Pemi 101 – The Pemi Hill Shelter

The Pemi Hill Shelter is an Adirondack-style structure that sits on Pemi’s property roughly two-thirds of a mile above the Junior Camp. This shelter provides cover overhead and is walled on three sides to protect occupants from the elements. Ten yards from the open side of the building, which faces eastward, is a campfire circle essential for cooking meals and for providing a central place for the group to congregate.

Over the years, Pemi has utilized the Pemi Hill Shelter in different ways, most notably as an overnight hike destination for individual cabins. The group traditionally departed after supper, climbed in the early evening hours armed with sleeping bags and a change of clothes, and enjoyed a night in the great outdoors. Led by the cabin counselor, and possibly the cabin’s Assistant Counselor, these hikes aided in developing cabin unity and gave the boys a chance to practice their camping skills.

Campers and staff have documented many of these Pemi Hill trips in Bean Soup articles. Click the links to read about Lower 7’s trip in 1988, or Junior 2’s outing in 1998.

History of the Pemi Hill Shelter

In the earliest days of Pemi (from 1908 into the 1920’s), boys climbed Pemi Hill for similar reasons, but experienced a very different landscape – pastoral rather than forested. In fact, cattle grazed on the slopes above the camp in the 1910’s, and the clanking of cowbells could be heard in the cabins after Taps and before Reveille. In the 1920’s, the first Pemi Hill Shelter was constructed near the spring where the cattle drank. Over the decades since, white pine, white and yellow birch, and various other trees overtook the pasture, creating the wooded landscape familiar to us today.

In the summer of 1962, Al Fauver, former Director and owner, began the project to create a new shelter on Pemi Hill. Charlie Ladd, Pemi’s longtime maintenance man and carpenter, was the builder and led trip counselors Wes Ackley and Roger Spragg and a few campers as the building team. Others (including Board President Tom Reed, Jr.) aided the efforts by carrying up all the posts, lumber, hardware, and roofing materials needed to complete construction.

In 1963, Al charged his son Fred Fauver (current Board member) and trip leader Paul Lewis with locating the old spring and rebuilding it into a useable water source for the shelter. After an all-day search, Fred and Paul had not uncovered the old spring, but they did find a wet spot at the base of a ledge not far from the shelter. After digging it out, they found a growing pool of water and erected a stone dam and beehive roof to protect the water source from debris. The best water in the world still flows from that pipe.

(To read more about the history of the Pemi Hill Shelter, be in touch to secure your copy of Pemi’s History Book – Camp Pemigewassett The First 100 Years!)

The Pemi Hill Shelter today

In planning for the 2017 season, Pemi’s trip staff developed a new (but also old!) system to provide the 8-11-year-old Juniors campers with an engaging, safe, and memorable Pemi Hill experience. Now, the specially-trained trip counselors lead the Junior overnights, aided by the cabin counselor, so that the younger boys learn more about the trip program and develop their camping and outdoor skills.

In the morning, the trip counselor outlines the trip and what to expect, giving the boys a packing list. Later that day, a check verifies that each boy has essential gear, including rugged footwear, a rain jacket, water bottles, a toothbrush, and the food that has been organized in the kitchen. On the ascent, each boy is given a turn to lead the group, learning how to set the pace. The counselors talk about the plant and animal species to be found along the way, features of the landscape, and first aid protocol. Some of the boys take this time to share something they learned in a nature occupation with their peers.

Upon arrival, the boys drop their packs and head to the Pemi Hill Spring to fill their water bottles. Once camp is set up, the boys explore the hillside and use a topographic map to study the land. They also learn to tie useful knots. This safe, unstructured time in the woods provides an ideal opportunity for camper development and growth.

An offseason trip to the shelter during the Family Winter Weekend in 2016!

The boys gather good firewood to cook dinner over the fire. The trip counselor demonstrates how to arrange the wood in the fire pit and talks about regulations and safety relating to controlled fires in the wilds. Other items covered are the principles of Leave-No-Trace camping, which reduces the impact we have on the natural areas in which we camp and hike. After dessert, the boys relax and read a book before falling asleep in the shelter (now equipped with mosquito netting as an appreciated latter-day improvement!). No clanging of cowbells now, though; only peaceful slumber.

Boys rise early at the Pemi Hill Shelter; the extra elevation allows the sun to peek over Mount Carr a bit earlier than the counselors might hope. After a quick breakfast over the fire, the group packs up their supplies and heads back to camp in time for their morning occupations – happy, well-fed, and a bit wiser in the ways of the wilderness.

Check out the detailed description of two 2017 Pemi Hill trips by clicking here. Stay tuned to the Pemi Blog for our next Pemi 101!

–Kenny Moore

Pemi 101 – What’s a BVT?

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

BVT Hoops

The Baker Valley

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

Purpose and Goals

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

15 and Under Soccer pre-kick off

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

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

The Origins of the BVT

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

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

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

-Kenny Moore

Defining Photos of 2017

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


Harry Cooke about to lead the Soundpainters in a performance during Campfire on Senior Beach.


A batch of freshly baked bread from Tom Ciglar and the Kitchen Staff.


Felix N. navigating Lower Baker Pond in a Sunfish.


Pemi West Director Dave Robb teaching an orienteering lesson to Pemi Westers at high elevation in Olympic National Park.


The stars at night, are big and bright, deep in the heart of Wentworth! Photo from behind the Library looking towards the Junior Lodge.


Frank A. finishing the 50 yard Butterfly against Tecumseh well ahead of his counterparts.


Members of Upper 3 posing on the Franconia Range during their Greenleaf Hut Trip.



The Lords Chorus, with Stephon and Phyllis, from this years production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe.


George F. clearing the High Jump during Pemi Week’s Pentathlon.


Absolutely stunning Nature Awards given to boys with outstanding interest and expertise in Nature, carefully crafted by Larry, Deb, and the Nature Staff.


…and finally drops in the West.

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!

 

 

Defining Photos of 2016

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

Aerial Shot - Drone!

Thanks to Alumnus Ted Orben for capturing this image via drone!

A beautiful Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

A beautiful Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Butterflies and Moths continues to be a popular occupation at Pemi and relatively new to the schedule, the equally popular Digital Photography occupation.

Learning how to control the wakeboard with a picturesque backdrop.

Wakeboarding with a picturesque backdrop.

Hydration above tree line

Hydration above tree line

A Weird Science creation, the Nature Lodge always up to something.

A Weird Science creation

15 & Under Baseball shaking hands with Camp Tecumseh after their annual game.

15 & Under Baseball shaking hands with Camp Tecumseh after their annual game.

A spectacular image from Pemi West.

A spectacular image from Pemi West. Click here to see another favorite!

Slalom skier with good spray rounding the outer buoy.

Slalom skier finishing the course with good spray.

Mabel leading the Chorus of Wards in 2016's Pirates of Penzance.

Mabel leading the Chorus of Wards in 2016’s Pirates of Penzance.

...and finally drops in the West.

…and finally drops in the West.