“Coach” Bob Demont spent only one year as a 7-week Agawam staff member when he was 19, but has had a long and dynamic impact on the organization since then. He has served on the Agawam Council in a variety of roles, including as its president. Additionally, he has helped refine our Development strategies including initiating the Phonathon in 1993 and organizing the Golf Marathon which ran for 21 years. Bob is the principal of Demont Associates, a philanthropic company working with non-profit organizations, and is unquestionably the Main Idea’s #1 champion.
What has been your involvement with The Main Idea at Camp Agawam?
I have been a Main Idea volunteer for about 20 of the past 26 years.
How did you find out about The Main Idea?
I was recruited as a counselor by Dave Mason after my freshman year of college in the summer of 1974, the year that will be forever remembered as the year of tornado. I was then permanently on Dave and Peg’s mailing list and got wonderful notes about the Main Idea program and of course personal thank you notes. I was so inspired it immediately became a goal of mine to expand Main Idea in a big way.
What is your Chronology with the Main Idea look like?
In the summer of 1976, while participating in the international educational program Up With People, I reached out to Dave to invite several campers and staff members to one of our shows in Portland City Hall Auditorium. I am not sure how many Main Idea kids came to the show, but it was a great to connect with Agawam men I admired. Later, after helping Agawam in its first capital campaign, resulting in a new Mason Hall in 1990, I was asked to serve on the Development Committee and then as a Director of Agawam Council. I volunteered for my second Main Idea shortly thereafter and was hooked just about every summer for the next two decades. Whenever I went to Main Idea, I felt like a kid myself – even as I got, uh, significantly older!
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about The Main Idea at Camp Agawam?
Today it is joy. “Be joyful. Seek the joy of being alive.” I have learned through volunteering that it is not too late to grow up, nor to have fun in the simplest of ways. More and more I lived vicariously through timid or inhibited Maine boys who have been drawn out by caring counselors in the great outdoors. I have been moved by their courage, risk taking and soaring self-esteem. Along the way, I experienced as much fun and joy as I ever have had in my life. I have slept as soundly on Crescent Lake as I have in anywhere else in the world.
What are some of your memories of The Main Idea?
Emerald pool trips, knock-out, macramé, fishing, council fire, Sea Dogs trips, and table conversations with the boys. Agawam is truly the sum of little things that add up to huge things over time.
Did you have any favorite Main Idea activities?
No question it is baseball. America’s favorite past time. Love the order of the diamond, the crack of the bat, the thrills of seeing a kid hit a ball or make a great catch. And one of my favorite songs is the Peter, Paul and Mary song “Right Field.” And of course the field is named after Ap Mason- another great man.
Do you have any feelings about The Main Idea and its purpose?
I am certain that when my work on earth is done, this program will be the one I will look back on with the deepest satisfaction for my involvement. It is my number one priority in terms of time, support and involvement. I would like the entire camp world to have a Main Idea.
Do you ever get back to the Agawam campus?
As often as I can. Only 25 minute drive from home.
Are there any particular feelings that you have when you’ve come back?
The natural beauty is breath-taking for most who live far away from Crescent Lake. But the predominant feeling I have is related to the people. I feel overwhelming gratitude for the extraordinarily selfless people who are dedicated to the development of young boys. I am so grateful that the Mason Family created our culture, entrusted this special program to our stewardship, and, even though I was never a camper, named me Coach, counted me as an Ag, and welcomed me as an alumnus.
Has your involvement with the Main Idea had any long-lasting impact on you or your family?
My wife Priscilla and daughter Kayte know from first-hand experience how important Agawam is to the world and to me. And I hope they have seen how Agawam helped me be a better husband and father. They have both volunteered at many of the 21 Golf Marathons (to support camperships for Main Idea boys to attend the 7 week season) and understand and support Agawam as number one in our estate’s charitable priorities.
Where are you living and what kind of work areyou doing?
We live in Cumberland, Maine. I am in my 41st year of helping not-for-profit organizations like Agawam secure philanthropic support through Demont Associates, a consulting firm based in Portland, Maine.