Garth Nelson runs the camp, and right away I asked him about the sprinkler on the roof. Heat inside the dining hall rises to the roof and is enveloped by moisture. The heat is then evaporated, and the room cooled. Nelson used to be a high school science teacher, understands the principles involved. I almost do. Nelson told me a bugler also blows retreat in the afternoon when the big flag is taken down, and at the sound of the bugler campers stop and face the flag. Camp Agawam is an old camp with old ideas.
The idea of summer camps began in New England, and this part of southern Maine has a bunch of them, though the number is declining. Nelson said about 10 camps in the region have gone out of business in recent years, two of them close to Camp Agawam. The reason is almost always the same, money. Land on a Maine lake is worth much for summer retreats, and the power of money is stronger than almost any other thing in our society. The man who owned this camp is 71 and was wary of the place running down if he himself did. He sold it to men who were boys at this camp and who now operate it as a nonprofit organization. These camp graduates wanted Agawam preserved because they remember the place with affection.