#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

Pemi 101 – What’s a BVT?

A BVT is a Baker Valley Tournament comprised of four neighboring camps (Moosilauke, Walt Whitman, Kingswood, and Pemi) and organized by age group (10 & Unders, 11’s, 12’s, 13’s, and 15 & Unders). Teams compete in round-robin athletic tournaments in soccer, basketball, lacrosse, ultimate Frisbee, swimming, archery, and tennis. We also play baseball against our Baker Valley friends—but only in head-to-head match-ups, given the length of a traditional camp baseball game. On any given camp day, there may be three athletic tournaments taking place in the Baker Valley: 10’s Soccer at Pemi, 12’s Hoops at Moosilauke, and 15’s Tennis at Walt Whitman.

BVT Hoops

The Baker Valley

The Baker River, originating on the south side of nearby Mount Moosilauke, runs south and east, joining the Pemigewasset River in Plymouth. All four camps are located within 10 miles of each other, allowing for quick transportation to and from these afternoon tournaments. One of the many positive features of a BVT is how well it integrates with the overall Pemi program. Boys can still participate in all their morning occupations, play in an afternoon BVT, and be on the beach for Free Swim at 5 PM.

Purpose and Goals

The proximity of the four camps was one of the main catalysts in the creation of the BVT. In the early 1990’s, Charlie Malcolm, Pemi’s longstanding Athletic Director, and Port Miller, owner and Director of Camp Moosilauke, thought of the idea: keep the high level of competition, as was custom from the previous Lakes Regions Tournaments, but limit the transportation time to and from competitions. BVTs are now a mainstay of the Pemi athletic program.

15 and Under Soccer pre-kick off

Charlie remembers the original vision: “There was a group of us who shared the importance of sportsmanship and participation. Because of the round-robin format, instead of a ‘winners’ bracket and a ‘consolation’ bracket, we created an environment for kids of all different levels to compete. From a BVT match, coaches and Athletic Directors could identify the best, competitive match-ups and schedule a direct re-match during one of our Saturday play-days.”

Twice a summer, Charlie and the other camps’ Athletic or Program Directors meet to discuss all things BVT, and over the years have developed a tight bond. These “lifers” maintain their individual camp’s standard and further support their camper-athletes through the promotion of healthy competition. These relationships help drive the success of a BVT.

The Origins of the BVT

A trip into the Bean Soup archives uncovered facts about the origins of the Baker Valley Tournaments. In 1991, the 13’s Soccer team played in the first Baker Valley Tournament. This inaugural BVT, which remains each year’s first scheduled event, was co-hosted by Pemi and Moosilauke. Four teams played: the two host camps, Kingswood, and Camp Dunmore. Pemi won all three games. You can read the details of the tournament from Coach Andy Honker’s Bean Soup article.

The third Pemigewassett Newsletter of the 1991 season noted the event with the following description: “Designed to promote the dual goals of good competition and better sportsmanship, it was highly successful. Six well-played games featured some skillful and hard-fought play, with nary a cross word directed at opponent or official. All of the teams ended the day with a heightened appreciation for the fact that competition on any level implicitly demands and depends on cooperation between combatants. With so little sportsmanship left on any level ‘out there,’ we hope that whatever we generate here at Pemi may rub off during the rest of the year.”

Stay tuned to the Pemi Blog to read information and updates on this summer’s BVTs.

-Kenny Moore

Tecumseh Day 2017…as Seen by Our 10s

Newsletter #6: Tecumseh Day 2017

The following comes from the desk of Charlie Malcolm, now in his 27th year as Pemi’s Athletic Director.

For over a hundred years, Camp Pemi and our friends at Camp Tecumseh have engaged in one of the more entertaining and pure sporting events in the country. Five age groups lock into an intense competition in four sports—a total of twenty contests—with each event having the potential to bring out the very best in our respective campers and communities.

Two years ago I wrote a blog article from the perspective of our fifteen-year-old seniors and how they come to grips with their last Tecumseh Day, the meaning of the day, and ultimately, the closure of their competition as boys at camp. I’ve watched boys walk up from the Tecumseh waterfront, pause at the top of the hill, and look back with tears in their eyes as they witness the end of something deep and special.

In this newsletter, I want to travel with our youngest campers to Camp Tecumseh. Let’s explore the Ten-and-unders, “Doc Nick’s wonders,” and reflect on their perceptions of the day and maybe shed some light on the value of this experience. Does this day create a positive energy and bind our community more tightly? What important lessons and experiences provide growth, and is this appropriate for our junior campers? I’ll cover the day from the Ten-and-under perspective, weaving together their experiences and the words that shaped their understanding of Tecumseh Day.

The Build-up

There were 32 Ten-and-unders living in the Junior Camp at the beginning of the season, and of those, 24 left us in mid-season, leaving our eight full-session boys to welcome their second-session teammates a mere ten days before Tecumseh Day. Even with eight seasoned veterans, it still takes thoughtful work by the Junior Camp staff to pull the age group together. Junior Camp Division Head Wesley Eifler and his incredible counseling team masterfully foster a kind and supportive community, foundational for a successful competition. It is the cementing of these relationships that anchors a given age group’s success on a long and challenging Tecumseh Day.

The majority of the boys sign up for team occupations/practices during the week leading up to Tecumseh: baseball, soccer, tennis, and swimming. Over the course of the week, the cheers in the mess hall grow louder with each passing day, and the juniors, along with the seniors, are often the loudest and most enthusiastic. Some of the boys who were experiencing homesickness are drawn into the camp’s collective enthusiasm and begin to feel fully present at camp. While the cheers occasionally chase Head of Nature Larry Davis out of the mess hall, the reverberations of “Beat Tecumseh!” cascade out of our communal dining room, bounce off Dead Man’s Hill and Victoria’s Peak, and split Mt. Carr. One skips through Plymouth and Center Harbor, sending tremors through Moultonborough, while the rest of the cheers bounce through the Franconias and Presidentials and end up on the porch of Orin Tucker somewhere north of Millinocket, Maine. All true….

While the mess hall rocks most evenings leading up to Tecumseh Day, the Ten-and-unders work tirelessly on their strokes in swimming, their ability to land their first serve in tennis, their willingness and ability to combine on the soccer field, and their ability to hit and play defense in baseball. The beauty of Tecumseh Day is that many boys play sports that they only do at camp, leaning a little further out of their comfort zone for the good of their team and community.

On Friday morning, the juniors wake to the bugle and to a group of seniors who cheer the boys as they rise from their cabins. After a quick polar bear in the lake and an expedited breakfast in the mess hall, the boys are loaded on the buses and leave camp by 7:35 AM. All praise to Assistant Director Kenny Moore, master of logistics, as the buses leave on time and allow ample time for the boys prepare for their matches when they arrive at Tecumseh.

10s Baseball: Setting the Tone

Shep Griffiths

Shep Griffiths

Shep Griffiths returned to Pemi this summer after taking a year to travel with his family. The fire-baller from Rye, NY, straddled the mound, took a deep breath, and looked into his catcher’s mitt. “I was really nervous, but once the game started I was really into it.” Well, Shep certainly was up to the challenge as he proceeded to mow down the Tecumseh batters from the opening inning. He struck out thirteen batters and fielded four bunts for a total of seventeen of a possible eighteen outs. He did this with a pitch count under seventy, a stunning feat at any level.

Twice, Pemi loaded the bases but could not deliver the key hit to break open the game. With the contest still tied 0-0 in the bottom the 6th inning, Shep issued a one-out walk and Tecumseh’s next batter laid down another bunt. Shep fielded the ball and fired to second base, only to find no middle infielder covering. Fortunately, Jake Landry backed up the play at second and literally saved the game with his heads-up, well-coached baseball play. (Editor’s Note: Phil Landry, Jake’s Dad, is a Fauver Baseball Trophy winner, played numerous seasons for me, and became a great baseball coach at Pemi for six seasons.) With runners at first and third and one out, the Tecumseh fans were making some serious noise, and Shep needed to respond with Tecumseh’s heart of the order at the plate.

With laser focus, he struck out the first batter for the second out and the atmosphere was electric. Cheers of, “Let’s go, Pemi!” resounded in spite of an incredibly loud Tecumseh crowd. According to Shep, “This is Tecumseh Day; I’m going to throw it my hardest.” The batter swung and the foul tip landed firmly in Giacomo Turco’s mitt for the final out of a thrilling 0-0 game. “We all ran onto the field and hugged Shep,” said Philip Fauver. “Seeing him pitch like that really set the tone for the day.”

Soccer: Resiliency

After the thrilling end to the baseball game, the Ten-and-unders walked confidently up to Grant Field to prepare for their soccer match. One of the great challenges of Tecumseh Day is to transition from one sport to the next event over the course of a long day. It takes focus and mental fortitude to keep the enthusiasm going or to dust off after a difficult defeat. Tecumseh quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first ten minutes of play as their speed and competitive spirit put the Pemi Tens on their heels.

Jackson Davies, Keiran Klasfeld, Oliver Phillips, and Charlie Bowman celebrate goal

Jackson Davies, Keiran Klasfeld, Oliver Phillips, and Charlie Bowman celebrate goal

Jackson Heller fought tenaciously at midfield while Shep’s defensive clears bought Pemi time to solve Tecumseh’s defense. With better tactical commitment to attacking the flanks, Pemi was able to turn the outside backs of Tecumseh and serve balls into the middle where the hustling and opportunistic Oliver Philips jumped on a loose ball and buried it to cut Tecumseh’s lead to 2-1. After scoring, Oliver dashed to the Pemi bench and ran the gauntlet of high fives getting everyone excited to play. Coach made some changes in the defense and sent out Philip Fauver, who’d not started the game, to left back. Philip jumped into the game. “I was disappointed not to start and I thought I wasn’t going to play. But once I got in there, I stopped my wing and blocked a lot of shots. I wasn’t afraid.” The ability to overcome initial disappointment and to embrace an opportunity embodies the personal resiliency that makes a team successful.

Pemi started to play more confidently but Tecumseh struck again just before halftime, pushing their lead to 3-1. A late goal can be fairly demoralizing, but Coaches Kim Bradshaw and Sam Dixon rallied the boys. The defensive trio of Shep, Jake Landry, and Philip Fauver held their line for much of the second half and, with great support from cheering seniors on the sideline, a fired-up Ten’s team made a commitment to combine on the flanks and avoid the middle of the pitch. Kieran Klasfeld, Merrick Chapin, and Oliver united to beat several defenders and Oliver once again drew Pemi within a goal. Tecumseh, always a relentless opponent, then pushed their lead to 4-2. Pemi nearly scored when Shep’s penalty kick whistled by the cross bar. “After I missed my penalty kick, no one was mad at me. They told me to keep my head up and make the next one.”

With Shep off the field, Charlie Bowman stepped up and converted a free kick to pull Pemi to just a 4-3 deficit with the fans of both camps urging the boys forward. With under a minute left to play, Pemi received one last free kick from just outside the penalty area. Bowman’s kick just missed the upper corner and Pemi lost a hard-fought match 4-3.

It was a tough loss, but the gritty determination of our youngest Pemi boys to keep fighting back was one of the defining moments of the day and an important lesson for athletes and spectators alike on the critical importance of resiliency. The Tens received great support from their Pemi fans, especially with the cheers of the Fifteens urging the team forward, and they repeatedly responded with courage and fortitude. Kieran summed up how he felt about the loss: “When the game was over, even though we lost, we never put our heads down. The Fifteens watching our game came over and told us we did a great job and they were proud of us. I was bummed out, but we had tennis next, and I decided to make up for it in my doubles match after lunch.”

Tecumseh Dining Hall: Friends in the Zoo

Dining at Camp Tecumseh is one of the highlights for our boys. They hear stories about the cheers and banging on the tables as the dining hall is a source of great fun and energy for the Tecumseh community. While Pemi sings songs about cans of beans and bloomer girls, our friends from Tecumseh have a series of interactive cheers and spoofs that make for a lively environment.

In the back of the dining hall is an area known as the “zoo,” where the more colorful entertainment pulsates and drives the rest of the dining hall. Philip Fauver described it this way: “A senior told me to sit in the ‘zoo.’ It was really fun and really odd. A bunch of middle-aged men and kids whacking the table and singing chants about bananas, coconuts, and the olé chant you hear at soccer games. They even sing and do the hokey pokey. It was fun, but yes, a little awkward, too.”

Shep enjoyed the mess hall, but what he most enjoyed was meeting the boys from Tecumseh. “I sat with a kid who played baseball and tennis. He was a really nice kid and we shared stories about our camps. He told me about the blue/grey competition they have each week in all different sports.” At the end of the lunch, the boys went up to the tennis courts to continue their battle. They had tied their baseball game, lost a competitive soccer match 4-3, and now needed to muster their energy to play tennis and swim in the afternoon.

10s Tennis: Evening the Score

I’ll let Coach Jon Duval describe the tennis match and then give you the juniors’ take on it:

Oscar Andersson

Oscar Andersson

The Tens took the court following lunch at Tecumseh and a brief rest hour. The team came in confident after their dominating performance at the 1st-session Baker Valley Tournament, where they went 9-1 in matches played. The first match to finish was #2 doubles, where Norwood Davis and Kieran Klasfeld quickly dispatched their opponents, identical twins, 8-1, giving Pemi a 1-0 lead in the match. After a quick start, Sam Young and Jake Landry finished their match at #1 doubles 8-4, widening Pemi’s lead to 2-0. Tecumseh responded to being down by winning #3 doubles against Thomas Ruhanen and P.J Reed 8-4. Despite a massive comeback after being down 5-0, Giacomo Turco also fell to a tough opponent at #4 singles 8-5, evening the match at 2-2 with only 1, 2, and 3 singles left to finish. After leading the whole match, Shep Griffiths won #3 singles 8-5. In a heartbreaker, Oliver Philips lost a tough match to a very good Tecumseh opponent 7-6 (9-7) in a tiebreaker at #1 Singles. With the match tied 3-3, everything came down to Oscar Andersson at #2 Singles. Oscar clutched out the match 8-6 after a great effort from his opponent, securing the 4-3 win and giving Tens tennis an undefeated season.

With the victory in tennis, the Ten-and-unders brought their overall record to 1-1-1 with only swimming left to go. The boys felt proud of their accomplishments and appreciated all of the support from their coaches, cabin mates, and seniors.

Swimming: The Last Race

As the boys walked down to the waterfront, they were immediately struck by the inspiring view of Lake Winnepesauke. The massive lake with the Ossipee range in the background and dozens of boats buzzing by the waterfront can be quite disorienting for the Pemi boys from Lower Baker Pond.

Shep walked down to the waterfront having pitched in the baseball game, played centerback in the soccer game, and won his singles tennis match. He had no idea of the overall score of the day. “When I got down to the docks, I started thinking about the story of Metal Boy and how, for him, whoever won the event won the day. Charlotte reminded us of our strokes and we began practicing. The water was awesome, cold, and you could see the bottom. It was weird having the beach be so public with boats driving by and the lake was so big.”

Lucas Vitale

Lucas Vitale

Pemi led for most of the meet as Boone Snyder won the breaststroke and Lucas Vitale won the ‘fly. Merrick Chapin finished second in the breaststroke and Ben Cavenagh delivered a second in the freestyle. Unfortunately, Pemi would eventually lose the meet when Tecumseh took 1st and 2nd place in the final freestyle relay for a 33-27 victory. “I was standing on the docks and I looked over and saw all of the Pemi people cheering,” said Shep. “When they announced the results at the end of the meet we were kinda down. No one was crushed, but I felt a little bad for the seniors.”

After a long day, the Tens and Fifteens came together for one last cheer to celebrate the race and salute Tecumseh’s victory. Our fifteen-year-olds faced the end of their camp competitive days while our ten-year-olds pulled together their feelings about what this meant to them.

Home: Understanding a Bigger Picture

As I write, the van is waiting to take Sam Papel, me, and six boys for a four-day backpacking trip through the Mahoosuc Range, so I’ll let Philip Fauver and Shep Griffiths share their final thoughts on the day.

Welcome home

Welcome home

Shep described returning back to Pemi and the community he felt when he arrived. “When we returned home everyone was waiting for us and clapping. It felt good. The seniors brought us together and said they were proud of us and how we had came together. They all said ‘Pemi on three,’ and then everybody cheered together. In my two years of competing, it is definitely my favorite day at camp. Tecumseh had great sportsmanship. They were never negative, they always hustled, and they were really fast. However, I kinda felt like we won the day, not in terms of points or wins, but in teamwork.”

As for Philip Fauver, he had some advice for future juniors. “It’s a really hyped-up day, but don’t get too cocky. Tecumseh is a sports camp; we are not. We still believe we can do it, but don’t be crushed if we don’t. Give us another week of preparation and I think we can beat these guys. I’m excited to prep for another Tecumseh Day again, but next week I’m going hiking, working in the wood shop, and going on a nature hike because camp isn’t just about sports. There are so many things to do.”

And on those final words…I’m taking Philip’s advice and getting into that van to hike some gnarly mountains.               ~Charlie Malcolm

Off to the Mahoosuc Range! Charlie Malcolm, right

Off to the Mahoosuc Range! Charlie Malcolm, right

Week One of the 2017 Season

2017: Newsletter #2

[A quick meteorological-status update in advance. We are now in Day 3 of wonderful summer sunshine after the Deluge of 2017 – about which you may have heard on the Weather Channel or in slightly damp Sunday letters from your sons. From a camper standpoint, everything is back to normal, with the exception that Polar Bear dips are on hold until the Mississippi hue of Lower Baker returns, in a couple of days, to normal. The state roads to our entrance are open and, with a little resourceful wading with boats to carry cargo in and out past our new river/beach road, we are again in full contact with the world at large – all the more so since, pre-rain, we parked three of our vans across our bridge right next to Route 25A. In fact, we should get a short mountain trip off in them this afternoon! We’ll try to post a special newsletter with more details of the weather event and some choice photos over the coming days. Meanwhile, the boys are thrilled to have experienced an inundation to equal the famous flood of 1973, and they are showing as much pluck and enthusiasm as ever! Perhaps more!]

Lower Two

Lower Two

The first week of the 2017 season has sped by with the alacrity of the speediest Junior camper hurtling into the pond during the morning Polar Bear dip – and his chilliest compadre scampering back to shore afterwards. Cabin groups are well on their way to becoming bona fide little families (or, in the case of the Senior, big ones), bonding closely not only over their morning dip but also over clean-up for inspection, joint trips to their mail slots to retrieve letters from home, three plentiful meals a day (and the daily 3:30 Fruit Bowl), lusty singing in the mess hall at lunch and supper, trips up local mountains or overnights at the Adirondack shelter on Pemi Hill, paddling to cabin cookouts across the lake at Pine Forest and Flat Rock, the nightly tick check (new to the Pemi routine), and drifting off to sleep to the soothing drone of their counselors reading from Roald Dahl or J. K. Rowling. (Some of this cabin business you parents will undoubtedly have heard about through the outgoing mail.)

Visiting Professional Steve Broker

Visiting Professional Steve Broker

Occupations (as, again, we call our instructional periods for some arcane early twentieth-century reason) have gone extremely well across the full range of offerings – in athletics, music, art, and nature studies. Particularly well-received have been the options offered by Visiting Professionals Kevin O’Brien (who winningly combines tuition in both lacrosse and yoga) and Steve Broker (who seems to know more about ornithology than Audubon himself, and this year came to camp with over a dozen stuffed bird specimens from Yale University’s renowned collection). The trip program is briskly out of the gate, despite some rainy weather. Trip Specialists Nick Davini and Fiona Walker have led a 3-day jaunt up Owl’s Head in the Pemigewassett Wilderness (the first ascent by any Pemi group, to the best of my knowledge), while their colleague Sam Papel has inaugurated our new practice of a “trippie” and Junior cabin counselor teaming up on an extended (two-meal) version of the traditional Junior overnight up Pemi Hill. The result is the equivalent of a family trip with an expert guide, and initial reviews are highly positive. In addition, inter-camp sports have begun most energetically, with competitions in seven different sports in six different age groups against three of our neighboring camps. Oh, did we mention that casting for this year’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe is now complete? Rehearsals begin this week, looking forward to lavish productions on the nights of August 8th and 9th. To risk cribbing from a trendy clothing line, here at Pemi, “Life is Good!”

We thought we’d follow up on this general overview with some particulars from the athletic fields and wooded trails alike. First, an account of June 28th’s Baker Valley 13’s Soccer Tournament, from head coach Steve Clare:

Baker Valley 13’s Soccer Tournament

In the annual tourney hosted by Camp Moosilauke, Pemi’s first opponents were from Camp Kingswood. It was a cautious start from both teams, each defending well but neither dominating midfield; 0: 0 at half-time.

Pemi started the second half strongly with two early chances going just wide. In the fourth minute, Elliot Jones won possession on the half-way line and played a great through ball to Luca McAdams, who in turn played the ball in to Andrew Roth at the edge of the box. Andrew beat a defender and then the keeper with a deftly placed left-footed shot. Pemi 1: 0.

Two minutes later, Pemi scored again. Pressing high up the pitch, Nelson Snyder used his pace to intercept a Kingswood pass and played the ball forward to Andrew. Andrew ran forward into Kingswood’s penalty box, taking the ball to the goal line and, although closely marked, managing to cut the ball back across the goal for Paul Clusky to score from 6 yards out. 

Most of the remainder of the game was played in Kingswood’s half, Pemi passing the ball around with confidence, with numerous shots being saved or sent just wide. Kingswood managed a couple of counterattacks but were unable to beat Pemi’s solid defense. Final score, Pemi 2: Kingswood 0.

Pemi’s second game was against Walt Whitman (WW). With just 2 minutes on the clock, Luca was brought down in the box by a clumsy challenge. Paul scored from the penalty spot; 1-0 Pemi.

Like last year, we thought that WW’s fairly casual style of play might lead to a goal fest, but, also like last year, Pemi found its style disrupted for the entire game. WW’s keeper made a couple of superb saves to deny Pemi further goals. Final score, Pemi 1: WW 0.

Our final game was against host camp Moosilauke, and we utterly dominated possession; goalie Gordon Robbins didn’t get a single touch of the ball in the first half! Early shots from Andrew, Luca, Paul and Matteo Benenati all went over the cross bar. When a 25-yard rocket from Luca also crashed off the cross bar, we were delighted to see Isaiah Abbey follow up the rebound and head the ball into the net for his first goal. Luca scored Pemi’s second with a cracking shot from distance that caromed off the inside of the right-hand post. Two nil Pemi.  

Simon Taylor volunteered to go in goal for the second half so Gordon could play in the field. Again, Pemi dominated possession. As with Kingswood, Pemi’s defense were solid in breaking down attacks from Moose, with special mention going to the superb Tristan Land. 

Pemi’s third score saw Matteo beat three Moose defenders as he entered their penalty box from the right, finding space to shoot across the goal into the left side of the net. Moose’s keeper denied further goals with several outstanding saves, yielding a final score of Pemi 3: Moose 0.

A 3 in 3 BVT victory! Well done, players. We’ve still work to do, but what a great start to 2017!! Special thanks to Julian Hernandez-Webster for refereeing all three games and to assisting coaches Andy McDonald and JP Gorman.

Thanks to Steve for the coaching and reportage both. Now to Sam Papel for short narratives of last week’s Pemi Hill jaunts:

New Pemi Hill Adventure for Juniors

Junior Six took to the hill trail last Tuesday around 4:00 P.M. on the inaugural Trippie-accompanied Pemi Hill adventure and charged quickly to the top. At the Adirondack shelter, a favorite Pemi destination since the 1960’s, Tristan Barton, Priester Davis, Thomas Davis, Will Silloway, Hudson Williams, Charlie Wood, and Ian Zimmerman learned how to tie some important knots, and built a roaring fire. Later they had a hearty dinner of mac and cheese with bacon and chicken, as well as some “cinnamon roll delights” for dessert. The boys also bushwhacked up to the old logging road, and explored the woods above the spring. After dinner, a few games of hotly contested Presidents filled their time, and the boys went to sleep straining their ears for an echo of Taps from down the hill. In the morning, I cooked up some pancakes and bacon and the crew headed down the hill just in time to be late for first hour. Overall, a great kick-off to a new Pemigewassett tradition.

Junior 2’s journey up Pemi Hill, two days later, was slightly delayed by the rain. Nevertheless the intrepid Andrew Boss, Robbie Judd, Jake Landry, Matteo Saffer, John Warren Stickney, and Max Weber set off for the shelter at 4:30, with some brand new Junior-sized internal frame packs, courtesy of REI. Despite the steady drizzle, they made good time up the hill, arriving a mere 30 minutes later. After consulting the USGS Topo map, Jake, Robbie, and I bushwhacked up to the old logging road. After exploring, a giant meal of bacon mac & cheese was avidly devoured by all. Unfortunately, a certain Trippie forgot dessert (although he hopefully made up for it in the morning with chocolate chips and brown sugar on the pancakes!) Before bed, the boys again learned some useful knots, and played a few games of mafia before going to sleep listening to the storm. In the morning, breakfast went much more quickly than the first go-around, and the boys made it down the hill ready to rock first hour. So, after a week’s trial, reviews of the new, guide-squired Pemi Hill are distinctly positive.

Thanks to Sam, both for the implementation of an exciting new program and for the crisp account. Now to fellow Trip Leader Fiona Walker for a report on Pemi’s first trip ever up Owls’s Head, perhaps the remotest of New Hampshire’s 4000-foot peaks.

Inaugural Trip to Owls’s Head

Owl's Head trip

Owl’s Head trip

The season’s first three-day started after lunch last Tuesday, leaving from the trip operations center/Snack Shack. By the time Andreas [Geffert], Christopher [Ramanathan], Owen [Wyman], Dexter [Wells], and Cameron [McManus] had completed their final gear checks and we had everyone loaded in the van, it was approaching 3pm, and we arrived at the Lincoln Woods Visitor Center at around 3:45. After getting everyone’s pack straps adjusted, with rain jackets at the ready, we walked a whopping 2.8 miles on flat ground to the junction of the Black Pond Trail, where we asked the boys to assess different areas where we could possibly set up camp for the next two days. After about thirty minutes of looking, the boys settled on a great area next to the Pemigewassett River that provided ample room for cooking, sleeping, and bear-bagging. I will say that watching these kids put up tents was quite entertaining. One camper (who shall remain nameless, although his parents may recognize him from what follows) commented, “It’s 2017 already! Why don’t we just have those tents that pop up when you pull them out of the bag?” After the tents were solidly pitched, we all enjoyed a steaming pot of pesto pasta. Unfortunately, due to some rain coming in, our post-dinner course of hot chocolate was cut short. Luckily we were able to clean up fast and stay dry in anticipation of the next day’s climb.

View to Franconia Range

View to Franconia Range

Day 2 called for a 7:15AM wake-up call and breakfast at 8. We left camp at around 9 and headed off onto the Lincoln Brook Trail. A long slog was lightened when we introduced the boys to a game called Contact, which takes about an hour to explain and which required another hour for them to solve the first clue. We arrived at the base of the Owl’s Head Trail around 1PM, and while fellow Trippie Nick Davini and I were keeping a careful eye on return time, we decided it was safe to continue up for another hour before calling it. I think I speak for everyone when I say the last mile felt like five, as the trail was a challenging mix of rocky soil and granite. The boys were such troopers, though, and they powered to the top despite their soggy shoes and heavy packs. One of the drawbacks of bagging a 4000-footer whose summit is just below tree line is that the view you’d have from a Lafayette or Washington is not quite there. These guys definitely deserved a spectacular vista, given their grit and general good humor. There was, however, a clear cut towards the middle of the trail that allowed for a beautiful view of the Franconia Range and the Lower Pemigewassett Wilderness. 

Although it took us a little over three hours to hike those two miles, everyone was in good spirits at the bottom of the trail. Despite the late start on return, we made it back to camp in just two and a half hours, with plenty of daylight to spare. After all that, the boys decided that the only way to solve their wet foot problem was to take part in a Pink Polar Bear [aka a dip in cold stream water] or, as they preferred calling it, Hypothermic Polar Bear. They are still inquiring about their Hypothermic Polar Bear badges, which I don’t believe is a thing Camp Pemi yet offers. I told the boys, though, that I would be willing to follow up about the possibility of such an award for the future.

The next morning we packed up camp at 9AM and left around 9:45 for a 10:30 pick-up with TRJR at Lincoln Woods Visitor Center. After a hasty stop at the Kancamagus Country Store for a soda and candy, we made it back to camp with all body parts intact, minimal blisters, and (for Nick and me) both our jobs. All in all, I’d say it was a great start to the 2017 Pemi Trip Program. Thanks to Andreas, Christopher, Owen, Dexter, and Cameron for being such stalwart hikers! Pemi can now add a formidable little climb to its list of mountaineering accomplishments!

So there are some snap shots of Week One. Stay tuned for more coverage of Instructional Occupations, the Nature Program, Art, Music, and the like. For now, we’re truly relishing the lively company of 170 young men who, from everything we can see, are making the most of their time in the wilds of New Hampshire, sun-lit or rain-washed alike.

–TRJR

Tecumseh Day: Through the Eyes of the 15s

Summer 2015: Newsletter #6

For over a hundred years, Camps Pemigewassett and Tecumseh have locked annually into a spirited athletic competition. This year, our 15- and 10-and-unders traveled to Camp Tecumseh, sited majestically on a plateau boldly overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee, while the 11, 12, and 13s age groups remained on the comfy confines of Lower Baker Pond. The differences in setting are as unique as our respective camps in terms of culture and program.

Over the years, I have written extensively about each team’s contest and attempted to capture the flow of the day as I chronologically covered each age group’s experience. This year, I will let our 15-year-olds share their journey and tell their story of the day, as they embraced their last Tecumseh Day as campers, while also coming to grips with the last days of being a boy at a summer camp. Perhaps their story is more important than the scores and tallies of the day, as a majority of our 15s have been at Pemi between five and, in some cases, nine years. As you read their story, I hope it will capture the transformative magic of being a 15-year-old at an all-boys camp.

I waited until Sunday, after a few days had washed away the raw emotion of the day, before I spoke with several 15-and-unders about their Tecumseh Day. Sam Berman, Jivan Khakee, and Owen Fried have each experienced the full range of outcomes on this day. So here are their stories and perceptions of Tecumseh Day 2015.

Preparation

Each summer, the 15-and-unders come together to orchestrate the tone and build-up for the big day. The seniors struggle with the range of ages at camp and how best to reach each group and individual with an age-appropriate message. Clearly, what might be effective for a senior might not work for a junior in his first season or even week at Pemi (our Second Session boys will have just joined us the week before). Any Pemi alum can tell you that the energy and passion on Tecumseh Day far exceeds that of any prep or high school rivalry. I asked the boys what they learned from the week of preparation leading up to the Day and how it impacted their division.

Owen Fried

Owen Fried

“As a 15-year-old, it really felt different to me this year. In the past, you just worried about your age group, but this year I felt a responsibility to get camp going. I was more worried about the younger kids. The fifteens got together and talked a lot about trying to find the balance between getting kids pumped for the day versus putting emphasis on focus. As the week went on, I began to notice we cared more about each other in Senior Camp. This year, we have 24 15-year-olds in Senior Camp, so I think the energy of Tecumseh Day began to pull us together.” (Owen Fried)

Jivan

Jivan Khakee

“It’s different as a fifteen-year-old; you feel more important; you realize pretty quickly you need to lead younger kids and be good role models, lift your performance, and be generally at a higher level. In terms of leading camp, I learned that words really matter and we all need to be careful about how we talk about the strength and weaknesses of particular age groups. The younger campers hear everything and it can be destructive if they hear that a fifteen-year-old doesn’t believe they have much of chance. At the end of the day, I think stepping up to lead the other campers brought out the best in us.” (Jivan Khakee)

“Last year, I only came for the first half and that was a big mistake. It was way too short. I never felt like I fully bonded with my cabin. Our relationships weren’t as strong and Tecumseh Day is a big part of building our relationships.” (Jivan Khakee)

Arriving at Tecumseh

After four days of practice in very hot and humid conditions, the 10s and 15s boarded the buses at 7:30 AM for the one-hour ride to Center Harbor. Most of the 15s were returning to Tecumseh for the first time since winning the day in 2012. (They were home as 13- and 14-year-olds.) As 12-year-olds, they had sprinted up the hill above the waterfront after they won the final swimming race to celebrate with their fellow Pemi community members.

“I hadn’t been to Tecumseh since we won The Hat in 2012. When we left that day, I remember the joy of winning but I also remember how devastated their camp was to lose The Hat. We would always joke about how hard their counselors were on their campers, making them do push-ups and stuff like that, and we also would check out their Mohawks [hair cuts]. In the build up to ‘Beat Tecumseh,’ it kind of shapes how you think about the camp. However, when I got there this year, I quickly realized they’re not that bad … they get along and care for each other, too. All the campers and counselors I talked to were really nice. I did notice, though, during the tennis matches that they were pretty stressed out about losing. There seemed to be more on the line for them. To fail would be unacceptable for them.” (Owen Fried)

The Morning Events

The 15s started their day with a grueling tennis match and against an uneven Tecumseh line-up. At number one singles, Carson Hill demolished a far less talented opponent, while Will Merhige at four singles had his hands full against a tenacious and capable competitor.

Sam

Sam Berman

“One of my favorite memories of the day was watching Will Merhige battle in his tennis match at number four singles. Almost everyone was watching Timmy Coe’s exciting tiebreaker victory at number two singles, and Will was essentially alone taking on what looked like one of their top tennis players. Will won the first set but was tied in the second set when Coe won and everyone from both camps lined up around his court to watch what would be the deciding match. He kept to his game plan, driving the Tecumseh guy back with deep shots and then finishing him off by going to the net. Impressive!” (Sam Berman)

JonahWhile the 15s were battling their way to a hard-fought 4-3 victory in tennis, the 10-and-under baseball team under the cool leadership of Wesley Eifler played in a “classic.” On the mound was Pierce Cowles who delivered three innings of commanding pitching and also managed to bang out four hits at the plate while scoring two runs. When Cowles found some trouble in the third inning, Eifler astutely went to his bullpen and Jonah Reay slammed the door with three plus innings of shutout ball to preserve the 2-1 victory. The 10’s defense made no errors, and several sensational plays by Reay helped secure the victory, thus creating some awesome Pemi energy in the morning. When the final out was recorded, everyone rushed on the field to celebrate.

“I was watching the 15’s tennis match, but kept one eye looking through the fences to the 10- and-under baseball game. I could hear and feel the intensity of the game, and I wasn’t even there. You would hear the crack of the bat, wild cheers, and one side celebrating a run or an out. I wish I had watched that game, but you couldn’t help but feel the waves of energy pulsating up the hill.” (Jivan Khakee)

GradyWith Pemi jumping out to two victories at Tecumseh, and the campers unaware of Pemi dropping all three events at home, the 10’s soccer team and the 15’s baseball team stepped into their second events brimming with confidence. Grady Nance, who attends the Haverford School in Philadelphia, archrival of the majority of Tecumseh kids who attend Episcopal Academy (and ironically Haverford is also former school of the new director of Tecumseh, Doug Knight!) mowed down Tecumseh’s top hitters, setting the tone for the remainder of the game. Robert Cecil, who spent his free afternoons taking extra hitting practice after spending a full year away from baseball, delivered a thundering bases-loaded double to plate the three runners ahead of him and give Nance ample run support to deliver a crisp 6-0 Pemi victory. The 10s, unfortunately, ran into one Tecumseh’s best teams, conceded a goal in the opening minutes of play, and went onto to suffer an 8-0 loss.

“If I had to do one thing over, I wish we or I had spent more time with the Juniors after they lost that soccer game. We were so excited about winning baseball and how our division was doing, I think we might have missed a chance to help them get ready for tennis and swimming in the afternoon.” (Owen Fried)

The Afternoon Events

JasperThe two camps entered the Tecumseh dining hall with the score 6-4 in favor of Tecumseh. At Pemi, the 13’s soccer team delivered an impressive 4-1 victory in soccer against a very strong Tecumseh team. Jasper Nusbaum was incredible in the Pemi goal while Arlo Grey, Wyatt Intrator, Spencer Hill, and Will Laycock delivered the goals for Pemi. Tecumseh won 12s soccer (3-0) and Tennis (5-2), 11s Tennis (6-1) and Baseball (9-0), and 13s swimming (46-14), so the atmosphere and momentum at each camp were distinctively different.

After lunch, the 10s tennis team lost 5-2 while the 15-and-under soccer team battled against a very determined Tecumseh side. For the majority of the first half, Tecumseh kept Pemi pinned in their end of the field and eventually scored as a deflected shot changed direction and drifted painfully past the incredibly talented Nick Bowman to the upper corner. Pemi unleashed a blistering attack in the second half as the team moved Patterson Malcolm forward and played balls more directly. A Malcolm header rolled just wide of the net, and Riley Walsh’s volley rung the cross bar as Pemi kept the pressure on. Despite a much better second half, Pemi lost 1-0 to an extremely fit Tecumseh team that never subbed once.

Patterson2“Watching Patterson Malcolm give 150% – no 200% – on the soccer field with a strained quad — was pretty amazing. He chased down every ball. It was unbelievable. When he collapsed on the field in exhaustion and tears at the final whistle, we all ran to pick him up. That was pretty special.” (Jivan Khakee)

The 15s and 10s were clearly dejected after tough losses to start the afternoon, and both age groups walked slowly down to the waterfront fully aware that winning the day was not likely in the cards. Anyone who has been at a Tecumseh Day knows that the final swim meets often bring out the best in our respective campers, especially when the meet involves our youngest and oldest campers as they come together as one group cheering each other on. The 15s are a talented squad, and Tecumseh always has plenty of depth. Both these factors highlighted the remarkable meet that transpired.

“One of my favorite memories of the day was watching Noah Belinowiz break the record in the breaststroke. We had just lost a really close soccer game and were a little down. His excitement over breaking the record—the way he jumped out of the water and pumped his fist—I think it woke us back up and got us fired up to compete in the swim race.” (Jivan Khakee)

SwimmingWell, compete they did! After jumping out to an early lead with record-shattering performances by Belinowiz, Grady Boruchin in the backstroke, and Robert Cecil in the freestyle, Tecumseh’s overall depth reeled Pemi in and tied the meet going into the final event, the freestyle relay. This set up one of the greatest races ever witnessed, as both camps rolled out talented relay teams.  Belinowiz, Luke Silver, Boruchin, and Cecil delivered a legendary performance while breaking the record in the process.

“On the last relay of the swim meet we were all in a state of disbelief when they announced the score was tied.   We all started cheering like crazy during the last race. I think I lost my voice as Robert Cecil pulled away from Tecumseh’s anchor in the final lap and finished first to win the race and the meet.” (Owen Fried)

It was a fantastic performance and exemplified the emotional and physical endurance of our oldest campers. While the 10s came up short in their relay, you could see their clear joy and admiration for their big brothers. After the cheers on the beach were exchanged, our community walked up slowly to the Tecumseh mess hall to close out the day. Each 15-year-old occasionally looked back over his shoulder, knowing his athletic journey at Pemi and this bold tradition was finally over.

“I felt sad, not about losing the day: we had done our best and won three of our four events. It was more about the realization that this age group will never be together again, competing on Tecumseh Day.” (Jivan Khakee)

“At the end of the race, I wasn’t sad about losing the day, because our age group had a great day and, for most of the Seniors, we had already lost, tied, and won a Tecumseh Day over the course of our time at Pemi. Not many campers have experienced each one of those outcomes.” (Owen Fried)

“It didn’t hit me that this marked the end of competition for our age group until the buses rolled into camp. The last time we rode those buses back from Tecumseh we carried The Hat and everyone was there to greet us and celebrate. This year I think I was even more amazed because, when we came back, there were just as many people waiting for us, and we all felt part of a strong community.” (Sam Berman)

MoonBusWhen the buses and vans returned to Pemi, hugs, high fives, tears, stories, and laughter met the competitors. Several Seniors addressed the throng of campers and told them how proud they were of their efforts, regardless of the outcome. The boys were also met by one of the most incredible full moons just rising from the east, orange and bold as it reflected the final light from the setting sun. It was clear to everyone that our 15s, the majority of whom first came to Pemi as Juniors, were also ascending at a pace worthy of awe and appreciation. They simultaneously held onto to their last days of being boys on Lower Baker while at the same time taking major steps forward in becoming capable and caring young men.

– Charlie Malcolm

Moon2

2014 Tecumseh Day

2014 Newsletter #6

This week’s newsletter comes from Charlie Malcolm, our longtime Director of Athletics. It was he who oversaw our recent competition with our arch-rivals (and very good friends) from Camp Tecumseh. This storied rivalry, dating back to our founding in 1908, is surely one of the most august in American camping, and predates some of the most noteworthy squarings-off in collegiate sports. For many years this was a twice-a-season, home-and-away affair, and the camps used to travel to each other’s shore via a combination of foot-travel (for us, a 4-mile hike to the Wentworth train station), rail (to Weirs Beach), and mail steamer (to Tecumseh’s scenic cove on the shores of beautiful Lake Winnepesauke.) In line with the current softening of the American lifestyle, we now travel door-to-door by van and bus. At the same time, the new once-a-year format, which finds half of each camp going to the other’s campus, allows us all to share meals together in our respective dining halls. The resulting hospitality and conversation has leant Tecumseh/Pemi Day an increasingly friendly tone. While the intense competitiveness of the early days lives on unabated, it is now balanced by ever-greater levels of good sportsmanship and respect. And with that as a general introduction, on to Charlie’s account.

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6:30 AM, Lower Baker Pond….the bugle blows and it is quickly replaced by rock music as the Seniors wake up the Intermediate Camp. After camper-led calisthenics and a quick Polar Bear, the boys quickly make their way to the dining hall with their bags packed for a long day at Tecumseh. By 7:35, the buses are rolling with the 11’s, 12’s and 13’s age groups. At Pemi, the finishing touches are made on soccer, baseball, and tennis courts, while the 10’s and 15’s anxiously await the arrival of Tecumseh. By 9:15, the first serve, kick, pitch, and start were initiated. The day had begun.

The morning events were conducted in cool temperatures with very competitive matches on display at both camps.  At Tecumseh, the 13’s swim team—behind the strong efforts of Timmy Coe—paced Pemi to an exciting victory. The 12’s soccer team found themselves down by a goal two minutes into the game but battled their way back to a tie on a Dean Elefante goal. Sasha Roberts and Tate Suratt never stopped running for their teammates in this incredible match. Despite victories by Eric Bush in 4th singles and the doubles teams of Kevin Millar–Jaime Acocella and Felix Nusbaum–Graham Winings, 11’s Tennis lost a heartbreaker 4-3 on a decisive tiebreaker.

Pierce Cowels, 10s baseball

Pierce Cowles, 10s baseball

At Pemi, the 10’s baseball team fell to a very strong Tecumseh side 8-2. Pemi received outstanding pitching from Pierce Cowles, who settled down after a nervous first inning. Pemi enjoyed good hitting from Elliot Jones and Oliver Giraud but could not put together a big inning to get back into the game. The 15’s tennis team, winners of the Lakes Region Tournament earlier in the season, jumped out to an early lead when Jack O’Conner won his number two singles match, followed by Carson Hill’s surgical win at number one singles. Pemi would cruise to a 6-1 victory as the Duval brothers delivered singles victories followed by a doubles victory from Owen Fried and Robert Loeser. After round one in the morning, the day was tied 2-2-1.

At Tecumseh, the 13’s soccer team rode the wave of momentum from their impressive swim victory right into their soccer match. Last year, this particular age group was beaten quite handily 12-1. This year, however, was different. With Nick Bowman in net, Timmy Coe anchoring the defense, and the soccer gods in attendance, the Pemi 13s fought gallantly to a 0-0 draw, a spectacular result against a team loaded with academy-level players. The 11’s baseball team fell 8-3. The hero of this match was George Lerdal who came on in relief with the bases loaded and struck out the side. Finally, 12s Tennis cruised to an impressive 5-2 victory behind singles wins from Spencer Hill, Suraj Khakee, and Quinn McConnaughey, and doubles victories by Scott Cook–Dean Elefante and Eli Barlow–Ryan Bush.

15s baseball

15s baseball

At Pemi, one of the most inspiring contests of the day was turned in by the 10’s soccer team against a very deep and talented opponent. Despite facing heavy pressure from the opening whistle, Walker Goodrich flawlessly protected the Pemi goal with Elliot Jones and Luca McAdams shutting down the middle of the pitch until Isaiah Abbey raced behind the defense to give Pemi a 1-0 lead. The boys played their hearts out, but Tecumseh pushed home two goals in the last two minutes to win the game. While 10’s fell in glorious defeat, the 15’s baseball team defeated Tecumseh 5-3 behind the stellar pitching of Jack Wood and timely hitting by Patterson Malcolm and Will DeTeso. The highlight of the game was a bases-loaded, 1-2-3 double play to escape a critical first inning jam. With the day knotted at 4-4-2, the boys entered the Pemi and Tecumseh dining halls with energy and excitement.

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Danny Kerr and Jim Talbot

At Pemi, Danny Kerr presented retiring Tecumseh Director, Jim Talbot, with a canvas photographic print celebrating Jim’s role in the tradition of fine competition and sportsmanship between the two camps. Since 2001, Jim has been an outstanding ambassador for Tecumseh. He retires with record enrollment, a dedicated seasoned staff in place, and with the competition between our two camps as solidly grounded in sportsmanship and goodwill as it has ever been. We wish Jim well in his next adventure and will do our best to make sure this day of healthy competition remains cemented in friendship.

After lunch, amidst rising temperatures, Tecumseh brought their own heat to Pemi in the remaining afternoon contests. At Pemi, the 10’s tennis team was swept 7-0 and the 15’s soccer team also fell 3-0 to a Tecumseh team that simply played with more determination. Tobey Suratt played particularly well for the 10’s before eventually losing in a tiebreaker. For the 15’s soccer match, Patterson Malcolm, Elliot Britton, and Sam Berman did not back down while anchoring the Pemi defense, and netminder Will Harnard made several critical saves to keep the game close. At Tecumseh the results were similar as the 11’s soccer team fell 3-0 despite the scrappy efforts of Will Ackerman and Eric Bush. The 12’s baseball team ran into a terrific team boasting players headed off for the Little League World Series and were no hit. Fortunately, Suraj Khakee and Ryan Cowles held Tecumseh to three runs over six innings to give Pemi a chance to get back into the game. Despite winning efforts by Timmy Coe and the battling Andrew Kanovsky, who came back from a 5-1 deficit, the 13’s tennis team fell 5-2. By sweeping all five of the initial afternoon events, Tecumseh guaranteed a tie, and their clear momentum carried over to the remaining fixtures.

Oscar de Haut de Sigy; 10's swimmer

Oscar de Haut de Sigy; 10’s swimmer

At Tecumseh, the home team won both the 11 and 12 swim meets as both camps struggled to maintain their energy at the waterfront. Pemi’s 13’s baseball team also fell, 9-3, facing another Tecumseh side loaded with exceptional talent. James Minzesheimer led Pemi’s offense with two hits, but Tecumseh’s timely hitting was too much for Pemi. At Pemi, the 10’s swim team fell 33-27 as Simon Taylor delivered first place in butterfly and backstroke and anchored a free style relay victory. Oscar de Haut de Sigy also delivered first places in the free style and breaststroke. The 15s shook off their disappointment following their soccer game and delivered an outstanding effort, securing our only afternoon victory. The highlight of the race was Noah Belinowiz’s extraordinary leg in the Medley Relay where, despite his having recently been down with a stomach bug, he reeled in a half lap with an impressive breaststroke. With victories by Harry Tuttle in the backstroke, Andrew Digaetano in the butterfly, and Robert Cecil in the free style, the 15s finished the day with an impressive 32-28 victory.

Home

Home

While we lost the day by a significant margin of 13-5-2, one only had to be at the Pemi waterfront to see the triumphs the day nevertheless involved. It’s hard to find words to describe how inspiring it was to watch our 15’s push aside their collective disappointment to swim their last races of the day with all they had—and, at the same time, enthusiastically cheer on their Junior little brothers to do the same. Any former 15-year-old Pemi athlete can tell you there is a hugely rich if bittersweet moment when the last race and competition of his camper days are finished and he has to come to terms with this own journey. Whether the last race is at Winnipesaukee or on the Shores of Lower Baker, the oldest boys sense something deep and transcendent as their formative boyhood days slip a little further away. As the buses return from Tecumseh and the camp community gathers in front of the Lodge, many of the fifteens are overcome with the emotion of the moment as they warmly greet their fellow campers after an incredibly long day. As in previous years, our fifteens rallied the camp in preparation for Tecumseh Day and went on to deliver victories in three of their four events, a noble accomplishment. It is with this momentum that these boys leave for their Allagash wilderness adventure in Maine, focus their final efforts towards a run at becoming a Pemi Chief, or practice for a culminating stage appearance in next week’s Gilbert & Sullivan H.M.S. Pinafore. Their determination can take your breath away.

Thanks to Charlie for this compelling account. Come back next week for Larry Davis’s latest word on Pemi’s celebrated Nature Program.

Tom and Danny

JimTalbotSM

 

 

Summer 2013: Newsletter # 6

[For those of you who missed the special segment on SportsCenter, here is Athletic Director Charlie Malcolm’s overview of Pemi-Tecumseh Day 2013!]

The day arrived with great anticipation for the lads of Lower Baker and Winnipesaukee.  From the date the “hat” made the long drive from Moultonborough Neck Road to the friendly confines of the Baker Valley, our friends at Tecumseh have been busy recruiting athletes and exploring ways to get as many athletic boys as possible to remain or return for the big contest against Pemi. Here at camp, last week’s cheers were loud in the mess hall, the preparation was moderately frantic, and the sunsets were spectacular.  Each Pemi team practiced for four days, though many campers still took advantage of opportunities to climb mountains, chase butterflies, and perform at campfire.

As always, the Tecumseh Day bugle sounded at 6:30 AM, with the morning mist gliding through the valley to meet the boys.  The seniors blasted rock music and led the Juniors and Intermediates in exercises and a charging Polar Bear before heading up to breakfast for a quick meal before the buses carrying the 10s and 15s left camp at 7:37 AM.  This year, Tecumseh sent advanced vans with each starting unit ahead of their buses and arrived earlier then usual.  You immediately got the sense that Tecumseh was particularly serious about this year’s contest.  Over the last three seasons, Pemi has actually won two more total events than Tecumseh, so clearly, Tecumseh was determined to get back to their winning ways of the Blue and Grey.

Morning Events at Pemi:

SurajThe 11-and-under tennis team stepped onto the courts in the first time slot and played a very competitive match.  Spencer Hill won his number-one singles match 8-0 as did four singles Quinn McConnaughey 8-5. Unfortunately, Suraj Khakee lost in a tie breaker 9-7 at number-two singles, demonstrating outstanding sportsmanship throughout the match.  Number-one doubles of Scott Cook and Ryan Bush won their match-up, though Pemi 11s eventually fell 4-3 in their opening match.

The 12’s soccer game was the most challenging event to watch on many levels and exemplified Tecumseh’s singular determination to make a statement that this year would be different.  Pemi’s footballers were playing Tecumseh’s strongest unit loaded with newly recruited club-level talent.  Timmy Coe fought tenaciously for Pemi at midfield but to no avail as Tecumseh skillfully possessed the ball.  The boys from Winnipesaukee scored early and often and by half time Pemi was down 4-0.  In the opening moments of the second half, Tecumseh scored a 5th goal and coach Roberts made the wise move of pulling many of his top players, most of whom would be playing tennis in the next contest.  Tecumseh chose to keep the ship moving full speed ahead, adding seven more goals in the second half.  Coach Roberts did a remarkable job subbing in players and keeping the boys engaged despite the difficult circumstances.

The 13’s swim team kept the contest close in the early stages before falling to a deep and talented Tecumseh team 33-17.  The highlights of the meet was the work of Ezra Nugiel, Kevin Lewis, Lyle Seebeck, Noah Belinowiz, Lucas Janszky, and Robert Cecil as they swam their hearts out.

From the opening pitch, Tecumseh was also off to the races in the 11’s baseball game.  Charles DeVos and Ryan Cowles made some nice plays in the field while Suraj Khakee delivered Pemi’s only two hits on the day.  The team’s character and mettle were tested throughout the contest as Tecumseh poured it on during a 13-0 rout and our boys had difficulty handling the set-back.

On the tennis court, a strong Pemi 12’s team received victories from Timmy Coe, Gavin Sultan, and Ben Ackerman. With the overall score knotted 3-3, the doubles team of Lucas Gaffney and Ben Burnham fought back from a 7-2 deficit before falling short.  It was this effort by Pemi that provided a glimmer of hope that the boys could begin to rally and meet the challenge of the day.

PattersonThe 13’s soccer team played an aggressive Tecumseh group in what would be a highly competitive match.  Pemi took control of the first fifteen minutes of the match, as Carson Hill, Patterson Malcolm and Ted Orben combined to create a dangerous attack. Tecumseh gradually began to put Pemi back on their heels, but the tenacious play of Lyle Seebeck and Nick Toldalagi denied Tecumseh quality scoring opportunities.  Throughout the match, Sam Berman played well in the net for Pemi.  Ten minutes into the second half, Ted Orben sent Malcolm in on a partial breakaway, but the Tecumseh keeper bravely came off his line and stuffed the play for a game-saving play, even though he was injured on the play.  As the second half wore on, Tecumseh’s overall fitness and desire to win eventually wore down Pemi and they pushed home three quality goals late in the contest for a 3-0 victory.  The 13’s soccer team and the fight and determination from Gaffney and Burnham suggested Pemi could compete if they were willing to embrace the challenge.

The Morning at Tecumseh:

The Doc Nick’s Wonders ten-and-unders found themselves facing a very talented baseball opponent.  Tecumseh’s side-arm pitcher mowed down the Pemi bats while he and his teammates delivered a blistering offense.  Defensively, Jamie Acocella and Whit Courage made great plays in the field as Pemi fell 13-0.

Fortunately, the 10s left their disappointment behind on the little field as soccer coach Bryce Wallis skillfully regrouped the troops and focused their efforts on the challenge ahead.  Tecumseh scored ten minutes into the game, but Pemi answered when Charlie Howe picked a ball out of a scrum near the 18 and chipped the ball over the Tecumseh keeper for a 1-1 tie at half.  After numerous spectacular saves by Gordon “Banks” Robbins in the Pemi net, Tecumseh seized the lead six minutes into the second half, but Pemi kept pushing forward as Eric Bush and Max Blohm worked tirelessly on Tecumseh’s massive soccer field to create scoring opportunities.  With the time running down, Pemi gave up a late goal for the 3-1 final score, but the boys deserved tremendous credit for their extraordinary effort.

MaxArthurThe 15 tennis team garnered victories from the Duval brothers at number-one doubles and Bill O’Leary at third singles, while Arthur Root and Max Pagnucco, and Jack O’Connor and Will Jones delivered doubles triumphs for the 4-3 victory.  However, the 15’s baseballers found themselves down 5-1 early despite outstanding defense from Ben Chaimberg in center and a Zach Leeds at short.  With Pemi trailing 6-2 in the last inning, Hugh Grey hit a triple to deep left center to ignite a Pemi rally.  Pemi narrowed the score to 6-4 with key base hits from Julian Hernandez-Webster, Arthur Root, Will DeTeso, and Bert Oberlander.  With the bases loaded and one out, Leeds hit a sharp comebacker to the mound that resulted in a game-ending double play. It was a frustrating loss, given Pemi had ample opportunities to score but hit the ball hard at people and just couldn’t deliver that one timely hit to break open the game.  As the Tecumseh team stormed the field, Pemi made the long walk back to the mess hall knowing they had gone 1-3 in the morning events at Tecumseh. The news from Pemi would be even worse.

Lunch at Pemi and Tecumseh: “We can still win!!!” and “I’m not going to sugar coat this!”…

After Tecumseh left the dining hall, Pemi gathered around the piano to briefly discuss the morning and re-calibrate their efforts for the afternoon.  Pemi clearly was facing a very prepared and motivated opponent, clearly out to send Pemi a message that last year’s victory was not well received in the Tecumseh community.  I spoke to the Boys about our commitment to each other and importance of being great teammates, especially when the contests were not going well.  There was a brief moment of silence when, all of the sudden, a voice blurted out, “We can still win!”  Well, down 9-1, Las Vegas would make that a historic long shot. Nevertheless, there was something in that young voice that broke the somberness of the situation and inspired all of us to rake a little harder, and perhaps, not take ourselves so seriously.

At Tecumseh, Kenny brought together the boys under the big oak tree overlooking Winnipesaukee.  “I’m not going to sugar coat this,” he confessed. “The results from this morning were disappointing. We can mail it in now — or we can choose to play for something that matters to us.  We have this choice before us.”  With Pemi trailing 9-1 at lunchtime on the road with our youngest campers in tow, the fifteen-and-unders had to come to grips with a very tough situation and respond.

At Pemi, when the 11’s arrived at the Dining Hill, they were an age group in turmoil.  They had let a winnable tennis match slip away and had been creamed in a baseball game.  Some of the lads weren’t necessarily handling the adversity and pressure of the day with the grace and determination necessary to move forward.  This is when excellent counseling could come in, as Payne Hadden, Will Meinke and the rest of the 11’s staff refocused the boys and guided them to one of the best performances of the day on the soccer pitch…

The Afternoon at Pemi:

…From the opening whistle, Pemi outhustled Tecumseh to every 50/50 ball, and seized a 1-0 lead when Sasha Roberts sent Ryan Bush in alone for the score.  In the second half, Tecumseh pushed forward but the defense of Will Laycock, Owen Lee, and Henry Seebeck held strong until Pemi goalie Jasper Nussbaum made an incredible save on a penalty kick to preserve a much needed victory.

The 12’s baseball team stepped onto the diamond to face another very talented side from Tecumseh. Tecumseh quickly shut down the Pemi bats while their talented short stop from Philadelphia delivered a 3-4 effort as our rivals built a 6-0 lead.  Noah Hooper and Jack Elvekrog pitched well for Pemi to keep us in the game and James Minzesheimer broke up the shut-out in the sixth inning with a clutch base hit for the final 7-1 score.  Despite the loss, Pemi played eighteen boys in this game while keeping the game close.

OwenFriedAfter Carson Hill delivered steady victory over an overtly frustrated Tecumseh opponent for Pemi’s 13’s tennis team at first singles and Jackson Trevor and Ketan Parekh won handily at first doubles, Pemi found themselves down 3-2 and needing some clutch victories to defeat the Tecumseh line-up.  After Robert Loeser defeated his gritty opponent with his own unyielding determination at fourth singles, the doubles teams of Owen Fried and Ted Orben at third doubles clinched the match when they chose to play aggressively at the net. With victories in 13’s tennis and 11’s soccer, Pemi appeared to restore some of their missing mojo.

The 12’s age group had lost all three contests heading into the swim meet.  The team came together and fought hard in the water to get a result.  Pemi won the medley relay (Elvekrog, Mangan, Boruchin, and Silver) and received first-place finish in the breast stroke (Byron Lathi) while taking second place finishes in the breast (Jack Elvekrog) Butterfly (Grady Boruchin) and free style (Luke Silver).  To win the meet, Pemi needed a second and third place finish in the free relay.  Coach Payne Hadden wisely broke up his first relay team to share some speed with his second team, and the decision was a splashing success as Pemi took first and third place to win the meet 27-25!  Well done, coach!  Well done, boys!

The 11’s mermen team swam hard but didn’t quite have the horses to deliver the victory. Frank Applebaum won the butterfly while Henry Seebeck took the breaststroke. Scott Cook actually came out of the Health Center and swam well, taking third in the IM (which Pemi won.) Medley Relayers Spencer Hill, Seebeck, Applebaum, and Ryan Bush came in ahead of their rivals, but overall the team came up short at 24-31.

OscarThe 13’s baseball team, fresh off their well-earned victory in tennis, came out and played a flawless baseball game.  Oscar Tubke-Davidson stymied Tecumseh’s bats with outstanding pitching while the defense of Patterson Malcolm at short, Jivan Khakee at third, and Grady Nance in center closed the door on any potential big innings.  Key hits by Nance and Billy Rudnick pushed Pemi to a 3-2 victory – and a 2-2 split on the day for the thirteen-and-under age group.

The Afternoon at Tecumseh:

The 10’s tennis team fell 5-2 to a very strong Tecumseh squad.  Even with Whit Courage winning fourth singles and Jamie Acocella and Eric Bush taking second doubles, Pemi unfortunately came up short in two tie-breakers in what was a very close match. Nevertheless, it was clear to everyone that the ten-year -olds had given it their all.

While the 10’s were playing tennis, the majority of both camps came to watch the fifteen-and-under soccer match.  Without much fanfare, but with a quiet determination, Pemi’s 15’s stepped onto the pitch determined to win this match.  Historically, the 15’s game is one of the most watched and hotly contested fixtures of the day.  Tecumseh rolled out a physical, kick-and-run side against Pemi’s smaller, more technical team.  In the center of the pitch, Julian Hernandez-Webster and Nick Bertrand controlled the ball and built Pemi’s attack down the flank where, Theo Long, Arthur Root, and Brandon Somp worked their magic.  When Tecumseh did hit long balls over the top, Ben Chaimberg shut down and denied any significant opportunities. Zack Leeds, shaking off his disappointment from the 15’s baseball game, delivered an incredible effort on the left flank, fighting through many hard Tecumseh challenges.  Twenty minutes into the game, Leeds pressed forward to keep the ball in Tecumseh’s half and was fouled, creating a free kick.  It was from this restart that Charlie Scott opportunistically redirected a ball home for the 1-0 Pemi lead.  Later, Hernandez-Webster, working off a set-piece corner kick carefully crafted by Coach Mark Baddeley, volleyed home Scott’s serve for the 2-0 victory.

Any past Pemi fifteen-year-old who has swum his last race at Tecumseh after a long day knows something about this coming-of-age experience on the Tecumseh waterfront.  This year’s fifteen-and-unders arrived at the waterfront feeling proud about their efforts and the result on the soccer pitch, and they channeled those feelings towards their junior companions.  Facing an historically deep and talented team with little prospect of victory, the 15’s put their total big brother energy behind Doc Nick’s wonders.  The tens, who had gone down in defeat in each of the previous contests, needed this boost of support.  The 10’s swim contest was easily one of the best of the day.

The Junior Camp Boys immediately seized control of the meet when Jack Griffiths, Charlie Howe, Grady Burke, and Kevin Miller delivered a first place in the Medley Relay.  It was all Pemi from that point forward, as Finn Lincoln, Peter Dunkel, Whit Courage, Harrison Tillou, Max Blohm ,and Ted Applebaum all delivered points for Pemi.  These boys worked hard all week, and it was impressive to see them deliver an effort and performance when swimming for pride.

Returning the Hat:

With the ring of the Mess Hall bell at Pemi, the dining hall quickly quieted for the anticipated transfer of the hat.  Danny Kerr reminded the participants to review their preparation and performance after the fashion of ski racer Bode Miller, telling them that as long as they felt they had done everything they could to play their best, they should let go of any disappointment over the result.  If they came up short on this checklist, he said, then they should make adjustments and move forward.  Mark Luff, the Tecumseh Program Director and long-time ambassador forn all things Tecumseh-Pemi (he also directs Tecumseh’s G&S), reminded us all of the unique combination of friendship and competition between these two camps.  He declared that the closeness of recent year’s contests had increased the rivalry between the two camps, yet not at the expense of the relationship.

After Danny and Mark spoke, it was my turn to give The Hat back to Tecumseh.

“Over the years, I have asked several Tecumseh campers if they knew the story of The Hat – what actually happened in early August of 1967.  They replied, “Yeah, your Director said he liked George Munger’s hat and Mr. Munger said if you beat us, you could have the hat.”  Well, knowing Tom Reed Sr.’s values and purpose in life and the deep respect George Munger likely had for competition and the work necessary to achieve at the highest levels, I can guarantee you that exchange didn’t happen. You see, back in 1967 Pemi and Tecumseh played home-and-home matches, and when Pemi lost 9-3 on the initial day, the Pemi community was upset with their performance and dedicated their remaining summer to beating Tecumseh – which, after an amazing weeks-long preparation effort, they managed in the second meeting of the year (hyper link to History of the Hat) It was Munger’s deep appreciation for Pemi’s effort that led to the tradition of The Hat.”

“Last year you lost to Pemi, and your camp community made a similar commitment to each other to reverse the result.  Your baseball teams were incredibly prepared, your soccer teams ran through the ball, your tennis players delivered clutch performances in numerous tie-breakers, and your swimmers hit the water with purpose.  In the end, winning the hat represents all of your commitment and journey together. The actual score of the day is a bi-product of hard-work and dedication to each other – and in this spirit of respect for your efforts, Camp Pemi returns this Hat to Camp Tecumseh.”  The Pemi community then rose and delivered the traditional cheer, and both camps filed out for flag lowering and a few more handshakes.

So in the end The Hat was lost, but perhaps more important life lessons were gained in the day’s journey as Pemi had to get off the mat and compete.  Counselors stepped up and delivered high quality coaching and counseling, Pemi athletes learned the importance of commitment in times of adversity, and the boys found opportunities to lead when times were challenging.  All of these learning experiences and the ranges of emotion one experiences on Tecumseh Day make up one of the many great chapters over the course of seven weeks on the shores of Lower Baker.  By the time you have read this newsletter, a group of seniors will have climbed Katahdin or the Presidential Mountain range.  Another group of uppers will have completed the Mahoosucs, and another the Kinsmans. Dozens of boys will have completed their distance swim, taken their first nature occupation, performed at campfire, or finally mastered their part in this year’s G&S, Iolanthe.  (Good seats are still available!)  Life goes on, and we are all a little richer for our annual testing with our ancient rivals. Win or lose.

Charlie Malcolm

In Pursuit of “The Hat”

Hat_groupNow that cheers in the Pemi messhall are erupting spontaneously in anticipation of Friday’s  annual competition with Camp Tecumseh—an athletic rivalry that dates back to 1908—it seems timely to reflect on the symbol of the day known affectionately—and reverently—as “the hat.” Where did the hat come from and what does it represent? 

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Saturday, August 12, 1967

Throughout the new mess hall, raucous laughter and cheering, fueled by unbridled excitement, emanate from every corner.  The energy is palpable, visible in every smile on every face in the building.  Cheers ring in the rafters: “P-E-M-I sis boom bah, Pemigewassett, Pemigewassett rah rah rah, 10-and-Under Tennis! 10-and-Under Tennis! 10-and-Under Tennis!!” The underdogs have triumphed for the first time in 11 years, in itself a magnificent accomplishment, but in light of their 9-3 loss just a few weeks before, that triumph reflects unbelievable levels of commitment, determination and cooperation among the 200-plus assemblage. Seven wins, five losses – an incredible community feat!  Gradually, at first mysteriously, the energy in the building diminishes; the noise abates. Heads start to turn toward the enormous glass facade of the structure, through which one can see another group of 200, the boys, counselors and director of Camp Tecumseh, approaching the mess hall from the outfield of our big diamond. We rise, bewildered, as the group draws closer, several Pemi counselors joining Tom, Al and Doc Nick on the porch. Meanwhile, Director George Munger leads his campers and staff up the steps of the mess hall, beckoning Tom Reed over to his side. Over four hundred people go silent now, wondering what Mr. Munger has on his mind.  Extending his hand to Tom, Mr. Munger says, “Tom, Al, Dr. Nichols, and all of you men of Pemigewassett, I represent all of my friends at Tecumseh in offering you our sincerest congratulations. We are deeply impressed with the work you have devoted to turning the tables on us and triumphing today. The spirit and effort we witnessed on the fields from all of you was extraordinary.” Mr. Munger pauses, evoking considerable clapping and some whistling. Settling the crowd with one hand and doffing his tattered straw hat with the other, Mr. Munger goes on: “Let this hat stand in testimony to your incredible work today, Camp Pemi. Our respect for you, our friends and competitors, has never been greater. On behalf of every one of us at Tecumseh, I thank you as I stand in awe of what you have accomplished!”

The Era of “The Hat”

Thus, already 59 years into a unique intercamp rivalry (the two camps first competed with one another in 1908), Pemi and Tecumseh began the era of “The Hat.” In 1967, three age groups, 10-and-Unders, 12-and-Unders and 14-and-Unders, competed in four sports: baseball, swimming, tennis and track. By 1970, Pemi’s next victorious year, soccer had replaced track as the fourth event (when the Tecumseh track meet began a new era as an invitational event comprising up to half a dozen camps). Yearning to include more boys in the competition, both camps gradually agreed to add more age groups, resulting in the five that compete today: 10-and-Unders, 11’s, 12’s, 13’s and 15-and-Unders.  And when the camps’ seasons shrank from eight to seven weeks in length, the current one-day home/away protocol was created. Today, the iconic Munger hat, long since bronzed and transformed into a trophy, symbolizes the longest and probably most passionate camp sports rivalry extant, a rivalry that eclipses most colleges’, as Tom Reed, Sr., often pointed out.

George Munger and Tom Reed, 1993

George Munger and Tom Reed, 1993

Tom Sr. also liked to remind us of the value of facing challenging competition. An impressive four-sport varsity athlete at Oberlin College, Tom certainly spoke from experience and from the heart. Despite the outcome of the day from year to year, every summer Tom inspired us to embrace the intense level of competition that Tecumseh perennially brought to the day, insisting that only by attempting to match and transcend the best Tecumseh had to offer could we play our best. No one ever doubted this, and as we have seen in recent years, in the multiple contests decided by one run, one match, one goal, or two points, the two sides truly do inspire the very best out of one another.

While the Beatles proclaimed that “All you need is love” in the summer of 1967, our mantra at Pemi was decidedly different. On the heels of the 9-3 loss at Tecumseh in early July, the Pemi staff, galvanized by swim coach Terry Sweetser, recognized the potential of the Pemi athletes and quietly decided, one and all, to take the athletic program to a higher level. Team practices consumed all of our time other than trips, meals, occupations and sleep. The investment of campers and counselors in the determination to beat Tecumseh was universal, and the real goal was simply to inspire the best out of every Pemi athlete. In that regard, August 15, 1967 was an unqualified success for the Pemi community.

July 27, 2012

Charlie_HatKidAlthough subsequent Pemi wins have been few – 1970, 1983, 1998, and 2012 – the striving and bonding that accompany our annual preparation for Tecumseh/Pemi Day have frequently matched the levels of that 1967 season. In 2011, for example, when Pemi managed an overall tie (see highlight video), despite obvious disappointments, few would argue that the camp community coalesced into a stronger, tighter family after all those games. And on July 27, 2012, once again the power of 200 plus individuals aimed at one goal inspired innumerable amazing performances (see highlight video). As Tecumseh Athletic Director Mark Luff noted, we should try to infuse our school and community sports teams with similar levels of dedication, intensity, sportsmanship and mutual respect that Tom Reed, Sr. and George Munger avidly promoted for so many years. And as Pemi Athletic Director Charlie Malcolm reflected during the 2012 celebration—with The Hat appropriately showcased on the mantel under the original Pemi Kid—though in 10 or 20 years we might not recall the score of any one contest on Tecumseh Day, as long as we live we will never forget our teammates with whom we worked so hard to triumph. “This Hat does not represent winning; it represents our journey together.”

– Fred Seebeck

Summer 2013: Newsletter #5

Hello again from Wentworth, where we are well into the fifth week of the 2013 season. As many of you veteran readers will recall, our storied rivalry with Camp Tecumseh is customarily renewed at the end of every Week Five, and this summer is no exception. We have engaged with our esteemed and talented rivals from Lake Winnepesauke virtually every year since 1908, and there is no question that this is the most important day in our entire athletic schedule. Think Harvard-Yale; Michigan-Ohio State; Red Sox-Yankees; Redskins-Cowboys. Think Super Bowl, but with over 150 boys from each camp competing in four sports (baseball, soccer, swimming, and tennis) in five age groups (10-and-under, 11s, 12s, 13s, and 15-and under.) True, we pride ourselves on being a well-rounded camp. But Friday is the athletic equivalent of the Allagash Canoe Trip for the Trip Program – or the Advanced Caving Trip for the Nature Program – or the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta and Annual Art Opening for the Arts and Music Program. As with these other events, even boys who are not participating take a keen interest in what their cabin-mates and colleagues are doing, living the truth that community can sometimes be as much about respectful attention and support as about personal participation.

Next week’s Newsletter is slated to come from Charlie Malcolm, our inspirational Director of Athletics who spends the off-season teaching History at Northfield-Mt. Hermon School, where he also coaches the boys’ varsity soccer team. This week’s, though, largely comes from Trip Counselor Dan Reed, recently returned from said Allagash canoe outing. Before we turn to Dan’s account of this most ambitious and wild of Pemi expeditions (barring, of course, Pemi West, which recently wrapped up after a spectacular 3-plus weeks in the Washington State’s Olympics including a succesful ascent of the eponymnous peak!!!), let us indulge in a little historical segue.

Early travel to Tecumseh

Early travel to Tecumseh

In the early days of camp, the pilgrimage to Tecumseh itself smacked almost as much of the trip program as of athletics. The event began with Pemi campers and staff packing sports gear, bedding, and clothing for three days and then walking the three and a half miles to the train station in Wentworth. A two-hour journey brought them to The Weirs, where they boarded the steamship Governor Endicott and travelled another hour or so to the cove where Tecumseh has its waterfront, then shuttling in small boats to get to shore. There, they established camp on the sandy beach and grass verges of the big lake, where the Four Docs built cooking fires and supervised the preparation of supper. After an evening of song and, no dount, heroic tales of past Pemi-Tecumseh clashes, everyone bedded down on the beach for the night. Shades of Henry’s troops before Agincourt (perhaps). Word has it that the mosquitoes were brutal, and rumors routinely spread that the Tecumseh management had specially ordered in millions of the tiny pests to suck the blood from their opponents of the following day. Current Pemi Nature Director Larry Davis assures us that the concept of mercenary mosquitoes was as unlikely then as it is now, but sound sleep was evidently hard to come by for our aspiring warriors on the shores of Winnepesauke. Then again, when Tecumseh journeyed to us (as they always did in what was then the home-and-home annual exchange), the tables were turned and our lads may have had the advantage of a miniscule version of blood doping. In any event, once the day’s competition was over, it was another supper and night on the beach, re-embarkation on the Endicott, a return to the train at The Weirs, then back to Wentworth for the long walk home to Pemi. You’ve all heard those stereotypical tales of how our parents or grandparent walked every day to school through five-foot snowdrifts – and uphill in both directions. In this case, there’s hardly any exaggeration involved. But, while the modern Pemi kid rides to Moultonborough Neck in a plush school bus and dines, shoulder-to-shoulder, with his Tecumseh rivals in their screened dining hall, the competition is no less intense or fulfilling. Stay tuned for Charlie’s detailed account in next week’s missive. (Read Charlie’s 2012 newsletter recounting Pemi’s 11-8-1 win!)

Now for Dan’s rendering of the Allagash trip.

It was a glorious week of paddling, bald eagle sightings, great food, and the sense of total independence from the rest of the world.  The Pemi Trip Program offers campers incredible opportunities all summer long.  We hike in the White Mountains.  We go caving in Schoharie, NY.  We explore natural wonders both local and distant.  And, for our oldest campers, we send an annual canoeing trip to the Allagash Wilderness Waterway in northern Maine.  Someone with an appreciation of puns might call this the “flagship” of our Trip Program.  This term also accurately describes the journey’s significance, as it is a celebrated trip open only to Pemi’s full-season 15-year-olds.  This year the trip was populated by ten young men – Ben Chaimberg, Zach Leeds, Nick Bertrand, Bryce Grey, Hugh Grey, Ned Roosevelt, Matt Kanovsky, Daniel Bowes, Jack Green, and Ethan Pannell – and led by former cabin counselor and division head Andy Kirk and current trip counselor Dan Reed.  The adventure was comprised of four full days paddling the Allagash, with a day on either end spent driving the 8 hours between Wentworth, NH and Allagash, ME. 

Our first day started at the ripe hour of 4:30am, when the yawning but excited crew loaded into a van at Pemi and started the long drive north.  We were soon greeted by the sunrise, and enjoyed a beautiful morning on the road.  Around noon we stopped for a refreshing lake dip in Maine’s Baxter State Park, and quickly followed with lunch at a local pizza joint.  Then we met the able crew of Katahdin Outfitters, who supplied us with canoes, paddles, and life jackets.  They drove us the final three hours along backcountry logging roads to Churchill Dam, where we set up camp for the first night.  We were greeted there by our friends the blackflies, deerflies, and horseflies, who would keep us company for the entire trip.  After setting up our tents and enjoying a dinner of burgers, spaghetti, and fresh vegetables with ranch dressing, we went down to check out the river that would carry us the entire 62 miles over the next five days.  With Andy lifeguarding, we enjoyed a belated polar bear before zipping ourselves into our tents and enjoying our first night’s riverside sleep.

Velocipede

Velocipede!

As we would for the next several days, we pulled up on shore for lunch around midday.  We refueled with sandwiches (ham/kielbasa/pepperoni and cheese, sunbutter and jelly, etc.) and a candy dessert, took a quick dip in the river, then set off across Umsaskis Lake.  Our campsite at Sandy Point was at the far end of the lake, and we pulled in at around 4pm.  Like the first night, we set up camp and enjoyed some time swimming in the river.  Dinner was plentiful with a huge pot-full of spaghetti with meat sauce.  The ever-helpful boys gladly finished off the pot and offered to clean dishes.  Another camp group pulled in and stayed at the next site over. Our experience with them and with subsequent groups reminded Andy and me of how Pemi boys’ maturity and respectful behavior on trips really sets them apart.  No wonder the AMC staff in the White Mountain huts is always happy to see a Pemi group come through!

After another good night’s sleep, we started the third day with toasted English muffins, bacon, and fried eggs.  The weather looked promising at first, but the clouds darkened as we made our way across Long Lake.  We took a break on a beach covered with flat round stones – so the obvious response was to have a rock-skipping contest.  Hugh Grey, Ned Roosevelt, and Zach Leeds ended the session at the top of the heap, each with a toss of around 20 skips.  As we paddled the latter half of the interminable lake, the skies broke open and treated us to a downpour.  Fortunately we had all our gear packed in waterproof bags, and so could enjoy the free shower, the sound of the rain on the water, and the perfect symmetrical splash made by each rain drop as it hit the surface of the river.  But New England weather is predictably unpredictable, and the sun was out and shining brightly by the time we stopped for lunch.  We enjoyed a sunny afternoon, with the occasional sighting of a bald eagle overhead or a river otter alongside the boats. 

We pulled up to the Outlet campsite on Round Pond in the mid-afternoon, with our camp setup accelerated when we observed some threatening thunderheads on the horizon.  We unearthed what we affectionately termed the Tarp Mahal, a huge 40 ft. x 24 ft. blue tarp, which would for the next few days protect our eating area from the occasional deluge.  Indeed, soon after we began making the dinner of couscous and chili, a massive thunderstorm moved overhead and parked itself there for an hour or so.  We enjoyed our immunity from the rain while eating dinner, and then settled down to sleep, enjoying the sound of the rain on our sturdy tents.

Allagash PaddlersOur third full day was a long one: fifteen miles along the river to majestic Allagash Falls.  We saw our only moose of the trip that morning, lounging in the river about 150 yards ahead of us.  The sight of twelve humans staring in awe must have made her self-conscious, because the moose climbed up the riverbank and disappeared into the forest as we came closer.  The day continued with many sightings of bald eagles.  In the minutes leading up to our arrival at our campsite that afternoon, we paddled to the growing roar of the falls ahead of us.  After having come ashore well in advance of what would have been an exciting but perhaps ill-fated waterfall experience, we set up camp and headed down below the falls for a quick swim.  Here the water is deep with a fast current, and we let ourselves float downstream a few times before calling it a day and enjoying a dinner of beef stew, mashed potatoes, and homemade tortilla chips with cinnamon and sugar. 

Our last full day on the river started with more heavy rain.  We kept dry under the tarp during breakfast, and the short day of paddling ahead of us meant that we could stay put and wait out the downpour for a few hours.  During a lull in the rain, we carried our canoes and gear down the quarter-mile path to a safe launching point downstream of Allagash Falls.  We went swimming once more beneath the falls, this time jumping from riverside rocks into the deep pool gouged out over time by the falling water.  A short 2-hour paddle brought us to East Twin Brook campsite, where we would spend our last night on the river.  There we ate an early dinner of leftovers, then went to bed along with the sun.

TentsiteA dark, pre-sunrise morning greeted us as we got up on our last day.  By now experts in campsite setup and take-down, we quickly packed up our tents, tarp, and other gear, and got onto the river as the sun came up.  We only had an hour’s paddle to our destination, where we came onshore, packed our gear into our waiting van, and started the long drive south.  Ten hours later we pulled into camp, greeted by both the familiar and new faces of Pemi’s second session.  After a week of brilliant canoeing, we were all excited to be back home.  Thanks to all the Allagash guys for a fantastic trip.  Now our attention turns to the enjoyment of the final few weeks of the summer, back on the (often) sunny shores of Lower Baker Pond.

Many thanks to Dan for this evocative account. We should say in passing that one of the pleasures of the outing for both staff members was that, thirteen years ago, Dan was an eight-year-old camper in Andy’s cabin, Junior One. Little could either of them have predicted that, over a dozen years hence, they would be co-leaders on Pemi’s most celebrated trip, Dan sharing van-driving duties with his former mentor. That’s one of the joys of Pemi, though – that longevity and continuity regularly allow for this kind of “years later” serendipity. It’s one of the things that makes us feel as much like a family as anything else.

That’s it for now. Come Friday, keep an eye on the ticker at the bottom of your ESPN screen. Win or lose, though, we’ll be throwing ourselves wholeheartedly and joyously into one of the great and timeless rituals of Pemigewassett.                                   

— Tom and Danny

Summer 2013: Newsletter # 3

Hello again to all of our gentle readers. It’s been an eventful week, replete with all the usual activities and also with our annual Fourth of July celebrations and a big athletic day thrown into the mix. The weather continues to keep us on our toes but, once again, there’s not a whole lot that we haven’t been able to do, especially if we’ve been willing to wait out a shower or two and be flexible with our schedule. Today, for example, we’re sending out two backpacking trips that had originally been slated for yesterday (an Upper 4-day to the Carter Range to the northeast of Mt. Washington and a Lower 3-day to the Kinsmans this side of Franconia Notch), four additional overnights (Lower 3-days to Mts. Moosilauke and Osceola, a trip for Upper 4 to Greenleaf Hut in the Franconia Range, and a short hike for Junior 3 up to the Pemi Shelter), and a lunch trip across the lake to Flat Rock (for Lower 1). Lots of boys have been very patient as they’ve waited for the right weather window to get off on an exciting jaunt, and we’ve been extremely impressed by the way they’ve coped with the hard realities of sensible planning.

IMG_3035After a wonderfully indulgent half-hour delay for wake-up on the Fourth, we kicked off the Big Day with our annual Pee-rade. All cabins participated in what is always a dizzyingly creative potpourri of floats/skits that treat the history of the camp, the nation, and the globe – and occasionally risk a glimpse into the post-apocalyptic future of Pemi. The entire Junior Camp made a bid to re-enact the Revolutionary War, half of them dressed in Patriot Blue, half in Tyrannical Scarlet. After being enjoined by what we think must have been an a-historical referee to engage in “a nice clean war,” the two sides clashed thunderously together until cooler heads prevailed – leading to a truce sealed when Kevin Miller and Marco Zapata laid aside their imaginary weapons and shook hands in explicit preparation for being allies in WW II. Given the number of Brits we have on our staff, it was good to see our past national differences so happily set aside.

IMG_3043Amongst the Lower Lowers, Cabin 3 garnered the esteemed judges’ top honors with a highly-topical skit about the Pemi Investigative Agency (yes, we’ve heard about the NSA up here) foiling various murky activities about camp. The highlight was Rafe Forward popping out of a laundry bag to bust a ring of clothing thieves. Also worth noting was the inaugural appearance in Pemi “lore” of Heather Leeds, one of the lynchpins of our office staff. Played in the skit with chilling verisimilitude by Jackson Morrell, Heather can now rest assured that she has achieved mythic status at Pemi. Laurels amongst Upper Lowers were snatched by Lower 5 with “A Pemi Infomercial,” documenting all sorts of institutional mismanagement from Waterfront Head Paige Wallis being more interested in texting than minding the safety of her swimmers to staff members crippling innocent campers in a fierce game of Frisbee Running Bases. Nick Ridley’s boys, led by smooth-voiced narrator Lucas Gaffney, earned a big bag of Skittles for their efforts. Sadly, all of them have been named by Danny in a defamation suit about which you should soon be hearing in the national news.

IMG_3080Upper 3 snatched up a motif from Danny’s earlier Sunday Meeting talk about the musical influences in his life and traced the history of “The Pemi Five” all the way from a 1908 a capella group through the foundation of The Silver Cornet Band. Music does live on at Pemi, and Henry Eisenhart’s boys parleyed that truth into scads of sucrose. Fortunately, the judges were weighing acting talent more heavily than musical chops, as Miles Davis has nothing to fear from Kevin Lewis’s trumpet playing – nor Carlos Santana or Eric Clapton from Caleb Tempro’s or Owen Fried’s chops on guitar. Finally, Senior Three jammed authentic Pemi History into a tried-and-true Hollywood formula with “The Pemi Justice League,” casting things as recent as the Mystery of the Disappearing Pickle Barrel (ask your sons!) and as ageless as our rivalry with Camp Tecumseh into the mode of Super Hero vs. Arch Villain confrontation. Special kudos go to Hugh Grey as the spitting image of Head of Staff and Former Trippie Jamie Andrews – and Matt Kanovsky as a bug-net clad preserver of the natural world. All in all, this year’s Pee-rade made it clear that imagination, energy, and irreverence live on in equal measure in the seething brain of The Pemi Kid!

oreoThe afternoon involved the entire camp being divided into six teams (mixed age-groups, with Juniors pitching in with Seniors as equal partners) playing a round-robin tournament in various whiffle-ball venues and competing in such arcane activities as dice-stacking (five at a go, arrangeable only with the assistance of the plastic cup in which they came) and Forehead-to-Mouth Oreo Transfer (look, Ma! No hands!). Maybe you had to be there! The afternoon was sunny and warm, and a good time was had by all – everyone, btw, slathered in sunscreen and hyper-hydrated.

That evening, in the Messhall, Danny awarded silver Revere Ware bowls to the campers and staff for whom this is the fifth year here. We’re always especially happy to recognize folks for whom Pemi has been such an important and constant enterprise. This year’s campers were Andrew Appleby, Noah Belinowitz, Sam Berman, Nick Case, Dylan Cheng, Alex and Jon Duval, Crawford Jones, Hugh Jones, Andrew Kanovsky, Kevin Lewis, Alex Marshman, Tom Moore, Greg Nacheff, Reed O’Brien, Nick Oribe, Dash Slamowitz, Caleb Tempro, Nicholas Gordon, John Stevenson, Graham Cromley, Bryce Grey, Henry Jones, and Nick Toldalagi. 5-year staff veterans included Buck Baskin, Nick Davini, Dorin Dehls, Heather Leeds, Stan Barlow, Nathan Tempro, and Brandon Hendrickson.

Wrapping up the day was the annual Fourth of July Vaudeville, ably hosted by Ian Axness and Teddy Gales. We’ll be sparing with details, as this letter is threatening to run long, but we must mention that the 106th embodiment of the Pemigewassett Silver Cornet Band lived up to every expectation. Among stellar camper soloists were Noah Belinowitz on saxophone, Matt Edlin on French horn, and Emmanual Abbey on drums. Other noteworthy camper acts included Robert Loeser singing “America the Beautiful” (when does Robert ever not stop the show?) and Reed O’Brien with a remarkably skilled piano improvisation. Chopin or Keith Jarrett, watch out. Finally, and almost literally bringing down the house, this year’s iteration of “The Little People” (now known as the Pemi Peewees) made camp history: four wee ones, two boys as always (played by staff brothers Nick and Ben Ridley) and, for the first time ever, two girls (Paige and Bryce Wallis). The theme was Merriwood Day – that flirtatious time of year when our older campers fraternize with the lasses up the valley at an excellent girls’ camp – and the effect of it all was a split-screen look at the fevered preparation on both sides of the gender line. We’re not sure if a Pemi audience has ever laughed harder.

We’ll leave our account of the past week at that. Now for a brief word from Danny on one of the more interesting recent developments in the camp program.

Greetings from Lower Baker! It is hard to believe that we are beginning our third week at Pemi and that plans are already well under way for end-of-first-half festivities like the Birthday Banquet and mid-season awards. Despite the somewhat unpredictable weather of these opening days (as we say in New England, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes!”), the first two weeks have been incredibly busy, with our four program areas – Athletics, Arts & Music, Trips, and Nature (so beautifully coordinated by Assistant Director extraordinaire Ken Moore) – all re-establishing themselves as vibrant facets of life here at Pemi. As I walk from the playing fields to the waterfront, from the Nature Lodge to the Art Building, and from music lessons to the archery range each day, it is inspiring to see our talented teachers sharing the expertise and love of their particular activities. Indeed, after envisioning just this scene all winter, it is quite uplifting to see it in action!

One of the most exciting opportunities we offer our boys each summer is the chance to take occupations with staff members whom we refer to as “Visiting Professionals,” the veteran and professional teachers, craftsmen, and scholars who come to Pemi each summer for a “visit” and to share their passion and knowledge in their field of expertise. Most of our Visiting Professionals are teachers, retired teachers, or professionals in their field who would love nothing more than to spend their entire summer at Pemi but who can commit only to a shorter stint because of the demands on their time back in their “real lives.” So, feeling mutually that it’s a “win/win” to have these folks here for part of the summer, we bring them in, tell the boys about the opportunities that await them, and then witness and enjoy the infusion of energy, wisdom, and skill these highly skilled and energetic people bring to Pemi each summer.

Who are these Visiting Professionals, you ask? In the past couple of summers, we’ve had visits from people like Andy Bale, who teaches photography at Dickinson College, Trey Blair, head baseball coach at Kentucky Country Day School, and Phil Laundry, who runs a fly-fishing business in and around his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. In 2013, we are fortunate enough to have four Visiting Professionals join our learning community: Dave Huippi, Jim Dehls, Stephen Broker, and Conner Scace. Let me tell you a bit about each! 

SteveBrokerSteve Broker is a retired high school and college ecology teacher and current state bird recorder for the great state of Connecticut. Steve joined the Nature Program and spent the first week at Pemi teaching ornithology and an occupation called “reading the woods,” which taught the boys how to unravel the history of our beautiful wooded area through the lingering clues of prior settlement and development, the natural environment, and wetland ecology. Stephen was introduced to Pemi many years ago, as his father Tom was the Waterfront Director here in the 1930’s! When asked about his return to Pemi this summer, Steve offered this: “It was a thrill to finally follow in my father’s footsteps. He always spoke so reverently about his days at Pemi. I look forward to returning next summer and hopefully for many summers beyond.” Sounds good to us, Steve!

DaveDave Huippi comes to us via Northfield Mount Hermon School, where he teaches math and is the varsity boy’s lacrosse coach as well. Dave’s past includes stints coaching and teaching at both the Salisbury School in Lakeville, CT and the Bement School in Deerfield, MA after having played lacrosse for sixteen years at Milton Academy, Trinity College, and for Finland’s national team beginning in 2005. “I’ve heard so much about Pemi from my friend and colleague at Northfield Mount Hermon, Charlie Malcolm. There’s nothing I enjoy as much as teaching lacrosse, no matter what level my players are. It is a pleasure and honor to join the Pemi community for three weeks this summer!” It’s great having Dave with us, especially given that claim to get as much of a charge out of teaching boys who have never held a lacrosse stick as from coaching advanced players.

Jim Dehls is a former Pemi camper and counselor (1959-1965 and 1968) and now parent to daughter Dorin Dehls who is back for her fifth summer at Pemi. Jim’s passion is music, and while at Pemi this week he will be teaching drum circle, assisting with Gilbert and Sullivan, and teaching a cappella. Jim taught high school chorus in Groton, CT for 25 years and is presently the Director of Music at Christ Church Episcopal in Pomfret, CT., where he also teaches private voice and piano lessons. Jim says about his time at Pemi, “I get more back than I give! I love the place so much, how nice for me to be able to re-join the staff again after so many years away!” Jim, by the way, was a primo water-ski instructor in 1968 and one of his goals for this week is to get back out on a slalom ski after years and years on dry land. That’s just the kind of spirit we love to see in Pemi alums!

Conner Scace is no stranger to teaching at Pemi, having worked here the past three summers. This year, Conner’s teaching and schooling schedule prevented a full summer in Wentworth, but we are thrilled to be able to take advantage of his expertise as an entomologist once again. During the year, Conner is studying to teach science full-time in the classroom. “I wish I could be here full-time again this summer, but I am so excited to at least be able to spend three weeks at Pemi, despite the demands on my time!” We share in his excitement – and only wish you could see how excited Conner is able to get your sons about this or that species of ants. Talk about energizing our awareness of even the tiniest denizens and elements in our valley!

So, while we feel very confident that our day-to-day summer staff provides excellent instruction every day for the boys, this infusion of professional instructors for a few weeks each summer is quite the boon. They bring not only their expertise but also, in each case, a real love of education and an appreciation of all that Pemi does so well.

Well, we reckon that about does it for this week. Farewell for now. When next we write, our first-session boys will almost unbelievably be home – and our second session campers will have just arrived for their own 3½ weeks. We can’t wait to greet them, but we will assuredly miss our companions of these most recent slightly dampened weeks. Here’s to a wonderful rest of the summer for all.

— Tom and Danny