Peter Esty is one of four brothers who attended Agawam, beginning in the late 1930s and through the late 50s, followed by many of their offspring into the 60s and 70s. Now retired and living with his wife Happy in Santa Rosa, CA, “Bos’n” has been a camper, counselor and served on the Agawam Council for many years. We’re looking forward to welcoming Peter and Happy and others of the Esty clan back to the Agawam campus at the 100th Celebration and Alumni Reunion in August!
How many members of your family have been associated with Agawam?
What does the Esty chronology at Agawam look like?
My oldest brother (John) began in 1938; next brother (David) began in 1942; next brother (Chuck) began in 1944; and I, Peter, in 1946. All four of us were both campers and counselors. I was at camp for 12 consecutive summers, ‘46-‘58. The 7 other Estys were offspring of these original 4, and I won’t even try to list the years of attendance!!
Who or what originally brought your family to camp?
In early 1938, “Chief” Ap Mason was recruiting campers in the Chappaqua, NY area just north of Larchmont where the Masons lived. Ap, of course, graduated from Amherst College, and he learned of another Amherst graduate while in Chappaqua– Jack Esty, my father, who had 4 sons ….. and the story began!
What’s going on with your family now?
I, at age 82, am the only one of the four “originals” still alive. I always thought I’d go into teaching of some sort, and my time at Agawam influenced that. But after I graduated from Amherst, I needed to make some money so I worked at General Foods for about 5 years. I started thinking about teaching again, left GF, and earned my Masters of Arts and Teaching from Harvard. From there I’ve worked at various schools, both in the US and abroad (Italy, France and even Hanoi), more often than not as Head of School. My brother John was a keen educator, serving as a dean at Amherst College, longtime Head of the Taft School, and was very involved in Agawam Council in its early days. About half of the Estys are in education.
Has your family and/or family traditions been influenced by Camp Agawam?
OH YES!!! In so many ways I cannot begin to tell you! We have practically awarded Katiaki candles as many relatives achieve all in life over these 85 years !!
Are there any particular memories you have of your days as a camper.
The Milk Squad! It used to be that everyone had his weight taken on Sundays. If you were considered underweight, you joined the Milk Squad, which met every day after sleep period following lunch. Milk Squad was directed by Connie Mason (Ap’s wife). We all met at the middle campus horseshoe pits and were fed graham crackers and milk. It was delicious.
I also remember Dave as quite the entertainer on Parents’ Weekend. There was only one weekend in those days when parents were invited to visit. Every year, Dave used to do an act down at the beach about getting ready to go in the lake. But he was dressed in many layers of clothing. He would test the water, then take off a layer of clothing, doing an elaborate dance the entire time. Everyone would howl with laughter. It took him a half hour to remove all the clothing!
What are you most looking forward to at the 100th Reunion?
Everything !! The call of some loons at night would top it all.
What is the first thing that comes to mind for you when you think about Agawam?
For me… the road down into camp; everyone named Mason, dead or alive; trips, simplicity of basic living; pony express; Council fires; Evelyn’s corn fritters in the dining hall (1946-1952?)
Do you have any memories of the director that stand out for you?
Dave’s silent strolling/prowling around cabins after Taps, ready to gently address any misbehavior !!
Ag or Wam?