Traditions are a central part of the Agawam experience. It would be impossible to document all of them, but here are a few of the most significant:
Ags v. Wams
At the start of his first summer, each boy is assigned to one of two teams: he either becomes an Ag or a Wam. From that day on, he is part of that team, competing on its behalf throughout the summer and in every future summer in campus- and full-camp competitions in everything from sports to camping.
One of the oldest and most revered of all Agawam traditions, Council Fire is a weekly all-camp ceremony. Each camper is assigned to one of four tribes and each tribe is led by one of the senior campers. The tenets of the Woodcraft Laws are the foundation of the Council Fire. Key components include commendations (staff members recognize the good deeds of the boys during the previous week), nature reports (boys are given the opportunity to share sightings of the flora and fauna around camp or on trips), Challenges (boys compete in a variety of contests – knot tying, talk fests, song fests, pole balancing contests and more) and Charades (tribes act out a word charade that they have prepared while other members of the Council try to guess the word). Additionally, outdoor living skills learned through our Ranger Trail program are rewarded.Council Fire concludes with the presentation of Katiaki candles.
Beyond the opportunities for physical growth and skills development, Agawam places central emphasis on creating an environment for discovering and enhancing the personal and interpersonal skills of each camper. Each week, every camper is assigned a “Katiaki” (kah-TIE-a-key) – a goal to work toward that is related to his character, personality, or skills in relating to others. The task of determining and assigning these goals is a major responsibility of the camp staff and is addressed with great care. Equal emphasis is placed on reinforcing positive traits and behaviors, as well as addressing areas of relative weakness.
Frequent feedback is provided to campers and, at the end of the week, the staff gathers to determine if each camper has made a conscientious effort to attain his Katiaki goal. The emphasis is always on the effort, as the goals themselves can often be very challenging. If a camper does work hard on his Katiaki, he is honored publicly in the special candlelight ceremony at the end of our weekly Council Fire. Normally, in excess of two-thirds of our campers are successful each week; all are aware of the importance of this highly visible attempt to encourage them to “Be The Best, Whatever You Are.”
The staff and campers of Agawam have recognized the great benefit of the Katiaki system since 1942. Many find it has the most enduring impact of their Agawam Experience.
Some Important Dates In Agawam’s History
|1919||Camp Agawam founded by “The Governor” Appleton A. Mason.|
|1920||Camp Agawam opens for its first season on rented property on Stinson Lake in Rumney, New Hampshire.|
|1923||Agawam moved to newly purchased property on Rattlesnake Pond (now Crescent Lake). The Dining Hall, Earl Hall (now the woodshop), Mayflower (now Dartmouth), Harvard, Bowdoin, and Columbia were constructed.|
|1925||First Council Fire held, based on the writings of Ernest Thompson Seton and his Woodcraft League of America.|
|1927||Ags v. Wams competition began|
|1934||Totem Society founded to recognize campers that fully embody the spirit of the woodcraft laws.|
|1939||Following the death of “The Governor” in December 1938, Appleton A. Mason, Jr. assumes the Directorship.|
|1939||The Governor Trophy first awarded.|
|1947||The Cargill Trophy for Sportsmanship first awarded.|
|1957||David W. Mason assumes the Directorship.|
|1971||The Main Idea program for Maine youth at Camp Agawam is established.|
|1972||The Dave Mason, Jr. Trophy first awarded.|
|1984||David W. Mason announced his retirement. Agawam Council established as a non-profit organization and a Board of Directors of dedicated Alumni was chosen.|
|1986||Garth R. Nelson assumes the Directorship.|
|1986||The Mason Trophy for Service first awarded, replacing the Dave Mason, Jr. Trophy.|
|1986||The Agawam Council Trophy for Leadership first awarded.|
|1988||The Agawam Council makes its final payment to Dave and Peg Mason to complete the purchase of Camp Agawam.|
|1991||Purchased 3.5 acres of adjacent woodland.|
|1992||Agawam Council Challenge capital fund raising effort begins. Donations establish an endowment for the Main Idea program and full-summer camperships, a Preservation Trust, and funds necessary to build Mason Hall and renovate Governor Hall.|
|1994||Agawam Council Challenge reaches $1.25 million goal.|
|1994||Mason Hall (a new Dining Room, Kitchen, and Recreation building) completed.|
|1995||Governor Hall renovated and expanded. Purchased 20 acres of farm property at the top of the camp road.|
|1997||Agawam Council embarked on an ambitious program to renovate the camp facilities. During this three-year effort, every camper cabin was raised off the ground, straightened, leveled, re-roofed and set on new supports. New Waysides (toilets and showers) were constructed for each camper campus, and several cabins were repositioned to create better campus focus.|
|1999||Developed two very large athletic fields on the 20-acre farm parcel purchased in 1995.|
|1999||Bob Fryer and Peter Gould, two very dedicated alumni, developed a wonderful video history of Agawam and presented it at Agawam's 80th Anniversary celebration in August 1999.|
|2000||Thanks to the generosity of many friends and alumni of Agawam, all donors to our “Courts Campaign”, Agawam completed the renovation and reconstruction of our basketball court and four tennis courts.
Purchased 13.5 acres of adjacent woodland.
Commissioned and completed a Master Site Analysis to guide further Long Range Planning for Agawam.
|2001||Due to extra heavy winter snow load, Governor Hall collapses. An extraordinary effort by alumni, friends, staff and Council members resulted in its total replacement from April through the following winter.
The Agawam community is deeply saddened by the passing of Appleton (Ap) A. Mason, Jr., eldest son of our founder and one of Agawam’s Directors from 1939 – 1956.
|2002||Re-dedication and opening of the new Governor Hall.
Purchased 21 acres of adjacent woodland.
|2004||Alumni reunite at Agawam, during a weekend in August, to celebrate our Camp’s 85th Anniversary. Dave Griffiths compiled a volume which chronicled interesting and important tales of Agawam through the years called Braves Give Ear…Voices From The Great Central Fire. It was presented at the 85th Reunion weekend.
The Agawam Christmas Ski Weekend is inaugurated at Sunday River report in Bethel, ME.
Agawam completed a project to irrigate its central campus area. A pipeline is also extended to the Upper Fields near the Camp entrance.
The Agawam community is saddened by the passing of George G. Mason, second son of Agawam's founder.
|2005||The Main Idea extended its age range to 14, and served over 100 campers.
Renovations complete on the Camp Infirmary and Clausen House.
Irrigation complete for the first of the Upper Fields.
The Agawam Council Board of Directors commenced Visioning and Strategic Planning to guide Agawam’s programs and evolution in the future.
|2006||Agawam Council purchases 3.5 acre Durwand Property, rejoining the divided Wabinoden parcels.
An existing house is subsequently sold off with a 2 acre reconfigured lot, successfully completing this strategic initiative.
The Board authorizes a campaign to support the Wabinoden land purchase and the reconstruction and expansion of the Boathouse.
|2007||The Wabinoden/Boathouse campaign achieved its goal of $113,000.
The new Boathouse is completed in time for the 2007 camp season.
Tall Pines is fully renovated, and provides much improved living quarters for the Camp Director.
Garth Nelson announced his intention to retire as Camp Director after the 2008 Season.
The Board accepts the recommendation of its Search Committee and unanimously votes to appoint Erik Calhoun as Agawam’s 5th Camp Director.
|2008||Renovation of Activity buildings is completed with the renovation of the Woodshop.
Renovation and expansion of Esty House is completed.
“Chief” Erik C. Calhoun assumes the Directorship, succeeding “Chief” Garth R. Nelson after 23 seasons as Director, becoming the 5th Director of Camp Agawam. “Chief” Nelson continues on as Consulting Director and Director of Development.
|2009||Camp Agawam Alumni reunite at Agawam for a weekend in August to celebrate Camp’s 90th Anniversary.
Upper Fields are dedicated in honor of “Chief” Garth R. Nelson and are named Nelson Fields.
|2010||The Main Idea at Camp Agawam celebrates its 40th Anniversary.
After 26 years of service, “Chief” and Barbara Nelson announce their retirement.
|2011||Construction completed on two new Senior Staff cabins in honor of “Chief” Garth Nelson (Masconomo and Malm).
New riflery range completed.
|2012||Renovations completed and Music Room opens.|
|2013||The Agawam community is deeply saddened by the passing of Garth R. Nelson, Camp Agawam’s Director from 1985-2008.
Main Idea expands to include 15-year old campers with a Wilderness canoe trip to Rangeley Lakes.
|2014||Camp Agawam alumni return to Agawam on Labor Day weekend to celebrate Camp’s 95th Anniversary.|
|2015||Agawam Council completes and adopts a Strategic Plan to guide Agawam into its 2nd century.
Agawam Council purchases the property at 9 Frog Hollow Road and 8.4 acres near the top of the Camp road (2nd parcel of Flanigan property).
Agawam Council endorses the creation of the Young Alumni Subcommittee.
Senior Club program is revamped to include more of a focus on certifications, community service opportunities outside of camp, more training in teaching and counseling and a capstone trip.
|2016||Agawam Council begins the silent phase of the “Agawam, My Agawam” capital campaign.
Camp Agawam launches a new responsive website.
|2017||Agawam Council purchases 2 acres near route 85 (86 Webbs Mills Rd)
Agawam builds a new ropes course with all new elements.
Agawam breaks ground on construction of a new Infirmary.
The Agawam community is deeply saddened by the passing of David (Dave) W Mason., youngest son of our founder and one of Agawam’s former Owner/Directors. Dave helped run Agawam with his brother Ap from 1939 until he and his wife Peg bought Camp Agawam from Ap and ran it from 1957-1985.
|2018||Construction completed on the new Infirmary.
Purchase of new H-dock.
Construction begins to extend and level Ap’s Field and remake staff parking area into
lacrosse practice area.
Construction begins to reroute Agawam’s entrance road to limit vehicles moving through program
area. Project includes 80 spots in a new staff/visitor parking area, a new cul-de-sac to allow for
easier access for deliveries and access to new Infirmary. Bob’s Shop relocated to end of
parking area for use until new Maintenance Shop and Barn are built.
Work begins to relocate the Archery and Riflery ranges.
Construction begins to renovate the existing Riflery Range into new living space for
Kitchen staff. Demolition of old quarters.
Construction begins to renovate old Infirmary into 2 staff quarters.
|2019||Camp Agawam welcomes over 600 alumni and friends in August to celebrate Agawam’s 100ᵗʰ Anniversary.
Completion of construction of new Agawam entrance road, Ap’s field, new Archery range,
new Riflery range including Riflery structure, renovation of old Riflery structure into living
space for Kitchen staff and renovation of old Infirmary into new space for staff.
Construction begins on new Maintenance Shop and Barn.
Purchase of ½ acre property along shoreline of Crescent Lake (52 Trails End Rd).
|2020||Camp Agawam makes the sad decision to suspend its Main Idea and seven-week program due to COVID-19.|
|2021||Agawam reopens for a successful and safe Comeback Summer with COVID-19 protocols in place. Completion of Bailey Maintenance Shop and Barn.|
|2022||Completion of construction of new Agawam Office.|