The Schmidt Family’s legacy at Camp Agawam began when the Governor was at the helm. Marsh is one of the few remaining individuals who remembers the Governor first-hand. His sons attended camp in the 60s, and three of John’s children have attended camp—Will as a camper and Emily and Maggie on staff. Both Marsh, as a vital player in transitioning camp to a non-profit and as a Trustee Emeritus, and John, in a variety of positions including President, have served on Agawam Council for many years. The Schmidt Courts are named in honor of the family’s service to Agawam. We look forward to welcoming them all back to the shores of Crescent Lake during the 100th Celebration and Reunion, August 16-18.
How many members of your family have been associated with Agawam?
- Marshall 1936 – 1941
- Bill 1965 – 1969
- “Capt” John: 1965 -1969, 1971 – 1973
- Will: 2011 -2017
- “Corp” Maggie: 2013, 2015
- “Cruiser” Emily: 2015, 2018
Were any of you at camp at the same time? What was it like to attend camp with your sibling?
John: I overlapped with Bill. It was good to have a sibling at camp and gave us more common traditions between the two of us. Will overlapped with Emily and Maggie while they were on staff and that went well. Even with family members at camp there is enough space to pursue one’s own interests and find your own friends.
Who or what originally brought your family to camp?
Marsh: I was one of many boys who came from Pelham, NY. We came up on the train from Grand Central station in New York to Poland Springs. I remember after the Governor passed away in 1938, Ap came to the Pelham fathers—Schmidt, Jamieson, Dills and Graves- with the concern as to the future of Agawam. These Fathers solidly backed Ap taking control and wrote letters to the other families urging them to have confidence in Ap to operate the camp. The up-coming 100th Anniversary is proof of the importance of that support.
John: Dad went to camp and we followed in his footsteps.
What is different about Agawam’s physical plant?
Marsh: Back in the late 30s, the only cabins were Bowdoin, Columbia, Amherst, Wesleyan, Harvard, Springfield, with Williams and Cornell between Wayside and Infirmary. There were also the original Dining Hall (much smaller than the current version), Office, Shop, the upper 2 tennis courts, boathouse, council ring ( I never found out how Dave got the council fire lit by staring at it), 3 sailboats, a dock (but not the H-dock), rifle range, archery and horseback riding in the field at entrance. There was a horseshoe pit in the trove of trees below the Wayside and near Springfield. In 1936, there were a total of 55 boys.
John: Through my years serving on the Board, I’ve witnessed many changes- the “new” Mason Hall, waysides, rebuilt Governor Hall and boathouse, Ropes Courses (3!). Even so, camp still looks pretty much as it did when I was a camper and counselor.
Where do you all live now? And what do you do to make a living?
Marsh: Kinnie and I are retired and living in Princeton, NJ
John: I live in Bethesda, MD and am in my 14th year teaching 5th grade at Norwood School. There probably is a correlation between my teaching 10 -11 year olds and spending most of my counselor years in either Penn or Bowdoin.
Has your family and/or family traditions been influenced by Camp Agawam?
Marsh: Agawam has been an important part of my life. We sent both of our sons there. I have been honored to continue as an Emeritus Trustee with Peg Mason all these years (along with John Esty and Bob Clausen, although they are now deceased)..
John: Well, none of us can tie knots, so that can’t be it. I make it a point to say hello to visitors at school. It is a small thing, but it makes a difference. Agawam has many small things that make up a larger mosaic.
What are you most looking forward to at the 100th Reunion?
John: I see some friends at Council meetings that I have known for decades, but there are others that I am looking forward to reconnecting with. I also am looking forward to the ceremony for Dave Mason. He touched so many lives and the sharing of memories should be very special and moving.
How long has it been since you’ve been back to Agawam as individuals? As a family?
John: I have been back almost every year, but sometimes it was only for board meetings after the season was over. I have been at camp during the season since 2011. Camp is a place where I can recharge the batteries.
What is the first thing that comes to mind for each of you when you think about Agawam?
Marsh: The 6 summers helped shape my life with 7 weeks with the boys who I never had as brothers. I’m still in touch with them today. I have been honored to continue to be an Emeritus Trustee with Peg Mason all these years–although Bob Clausen and David Esty are deceased.
John: Community and continuity.
Do each of you have a particularly favorite Agawam memory?
Marsh: I can remember vividly Ap Mason meeting the truck upon our return from a baseball game at Hawthorne. I suggested to Ap the ref had stiffed us by calling a long shot to left foul, costing us a run. I remember Ap’s putdown— “how about the other six runs?”
I also recall a Father-Son baseball game. Can you imagine that my father wore his golf spikes to compete against teenagers? It was not funny when Dad broke his ankle trying to slide into second base.
Other memories: Mother Mason’s morning milk and cookies for the underweight squad; trading my horseback hours in 1936 for Dairymaids; and the always important Ag-Wam competitions. In the summer of 1947, I brought my new bride to camp on our honeymoon (as did Bob Cornell and Al Bowen!).
John: Too many to single one out – and several that I shouldn’t.
Do you have any memories of the director that stand out for you?
Marsh: The Governor was a special leader, especially during the Depression, which was a serious fact of life in the 30s. I’m sure the twins at camp (like Will and Cal Hubbard) got a cheaper rate than the $500 per camper that my dad paid for me. The Governor was very fit and very fair, and assembled a fantastic staff, which included many of Ap’s friends from Amherst and Dave’s from Columbia. Dave Mason (although he wasn’t officially the Director) had a special way of keeping order—simply making the rounds after taps and establishing immediate quiet, but in a very smooth way. I made a list too often which specified “The Camper Who Thinks He Is.” I think the fact that I remember Ap’s put-down after that ball game suggests how helpful Ap and Dave have been in structuring my life.
John: As is no doubt true for countless others, Dave was the most influential person in my life other than my parents. Most of my years were as a counselor, and Agawam was a perfect place for a first job. I was given responsibility and learned how to teach. I made lifelong friends. More importantly, we all developed that internal moral compass on the right way to do things – the Mason Method. It was Dave’s gift to all of us.
Ag or Wam?
Marsh: I still complain that son John and grandson Will became Wams because Bill arrived first and inherited the Ag assignment and Dave wanted to even things up by making John a Wam—and Will, Maggie and Emily followed him as a Wam.
John: I’m a Wam but we may be one of the few families with dual loyalties. My father was an Ag and my brother was an Ag when he arrived in 1965. However, I arrived for a half season and Dave needed a Wam as their numbers were short, so there you have it. And all of the kids are Wams too.