#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

 

#4: “Things to Look For!”

2018: Newsletter #4

Pemi’s infamous journal, Bean Soup, is celebrating its 109th season this summer, having come into being in the same year as The Wind in the Willows, “To Build a Fire,” and Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. As far as we know, it’s the oldest and longest-running such camp publication in the country, and boys and staff alike look forward to its Monday night ladlings with all of the excitement of fans awaiting the next season of Madmen, Game of Thrones, or The Handmaid’s Tale. The only difference is that there’s no binge-watching Bean Soup, as every pot is boiled up fresh every week. Even the editors never know what will go into the pot until hours or even minutes before they take their places on top of their table/bully pulpit at the front of the Lodge.

By now, you’ve noticed that the metaphoric language used to refer to this time-honored Pemi institution (e.g. “ladling,” “boiled up fresh,” and “pot”) are very much in line with the admittedly odd title: Bean Soup. Even as you quietly approve of the way Pemi exposes your sons to figurative language at an early and impressionable age, you may be wondering, “Why Bean Soup?” Honestly, we don’t know. Maybe the best guess is that the first editors were taking a subtle (or not-so-subtle) dig at the monotonous and dollar-conscious menu-planning in Pemi’s early seasons. Whatever the explanation, some regrettable hazing evidently surrounded the first “servings.” Boys new to Pemi, it seems, were assured that the potage about which they had heard so much was very literal soup—and that, in order to down theirs, they would have to carve a wooden spoon for the steaming, after-dinner snack. We weren’t personally there to witness the “gotcha” laughter that must have transpired, but we’re glad that Pemi has grown softer and more humane in this sense at least. That said, some of the lampooning that goes down on a regular basis is often fairly spicy. We continue to believe that satire, when it observes appropriate limits, is a potent tool of collective social awareness, helping people laugh at themselves in a way that makes them better for the chuckles and, finally, parts of a jovial and accepting community. Think best friends making fun of each other playing softball, or at a bridal shower, or at a rehearsal dinner.

Printed, bound up, and distributed to the whole camp family just before the Winter Holidays, Bean Soup has always aimed to be something of an historical record of the season. Look back to the oldest numbers and you’ll find directorial newsletters, accounts of mountain trips and athletic events, reviews of vaudeville and Gilbert and Sullivan shows, rosters of various athletic teams in all of the different age groups, the names of the recipients of our major awards, and so forth. To ring a change on the old New York Times motto, “All the news that fits, we print.” We must admit in this age of charges of “fake news” that Bean Soup (as it is democratically written by editors, general staff, and campers alike) has sometimes allowed zaniness and imagination to take scrupulous verity hostage—yielding something more like The Colbert Report or even SNL than the PBS News Hour. Favorite genres over the years have included supposed transcripts of the directors’ financial schemings to host a new Woodstock, say, or to open an Elvis theme park; or “intercepted letters” from Junior campers who are, sub rosa, Russian spies or feasibility experts looking into a new MacDonald’s franchise in the mess hall; or re-writes of various Pemi or public-domain songs that turn melody to mayhem in all the ways you might expect of zany and creative individuals having a good time at staid decorum’s expense.

Way, way back, servings of Bean Soup began by just diving into the real news of the week. In the fifties and sixties, however, brief “introductions” became increasingly common, taking a minute or two to suggest, for example, that a recent four-day spate of rain had Mr. Jefferis up in the shop secretly building an Ark. One marked initiative of the nineties was to send up the contents of the previous (Sunday) evening’s edifying talk—as, just last week, superlative 2018 editors Harry Cook, Wes Eifler, and Dan Reed made gentle fun of Larry Davis’s hyper-informative but amusing Sunday talk on insects’ place in the food chain, entitled “What Good Are Black Flies?” Their parodic PowerPoint presentation? “What Good Are Juniors?” Last week, this inventive trio had kicked off the Soup with an hilarious edition of Pemi Jeopardy, with categories you probably have to be a Pemi person to appreciate fully: “Wretched Waiters,” “Things that Flush and Things that Don’t,” or “Things that Larry Doesn’t Like.” To be honest, much of today’s Soup is more performative than simply aural, but judging by the volume of laughter generated, it is still preternaturally adept at striking the collective funny bone.

Every ladling of the Soup ends with “Things To Look For,” which first became a staple back in the late fifties. Here’s where the foibles or fixations of a number of our company can be brought to light in a grin-inducing way. If there’s a Senior who tends not to respond to Reveille, the Thing To Look For might be a nuclear alarm clock or a special bunk featuring a water slide into the lake. If a pitcher has had a spectacular game against Camp Moosilauke, the Thing To Look For might be a contract from the Yankees (sure to bring resounding “Boos!” from any Red Sox fans in the room.) If a counselor has notoriously forgotten his Nalgene on a Mt. Cube trip, the Thing To Look For might be a personal drone from the Poland Spring bottling plant. And always—always—the last Thing To Look For is “A better Bean Soup,” that final item chanted out knowingly by every person in the room as they rise from their seats, applaud the editors, and head off to their cabins to get ready for bed. There’s something charming about this weekly acknowledgement that we can, all of us, do a little better next time—even if that particular night’s serving had us weeping repeatedly with laughter.

Oh. One more thing, and then we’ll turn to a couple of example of articles that really do capture the content and feeling of the 2018 season. I just mentioned the collective response of “A better Bean Soup.” For a good half dozen years now, before the editors first stride into the room to thunderous applause, the gathering crowd is as likely as not to fall into the call and response patterns of Loony Toon’s infamous “Duck Season/Rabbit Season” cartoon. Two or three boys will stand up and call out, say, the name of one of our twins—e.g. Ollie Fauver—and eight or ten will pick up the game and leap up shouting the name of Ollie’s brother, Leo. Soon, half of the room (100 souls) will be popping out of their seats to yell “Ollie Fauver,” only to be countered by the other half jumping up to scream “Leo Fauver.” The reciprocal chants run on for some incalculable interval until a pair of staff brothers might supplant the Fauvers: “Per Soderburg”…“Kai Soderburg,” perhaps; or “Matt Kanofsky”…“Andrew Kanofsky.” It can go on for minutes at a time, either until the editors come in and begin the formal proceedings or until, as often happens, all rise spontaneously to sing the National Anthem as though we were all in Fenway Park or Camden Yards rather than the Pemi Lodge. It can all seem a little crazy, but it’s the ritual that has sprung up here as mysteriously and amazingly as mushrooms after a summer rain. It’s what we do, and everybody seems to love it.

Now, let’s turn to a couple of “real,” “substantial,” “historical” accounts—the items that, once all the laughter has died away, will remind readers come December of all of the great and substantial things that have happened at Pemi in 2018. The first is from our wonderful third-year Nature staffer, Scout Brink, who reports on one of the life-changing trips that sally forth from Pemi every year.

CAVING 2018 

On July 2nd, in the year 2018, nine of our bravest Pemi 15’s embarked on a trip into the depths of the Earth. With Larry Davis, Reed Harrigan, and Scout Brink as their trusted leaders, the group traversed over 6,000 feet of caves within the Schoharie County of New York. Our departure from home base was slightly delayed due to an overactive dumpster and a blind spot behind the van. Our men, however, would not be deterred; a replacement van was drafted and we were able to head out around 10:30 AM.

We stopped for lunch on the way to our base-camp, which was at Larry’s sister Emily’s house. Once we arrived at her place, we put our gear on and set out for our first adventure: Knox Cave—a wonderful introduction to caving, as the entrance was a slanted rock that we had to slide down, followed by a 15-foot ladder. Once in The Big Room, we discussed how jointing of the Earth’s crust can cause rocks to collapse and passages to develop into large caves. From here, we split up into two groups. Four campers went with Scout to The Dungeon, where we had to climb up the wall and then crawl through a hole to a secret room. Our campers came in waves of four to find this secret room, but only after they had army-crawled through a small tunnel to look down the infamous Gun Barrel. Our first mission was exceedingly successful for several reasons. First, Hisashi [Lonske] overcame his fear of heights, earning the new title of Hero-shi, and Angus [Williams] saved an amphibious friend who had been washed into the cave.

Back at Emily’s, we could relax with a delicious chicken dinner and s’mores over a campfire for dessert. Larry showed how proud he was of our campers’ accomplishments by telling a secret campfire story, just before the storm came. Lightning began to flash in the distance, and we made our way to our sleeping bags. There was a bat singing “Strangers in the night” with us in the attic where we bunked, which was no surprise considering that Emily (a world-renowned caver) is an avid bat lover.

Our final day began at 7:00 AM, with an amazing buffet-style breakfast, with juice-tube-straw-thingies, to fuel us for our double-cave extravaganza. On July 3rd, we dominated Schoharie and Clarksville Caves, both of which were created by water saturated with carbon dioxide dissolving limestone as it followed the paths of least resistance, through joints and faults within the crust. Because of this, our mission was to wade through an underground stream, and as we got up to our waist in 40-degree water, our men got tough skin and took it in stride. Both caves ended at sumps, which are areas in a cave where the ceiling drops down and the tunnel becomes so full of water that it would require the use of scuba gear for passage (which we didn’t try!) It was here, at the sumps’ beginning, that we sat in a circle, turned off our headlamps, and experienced total darkness!

All three missions were deemed successful, and we celebrated at Chelsea’s Royal Diner.  Eli Brennan, Angus Williams, Ailer Thomas, Matthew McDonough, William Ackerman, Hisashi Lonske, Quinn Markham, Ian Hohman, and Mitchell Chin all became better men throughout those two days.  They toughed through phantom smelly water, hornets, clogged toilets, and came back to Camp Pemigewassett wiser, more patient men, with a new appetite for adventure.

And now we move to a poetic but excruciatingly factual account of a recent soccer match, penned by Trip Specialist John “JP” Gorman, who moonlights as a football coach. JP’s effort confirms that there’s something in the Gaelic blood that lends itself to verse of an epic sort. (Please note that the names included in [brackets] are there only for informational purposes and are not to be sounded as you read either silently or aloud! There is true, metrical music in JP’s lines!)                                               

15’s SOCCER VS MOOSE

P-E-M-I Sis-Boom-Bah
This game belonged to Isaiah [Abbey].
When Pemi toiled to conquer Moose,
He decided to let loose—
First one, then two, and finally three,
Each met by cheers from ol’ Pemi.
A hat trick on the day for him,
But this was more a Pemi win.

From Gordo [Robbins] standing tall in goal,
To Andrew Roth with each through ball,
We showed true class with grit and skill,
And Luca Tschanz prepared to kill
Any soul who tried to score!
Our defense held, a solid core,
Then [Sebastian] Soto cutting from the flank
Let loose a rocket that will rank,
Among the best that Pemi’s seen.
He’s so much skill for just fifteen.

One not enough, he struck again,
Enabled by the other ten,
Who moved and passed with poise and grace.
[Luca] McAdams touch and Tristan’s [Land’s] pace
Brought only grief to each Moose boy,
Then aided by Coach Malcolm’s ploy:
He played the squad’s trump card of depth.
With each fresh sub the Moose team wept—

First H.Mo [Henry Moore], Bennett [Braden], Cam [McManus] and [Eliot] Jones,
Then Simon [Taylor] shook them to their bones.
Braden [Richardson] followed, [Nick] Ridgeway, too,
With [Timmy] Somp and Teddy [Applebaun] in the groove.
Marshall [Nielsen] held at left full back,
Helped of course by mighty “Wack”—
Will Ackerman that is, you see.
Our centre back of steel is he.

[Jacob] Smalley started number nine
With Nelson [Snyder] sprinting down the line.
Moose had no chance; we could not fail!
With [Coach Will] Meinke’s tactics we prevailed.
They did strike once, from a P.K.,
But all-in-all a Pemi day.
So P-E-M-I Sis-Boom-Bah!
We’re coming for you Tecumseh!!

Tecumseh Day, against our ancient rivals from Lake Winnepesauke, is indeed coming up in just a couple of weeks—the unquestioned highlight of our athletic season. We’ll offer in these very pages a full account of this annual encounter in a coming number, but for now, let us just say that JP’s poem is a great example of the tony-ness of Bean Soup over the years. In a world increasingly dominated by fast-paced, video-based narrative and sound bites, it’s refreshing to witness on a weekly basis a medium that still celebrates finished, grammatical, and amusing language. I owe a lot of being a writer myself to Bean Soup, to which I contributed as a camper well before I had any dreams of becoming an editor. Storied American novelist Rick Moody’s first published works were in the pages of BS, where the satiric incisiveness of The Ice Storm and other Moody classics was already appearing and being nurtured by an appreciative audience. And this year, Dexter Wells, son of novelist Susan Choi, is regularly contributing pieces that read more like something from Trevor Noah’s atelier than from a 13-year-old camper. In sum, while Bean Soup entertains us and makes us laugh, we like to think it also makes us more appreciative of our language’s capacity to embody and proclaim wit and wisdom. So, as the editors always conclude their Introduction, may it always be joyously urged, “On with the Soup!”

–TRJR

 

 

 

 

#3: The Elephant in the Room

It’s a spectacular Monday afternoon—temperature in the low eighties, humidity at thirty percent, breeze out of the northwest at twelve miles per hour, and the sky a cerulean blue with nary a cloud in sight. As we sit here in the West Wing, the action around the ping-pong tables in the Lodge is as lively as at Wimbledon, minus the strawberries and cream. Tennis balls plunk out on our own courts (red clay rather than green grass), and the water-ski boat is growling down the lake with Dylan Vigue in tow, tossing up modest rooster tails on his slalom ski. Last week was a great one, despite the heat, including over a dozen challenging mountain hikes, a full Fourth of July program (including fireworks for the first time since 1922!), two canoe trips, and a winning day of competition against our neighbors at Camp Moosilauke. There are dozens of new occupations slated for this week, Pinafore has definitely weighed anchor and is warping out of the harbor, Uppers 3, 4, and 5 will all be headed up to the Appalachian Mountain Club’s splendidly-situated Greenleaf Hut (high on the shoulder of 5200-foot Mt. Lafayette) in the coming days, and Saturday brings both our first parents’ visiting day for full-session boys and a full day’s competition with Camp Kingswood. Oh, and did we mention that the food this summer is perhaps the best we can remember? In short, 2018 is shaping up very sweetly.

This week, Director Danny Kerr fires up his MacBook Pro and confirms our sense that Pemi really is a kind of Renaissance camp, something that we feel gives everyone a chance to carry on in an area they already know and love and to feel both comfortable and inspired to extend themselves in various novel directions. With no further ado, here’s Danny.

Greetings from the sun-drenched shores of Lower Baker Pond! While I am no scientist, I do know that the Theory of Relativity states, among other things, that time is relative, which helps explain how we can possibly be heading into the last week of Session One and making plans for the Birthday Banquet, first-session awards, and the arrival of our second-half boys. The moments, hours, and days slip by in the blink of a smiling eye! Indeed, we look forward to Week Three and all of the enjoyment it will bring. We are so pleased to be spending this time with your sons!

One of the things I am frequently asked by families who are first learning about Pemi is, “What type of camp are you?” The question always makes me think of the old story about four blind men who lived in a village. One day the other villagers told them, “Hey, there is a new and strange creature called an elephant in the village today.” They had no idea what an elephant was but they bravely declared, “Even though we will not be able to see what an elephant is, let us at any rate go and feel what an elephant is.” Every one of them touched the elephant and was asked to describe it in terms of what they felt. “The elephant is a pillar,” said the first man, who had touched his leg. “Oh, no! It is like a rope,” said the second man, who had touched the tail. “Oh, no! It is like a thick branch of a tree,” said the third man, who had touched the trunk of the elephant. “It is like a big hand fan,” said the fourth man, who touched the ear.

They began to argue about the elephant, each blind man sure that he knew best. Then a wise man overheard them and asked, “What is the matter?” They said, “We cannot agree on what the elephant is like.” The wise man calmly explained to them, “All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently is because each of you touched a different part of the animal. So, actually the elephant is like all those things together.”

My immediate thought is that Pemi is like that elephant. If I walked into the Nature Lodge or Art World and heard the instructions that Deb Kure, Larry Davis, or Deb Pannell were giving in their occupation, I might say Pemi is a like a place of learning, for great instruction in art or the ecology of the area. If I went down to the soccer fields or tennis courts and heard Charlie Malcolm or Chris Johnson instructing a group of athletes in the finer points of soccer or tennis, and if I noticed the level of play there, I might insist Pemi is a sports academy. Could this level of instruction really happen at a boys’ camp? If I sat in the West Wing and listened to a rehearsal for the annual Gilbert and Sullivan performance and heard the instructions that Director Jonathan Verge is giving, I would surely think Pemi is a music or theatre performance camp. If I came upon Dan Reed discussing a list of required equipment for a high-mountain hike in the Whites, I might think Pemi is an outdoor adventure camp. If I happened upon a conversation between one of our counselors or a fifteen-year-old Senior and a younger or new camper trying to find his way at Pemi, I would think we are a place for boys to learn and practice leadership skills where learning about how to be a fine young man is the paramount objective. And, if I sat by the campfire on a Saturday night, watching another amazing sunset glimmer on Lower Baker Pond, and seeing the close friendships, spirit, and traditions, I might think that Pemi is a family, where lessons about kindness, community, and love are the great, overarching objectives.

Of course, all of these ideas about what Pemi is are correct. Pemi is a place where boys can learn how to be artists and scientists, athletes and performers, community leaders and loyal friends and companions. Pemi boys grow in confidence, stretch themselves in ways they never imagined, learn to thrive independently, live joyfully in an unplugged community, and make friendships that last a lifetime. No wonder so many Pemi boys and counselors want to return to our little valley each summer. A summer at Pemi isn’t just one thing. Like the elephant, it is many things to many people. As we all know, there are countless ways to be a Pemi boy, and yet all that we do is guided by our traditions and a set of core values and beliefs that help us uphold our mission.

The boys in the trenches had a few opinions on Pemi’s identity as well! I asked four of them what they thought about the question, “What type of camp is Pemi?” and here is what they reported.

Lucas Gales, a sixth-year camper from Vermont in Upper Four, said, “We’re kind of a mix of a sports and nature camp, but we also do so many other things! I love the variety each day brings!”

Grady Gore, a first-year camper from New Jersey in Junior Four, said that he thinks Pemi is an “outdoor camp with a great deal of creativity.” Grady reported that he’s been to “art, music, and tennis occupations,” but that it’s “so cool that we can always go to the Nature Lodge or anywhere else we like.”

Ollie Schiff-Stein, a third-year camper from New York City, said that while Pemi is an “all-around camp,” he thinks the trip program makes Pemi “kind of a trip camp,” based on his very recent experience of going on a “gnarly” three-day Uppers’ trip in the Pemigewassett Wilderness, where the group “summited seven mountains and went 25 miles in total!”

And finally, Dexter Wells, in his sixth year from New York, said, “I get frustrated when my friends at home think that Pemi is a sports camp based on the fact that we are an all-boys camp.” Dexter said one of the things he loves most about Pemi is, “seeing the starting pitcher from the baseball team also spend time at nature-photography and then go on a hike that afternoon!”

One of my time-tested beliefs is that there are many ways to be a Pemi camper, and nothing I have heard or seen thus far this summer makes me worry that this maxim has changed or will change anytime soon! So here’s to a wonderful final week for our first-session boys—and to an amazing final four weeks for our full-session boys and the second-session boys who will be joining us very soon.

We eagerly second that motion. Thanks, Danny, for your revealing folkloric perspective on the programmatic diversity that makes Pemi what it is. Thankfully, our boys are not completely in the position of those four visually-challenged villagers. On a daily basis, they see in unmistakable ways the full variety of things going on at camp, watching their compadres throw themselves into an ever-changing array of offerings and then energetically following suit. With that, farewell for a week. We’ll be back in touch very soon!

–TRJR

 

 

#2: Pemi’s Program…On A Roll!

(July 1) – Greetings from the unusually steamy shores of Lower Baker, where the thermometer has just nudged up into the nineties for the first time in recent memory—not to drop below that decade, midday, until this coming Friday. But then any of you in the Northeast will be coping with the same torrid conditions, while the rest of you will be reading about them in your newsfeeds. Waterfront Head Charlotte Jones has responded by organizing a camp-wide swim meet for the entire afternoon, and we expect even the most inveterate land-lurkers will be drawn to the competition, whether or not they have any ambition to become the next Michael Phelps. Danny Kerr was slated to conduct Sunday’s Weekly Meeting in the Lodge, but the prospect of casting his pearls before row upon row of sweating boys and staff led him to postpone until the mercury drops a mite. Instead, Tom Reed is slated to reinstitute his “Chillin’ with Lit” series down at the Senior Beach at about 8, when the campers will prove yet again that listening to a retired professor read short stories is entirely worth it as long as you’re able to sit, up to your neck, in the gently lapping waves. (Actually, past victims report that Tom’s wonted choices aren’t all that bad, and might actually help out with future SATs.) So, given tonight’s cookout supper was always planned to be outside, our chances for surviving this first scorching day seem excellent. As for tomorrow, we’ll exercise good judgment when it comes to physical activity, drink plenty of water, slather on the sunscreen, and perhaps even consider “Chillin’ with Bean Soup.”

Meanwhile, the 2018 season is off to a great start on all programmatic fronts—sports, trips, nature, and music and the arts. Yesterday saw ten Baker Valley Tournaments in five age groups at three different camps: four tourneys in basketball (10s, 11s, 13s, and 15s), two in ultimate Frisbee (13s and 15s), two in soccer (10s and 12s), one in baseball (11s), and one in lacrosse (12s). On the trails, lakes, and rivers, eighteen cabin groups have enjoyed one sort of trip or another. Lowers 3 and 4, Uppers 1 and 2, and Uppers 4 and 5 all summited Mt. Cube, a sporty 2800-foot peak right at the head of our valley and climbed by virtually all Pemi-ites since our opening season. Lowers 1, 5, and 6 and Upper 3 experienced elegant al fresco dining at the Pine Forest, just a canoe’s ride across the lake from the Lodge. Meanwhile Uppers 4 and 5 and Senior 3 canoed across to the storied Flat Rock Café (so named after the huge, table-like granite boulder hunkered on the far lakeshore.) A select group of Seniors joined Athletic Director Charlie Malcolm for a dash up Mt. Moosilauke (4800 feet and the largest free-standing mountain in the state), some of the same souls are currently out on the Connecticut River with Nick Davini and Fiona Walker as part of their training for the upcoming five-day canoe trip on Maine’s Allagash Waterway, and the first backpacking trip of the year completed the scenic but challenging Kinsman Range in what turned out to be thrashing rain (details below.)

The Nature program has sponsored open trips to the Palermo Mine, a world-class site for various rare minerals, and also to the Quincy Bog Nature Reserve for a talk on environmental change. Week One’s “occupations” (as we inexplicably but quaintly call our instructional activities) included Ponds and Streams, Animal Evidence (just what it sounds like), Birding, Junior Environmental Exploration, Wilderness Survival (not quite as exacting as it sounds), Environmental Sculpture, Butterflies and Moths, Junior Nature Book, Photo-Darkroom, Rocks and Minerals, Plant Printmaking, Wild Foods, Exhibit Making, Photo-Digital, Wetland Ecology, Spider Sculpture, and Nature Drawing. Jonathan Verge, Teiko Pelick, and the other staff in the Drama and Music program have offered Ukelele, Acting, Piano, Advanced Guitar, Band Camp, Pemi Chorus, Soundpainting (ask your sons to explain, but it’s marvelous), Beginning Guitar, Improv, Musical Theater, and A Capella. Oh, they have also held auditions for this year’s Gilbert and Sullivan production, H.M.S. Pinafore. Actually, the cast list just went up today, so let’s grab a moment to talk about this annual highlight of the Pemi dramatic and musical season.

We have been doing G&S shows at Pemi since the early 1950s, when Betsy Reed (mother of Tom Reed, Jr. and grandmother of Dan Reed) teamed up with former Camp Tecumseh and legendary Pemi counselor Scott Withrow to launch the first Pinafore. We have since mounted Trial By Jury, The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, and Iolanthe, most recently the last three in rotation with Pinafore. (There has admittedly been some talk of late about the cultural appropriateness of The Mikado in the twenty-first century, so whether or not it will be next year’s show we can’t currently say.) It’s hard to be objective about the aesthetic merits of our own dramatic productions, but more than a few outsiders have assured us that what we offer up every August is well beyond what anyone could reasonably expect of a seven week camp for boys, let alone one that doesn’t focus centrally on the arts. If you haven’t already graced our audience and if your son happens to be in the cast, we hope you can be with us on the evening of August 7th or 8th to give us your considered opinion. For now, here’s the cast list, all but complete, save for a few TBDs.

Cast as Josephine, the fetching daughter of the Pinafore’s captain who unfortunately falls in love with what would seem to be the lowliest swab on the boat, is veteran staff member Michaela Frank, erstwhile instructor in ukelele and basketball. Interestingly for the moment, three counselors and one camper are in the running to be her nautical beau, Ralph—pronounced “Rafe”—Rackstraw: Nick Bertrand, Nick Davini, Will Meinke, and Charlie Bell. How Jonathan and Teiko will choose among the four is yet to be seen, but Michaela is reportedly thrilled to have four handsome aspirants to her make-believe hand. “It’s a little like being The Bachelorette,” she claims, “but in a Victorian dress.” Josephine’s father, Captain Corcoran, will be played by Nick Paris, although it’s not clear that Nick is yet aware that the play will reveal him to be one of a pair of accidentally switched-in-the-nursery babies and that his resulting fall from Captain to Able Seaman will be as meteoric as Johnny Manziel’s. Cast as mixed-up (and mixing-up) nursemaid, dear Little Buttercup, will be Braden Richardson. Buttercup makes her living selling the Pinafore’s crew all manner of knick-knacks, what-nots, and thingamabobs, so Braden has been apparently been reading Jeff Bezos’s forthcoming biography to prepare.

Also very much interested in Josephine is the high-and mighty Sir Joseph Porter K.C.B., a coveted role secured this year by Eli Brennan, who proved in last season’s Iolanthe that he can play arrogant presumption to perfection—and that’s just what the role calls for. In this era of governmental cabinet members possessed of questionable experience, it will be interesting to see how Sir Joseph’s patter song goes down—the one in which he confesses that his only qualification for being “ruler of the Queen’s Navee” was his time in a legal partnership. All we know is that Eli will perform it with panache, ably assisted by Scout Brink as Sir Joseph’s rather snooty Cousin Hebe. Last but hardly least, Nature Director Larry Davis will play perennial malcontent Dick Deadeye, easily one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most Voldemortian roles.

However good its leads, Pemi G&S productions are always carried by their choruses, and this year’s promise to be exceptional. Sir Joseph goes nowhere without his voluminous following of Sisters, Cousins, and Aunts, and Eli will be able to count on the support of David Kriegsman, Oliver Giraud, Owen Wyman, Luke Larabie, Noah Anderson, Christopher Ramanathan, Jake Landry, Elijah Dorroh, Jacob Kunkel, Cole Valente, and Ned Roosevelt as his plenteous petticoated relations. Sure to be ogling them with an appropriate blend of passion and politeness will be the sailors’ chorus of Nathan Gonzales, Augie Tanzosh, Aslan Peters, Thaddeus Howe, Felix Nusbaum, Teo Boruchin, Owen Gagnon, Henry Moore, Nelson Snyder, Andreas Geffert, Ben Herdeg, Dexter Wells, Lucas Gales, Nate Broll, and Julian Hernandez-Webster, with John Kingdon providing his steadying leadership as Boatswain’s Mate Bill Backstay. In sum, we can’t wait to make our way down to the quay come August and watch Pinafore 2018 set sail. It’s bound to be a fantastic voyage.

Speaking of fantastic voyages, we’ll close with a brief report on the Kinsman Traverse mentioned above, penned by co-leader Fiona Walker. To be honest, it contains a few examples of things not going quite as they were planned, but the judgment shown by the two trip leaders and, just as impressively, the pluck and determination shown by the boys makes it a worthy account to pass along.

Pemi’s 2018 Trip Program got off to a great start last week with our first 3-day (turned 2-day) trip of the season. Led by trip specialists J.P Gorman and Fiona Walker, our party was made up of seven gnarly Lowers, Emmett Itoi, Jack Greenberg, Hayden Garbarini, Tristan Roth, Brian Wolfson, George Devlin, and Jacob Kunkel. We managed to conquer the Kinsmans, North and South respectively, through what turned out to be trying conditions. Day one of the 3-day was a fairly easy and simple day. We left camp following lunch and hiked four miles up the Reel Brook Trail, taking about three and a half hours to reach the Eliza Brook Shelter. The weather was perfect—not too cold or hot—and we were able to enjoy a nice hot meal of stuffing and mashed potatoes and called it an early night. Unfortunately, at around 9 PM, it started absolutely pouring rain, seriously taxing all of our careful waterproofing efforts. Despite our best efforts, we left the Eliza Brook Shelter Thursday morning with an extra ten pounds of water weight added to each of our packs. The boys, however, had great attitudes and trudged along the trail as if there were blue skies shining above us. At around 11:45 AM, we made it to the top of South Kinsman, where we decided to unpack and have lunch, admiring the intermittent view across Franconia Notch amid the roiling clouds. At around 2:00 PM we made it to North Kinsman. At this point the rain and winds had not given us a break, and with the boys pretty wet despite their high spirits, J.P and I decided it would be best to get the boys down to the bottom of the mountain, adding our planned day-3 miles to our completed day-2 miles. Once we got down the infamous Fishin’ Jimmy Trail, we stopped at the Lonesome Lake AMC Hut, where the boys refilled their water bottles and enjoyed some well-deserved Swedish Fish. By that time it was 4:30 and we planned to meet the van at 5:30 at the Lafayette Campground. Unfortunately, J.P and I miscalculated which trail would get us to the trailhead most directly, and when we apologized to the boys for adding even more mileage to a long day, they all had incredible attitudes and simply responded, “Woohoo! Let’s hike down the mountain!” One of the benefits of the delay, by the way, was that we stopped at the local McDonald’s for supper! Overall we hiked sixteen miles, twelve of them on Thursday in the pouring rain and wind. Watch out Uppers, this may be the gnarliest group of Lowers I know!

With that engaging account—confirmation of Pemi’s belief in full disclosure—we’ll close this week’s number. More to come in seven days’ time. Meanwhile, thanks for lending an ear (or eye).

—TRJR

 

 

#1: Welcome to the 2018 Season!

2018: Newsletter #1

Welcome to the inaugural Pemi Newsletter of the 2018 season, our 111th, supplemented this week by an introduction to this year’s stellar staff.

Except for a few latecomers whose arrivals we knew would be delayed, all of our first- and full-session campers have safely arrived—many of them by parental car, two dozen on the chartered bus from New York, and the rest via air to Boston or Manchester and then in Pemi vans. One of the highlights of the automobile influx was, for yet another year, the public-minded “Cans from Campers” initiative, which yielded hundreds of meals of canned and packaged goods to be distributed by the Plymouth Food Bank. Especially seeing families new to Pemi rolling up to the cornucopial kayak in which Dottie Reed was stashing the donations—with Mom or Dad leaning out the window shouting “Here’s a can from our camper!”—boded wonderfully well for the speed with which our community will come together as a caring and supportive family. Within minutes of their arrival, boys old and new had their luggage unpacked, their beds made, and their lockers filled, then heading out for their first game of tennis, pick-up soccer, or roof ball. Come six o’clock, we all headed up to the mess hall for the traditional opening night supper of pizza (shamelessly calculated to appeal to every camper’s palate for this all-important, first-impression meal.) Unable to find the wonted Hood’s Rockets for dessert, food service director Tom Ciglar substituted Hoodsie Ice-cream cups, the ones that come with the paper-wrapped wooden spoons. The boys seemed delighted by this retro treat, and at our table, it was especially fun teaching our British Head of Staff, Nick Hurn, that not licking the residual ice-cream off the lid as soon as you’ve removed it constitutes the social gaffe—not the opposite.

As many of you know, every week of the season will bring a newsletter from one hand or another. Together with your boys’ personal communiqués and, after the season, the questionably veracious articles in Bean Soup, these epistles will provide what we hope are informative and entertaining glimpses into life on Lower Baker Pond and beyond. Before we get any more newsy, though, let’s briefly set the historical and geographical stage.

Pemi was founded in 1908 by Dudley Reed and the Fauver twins, Edgar and Edwin. The trio had been friends since grade school, when the first thing their teacher did every year was shoo them out of the back row and disperse them to three corners of the room so as to improve everyone’s odds for learning. They carried their youthful energy and exuberance through their four years at Oberlin College and their medical studies at Columbia University, Gar spinning off from his comrades in the summer of 1905 to take a job at nearby Camp Moosilauke. The following year, Gar was joined by both Win and Dudley, and the summer after that, the three resolved that the best thing for them to do was to start a camp of their own. After looking for sites all over the Northeast, they settled on a spot just a mile down the valley from Moosilauke, opening Camp Pemigewassett in June of 1908. Doc Reed had finished his final medical school exams earlier than the Fauvers, so they sent him ahead to New Hampshire to dig out the lake (as he claimed), build a mess hall, lay out a baseball diamond, and establish five tennis courts. The job was well underway when the Fauvers arrived, followed within days by the fifteen campers who made up the first Pemi family. History records that everyone pitching in together to get the place built made for a very tight community, something we have endeavored to maintain even in these days when a week’s worth of staff work before opening day means that today’s campers arrive to an immaculately prepared camp.

The founding trio might well have felt they were beating back the wilderness, and to this day one of the charms of Pemigewassett is that our beautiful grounds are used only nine weeks out of fifty-two. We are the only concern going on Lower Baker Pond, and we own over six hundred acres stretching up to the tops of the hills on both sides of the valley. By the first of September every fall, well before the leaves turn, Pemi’s small but loyal maintenance staff is putting the camp to bed for the winter, when no one will be living anywhere within two miles of us. If one of your goals is to get boys comfortable living in Nature—or at least on her threshold—you have to give Nature a chance to flex her muscles, knit herself back together. As a result, a mere ten days before opening day, casting a glance to the left as we drove across the bridge into camp, we could see a great blue heron fishing on the shore of the Lower Lake, just opposite the aptly-placed “Moose Crossing” sign on Route 25A. Just a little farther on was a loon’s nest, the first we can ever remember seeing on our waters, with Mom and Dad Loon trading off incubation duties. Meanwhile, just across the waters slouched a sizeable beaver lodge, its gnawed rafters and roofing material deftly interwoven with a few standing trees to provide stability in what can be the swift currents of the Lower Lake. In counterpoint to the rumbling of the bridge planks as we drove over them, we could hear the deep croak of bullfrogs, different sizes of them sounding different notes. There were deer tracks on the sand of the Senior Beach, criss-crossing with the labored tracks of a snapping turtle, and as we drove up the hill to our cabin, we could see a skunk scuttling under the Big House—Gar, Win, and Dudley’s common residence in the summer of 1909, when they and their wives decided against a second summer in tents but before they decided that three married couples under one roof was two couples too many. Regarding the skunk, word had it that a red fox had been seen scuttling under the same porch a few days earlier. In other words, you can bring campers to camp, but the natural world and its denizens are thriving all the while. Even those boys who throw themselves into athletics more than into our nationally renowned Nature Program are better off for it. There’s nothing like waking in the morning to the sound of a loon’s call echoing eerily off the distant shore. If, for some reason, you were to doubt that, just ask the next Pemi camper you find yourself conversing with.

With those historical and natural prefaces out of the way, let’s get back to the Pemi present and the camp population. Shortly after our pizza and Hoodsie supper, we all headed down to the Lodge for the first Saturday-night campfire of the season. There had been intermittent showers all afternoon, so we elected to go for an inside version, although a roaring fire blazed in the fireplace at the northwestern end of the building and the feeling was cheery as the boys settled, cabin-by-cabin, on the floor. Staff impresarios Matt Kanovsky and Cole Valente got the show underway by introducing Junior Three counselor Nick Gordon, who told the charming old African tale of Anansi and how he came to be the first spider. Next up was Luke Larabie, one of the stars of last season’s Fourth of July vaudeville and hyper-solid chorus member of Iolanthe, who entertained the crowd with a brisk rendition of Oasis’s “Wonderwall.” (It was particularly good to see mention of a wall bringing an audience together in appreciation rather than dividing them in mistrust.)

Following Luke, Oscar Anderson came to the front of the room to demonstrate “How to Hold a Tennis Racquet.” If anyone thought this was going to be way of kicking off the sports season on the first possible day, it quickly emerged that Oscar’s aims were comic rather than athletic. Almost all of us had played enough tennis to realize that holding the racket as though he were strangling a chicken was not going to allow Oscar to drive a winner to any baseline corner in the State of New Hampshire. Even assistant Tristan Barton seemed perplexed as he fed Oscar balls, only to see them spray around the room like popcorn exploding from an lidless pot. More demonstrative of true hand-eye coordination was Carmen Facciobene’s riveting performance with the devil sticks, Carmen taking up where he left off last season with an incredibly deft, spinning and flipping, tour de force effort.

Next up was Nature Staffer Scout Brink (named, indeed, after the hero of To Kill a Mockingbird!), who read Richard Nelson’s moving short poem ‘The Island Within” as a tribute to the spiritually-settling community that is Camp Pemi. Scout was followed by four-year veteran Michaela Frank, who came forward with her tiny ukelele to offer a lovely rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” as modified and performed by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. In entertaining counterpoint to a mainland American channeling an inspired Hawaiian, first-year Scottish counselor Donald Turvill strapped on his guitar and delivered a cogent rendition of Johnny Cash’s signature “Folsom Prison Blues.” His performance reminded the older folks among us who were fans of Average White Band that being from north of Hadrian’s Wall doesn’t keep anyone from shredding American classics. Just to be sure that Donald wasn’t feeling as though working at Pemi was like being in the slammer, I asked him how the summer was going. He said he was having a terrific time.

Scout returned with another short poem—Joseph Wood Krutch’s “Man’s Ancient and Powerful Link to Nature”—a paean to the natural world that seemed just right, considering our sylvan setting. Danny Kerr and Tom Reed, Jr. next stepped into the spotlight, seriously inflating the average age of the performers. With Danny on guitar, they delivered Bob Dylan’s lyrical but enigmatic “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” in a way that somehow managed to get the audience singing along. Call it politeness or call it catching the spirit, the house sang along with the chorus with the tuneful gusto you might hear at a Grateful Dead concert. Following Danny and Tom and furthering the golden years trend was Larry Davis with “Huntin’ Lessons,” the classic Down East tale that Larry tells more and more colorfully every year. There wasn’t an un-enthralled eye in the house.

As always, we closed the evening’s festivities with Doc Reed’s classic “Campfire Song,” penned in the opening decades of the last century but still capturing the question we like to ask ourselves every night as, getting ready for bed, we run through the doings of the day: “I wonder if anyone’s better for anything I’ve done or said, and whether good will in the heart may offset mistakes of the head.” Timeless questions indeed, and perhaps seldom more urgent than now. Even as the last notes echoed in the old Lodge rafters, boys and their counselors filed thoughtfully out into the night, wending their ways back to the cabins what will be their homes for the coming weeks. It seemed like a good beginning.

With that, we’ll end this week’s edition, promising you in coming weeks accounts of the instructional program, various athletic events and wilderness outings, and special events. For now, let me just add that, two nights ago, we were treated to the most animated vocal sparring of barred owls we have ever heard. Oh, and earlier that day, a few of us spied a deer with her fawn and the first bald eagle of the summer. We think it was taking the measure of our early preparations for the Fourth of July.

–TRJR

 

Introducing Pemi’s 2018 Staff…

Pemi staff 2018

Pemi’s 2018 staff during pre-season, on the summit of Mt Cardigan

Administration

Danny Kerr – Director: I am originally from New York City and will always think of myself as a New Yorker, though my wife Julia and I have now lived in New Hampshire for almost ten years. During the summer, when not doing the director thing, I look forward to coaching baseball, teaching guitar, and just hanging out with our campers. I am looking forward to my 46th summer at camp, 25th as a camp director, and ninth at Camp Pemi! Let the games begin!

Kenny Moore – Associate Director: This will be my 20th summer at Pemi as a member of the staff and 26th summer in total. I thoroughly enjoy my year-round role at Pemi, overseeing a few areas from Alumni Relations to Buildings and Grounds, to the Pemi Program and the Counselor Staff. My wife, Sarah, and I are excited to have our son Winston join the Pemi family this summer and have already started to indoctrinate him on being a Cleveland sports fanatic.

Tom Reed – Consulting Director: I have spent well over fifty summers at Pemi—as a camper, counselor, head of staff, and director. After roughly four decades heading up our trip program, I have passed the Trip Vulture’s clipboard to son Dan Reed, who will be the fourth-only ongoing Head of Trips since 1908. In my new position as ‘Consulting Director,’ I will continue to write and organize the weekly Newsletters, lead mess hall singing, help out with HMS Pinafore, pen the odd anonymous Bean Soup article, and shamelessly promote my forthcoming novel, Seeking Hyde. Oh, I used to be a professor of English literature and film at Dickinson College, but that was then….

Allyson Fauver – Administrator: This year, I am continuing to help with parent support and Forms (everyone’s favorite), mainly during the off-season. 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. Fun fact: I am learning to bugle, because–bugling!!! Unexpected benefit: increased lung capacity and aerobic power. Unanticipated challenge: tarnish. My grandfather (Al Fauver) used to play a silver tuba. I live in Bozeman, Montana, but return to New Hampshire and Maine whenever I can, and always look forward to my time at Pemi.

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 with my husband and 3 children. For the past 11 years, I’ve enjoyed spending the summers working in the Pemi Office.

Kim Malcolm – Administrator: This is my 27th 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: Hello from my 31st (?!) summer at Pemi, where I enjoy being a member of the team that manages the administrative and communication responsibilities of the Pemi season and orchestrate the postings of our Thursday/Sunday photos. Though I’ve been handing tasks off to eager and capable hands, I continue to relish every minute of involvement with our campers and staff as we share summer months in this gorgeous place! Tom and I will be at Pemi until the leaves fall in mid-October, at which point we’ll head south to Sarasota, Florida where we relish daily outdoor living and an abundance of cultural events and opportunities.

Cabin Counselors (CC) and Assistant Counselors (AC)

J1 – Zach Leeds (CC): This will be my 10th summer at Pemi and 3rd on staff. I’m from Gill, MA and am part of the large Northfield Mount Hermon crew at camp this summer. I am majoring in Neuroscience at Colgate University where I am also a member of the alpine ski team. This coming fall I will be studying abroad in Copenhagen. I am excited to coach soccer and baseball this summer.

J1 – Johnny Seebeck (AC): This will be my first year on staff at Pemi but my 10th summer at camp (I attended camp for nine years including the Pemi West program). I just graduated from Walter Payton College Prep and will be attending Caltech next fall. This year I hope to share my love for photography, drawing, and a multitude of different sports with campers.

J2 – Per Soderberg (CC): My name is Per Soderberg (pronounced pear, like the fruit). I am 19 years old and studying mechanical engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute Indiana. I’m from Sarasota, Florida (as of the beginning of 2016), however, I have spent most of my life in upstate New York. This will be my 11th summer at Pemi. I hope to teach on the archery range, the arts and crafts building, and the woodshop. I like to draw, paint, and make things out of whatever I can find.

J2 – Pierce Haley (AC): I am a rising senior in high school and this will be my eighth summer at Pemi. I recently left my hometown of Boston to spend my spring semester living and studying in Washington, D.C., but I’m excited to be back to work as an assistant counselor. I love to sing, play guitar, row crew, and hike, and I plan to teach music, and a bunch of other things over the summer.

J3 – Nicholas Gordon (Co-CC): I am super excited for my 10th summer at Pemi! I am from Hopewell, NJ (just down the road from Princeton). I just graduated from high school and will be heading to New York University next year. I will likely be spending most of my time in the Nature Lodge this summer helping teach all the usual nature occupations with some new ones sprinkled in! I’ll also hopefully be participating in and/or helping with this year’s Gilbert & Sullivan production. I can’t wait to meet all of you and I hope we have a great summer!

J3 – Kai Soderberg (Co-CC): My name is Kai Soderberg, and I’m from Sarasota Florida. I’ll be starting my freshmen year at St.Lawrence this coming fall where I will be running track and Cross country. I am exploring the pre-med track in hopes of becoming a doctor. This will be my 10th year at Pemi and my second year on staff. I enjoy running, archery, art and I have started to play the guitar. I’ll be helping out at the archery range, art world, and track. I’m very excited to start the 2018 season!!!

J4 – Jack Davini (CC): I am from Plainfield, NH, and I am excited to join the Nature Program and Junior Camp. These places were formative in the values I hold today. This will be my first summer on staff but my ninth with Pemi. My personal interests are in storytelling, local agriculture, and public design.

J4 – Thaddeus Howe (AC): After four years as a camper, I will add a fifth this year on staff! I am a rising senior at Northfield Mount Hermon School, a boarding school in Gill, Massachusetts, where I row crew, and am a DJ and co-manager at campus radio station. I am from Newton, MA, and am excited to spend another summer on the shores of Lower Baker. This summer I will be helping out down at the archery range and on the lacrosse field!

J5 – Harry Cooke (CC / Division Head / Bean Soup Editor): This marks summer number nine at camp, my third on staff. A New Yorker and now a senior at Dickinson College, I was fortunate to spend the prior year studying abroad in London and Norwich. I will instruct occupations in the nature and music departments as well as coach swimming during Tecumseh prep week. I look forward to ruling – erm – running Junior Camp, a role that returns me to the very cabin where I began my Pemi career in 2007!

J5 – Sam Stone (AC): I am 17 years old, just graduated from NMH, and I live in Warwick, Massachusetts. I have never been to Pemi but I have heard much about it from my peers at school. I love reading, hiking, and playing soccer or Ultimate frisbee. I’m looking forward to spending my summer with you all!

J6 – Daniel Bowes (CC): I am a lifelong resident of Washington D.C. I recently finished my first year at Lehigh University in the College of Business and Economics. I am excited for my ninth summer at Pemi, and second on staff! Last summer, I helped out with lacrosse, basketball, and swimming. I plan to work again in these program areas, and am sure to learn and try some new things along the way!

J6 – Gaelin Kingston (AC): I just graduated from high school, and will be attending Wesleyan University in the Fall of 2018. My main hobbies where I live in Putney, Vermont, are soccer, ultimate frisbee, and pretty much everything outside. I will play college soccer, and intend on studying environmental science among other things. I am a very outgoing, excited person, and am looking forward to the opportunity of working at Pemi for the first time this summer.

L1 – Ed Hunt (CC): I’m from Buckinghamshire in England and am currently studying Accounting and Finance at the London School of Economics. I play hockey and soccer, as well as music too. This will be my first summer at camp. I can’t wait to get started!

L2 – Donald Turvill (CC): I’m from Edinburgh, Scotland, and this is my first year on staff. I’ve been hearing about Camp Pemi for several years from my cousin Andy MacDonald. I’m very excited to be spending a summer in the beautiful state of New Hampshire and the very scenic Camp Pemi. I have just finished my second year studying Journalism, however my main passion lies in music, which is what I will mainly be teaching and helping coordinate at camp.

L2 – Andrew Kanovsky (AC): I am from Briarcliff Manor, New York, and I just completed my junior year at Briarcliff High School. I look forward to contributing to a number of areas this summer, such as soccer and lacrosse on the athletic fields and photography in the nature department. I am very excited to be back for my tenth year at Pemi, my first on staff.

L3 – Jamie Nicholas (CC): Hi! I’m from Cornwall CT and currently at Saint Lawrence University. I am 19 years old and was last at Pemi when I was 13. I spent five years as a camper at Pemi most of which were full-time sessions. In my summers away from Pemi I was either playing soccer or working as a fly-fishing guide. Soccer, baseball, and the outdoors are my passions and I hope to share these passions with campers and my fellow counselors!

L3 – Nick Markosian (AC): I am a first time Camp Pemi staff member haling from Park City, Utah. I plan to work specifically with lacrosse and on the water or wherever else I am needed. People tend to tell me I am intimidating due to my size. I stand at 6 foot 4 and weight 210#, but I am a goof and like to have fun. I just graduated from high school a year earlier than scheduled so that I can spend time traveling, working, and trying to solidify the area of study I want to focus on before attending college. I enjoy snow skiing Utah’s killer snow. My favorite resort is Snowbird, where I have worked as a Junior Ski Instructor. I also enjoy mountain biking, boating, water sports, and playing lacrosse. This last year I picked up playing the bass guitar, and joined a band. Our band competed and won a local Battle of the Bands. I also play the alto, baritone, and soprano saxophones. If I could live on one food the rest of my life it would be popcorn, which also happens to be something I am very good at making (not in the microwave). I am excited to be a part of Camp Pemi this year and hope that I add to the experience of others who are there with me.

L4 – Wes Eifler (CC / Division Head / Bean Soup Editor): I am from New Canaan, CT, and am a 5th Grade teacher in Potomac, Maryland. This will be my 15th summer at Pemi. I will be coaching baseball, writing Bean Soup, and serving as division head of the Lowers.

L4 – Reed O’Brien (AC): I’m from Wilton, Ct, and I will be entering my senior year in high school. This is my 10th year at Camp Pemi where I have previously been a camper for 8 years along with going on Pemi West the year before. I hope to teach archery, track and field, and other activities. Cheers to another year!

L5 – Ben Ross (CC): I am from Brookline, MA. I just graduated from BB&N in Cambridge, MA where I rowed and wrestled, and in the fall I’ll attend Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME. I was a camper at Pemi for four years, and I went on Pemi West. This year will be my second year on staff. I can’t wait for another great summer.

L5 – Nolan Katcher (AC): I am returning for my first year on staff after six as a camper and one on Pemi West. I am from Needham, MA and this coming year I will be a senior at Needham High School where I will be playing on the cross-country and track and field teams. I look forward to helping out in athletic and nature occupations.

L6 – Patterson Malcolm (CC): This will be my 12th summer at Pemi and second on staff. I graduated from Northfield Mount Hermon School last spring, and decided to take a gap year before attending Swarthmore College. Over the last year, I have studied Mandarin in Taipei, Taiwan, and worked for Senator Jeanne Shaheen in Washington DC. In the fall I will begin studying engineering and playing soccer at Swarthmore. I return to Pemi this summer as a counselor, soccer coach, and baseball coach.

L7 – Ned Roosevelt (CC): This summer will be my 10th on the shores of Lower Baker Pond. I am a rising junior at Wheaton College where I am majoring in Business. I am also am a member of Wheaton’s tennis team. I compete in both doubles and singles. I look forward to meeting you all and extending the same warm welcome to you that I received back in the day. I’ll be helping out with the sports program, focusing mainly on tennis and baseball. See you on the courts and on the fields.

U1 – Cole Valente (CC): Hello! I am from Princeton, New Jersey. I am a retired swimmer and water polo player. I love to be outside and love to eat and to try new things. I returned to Pemi last summer, 2017, as a counselor after three great years as a camper, and I can’t wait to be back this summer!

U1 – Kevin Heynig (see bio under Program Staff)

U2 – Henry Day (CC): I am from Canaan NH and I go to St. Lawrence University. I am on the baseball team and hope to major in Business and Economics. I was a Pemi camper for 4 years and my last year was the first time in a while that we beat Tecumseh. I plan on being a baseball coach.

U2 – Victor Daiber (AC): My name is Victor and I am from Berlin, Germany. I was a camper at Camp Pemigewasset for 3 years. I am currently in my gap year between high school and university. I will start studying mechanical engineering this fall. I did spend this year doing multiple things, for example, I was working as a volunteer in Cordoba, Argentina for 7 months as well as doing an internship in a mechanical engineering company in Germany. Right now I am really looking forward to teach soccer or to be at the waterfront in Pemi.

U3 – Andy MacDonald (CC / Division Head): I can’t wait to return for my fourth summer at Pemi! I look forward to adding to my experiences and memories of the last three summers. For 2018, I’ll be the Upper Division Head and Charlie Malcolm’s number two for the camp athletics program. As well as this, I’ll be involved in soccer, tennis, canoeing, waterfront and shop occupations. As always, I eagerly anticipate the campers mocking my Scottish accent and shouting Shrek quotes at me. I love it. I’m counting down the days until the campers arrive. Each summer I’ve had at Pemi has been better than the last 🙂

U3 – Will Adams (AC): Hi! This is my 9th year at Pemi and I’m excited to be back for another season. I’m really looking forward to my first year as a member of the Pemi staff. I hope to coach soccer, play guitar, and hike as much as I can. I can’t wait to be back and see everyone there!

U4 – Emmet Flynn (CC): Hi, I am currently a rising sophomore at Notre Dame University. I plan to study either computer science or math. This will be my first summer at Pemi. Some of my hobbies include climbing and running, and I love anything involving the outdoors. I look forward to helping out with lacrosse and track this summer.

U4 – Sam Papel (See bio under Trip Leaders)

U5 – Julian Hernandez-Webster (CC): I am from New Jersey, and am a rising senior at Bucknell University. This summer at Pemi will be my second as a counselor, and my seventh in total. I love to play and teach soccer and swimming, and I expect to be on the field and on the beach a lot of the time. I am excited to see what this season will have to offer!

U5 – JP Gorman (See bio under Trip Leaders)

S1 – Nick Bertrand (CC): I will be returning for my 12th summer this year, 3rd on staff. I am a rising junior at Case Western Reserve University where I am studying biomedical engineering and play for the varsity soccer team. At camp I am looking forward to coaching a collection of sports including soccer and baseball. Looking forward to another great summer at camp!

S1 – Nick Davini (See bio under Trip Leaders)

S2 – Will Meinke (CC; Division Head): I’m excited to be spending my twelfth summer on the shores of Lower Baker! I grew up in Westport Connecticut and spent six years as a Pemi camper and five on staff. This year I will be working mainly on the ski boat as well as helping out on the soccer field. Can’t wait for another memorable summer!

S3 – Matt Kanovsky (CC): I am from Briarcliff Manor, New York, and just finished my sophomore year at Harvey Mudd College in Southern California studying computer science. This will be my 13th summer at Pemi and my fourth year on staff, which means I am running out of original ideas for my staff bio. This summer, I am excited to teach nature and photography, as well as to give advice on making sound investments and when campers should restructure their portfolios.

LT – Nick Hurn (CC; Head of Staff): This year will be my third summer at Pemi, and I’m excited to be back on the shores of Lower Baker Pond. When not at camp I study at Manchester Medical School in England, and I love to go hiking in my spare time. You’ll be sure to find me around art world, the lake, and the woodshop, and this year I’m excited to be taking on a new role as Head of Staff.

Trip Leaders

Nick Davini – Trip Leader: I recently graduated from the University of New Hampshire, where I studied anthropology. This coming fall I’ll be a manager at a nonprofit that works to end human trafficking. I’m looking forward to leading the canoe program this season, marking my tenth summer at Pemi and my sixth on staff. I feel at home outdoors, and some of my best memories were made on Pemi trips.

JP Gorman – Trip Leader: This will be my third summer as a trip counselor at Pemi. I come from a farming background in rural Ireland where I am in the process of beginning a dairy farm partnership with my father. I spend my free time playing soccer, woodworking, bashing the piano keys, and herding goats in the Sierra Nevadas. One of those may be bending the truth a little but the other three form the basis of my role at camp when I’m not leading trips. I can’t wait to be back!

Sam Papel – Trip Leader: I’m from Nashville, TN, and I am very excited for my 13th summer with Pemi! This will be my second year as a trip counselor, and I’m looking forward to an even better 7 weeks of hiking. I also help out in the woodshop, on the ski boat, and on the Ultimate field.

Fiona Walker – Trip Leader: 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 second year at Pemi as a Trip Leader. I’ve always been an outdoor enthusiast and love sharing the joys of hiking and backpacking with Pemi Campers. I also look forward to helping out with swimming and track & field as well as assistant coaching 10s baseball.

Program Staff and More…

Andy Bale – Visiting Professional: I was born and live in Harrisburg PA and since 2013 I’ve been a full-time Lecturer of Photography at Dickinson College in Carlisle PA. I was a photography team member for the Ese’Eja Cultural Mapping Project, supported by a National Geographic Genographic Legacy Fund Grant, and the photo editor for the documentary style book, Ancestral Lands of the Ese’Eja, the true People. This will be my fourth or fifth time at Pemi and I’m looking forward to expanding the photographic vision of the energetic campers.

Scout Brink: Hello! I will be on the Nature Staff this summer, spending most of my time in the Nature Lodge though I hope to be on the archery range now and then. This will be my second summer at Camp Pemi, and I am so excited not only to see everyone again, but also to meet new faces! I have my undergraduate degree in environmental science and am currently getting my Master of Arts in Teaching, for 7-12 graders. When not busy at Pemi, I will be exploring the White Mountains.

Steve Broker – Visiting Professional: I am a retired high school science teacher and university administrator. I taught for 25 years in the New Haven, Connecticut Public Schools. I served also as associate director of the Wesleyan University Graduate Liberal Studies Program and as director of programs for the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. I was adjunct lecturer at Quinnipiac University, University of New Haven MES Program, and Yale Teacher Preparation Program. My interests include historical archaeology, colonial gravestone symbolism, antiques and decorative arts, and the study of birds. This is my sixth year at Pemi. My father, Tom Broker, was waterfront director at Pemi in the 1930s.

Steve Clare – Head of Archery: I live in Cornwall, the extreme SW of England. I’m a freelance teacher, supporting schools with specialist lessons. I’ve coached youth soccer teams for 9 years, most recently my son’s U18s team. I coordinate a weekly community soccer programme for players aged 5 – 11. This will be my 4th summer at Pemi as Head of Archery & 13s soccer. I’m keeping additional responsibilities quiet this year, so I don’t get roasted in Bean Soup. Still have the burns from last year!! As always, I’m looking forward to playing my part in the Pemi family for another summer.

Larry Davis – Director of Nature Programs and Teaching: I will be in my 49th year as Pemi’s Director of Nature Programs and Teaching. I hold AB and AM degrees in Earth Sciences from Washington University in St. Louis and a PhD in Geological Sciences from the University of Rochester. I am Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of New Haven (but will be officially retired as of the end of August). Besides geology, my areas of special interest include: caves, wild foods, waterfalls, and getting children away from their screens and into the outdoors. I play the flute, tell Down East stories, and love cooking.

Jim Dehls – Visiting Professional: I first came to Pemi 59 years ago and have been in touch ever since. I was here for eight years as camper and assistant counselor. I am now a Hospice Music Therapist and my whole life revolves around family and music. In recent years I have gratefully served as a music visiting professional. I still love to perform G&S that I first learned at camp. Great to be back.

Michaella Frank: Back for another spectacular Camp Pemi Summer! This will be my fourth year teaching basketball and music (ukulele & guitar). I’m looking forward to teaching kids to express themselves through music and to ROCK the shores of Lower Baker! I’m from Avon Lake, OH but Camp Pemi is where my heart belongs.

Cara Grime: I’m coming to teach in the woodshop at Camp Pemi for the first time this summer all the way from my home in Chester, England. I am currently studying for a BA in Music Technology and Criminology at the University of Liverpool. At university, I work in the backstage team of the Student Theatre group, am an officer cadet in the University Royal Naval Unit, and play for the Women’s Rugby League team. I am also a big fan of country music, do dog showing with my Wheaten Terrier, Carrie, and most of all I am really into my woodworking and arts & crafts having made a dining table and activity box for children in the past. I’m so excited to be working in the woodshop and can’t wait to meet all of the amazing campers and most of all I really hope you enjoy all of the activities and being in the woodshop as much as I do!

Kevin Heynig: Hello! I’ll be returning to Pemi for my third summer as a Nature Instructor and I am really looking forward to it. I am from Michigan, and have a close connection to the Great Lakes. I am a field naturalist with experience in many different ecosystems including the northern forests of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, as well as the high desert and alpine forests of central Idaho. I plan to teach in depth insect, plant and ecology occupations this summer. Look for me in the Nature Lodge!

Chloe Jaques: Hello Everyone! I am from London, UK and have just completed my History degree at the University of Nottingham. This will be my second year on the shores of Lower Baker. At Camp, you will usually find me around the waterfront. I can’t wait to make the most of this summer and enjoy everything Pemi has to offer.

Chris Johnson – Head of Tennis: I am very excited to return for my fifth year as Head of Tennis at Camp Pemi. My wife and kids will once again join me at camp and I am very excited to have my son spend his first full summer in junior camp! I reside in the Cleveland area during the year where I teach 4th grade and coach high school girls and boys tennis. I was fortunate this fall to coach my school’s first-ever individual state tennis champion to go along with our three team championships. I look forward to coaching all ability levels this summer on some of the finest red clay courts in all of New England!

CJ Jones – Head of Swimming: I’m Charlotte, from England, and this is my fourth year at Pemi! Cannot wait to get back to the shores of LBP to resume my position as head of swimming – and am hoping for less dramatic weather this year. Looking forward to seeing the returning staff and campers again and to finding new ways to contribute to the Pemi family! There’s no way I’d rather spend my summer.

Deb Kure – Associate Head of Nature: After studying Geological Sciences at the University of Rochester, I attended the Nature Instruction Clinic at Pemi – its inaugural season, and now at its 25th Anniversary! That led to outdoor science instruction work through trips programs, natural history museums, and outdoor schools throughout the U.S. ever since! My husband Brian and I are excited to learn a new region, as we moved just before camp from southern NH to Reno, NV! Very glad to be in my 11th summer in the Nature Program at Pemi.

Charlie Malcolm – Director of Athletics: 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. The 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 (2nd Session): I am working with the waterski program for my 4th summer. My passion in life is slalom skiing as I train in the gym year round for it, and ski every moment possible on a private ski lake. I flew to Florida for 48 hrs this past March to get on the water! My day job is a HS orchestra teacher, and I’m active in our community orchestra where I am a violin section leader and occasionally play piano. I am excited to be back in such a fantastic community surrounded by incredible views!

Hattie McLeod – Bugler: I can’t wait to be back for my second summer at Pemi! I’m excited to return to my position as timekeeper of camp, by taking control of the bugle once again! I will also be helping in canoeing, music, and swimming. I am from a small town near Windsor, UK (where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle just got married!) and I will be graduating from the University of Oxford, UK with a BA in Geography after summer. I look forward to seeing old faces, meeting new ones and having another great summer!

Deb Pannell – Head of Art: During the school year, I am a fifth-grade teacher at Mark Day School in San Rafael, California. In my leisure time, I enjoy creating a wide variety of art and craft projects, cooking, taking long walks along the ocean, and reading. In addition to teaching art at Pemi, I have enjoyed being a Pemi parent as well. I am looking forward to another wonderful summer with the Pemi boys!

Taiko Pelick – Pianist: I am originally from Gainesville, Florida and currently reside in Arlington, Texas. I am an adjunct professor of piano at Mountain View College and Tarrant County College, as well as a collaborative pianist for the music departments at the University of Texas at Arlington and Texas Christian University. This is my first year at Pemi and I am excited to be joining the staff as the camp pianist!

Dan Reed – Head of Occupations / Head of Trips / Bean Soup Editor: I have been fortunate to spend nearly every summer of my life at Pemi. I began my years on Lower Baker as the roaming toddler of Tom and Dottie Reed, and have spent subsequent summers in a medley of roles: camper, Pemi West participant, assistant counselor, cabin counselor, trip counselor (at both \ Pemi East and Pemi West), division head, and now Head of Occupations, Head of Trips, and Bean Soup editor. As always, I look forward to passing along the joys and passions I developed as a camper to the current generation of Pemi boys. Thanks largely to my summer experiences at Pemi, I’ve joined the other family business – teaching – and teach English at Loomis Chaffee in Windsor CT, where I also coach squash and tennis, and where this fall I will take on the role of Dorm Head.

Brian Tompkins – Head of Woodshop: a sculptor, dry stone mason, and former teaching snow pro, I was shaped and formed by camps as a kid, then burnished at ‘Camp Dartmouth.’ I have lived and breathed stone and trees and have steeped in their very physical culture up here ever since. I come to Pemi’s venerable wood shop from nearby Norwich, VT and hope to inspire designing minds and to safely guide the good work and instruction.

Jonathan Verge – Head of Drama: I grew up in Lebanon, NH and graduated from Lebanon High School in 2000. I studied Musical Theatre at Syracuse University, followed by training at The Globe Theatre in London. After a professional career in performing, directing and producing in NYC and Chicago, I returned to the Upper Valley where I is now the Director of Choral Music and Dramatic Arts at Lebanon High School.

Wendy Young: I will be spending my first summer on the shores of Lower Baker Pond working on camp programming. No stranger to the summer camp life, I spent all of my summers growing up at a similar boys’ camp where my parents were senior staffers. My last significant camp experiences were as a counselor at the sister camp of my childhood summer home. I am excited to share my love of sports, the outdoors, and creating community with the Pemi boys. During the school year, I serve as the senior athletic trainer at Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts and have done so since 1997.

Caretakers of Our Physical and Mental Well-Being

Tom Ciglar – Director of Food Service: This is my 16th season at Pemi. During the school year I am the Director of Operations for Hampshire Country School in Rindge, where I live with my wife, Anna, and son, Jonathan.

Emily Crow – Medical Staff: Hi everyone! This is my first year at Camp Pemi and I am so excited to join the team! I graduated from Colby-Sawyer College in New London, NH this past May with my Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. I am originally from southern NH and love camping and the outdoors. Looking forward to this summer at Pemi and can’t wait to meet you all!

Nancy Cushman – Kitchen Staff: I live in West Fairlee, Vermont. This will be my 12th summer in the kitchen at Pemi. I am one of the breakfast cooks, and I also make all of the desserts.

Sabrina De Stefano – Medical Staff: As the mother, sister and cousin to a handful of Pemi campers, I am delighted to join the medical staff during the second session of summer 2018! I live in Mendham, NJ with my husband and three children: Matteo (12), Noah (8) and Grace (4). 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.

Necati Enoz – Kitchen Staff: I’m 22 years old. I’m from Turkey. I’m studying psychology. I grew up Istanbul. Istanbul is most big and famous city of Turkey. I love sports very much. I am doing a lot of sports. I like playing basketball. When I was high school, I played our school’s basketball team. In my university we have a big olympic swimming pool. I am swimming two times a week. I usually play soccer with my friends. I have a bike group. Sometimes we are going to mountain trip with our bike.

Santy Franco Benjumea – Kitchen Staff: I live in Columbia and my family is mainly formed by my mom, my sister, my brother in law and two aunts. I finished my primary and high school and I did a technic in Marketing and Advertising in Manizales. Now I’m studing at Mariana’s University about to start my second semester. I’m a social person. I like to much travel and know different people, my interests are all kinds of music, movies (in special the horror movies), technology, outdoor walks and the environment, drawing, painting, dancing, most of things related with art. I like food. I like business and to sell things. I sell candies and snacks to my classmates to help me with the materials and copies that the teachers ask us. I spend my free time in fun activities, dance, share with my friends and parents, and I go to travel and swimming too. I love to walk for an ecological pathway. I like to camp too. That is a great experience because you have to work as a team to reach the goal. We have to learn ourselves, how manage that hard situation and how survive without so many privileges. My future plans are begin a fast food business with a friend. I’m gonna study in the morning and afternoon, and I’m gonna dedicate to my business in the nights and the weekends. In a two or three years, I hope to grow my business and will have the first branch. In a five years, when I finish to study, I think in will go to travel and know Egypt, this is my first dream, I want to visit the pyramids and the mythology of that country. After to travel, I think to regress to Colombia, and follow to investing in my business.

Wojtas Gorzynski – Kitchen Staff: Hi, I’m Wojtek! I’m from Poland. I am a student at the University of Technology. I also work as a production planner at 3M company. I’m interested in sport and music. It will be my second year at the camp. This year I will also work in the kitchen. See you at the camp!

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 eight 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.

Ricardo Hincapie – Kitchen Staff: I am from Colombia. I am 23 years old, my hobby is to go to the gym, listen to music and going out with my friends, I don’t drink alcohol, I hate it, and I hate cigarettes too. Also I play drums on my free time. I hope to have best summer I ever had at Pemi and improve a lot of my english level and meet a lot of people from other parts of the world.

Jamie Jackman – Medical Staff: I am attending Camp Pemi for the first time with my two boys, ages 17 and 13, and my 4 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback, named Cali. I was born and raised and still reside in Park City, Utah. Park City is home due to the seemingly endless mountainous terrain to ski and mountain bike on. I have a diverse background in nursing and love my career choice because I get to promote and provide healthcare to a diverse patient base. I have been accepted to Gonzaga Universities PMHNP program, which I will be starting in Spring of 2019. I would best describe myself as a tomboy who enjoys motocross, downhill mountain bike racing, competing in triathlons, water sports, and snow skiing. I seek opportunities to meet and adventure with new people and I am excited to meet and care for the community of Camp Pemi. I want all to know that I am always happy and available to address any concerns of staff, campers, and their families. My favorite food is anything spicy and I often challenge others to eat hot spicy food items to see if they can match my tolerance. I enjoy spending time with my boys, the outdoors, traveling, going to concerts, listening to music, and doing resin artwork.

Danh Le – Kitchen Staff: Hi everyone, My name is Danh, I am from Vietnam, but I am studying economics in Poznan, Poland. I really love traveling and experiencing new things. That is why I am here, this summer at Pemi, to make new friends, try and do what I have not done yet. And this is also the first camp in my life. Hope it will be great. Thank you so much.

Jakub Litkowski – Kitchen Staff: Hello everyone. My name is Jakub and I come from Poznan, a city located in the west of Poland. I am going to be at the Camp for the second time, and I will be really happy to have opportunity to help our chefs to cook meals for all of you. Last summer I was very thrilled, I could get to know a little bit of American culture. I was so impressed, that I decided to come back. See you at Pemi!

Michael McMurray – Chef: Hello Camp Pemi! I am Michael McMurray and I will be working as one of the chefs. I grew up in the Merrick Valley in Massachusetts and I have been living in New Hampshire for 12 years. I live in Milton, NH where I work in the Milton Elementary School in the winter months. I am looking forward to a great summer of hard work and lots of good times at Camp Pemi!!”

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

Marcus Rosa – Buildings and Grounds: I live nearby in Hill, NH, and this is my first year on the Buildings and Grounds team. I love being outside and hiking.

Jon Spivak – Chef: This is my first year as a chef at Pemi, but I bring 40 years experience in food service. I live in Springfield NH.

Sergen Tastan – Kitchen Staff: I am from Istanbul Turkey and this is my first year working in the Pemi kitchen.

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

Aaron Warner – Driver: My name is Aaron Warner, and I am from a sleepy, little town in Vermont called Lunenburg. I have been involved with summer camps for many years in a full-time capacity. Within the last year, I decided to change careers, so I am working on my teacher’s certification to teach middle school science. With my summer off, I was delighted to find an opportunity to work at this camp as the bus driver. I look forward to this experience with all of the other great staff and will strive to be the best possible driver for the campers!

Erdem Bulut Yavas – Kitchen Staff: My name is Erdem Bulut. I am from Turkey. I am 19. I study Aerospace Engineering at Izmir Univercity of Economics. I like reading books, watching movies, and observing satellites. Also, I like to travel. I want to learn American and other countries’ culture at Pemi and I want to teach culture of my country. I will try to do my best in the kitchen at Pemi. I am looking forward to work and live at Pemi.

Moose Scoops: perfect end to a busy day of staff training sessions

Alumni Newsletter – 2018 Preview

Welcome to the next installment of the Pemigewassett Alumni Newsletter. In this edition, we will preview the upcoming summer giving one and all an update on the 2018 Pemi campers, staff, and facility.

Campers

Our camper population in 2018 demonstrates another healthy year of enrollment. We are so fortunate to have Alumni and current families share Pemi through word of mouth, and we love meeting prospective families during our Winter Open Houses and visits to their homes.

New Pemi Lacrosse Jerseys

For the 2018 season, we have 88 full season campers, which is a recent record number of full season boys. A total of 166 boys will attend Pemi in either the first session or second session. All told, 254 boys will attend Pemi this summer. 76 boys, or 30% of the camper population, will be at Pemi for their first summer. On the veteran side of things, 26 boys will receive their Five-Year-Bowl this summer and 21 boys climb the ranks to their 6th, 7th, or 8th summer.

Geographically, campers travel to Pemi from nine countries: Spain, China, Germany, France, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, and 28 of the United States. Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee return to the list in 2018. Six states boast double-digit numbers of campers, including the Granite State with 19 boys. Our campers hail from 140 different cities and 209 different schools. We are proud of our geographic diversity, fulfilling the Campfire Song lyric of a group of the nations best.

Staff

We are thrilled with the staff for the 2018 summer. Stay tuned to the Pemi blog over the next few days, as staff members introduce themselves. Before getting those details, here is a big picture look at our staff.

The classic color remains.

Many of Pemi’s program heads are returning including Chris Johnson (year five!) in Tennis, Steve Clare in Archery, and Charlotte Jones in Swimming. We love that continuity, yet also enjoy the energy and direction that a new Head of Wooshop, Brian Tompkins, and Music, Jonathan Verge, will provide for us this summer.

In the cabins, 18 of the 22 cabin counselors were once Pemi boys and 17 of them have previous experience on the staff. We anticipate strong leadership from our Division Heads, three of whom return from last summer. All four trip counselors return from last summer to help our new Head of Trips launch his tenure. That’s right, after 42 years of running the Trip Program, Tom Reed handed his clipboard to son, Dan, who will help a new generation of Pemi boys explore the mountains and rivers of New Hampshire.

A strong group of Assistant Counselors, including ten former campers (seven are Pemi West veterans) provide more than adequate coverage in our cabins and programs. Those who know the inner workings of Pemi understand how vital the ACs are to the success of a Pemi season. While Pemi West is on a year hiatus, we are pleased to report that the Counselor Apprentice Program (CAP) continues with six participants. Led by Ben Walsh, these CAPs are a glimpse of our future counselors.

Buildings and Grounds Update

Maiden voyage in Lucky!

Another busy year for the Buildings and Grounds team as Pemi continues to enhance its facility while camp is not in session. Throughout the winter and spring, Reed Harrigan and his hardworking crew spent countless hours first stripping away the paint from the Mess Hall tables and applying a fresh, durable, extra tough, and glossy paint in the familiar turquoise. These will surely make the block game faster without the need for salt!

After years of service to Pemigewassett, we retired the DockSide, Pemi’s tried and true Safety Boat. Now, a 13ft Boston Whaler with bimini will patrol the sailboats, canoes, and kayaks. All current and former Safety Boat drivers will rejoice over the ease of starting and maneuvering our new boat, aptly named Lucky! Also on the waterfront, the brand new high dive will grace the shores of Senior Beach. Climbing the ten-foot ladder provides a wonderful birds-eye view of camp. The height is impressive and may give the counselors second thoughts about their aerobatics during the counselor hunt.

HIGH Dive!

A few other additions dot the landscape, including a hefty addition to the weight room. The increased space and new equipment will allow for counselors to continue training for high school and college sports seasons. In the library, we have installed a new two-stall bathroom for women and guests, replacing the outdated one stall design. These new toilets are composting, furthering Pemi’s green efforts. Down in Junior Camp above the Junior field and nestled into Pemi Hill is a new staff cabin. The Moore family are the first inhabitants, and Winston (aged 9 months) likes it so much he’s slept through the night for the first time.

Good luck, long life, and joy! –Kenny

Pemi 101 – The ‘What-is-it?’ Contest

The ‘What-is-it?’ Contest is a daily contest sponsored by the staff of the Nature Lodge that challenges campers and staff to identify a specific specimen from nature. The item could be a rock, plant, or butterfly, etc. and it is the job of the respondent to submit the best answer possible.

How to participate?

Located right in the center of the Nature Lodge, ‘What-is-it?’ occupies the end of a table. On the table are little slips of paper, small, golf-sized pencils, and a brilliant red birdhouse. Your task? Look at the day’s specimen and try to identify it. Write your name, cabin number, and your guess on the slip, fold it up, and place it inside the red birdhouse. At some unknown time after taps, the Nature staff retrieves all of the submissions and records the guesses.

Overnight, the Nature staff will replace the specimen with a new one and reveal the answer from the previous day on an index card. Participants are encouraged to return to check to see if their guess was accurate from the day before AND to guess what the new specimen is. This process repeats itself every day but Sunday, and the system gives participants immediate feedback; you will know if your guess was correct within 24 hours.

Points are awarded for participation (1 point), general answers (2-4 points), more specific-on the right path (4-5 points), and finally the ultimate correct answer (6-7 points). Participants who continue with the contest accrue points daily and, after each session, winners are announced for the highest score in each division. The prize? A Nature Award featuring a stunning framed collage of natural specimens that you take home. You also get your name listed in Bean Soup; infamy for the ages!

What-is-it Rules?

The rules are simple. You may use any resource (books, displays, etc) in the Nature Lodge except for the Nature Lodge staff. In fact, you may not ask anyone else for help and must find the answer on your own. The challenge of independent discovery is the essence of the contest.

History of the ‘What-is-it?’ Contest

Clarence Dike, Pemi’s first Head of Nature Programs, started the contest in the 1930’s. The first mention of the contest appears in the 1937 Bean Soup. Since then, it has become a staple of the Nature Program inspiring boys and staff to visit daily to participate in this challenging endeavor. Not only do you need to be consistent with your dedication to the contest, but you must have a penchant for curiosity and a willingness to find answers on your own, using resources right at your fingertips. Taking nature occupations will certainly help build your base of knowledge, but further research is necessary for the true die-hards.

2002 – Near Perfect Score – 295/300 – Upper Camper Alex Dyer

Over the years, there have been some very competitive contests and some remarkable scores. Larry Davis, Pemi’s Head of Nature Programs since 1970 remembers one year when the front-runner (Ethan Schafer!) stopped submitting answers with just a few days remaining and got beat out by a more persistent peer: a clear example illustrating the steady diligence needed to win. Since 2015, Associate Head of Nature Programs, Deb Kure has managed the contest. Here are a few other notable factoids.

1982 – Highest Camp wide Participation – 170 people, campers & staff participated in the Contest

1990 – All Star Staff Division – Johnstone brothers compete in a special Nature Lodge Staff Division

2008 – Very Junior Award – Victoria Malcolm continues the tradition of Staff Children participating in the contest.

2015 – Upper Andrew Kanovsky and Lower Will Ackerman earned Full-Season Perfect Scores: 210!


Campers – Are you ready for the 2018 ‘What-is-it?’ Contest?

Alumni – Do you have memories of participating in the ‘What-is-it?’ Contest?

Share your thoughts and comments via the Pemi Blog.