a little odd, given half of the boys chanting were first half campers. With each week, the spontaneous cheers grew a little louder. After victories over Camp Moosilauke and Kingswood, our local rivals and friends in the Baker Valley, the cheers grew louder yet, and more spontaneous. At the core of this vocal group are our fifteen-year-olds who have been on the shores of Lower Baker for six or seven years, many remembering the euphoria of defeating Tecumseh in 2012 and desperately wanting to finish their Pemi career with an historic victory.

Taking on Tecumseh, a significantly larger camp (220 enrolled there to our 170) driven almost exclusively by athletic competition, Pemi has won “The Hat” five times in the last five decades (1967, 1970, 1983, 1998, and 2012). We’ve tied a few days and have had some bitterly close defeats over the years, but our friends from Lake Winnipausake have good reason to enter these contests with an air of confidence. Their teams tend to be a little deeper, and their camp’s unyielding commitment to sports prepares kids to grind out close matches with consistently commendable sportsmanship.

As for your boys from Pemigewassett, it takes a special blend of talent, tenacity, and moxie to win a majority of the twenty events and take home the bronze “Hat” that is bequeathed to the camp with the most wins. With five age groups competing in baseball, soccer, swimming, and tennis, the day is a challenging endeavor filled with essential lessons that serve our boys well as they define and shape their character through their experiences and actions.

With the arrival of our second-session campers, the Pemi community started to shape its respective teams for the upcoming contests. Starting every season on Monday of Week 5, the teams practice during our daily occupation schedule. This year coaches and campers endured some tropical rainforest weather as the camp and lake received some much needed water. On Friday last, we woke up at 6:20 AM as our Seniors lined the Intermediate Hill, blasted music, led morning exercises, and finished with a communal polar bear at the Senior beach. After a quick breakfast, the Eleven’s, Twelve’s, and Thirteen’s departed for Camp Tecumseh while the Ten- and Fifteen-and-unders waited for the arrival of Tecumseh at Pemi

Morning at Pemi

15’s tennis

The day kicked off at Pemi with two outstanding contests. The Ten-and-under baseball team scored three runs in the first inning and held a 3-1 lead heading into the last stanza. Paul “Bagels” Schwaegler pitched a gem, striking out seven batters in three-plus innings of work. Unfortunately, Tecumseh rallied in the last inning and scored six runs with aggressive base running, timely hitting, and a few Pemi errors. This was a young Pemi team featuring three eight-year-olds from Junior One (Noah Littman, Clayton Johnson, and Wyatt Dolinsky) in the starting line-up, suggesting this team has a bright future. While the Tens battled on the diamond, the Fifteens locked into a very competitive tennis match. Pemi eventually lost another close contest 4-3, but anyone who watched the doubles team of Andrew Roth and Will Ackerman battle their equally impressive Tecumseh partners witnessed one of the best doubles matches of the day. After dropping the first set 6-4, our boys made some tactical adjustments as Roth lobbed the ball a little deeper and Ackerman moved more centrally and aggressively eliminated dangerous lanes. The boys eventually forced a tiebreaker after tying the second set 6-6, and then forced a super tiebreaker after winning the first tiebreaker 7-5. In the super tiebreaker, Ackerman and Roth dominated, delivering a well deserved 10-4 win. The sportsmanship and mutual respect of all four participants made for a great match and set the tone for the day.

10’s soccer

The Fifteens would have to shake off their disappointment losing that close tennis match and take on a very talented Tecumseh baseball team with a polished high school pitcher on the mound. Unfortunately, our team fell 2-0. Nevertheless, Pemi received a courageous effort on the mound by Charlie Bell and great leadership from Jamie Acocella behind the plate. Kevin Miller made a nice catch in center field, and Marshall Neilsen delivered Pemi’s best hit of the day, but it wasn’t enough to push Pemi to a much-needed victory at home. As with the Ten’s baseball team, the core of this fifteens’s team is made up of fourteen-year-olds who will be returning next summer to avenge their loss. As for the Ten’s soccer team, they fought gallantly against a very strong Tecumseh squad. The score was knotted at 0-0 until Tecumseh took the lead with five minutes to go in the first half. Bagels Schwaegler had nearly pushed Pemi ahead when his long chip from midfield was parried off the crossbar by the agile Tecumseh goalie. Jake Landry anchored the Pemi defense and kept Tecumseh’s dangerous players at bay while Robbie Judd made dangerous runs on the attack and relentlessly pressed the ball all over midfield. Unfortunately, Pemi’s lack of depth eventually caught up to them and they conceded five second-half goals before a thunder clap delivered some mercy, ending the match 6-0 for Tecumseh.

Morning at Tecumseh

11’s tennis

While Pemi found themselves down 4-0 at home, our Eleven’s, Twelve’s, and Thirteen’s got off of the bus and immediately put Tecumseh on their heels. Our Elevens consist of only twenty-five campers to build four teams: ten boys need to play tennis, fifteen for soccer, nine for baseball, and ten to swim. Historically, this age group has struggled against Tecumseh because we just don’t quite have the numbers to create the depth and experience to beat a formidable opponent. Internal prognosticators and Las Vegas were predicting a tough day for this age group, however, none of us fully understood the character and strength of the group that is split between Lower Lowers and the Junior Camp. The magic started with Eleven’s tennis where two athletes found themselves down in their respective matches and Tecumseh looked like they had three matches well under control and just needed one more to win. First, Oliver Phillips came back from 5-2 deficit in an eight-game set and proceed to win the next six straight games to prevail 8-5. Sam Young was down 3-0 and worked his match back to 7-7, then delivering an inspiring and clutch tiebreaker 7-1 to push Pemi to their first victory of the day, 4-3.

12’s soccer

According to Tecumseh, the Twelve’s are their deepest and most athletic age group, and they began the day with soccer. Their Pemi counterparts wisely chose to come out in a defensive shape and spring counter attacks wide on the flanks.   Charlie Orbin and Jacob Kunkel anchored the defense in front of goalie Alex Rolfe. Rolfe was outstanding, making critical saves throughout the match to keep Pemi in striking range. Nate Broll worked tirelessly at midfield as Pemi held Tecumseh’s best team to two goals. When news arrived at Pemi of the 2-0 Tecumseh victory, a Tecumseh coach commented, “Wow, you must have a great soccer team. That Tecumseh team is easily our best team in camp.”

Down at Tecumseh’s impressive waterfront, the Thirteen’s swim team also delivered an inspiring effort in their swim meet. Coach Ken Moore’s mermen unleashed a scintillating performance in the individual events, as they delivered a series of first and second place finishes. Ben Herdeg and Andreas Geffert finished 1-2 in the breast, John Kingdon and Dexter Wells the same in the butterfly, and Will Sewell and Finn Wilkins ditto in the freestyle. Not finishing in the top three but equally impressive was Lucas Gales, who knocked twenty-nine seconds from his freestyle time. Well done Lucas! At the wrong end of a 28-14 tally heading into the two relays, Tecumseh delivered an incredible comeback as they snatched a first and second place finish in both the medley and free relays to leave the meet at a 30-30 tie. The Thirteen’s would have to shake off their resulting disappointment and go up to the soccer pitch and play a talented Tecumseh team, but part of the magic of Tecumseh Day is watching how the athletes and coaches deal with large momentum swings, as each age group must reset its emotional energy and focus for the next challenging event.

11's baseball

11’s baseball

The Eleven’s carried their momentum to the baseball field, and Sam Young stepped on the rubber and delivered one of the most dominant pitching performances in Pemi baseball history. He recorded 17 of his team’s 18 outs, striking out fourteen batters to push Pemi to a dominating 10-1 victory. Giacomo Turco, a former Tecumseh camper who took a fair amount of ribbing for switching camps, delivered a 4-4 effort at the plate, driving in six runs to pace Pemi to an impressive win.

13's soccer

13’s soccer

The Thirteen’s quashed their disappointment after tying the swim meet and garnered the strength and perseverance to play an incredible soccer match on Tecumseh’s imposing Grant Field. Pemi found themselves down 1-0 on a deflected shot taken from a poor angle. Six minutes later, Pemi’s Daniel Rudolph lofted a shot that slipped through the tips of the Tecumseh goalie’s fingers and into the back of the net. Tecumseh responded with a scrappy corner kick goal just before the end of the half. With three minutes to play and Tecumseh still holding a majority of the possession, Pemi scrapped and hustled their way to create opportunities. Aidan Chiang, who provided Pemi with box-to-box pressure, launched a shot with the outside of his foot. The Tecumseh keeper made the initial save, but the hustling Will Sewell raced in and pushed the rebound past the scrambling net-minder to tie the game 2-2. It is this type of perseverance and competitive spirit that is also the hallmark of the day.

12s tennis

12s tennis

The Twelve’s also rebounded from their challenging 2-0 loss in soccer to deliver a dominating 7-0 victory in tennis. The four singles players of Ryder McCoy-Hansen, Luke Brown, Chris O’Connor, and Nate Broll made quick work of their Tecumseh counterparts. The doubles team of Charlie Orben/Brady Waldron ran their opponents all over the court while the pairings of Fischer Burke/ Wim Nook and Alex Rolfe/Logan McManus methodically seized control of their respective matches and finished the morning at Tecumseh on a powerful note. The Eleven’s, Twelve’s, and Thirteen’s went 3-1-2 in their six matches to keep Pemi’s overall chances alive heading into the lunch break.

Friday Afternoon Events

The Ten- and Fifteen-and-unders began their contests under increasingly threatening skies. After four or five games in tennis and 20 minutes of scoreless soccer in the 15’s soccer soccer match, the boys were cleared from the field and the games were postponed until Sunday. At Tecumseh, the weather held long enough for the Eleven’s, Twelve’s and Thirteen’s to complete the first events of the afternoon. The Eleven’s soccer team ran into a formidable opponent determined to win their first event. The team held strong and were only down 1-0 at halftime, but the depth and speed of Tecumseh eventually was too much and the team fell 6-1 in the second half. The 12’s baseball team received great pitching from Fischer Burke, however, a porous defense put the team down five runs. In the top of the 4th inning Pemi was squaring up on the ball and cut the lead to 5-2. Wim Nook sparked the rally with a base hit. Unfortunately, a distant thunder clap ended Pemi’s comeback and the remainder of the game was cancelled when Pemi clearly had the momentum. Thirteen’s Tennis fell 5-2 to a talented Tecumseh team with Owen Wyman and Jonah Reay winning for Pemi. With the thunderstorms settling in around Tecumseh, the camps would need to complete Eleven’s and Twelve’s swimming, and Thirteen’s baseball.

Sunday

After parent’s visiting day at Pemi on Saturday, the boys had an early lunch on Sunday and restarted their competition with Tecumseh. The locations were changed for the different age groups to avoid having the same kids ride on the bus for second day.

15's soccer

15’s soccer

The Ten’s and Fifteen’s traveled to Tecumseh to finish their soccer and tennis match, followed by their swim meet. The Fifteen’s soccer match started with a combined 50 minutes of scoreless soccer. Both teams generated a handful of quality chances and competed aggressively. The defense led by Will Ackerman, Luca Tschanz, Kevin Miller and Timmy Somp held strong in front of goalie Gordon Robbins. Mac Hadden and Luca McAdams battled Tecumseh for the middle of the pitch. Tecumseh held a little more of the play, but Pemi countered with dangerous counter attacks that generated critical corner kicks and throw-ins. With eight minutes to play Tecumseh sent a corner kick into the Pemi box and the eventual scrum and failure of Pemi to clear the ball resulted in a scrappy, opportunistic goal. The Fifteen’s fought hard to the end, but could not find the equalizer and suffered a 1-0 loss.

10's swimming

10’s swimming

The Ten’s tennis team was swept by a deep Tecumseh tennis team 7-0 so both teams slowly walked down to the waterfront for the final swim meets of the day. One of the important and more meaningful aspects of the Tecumseh Day is the pairing of our Ten’s and Fifteen’s. Both age groups needed to dig a little deeper for the last event of the day. The Ten’s, consisting of only eight swimmers, swam their hearts out and were only down four points heading into the final relays. Pemi received commendable efforts from Ben Kriegsman who won the backstroke, Nick Vitale first place finish in the freestyle, and a second place finish by James Cullen. The Medley Relay team of Kriegsman, Vitale, Henry Radin, and Cullen delivered a critical first place to keep the meet close. Unfortunately, Tecumseh’s depth was too much as they won the meet on the final freestyle relay leaving the final score 35-23 for Tecumseh.

15's swimming

15’s swimming

The Fifteens having lost close matches in tennis, baseball, and soccer needed to reach a little deeper and finish strong. As they left the soccer pitch they knew the Ten-and unders would look for their leadership. The Fifteen’s swimmers received an outstanding coaching effort from Charlotte Jones who began training this team the first week of camp. From the opening whistle it was all Pemi as they dominated the individual events. Mitchell Chin and Simon Taylor went 1st and 2nd in the backstroke, Nick Ridgeway and Matt McDonough 1st and 2nd in the butterfly, and a 1st and 2nd in the breast by Thomas Nielson and Max Blohm, and first place finish by George Fauver in the freestyle. Fauver went on to lead his Medley Relay team with Mitchell Chin, Thomas Nielson, and Nick Ridgeway to a first place. In the final relay of the day, with Pemi well in the lead, the free relay team of Fauver, Eli Brennan, Nick Ridgeway, and Mitchell Chin finished the meet with an emphatic 43-17 victory that lifted the spirits of everyone who traveled to Tecumseh. It was a great finish for an age group that provided excellent leadership in our preparation for Tecumseh Day, but it was also a clear statement of the incredible impact a dedicated coach can have on a group of young athletes.

At Pemi, the Eleven’s and Twelve’s swim teams finished their respective meets with grit and determination. The Eleven’s were swimming for their third victory of the day while the Twelve’s entered the meet 1-2. A deep Tecumseh Twelve’s swim team made quick work of Pemi and rolled to an impressive 49-11 win. Pemi Eleven’s, an age group that had already delivered a gutsy win in tennis and a dominant victory in baseball, went out and won every race of the meet. In the individual races Pemi received first places from first time swimmer Bauer Brown in backstroke, Boone Snyder in the breaststroke, Ben Cavanaugh in the butterfly, and Hayden Davis in the freestyle. Lucas Vitale swam against five Tecumseh challengers in the Individual Medley and delivered an impressive first place. Not surprisingly, the Pemi Eleven’s medley relay team of Vitale, Snyder, Davies, and Davis won as did free relay team of Davies, Cavanaugh, Brown, and Vitale. With the 37-23 victory in swimming, the 11’s finished 3-1 on Tecumseh Day, an incredible effort for 25 campers.

13's baseball

13’s baseball

The last event of the day to finish was the Thirteen’s baseball game and those fortunate to watch this game thought it was likely the best contest of the “day.” Tecumseh jumped out to 3-0 lead on two singles, a catcher’s interference, and some aggressive base running. Pemi responded with a run in the bottom of the first as Jonah Reay got the offense going with a base hit, stolen base, and some contact hitting. Oliver Giraud locked into a pitchers’ duel with Tecumseh and bought the team critical time to get back in the game. With two outs, and the game tying run on third base, a swinging bunt led to the Tecumseh catcher racing back to home and diving to tag the Pemi runner to end the game, 4-3 Tecumseh. In many respects it was a fitting end to the 2018 Tecumseh Day. The final score was 13-5-2 in Tecumseh’s favor. However, there were plenty of opportunities at all different age groups to win close matches in Pemi’s favor. Our boys competed , experienced some adversity, learned about perseverance, celebrated some victories, and felt the disappointment of a defeat. Many thanks to our Tecumseh friends for their wonderful blend of competitive spirit and sportsmanship. We look forward to Tecumseh Day 2019!

~ Charlie Malcolm

And many thanks to Charlie for his inspiring leadership on the athletic front all year long, and especially for his wise and balanced handling of the highlight event of our sporting summer. We too look forward to Tecumseh Day 2019—and, in the shorter term, to Larry Davis’s newsletter on Pemi’s Nature Program in the upcoming newsletter.
                                                                                                            –TRJR

#5: Pemi Legacies…Pemi Family

After four days of as-close-to-perfect summer weather as we can ever remember, spanning from Wednesday to Saturday last week and blessing us with cloudless blue skies, fresh and cooling breezes, and air so clear that the distant hills seemed as close to being on top of you as that next wave just about to break over you at the seashore, we are experiencing a rainy interlude. Actually, given how dry it’s been, the precipitation is welcome—greening our fields, damping down the dust on our dirt thoroughfares, and making today’s a perfect Rest Hour for a nap. Naps this week, in fact, are a particularly good thing. I believe we hinted in our last number that our annual athletic extravaganza with our storied rivals from Camp Tecumseh is coming up this Friday, and amid frenzied preparation for competition in four events (baseball, tennis, soccer, and swimming) in five separate age groups (10-and-under, 11’s, 12’s, 13’s, and 15’s) and equally frenzied “Beat Tecumseh” cheers in the Mess Hall, it’s great to have some southerly wind, grey skies, and drizzle on the cabin roofs working alongside a spectacular roast pork and potatoes lunch in all our bellies to inspire a little restorative slumber.

Athletic Director Charlie Malcolm will take pen in hand to record for you some of the highlights of the coming Big Day, but know for now that the tone he set for the staff at last night’s post-Taps meeting was classic Charlie. While the odds-makers in Las Vegas are not necessarily choosing us (as opposed to their favorable prognosticating prior to our recent and plentiful triumphs over Camps Moosilauke, Kingswood, and Walt Whitman), the day is important and it makes us a better camp, regardless of the final tally. Tecumseh is a sports camp. We are an all-around camp. They build their entire summer around playing us. We build ours in part around playing them, but also around, for example, caving in upstate New York, the annual Gilbert and Sullivan production, the Allagash canoe trip, singing in the Mess Hall and at the Campfire circle, the annual loon and butterfly counts, the Pemi Week Art Show, our weekly serving of Bean Soup, etc., etc. But if they, year after year, are the best competition around, we become better competitors getting ourselves ready for them, doing everything we can to match them on the pitch or on the courts, diamonds, or docks, celebrating the victories we’re hoping for and accepting the defeats that sometimes come our way—shaking their hands afterwards, though; cheering them and their grit and their skill; sitting down with ourselves afterwards and acknowledging that we really did give our all, that we and our teammates really did leave it all on the field, and that (darn it!) we really had fun! Given this somehow stirring but still settling key note speech by Charlie, the coaches are now working with their charges to get them prepared for their time in the sun—this despite the lingering showers. We know you’ll all stay tuned!

In the mean time, Associate Director Kenny Moore has put together some thoughts about one of the demographic rather than programmatic distinctions that we think sets Pemi apart from a lot of other institutions. Kenny, consistent with his role as Director of Alumni Relations, is our contact person for legacy families, one of his special purviews being the recruitment of sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons of Pemi veterans.

Since 1908, the Fauver and Reed families have built a solid foundation, ensuring Pemi’s success long into the future. We believe that Camp Pemigewassett is the oldest residential boys’ camp in the country under the same continuous family ownership, and the central emphasis on family extends into every facet of our camp. Each cabin group, division, occupation, sports team, and hiking group, together with the collective staff, operates similarly to a family unit. All Pemi individuals take on specific roles, provide leadership, care for one another, and take responsibility for their actions.

Pemi creates opportunities for boys to work together within their newly established family groups on a daily basis—say, eating as a group in the Mess Hall, encouraging each other on a mountain trip, or cleaning the cabin for daily Inspection. Beyond that, the interaction that boys have with different Pemi generations is particularly unique and valuable. The annual Gilbert and Sullivan show is one of the best examples of multiple generations coming together. The cast this year for H.M.S. Pinafore ranges in age from 8 to 71 years old, with our youngest campers in Junior 1 practicing and performing alongside venerable camp folks and cast members Tom Reed, Jr. and Larry Davis. Experiences shared across generations allow traditions to carry forward in an extremely organic and effective way, clearly defining who and what we are at Pemi.

Legacy campers—those boys whose fathers, uncles, grandfathers, or even great grandfathers attended Pemi—offer another snapshot of family at Pemigewassett. This year, close to 30% of our enrollment is made up of legacy campers. Will Silloway, a First Session camper, is our first fourth-generation camper (excluding children of the founding Reed and Fauver families, who are on the 5th generation). Will’s father Roger, grandfather Skip, and great-grandfather Stewart (counselor in 1928) were all Pemi boys!

Alumni parents contemplating sending their boys to Pemi often comment on the wave of Pemi nostalgia that comes over them as their sons near camp age. Treasured stories and memories from their own past pave the way for new experiences for their boys. While father and son are not physically at Pemi at the same time (except, perhaps, for drop-off, pick-up, or visiting days for Full Session campers), this type of shared experience is extremely special. Accustomed to singing traditional American, Pemi, and college songs in the Mess Hall in their various respective decades, more than one “extended” family has been known to croon at their own family dining tables when the nostalgic spirit moves them.

I asked a few of our current legacy campers about the lead-up to their first summer at Pemi. What was the conversation like with their fathers and family members before camp? What sort of advice did their forebears give, and how did that prepare them for their own experience at Pemi? What happened when they returned home?

Fischer Burke, son of alumnus Jeff and Kirby Burke, lives just north of San Francisco and is in his second year as a camper at Pemi. “It was exciting,” Fischer reports, “to hear the stories about camp from my dad. He told me about all the fun he had, the camp records he broke, the activities he did.” When Jeff came to pick Fischer up last August at the end of the 2017 season, Jeff had firsthand knowledge of Fischer’s experience. “Dad knew what I was talking about, and that got him excited to tell more stories from his day.” This story swapping continued well into the fall and winter.

Wim Nook, son of alumnus Bill and Melissa Nook and grandson of alumnus William Nook, loved hearing camp stories from his family. “I remember hearing about singing in the Mess Hall, the Polar Bear swim, even though it was different then (a bit more au naturel!), playing baseball, taking Nature with Larry. Everything was still here for my first year.” Wim commented on Pemi’s living history: “The markings on the cabin show me the guys that were here before. To see their names and dates is pretty cool.” [Editorial comment: Wim’s sense of “cool” runs distinctly counter to our official policy against leaving names carved or Magic-Markered into cabins, but we suppose there’s a “Kilroy” in all of us, and it is always fun to know who got here before we did!]

Angus Williams, grandson of alumnus John “Torpedo” Lewis and wife Cathy, son of Cara Lewis, and nephew of alumnus Will Lewis, is in his fourth summer and is one of our fifteen-year-old leaders. Before he first came to camp, Angus remembers hearing about the classic elements of Pemi: singing in the Mess Hall, campfires on Senior beach, and all the sports his grandfather and uncle played. “They told me what Pemi was about, that it was a home away from home, and when I came here I really understood. It seemed like home to me.” He distinctly recalls driving back to his winter home, answering questions from his family about his camp experience. “My grandfather would ask me if we sang this song, and then we would just start singing it together. He asked me if I did my Distance Swim, and when I told him the story, he just laughed. We did so many of the same things.”

This summer, Angus’ cousin Richard Lewis is in his first year as a camper, and Angus loves having him at Pemi. “I really want to be there for Richard in his first year, to help him out if he needs anything.”  These shared camp experiences across multiple generations are an unparalleled way to create bonds between family members.

The traditions and customs of a family or institution bind its members together, giving each individual a strong sense of belonging. The familial nature of Pemi, with its varied and rich traditions, allows worthy and rewarding customs to be passed down to each generation. These customs provide structure for individual members and make it easier for us to be good citizens of the broader world. By living amid the rhythms and rituals of a thoughtful and humane institution, we are included in a community that transcends time.    ~Ken Moore

Many thanks to Kenny for his evocation of the way the Pemi Experience, over the years and generations, can bond not only individuals who share the same genes but also those who share only Polar Bear dips, rousing Mess Hall choruses of “We’re From Camp Pemigewassett,” accomplishing their Distance Swims, and drinking in the sunset view with their cabinmates outside Greenleaf Hut high on the shoulder of Mt. Lafayette. They say it takes a village to raise a child. We count it among our blessings that, in playing our small part in raising children, we somehow manage, decade after decade, to create a village.

–TRJR