“Cox’n” Erik and “Lt” Mark Andrews arrived at Agawam as 8-year olds and celebrated their birthdays at camp every year successive year for the next 9 years. We’re looking forward to welcoming Mark and Erik back to the Agawam campus at the 100th Celebration and Alumni Reunion in August!
Photo: Erik and Mark with their younger sister, Kristy, a long time camper and counselor and now an assistant director at Camp Wawenock.
What years were you at Agawam?
“Cox’n” Erik Andrews: camper ’95-’02; Senior Club ’03; staff ’05 and ‘09
“Lt” Mark Andrews: camper ’95-’02; Senior Club ’03; staff ’05, ’09 – ‘10
Who or what originally brought you to camp?
Mark and Erik: Our uncle “Bos’n” Mark Holmes was on staff in 1974 – the year of the tornado. He had been at DJC (Dr. Johnson’s Camp – across the stone wall from Agawam from), but after his camper years he did a year on staff at Agawam, so that created a connection with camp, though that didn’t really influence our decision. When we were at the age to go to camp, as twin brothers, it was important for us to have a shared experience.
Mark: Our mom’s side of the family grew up going to camps in the Portland area. Our mom actually went to the Camp Laughing Loon, a Y camp, whose sign adorns the boathouse. It was very important to her that we grew up spending summers at camp, so she took us to visit Agawam, Timanous, Winona, and O-at-ka when we were 7. Agawam was clearly head-and-shoulders above those ragamuffin outfits, so we chose Crescent Lake.
Erik: Our mom grew up going to a summer-long overnight camp with her sister, loved it, and wanted all of us kids to have a similar camp experience. When we were 6, she had Mark and I tour all of the boys’ camps around Sebago to see which we liked the most. “Bowman” Malm was our guide for Agawam, it was an RMD, we loved the open fields and waterfront, and had all sorts of people come up and introduce themselves to us. From there it was clear where we were headed.
What was it like to attend camp with your brother?
Erik: It was incredible; attending our favorite place on Earth together, as twins and best friends, was the highlight and most formative part of our childhood and young adulthood.
Mark: Cox’n has always been my best friend so extending our time together into the summer and in a new context was very cool. I remember every summer we would ask to be in the same cabin, but never got to be–until Bates ’09 on staff! In retrospect I think going to Agawam together helped us learn to appreciate our different strengths and weaknesses. As a twin, you have pretty much the exact same background and no excuse to hide behind if one of you fails while the other succeeds. So, during the school year, things can be pretty stark: what grades did you get and how did you do in sports? And people always want to identify the smart one and the athletic one. In fact, I’m willing to bet anyone who was at camp with us probably just now thought Cox’n, obviously, for the smarts and Lt. for the athletics, right? But Agawam opens up the menu of what success can mean so much more holistically: whether it’s an Ag/Wam competition, an athletic activity, a cerebral activity, hiking Mt. Katahdin, a katiaki, the approval of a staff member, the respect of your peers, etc. When the smarts-athletics dichotomy blows up into this multi-faceted attribute nebula, it’s much easier to be competitive but also confident and comfortable with yourself. I think that was an important lesson to learn as a twin…and in life more generally.
Where do you live now? What do you do to make a living?
Mark: I live in Brooklyn, NY, and work in the Markets Group at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York where I do market operations, monitoring, and analysis for the Fed system–right now specializing in mortgage markets. I love the work, but I miss the trees.
Erik: I live just outside Boston with my wife. We’re both early-career doctors, me for adults at Harvard and her for kids at Brown. Lt lives in Brooklyn, NYC with his wife. He’s a central banker at the Federal Reserve of New York and she’s a labor and delivery nurse at Mt. Sinai.
Has your family and/or your family traditions been influenced by Camp Agawam?
Erik: We always go for a morning dip when we get together in the summer. The Woodcraft Laws remain guideposts. Camp songs and references to the Gods of the Four Winds have a habit of entering conversation. Frequent family hikes, preferably to Katahdin when time allows, also stem from Agawam.
Mark: Oh yeah. Morning Dip Rally is typically the wake-up call whenever morning comes near any natural body of water. More importantly, 4 years ago I sent Cox’n looking for the Left-Handed Smoke Shifter. Still hasn’t found it. Legend has it he can be found wandering the halls late at night at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (he works there) ransacking empty rooms, asking attending physicians if they happen to know where it is.
How long has it been since you’ve been back to Agawam as individuals?
Mark: I think I swung by in the off-season a couple times, just to check on the place. I don’t know when the last time I visited in the summer—maybe the 95th reunion!
Erik: 5 years — the 95th reunion! Also, a Grand Council a couple of years ago now. There may have been a few recent sneaky visits walking around off-season as well…don’t tell Capt.
What are you most looking forward to at the 100th Reunion?
Erik: Reconnecting with friends and being back around Centerfield Rock.
Mark: Catching up with everyone and the delight of rediscovering everything I love about Agawam people in general, and Ags in particular.
What is the first thing that comes to mind for each of you when you think about Agawam?
Mark: For some reason, announcements in the Dining Hall and all the comedy that happens around them.
Erik: Bug juice (just kidding). The scene from the H-dock and the loon calls at night.
Do you have a particular favorite Agawam memory?
Erik: How to pick one? Looking for the left-handed smoke-shifter while a camper in Mason. Running after Korona. Hiking up the Cathedral Trail from Chimney Pond to Baxter Peak. Leading Lower Campus campers to Wabinoden on their first camping trip. Jumping for the trapeze at the ropes course. Six-a-side. Hanging out with fellow Sr. Club in Calloway. Being a cabin counselor. Authenticity.
Do you have any memories of the director that stand out for you?
Mark: Do you mean Chief Calhoun or director in general? If “Chief” Calhoun: he was my counselor for part of the summer in Trinity ’99! Man, he was goofy and so much fun. I felt like we were the same age, but he was in charge.
Otherwise: Our dad died right after our 15-year-old summer, and a lot of Agawam friends and counselors came to the funeral. The next year we were both Senior Club and I remember “Chief” Nelson, with his quiet way, as this moral compass that helped fill in aspects of that paternal figure we had lost. It wasn’t just confined to him–it was all up the range of senior staff and assistant directors. I can’t say it was one memory in particular, but the collective presence of all those awesome men in our lives that summer was really important.
Erik: I can still perfectly hear the sound of “Chief” Nelson’s words “goodnight boys, see you next summer” followed by a whoosh of candles being blown out. Every year that phrase marked a period of profound significance, just as he did.
Ag or Wam?