Camp Pemigewassett 2020 Summer

Dear Pemi Families,

Every Saturday night during the season, we end our campfire with the song that asks, “I wonder if anyone’s better for anything I’ve done or said, and whether good will in the heart may offset mistakes of the head.” While our hearts are undeniably eager to open Pemi for 2020, everything we currently know and can reasonably project about the course of COVID-19 in the coming months tells us that opening this year risks being a grave mistake of the head. As a result, the Pemi Board and Managing Directors, informed by a galaxy of governmental, public health, and camping entities, have reached the very difficult but unanimous decision to cancel all camper sessions for 2020.

Throughout Pemigewassett’s 113-year history, we have never before failed to open for a summer season. We made it safely through two world wars, the Spanish flu, an outbreak of viral pneumonia, the polio siege of the 1950s, and, most recently, 2009’s swine flu. We have always felt confident that we could keep camp safe and healthy for our campers and staff, despite the many and varied challenges. 2020 is different. Without readily available point-of-care diagnostic testing, antibody testing, or an effective vaccine, we simply cannot be sure of keeping the novel coronavirus out of camp. Without an effective therapy, we cannot minimize the threat to any camper or staff member who might contract the disease and, consequently, threaten the families and communities to which they would have to return. Social distancing is the only effective response at the moment, and Pemi’s infrastructure and program are irreversibly based on the communal living that is at the center of the traditional camping experience.

This was obviously an extremely difficult decision for us to reach. Boys have never needed a summer of togetherness, accomplishment, and mutual support more than they do right now. We understand—and share to our core—the great disappointment that will be felt by the boys who have enrolled for this season (especially this year’s wonderful group of 15s), by their parents, by our excellent and eager staff, and by the thousands of Pemi veterans out in the world at large who know first-hand how much each successful camp season means to everyone who is part of it. Pemi has always been in the business of teaching boys and young men that success and happiness in life are founded on determination and resolve and the courage to identify what it is you want—and then the willingness to throw yourself, 100%, into making it happen. It’s that resilient spirit that animates us right now as we look forward with eagerness to the 2021 season. But we also teach Pemi boys that the fulfilling life is about careful planning and risk assessment and not allowing sheer will and strong desire blind you to hard realities. That’s where we are right now.

Looking ahead, we encourage you to adhere to all sensible, official guidelines for managing life in a time of COVID-19. But while you are safe at home or venturing cautiously out, we hope you will reach out to your Pemi friends, young and old, to share a kind word, whether on your own or in ways that Pemi facilitates. To lead the way, Danny and Kenny have prepared a video message so you can hear from them directly today. They look forward, in the days that follow, to checking in with all of you campers personally via phone.

Parents will be receiving an email from us laying out refund, rollover, or gifting options for the deposits and tuition you have paid.

Pemi missives traditionally end with our special banquet toast, Good Luck, Long Life, and Joy! We need to take some time to mourn our loss of the regular 2020 season. Let’s also, though, resolve to be our best selves at this trying moment, to be kind to one another, to stay healthy, and, finally, to find joy in all the unexpected places our new reality has opened up for us.

Tom Reed, Jr.
For the Pemi Board of Directors

COVID-19 Update – April 7

April 7 Update

Pemi Families and Friends,

In this uncertain, unprecedented time, some things remain firm and constant, none of them more important than our commitment to our mission and to the welfare of the broad Pemi community.

As Parent Questionnaires have started to pour in, many of you have wondered if Pemi might not open this summer, while at the same time telling us how hopeful you and your boys are that the 2020 season will take place. Indeed, your boys are also “our boys,” and we share both your questions and your hopes, especially as we head into these next few weeks, which should be telling. With the promise of transparency for our families and with a great hope of being able to provide all of the benefits a summer at Pemi will bring to your sons, we are taking all the steps necessary to determine the best path forward for the 2020 season. The health and safety of our extended camp family—our campers, parents, alumni, staff, vendors, suppliers, and our Wentworth neighbors—remain central to every conversation.

Since our previous communication, the Pemi Board of Directors met by Zoom last weekend to consider the prospect of Pemi 2020, drawing on thoughts gleaned from a small focus group of parents convened earlier in the week. Among the many topics related to current challenges, we looked at the calendar to consider key dates for upcoming decisions. We anticipate having significantly more information on May 4, after the New Hampshire stay-at-home order has been reconsidered by Governor Sununu. We expect to be able to make an announcement soon thereafter regarding whether we will be able to welcome our First Session and Full Session boys on June 27, or if we will have to consider alternatives.

Despite the uncertainties that will take clearer shape in the coming weeks, we are preparing for the season with all of our efforts going towards identifying and creating the infrastructure that must be in place for us to consider opening safely and that can be dependably maintained throughout the season. For Pemi, this means not only proceeding with the preparations that always occurs in April and May —staff hiring and contracts, opening and preparing the grounds after the long winter, processing forms, and staff onboarding and training throughout June—but also planning and implementing the additional protocols, staff hires, supply purchases, and facilities that could be required to operate in the time of Covid-19. Predictably, these additional concerns and requirements are augmented daily as we monitor the evolving situation and engage with our many resources.

For parents, however, we know that an important immediate question concerns payments and refunds. Here is what we can tell you at this time…

Withdrawal deadline extended: We’re extending the traditional May 1 “withdrawal” deadline to June 1, to enable and encourage families to stay enrolled until further information is available. This means that you may still request a full refund of your tuition until June 1, by which time we certainly will have clarity on the summer.

Freezing tuition payments: The next scheduled payment for our families is April 15, but at this time it makes sense to delay the next payment date for tuition until later in the spring.

Please know that in the event that a camp session must be cancelled, we will provide timely notice and anticipate offering families a number of options, including but not limited to:

* Re-enrollment in a special, modified 2020 session (if we go this route)
* Roll-over of your 2020 deposit to 2021
* Roll-over of paid tuition to the 2021 season
* Full refund (including deposit)
* Gifting a chosen amount to Camp Pemigewassett

Our next scheduled email update will be on or about April 21. Then, or earlier, we anticipate distributing a survey for parents to provide us with more information to help us in our planning as we consider some possible outcomes. As a reminder, should you miss one of our direct email communications, they will be posted on our blog.

As always, thank you for your support, your understanding, and your commitment to Camp Pemigewassett. Just as we weathered the Spanish Flu in 1918 and viral pneumonia in 1942, we will get through this Covid-19 pandemic!

In the meantime, as we do the right thing by hunkering down in our individual homes, our appreciation for community and connection—the simple pleasures of singing, playing, living, and learning together—grows stronger by the day. Until we are next in touch, let us know if we can help in any way.

As always, good luck, long life, and joy!

Danny Kerr, Director
Kenny Moore, Director
Tom Reed, Jr., Board President

Camp Pemi’s Response to COVID-19

March 24 Update

Pemi community,

Two weeks ago, Directors Kenny Moore and Danny Kerr, along with Pemi Board President Tom Reed, sent Pemi’s first update on our response to COVID-19 to our current families. You will find that message from March 10 below.

Since then, our COVID-19 committee, Pemi’s administrative team, and Board of Directors have discussed this situation on an almost daily basis. Leaning on information from the medical community and government agencies, we continue to monitor the evolving issues surrounding Coronavirus. The health and safety of our camp community, our campers, parents, alumni, & staff, is paramount and central in each conversation. 

In a broader spectrum, we’re also meeting weekly with directors of our neighboring camps: Merriwood, Moosilauke, and Kingswood. This group is likely to expand to include a few others with whom we have close ties. We’re all in this together, and the camaraderie, respect, and affection for one another that we share is especially buoying at this time.

The New Hampshire Camp Directors Association has reached out to all member camps (~100) and will act as a key resource for us. The organization will serve to speak with one voice as we seek guidance from those agencies whose support we will need as summer draws near. Our own Kenny Moore sits on the board of nhcamps.org, so we should be among the first to hear news as it emerges over the coming weeks and months.

During an uncertain time, frequent and transparent communication is essential in moving forward together as one camp community. Although we are scattered throughout the world, the Pemi spirit is alive and well. Stay tuned to Pemi’s Facebook page and Instagram account for new and creative ways to connect with the Pemi community. We look forward to bringing Pemi into your home very soon.

Our next scheduled update will follow the Board of Directors meeting on April 4 & 5. At that time, we will be back in touch to share further news and information. Should you miss one of our direct email communications, they will be posted on our blog.

Until then, Good luck, long life, and joy!

March 10 Update

Dear Pemi Families and Friends,

Though Opening Day of our 2020 season is still months away, we are looking forward with growing eagerness to a wonderful, active summer in the White Mountains, where our campers can be unplugged and relieved from the stresses of hype and social media, knowing that the adults charged with their care will remain, as always, connected and vigilant.

Pemi’s long history means that we have had considerable experience with challenging communicable disease outbreaks in the past, including the swine flu epidemic of 2009. You can be sure that we will respond to the national and international presence of COVID-19 in ways that rigorously prioritize the health and safety of your sons—always our topmost considerations.

One of the hallmarks of Pemi over the years has been our clear and timely communication with parents and guardians of our campers. Although Opening Day is still over three months away, you can expect to hear from us over the coming weeks and months with relevant updates based on the evolving situation and the advice of government agencies and the medical community.

We are monitoring global and regional developments with the novel coronavirus on a daily basis through the information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, World Health Organization, and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. We encourage you to refer to these and other professional sources for factual and objective information.

Meanwhile, we have formed a special committee, made up of directors, board members, and a pediatric emergency room physician who is a veteran of our summer staff to lead our response as we prepare for the season in the most thoughtful and professional way possible. We have also been directly in touch with the American Camp Association, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, and other excellent summer camps in our area to identify best practices and plan for the summer, most all of which reflect the high standards that we have implemented in the past and are familiar with.

For now, thank you for your trust in Camp Pemigewassett. Do feel free to contact us with any emerging questions or concerns.

Best to you all,

Tom Reed, Jr., Board President
Danny Kerr, Director
Kenny Moore, Director

Links of Interest

Cans from Campers – Video describing our Opening Day Food Drive

Pemi 2019 Video Slideshow

Why Summer Camp? – The American Camp Association

Alumni Magazine – News and Notes – February 2020

Welcome to the next installment of the Alumni Newsletter. This edition, Alumni News and Notes, offers updates from members of our Alumni Community, whether that be former campers, staff, or parents and friends! We invite you to write your own update in the comments section of the blog post via the Pemi website.

CONGRATULATIONS

Mike, Andrew, and Rob – August 2019

Andrew Billo got engaged to Annie Schaeffing on top of Mt. Cube in August and then celebrated the day with family and friends, including Rob Verger, Roselle Chen, and Mike Sasso near Bradford, VT. They will get married in August 2020 in Lyme, NH, with Rob Grabill officiating and Rob Verger, Mike Sasso, and James Finley joining the wedding party. Recently, Andrew was also appointed to a new role at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in New York, where he is responsible for mobilizing support for reproductive health needs and the prevention of gender-based violence in humanitarian crises around the world.

The New Hampshire Environmental Educators recently elected Larry Davis to their Board of Directors for a two-year term!

Willy Friendman – “I wanted to share that on Monday, November 25th, my wife Jess Smith and I welcomed Margot Eliza Friedman to the family. Everyone’s happy, healthy, and waiting for Pemi to start accepting girls! :)”

Chris, Kendra, and Olivia McKendry

Chris McKendry and his wife Kendra welcomed their daughter Olivia to the world on November 27th, 2019. The two married in 2016 with the wedding being officiated Kenny Moore. Residing in southern California, Chris has worked in the automotive/motorsports industry for the last ten years while Kendra has enjoyed a multitude of roles in the food industry.

Will Murtha (camper 1995-1996, staff 1999 & 2001) and his wife Lauren celebrated the birth of their son Finn Robert Murtha in January of 2020. They reside in Oakland, California, where Lauren works as a nurse practitioner and Will in renewable energy. Will is already eyeing Pemi as an opportunity to connect his son to the New England environs in which he grew up.

Rory Shaw

On January 22, 2020, Conor Shaw and his wife Rachel Clark celebrated the birth of their first child—Rory Germain Shaw. Both Rory and his mother are doing well. It’s not clear yet whether Rory will be nicknamed hardtack or bean—but they have plenty of time to chew it over.

Thurman Smith recently published “Supreme Damage: Rescuing Representative Government from Judicial Overreach.”  Check it out as an e-book or paperback.

Riley Smythe

Doug Smythe shares the following, “My wife and I are still living and working in Philly. My wife, Emily, is a pediatrician. She’s in her 2nd year of residency at the Philly children’s hospital (CHOP). I work for Toll Brothers (national real estate developer) doing acquisitions and development. We welcomed a new family member last summer with the birth of our daughter Riley. She’s coming up on 6 months and doing great.

Critter Tamm is engaged and getting married on June 6th in upstate NY to Drew Bishop. Expect many Pemi Alumni to be in attendance and a stirring rendition of ‘Bloomer Girl’ to be sung, captured, and shared on social media soon thereafter. Critter and Drew live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Critter works at JP

Eli Miller

Morgan Asset Management focused on our Digital Strategy, quickly approaching his 10 year mark there in June. He recently completed my MBA from NYU Stern this past summer.

Johanna Zabawa and her husband Nick Salay welcomed daughter Charlotte (Charlie) Zabawa Salay on October 9th 2019. They look forward to introducing Charlie to Pemi in summer 2020. Charlie looks forward to growing into her Camp Pemi onesie, going for her first hike up Mt. Cube, and rest hour!

Eli Naftali Miller was born May 26, 2019 to proud parents Jeff and Michelle Miller!

PEMI ENCOUNTERS

“I recently visited Peter and Cassandra Siegenthaler to see their baby son, Julius,” Ian Axness shares, “which was wonderful and profound. I’m starting my second decade in NYC by conducting a performance exploration of “La Bohème” at Mannes School of Music, applying to grad school, and continuing to play freelance piano all over town. (Just recorded an accompaniment track with Willie Zabar for a comedy bit!)”

Sandy Bryant ran into Doug Eisenhart a few weeks ago who said that Henry continues to be well and keeps in touch with Pemi friends. Doug recently retired as Director of Career Services from Simmons College.

Jacob Smalley, former camper and Assistant Counselor in 2020, had this story to tell about running into a Pemi cabin mate: Jacob plays for a soccer club called GPS (Global Premier Soccer) and on the weekend after Thanksgiving, at a statewide tournament, he played against a team called the Boston Bolts. “It was bitterly cold and I wasn’t sure it was him at first,” writes Jacob, “but when I got onto the field, I heard his teammates say his name and sure enough, it was Arlo Grey! Arlo was in my cabin in Senior 2!”

IN MEMORIAM

Pemi received word that Wes Ackley died on January 10th, his obituary can be found here. Wes spent 10 total summers at Pemi, starting as a camper in 1952 and then for a number of years on staff in the early 1960s. During his years on staff, he served as the leader of the Intermediate Campcraft and Trip Program, introducing countless boys to the mountains.

Bill Dickerman died on January 14 at his home in Rindge, NH. Bill’s tenure at Pemi started in 1958 as a camper, and over the course of his 11 summers he dutifully led the Junior Camp as a Division Head and Head of Junior Camp. In 1977 & 1978, Bill served as the Assistant Director, overseeing one of the most successful years of the Trip Program. A career educator, Bill loved the outdoors.

Paul Greene passed away on December 27, 2019 shares daughter Carolyn Dalgliesh. “He was an amazing man and will be missed tremendously.  He truly loved his summers at Camp Pemi and passed on the gift and love of summer camp to all of his children and grandchildren.”

Ray Murphy died on December 22, 2019, he was 86 years old. He and his younger brothers, Bill and Bob, attended Pemi from 1944 to 1948. Ray enjoyed playing in the Silver Coronet Band during his Pemi days and loved playing five different instruments. He played baseball and enjoyed swimming as well!

Ray’s love of Pemi led him to send Dan (1971 to 1975) and Patrick (1977 – 1982) as second generation campers! In more recent history, a third generation of the Murphy family tree graced the shores of Lower Baker with Danny and Jacob Murphy and James Minzesheimer all attending in the 2000’s. Danny is now in his second year at Georgetown Law School and will be competing in the Moot Court National Championship this February in NYC. He has accepted an Internship with Ropes and Gray in Boston for the Summer of 2020. Dan, the elder, has enjoyed meeting a few Pemi alums while working on Nantucket in the summer. He also continues to enjoy his work as a Trustee and Vice-President of the Rittner Fund.

ALUMNI NEWS

Scott Anthony offers the following – Since it has been over 50 years, I suppose it might be time for an update! I was a camper through CIT from 1957 through 1966, and, as I have told many people, the summers at Pemi basically influenced the entire course of my life. My professional life as a musician began with hearing Barney Prentice, a camper who was a year older than I in Lower 3 (I think) during the 1959 season, playing banjo. I was hooked! I now make half my living above Social Security playing banjo professionally, as I have for the last 50+ years (santhony.com/banjo). My love of nature, inspired by Clarence Dike at Pemi, led to a degree in Ecology at Dartmouth in 1970 and indirectly to my other career as a fine artist (santhony.com) that has relatively recently been re-ignited.

From 1974 to 2006, I lived in San Francisco where my ex-wife still lives in a house we built in 1978 up on Potrero Hill. From 1976 to 1984, I played intermissions for the Turk Murphy Jazz Band at Earthquake McGoon’s five nights a week, and during the day painted watercolor and acrylic landscapes and seascapes. I was a house-husband, helping to raise two wonderful daughters, my older one, Alix, a teacher at Julia Morgan School in Oakland and the other, Katie, an RN in Chapel Hill, NC. When the art market pretty much died around 1987 or 1988, I needed to find a new source of income so I taught myself computer programming and was first, a contract developer and then later an employee programmer with a couple of Bay Area companies. Since 2006, I have been living with my current wife, Karen, in Pacifica, just south of SF, playing lots of music, painting lots of paintings and occasionally writing software to fill personal or artistic needs. To keep my brain working I have also done a bunch of website work for the now defunct San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation (learning PHP and WordPress) and some book design and layout.

Very best wishes for 2020!!!

Jonathan Belinowiz (1968-1971) just started a new job with small Managed Service Provider (MSP) called FlightPath IT.  FlightPath IT provides internet, security, backup, networking, cloud solutions and disaster recovery to medium and small businesses in the greater Boston area.

John Brossard (1965 & 1966) shares that he and his wife Amy are now grandparents of a beautiful little girl, Seraphina, born November 7.

(l-r) John’s son-in-law Heath Harmon, eldest daughter Aubrey Harmon, new daughter-in-law Laura Stebbins, daughter Anna, wife Mary and John.

John Carman (1964-1978) and his wife Mary are busy remodeling their home in Louisville, KY, and plan on visiting Maine and Pemi sometime this year. This past July, John’s daughter Anna, a Pemi West Alum (2006), married Laura Stebbins in Estes Park, Colorado. Both are medical professionals and plan to move back to Kentucky this year to be closer to their families.

Henry Chapman took a job in Kansas City working for the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office studying homicides and non-fatal shootings. He just finished up a year on the road traveling with his girlfriend to 36 states, visiting State and National Parks on their way. They also hiked 1,200-miles on the Pacific Crest Trail!

Peter Cloutier shares an update, “Last summer, I started a new job as Growth & Partnerships Lead at ChaseDesign, a leading retail marketing, strategy, and design firm.  They have offices in the Battery Park area in NYC, where I spend most days, and are headquartered in the finger lakes region of NY State in a small but beautiful town called Skaneateles.  All good and loving the new challenge.” Son Matt Cloutier is currently interning with NPR’s Ted Radio Hour at their HQ offices in Washington, DC. The internship ends in late May, just the right timing for Pemi 2020!

Fred Fauver is volunteering on a build of a replica of Virginia, the first ship built in Maine, 1607, by the short-lived Popham colony of English settlers. https://mfship.org/

Emilie Geissinger writes in, “I have been living in Newfoundland, Canada for almost 4 years now working on my PhD in Biology at Memorial University. My research focuses on overwinter survival of young Atlantic cod. When I am not doing research, I am either volunteering as a coding instructor, teaching coding languages to researchers, or enjoying numerous outdoor activities in Newfoundland. I plan to finish my PhD in the next year (hopefully) and continue research in arctic and sub-arctic fish ecology (somewhere North).

AJ Guff is finishing up the 2nd year of a 2-year MBA program at University of Chicago Booth. He just accepted an offer to join Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Leveraged Finance team back in NYC after graduation. Soon, AJ will be participating in the Chicago Polar Bear Club’s Polar Plunge in Lake Michigan, deciding to raise money for the Rittner Fund, and has set up a donor page here:   https://lpbcfundraising.com/participant/1201549 .

Davis Morrell, Jordan Morrell, and Dan Kasper

Dan Kasper and Jordan Morrell collectively checked a few items off of their bucket lists in recent months. First, they reunited in August in Seattle to catch the Rolling Stones performance—some 20+ years after they first saw the world’s greatest rock and roll band together. Then in October they came together to attend the World Series in DC and cheer on their beloved Washington Nationals to their first World Series victory. They were joined by Jordan’s brothers (and Pemi alums)—Jarrett and Geoff—as well as Jordan’s son, Davis, who will be attending Pemi this summer! They also met up with Pemi alum, Noah Trister, at the ballpark.

After 25 years of practicing law, Ben Larkin decided to do something completely different. He is now working with alumni, parents, and friends of New Hampton School – doing a little fundraising and spreading the good word about the school.  He keeps in touch from time to time with Charlie Malcolm, Lance Latham, and Rob and Deb Grabill.  And, of course, he sees a guy named Russ Brummer on just about a daily basis there on the campus at New Hampton.

In Feb of last year, Dave Nagle accepted a position at Actron Engineering, in Clearwater. They are an Aerospace and Defense contractor.

Walt Newcomb and his wife will celebrate their 44th wedding anniversary on the 3rd of April. “We are writing this from Paris where we’ve spent the past 10 days with our son Charles (Chuck!) and his spouse. Bendy and I traveled to Vietnam for a week, then in Malaysia for 2 weeks, then on to Singapore for 5 days. Our daughter and son-in-law, Virginia & Chris Smith, are expecting their second child, a boy and potential future Pemi camper, in May. If all goes well, he may be the 4th Newcomb descendant to attend Pemi.” [Editors Note – Huzzah!]

Stephen Funk Pearson has recently added the Hemingway Cottage to the options at his property on Lake Winnisquam. They can now host 35 plus people in their cabins. “NH Audubon let me know that the first Osprey nest in the Lakes Region (since the 60’s)  has produced 43 fledged chicks in its 20 years of service. (cabinsonthecove.com).

Peter Rapelye moved back to Massachusetts last year after 15 years in Princeton, NJ, where his wife Janet was Dean of Admissions at Princeton University. She is now President of COFHE, headquartered at MIT. Peter has been elected Vice President of the Board of Trustees for the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society.

Matt Sherman is working for Tesla in Reno, Nevada, but this past year had the chance to work on some projects at the new Shanghai Gigafactory. He was there for almost two months as part of getting electric cars to more of the world’s population faster.

Dan atop of Mt. Cube

In the meantime, Matt has enjoyed exploring the Lake Tahoe area on hikes in the summer and ski weekends in the winter.

Dan Snyder writes, “I spent the fall of 2019 recharging after handing over the keys at MolecularMD and looking for the next chapter. My recharging included a week in New Hampshire and a beautiful Fall hike up Cube. I recently took a role to leading the commercial efforts at Tasso, a Seattle based venture that has developed a new user friendly, painless blood collection device for a range of testing applications.  No more finger pricks 🙂 Excited to work with this great team of people.”

Good luck, long life, and joy! –Kenny Moore

Pemi Counselor Internship Initiative

In the fall of 2018, Pemi identified an emerging challenge and started to brainstorm. Increasingly, our best staff members were finding it difficult to return for that third or fourth season, the one where their wisdom and experience make a huge difference for the Pemi community. Instead, in this intensely competitive national work climate, they felt pressure to diversify their resumes by securing a professional internship to improve their odds at landing an ideal job. So we thought, our alumni and parent networks are vast; let’s connect our most talented counselors—the ones we really want to keep in the fold for an additional summer or two—with a 4-to 6-week internship designed to take place between the end of their undergraduate school year in the early spring and before the start of their summer work at Pemi. By facilitating our counselors in this way, we might also allow them to extend their time at Pemi, taking on positions with increased responsibilities that they are unlikely to be offered in other work settings. We called our idea the “Pemi Counselor Internship Initiative.”

The Program Launches

For over a century, counselors at Pemi have developed essential life skills that are sought after in the wider world: leadership techniques, oral and written communication skills, time-management routines, the ability to solve problems and guide others to do the same, and all while working with others in a communal setting. Generations of counselors who have graduated to the broader working world tell us that these skills that they acquired during their summers as counselors at Pemi have served them incredibly well in any number of professional work settings.

So, last winter, we asked three alumni about Pemi’s idea to facilitate meaningful connections for our counselors through professional internships. They not only responded enthusiastically, but each went on to create a spring internship position within his field, allowing three talented Pemi counselors to gain crucial professional experience and to return to work at camp for the summer. We give hearty thanks to Greg Bowes (Albright Capital, Washington, D.C.), Bob Hogue (In-Depth Engineering, Columbia, MD), and Roger McEniry (Dolan McEniry Capital Management LLC, Chicago, IL) for helping us launch the Pemi Counselor Internship Initiative.

Year 1 of the Pemi Counselor Internship Initiative

Daniel coaching 10 and Under Basketball

After nine summers at Pemi—seven as a camper and two as a counselor—Daniel Bowes hoped to return to Pemi in 2019. Daniel, an Economics major in the College of Business and Economics at Lehigh University, also sought a traditional internship in financial services, economics, or consulting fields that would be a valuable steppingstone to serve his long-term professional goals. Daniel was conflicted, as an internship would rule out a return to Pemi, even though he was ready to assume a position at camp that would give him greater managerial experience.

Alumnus Roger McEniry, managing partner of Dolan McEniry Capital Management LLC, started his Pemi career as a camper in 1967 and after six summers, began a distinguished career as a Pemi counselor and Division Head. When Roger learned about Daniel’s professional goals, he sponsored a 5-week internship positioned between Daniel’s last exam at Lehigh and his first summer obligation at Pemi so he might, “learn new, practical skills and build his resumé and then return to Pemi to fill an important role that would benefit the camp community.”

While at Dolan McEniry, Daniel was exposed to the intricacies of the corporate bond market, from researching market factors to investing protocols to evaluating the quality of companies. Daniel shared, “I learned how to act professionally in an office setting, received resumé guidance, and went through mock interview situations. I continued my practice with Microsoft Excel and applied concepts from class work such as financial statement analysis.” Daniel entered his internship with excellent “soft skills” that he’d developed as a counselor at Pemi, including listening closely and communicating clearly, team building, and personal accountability, which served him well in building rapport with his new mentors. “The investment team was generous with their time, expertise, and patience,” said Daniel. “They gave me meaningful projects, provided excellent guidance, and encouraged questions.” Roger was equally positive. “We loved having Daniel at Dolan McEniry. He was great to have around, made a solid contribution in a short period of time, and learned a lot.”

Ned presenting Daniel with his 10 Year Tie

Daniel’s 2019 summer, his 10th total at Pemi, was also a great success. Assuming the demanding position of Junior Camp Division Head, he oversaw a staff of 10 counselors and 40 boys and did an excellent job guiding our youngest Division. His peers awarded him with the Joe Campbell Award at the end of the summer, given to the Pemi Counselor who brings (among other attributes) integrity, generosity, and happiness to others. Daniel’s two summer opportunities—an internship in finance and an increased position of leadership at Pemi—both contributed to his continued growth (and his standout resumé), while both organizations benefitted from his participation.

Pemi counselors Ned Roosevelt and Patterson Malcolm shared similar outstanding experiences. Ned’s 5-week internship at Albright Capital in Washington, D.C. offered him the chance to enhance his technical skills in Microsoft Excel and Bloomberg Terminal but to also learn about the field of emerging markets private investments. Ned is currently a Senior at Wheaton College studying Business Administration and Management. In being able to have a solid internship and then return to Pemi in the role of Lower Division Head, Ned said, “A large part of why my experience was so positive during my internship was because of the support from the people at Albright Capital. I, in turn, wanted to help create a positive experience for everyone at camp this summer.”

Patterson, majoring in Engineering at Swarthmore College, was given the rare opportunity at In-Depth Engineering in Columbia, MD, whose core business is the development of software systems for the United States Department of Defense. Patterson was given challenging and rewarding tasks, furthering his coding skills to improve himself as an engineer. He noted, “In-Depth really used their program to help further the development of their interns. I felt supported from the top-down and part of the team.” Patterson is currently exploring the possibility of joining In-Depth for further employment in the future.

Patterson coaching 12 and Under Soccer

In both cases, their practical experience in a professional setting furthered their understanding in their respective disciplines and subsequently enhanced their managerial and supervisory roles at Pemi. Again, a win-win for all involved and a model of the Pemi network in action.

Next Steps

Given the successful launch of this program, we are looking to further grow the Pemi Counselor Internship Initiative, and are asking members of the extended Pemi community—especially our Alumni and Parent networks—to consider sponsoring an internship for a qualified, ambitious staff member who will bring the strong skills and community values developed through his work at Pemi.

This year’s veteran staff members are particularly strong, and are looking for experiences in the following fields. If you are involved or connected in any of these areas, or are in another field and interested in sponsoring an internship or by assisting in professional networking, please be in touch.

  • computer science
  • engineering
  • politics
  • finance
  • marketing & advertising
  • publishing

Thank you for supporting the Pemi community in our ongoing efforts to retain strong role models at camp while remaining relevant in today’s competitive environment. Key internships will allow us to keep these outstanding young adults—Pemi’s “culture bearers”—for one or two more summers where they can do a world of good for campers before they move on to their future successful professions.

Kenny Moore

Defining Photos of 2019

Each fall, photos from the previous summer are compiled to create a picture book for prospective campers, current families, and alumni. Here are a few favorites, enjoy!

From one of Pemi’s newest traditions, the Junior – Senior campfire. During the first week, every Senior camper is assigned a Junior buddy to mentor.

R. Hambleton set to perform at the 2019 Vaudeville Show during the 4th of July. For the first time, Vaudeville was held outside on the lawn by the Junior Lodge.

Now in its fifth year, our Opening Day Food Drive – Cans from Campers – continues to provide crucial summer supplies to our local food pantry. To learn more about this wonderful community service initiative, click here.

Lowers tramping over Mt. Chocurua during a three day trek in the White Mountains.

One of Pemi’s most popular occupations, Nature Photography, now takes special trips to capture Nature’s stunning beauty.

Now partnering with Deer Hill Expeditions, Pemi West made a triumphant return to Colorado and a new era for the program, focusing on canoeing, service, and mountaineering. To learn more about Pemi West for 2020, click here.

C. Nook on the bump during a dramatic win for the 10 & Under Baseball Team.

P. Cowles during a dominating performance for the 15 & Under Baseball Team.

Our female staff members are an invaluable part of the Pemi staff. Click here to read more about their vital role at Pemi.

N. Andersson working on his Junior Nature Book in the Nature Lodge. He passed the field test and earned his Pemi Brave award.

A new stage and layout for our annual Gilbert & Sullivan performance, this summer’s show – The Mikado.

… and finally drops in the West.

#8: Final Toast and Clive Bean’s Review

2019 Newsletter # 8

Pemigewassett Newsletter Number 8, 2019

Incredibly, Pemi’s 112th season is now officially out of the planning calendar and into the history books. It was a wonderful summer by any measure you care to apply, among our sentimental favorites being the verve and volume with which singing in the mess hall was regularly conducted, the moxie and mayhem of Bean Soup, the grit and determination of our sportsmen in the athletic arenas (dry and wet), and the number and unquestioned sincerity of tears shed as the boys said farewell to their counselors, each other, and the physical place on Saturday morning. Put as simply as possible, 2019 was a banner Pemi season.

As has been our custom in recent years, this number will be comprised of Danny Kerr’s toast at our final banquet, held Thursday, August 15, and Clive Bean’s review of The Mikado, whose blockbuster two-day run occupied the previous two evenings. So, with no further ado, Danny and Clive.

May I propose a toast?!

Here’s to the summer of 2019 at Camp Pemigewassett, the 112th in Pemi’s rich and storied history. A summer that began seven weeks ago for campers, eight weeks ago for staff (“We. . . all. . . got your back, yeah, we all got your back!”), nine weeks ago for those attending Clinic Week, and 12 weeks ago for the grey beards and D-Heads who met in Gloucester, Mass for our “May Summit”….. held this year in June, as we began sharing our dreams, designs, and visions for this Pemi season. How bittersweet to reflect back on the summer of 2019 and to think of bidding you farewell the day after tomorrow, as we all head back “from whence we came.”

Truth be told, the summer of 2019 really began months before then, way back in October of 2018, when scores of our returning campers and families sat by their computers until the stroke of midnight on Oct 11th to apply for summer Pemi’s 112th edition. And congratulations to Billy Murnighan, whose application was the very first one we received that early morning. Who will be the first camper to apply for 2020?

Here’s to a summer that concludes as late in the summer as it ever will, with leaves on Route 25A turning an autumn tint and Pemi boys playing roof ball in the evening with barely a shred of daylight left, a summer that by all accounts has been a marvelous success.

Here’s to the 253 (exactly) campers who graced the shores of Lower Baker Pond this year, campers from 25 states—half of the states in the union!—and from nine countries around the world. Here’s to the 74 campers who made the decision to attend sleep-away camp for the first time, to the 22 who have collected, or will collect, their five-year bowls. And yes, Isaiah Abbey, Gordo Robbins and Elliot Jones; here’s to campers in their eighth summer at Pemi.

Here’s to the talented and dedicated counselor staff of 2019. What an exceptionally strong crew we have this summer! Thank you to those cabin counselors and assistant counselors, the young men who share such close quarters with their boys and who, for some inexplicable reason, are able to inspire, mentor, and capture the imagination of their campers in ways their own parents and we senior staff cannot.

And big, big ups to our Division Heads this summer, D. Bowes, Rosie, Andy, and Bert. What a “Dream Team” to have leading cabin life.

Cheers to the incredibly hard working crew that Reed Harrigan leads each day with vigor, dedication and love; Frank, Neven, Dennis, Barbara, and Judy; to our Office Managers extraordinaire, Heather and Kim (and to Kim’s perfect score on ACA Day!!!); and here’s to Dottie who somehow manages time for us all, even me, and attends to tasks both large and small as she cares for our community with a heaping dose of maternal wisdom, grace, and love. Oh! And there’s the guy she’s married to, leader of singing, writer of newsletters and Bean Soup articles, source of historical fact and perspective.

Big ups to our Dining Service Director Tom Ciglar and his crew, who tackled the herculean task of providing a community of 275 with delicious meals three times a day and did so with a smile, a sincere desire to meet the needs of everyone in the community, and with freshly baked bread each day, too.

Here’s to Mr. Moore, my fellow director whose love for Pemi is so evident as he manages staff, campers, alums, transportation, the daily and weekly schedule and so much more. I wish I had a Mets’ victory for every question he’s answered this summer!

Cheers to Deb Pannell (and Hannah!) and all the creative endeavors down in Art World (Wow! What an Art Show!); to Charlie and Andy, our Athletic Directors, and all the coaches in the athletics program who always put Pemi’s values of sportsmanship, improved skills and participation first. Double boom!

Kudos to Sam Papel and the Trippies who sent scores of trips tramp, tramp, tramping (and paddling) out to the majestic mountains and the mighty rivers both near and far.

Here’s to Jonathan, Taiko, and Sabrina for another remarkable G & S performance, and to our magnificent music mama Michaella for another summer of beautiful harmony and song.

To Chloe, Charlotte, Hattie, Mark, and Mollie and all the exhilarating, yet safe, fun we had sailing, canoeing, and waterskiing on LBP; to Brian for his “Grateful” approach to running wood shop; to Coach Chris on the tennis courts, Larry (50 summers!) and Deb in the Nature Lodge, Steve on the archery range…and all of the other instructors who brought major energy and mojo to occupation periods every day.

And let’s not forget Head of Occupations, Wendy Young, who oversaw the schedule of 253 boys this summer with proficiency, thoughtfulness, and a positive vibe each day; or our dynamic dual Heads of Staff, Erik and Will, who offered leadership and accountability at every turn.

And thank you to our truly amazing Health Staff—Allyn, Rachel, Mary, Billy, Liz, and Dr. Sabrina—for bringing an expert level of care and professionalism I’ve never seen in my many years as director!

Here’s to Penny, bus driver extraordinaire, whose safe and dependable driving was matched only by her immediate love of Pemi.

Here’s to the things that were unique at Pemi in 2019: outside Vaudeville, times two; “victory” cheers in the Mess Hall; a clean sweep of events on “Moose Day”; more staff children running around preseason than I can ever recall; buffet lunches and dinners to combat whatever that was; an outdoor Sunday Service in front of the Shop; a last inning comeback win in a counselor baseball game for the ages; a mystery horse named Patch patrolling center field; and this splendid weather, unmatched in recent memory, so many stunningly beautiful days, with crisp mornings, blazing afternoons, and that peaceful golden haze across the pond at day’s end that we never tire of admiring.

Here’s to all-camp events at Pemi: Bean Soup, when we laugh at ourselves and anticipate “things to look for”; Campfire, when we entertain ourselves with story, song, poems and Devil Sticks; and Sunday Meeting, when we have an opportunity to pause and reflect on topics such as three legendary Pemi staff members of the past, the adventures of our Pemi Westers, 2019, and the certainty that we all have unique and distinguishing talent.

Here’s to our twenty-four 15-year-old campers, to their combined 102 summers at Pemi (yes, you heard that right!) and to the lifelong friendships they’ve created. I know from personal experience that someday you’ll participate in each other’s weddings, be godparents to each other’s children, and hopefully become the next generation of counselors at Pemi. And thank you, especially, for reminding us how cool it is to be the oldest boys at camp, in all of the best and the right ways.

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

Here’s to Camp Pemigewassett, 2019.

Good Luck, Long Life, and Joy!

 

And now for a review of this year’s Gilbert and Sullivan performance by celebrated Northwoods critic, Clive Bean. 

Clive Bean Reviews The Mikado

The Baker Valley’s hottest musical theater ticket this past week wasn’t Dear Evan Hansen or even Hamilton but rather Camp Pemi’s very own Mikado. Director Jonathan Verge was clearly inspired by the time-honored Bean Soup horse-beating joke and decided to whip the venerable G&S warhorse into an entirely new shape, re-kitting Titipu’s schoolgirls in contemporary plaid mini-jumpers instead of kimonos (not to mention their black, Sia hair-dos) and re-equipping their male admirers with iPads and iPhones to go along with their traditional fans. Gone were the traditional sets, lovingly created by Betsy Reed back in the ‘60s, replaced by sliding flats and hanging lanterns that turned the Lodge into a veritable Japanese tea house—or, considering the show’s frequent references to death by chopping, slicing, and dicing—into a veritable Benihana Steak House.

Larry Davis, Nick Gordon, and Sabrina Lawrence

Larry Davis, Nick Gordon, and Sabrina Lawrence

Anchoring a strong cast were Larry Davis, reprising the role he was born to play, the insatiably ambitious one-man cabinet and Lord High Everything, Pooh-Bah (this year looking frighteningly like recently-deceased French designer Karl Lagerfeld); Nick Gordon as Ko-Ko, the cheap tailor in the $300 suit, who finds himself as Titipu Town Executioner and bounces between romantic relationships as uncontrollably as Brad Pitt (and we should add that Nick, like Larry, had played his role before, clearly knowing it just as well as he knows the back of his own fan); and Sabrina Lawrence, whose acting captured to perfection the charmingly vain and flighty Yum-Yum, while her singing struck this reviewer as perhaps the best that the Pemi Opera House has ever witnessed.

Donald Turvill, Landon Burtle, and Bennet King (with bodyguards)

Stealing Yum-Yum away from Ko Ko was Donald Turvill, our itinerant Scottish showman/guitarist, typecast as the wandering minstrel Nanki Poo (Nanki Poo being, of course, Japanese for “Where’s the nearest pagoda?”). His relaxed and somewhat snide manner was a perfect counterpoint to Nick Gordon’s twitchy, OCD mannerisms, and made perfect sense of why Yum Yum opts for artful youth over semi-neurotic middle age. Landon Burtle sang the part of the town second fiddle Pish-Tush to perfection, while Bennet King charmed the audience as the blood-curdlingly dark Mikado himself. Not since Austin Powers’ Mini Me has so much evil been packed into such a small package—the chilling effect being amplified in Bennet’s case by his arriving on stage strapped to the back of Pemi’s own consummate Dr. Evil, Rosie.

Chris Ramanathan, Connor Queenin, and Scout Brink

Chris Ramanathan, Connor Queenin, and Scout Brink

Rounding out the female leads were Chris Ramanathan, a strong and convincing Pitti-Sing; Connor Queenin, as the self-proclaimed, trail-runner-wearing, bloodthirsty cougar Katisha (clearly inspired by Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada); and Scout Brink as Peep-Bo. Scout’s comic acting in one scene positively brought the Japanese tea house down, while her elegant fan dance to Queenin’s plaintive “Alone and Yet Alive” recalled the time in the 1920s when Doc Reed persuaded Isadora Duncan to come to Wentworth to fire up the Pemi boys for Tecumseh Day, performing her infamous “Bloomer Girl” gavotte.

Both the male and the female choruses struck us as particularly strong and well prepared this year. We’ll refer you to the cast list at the end of this holiday season’s Bean Soup for all the staff names (in case you didn’t memorize them from your program and can’t find them on the back of your own fan), but campers Noah Andersson, Elijah Dorroh, Ben Herdeg, Nathan Gonzalez, and Henry Moore seemed born-to-the-manner nobleman, exuding arrogance and privilege. Meanwhile, Luke Young, Jon Ciglar, Jay Williams, Oscar Andersson. Andreas Geffert, Dexter Wells, Lucas Gales, and Lucas Vitale developed their entirely new roles as businessmen with all of the money-grubbing verve of long-time wolves of Wall Street. Meanwhile, camper Schoolgirls Austin Greenberg, Noah Littman, Jesse Orlow, Anders Morrell, Carter Glahn, John Poggi, Ethan Smith, Clay Johnson, Luke Gonzalez, and Oskar Lewnowski performed so convincingly in their plaid mini-dresses, white knee socks, and bobbed wigs that many of their own parents, sitting in the audience, completely failed to recognize them. Chris Johnson, though, did say that one of the cuter girls reminded him of pictures of his wife Ashley when she was in seventh grade. Oh, we should definitely mention that one Schoolgirl seemed to have suffered a major mishap in during the make-up process. That said, Cole Valente still looked pretty darn hot with an inverted fake eyebrow stuck to his chin.

We’ll refer you to Bean Soup yet again for the names of Katisha’s wonderful Security Detail (X-treme dudes to a man!) and those, too, of the clearly accomplished Stage and Light Crews. Quick mention, though, to Stage Manager Luke Larabie, accomplished actor from past shows who fulfilled the Pemi mantra of trying something new this season, and puppeteers Hannah Roadknight and Carmen Facciobene, who gave us a charming, backlit visualization of “The Criminal Cried as He Dropped Him Down.” It was clear that Carmen is every bit as good with a fake snickersnee as he is with real devil sticks.

Taiko Pelick

Finally, a nod to Johnny Saras for uncorking some true (and previously completely hidden) virtuoso work on trumpet—and huge, huge kudos to pianist Taiko Pelick, who followed up on six grueling weeks accompanying rehearsals with a truly majestic performance at the keyboard. Her capacity to play all of the score’s requisite notes and chords and, at the same time, to highlight the melodies for the occasional lead who needed reminding was truly remarkable. If a professional pit orchestra could ever be boiled down into ten fingers, it would be named Taiko.

We’ll leave it at that. It was a very good show. We hope you were able to be in the audience. And if not, be here next year when The Pirates of Penzance sail their swashbuckling way back into the Baker Valley for 2020’s G&S extravaganza. What better run-up to that November’s election than a show about dishonest men who are finally persuaded to become true patriots?

–Clive Bean

And with thanks to Danny and Clive, both, we bring this last epistle of the 2019 season to a close. We wish a happy and healthy autumn to all of you and look forward to sending out the holiday copy of Bean Soup in early December. Pemi parents of 2019, don’t be surprised if your sons disappear with the volume as soon as they tear it from its envelope, re-surfacing only after three or four hours of chuckling behind a closed door. From past experience, we know they’ll be willing to let you all have a look after they’ve read it, cover-two-cover, the requisite three times. For now, farewell, and thank you for your kind attentions.

                                                                                    Tom Reed, Jr

 

#6: Tecumseh Day through the Lens of a Camera

Pemigewassett Newsletter #6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let the Games Begin…at Tecumseh

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

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

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

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

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

Pemi fans

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

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

Pemi Alumni Power

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

At Pemigewassett: Playing the Next Game

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

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

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

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

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

Afternoon of Competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude: The Final Lesson

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

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

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

–Charlie Malcolm

Thank you Charlie, for everything!

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

 

#5: Utopia Reconsidered

2019 Pemi Newsletter #5

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

– From “Pemi,” by Dudley B. Reed

 

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

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

Head of Program, Wendy Young

Head of Program, Wendy Young

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

Associate Head of Nature, Deb Kure

Associate Head of Nature, Deb Kure

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

Head of Sailing, Chloe Jaques

Head of Sailing, Chloe Jaques

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

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

Head of Waterskiing, Molly Malone

Head of Waterskiing, Molly Malone

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

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

Head of Canoeing, Hattie McLeod

Head of Canoeing, Hattie McLeod

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

Head of Art, Deb Pannell

Head of Art, Deb Pannell

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

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

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

–Tom Reed Jr.

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

 

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

2019 Newsletter #4

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

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

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

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

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

People

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

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

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

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

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

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

Russ Brummer

Russ Brummer

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Building

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teaching Philosophy

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

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

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

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

The Program

Occupations

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

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

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

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

Trips

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

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

Reflection (Everything I know I learned at Camp)

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

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