Alumni Magazine – News and Notes – January 2019

Welcome to the next installment of the Alumni Newsletter. This edition, Alumni News and Notes, offers updates from members of our Alumni Community. We invite you to write your own update in the comments section of the blog post via the Pemi website.

CONGRATULATIONS

Mike Benham is engaged to Meghan Tadio. They will wed on August 17, 2018 in New Hampshire.

Nick Bowman will attend Wesleyan University in the fall.

Pictured (left to right) Top Row: Gordon Bahr, Chip Fauver, Fitz Stueber, Conor Shaw, Ryan Fauver. Middle Row: Scott Fauver, Chris Stueber, George Fauver, Peter Reimer, Jake Fauver, Dwight Dunston Front Row: Hunter Bahr, James Reimer, John Henry Bahr, Cory Fauver, Arielle Rebek

Cory Fauver shares the following, “Dwight Dunston, a love advocate and Bean Soup editor, officiated my wedding to my longtime partner Arielle Rebek on September 1 in Fennville, Michigan! A multi-generational cadre of Pemi boys joined the celebration. Arielle and I are jumping into 2019 with ambitious travel plans for our honeymoon. We’re heading to Chile and Argentina, with a focus on hiking in Patagonia, for the better part of 3 months! Arielle just finished a stint teaching two darkroom photography courses at Carleton this fall as a visiting professor. I will be leaving my job of the last year (software engineer at an SF-based tech publication called The Information) to open up some time for travel. When we return, our plans are up in the air, but we’ll return to Oakland, CA where we’ve lived for the past three and a half years.

Ryan Frisch married Calyn Jones on November 2 in Chandler, Arizona.

Pierce Haley will attend Colgate University in the fall.

Campbell Levy and his wife Courtney welcomed Wilder Fox Levy to the world on June 8th of 2018. Wilder is doing awesome, already starring in some digital advertising pieces. Look for him in a big up-coming Starbucks campaign.

Wilder Fox Levy backcountry skiing up on Mount Evans, which is near where Campbell and Courtney live in Evergreen. Three degree start temperature at about 11,000 feet…he’s more than ready for Polar Bear!

Former Pemi camper and counselor Conor Shaw married Rachel Clark on August 11, 2018 at her childhood home in Lincoln, Vermont. Pemi veterans Jake Fauver and Josh Fischel were among the groomsfolk, and several others were in attendance, including Dwight Dunston, Chip Fauver, Cory Fauver, Ryan Fauver, Rob Grabill, and Jeff Miller. The evening ended as many other good ones have-with a stirring rendition of campfire song by a group of the nation’s best! (See picture below)

Rob Verger and Roselle Chen were married on the steps of Grant’s Tomb on October 6 in a small ceremony officiated by Rob Grabill.  Rob is currently the assistant tech editor at Popular Science, where he writes articles for popsci.com and the print magazine, and is a frequent guest on TV outlets such as Cheddar and Fox Business. Roselle is a news producer with Reuters, where she reports and produces video stories like a look at “Mother Pigeon,” an ice-dancing federal judge, and a father-and-son-owned “crazy” sock company. They live in Manhattan. (See TRIPS picture below)

At Luke’s graduation, brother Charles on left who is a JAG in the US Marine Corps – defense counsel with mom Anne.

In May 2018, Luke Whitman graduated from Columbia’s GSAPP (Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation, and Planning) and received his M.S. in Real Estate Development.  This fall, he started a new job as a Project Manager for Stellar Management as a member of their construction & development team.  He’s currently working on an adaptive re-use project that involves the renovation and merger of two existing 800K square foot buildings built in 1904, called One Soho Square.

PEMI ENCOUNTERS

Paul Fishback had dinner a couple weeks ago with Greg Epp in Buffalo, the two hadn’t seen each other in 35 years! Both were in Lower 2 and Lower 6 in the summers of ’75 and ’76, respectively. Great to hear about this re-connection!

After finishing a family hike in the Patagonia’s in Southern Chile, the Kanovsky family ran into Ben Nicholas in the super small Balmaeda Airport. Ben was in Coyahaique fishing!

Pemi Reunion in Chile!

Jim Staples caught up with fellow Alumni Bandy and John Carman by email in December and registered on the alumni site. Way to be, Jim! He writes, “I’ve lived in Philadelphia for 44 years, surrounded by Tecumseh folks, and still enjoy reminding them about Tecumseh Day, 1967. Good luck, long life, and joy to all. Jim Staples, Pemi ’65-’67, ’70-’71”

In August, Ander Wensberg, Esteban Garcia, Fred Seebeck, Roger McEniry, and Jaime Garcia reunited in Cooperstown, NY to tour the Baseball Hall of Fame. Afterwards, the group traveled north to Pemi to participate in the Rittner Run in August. Stay tuned for information about the 2019 trip!

The Fab Five in Cooperstown, NY

Dickinson student, Zach Popkin, offered the following live commentary while announcing the Dickinson-Swarthmore soccer game: “Camp Pemigewassett’s Patterson Malcolm enters the game for Swarthmore, a ten year tie guy, and a shout-out to his father, Charlie Malcolm, if he is watching.”

IN MEMORIAM

The memorial service for long time Pemi camper and counselor, Chris Johnson (Pemi years 1986 – 1994), who died in the fall of 2017, will be at St. Michael’s Church in Brattleboro, VT on February 16 at 11 AM. For more information, email Kenny.

ALUMNI NEWS

John Armitage published a book, Bringing Numbers to Life: LAVA and Design-led Innovation in Visual Analytics. He adds, “It portrays the results and design process of the LAVA visual analytic design project conducted at software providers Business Objects and SAP from 2004-2014. 500+ paperback, full-color pages with visual analytic design images, design process analyses, and historical background to this breakthrough design language intended to open up quantitative analysis to mass consumption.” You can read it online, or buy the hardcopy via Amazon. Or connect with John on LinkedIn.

Hilary Bride took a new job in December as an Intake/Admissions Specialist at the Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescences in Virginia. This is the only public psychiatric hospital for youth in VA and deals with acute mental illness crisis.  She writes, “I was inspired with my work as a volunteer as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Children (CASA) and will continue to live in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Staunton with Rufus in my new, rented, tiny home.”

John Carman spent the last 5 months adjusting to a new life as a retired person after 35 years of 60-hour workweeks with the Boy Scouts of America. “I am as busy as I have ever been but am thoroughly enjoying doing the things I want to do on a daily basis. Having a one year old granddaughter and a two year old grandson nearby helps occupy my time.”

Congratulations Conor Shaw and Rachel Clark!

John and his wife enjoyed a week in mid-coast Maine in the end of September, an area he learned to love during a Pemi post-week session in 1970 when Tom Reed Sr. And Jr. took him to Boothbay Harbor and Monhegan Island. Monhegan Island was one of his favorite experiences growing up, so he took his wife there for a day as part of the vacation. “I still remember that stormy day with rough seas standing on the top of the boat with TRJR and (I believe,) Dave Wallingford, braving the wind and rain in preference to the odorous cabin below with less seaworthy passengers.”

Keith Comtois lives in Rio Verde, Arizona just east of Scottsdale with his wife of 37 years, Ann, after spending fifty years in Cleveland, Oh and ten in the Chicago suburbs. He still works in commercial banking credit administration. “My years at Pemi were 1968 and 1969, I think. Definitely 1969 as I remember watching the moon landing there. I fondly think of those two summers in NH.”

Larry Davis retired from the University of New Haven on August 31, but will continue research on San Salvador Island. He moved to Concord, NH during the summer and recently received the New England Environmental Education Alliance Award for Non-Formal Education.

Dan Duffy writes, “Living quietly with an old Lab, a dozen chickens, an emu and two grandsons. Quieter since we found homes for the four extra roosters. A day doesn’t pass without thinking of Al Fauver, Rob Grabill, Fred Seebeck, Larry Davis, Sandy McCoy or any other fine men I knew up there when we all were much younger than I am now. Good wishes for the New Year.

On September 10, Henry Eisenhart started a new job at EnergySage, a company with a small team in Boston running an online solar shopping marketplace that pairs consumers with solar installers from a pre vetted network. His role as a Partner Success Manager is to manage installers from recruitment/selling the service to guidance and management.

Teddy Gales has been cast in his first feature film, Intoxicated Rain (Small Budget/ Million dollars) but once he pays his dues he is a SAG Member Screen Actors Guild, which will open more doors. He has one TV commercial and an Internet commercial for a new company, Outsystems.

Porter Hill started his new job as Head of the Lower School at Fairfield Country Day School. Many former Pemi campers have attended FCDS and we know that connection will remain strong into the future! Fun fact – Porter’s bugle hangs in his office.

Pemi backpacking legends TRJR, Andrew Billo, Dan O’Brien, James Finley and Mike Sasso posed for a TRIPS photo, with Roselle and Rob Verger crashing the shot in the foreground. Photo credit to Jayd Jackson.

Andrew McDermott is a full time shooting instructor with the Orvis Company and is set to marry his fiancé in May.

Dave Nagle recently moved fifteen miles north from Largo, FL to Clearwater, FL. He changed employment six months ago and now works at Jormac Aerospace.

Walt Newcomb reports some wonderful travel with his wife Bendy. After spending New Years in Paris, they moved on to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a place they lived in 2008-2019 while he consulted for Malaysia’s oil company, PETRONAS. He recommends nasi lamak as a local delicacy for those looking for a tasty tip. Next on the agenda is Langkawi before the final stop in Singapore.

Tom Reed’s debut novel, Seeking Hyde, was published on November 1 by Beaufort Books; very fittingly the New York publishing house owned by Pemi alumnus, Eric Kampmann. Tom’s historical fiction follows celebrated author Robert Louis Stevenson as he struggles for years to bring Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde into being, only to see the story blamed for inspiring Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel murders. You can learn more about the inspiration and the evolution of the novel in this Q&A interview with Tom by Deborah Kalb–although we notice Tom never told the interviewer that all he ever learned about writing he learned as an editor of Bean SoupSeeking Hyde is available in hardcover, Kindle, and Nook formats from Amazon and Barnes & Noble (and perhaps your local bookstore!).

Austin Richards writes in, “My wife Victoria and I have 5 year old twin boys. I hope they can go to Pemi when they are 12. Currently they are in Kindergarten at a private school called Marymount. We live in Santa Barbara and I work at FLIR Systems as a senior research scientist. I have been there for 20 years. It is a dream job because I get to design, build, and use night vision cameras, radar systems, thermal imaging and other more esoteric technologies every day. My wife is an actress and filmmaker and she is working as a festival news producer for the Sundance Film Festival coming up in a few weeks.”

After fifteen or so years spending the winters in Okeechobee, Florida, Papa Jerry Slafsky and his wife have moved to Boca Raton. They still maintain a home in Freedom, NH for the summers. Papa has a small but well equipped shop there and spends his summers doing wood woodworking, fishing and putting on shows.

Good luck, long life, and joy!

Kenny

Kenny Moore Now Associate Director

I am very pleased to announce that veteran Pemi camper and staff member Kenny Moore is taking on a new title and responsibilities as Associate Director of Camp Pemigewassett.

Kenny and Sarah Moore with son Winston

One of the many joys of being at Pemi is watching our young boys become older campers, our older campers become young counselors, and our young counselors grow into leadership positions. As our young leaders gain experience, confidence, and wisdom, they come to take their place as part of the Pemi leadership team. Kenny is a vivid example of this type of progress.He began as a camper in Junior 5 in 1992 and joined the staff in 1999. Kenny settled into his position as Pemi’s Assistant Director in 2011 and has steadily taken on greater responsibility over the past years. This past Fall, Pemi’s Board of Directors and I both recognized that Kenny was ready for even more involvement in the management of the camp and, with this in mind, we were delighted to change Kenny’s title to Associate Director and to offer him increased participation in the winter responsibilities as a Camp Pemi director. Moving forward, Kenny will be working as first contact for Alumni whose sons are ready for camp, and, beginning this past winter, he has also been charged with the responsibility of hiring cabin counselors and many of our assistant counselors. Kenny is also overseeing Pemi’s Buildings and Grounds.

Please join me in congratulating Kenny on these new endeavors. We look forward to seeing Kenny and Camp Pemi thrive together as he takes over these new responsibilities. We thank him for his excellent ongoing work, and for being an exemplary model of Pemi’s tradition of leadership!

–Danny Kerr

Pemi’s 110th Reunion

2017 Rittner Runners

The 35th Annual Rittner Run kicked off the celebration of Pemi’s 110th Reunion. On Thursday, August 17, forty Rittner Runners departed Pemi at 6 AM, headed to Fryeburg Maine to begin the 75-mile relay run back to Pemi. The relay is divided into 30 odd legs, some measuring as long as 4.5 miles and others as short as 1. Vans shuttle runners to the exchange points while conversations and stories are shared between current staffers and Alumni, both reminiscing about the season that just concluded and other past seasons. During the 2017 run, Head of Swimming and triathlon enthusiast Charlotte Jones led the way with 34 miles, with many others tallying in the high teens. Once back at Pemi, the Runners paraded by Senior Beach towards the Rittner Fountain onto Pemi’s soccer pitch for their annual photo and ‘tis I, Spartacus!’ cheer. After a quick dip in Lower Baker, the group headed to the Mess Hall for the Rittner Banquet. A delicious meal from Tom Ciglar’s trusty hands, and libations from Peter Cowles’ Aspetuck Brewery greeted the runners, followed by announcements, stories about Fred Rittner, and information about the Rittner Fund and its impact. Fred Rittner’s fellow counselors in the early 80’s and his former campers offered memories and legendary anecdotes.

To learn more about the Rittner Fund, please visit their website, and mark your calendars for the 2018 Rittner Run on Monday, August 13, 2018.

Reilly McCue and Leif Dormsjo

A cloudy, rainy dawn on Friday resulted in a scattering few for Polar Bear. The weather eliminated the hiking and golf trips for the day, but a quick scheduling pivot resulted in a trip to the Museum of the White Mountains to see their exhibit on Summer Camps. Pemi, like many of our neighbor camps, contributed to the exhibit with artifacts and memorabilia demonstrating the importance of the Summer Camp experience. At Pemi activities in the Nature Lodge, Library, and the Senior Lodge with active fires allowed folks a quieter morning before the bulk of arrivals. Just before lunch, Bob Fetter, an alumnus from 1940, arrived with his Junior Nature Award and All Camp photograph that he had saved from his only Pemi summer in 1940. Two true gems for the Pemi archives, and more info on his fellow octogenarians later.

Reunion Ensemble

After lunch, hearty souls ventured to Junior Pointe for some waterskiing, others made their way out in sailboats, and a few climbed aboard the HMS Reilly McCue for some fishing. Charlie Malcolm led a group in a cutthroat game of croquet (ask Paul Fishback!), and then a rousing game of Frisbee Golf. The library was active with Pemi trivia, led by current Pemi staffers Steve Clare and Andy MacDonald, and the Junior Lodge was alive with music led by Ed McKendry (Uncle Eddie to some), Ian Axness, Henry Eisenhart, and Michaella Frank. This talented Reunion Ensemble would play for us during the Happy Hour, and then later again at Campfire. To cap off the rainy afternoon, Larry Davis led the first Pemi discussion group of the weekend. Larry, a Climate Reality Project trainee, led the group in a question and answer session on this increasingly important topic.

Campfire

Now with more than 100 Alumni present, the Mess Hall filled with joy as Alumni greeted one another during Happy Hour, reminiscing and catching up. The rain tapered off, and we all enjoyed an outdoor Campfire on Senior Beach. A spectacular musical array ensued. Danny and Uncle Eddie serenaded us with Melissa by the Allman Brothers, Ian played the surpassingly lovely Boating Song on his glockenspiel, (You read the correctly!), Tom Reed and Michaella performed Ukulele Lady, the Reunion Ensemble played House of the Rising Sun, Parker Shiverick played the violin, and Eisenhart once again claimed the lake as his pillow with a saxophone solo. Larry Davis provided the classic story, Learning How to Shoot, before we all joined together for the Campfire Song. Undoubtedly, one of the best Reunion campfires we’ve ever seen.

A sunnier, albeit chilly morning saw more Polar Bears on Saturday. Shortly after breakfast, two hikes Mount Cube led by Nick Davini, and Mount Moosilauke led by Sam Papel departed in Pemi vans. Morning activities included Archery, a canoe paddle to the Lower Lake, doubles on the tennis court, open baseball on the newly improved Senior Diamond, tie-dyeing in the Art Building, waterskiing, and sailing. Just as our campers are offered a wide range of wonderful activities to choose, so too are our Alumni. In the library, the fourth generation (G4) of Pemi’s founders met with Alumni interested in learning more about the Reed and Fauver families. Of the 9 G4 members, five were present; Jonathan Fauver, Allyson Fauver, Megan Fauver Cardillo, Sarah Fauver, and Dan Reed discussed Pemi and shared their vision for the future.

Obie-Ivy Soccer

After a well deserved Rest Hour, afternoon activities began with Obie-Ivy soccer, an Environmental Exploration with Deb Kure for our 12 & Unders, a Wild Foods Extravaganza with Larry, a Spider Walk with former Nature guru Paula Golderberg, more Tie-Dye with Megan Cardillo, and the chance to swim your distance with the waterfront staff. Five swimmers made the distance from Senior Beach to Junior Camp under the watchful eye of former Head of Swimming, Paige Wallis in the rowboat, and current Head of Swimming Charlotte Jones donning the lifeguard buoy. Notable swimmers included current trip counselor, Nick Davini who, after 9 years at camp, owned up to never having swum his distance, Sarah Fauver, another first time distance swimmer, and taking home first prize, Scott Petrequin who, at age 86 (!), successfully swam his distance, making him the oldest Pemi person to ever accomplish the feat. Later at the Reunion Banquet, the cheer for ‘Distance Swimmer Petrequin’ was quite possible the loudest chant in 2017!

Free Swim

As Obie-Ivy ended, many players cooled off during Free Swim in Lower Baker, and enjoyed a well-timed, unplanned, landing by a sea-plane. Others decided to opt for a more intellectual pursuit, joining Alumnus David Spindler, a leading expert on the Great Wall of China, for the weekend’s second Pemi Discussion Group. David shared slides and stories about the Great Wall and his experiences traveling the monument.

Reunion Banquet

The Reunion Banquet was full of joy and cheer, with all the traditional pomp and circumstance of a Pemi Banquet. Alumni became waiters once again, marching the turkeys out of the kitchen as Axness performed his version of the Game of Thrones theme, Fire and Ice, on the piano. One lucky soul at each table claimed the carving knife to slice the birds. Tom Ciglar and his crew presented the turkey feast with mashed potatoes, stuffing, farm fresh corn on the cob, and freshly baked bread. Anyone who has tasted Tom’s bread is surely salivating.

During announcements, Pemi recognized the newest distance swimmers and honored Alumni by decade. We arrived at the 40’s – 1940-1949, and four gentleman, Bob Fetter, Bob MacBeth, Scott Petrequin, and Sandy Ross, stood to a rousing round of applause and standing ovation. Finally, in recognition of Alumni who are Pemi veterans of at least 10 years, Pemi gifted a 10-year tie. A new Pemi tradition!

Bean Soup, led by former editors Josh Fischel and Ian Axness, joined current editor Dan Reed for the special Reunion edition. Combining old classics, along with freshly written articles, this trio had the audience laughing away in the Mess Hall. Song re-writes like I’ve got Mike Pence (Sixpence), and a new “Reunion Edition” of the ever-popular Mess Hall announcement were highlights.

Betsy Reed Memorial

A beautifully crisp Sunday morning greeted Polar Bears for the final dip of the weekend. After breakfast, all gathered in the Senior Lodge for a memorial service in honor of Betsy Reed. Larry Davis and Ian Axness began the service with a lovely duet followed Zach See’s utterly moving Church Call on the bugle. I’m sure that the stirring music bellowing out over the lake set a tone that Betsy would have thought magnificent. Tom Reed Jr. eloquently shared stories and memories of his mother, as did Peter Fauver, Bertha Fauver, Dan Reed, Abby Reed (read by Allyson Fauver) and Dottie Reed. The service was beautiful, each speaker reinforced Betsy’s kindhearted demeanor, good will, humor, grace, and love of life.

Tom Reed, Jr.

Shout out to our spectacular Reunion Staff; Ian Axness, Paige Wallis, Ed McKendry, Larry Davis, Charlie Malcolm, Deb Kure, Harry Morris, Ben Walsh, Steve Clare, Charlotte Jones, Nick Davini, Sam Papel, Ned Roosevelt, Becky Noel, Kilian Wegner, Nick Hurn, and bartenders extraordinaire Andrew MacDonald and JP Gorman.

And, of course, a special thank you to the nearly 150 Alumni who returned to the shores of Lower Baker in honor of Pemi’s 110th season!

 

 

SPECIAL EDITION: The Flood of 2017

All you really need to know about the impact on Pemi campers of the Saturday, July 1st Flood of ’17 is to hear that, when on Monday ’73 Flood Survivors Tom Reed Jr. and Larry Davis announced in the mess hall that this recent deluge was clearly worse than in 1973, the campers cheered! To work a variation on the old saw, what doesn’t wash you away evidently makes you proud and happy.

Saturday, July 1

One difference from ’73 was that, this time, we had far more advance warning, what with the various electronic weather vanes we in the Office were all carefully eyeing. The forecast had already called for rain that might well lead to flash flooding. So when, at noon of that Saturday’s inter-camp sports day, we checked the radar and saw a huge green blob with a lurid center of yellow and red oozing across the Connecticut River towards us, we sprang into action.

Rushing waters overflow the culvert

Rushing waters overflow the culvert

Even before the culverts began to overflow with run-off surging down the hill behind camp, we moved three of our vans to a safe spot across our bridge in case high waters made wheeled egress from the camp impossible. Staff were also advised to move their cars from the low-lying parking lot by the Senior Beach. There would be no repeat of 1973, when the locked VW bug of a counselor who was deployed that day for airport pick-ups had to be hand-lifted by a dozen of his colleagues and carried to higher ground.

Ushering junior campers to dinner

Ushering junior campers to dinner

By late afternoon, what had been intensifying rain gave way to electrical storms, and, alerted by the lightning siren, boys and staff retreated to their cabins for a spell. Those of us in the Office stayed glued to our computer screens, hoping that our power would stay on (though perhaps secretly hoping it wouldn’t, so as to give our powerful new propane-fueled backup generator its first practical test.) A clear gap in the storm system subsequently offered a brief window for us to scoot the boys up to the mess hall for supper, which Tom Ciglar and his dedicated crew had all ready and waiting for speedy service. Fortunately, one (and one only!) of the three bridges that span the stream dividing the camp was still not over-washed by the mounting torrent, and the boys were ushered carefully across on their way to a hot meal. Meanwhile, Assistant Director Kenny Moore and Waterfront Head Charlotte Jones took the opportunity to detach the floating sections of our new hybrid docks from their fixed complements, carefully anchoring them against the strong down-valley current that was even then beginning to make itself felt.

Senior campers asleep in the Mess Hall

Senior campers asleep in the Mess Hall

Once we’d all eaten, it was quickly back to the cabins for the night – no pre-announced campfire and no staff time-off for that evening. (I must admit that, had we had a good supply of phosphorous, it would have been both novel and thrilling to hold an underwater campfire in its traditional location. No such luck, though.) By 6pm, our devoted and heroic Head of Buildings and Grounds, Reed Harrigan, had cancelled his own weekend off and arrived back on location. On Reed’s recommendation, the boys of Seniors 1-3 grabbed their mattresses, sleeping bags, and toothbrushes and headed up to the dining room for the night. While the waters rushing down the road in front of the Office (after over-topping a failing culvert) didn’t ultimately erode the foundations of the cabins, it made perfect sense to be super cautious, so that’s what we did. As a result, our 14s and 15s slept in the very space in which we normally eat our meals and sing songs about beating Camp Tecumseh. Their lullaby? The very remarkable sound of boulders thudding down the stream-bed just to the north, twelve- to fifteen-inch rocks bouncing over each other in the tumbling waters like the numbered balls in a lottery machine. It’s not a sound you easily forget.

Sunday, July 2

"Pemi Island" - three feet of water over the entrance road

“Pemi Island” – three feet of water cover the entrance road

Sunday brought a mercifully sunny dawn, but a quick 5:30 AM walk around the grounds revealed in a trice that the erosion damage in camp surpassed both the rains of ’73 and Hurricane Irene. There were three feet of water flowing over the entrance road, and waves lapped just twelve inches below the floor of the Lake Tent. Following reveille – and the common-sense cancellation of Polar Bear dips – Dan Reed and various other staff took the first steps (or paddles) towards reconstruction by retrieving vagrant sailboats, paddle boards, and wake boards from all over the pond. Meanwhile, Tom Ciglar and our other chefs waded bravely to their stations and had a hearty breakfast ready at the appointed 8:30 time. Tom determined along the way that, with a few menu adjustments, we had adequate stores in place to feed the camp family well for four days, should our access to supplies be affected.

The mood in the mess hall was distinctly buoyant, as might be expected when a group comes through shared excitement in good order. Boys and staff alike listened with rapt attention when Head of Nature Larry Davis (whose day job is as a university hydrologist) reviewed what we had all witnessed. This was absolutely a classic flash flood, he explained. The preconditions of soil being completely saturated by earlier precipitation and, in turn, resting in a very thin layer over the underlying granite meant that the three-plus inches of rain we received over roughly eight hours had nowhere to go but downstream – in massive quantities, at great speed, and with terrific power. Since there was a lag-time in drainage of approximately eight or ten hours, we could expect the lake to keep rising for that length of time. After that, it would likely take three or four days for the waters to return to something like their normal level.

Campers and staff pitch in to put camp back together again

Campers and staff pitch in to clean up

Intent on controlling everything we could, we proceeded with inspection clean-up just as usual, after which the boys left their cabins for various organized activities and, for those who chose to help, general grounds clean-up. Reed Harrigan was seemingly everywhere on his John Deere tractor, while Athletic Director and Grounds maven Charlie Malcolm, co-owner Peter Fauver, and Assistant Director Kenny Moore all buckled down to various essential tasks, often joined by keen volunteers from amongst our paying customers. In a further nod to normalcy beyond the morning’s inspection, we still required the boys to write their routine Sunday letters home. We admit to some curiosity about what they may have told you all about the recent cataclysm. If you have any amusing examples you are willing to share, please do.

Water basketball, flood-style

Water basketball, flood-style

That afternoon – still beautifully sunny – brought more activities, including water-basketball for the Seniors. A reprise of one of ’73’s most memorable post-deluge entertainments, this bizarre combination of water polo and hoops proved hugely popular and was repeated the following day for Uppers. (Check out this video captured by drone of Pemi’s water basketball, by Red Dog Aerial Video!). Meanwhile, Commodore Emily Palmer manned the safety boat and, with the assistance of TRJR and the rest of the trip crew, ferried an entire camp’s laundry bags (~240) from their cabins to the other side of the flooded bridge, where they were loaded into our sequestered vans for a Monday pick-up. By 5 PM, ten hours into his day, Reed on his John Deere had most of the camp’s roads beginning to look normal; certainly navigable if need be.

Saturday campfire, on Sunday. New location.

Saturday campfire, on Sunday. New location.

Speaking of roads, following our traditional Sunday evening cookout and because the campfire circle was still under three feet of water, we held our traditional Saturday night gathering for the first time on Sunday night AND with the bonfire built on the road just in front of the mess hall. The Senior camp had teamed up to bring all the benches up from athletic fields to which they had been moved to avoid the rising lake waters, and they made a cozy little semi-circle for the camp family to gather. The setting couldn’t have been lovelier, with a back-drop consisting of our green athletic fields stretching out for hundreds of yards, framed on either side by the wooded slopes of our valley (already blued with the coming night’s shadows) and the sunlit ramparts of Mount Carr, all the way down past Wentworth, modulating, as the evening progressed, from flaming yellow to glowing orange to amber. The entertainment was as good as ever – including Dan Reed and Becky Noel’s sweet rendition of Jason Mraz’s “Lucky,” Will Weber’s second tour de force on classical guitar, and Peter Moody’s infectious group-sing extolling the virtues of Bazooka Bubble Gum. As we swayed, finally, to the timeless words of the Campfire Song – “I wonder if anyone’s better for anything I’ve done or said” – many present could pat themselves modestly on their backs for the efforts they had made over the past 48 hours to pitch in at a time of crisis.

Monday, July 3

Monday brought still more brilliant sunshine, and a new week of occupations kicked off with each and every activity that didn’t involve swimming (either purposeful or inadvertent) carrying on as usual. That afternoon, Juniors 3 and 4 headed off under gorgeous blue skies for Rattlesnake Mountain, the only oddity being that the campers were piggy-backed through shallows to rowboats by the longer-legged members of the 15-and-under tennis team, also waiting to leave camp (and assisted in their St. Christopherian kindnesses by office-staffers Kim Malcolm and Heather Leeds). The boys were then towed to the newly emerged bridge by Sam Dixon, Will Katcher, and TRJR. Rarely if ever have Pemi hikers begun their mountain ascents with a voyage by sea, such as Dantrell Frazier, Teddy Rose, Atticus Barocas, Henry Ravanesi, and their cabin mates enjoyed Monday last. Surf and Turf, would it be?

First provisions arrive since the flood

First provisions since the flood

Monday afternoon also saw Tom Ciglar making a trip to the local grocery to top up provisions and supplies in the kitchen, and by 5PM Reed Harrigan had safely driven one of the camp pick-ups through hub-deep water to the bridge. It boded well for a dry roadway the following morning and, along with that, full communications with the outside world – Sysco food deliveries, FedEx, and the friendly UPS man alike. By 7:30, the weekly ladling of Bean Soup had begun in the Lodge, and the staple Pemi “Clam Song,” with its macabre narrative of a mollusk-sliced foot, was presented in re-written form to celebrate recent events – its infamous choral “Blood! Blood! Blood!” of course now altered to “Flood! Flood! Flood!” And so, as often happens, the wry and resilient human spirit responds to adversity with exultant laughter. Thanks, Wes Eifler, Harry Cooke, and Dan Reed, for lending your imagination and wit to the Pemi recovery.

Back to camp as usual

A few odds and ends of that recovery remained to be achieved, most notably a program of laboratory testing of our lake water to make absolutely certain that it was safe to let the boys swim in the pond. One week following the flood, we received the all-clear from the lab technicians, and at 5 PM Saturday the 8th, Charlotte Jones and her lifeguards oversaw the first swim since the storm clouds rumbled into our valley just a week before. Overall, not a bad rebound after a fifty-year deluge!

–TRJR

Videos and images of the 2017 Flood:

Junior Camp

Junior Camp

Junior Squish

Junior Squish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visitors arrive by boat

Visitors arrive by boat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ferrying 240 laundry bags to the bridge for Monday morning pick-up

Ferrying 240 laundry bags to the bridge for Monday morning pick-up

View from the Library

View from the Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volunteer clean-up crew!

Volunteer clean-up crew!

 

Rebuilding the road

Rebuilding the road

 

Reed Harrigan

Reed Harrigan

Penelope Reed Doob, August 16, 1943–March 11, 2017

Penelope Reed Doob

Penelope Reed Doob

Penelope Reed Doob died peacefully on March 11th, in Toronto, Ontario, after a long and brave battle with Parkinson’s disease. A member of Pemi’s Board of Directors, she was 73 years old.

Penelope was the granddaughter of Pemi co-founder Dudley “Doc” Reed and his wife Clara Jane, the daughter of Tom and Betsy Reed, and sister to Tom Reed, Jr. She spent all of her early summers at Pemi before going off to Camp Interlaken, first as a camper and then as a counselor. Pemigewassett was nevertheless her first love, and on her last visit to Wentworth in the summer of 2015, she made it clear that it was her favorite spot on earth – this from someone whose many travels had taken her as far afield as Australia. Aside from her role on the Pemi Board, she contributed directly to the camp program for decades, first helping Betsy with our annual Gilbert and Sullivan productions and then taking over as producer and co-director of the lively operettas.

Beyond the Baker Valley, Penelope was a Professor of Dance, English Literature, and Women’s Studies at York University, where she also served as Chair of the Department of Dance, Associate Vice President of Faculties, Associate Principal of Glendon College, and Academic Director for York’s Center for the Support of Teaching. Her teaching and research areas encompassed Medieval and Renaissance studies, dance history and criticism, sexual stereotypes in opera, literature, and dance, and non-fiction writing. She published three books: Nebuchadnezzer’s Children: Conventions of Madness in Medieval Literature; The Idea of the Labyrinth from the Classical Period through the Middle Ages; and, with Charlotte Morse and Marjorie Woods, The Uses of Manuscripts in Literary Studies. She also co-authored legendary Canadian principal dancer Karen Kain’s autobiography, Movement Never Lies.

Penelope’s reviews and feature articles appeared in publications such as the Toronto Globe and Mail, the Ottawa Citizen, Dance Magazine, Ballet News, Performing Arts in Canada, and Ballet International. She developed more than 20 documentaries for the CBC Radio program, The Dance, and wrote extensive historical program notes for the National Ballet of Canada.

A graduate of The Lincoln School in Providence, Rhode Island, Penelope went on to major in English Literature at Harvard University, where she graduated summa cum laude. She took her doctorate at Stanford University, her dissertation there becoming her first book, on medieval madness. Among her academic honors, she was the recipient of Woodrow Wilson, Kent, and Guggenheim Fellowships. Despite a lifelong fascination with the arts, she was also keenly interested in the sciences, and was a founding President of Reed McFadden, a medical research company focusing on HIV/AIDS.

Despite her singular academic abilities and professional accomplishments, Penelope was as proud of her family’s involvement with Pemi as she was of anything in her life. An aficionado of international opera and ballet, she was as happy to watch mealtime singing in the mess hall as she was to watch Placido Domingo or Natalia Makarova perform at Covent Garden. As brilliant and engaged as Penelope was, she was also patient and caring. She was principled but never doctrinaire, inspiring but never condescending, a most serious person who could, oh so often, be seen laughing on the very edges of bodily control. As her resume suggests, she was never afraid to try something new. If you are willing to imagine the Pemi Kid as a girl rather than a boy, she could easily have been the model. We are richer for her presence and will miss her greatly

Plans for commemorating Penelope are still taking shape. We will pass them along as they become clearer. The family has decided that donations in Penelope’s memory might be directed towards The Parkinson’s Foundation, The Humane Society, and Public Broadcasting (PBS or NPR). All were organizations in which she believed and which she supported over the years.

~Tom Reed, Jr.

 

Allyson Fauver Joins Pemi’s Administrative Team

As reported earlier, Pemi’s Board of Directors and the nine members of the fourth generation of Pemi’s two founding families have met both in person and via phone on several occasions over the past couple of years to lay the groundwork for a smooth transition to Pemi’s future. While many of the third generation will continue to be presences at camp during the summer and serve both in supportive and hands-on ways year ’round, we are eager to make provisions for more practical experience for those who’ve expressed interest.

Allyson Fauver

Allyson Fauver

With that in mind, we’re delighted to introduce a newcomer to Pemi’s staff, though she is far from a rookie. As a “G4” member, Allyson Fauver spent many beloved summers at Pemi, living “up the Hill” along with her grandparents, Al and Bertha Fauver, while her father Fred was on staff and her brother Jon was a camper. In 1999, Allyson served as support staff for Pemi West. More recently, she’s worked behind-the-scenes as a board member and now serves as Treasurer.

With preparations for the 2017 camp season upon us, Allyson’s role is expanding to assist director Danny Kerr with numerous administrative tasks previously overseen by Dottie Reed, including supporting parents and staff through the crucial and involved process of submitting required forms. As a self-proclaimed “organization, paperwork, and details person,” Allyson couldn’t be better suited to serve Pemi in this central capacity. (In the meantime, Dottie and Tom are enjoying settling in to their new home in Sarasota, Florida, and look forward to being at Pemi for the summer!)

Allyson’s favorite memories of growing up on the shores of Lower Baker? I never wore shoes. The Nature Lodge was my favorite spot, especially the aquarium of mussels, frogs, and minnows, the rock polisher, and the bank of ferns out back. Cookout was my favorite meal of the week, and I loved helping deliver crates to cabins from the back of the big truck. (I’m sure I was a big help.) I always looked forward to the costumes of Gilbert and Sullivan, and was eternally delighted by Tom Reed, Jr’s, ‘I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General.’” 

Allyson earned a BA in International Studies from Marlboro College in Maine and a JD from the University of Maine School of Law. She currently lives in Bozeman, Montana, where she is the founding partner of Solve, a team of three colleagues dedicated to supporting nonprofit and social profit institutions.

We’re thrilled to have Allyson in the trenches and know that our community will benefit greatly from both her professional skills and her deep love of Pemi.

~ Dottie Reed

 

 

 

 

Betsy Mook Reed, May 15, 1917–June 13, 2016

Here, after a busy but excellent summer at Camp Pemi, is the follow-up promised in our earlier post noting Betsy Reed’s death on June 13th.

Betsy died at the Thornwald Home in Carlisle, PA, where she had been living since May, 2014. She was literally only four blocks from Tom and Dottie’s house in town, and she announced within a day of first arriving there that she felt “so safe” amongst such “lovely people.” “Aren’t we lucky?” was for months and months to come her most frequent utterance, always delivered with a twinkling smile. Betsy quickly became the establishment’s songbird, spontaneously breaking into lilting melodies at all hours, for all present – residents, staff, and visitors alike. Even on the morning of June 11th, two days before she died, she brought our visit to a close with her final song – wordless, without any real identifiable melody, but offered with an unmistakably brave and generous spirit, as though to say in the only way she could manage, “Let my last message to you be wrapped in a joyous air.”

Betsy Mook ReedFollowing Tom’s passing in July of 2010, Betsy had spent her winters in their beautiful apartment in Oberlin, Ohio, to which they had moved from Providence twenty-one years earlier. For decades, they relished the remarkable musical and cultural offerings afforded by the College and Conservatory, and Betsy had learned to embrace the Cleveland Indians at least as warmly as she had the Red Sox. (Tom, by the way, always maintained his boyhood loyalties to his White Sox.) After Tom’s death, she was lovingly looked after both in Oberlin and at Camp Pemi by John Peck and Phyllis Rothemich, dear friends from Warren, New Hampshire, who became family in every important way. All the while, she kept Tom’s ashes on a gate-leg table near her dining room chair, labeled with this handwritten note in which you might catch a whiff of her pragmatic whimsy: “The ashes of Thomas L. Reed, Sr. To be sprinkled at Camp Pemigewassett, Wentworth, New Hampshire, along with those of Betsy Mook Reed – when available.”

Betsy Mook ReedBetsy was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 15, 1917, the daughter of DeLo Emerson Mook, a prominent Cleveland lawyer, and Vivian Maynard Mook, a former grade school teacher. Vivian died when Betsy was only three, and for a number of years, she and her older brothers Emerson and Maynard were looked after by a series of housekeepers, not all of whom were, in Betsy’s estimation, perfect Mary Poppinses. After a number of years, though, DeLo married Lois Tuckerman, who became an almost ideal stepmother for the three children: brilliant, attentive, and forever determined to live a life of intellectual fulfillment in an age when women weren’t always afforded that opportunity. Lois’s one shortcoming, according to the ever-stylish Betsy, was that she didn’t care very much about the principles of fashion. (One of the most remarkable things about Betsy, as some of you will remember, was her startling adeptness at climbing one moment into painter’s clothes and transforming a room from ceiling to floor and then, ten minutes after cleaning her brushes, emerging from her dressing room looking prepped for an Richard Avedon portrait). Among the joys of Lois and Betsy’s life together, though, were the summers they spent at DeLo’s wilderness hunting camp in Quebec, where Betsy remembered fishing with First Nation guides and eating wild rice that they had harvested in the bottoms of their birch bark canoes.

As a graduate of Harvard Law School, Betsy’s father wanted her to attend Radcliffe, but Betsy had her sights set on a completely co-educational institution, and Oberlin College, some thirty miles from the Mook homestead in Cleveland Heights, became their compromise. Once at Oberlin, Betsy continued the involvement in choral music she had begun in High School, and she soon decided that a major in English best suited the love of the classics she had cultivated with a very literate father and stepmother. She was also quickly noticed as one of the most beautiful young women on campus, and when it emerged that she and the dashing Tom Reed (four-letter athlete and stellar English major in the class just above hers) were seeing each other on a regular basis, it was widely deemed a match worthy of Hollywood.

Tom and Betsy were married on May 17th, 1941, with Tom’s longtime best friend and Camp Pemi compatriot Al Fauver standing as his best man. Tom had begun his graduate studies in Art History at Harvard, but the war led him to enlist in the U.S. Navy, where he served on the medical staff in the Induction Center in New York City. Their daughter Penelope was born in August of 1943 – in New Hampshire, Betsy having retreated to her in-laws’ house at Pemi during one of the hottest summers on record. Son Tom Reed, Jr., followed in June of 1947, after which Tom, Sr., took a position on the Art History faculty at Brown University.

Betsy Mook ReedAs their years in Providence unfolded, Betsy’s love of working with children (together with a remarkable talent for woodworking that she had picked up who-knows-where?) led her to jobs, first, at The Gordon School and, then, at Providence Country Day School, teaching what was then quaintly dubbed “Manual Training.” Summers, of course, were spent at Camp Pemi, where in the summer of 1951, Betsy and Scott Withrow were the motive forces behind the first-ever Gilbert and Sullivan production at our camp, HMS Pinafore. The show featured Betsy as Josephine and the future mayor of Indianapolis, Bill Hudnut, at Ralph Rackstraw. She thereafter kept that ball in the air for well over half a century, making Pemi an incalculably richer place as a result.

Betsy’s later involvements in Providence included her taking an apparel design course at the Rhode Island School of Design (to which Tom had moved in the mid 1950’s) and then teaching the same at Providence’s storied Handicraft Club. Her circle of friends and former students in Providence was huge and appreciative, so when she and Tom moved to Oberlin in May of 1989, some of us were worried that she would miss the connectedness involved. Always outgoing and gregarious, though, she and Tom quickly established themselves as dynamic members of Oberlin’s community of cosmopolitan seniors. They continued to love and indulge in European travel, something they had begun with Penelope and Tom, Jr., on Tom, Sr’s year-long sabbatical in 1953-54. It was then, in fact, that Betsy first and indelibly established her capacity to travel with a modestly-sized suitcase yet emerge every day as though Edith Head and a dozen wardrobe assistants had seen to her apparel.

Betsy Mook ReedEffortless grace. That, whether it was apparent or actual, was Betsy’s essence. Her kindness flowed from her soul – instinctually, it seemed. She was willing to tackle absolutely anything and, by the time she had thought about it for a moment or two, her impeccable planning flowed into speedy execution and, thence, into most satisfactory completion. She was beautiful, but in a modest way that never called attention to itself. She sewed, and entertained, and built as though a needle and thread, Amy Vanderbilt’s books on etiquette and cuisine, and a hammer and Skil-saw had been the equipage of her cradle. In another age, she could have been anything. In her own, she was happy and fulfilled attending to the world she found around her – as an adoring but sometimes skeptical wife, a loving yet challenging mother (to hundreds of camp boys as well as Penelope and Tom, Jr.), an inspiring teacher, and a spirited fellow traveler to all who knew her. “Hurricane Betsy,” is what Tom, Jr. liked to call her – “wreaking order wherever she goes.” Order and joy.

A celebration of Betsy’s life will be held some time in the coming year, perhaps in conjunction with Pemi’s 110th Reunion next summer. In the mean time, contributions in her memory may be sent to Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, where Betsy volunteered; The World Wildlife Fund; or The Fred Rittner Pemi Campership Fund.

~ Tom Reed, Jr.

Betsy Mook Reed, May 15, 1917 – June 13, 2016

Pemi's 50th Reunion, 1957

Pemi’s 50th Reunion, 1957

We want to pass along the word that Betsy Reed died Monday afternoon, June 13th, in Carlisle Pennsylvania.  Tom and Dottie were at her side as she made the peaceful crossing. She had just turned 99, “nearly a hundred.” The sadness of the news is tempered by the fact that Betsy had enjoyed a long and wonderful life and was as ready to go as anyone could possibly be. We imagine that Tom Sr. had been looking impatiently at his watch for several years, and Betsy finally closed the books on her busy worldly engagements and went to join him with a ravishing smile on her face. Al Fauver may have been in the vicinity with a pitcher of whiskey sours.

 

Summertime mother and grandmother to generations of Pemi boys

Summertime mother and grandmother to generations of Pemi boys

We will send out a longer and more detailed account of Betsy’s storied life within the next weeks, together with information about where charitable contributions in her memory might be sent. There will also be a memorial gathering at some future time, most likely at the camp she graced for over seventy years. In the mean time, hers has been a long life filled with, and producing, much joy. It was our supreme good luck to have had Betsy Mook Reed in our world for so many years.

 

TRJR

Alfred Nye Fauver, August 15, 1915 – February 13, 2016

Al FauverWe are saddened to share the news that Al Fauver died on February 13, almost 6 months following his 100th birthday. Since passing the century mark, Al’s spirit has remained strong, though his physical decline has been steady, suggesting to his heart and mind that the time had come to move on. Al’s love for Bertha, his family, and Pemi have dominated his thoughts in his final months.

Al and Bertha were fortunate to spend the last several months at their home in Plymouth, rather than at their usual winter retreat in Vero Beach. This was a decision that allowed them to enjoy the peace of fires in the fireplace, a few snowflakes, and time with family and friends in the pastoral place where they have lived and loved for more than 50 years.

We look back on Al’s birthday celebration in August as a time when many had the chance to share thoughts and memories of the past, and to recognize and appreciate the Pemi connection that has enriched so many. Al, son of Pemi founder Edgar Fauver and his wife Alice, had a life-long connection. Pemi was his first home, where he arrived several days after his birth in August of 1915. He was later a camper, counselor, owner since the ‘40s, director from the ‘40s to the ‘80s, and an active board member until the time of his death.

In the ‘50s, Al moved his family to New Hampshire, to be closer to Pemi. Al was known for his kindness, wisdom, leadership by example, and selfless devotion to Pemi. There are many who are better for something Al might have done or said, in the times that their paths crossed on the shores of Lower Baker. The fondness Al felt for so many in the Pemi family is something that gave him strength and nurtured the good will in his heart until the end of his days.

There are no plans for an immediate service; it is expected that a celebration of Al’s life will be set for a later date. The Pemi family will be warmly welcomed to attend.

– The Fauver Family

Cans From Campers: A Community Service Effort

Let’s Start a New “Season of Giving” with Cans From Campers

In June 2015, Camp Pemigewassett launched Cans from Campers, a food drive on the opening day of our season, an initiative in response to a growing interest in community service among our campers. Our focus was timely. We learned through the process that food pantries suffer a significant decline in donations during the summer months since food drives typically are held in November and December, the “season of giving.” Additionally, according to “Summer Shouldn’t Mean Hunger” in November 2015’s US News & World Report opinion section:

During the school year, approximately 22 million kids count on the nutrition they need from school meals. At the close of the school year, access to those meals ends and for far too many kids, summer break means struggling with hunger.

Cans from Campers was simple to implement. A conversation in the spring with the New Hampshire Food Bank in Manchester helped to identify a local food pantry, and a call to the head volunteer at the location provided us with the information we needed to coordinate our schedule with theirs.

In a pre-season email to our families and staff, Dan Reed and Sarah Fauver, members of the fourth generation of Pemi’s founding families, suggested they add a canned good or non-perishable when they packed camp gear for the coming weeks. As a fun twist to the idea, they also suggested that campers and staff consider bringing a can for every year they’d been at Pemi. (For several campers, that could mean 6, 7, 8, or even 9 items. And for one of our staff members, 46!)

Cans From Campers took place on our opening day in June and again in mid-July when our Second Session boys arrived. After being warmly greeted by Director Danny Kerr and Assistant Director Ken Moore, campers arriving by car came upon Dan and Sarah, who had staged a collection site near the office—a bright yellow kayak—just in case our campers came with a donation in hand. It didn’t take long to see that the food drive idea had been embraced enthusiastically by campers and parents alike. Even boys who came by bus and plane managed to wedge a can of tuna or a box of mac ‘n’ cheese into their luggage. By the end of the day, the kayak “looked like a cross between Noah’s Ark and a polyethylene cornucopia” (to quote that week’s summer newsletter).

Cans From Campers at Pemi

Many boys (and Dads who are alums) brought a can for each year they’d been a camper at Pemi

As the window of time for arrivals came to a close, eager helpers stepped in to count, sort, and organize the soups, cereals, canned vegetables, beans, and rice that filled and surrounded the vessel. Two days later, five campers—selected from 30 who volunteered—hoisted dozens of loaded boxes and bags into a camp van to personally deliver the bounty to the local food pantry during their open hours.

Cans From Campers at Pemi

Pemi campers load the goods into a van via assembly line and deliver them to a local food pantry

After our boys unloaded the goods, Ted, the head food pantry volunteer, gave an informative talk about the services they provide and the 351 families they serve in fourteen surrounding counties. Another volunteer referred to charts on the wall to illustrate how servings are calculated. Two refrigerators and a freezer hummed in the background, ready for the possible donation of soon-to-expire meat and produce—staples needed for a nutritious, balanced diet—from two local grocery stores. We learned that, unfortunately, one such dependable store had recently started to sell these items at deeply discounted prices rather than donate them.

Cans_talk

A volunteer at the food pantry gives a talk on the families they serve; a chart illustrates how to calculate servings

By all measurable means, our inaugural food drive was a tremendous success—with our modest camp community of 254 campers (from our two arrival days), plus staff donating over 800 cans and other non-perishables, serving well over 100 local families ranging in size from one to nine members and providing an appreciable contribution to the 3,052 meals served by the food pantry during the month of July.

While our goal was to provide a basic need for those less fortunate in our surrounding area, the opening day endeavor also had an extremely positive impact on our own camp community. A single camper’s simple and kind gesture upon his arrival quickly grew into a visually stunning, cumulative effort, achieved only when many work together. The spirit of generosity and community-mindedness and of respect and empathy in action—a culture that we aim to build each and every summer—was launched in a yellow kayak in the center of camp for all to see and consider.

Pemi boys and food pantry staff

Pemi boys and food pantry staff

When asked about his experience of going to the food pantry, Matthew McDonough, 12, said, “I’ve done food drives before at home (New Jersey) so I know it feels good to help. Mostly I was surprised to hear how many hungry families there are. When I think of New Hampshire, I think of going to camp and how rural it is.”

This coming June we’ll do our part and will host Pemi’s 2nd annual Cans From Campers. But just think; if food pantries regularly see a decline in donations starting in June, and if summer camps are gearing up at exactly that time, imagine the potential impact that summer camps across the country could have in fighting hunger in the rural or urban communities that surround them merely by adopting this simple tradition. After all, every summer camp has an opening day, and camps with multiple sessions have multiple “opening days” throughout the summer. All it takes is the suggestion that campers pack a can of food along with their bathing suit and sunscreen.

To that end, we’ll reach out to other camps in our area to relay our experience…the camps we typically see on the soccer pitch or baseball diamond, or camps that many of our campers’ sisters attend. If they’d like to host their own opening day food drive, perhaps we can coordinate efforts. The NH Food Bank stands ready to serve as a resource for camps that join in.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the idea catches on with summer camps all across the country? Camps could very well be a key player in helping to reduce the spike in summertime hunger experienced in the communities around us all. Perhaps Cans From Campers could even establish a new “season of giving.”

~ Dottie Reed

Cans_From_Campers_KayakLinks to further reading:
Feeding America
No Kid Hungry
NH Food Bank

Find your local food bank:
http://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank/