The Degerberg family, originating out of Darien CT, but now flung all over the United States, have had every member of the family attend camp. All the boys attended Agawam and the girls went to Wawenock—truly a “camping family!” Attending camp enabled the 2nd generation to get to know one another well, even though their families lived far away from each other. Since 1960 the Degerberg family has logged over 80 years at Agawam as both campers and staff. They are looking forward to reuniting as a family and seeing all of their Agawam friends during the 100th Celebration and Alumni Reunion, August 16-18, 2020.

How many members of your family have been associated with Agawam?

Eric: Everyone in the family is associated with Agawam!

Jamie Leyden: I think it’s 12, including brothers and cousins.

Karen: between cousins, in-laws, brothers… too many to count!

Rob Dunklee: three direct relatives and I added a bunch more after marrying Emily Degerberg.

What does the chronology look like? What years were each of you at camp?

“Skipper” Eric (wife Jan, daughter Whitney) 1960-1975; 1977 and 1984

“Nurse” Karen 1975, 1977 and 1984

Jake Sandler 2000-06

Michael Sandler 1997-2002; 2004

Elder Generation (Then)

Left to Right: “Mander” Scott Degerberg, George Degerberg, “Skipper” Eric Degerberg 

“Mander” Scott (wife- Jennifer, daughter Emily) Camper 1968 -‘72 Staff ‘73 ’74, ‘76-’77, ’79, ’84

“Admiral” Will  camper 2002-07 , staff 2008, 2010-2013

“Slugger” Rob Dunklee (married to Emily) ’88, ’89, ’94, ’95 Staff ’98, ’00, ‘02

George (first cousin): 1971-75

“Striker” Jamie Leyden (son of George’s sister Mary) Camper 2009-12 Counselor ’13, ’15, ‘16

“Cruiser” Scott Leyden (son of George’s sister Mary) Camper 2010-2014, Counselor 2015-17

Was it important that you all went to the same camp?

Scott: My parents both attended summer camp and, as kids, we heard many of their camp stories growing up. So it seemed only natural we would also go to summer camp when we turned 10. Attending Agawam with other members of my immediate and extended family was a unique opportunity for all of us to be exposed to shared camp experiences, values, and lifelong friendships.

Whitney: As an unspoken family rule: All of the men go to Agawam and the women go to Wawenock. In fact, for the women who married into the Degerberg family – they didn’t even have the option to not send their kids to camp – it was already decided for them. 🙂

Jake Sandler: Our family loves Agawam deeply. The values, the traditions and the friendships formed at Agawam have enriched all of our lives immensely. Attending the same camp allows us to share those things with each other.

What was it like to attend camp with your siblings / parent / cousins?

Will: Terrifying, hilarious, annoying, and awesome. There’s only so many sailboats for so many Degerbergs

Michael: It was fun and unique to be able to witness my younger brother and cousin come into their own socially, athletically, and via camp achievements. With extended family and between generations, having such a foundational shared experience has allowed us to build deeper relationships.

Jamie: My brother and I were campers and staff together (as well as being a Sr. Club with my cousin “Admiral” Will Degerberg). Attending camp with my brother has contributed to becoming much closer as siblings and I’m glad we have such a fond shared experience.

Scott: 2010, my first year, “Admiral” (Will) Degerberg and my older brother were both at camp. Having relatives at camp, for a first summer especially, made the transition from home to camp seamless

Scott: In 1984, my sister, “Nurse” joined “Skipper” and me on staff during Dave & Peg’s last year as Camp Directors. I think we all got along better at camp than we did back home, which probably explains why we all remain close today.

George: I was lucky to attend with my three cousins Eric, Scott and Karen Degerberg.

Karen: In 1984, when “Skipper”, “Mander” and I were all on staff, we would look at each other each day and kind of laugh…we were 34, 31, and 29 and still living the life.

Jake: It was fun to have my big brother and little cousin at camp. It made it feel more meaningful to have family around.

Rob: My last year as a staff member was “Admiral” Degerberg’s first year as a camper. Luckily he remembers me from a really bad sunburn I received on Rangeley Lakes that summer. I was also at camp when my cousins, “Striker” Zach and “Guide” Si Rioux, were campers.

Emily: Although I went to Wawenock, I’m sure it was similar at Agawam, where it was amazing to have family members there with me. We didn’t live near our cousins growing up, so we became close at camp. And of course, we crossed over with the Agawam part of the family at sailing regattas.

Elder Generation (Now)

Back row Left to Right: “Nurse” Karen Degerberg, “Skipper” Eric Degerberg, Gunnar Degerberg, “Mander” Scott Degerberg, George Degerberg

Front row Left to Right: Mary Leyden, Katherine Degerberg

Younger Generation (Now)

Left to Right: “Striker” Jamie Leyden, Whitney Degerberg, Jake Sandler, Karna Sandler, “Admiral” Will Degerberg, Emily Dunklee

Who or what originally brought your family to camp?

Scott: Dave Mason came to our home in Darien to talk with my parents about my brother, Eric, attending Agawam in 1960. I distinctly remember our father telling me in later years how impressed he was with Dave and the Agawam program and philosophy. Considering our father spent 11 summers as a camper and counselor at Camp Tecumseh on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, it is a tribute to Dave that we all went to Agawam. Also, from Agawam came a referral to Wawenock for my sister Karen, who was the first of nine Wawenock campers and staff in our extended family.

Eric: My father was so impressed with Dave and Peg Mason during his visit to our home in Darien. He decided not to send me to Camp Tecumseh where he went as a camper

Karen: Both of my parents went to camp. Dad went to Camp Tecumseh in NH. Mom went to Camp Bryn Afon in Wisconsin.(Betty Ford was her dance counselor.) Dad thought Tecumseh had changed and had too much emphasis on football. But the real clincher was meeting Dave and Peg Mason.

George: I went to Agawam on the recommendation from my Degerberg cousins!

Where do you all live now? And what do you do to make a living?

Eric: Breckenridge, CO I am a Realtor there. Former ski instructor for 35 years. You can blame Dave for that as well. I was a counselor at Agawam Kezar each year in college for both Christmas and Spring breaks (and while I was School Director at Pleasant Mountain)

Scott: My wife, Jennifer, and I live in Jennifer’s home town of Cincinnati. After spending more than 20 years in financial services, I now work for Education at Work, a non-profit helping college students graduate with less student loan debt and the skills they need to secure careers post-graduation. Jennifer is an entrepreneur and owner of Pomegranate & Lime, a successful retail shop in the village where we live.

Karen: I’m a retired nurse practitioner after 32 years at George Washington University Student Health. I spend time in a bunch of places. Life is good.

Will: Multiple parts Ohio, Colorado, DC, Austin, Atlanta, Tennessee and Philadelphia.  I work for Roark Capital Management, a private equity firm in Atlanta.

Michael: Washington D.C.; Venture Capital

Jamie: I recently graduated from Emory University and will be working in New York starting this fall for SunTrust.

Scott: I just finished my sophomore year at Lehigh University, and I am living at home this summer. I am interning at CBRE, a commercial real estate firm, more specifically tenant rep.

George: Home builder in Nashville

Jake: I live in Washington, DC. I founded a tech startup with a mission to root out the toxic partisanship infecting our politics.

Rob: We just moved to Austin, Texas. I work for Hyatt hotels and have been fortunate to live in a few incredible places. Emily is working in higher education. We’re still getting used to the humidity!

Has your family and/or family traditions been influenced by Camp Agawam?

Eric: There has probably not been a time when we get together when either Agawam (or Wawenock!) is not mentioned in some conversation.

Will: Napkins. In. Laps. Always. But more importantly, acts of unbargaining service are what define us as people.

Jamie: Agawam stories are always the most well received and the Woodcraft laws have surely soaked into our characters and values.

Whitney (Eric and Jan’s daughter): I’d think our family’s competitive nature comes from Agawam and our time as a family at camp.

Scott: Seek the joy of being alive has become a family saying

Karen: We are all pretty good tennis players (but don’t like losing too much.)

George: I believe that qualities I learned at camp influence my life. I try and do an unselfish act every day.

Rob: I met my wife! (Emily Degerberg)

Emily (Scott and Jennifer’s daughter): I knew Agawam songs years before I went to Wawenock! When I was a baby, my father would sing me to sleep with “By the Blazing Council Fire’s Light”. On our first day as campers at Wawenock, my cousin Whitney Degerberg (Eric “Skipper” Degerberg’s daughter), and I sang “Agawam, My Agawam” for the middler unit (it was an unsolicited request)

Younger Generation (Then)

Left to Right: Whitney Degerberg, Jake Sandler, “Admiral” Will Degerberg, Emily Dunklee

What are you most looking forward to at the 100th Reunion?

Eric: Seeing old friends and making new ones.

Jan: Being back at Agawam and seeing everyone. Just stepping on the grounds at Agawam makes my heart happy.

Will: “Skipper” Eric Degerberg realizing that he may, in fact, be the oldest member of Blazing Arrow alive….sorry Uncle Eric

Jennifer: Family together at a place that we love

Jamie: Having the Degerberg extended family united in full for what I believe would be the first time.

Whitney: As a kid, I loved trying to find all of “Skipper” Degerberg’s ghost rocks.  Looking forward to hearing more stories about our family and keeping the camp tradition alive!

Scott: Not sure if I will be in attendance, but seeing all the people that I connected with and built relationships, at Agawam over the years. As well as just seeing camp, it always brings up memories, even seeing pictures.

Mander: Catching up with old friends, doubles on the tennis court, and a swim in Crescent Lake!

Karen: Seeing Peg.

George: Attending!

Jake: I’m looking forward to reconnecting with the amazing community of people I grew up with at camp (provided I can make it!)

Rob: Reconnecting with some amazing people who I haven’t seen in many moons.

Emily: Seeing all the wonderful people that make up our extended family! And watching my dad, Mander, be completely in his element.

What is the first thing that comes to mind for each of you when you think about Agawam?

Eric: The enduring values I learned over the years. Every summer was fantastic in its own way. Lifelong friends!

Will: Believe it or not, this is the only place on earth where people pronounce “Degerberg” correctly

Jennifer: Traditions

Jamie: Home away from home

Whitney: Sailing – which probably makes sense , and competing against the boys, including “Admiral” Degerberg once (he doesn’t like to talk about the outcome of that race). I love hearing stories about “Skipper” and “Mander” Degerberg when they were at camp.

Jan: How the kids greeted me when I walked up. That has always impressed me.

Mander: Lifelong friendships and values stemming from the Woodcraft Laws.

Karen: Best place to learn how to get along with people.

George: Some of the best days of my life.

Jake: “Seek the joy of being alive”

Emily: The picturesque view in front of Centerfield Rock that extends out to Crescent Lake

Agawam Wedding — Emily Dunklee and “Slugger” Rob Dunklee

Do each of you have a particularly favorite Agawam memory?

Eric: Sailing in regattas at Wohelo. Mt. Katahdin trips. But the most indelible is being elected to Totem

Jan: Swimming out to Island rock, no problem. Unbeknownst to me it was one of the athletic tests Eric was putting me through. Could Jan compete with the Degerberg family and all the activities they are all good at, like tennis, sailing and swimming. (I must have passed the test 🙂

Will: Rest hours for the cabin of Springfield ‘05 were, surprisingly, not very restful

Jennifer: My first visit, 1984, as “Mander”’s girlfriend. And meeting Dave Mason and some of Scott’s great camp friends

Jamie: My favorite memory was winning Six-a-side as a 15 year old and being able to celebrate with all of camp.

Scott: Every day of my 15 year old summer

Scott: I will never forget the experience as a 10-year old on the last night of camp, crying my eyes out while shaking hands and saying goodbye to the counselors lined up on the ball field because camp was over for the summer.

Karen: On the very first night of camp, a lower campus counselor escorted a camper up to the infirmary. I asked them both what was going on and the kid said he was sick to his stomach. I kind of panicked because I really had no idea what to do. I was fresh out of nursing school and was good with IV’s, and chest tubes, and hospital stuff but this was way too ordinary. So I asked him what his mother usually gave him when he felt this way. He said, “She gives me Pepto Bismol.” So, I did what his mom would do and he proceeded to run to the bathroom and throw up. The counselor gave me a look I’ll never forget and I thought my reputation was shot for the rest of the summer. But the kid came out of the bathroom and said “Thanks. I feel much better now.” Needless to say, I learned a lot that summer.

George: Hiding under my bed when the tornado/massive storm hit camp in 1974 I believe and 100’s of trees came down. Sailing regattas, soccer games and Council.

Jake: Running Korana as a 15 year old. I always loved the tradition of Korana and to get to run it was just awesome.

Rob: There are many. Being challenged to an Indian Get-Up as a camper in Mason, my partner being “Yeoman” (at the time) Calhoun. It ended with my feet dangling 3 feet above the ground while clutching for dear life on “Yeoman’s” back. Pretty sure we won…

Emily: I attended Council Fire with my parents the first summer my brother, Will went to Agawam. As Tally Keeper, Rob “Slugger” Dunklee was hilarious…. and cute! 15 years later, Slugger and I got married (and had an Agawam/Wawenock-themed rehearsal dinner).

Do you have any memories of the director that stand out for you?

Eric: Dave had this uncanny way of being there every time I screwed up as a counselor. He never said much, but would just shake his head. That was way worse than anything he could have said. I had been on a day off on July 4, 1974 with “Colonel” and Sandi Campbell. We arrived back in camp around 10pm to find trees lying everyone on the ground. Dave was sitting on the office porch shaking his head in disbelief and told us what had happened. Col. asked Dave if he would like a drink and that he just happened to have some bourbon in his car. That is the only time I ever saw Dave have a drink during the camp season.

Will: When I was 5 years old, I crawled onto a certain “Yeoman” Calhoun’s back at some alumni event thinking he was my father, before I soon realized that he was most definitely not “Mander” Scott Degerberg!

Jan: Ap Mason — he was so nice the first time I was at Agawam. He knew we were going to go golf and he made a point of giving me golf balls. A wonderful man.

Scott: I have so many memories of Agawam directors, but for me as a camper and counselor, Dave Mason had an uncanny ability to show up whenever anyone was causing trouble or doing something questionable!

Karen: Sitting with Dave at War Games ready to administer ice packs to the next victim and us both looking at each other, shaking our heads, and saying “This game is CRAZY!”

George: I always appreciated that Dave was a straight forward, kind man.

Jake: “Chief” Garth’s grounded presence during Council becomes more special in my memory each year.

Rob: I have always been very impressed by the way each Chief has executed Council in his own way, each with a powerful, graceful presence.

Ag or Wam?

We are all AGs — of course!!!!

Emily: When Rob “Slugger” Dunklee and I started dating, my whole family was extremely relieved to find out that he is an “Ag”! WHEW!