#7: Setting the Standard

2019 Newsletter Number 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kim Malcolm's bookshelf

Kim Malcolm’s bookshelf

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

Visit Day

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

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

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

Dr. Sabrina DeStefano

Dr. Sabrina DeStefano

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

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

Kim and Ken and our ACA visitors

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

Specialized Activities

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

Safety comes first on the Archery range

Safety comes first on the Archery range

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

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

–Kenny

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

#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.]

 

Stations of Life’s Journey

2017: Newsletter # 5

It’s been a momentous week at Camp Pemigewassett. No, there haven’t been any further floods (although it did rain a little bit more.) No victory on Tecumseh Day (yet! – and despite the fact that we did very nicely against Camp Moosilauke last weekend!) And no announcement of a Pulitzer Prize for the Bean Soup editorial staff (although Dan Reed and Wes Eifler did scribe some wonderful celebratory limericks for the annual Birthday Banquet.) No, instead, roughly eighty first-session campers said goodbye to us last Monday morning, while eighty second-sessioners arrived on Tuesday to start their own 2017 seasons. It’s especially gratifying when parents retrieving their sons report that their boy’s first words after a crushing hug were, “I’m definitely coming back for seven weeks next year.” It’s equally buoying to see returning veterans bouncing out of their cars and running over to old friends, taking exactly 2.5 seconds to fall into the kind of excited jabber you couldn’t interrupt with an air-raid siren. Session Two is off to an energetic and happy start, with our June arrivals very clearly getting a second wind from last Tuesday’s reinforcements. It doesn’t hurt, naturally, that the aforementioned Tecumseh Day is coming up this Friday. The annual showdown with our archrivals of the past 108 years never fails to get the Pemi engine running at peak RPMs.

Also most definitely revving up the week, though, have been the returns of the two major expeditions we mount every summer – the Allagash Canoe Trip and Pemi West. Both groups rolled back into camp on Friday: Pemi West at 9:30 P.M. and the Allagash van on the stroke of midnight. There are many ways for a boy to extend himself at Pemi, whether he’s a special devotee of athletics, the arts and music, nature, or the trip program. Nothing we do with our fifteen-year-olds, however, offers quite the challenge embodied in the sixty-to-seventy-mile, five-day paddle down the Allagash River through the untamed wilderness of northern Maine. Yet, exciting and demanding as this inland voyage may be, it has to take a second seat to the exacting, life-altering mountain leadership program that is Pemi West. Every year, eight to twelve Pemi veterans aged sixteen or seventeen (sometimes with interested boys or girls who haven’t been with us in Wentworth) set out for Washington State’s Olympic National Park for three and a half weeks of wilderness backpacking, mountaineering, and rock-climbing. The program unquestionably builds on skills and interests acquired at Pemi East (with many participants having in fact cut their teeth on wilderness adventure up on the Allagash!), but advanced training in Wilderness First Aid, glacier travel, and various other skills required in mountaineering and rock climbing make the course as personally groundbreaking as it is exciting. Participants learn to assess their capabilities relative to challenges of multiple sorts, make wise decisions and carry them out with determination and good judgment, and, perhaps most important of all, cultivate a selfless and supportive group ethic that makes for collective success on the trail and, for many years to come, elsewhere as well. The Allagash boys come back to Pemi as leaders of their fellow campers. The Pemi West crew come back as all but assistant counselors and, as often as not, become our very best cabin counselors in subsequent years.

Allagash Trip

2017 Allagash trip

2017 Allagash trip

This year’s Allagash trip was led by veteran Pemi trip counselors Harry Morris and Nick Davini. Under their skilled guidance, Brodie Fisher, Teddy Foley, Miles Schiff Stein, Frank Applebaum, Eli Barlow, Scott Cook, Nathan King, Elliot Muffett, Suraj Khakee, and Owen Lee left camp a week ago Monday, just as the sun was rising across the mist-filled valley. Harry and Nick had decided this year to bypass the sometimes wind-bound Allagash lakes and return to the river section of the waterway, which consists of a 63-mile paddle from Churchill Dam to the Village of Allagash. Including the out and back drives of nearly 500 miles each, the group spent five days away from camp, one more than usual for this outing. They paddled each day from about 8 AM to 3:30 or 4:00 PM, giving them plenty of time on the river as well as allowing them to relax at the excellent campsites that grace that stretch of the waterway. As in past year’s, the group saw multiple moose, over a dozen bald eagles, and lots of other wildlife not typically seen here in New Hampshire. The boys, report Harry and Nick, were absolutely excellent this year. They had been in training for three weeks, paddling on our pond on a daily basis, learning the various strokes required for a demanding river passage, learning how to deal with and recover from capsizing, and trying out the skills of portaging. They had also been on two preparatory river trips, such that when they finally hit the Allagash, they were practiced and confident, and thus able to appreciate all the more the magnificently wild setting through which they travelled. Harry and Nick were especially impressed with everyone’s willingness to lend a helping hand to others when the need arose. A tight-knit group even before they left, they returned sun-bronzed and happy, bonded together even more closely through the rigors, and the pleasures, of the trip.

Pemi West

This year’s Pemi West group was comprised of Pemi veterans Dash Slamowitz, Sam Beesley, Pierce Haley, Jackson Morrell, Reed O’Brien, Will Adams, George Cook, Nolan Katcher, and Andrew Kanovsky. Under the experienced guidance of Pemi West Director Dave Robb and his co-instructors Tim Heltzel and Regan Narin, they quickly learned everything they needed to know about organizing their 40-50-pound packs for ease of carrying and quick access to crucial gear; planning, provisioning, and cooking their meals; setting realistic goals for the day’s travel; situating their campsites; moving across glaciers with ropes on their harnesses, crampons on their boots, and ice axes in their hands; glissading and self-arresting after falls; and scores of other skills and necessities for backcountry travel. Once they had mastered the basics and repeated them enough for them to become reflexes and routines, each participant took his turn as leader of the day, assuming total responsibility for everything from determining wake-up time and their optimal route to deciding upon their final destination. Dave, Tim, and Regan were always in the wings, shadowing the group, but Pemi’s “mountain leadership” program required exactly that of all the boys in turn: leadership, with all of the challenges, opportunities, uncertainties, doubts, realizations, and rewards that being a leader involves. In the wonderful talk they gave to the entire Pemi East community this past Sunday evening, they spoke eloquently about the self-knowledge that comes from being in charge of a group you care about and having to decide, in the moment, what the best way might be to work with a number of other strong-minded individuals in order to achieve an important goal. There were also 24-hour solos, when each participant became his own Thoreau on Walden Pond and had a chance truly to digest what he had gone through on this mountain odyssey, how it was all changing him, how different the coming months and years might promise to be as a result.

2017 Pemi West group

2017 Pemi West group

It was all such a daunting prospect, for starters. Two and a half weeks in the backcountry, carrying everything you need, save for what you will unpack from the back of a friendly llama at the resupply ten or twelve days in! Sam Beesley’s remarks on Sunday were especially revealing. The first several days on the trail, he literally wasn’t sure he could make it. Though a seasoned distance runner, he had never encountered anything this taxing. His thoughts were all about how infernally heavy his pack was, how he had made a mistake ever signing on for this, how slogging through two more weeks seemed a complete impossibility. Even as he wrestled with these doubts, though, he could imagine another Sam, a future Sam, who might look back on all this with a profound sense of pride, pleasure, and accomplishment. Mile by mile, day by day, the self-doubting boy in the woods somehow became the proven and joyous traveler through the wild, and Sam’s personal prognostications solidified into a reality. “As we all finished the last three miles of the trip by ourselves, I realized that I wanted to stay longer. And as we camped in the front country and as we got further and further from the Park and deeper into civilization, I missed the wilderness more and more. I missed the quietness of it, the solitude and feeling of self-sufficiency that comes with spending weeks in the woods. The need to get back to the natural world was not one I had ever felt before. I’m pretty sure the Sam who was first counting down the days till the end of the trip would find the Sam who wished the trip would never end was kind of insane. But I guess you don’t know how good you’ve got it until it’s over.” It’s hard to know how better the philosophical and personal payoffs of a rigorous mountain adventure might be expressed. Everyone in the Lodge knew that they were witness to lives that had been irrevocably enhanced, even transformed. Oh, the lucky ones (this year’s Allagashers among them) for whom the Olympic Range might be next summer’s play- and proving ground alike!

Distance Swim

Distance swim

Distance swimmer

Many Pemi West participants have indeed first worked up an appetite for the rigors of extended wilderness travel on the Allagash waterway. Pemi is not unique in believing that boys and girls thrive best when they are introduced to appropriate challenges at just the appropriate age, but we do try to structure many things at camp in a way that allows our boys to match being satisfied with things they’ve already mastered with the boldness needed to take on things they’ve not yet tried. Historically, one of the most dependable building blocks of self-validation and confidence has been the “distance swim,” the half-mile, staff-escorted swim that qualifies a boy to take out a boat on his own or with a fellow camper. Hard as it may be to believe, some boys arrive at camp never having swum in anything other than a pool – or perhaps in the wave-tumbled shallows of the ocean shore. The prospect of swimming the equivalent of 30 to 35 pool lengths when you can’t even see the bottom (let alone count on being able to touch it if you tire) can be extremely daunting to an eight-, eleven-, or even fourteen-year-old. It hardly matters that staff members are just feet ahead in a rowboat, with their life-saving tube at the ready. You still feel very much alone (and I am remembering the feeling distinctly, almost with a chill, as I write this sixty years after my own first distance swim!) You wonder whether you have it in you to move past the first fifty yards – to the second – to the tenth – to the fifteenth. But, as the chilly waters seem almost to warm with your extended effort and the float that is your destination grows from the apparent dimensions of a Lego spied across an amphitheater to a sofa cushion viewed from the coffee table, you get that giddy feeling that you’re going to make it. Maybe your biggest worry now, in fact, is that, when you pull yourself up, arm-weary, onto the float, your smile will be so broad and crazy that your counselor will be forced to chuckle at your extravagant pleasure. “Of course I could manage,” you’ll want to say. “Never the slightest doubt! (And boy, are my arms exhausted!)” You look forward to the cheer of acknowledgement in the mess hall that night – even though you’ll blush when you hear it. Playing Frisbee running bases that evening, you’ll pause to recall what you’ve managed to do – and that silly smile may bloom once again. That night, after taps, as your counselor starts to read the next chapter of Treasure Island, you’ll think quietly to yourself, “Maybe I’m more like Jim Hawkins than I thought.” These are the little steps, of body and mind, that mark so distinctly our progress as we grow up, get stronger, believe in ourselves.

We’ll close by looking at the Distance Swim from a slightly different angle –a perspective offered by former Director Tom Reed, Sr., who left us in 2010. What follows is a transcription of a recording made in May of that year. It speaks, as we have spoken above, to the way boys can rise to challenges in a fashion that changes them forever for the better. But is also speaks to the incalculable satisfaction that can be derived from creating an atmosphere in which that change can happen. The boy may swim, but the giddy smile may belong as much to his counselor as to him. (Ask Kim Bradshaw who, just this past week, watched with delight as Jon Ciglar and Kieran Klasfeld, with whom she had been working for three summers, finally waded ashore after managing The Big Swim.) Somehow, inevitably, we are all in the water together. 

(Tom usually told this story at the last meeting of staff training week, the night before the campers arrived.) 

With regard to why we’re all here tonight, and for the remaining seven weeks of the season, it’s become customary for me to speak a little bit because of my long experience at Pemi myself. Some people may be here to make a huge salary. Don’t expect that to be the case. Others will come for a variety of reasons, but I want to explain, in a short story of what happened at Pemi one summer not too long ago, why we really are all here, every one of us. 

We had a camper I’ll call Matthew who was with us for two or three summers about twenty or twenty-five years ago. He was one of these appealing but somewhat ineffectual kids who really couldn’t do much that was likely to impress other campers, or even some of the staff. He was put in the Junior Camp, the only new kid in his cabin, and like all the other Juniors started out learning occupations (as we call the morning activities) including swimming. At Pemi, all campers must swim the half mile from the Senior Beach to the Junior Beach before they’re allowed to take boats out by themselves, as opposed to going out with a counselor. Well, so Matthew started out on this swimming program along with some other kids, and he wasn’t making much progress, and he and other people in the Junior Camp surely noticed that he wasn’t making much progress in other areas either. He didn’t seem to make new friends, he didn’t seem to get much better in tennis, or any activities like that. Meanwhile, all of the other Juniors, as usual, were making progress, sometimes immense progress, in other areas. So Matthew often seemed to be adrift, kind of a, oh, I don’t know how to describe him, in this sea of activity around him. 

Now, here’s where the story really starts. I think he must have become afraid of swimming somewhere else, because he was a very slow learner in the water, and while the other boys made rapid progress, he hardly made any progress at all. And he hated it. He would sometimes hide, and the counselors would have to come and find him, and almost drag him out to the swimming area. And they hated themselves for that, and he hated them too, I suppose, for that. But he made slow progress through the season. First it was swimming from dock to dock, then around the Junior swimming area, and finally to the Junior Point and back – quite a short distance, but significant psychologically in this case, I think.

And then comes the end of the summer, or nearing the end of the summer, with two days left to go, and Matthew still hasn’t swum his distance. He’s the only boy who hasn’t, and everybody in camp knows that. So what do the counselors do? Should they start him out on that swim, with the knowledge of what a huge thing it would be for him if he made it; or what an awful thing it would be if he tried and failed, with no time left to repeat. But they decided to do it, and just two days before the end of the season.  

I remember I was in the office with Holly Gardner, our secretary, working, when a little Junior ran by the open window and yelled in at us: “Matthew’s swimming his distance!”

Well, the sound of those words still sends a chill up and down my back. So Holly and I ran out onto the porch of the Lodge and, sure enough, there was Matthew in the water about fifty yards out, with a row boat ahead of him with two counselors in it, one rowing – you could hear the creaking of the oars – and the other holding a bamboo pole out over Matthew’s head (just off the stern of the boat) so that Matthew could grab that any time he wanted to for help. And there was a third counselor, Brad Saffer, the head of the swimming program in the Junior Camp that year, who, very unusually, was swimming in the water with Matthew, singing songs, mostly Gilbert and Sullivan songs, because Brad had starred in the show the night before and was going to again that night. And you could see the arms of Matthew rising laboriously above the water, and hear occasional conversation.  

As I say, Holly Gardner and I were working, and we came out and we saw this apparition, and we watched for a couple of minutes. And suddenly, unexpectedly, there was utter silence, and out of this silence, from across the water, came this little boy’s voice saying, “I’m gonna make it!” 

Well, I don’t know if I ever heard more thrilling words in my life to this day – except perhaps when [my wife] Betsy said “I do!” And Holly felt the same way. We both began to cry, and by this time, about half the camp was along the shore, watching Matthew make progress. And this is really significant, because with only a couple of days left in the season, boys who were good friends were much more likely to play tennis with each other, or some kind of activity like that, than to watch an eight-year-old boy swim in the lake. But there they were.  

Holly and I ran down to the Senior Beach, and by that time probably two thirds of the camp was there. And as Matthew came out of the water, the campers ran out to meet him, to shake his hand, and pat his back, and rub his hair and so on. And I wish you could have seen Matthew’s face, which really resembled the rising sun. I don’t think there was a person there who didn’t know what Matthew must have been thinking: “I did it! I did it all, every stroke of the way, all by myself.” (He wasn’t, of course, old enough yet to appreciate the full contributions the counselors had made.) And Matthew’s face also said, “If I can do something this hard, at which I wanted to give up, at which I had to work so hard all summer, and do it all by myself, then there may be nothing in life ahead of me which will be too hard for me to do.” Now if any of you who are or will be parents consider the full impact of this, you’ll know how important that was. I think the word “miracle” is not too strong to describe it. And then that night in the Mess Hall, Matthew had perhaps the longest, loudest cheer in Pemi’s history.

So that really is why we’re all here. Every one of you can do something somewhat like that for one of our campers; and if you can, do it. It doesn’t have to be big and dramatic, like Matthew’s story. Any little improvement here or there can work as a minor to a major miracle in a boy’s life. So we’re delighted to have you all here, and we’ll be working together on this and other important projects all summer. Thank you, and good night!

Baker Pond. The Allagash. The glacier-clad peaks of the distant Olympics. Crucial stations, all of them, on a life’s journey of growing confidence and consequence.

(Tune in next week for an account of Tecumseh Day 2017, penned by our storied Athletic Director, Charlie Malcolm.)

–TRJR

Take a hike!

Finalizing your plans for the upcoming holiday weekend? Why not take advantage of the extra time and anticipated gorgeous weather to get outside and take a hike!

Pemi’s trip program, one of our four core program areas, offers Pemi boys a variety of trip options from day hikes, to overnight trips, to AMC Hut adventures. For each trip, Pemi’s trip counselors work with the boys to pack all the necessary items in order to be prepared. Many of you are familiar with Pemi’s packing list, which includes a backpacker’s equipment list on the bottom.

Rob Verger, a former Pemi camper, counselor, and trip counselor, recently authored an article in Popular Science, that provided seven essential tips for a successful day-trip. You can find the full article by clicking here. Over many years, hiking countless trails in New Hampshire, Rob shares the following tips:

  1. Be nice to your feet
  2. Dress the part
  3. Layer up
  4. Stay hydrated and energized
  5. Expect the unexpected
  6. Include the finish touches
  7. Don’t forget a backpack

One or more of these will surely jog the memory of many Pemi Alumni. Perhaps you remember a Pemi hike where the unexpected happened, or when you needed to dig into your pack to pull out your raincoat? We welcome your stories and memories in the comment section below!

Rob finishes his article with the following closing, we agree entirely!

Having everything you need on your back for a day outside gives you an independent feeling. And that feeling is even better when you’re enjoying it while eating cheese and pepperoni on a breathtaking summit.

Links to Articles and Videos of Interest – March ’17

Over the winter, Pemi’s facebook page offered updates on Open Houses, alumni gatherings, and chance encounters, as well as steady postings of photos both old and new that made us smile, laugh, reflect, and—more often than not—ache to be with our friends at camp. Interspersed throughout have been links to timely topics and bits of interest from a variety of sources. As we like to do every few months, here’s a select compilation of those links that should make for easy binge reading if you’re not a facebook user or if you missed one along the way…

When you come across articles that you think the larger Pemi community might find of interest, please send them our way so we can share them with others!

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Links to Articles and Videos of Interest

Back upon request! Every several months or so we pluck a sampling of links to articles and videos of interest from Pemi’s Facebook page that have been posted among our steady updates. Several of the links below were brought to our attention by Pemi parents and friends. Read all or sample some, but above all, enjoy! (Especially the final link; you just can’t help but smile).

Teens say they’re addicted to technology. Here’s how parents can help   Washington Post

I send my kids to sleep-away camp to give them a competitive advantage in life  Washington Post

Bean Soup Special Edition – May 2016  Pemi Blog

I Love My Kid — That’s Why I Send Him Away For the Summer   Popsugar

‘Forest bathing’ is latest fitness trend to hit U.S. — ‘Where yoga was 30 years ago’  Washington Post

The Business of Fun: How this 108-year old summer camp stays relevant   US Chamber of Commerce
(a 2015 article featuring Camp Pemi that resurfaced on social media this summer!)

Why Camp Counselors Can Out-Parent Parents NY Times

Alumni Magazine – 2016 Preview  Pemi Blog

Trying (and failing) to model bravery for my child  Washington Post

IMG_3789What Hiking Does To The Brain Is Pretty Amazing  Wimp

The Importance of Free Play for Kids Outside Magazine

Hey parents, just stop: Overnight camps are cracking down on care packages  Washington Post

My Favorite Vacation: Summer Camp  NY Times

Overnight summer camps are better for your kids than SAT prep classes  Toronto Star

What’s the Right Age for a Child to Get a Smartphone?  NY Times

Lessons from Camp: Free From School-Year Demands, Summer Camps Are A Key Venue For Social-Emotional Learning  Research from Harvard Graduate School of Education

How to raise successful kids – without over-parenting  TED Talk

Indians’ belief in Terry Francona shown in magical World Series run  Sports Illustrated, by Pemi alum, Ben Reiter)

Summer 2016 weekly newsletters From #8 through to #1, in case you missed one!

And finally, the best feel-good link of all!…2016 Slideshow

 

Introducing Pemi’s 2016 Staff

Camp Pemigewassett's 2016 staff

Camp Pemigewassett’s 2016 staff

Each pre-season we ask our staff members to submit a short bio for this first blog post of the season. Introducing Pemi’s 2016 staff…

 

Danny Kerr (Director): This will be my 7th year as Director at Pemi and my 44th at summer camp and I’m only 29! This fuzzy math aside, I am looking forward to another terrific summer in 2016. When not doing the Director thing, I very much enjoy coaching baseball at Pemi, playing the guitar and basketball with the boys, and recruiting any camper or counselor I can to join the legion of small, but dedicated, New York Met fans, reigning NL Champions!

Tom Reed (Consulting Director and Head of Trips): I first came to Pemi as a two-week-old in June of 1947, and I’ve been at camp for all but about five summers since. I recently retired as Professor of English at Dickinson College, but I continue to run the Trip Program at Pemi, lead singing in the messhall, write weekly newsletters, and make sure the loons on the lake feel appreciated.

Kenny Moore (Assistant Director): This will be my 24th summer at Pemi, with the last 18 as a member of the Staff. During the summer, I serve as the Program Director and occasional swim coach. Alumni Relations, Pemi West, and general outreach are my main winter tasks for Pemi. Plainfield, NH is now home, (born and bred in Cleveland) with my wife Sarah, dogs Gertrude & Wentworth, and Harriet the horse.

Dottie Reed (Head Administrator): This will be my 29th summer at Pemi where I’ll continue to do what I can to make the season run smoothly. Tom and I recently moved out of our house of 26 years in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Our Pemi cabin ‘up the hill’ will be home into October, when we’ll start the trek to our new abode in Sarasota, Florida, officially earning the title ‘snowbirds’ as we embrace our new NH / FL life. Really?

Kim Malcolm (Administrator): This is my 25th year at Camp Pemi. During the offseason I live at Northfield Mt. Hermon School with my husband Charlie and 2 children. I am also a physical therapist.

Heather Leeds (Administrator): I’m excited to be working in the office for my 8th year at Pemi! During the winter I live at Northfield Mt. Hermon School with my husband Greg and our three children. I am director of Full Circle Elementary School where I also teach.

Cabin Counselors (CC) and Assistant Counselors (AC)

J1: Ray Seebeck (CC). After a great freshman year at Colby College, I will return to my home city next fall to chase my dream at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I am one of six Seebecks to spend summers on the shores of Lower Baker. This will be my first summer back since being a camper from ’05-’07. I plan to teach a sketchbook occupation, as well as help out in tennis, baseball, and on the waterfront. I am excited to reconnect with the Pemi community, and to help build a safe environment for personal growth and self-discovery.

J1: Per Soderberg (AC). My name is Per Soderberg, I am 17 years old and come from Sarasota Florida. This will be my 9th summer at Pemi; I attended Pemi as a camper for 8 summers and now this is my first on staff. I like to draw, sculpt, and build in my free time and hope to become an engineer in the future. I plan on helping in the nature lodge, wood shop and art building this summer.

J2: Zach Popkin (CC). I’m from Washington, DC, and I’m excited to be returning to Pemi for my second summer on staff and where I was a camper for five great years. I just completed my freshman year at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania where I am studying Econ and running on the Track Team. I’m an avid sports fan and look forward to working this summer with the nature program and coaching various sports occupations.

J2: Jack O’Connor (AC): I’m a rising senior at New Canaan High School and will be working in the tennis, sailing, and woodworking departments this summer. I’m the oldest of six kids and my youngest brother Chris will be here this summer.

J3: Harry Cooke (CC). Hello! I am Henry ‘Harry’ Cooke, hailing from Manhattan. I am a rising sophomore at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania where I double major in English and Philosophy. This will be my seventh summer at Pemi and first as a cabin counselor. My interests include film, writing, hiking, and swimming. I plan on spending this summer at the waterfront as well as instructing sailing, swimming, or dramatics, including performing in the upcoming Gilbert & Sullivan production. I am looking forward to a great summer!

J3: Zach Leeds (AC). This will be my ninth summer at Pemi, and second on Staff. I just graduated from Northfield Mount Hermon, where I live during the year, and I will be attending Colgate University next fall. I am looking forward to coaching soccer and baseball this summer.

J4: Nick Hurn (CC). This is my first year at Pemi, and I’m coming all the way from the UK to join the staff. I’m currently in Medical School at the University of Manchester. I’ll be on the swim staff and teaching arts and crafts, so I’ll be helping out across camp. I’m already counting down the days to summer and can’t wait to meet everyone!

J4: Bryce Grey (AC). I am a rising senior at Avon Old Farms where I play on the varsity football and wrestling teams. My home is Duxbury, MA and I am here at Pemi for my 6th summer. I’m looking forward to working with many of the guys I went through camp with for years. I play the trumpet and hope to teach some music, to coach sports, and maybe even to lead some yoga stretching.

J5: Wes Eifler (CC / Division Head). I was born and raised in Southern Connecticut and am a recent graduate of American University where I received a degree in Elementary Education. This winter I worked as a student teacher in the 1st grade at Bethesda Elementary in Maryland and then as a 2nd Grade and 5th Grade teacher in Rockville, Maryland. This summer will be my 13th at Pemi and my 6th on staff. Throughout the summer I will be coaching baseball and writing Bean Soup. I am thrilled to be back at Pemi for another summer!

J5: Nicholas Pigeon (AC). I’m a former Pemi camper who attended for 5 years. I now return as an assistant counselor and am excited to experience Pemi from another viewpoint. I hope to pass on my passion for nature, soccer, and basketball to Pemi campers and make the most of this summer. I currently live in Santiago, Chile, but starting this September I will be attending American University in Washington D.C, studying international relations.

J6: Sam Davitt (CC). Hi everyone! I’m a sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis from Boston, MA studying mechanical engineering. I spent five summers at Pemi from ages 11-15. I enjoy playing tennis and soccer and have spent my last three summers honing my skills as a tennis coach. At Pemi, I plan to teach tennis, soccer, and archery, and I’d love to learn how to sail. I’m excited to be back at Pemi this summer!

J6: Harry Tuttle (AC). This will be my ninth summer at camp! A lifer at Pemi, I spent eight years on the shores of Lower Baker Pond as a camper where I went from Junior One to the Senior camp. I hail from Dedham, MA and Hyannisport, MA. I attend The Governor’s Academy where I play soccer, lacrosse, help with Special Olympics, and sing/dance/act in school musicals. I am looking forward to spending time on the soccer field and the waterfront at Camp, as well as performing in the G&S production.

L1: Jackson Reed (CC). This will be my 12th summer at Pemi or Pemi West and fifth on staff. Born and raised in the northeast, I have studied, lived, and hiked in California and Washington for the past fifteen years. With a Master’s in International Policy Studies, I like to travel, especially in India and Nepal. These days, when not abroad, I help to produce dance and art festivals around the U.S.

L2: Luke Raffanti (CC; first half). I’m very happy to be returning to Pemi for my second summer. I graduated from Oberlin College in May ’15 in Piano Performance and Environmental Studies. Since then, I spent the year back in my hometown in Northern California, teaching music and accompanying. I’ve also kept active as a performer of classical music, with a special interest in doing benefit concerts for causes that interest me, such as advocacy of indigenous peoples, and environmental justice. As the pianist at Pemi, I play for mealtime songs, for Sunday Meetings, and for the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta at the end of the summer.

L2: Andrew Brummer (CC; second half). I am a recent graduate of Colgate University where I studied Economics and Geography. I am a 10-year Pemi veteran who is lucky enough to have a four-week window in my summer to spend at camp for the second half of the season when I’ll move in to L2 to allow Luke to focus on the G&S production. I will coach swimming and tennis and also lead a hiking trip if time permits.

L2: Jackson Seniff (AC). This will be my 5th year at Pemi. I am from San Diego, CA and a rising senior at Coronado High School. I love to swim and surf as well as pass the occasional rugby ball with my friends. I play water polo, rugby, and swim for my high school. I am a certified rugby coach and referee and have been coaching the Under 8 year old rugby team for 4 years. I plan to lifeguard the waterfront and help out with swimming occupations and teach rugby to all of those who are interested. I am excited for a great summer!

L3: David Lampman (CC). I am from Freeville, New York and this is my first year at Pemi. I will be entering my senior year as a biology major at Paul Smith’s College this fall. My interests include botany, ecology, natural history, and photography. I am looking forward to an exciting summer teaching these topics.

L3: Matt Kanovsky (AC). I am from Briarcliff Manor, New York, and will be a Freshman at Harvey Mudd College in sunny Southern California this coming August. This will be my 11th summer at Pemi and my second year on staff, as I try desperately to relive my days as a camper. This summer, I am excited to teach nature, photography, and how to come in 2nd place.

L4: Theo Nickols (CC / Division Head). I am from Northumberland, U.K, Hadrian’s Wall country. This is my third season as a counselor and first as a Division Head. I am currently studying Environmental Science at the University of Nottingham and I cannot wait to be coaching tennis and basketball again. Its going to be another great summer!

L4: Ned Roosevelt (AC). This summer will be my eighth on the shores of Lower Baker Pond and my second as an Assistant Counselor. I’m from New York City, and a rising freshman at Wheaton College where I will be playing on the tennis team.   I look forward to meeting you all and extending the same warm welcome to you that I received back in the day. I’ll be helping out with the sports programs, mainly tennis and baseball. See you on the courts and on the fields!

L5: Rob Leftwich (CC). I’m from the Midlands in the United Kingdom where I grew up in a small village called Knowle. I love music (especially Jazz), performance, and swimming, and I will be training as a Religious Education teacher in September. This will be my first year at Pemi and I hope to be a good Camp Bugler and help with/run some music and performance activities.

L5: Will Katcher (AC). I’m from Needham, MA, and this coming year I’ll be a senior at Needham High School. I run Cross Country during the fall, and track during the winter and spring. This will be my 6th year at camp, and first on staff, after spending 4 years as a camper and last year on Pemi West. I’m looking forward to helping out in all areas of camp, and maybe going out on a few trips. I hope to help every camper have the best summer possible!

L6: Michael DiGaetano (CC). I am from Piedmont, California and currently go to school in Santa Barbara. This will be my 3rd year as a counselor and my 8th summer on the shores of Lower Baker Pond. When I am not with the cabin this summer I will be spending a lot of time on the waterfront. I can’t wait for another great summer at Pemi.

L7: Henry Pohlman (CC). I hail from the great city of Madison, Wisconsin. I will be a senior next year at Denison University, where I study biology and neuroscience, and am a player on the soccer team. Off the soccer field, I enjoy hiking, fishing, most water front activities, and eating large amounts of cheese. I was a camper at Pemi for 4 years, as an 11, 12, 14, and 15 year old. Looking forward to another great year on the shores of Lower Baker Pond.

U1: Sam Papel (CC). This is my 2nd year on staff. I spent 8 years as a camper on the shores of Lower Baker and one on the slopes of Mt. Olympus with the Pemi West program. I was born and raised in Nashville TN and I am well used to being the resident Southerner at camp. I am a rising junior at Vanderbilt University where I am studying mechanical engineering.

U2: Andy MacDonald (CC). Hi, I’m Andrew MacDonald (super Scottish I know). I’m returning to Pemi for my second summer and can’t wait. I’m the counselor who was mainly mocked by the kids for my thick Scottish accent last summer. It’ll be interesting to see what hilarious stereotypes they throw at me this time around :). I’m about to graduate from a university back home with an Honours degree in Sport & Management. Hence it’s clear to see I love sport. I’m extremely excited to return to Pemi to coach soccer, tennis, and kayaking again. I’m also looking forward to seeing some familiar faces.

U3: Dan Reed (CC / Division Head). This is my 16th summer at Pemi (my 24th if you count my toddling years), and I am thrilled to spend another season at camp. I’ve just finished a year teaching Math & Science at a Boston charter school, and this fall will move to Windsor, CT, where I will teach English at the Loomis Chaffee School. This summer I look forward to finding myself on the tennis courts, in the Nature Lodge, serving up the Soup, helping to schedule occupations, and otherwise living the wonderfully busy Pemi life.

U3: Nick Bertrand (AC). I am from Hanover, NH and just completed 4 years at Northfield Mount Hermon. Next year I will be attending Case Western Reserve University where I will be playing soccer and studying engineering. I went to Pemi for 8 years as a camper, did Pemi West 2 years ago, and am returning for my first year as a Pemi staff member.

U4: Oisin Turbitt (CC). My name is Oisin (“O-Sheen”) I am from Omagh in Northern Ireland where I am currently studying Aerospace Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast. This summer I will teach in the nature program and coach some tennis on the side. This will be my first year at Pemi and I am looking forward to it!

U5: Will Meinke (CC). I am returning to Pemi for my tenth summer, fourth on staff. I am a student at Fairfield University in Connecticut majoring in Environmental Studies. This summer I will be helping out in the athletic and water-skiing departments. I’m look forward to another amazing summer on the shores of Lower Baker.

S1: Zacc Dwan (CC). I graduated from Dickinson College this year with a major in Environmental Studies. This is my first year at Camp Pemi and I will be involved in teaching basketball and helping out with all water-based activities. I am from Christchurch, a small city located on the South Island of New Zealand. I moved to Pennsylvania in 2012 to complete my final three years of college.

S2: Kilian Wegner (CC). This is my first year at Pemi! I’m of German origin living in the hills of Donegal in Ireland. I’m currently studying Communication Studies in my 2nd year at DCU. I’m an outdoor enthusiast so I’ll be involved with the Nature Program doing lots of fun stuff like photography and nature trips. I’m also a qualified soccer coach and a huge sports fan so I’ll be helping out in Soccer and other sports. I’m excited to get to know everyone!

S3: Harry Morris (CC / Division Head). This will be my 8th summer and, after spending my last 2 summers as a Trip Counselor, I am super excited to be a cabin counselor. I will be teaching canoe, soccer, and tennis occupations this summer.

LT: Darryl Mainoo (CC). I am British, a born and raised Londoner. I support Arsenal FC and have always had a passion for sport, especially for Football (I know I’m going to have to get used to calling it Soccer). In addition to sports, I am a bit of a computer nerd. I love everything to do with computer and technology having studied it (‘majored in’…see I’m getting the hang of this already) at University. This summer will be my first time at Camp Pemi so I’m really looking forward to working with the kids and helping to make their summer fun, enjoyable, and memorable. My time at Camp will revolve mainly around spending time getting to know and building relationships with the kids as well as coaching them in Soccer and helping them to develop their skills or pick up new ones entirely. I can’t wait to be a part of the team at Camp!

Program Staff and …

Kim Bradshaw. Heeey! It’s my second year at Pemi. I come from Nottingham (England) and I have just completed my undergraduate degree in sports science. I love playing football (soccer). I’ve been captain of Trent University women’s football for two years. Last year I was a Trip Leader and this year I will coach soccer along with some pretty awesome coaches. Bring on 2016 with more new faces 🙂

Georgie Brown. I’m 20 years old from London and am currently studying in Bath doing a degree in early years education. It’s going to be my first time at Camp Pemi and I’m looking forward to it. I will be a swimming instructor during my time at Pemi.

Laura Bubar (Head of Art). I am excited to be back at Camp Pemi following my first year teaching art at Freeport Middle School in Freeport, Maine. This will be my third summer teaching art down in Art World and I have some great new projects in store, as well as a few old favorites…More CHIHULY, perhaps? And SPACE GRAFFITI!

Steve Clare (Head of Archery). I live in Cornwall, the extreme SW of the UK. I’m a self-employed specialist teacher, working also as a cover teacher at a variety of schools. I coach two under 12’s football (soccer) teams & help coach an under 15’s team that my son, Morgan, plays for, whilst running a weekly community football programme for younger players. This will be 2nd year at Pemi as Head of the Archery Department & camp fire MC (I hope!!). I’m looking forward to returning & playing my part in the Pemi family!!

Nick Davini (Trip Leader / U4). I’m currently an anthropology major and rising junior at the University of New Hampshire. I recently completed a Spanish minor after studying in Granada, Spain this past semester. This summer will be my eighth at Pemi, and my fourth on staff. Hiking is a passion of mine, and I look forward to spending time in the mountains I came to love years ago. I also have experience in the woodshop, archery range, and Art World at Pemi.

Larry Davis (Director of Nature Programs & Teaching). This is my 47th year at Pemi (all on the staff). I hold an AB and AM in Earth Sciences from Washington University in St. Louis and a PhD in Geological Sciences from University of Rochester. In the ‘off’ season, I am Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of New Haven where I am also the head of the undergraduate program in Environmental Sciences. A former intercollegiate soccer official, I still love to watch the sport from the sidelines. I play the flute, tell Maine stories, love to travel, ‘collect’ waterfalls, and forage for, and cook, all sorts of wild edibles.

Dorin Dehls (Head of Music and Drama). I joined the Pemi family in 2008. My father, James Dehls, was a camper and counselor and now returns each summer as a visiting professional for a week each year. During the school year, I teach music for grades Pre-K through 4 in West Haven, Connecticut. I am very excited to begin work on Pirates of Penzance and to oversee all music and drama here at Pemi this summer season!

Michaella Frank: I am so excited to be working at Camp Pemigewassett for my second summer! I am from Avon Lake, Ohio. My interests include basketball, reading, swimming, hiking, singing, and playing the saxophone. Basically if it’s fun then I’m game for it! My main activities at Pemi will be basketball and vocal and instrumental music.

JP Gorman (Trip Leader / U5). My name is John (or JP) and this will be my first year at Pemi. I am from Baltinglass in Ireland and I am studying a double major in music and math in University College Dublin. I love all kinds of music and have dabbled in most sports too. I can’t wait to see what the mountains around Pemi have to offer!

Chris Johnson (Head of Tennis). I am thrilled to return for the third consecutive year on the shores of beautiful Lower Baker Pond. Back in Cleveland, I had a very busy year teaching fourth grade, coaching girls and boys high school tennis, and serving as Vice President of the Ohio Tennis Coaches’ Association. I look forward to another busy and fun summer on the courts!

CJ Jones. This will be my second season at Pemi as I loved my first summer so much! I’ll be working on the waterfront teaching swimming and hopefully on the tennis staff again. I really enjoy coaching the boys in sport as I’m a very active person myself and it’s an amazing feeling to see them improve so much over the season. At home in the UK, I’m a Biomedicine student on a masters course at Warwick University. Looking forward to meeting all the new staff and to catching up with the returners in June.

Michael Kerr (Trip Leader / U1). I am a 21-year old mountain and outdoor enthusiast from Keene, NH. I spend my off seasons as a full time children’s ski instructor in beautiful and majestic Telluride Colorado. I will be a trip counselor at Pemi for a second time this summer and look forward to completing my 4th summer at Camp Pemi

Deb Kure (Associate Head of Nature). Studying Geology at the University of Rochester sparked my love of Field Trips, and of learning and teaching outside! I’ve led outdoor science programs since then, through camps, museums, and trips programs throughout the U.S. During the school year I’m an Educator at Quarrybrook Outdoor Learning Center in southern New Hampshire, leading programs with pre-K through 12th graders.

Harry MacGregor (Head of Woodshop). I am a longtime resident of Canaan, New Hampshire with a professional background in commercial, industrial, and residential construction. I also owned my own business focusing on custom woodworking. I’m looking forward to my 6th year at Pemi.

Molly Malone (Head of Waterskiing). This will be my second year as the head waterski instructor. I had a blast being on the water so much last year, and can’t wait to teach people to ski again this year! I am from Chippewa Falls, WI and my ‘real’ job is a high school orchestra teacher. My main instruments are piano and violin, and I play violin in the Chippewa Valley Symphony. I am most proud of my ‘dancing’ orchestra called Wire Choir – a show choir with string instruments. Waterskiing is my passion in life! Let the summer begin!

Jennifer Mitchell. Hello, my name is Jen Mitchell. This is my first year Pemi and I am looking forward to a great summer. During the school year I work for Northern Illinois University at their Lorado Taft Field campus. I will be working primarily in the Nature Program this summer. I like traveling, learning new things, books, music, and nature.

Emily Palmer (Head of Sailing). I am from Hampshire, England and am currently in my third year of university as an undergraduate studying history at the University of Kent, Canterbury. I have captained the sailing team at university, but due to time restrictions this year have had to significantly reduce my time on the water, so I am very excited to get back out on Lower Baker Pond and be able to get boys interested in sailing. I also love to windsurf, which I hope to get going at Pemi. I am really looking forward to seeing everyone and having another awesome summer. Fingers crossed for some good wind.

Sam Seymour (Director of the Counselor Apprenticeship Program). As a Bay Area resident, I have just completed a master’s degree through UC Berkeley and UCSF focusing on medical device innovation and translational medicine. As I transition back into the working world, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to step in as Director of CAP. This will be my 9th summer at Pemi, and I look forward to contributing some of my experience to the next generation of counselors and Pemi staff!

Paige Wallis (Head of Swimming and Waterfront). Tweet! Tweet! This will be my 7th summer on the shores of Lower Baker Pond. I am originally from Norwich, VT and have spent the past two winters working at Waterville Valley Academy & WVBBTS. I am the Freeski & Snowboard Coordinator and a Houseparent in the dorm. This summer I look forward to working with an awesome swim staff and providing campers more opportunities to spend time splashing around in Lower Baker Pond!

Ben Walsh (Head of Staff). I am excited to be returning for my 13th summer at Pemi and second as the Head of Staff. When not assigning duties and time off I enjoy coaching and dabbling in activities that I did not explore as a camper! During the school year I teach history and coach the varsity soccer team at Salisbury School.

Caretakers of our Physical and Mental Well-Being

(We’re missing a few entries…they must be busy care-taking!) 

Jakub Adamski (Kitchen staff). I am 23 years old guy from Poland. I am studying finance and accounting at Poznan University of Economics. It will be my first time in the United States and at Pemi. I am excited for my first summer at Pemi!

Tawnya Beane (Buildings & Grounds). I’m so excited to work my first summer at Pemi in housekeeping! I grew up in southern New Hampshire. I love spending time with my family and friends, traveling, taking pictures, kayaking and listening to good live music.

Tom Ciglar (Director of Food Services). This is my 15th year on staff at Pemi. During the school year I live in Rindge, NH with wife Anna and our son Jon. I’ve worked at Hampshire Country School for over 20 years and look forward to taking on a new challenge this fall as I move into a new role as Director of Operations.

Nancy Cushman (Kitchen staff). My name is Nancy Cushman. I live in West Fairlee, Vermont, which is about 25 miles from camp. I cook the breakfast meal and I work in the bakery. This will be my 10th summer at camp.

Salih Gunbatar (Kitchen staff). Hello! I am from Turkey/Istanbul. I am a student at Marmara University and my department is Public Relations. I am interest in almost all kind sports. This summer is going to be my first year at Pemi. I would like to meet new friends and explore new cultures. It’s going to be chance for improving my language. I am looking forward to be at Pemi. See you at Pemi!!

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

Pawel Kopiec (Kitchen staff). I come from Katowice, a big city in Poland. I am a student at the University of Economics in Katowice and I really enjoy learning about business management. I’m sociable, ambitious, and friendly. I have big family and we are all in near contact and we like to spend time together. I like many activities such as running, playing volleyball, basketball, and even American football. My favorite team in NFL is New England Patriots and in NBA San Francisco Golden State Warriors. In addition I like cooking because I’ve tried a lot of dishes from around the world and even at home I sometimes cook new dishes for myself and my family. I like spending time outside because I also love climbing. My family and I have walked in the Tatra Mountains or the Alps. Two years ago I was on Zugspitze the highest mountain in Germany. I will be first time in Camp Pemi and I want to meet new people and be in touch with them and of course exchange experience with them.

Zosia Livingstone-Peters (Nurse). I am from Salisbury, VT. I graduated with an Associates Degree in Nursing from Castleton University in May 2016, and will sit for my national boards this summer. I am a veteran Pemi parent of ten years and have a family of 6, which include three boys and one daughter. I also hold a degree from Pratt Institute, 1989. My hobbies include photography, travel, archeology, cooking and swimming and of course caring for people! I love all aspects of nursing and am committed to providing sound nursing care for the 2016 Camp Pemi season.

Chris Moody PhD, CPNP (Nurse). I was born in Connecticut many, many years ago. I have two sons, both adopted from Russia. I’ve served in the Army for eight years as an officer in military intelligence. Educated at Duke University and Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Dr. Moody is in private practice as a child/adolescent psychologist and certified pediatric nurse practitioner.

Rachel Preston (Kitchen Staff). This is my first year at Pemi. I love cooking, outdoor activities, and art. I will be the assistant chef at Pemi this year. I plan on coming back as well. I am a new Englander by heart.

Berkan Say (Kitchen staff). I was born in Adana. Adana is small city in south side of Turkey. I lived there 14 years and then I and my family moved to Istanbul. I started Istek Private Ulugbey High School. I studied there 5 years with english prep class. Last year I studied hard because of university entering exam. This year I am going to Yeditepe University. I am studying civil engineering. My biggest dream is travelling the world. Because of this I want to want be pilot. I decided to start flight training after I finish university. This dream started when I was in London in 2011. This was my first abroad experience and I realised that world is big and I must see every culture because person understands meaning of life when person know new people and culture.

Adam Skorupski (Kitchen staff). My name is Adam Skorupski and I come from Poland. I’m twenty years old and I’m studying Accounting and Controlling at University of Economics in Krakow. I am interested in economy and business but I also enjoy spending time in a beautiful place like Camp Pemi. I am very lucky to have opportunity to visit this amazing space and working in this Camp will be a pleasure.

Pemi West

Corey Connare (Pemi West Instructor). After graduating from Kent State University, I fell in love with backpacking when I began working as a wilderness therapy guide in Vermont. My adventurous spirit has led me to foreign countries, it has encouraged me to howl with coyotes at the midnight desert moon, it burns bright with joy as I ski down mountains, and surely is the reason my heart beats so triumphantly while leading next generations on trips through the wild. I am grateful and proud to be a part of the Pemi family two years in a row.

Emmy Held (Pemi West instructor). This will be my first summer with Pemi and I’m beyond excited to be in Olympic National Park with Pemi alumni and adventurous teens! I’m a rising senior at Colby College in Maine where I’m majoring in Biology and Studio Art and I also ski, play rugby, canoe race, and lead outdoor trips.

Nate Kraus (Pemi West instructor). I’m thrilled to be back working as a guide with the Pemi West group. This will be my third time in Olympic National Park, and my 10th year being involved with Camp Pemi. I just spent my junior year with Skidmore College studying first in Vietnam, and then England. I am majoring in Anthropology and minoring in Business. Pemi West should be a blast!

Dave Robb (Pemi West, Director). I am an energetic and enthusiastic outdoorsman who enjoys crocheting and poetry as much as chainsaws and Carhartts. My pursuit of a career in Outdoor Education has taken me all across the country, from Maine to California to Texas to Washington, and has enabled me to live in some of the most beautiful places our nation has to offer. I am extremely excited for my 2nd season as the Pemi West Director, after which I will be working at The Alzar School in Cascade, ID teaching outdoor leadership and high school math.

Visiting Professionals

Stephen Broker. Having devoted the past 40 years to science education at high school, college, and graduate levels, I now focus on fieldwork in natural history with emphasis on breeding birds. This is my fourth year as a visiting professional at Pemi, where I offer occupations in the study of birds, forest and wetland ecology, and reading the landscape. My wife Linda and I live in Cheshire, Connecticut and Wellfleet, Massachusetts. My father, Tom Broker, worked at Pemi as waterfront director for 6 years in the 1930s.

Kevin O’Brien. After five summers as a cabin counselor at Pemi (1994-98), I am thrilled to be back again for a week this summer, teaching lacrosse and power yoga. During the school year, I am an instructor of English at The Hill School, a boarding school in Pottstown, PA. In addition to running a dormitory, I also coach soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. At the University of Pennsylvania, I played varsity lacrosse, serving as a tri-captain senior year. In 2001, I started practicing yoga in NYC with Elena Brower. As an athlete and student, I wish I had the opportunity as a Pemi kid to learn about yoga and mindfulness.

 

Links to Articles and Videos of Interest

Every so often we scroll through Pemi’s Facebook page to gather in one place all the links to articles and videos that have been posted over the previous months to make for easy binge reading/watching. However you choose to approach the list of links—clicking and absorbing all in one sitting, parcelling them over a few days, or picking and choosing only those that speak to you—we hope you enjoy the content. The links seem to fall into categories…

Slightly ironic, given that you’re connected right now:

Updates on Alumni in the news:

We all need a little help with parenting now and then:

On nature, the environment, and why going to summer camp makes, oh, so much sense:

And we’ll end with one of the best feel-good videos ever:

(Note: When you come across articles of interest that are appropriate to our wider camp community, please send them our way. We’d like to share them.)

 

 

 

 

 

AP Cites Pemi in Two Stories

Camp Pemigewassett in the News…

We like to think that with over 100 years of experience, Camp Pemigewassett has come to learn a thing or two. How especially nice for two Associated Press writers to consider Pemi as a resource for topics near and dear to us and to our camp parents, and for their stories to have been picked up—so far—by ABC News, Yahoo News, the Washington Post, and several regional online sources…

Visiting Day at Summer Camp Can Be Hard on Parents and Kids by Beth Harpaz, Associated Press Travel Editor

Old-Style Letters to Campers Can Be Tricky for Parents by Leanne Italie, Associated Press Entertainment and Lifestyles writer

Share the News

Pemi is a word-of-mouth camp, so please feel free to post, share, email, etc. these recent news stories. Thank you!

Want to Read More?

Pemi’s website provides extensive information to guide parents before, during, and after the summer camp experience. Read more about Visiting Weekends and Communication.