Vespers is a secular service held at camp every Sunday morning during the summer. Each week, one member of the Agawam community is invited to deliver reflections on a relevant theme. These talks typically reinforce Agawam’s core values, such as leadership, friendship, and honesty. The much-loved ritual of Vespers talks is extended during Agawam reunions, with alumni thinking back on their time at Agawam. At the 100th Agawam reunion, former counselor/volunteer “Capt” Pete Caesar (camper ’58-’61; staff ’63, ’65-’71; volunteer ’71, parent ’92) offered his reflections on the Woodcraft Law of Love.

I’m Capt. Pete Caesar, and I want to talk with you about the Lamp of Love.

From it issue these three rays: (Feel free to join in…)

  • Be kind. Do at least one act of unbargaining service each day.
  • Be helpful. Do your share of the work.
  • Be joyful. Seek the joy of being alive.

My dad used to call it the 80:20 rule: if you want to have a 50:50 relationship with someone, you need to give 80% and expect 20%. I’ve found that it’s generally the same way with life.

At Agawam, we were all encouraged to pitch in and do our share of the work. Cabin cleanup. Picking up litter unbidden. Welcoming new faces to the campus. Camp improvement.

Woody Allen said, “80% of life is about showing up;” I suspect that most of you have found, as I have, that 80% of living a meaningful life is about stepping up.

There are, of course, lots of different levels of stepping up.

Many of us voluntarily support causes financially. Drop a quarter in the Humane Society jar. Send in your annual contribution to the alumni fund or the children’s museum.

You might donate funds so that a boy or girl you may never meet can go to a camp for a week, or a summer — learn how to swim, how to be an effective leader and team member, how to grow into their best self.

You can also volunteer your time and experience.

The central guiding principles for the Agawam community are embodied by the Woodcraft Laws, compiled by Ernest Thompson Seton in the early 1900s.

You can step up by making brownies for the bake sale, running to town to the grocery store (again!), or taking your third turn in a row in the middle of the night to see what’s wrong with the baby.

If you’re really lucky, you can chaperone a middle school dance.

You can run a 5K or a lemonade stand for cancer, or run for office, or help run a centennial reunion — or chair it — …or run a capital campaign.

But whether it’s picking up a dairy maid wrapper on the way through the middle campus or chairing that auction or springing into action in a sudden emergency, it makes a difference.

Let me close by thanking you for what you are doing to improve the quality of life around us.  For so many of us, it started right here. So Thank You, Camp Agawam, for showing us that by doing “…at least one act of unbargaining service each day,” and by doing “[our] share of the work,” we each can find, in our own way, the joy of being alive.