“Chief” Erik Calhoun reflects on the start of Camp Agawam’s 105th season.

Today we celebrated Camp Agawam’s opening day 2024 – our 105th year!!! After long months of preparation, it is so exciting to finally have a camp filled with the sights and sounds of summer. The bus from New Jersey and Connecticut arrived 45 minutes early (a first in my experience) and everyone has arrived safely in camp. This evening, boys played frisbee tag, basketball, soccer, or just enjoyed hanging out with friends. Soon Bed Bell will ring, Taps will blow, and camp will be quiet again until tomorrow morning.

We have a large contingent of first-year campers this year – heartening for us because experience shows that boys fall in love with Agawam and will come back as campers and then counselors. This first summer at Agawam could mark the beginning of a multi-generation relationship, a brand new member of our Agawam family. One day they may bring their families to Agawam’s 120th reunion just as so many alumni will return at the end of this summer for our 105th.

For new campers, we know the first few days can be a challenge. We work hard to help them make the transition to camp. In most cases it is simply a matter of learning the schedule and building a comfort zone around the daily routine for campers to begin to thrive.

Agawam is certainly a fun summer, but it is more than that. It is a place where boys can develop and grow in positive ways. We believe that growth happens with appropriate challenge, risk-taking, and even failure. When boys learn to take appropriate risks that sometimes end in disappointment, it is essential to have a system that supports them. This is something that an Agawam summer offers. We also believe that Agawam is a place where boys form true friendships and develop interpersonal skills away from the buzz and hum of social media, cell phones, and the internet.

This is truer in 2024 than ever. At a time when it can be hard to find common ground among our differences, boys at Agawam practice that skill regularly – whether in a cabin, a shared canoe, or over breakfast. At a time when there is rarely enough quiet to hear yourself think, Agawam boys learn to appreciate silence – to spend quiet time writing letters or reading a book without distraction, or because it allows them to enjoy the haunting call of the loon. And at a time of increased anxiety where every decision seems momentous, boys are free to try something new and, if it doesn’t work out, to change course and try something else.

We are so excited that today is the first day of a terrific 7-week experience on the shores of Crescent Lake. We promise that when the boys who arrived today return home, they will have grown in remarkable ways.