The month of November is often associated with gratitude. Like so many, we find ourselves thinking about people, places and things that are dear to our hearts.
A “summer camp”, even one that is as beautiful as Fleur de Lis, is really just land and buildings until you add the special ingredient… the people.
Our parents, families and girls are one of our very special ingredients. We know there are so many ways a girl can spend her summer, and we feel fortunate that our families value the camp experience enough to choose Fleur de Lis for their daughter. We also appreciate that it can be a bit “nervous-making” to entrust your child to others. We are honored that you have chosen us and trust us to care for your daughter while she is with us in the summer. We take this trust very seriously and strive to create an environment where girls can discover themselves, make positive choices, develop life skills, create deep friendships, have joyous fun, and create memories that will last throughout their lives.
We are deeply grateful for another special ingredient – our staff. Each summer we bring together a group of people to serve as positive adult role models as they teach, mentor, care for, and have fun with our girls. They come from different parts of the world with diverse life experiences. The reasons they come to camp are many. Some have grown up in camp and often cite that they want to give back to the community that has given them so much. New staff members are excited about teaching skills, working with children, being outdoors, making friends, etc. etc.
For whatever reason staff come, they soon realize that it is a job working 24-hour days, 7-days a week that requires being a friend, coach, big sister, and parent all rolled into one. They demonstrate amazing commitment every day as they give so much of themselves to create a magical experience for girls.
And of course, a camp that is 90 years old has a third group of people that are so important to all of us – our dedicated alumnae and volunteers. These women and men are such an important part of camp in so many ways. Their service comes in many forms – from sharing the FDL story and providing us with history and inspiration, to serving on committees, volunteering at camp and Circle Week, fundraising, and even parking cars on Opening Day! We all benefit from their time, energy, and support and it is quite possible that without their caring and commitment, Fleur de Lis would not have reached its 90th summer.
So, as we reflect this November, we are very grateful for all the people that make Fleur de Lis the special place that lives in our hearts.
Farmhouse Update Fall 2019
I spent today with our Executive Director, MJ Parry, and facilities manager, Richard Whipple for our annual fall walk of the property, where we look closely at our grounds and all our buildings making sure that we have an accurate understanding of our short term and long term facility needs and that we are planning accordingly. It was a gorgeous fall day, the kind of day where the peacefulness of camp and the beauty of our setting fill you up with a love and appreciation for Fleur de Lis.
As most of you are aware, our biggest facilities issue is the Farmhouse. We have been engaged in a thorough evaluation of the building for well over a year now. As we have delved deeper into the issues that we need to address, we have also engaged with a broad range of constituents to help determine what we most need and want for this building as we approach our centennial and prepare for a great camp experience for girls heading into the next hundred years. What we have heard from you through this process is an affirmation of the emotional connections to this building. It is what we associate with the moments we arrive at camp, a symbol of the spirit that permeates the culture of Fleur de Lis, and a grounding point that holds together both the literal and figurative experience of camp days.
We have now completed the full assessments of the building and the work that needs to be done to address ongoing issues and meet current and future needs. This has included looking at regulations and specifications that affect any work we need to do. The board has been a part of this process throughout and has reviewed all the materials assembled along the way. The board is committed to undertaking a process that preserves the look and feel of the existing exterior of the farmhouse as well as some of the interior spaces. We have been reviewing plans for both renovating and recreating the building. The board has now voted to undertake a rebuilding process to recreate the farmhouse. There were a number of factors that went into this decision including the cost, timing, regulations, and potential for discovering further underlying issues.
This work will take a major fundraising effort for Fleur de Lis. We are beginning a Capital Campaign with a goal of $1.5 million to help us achieve this building project. This is our first major Capital Campaign in about 20 years when we raised $1.1 million to build our new dining hall. We have a strong committee working on this campaign. Because this is a major project and big commitment for our community, we are planning on communicating with you personally about your part in this campaign. We will be reaching out within the next six months to each of you. For this campaign we are looking for a three year pledge commitment to this endeavor. We are not asking for your commitment at this point. We will be in touch with you to share more details of the plans and to invite you to join us in supporting this vital building, so we are ready for our second hundred years! If you would love to talk specifically before year’s end for tax purposes or for any reason, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be very happy to speak with you personally.
This is an exciting time for Fleur de Lis. I can’t wait to welcome each of you into our new Farmhouse for the summer of 2021 and am excited for the connections that will be made within its walls for generations of campers to come.
Written By: Diane (Di) Foster | Fleur de Lis Camp Board President
Summer 2019 Alumni Campers
“Fleur de Lis is part of me, I want to pass it on….“
This summer Fleur de Lis Camp had an amazing group of first-year alumni campers. We even had our first 5th generation camper! It is incredible to watch the gifts of camp being passed down through the generations. Many of these camper’s moms, aunts, and cousins were counselors to our 2019 staff!
Fleur de Lis Flag Retires
If you have spent a summer at Fleur de Lis Camp and perhaps even served on the Fleur de Lis Color Guard, you know that the Fleur de Lis flag is raised each morning and lowered each evening with great pride. You always know that camp is in full swing when you drive up and the FDL Colors – green, white, and red are flying high in the wind. As time goes by the flags, though loved and well cared for, do become tattered and in need of replacement.
This year we began a Fleur de Lis Flag retirement program when we need to replace our current flag. A flag no longer able to fly over camp can have a new life. Like most retirees, the flag longs to travel. The Fleur de Lis Camp Flag has already traveled all the way to Colorado, making a couple stops in Massachusetts first.
The first stop on the retirement trip was to Thompson Island off the coast of Boston, Massachusetts for Lady Bridget Scollan’s wedding. Here is what Bridget has to say about their festivities:
“At our wedding in October 2018, we had 17 FDL alums – ages 12 through 69 – celebrate with us in the midst of a Nor’easter. You could tell they were camp girls because they came dressed in rain boots and didn’t let heavy winds keep them from tearing up the dance floor. Although we got some funny looks from other guests as we did colors in the middle of the reception, I wouldn’t have changed a thing! The day was like the best possible version of rainy day activities, and all because we could celebrate with our favorite people.”
Next, the flag made a quick trip to Lady Shirley Maynard’s house, where she sewed the well-worn edges of the flag together. Giving it the much-needed love and attention, the tired flag deserved.
The flag then returned to camp for the summer where it was held by alumni campers and shown to our Corporation.
This fall, the flag made it all the way to Colorado where it was held by camp friends at Lizzie Smith’s Wedding. Here is what Lizzie had to share about that part of the journey:
“A crew of camp girls trekked out to Colorado for my wedding last month. Awards were given out to Ladies Bridget and Amy for Woohoo-Canoe-In-Colorado and to the Ladies and Lords for Mountain-Tie-Die-Chic and Level 7 in Dancefloor.”
At each stop, the flag is noted with the event or gathering that it has attended along with the year.
Where will the Fleur de Lis Flag fly to next?
Do you have an Alumni meet up, wedding, baby shower, housewarming party, etc. that you would like to have as part of your celebration? Contact Sarah@fleurdeliscamp.org to have the Fleur de Lis Flag at your next alumnae gathering.
At each stop, the flag is noted with the event or gathering that it has attended along with the year.
Where will the Fleur de Lis Flag fly to next?
Do you have an event coming up, promotion party, wedding, baby shower, housewarming party, etc. coming up? Contact Sarah@fleurdeliscamp.org to have the Fleur de Lis Flag at your next alumnae gathering.
90th Reunion Recap
The 90th summer of Fleur De Lis Camp was completed with the gathering of over 100 alumnae representing almost every decade of Fleur de Lis history. The weekend flew by and we had fantastic weather! It started out with several picnic lunches around camp and a few hours of open activities! Alumnae could choose from many options including waterskiing, kayaking, rifle, archery, a special 90th activity of tye-dying t-shirts, and many more! As the day was wrapping up we had evening Colors leading into a reception where alumnae shared stories, laughs, and memorabilia from over the years. There was also a voting booth for attendees to share their opinion on a gift to camp that would commemorate the 90th year. A traditional family-style dinner of chicken croquettes and peppermint stick ice cream was enjoyed by all and rounded out the day. Dinner led straight into a rousing game of FDL Jeopardy – camp history edition for EP! It was a tight game that came down to a tie breaker question to determine the winner. Following EP, we said goodbye to those joining us for the day and headed to the Midfield for a campfire and s’mores. Friends, old and new, chatted, reminisced, and sang songs late into the evening. Sunday morning started with breakfast in the fields, tent and cabin clean up, and another round of open activities! The weekend culminated with a barbecue by the old dining hall, free swim, and the results from the gift voting. We are excited to announce that the attendees overwhelming voted to refresh the waterfront with a new buddy board and canoe rack! Come visit during summer 2020 to see the final product! Thank you to all who volunteered and helped pull off a successful weekend! Fun was had by all and we can’t wait to celebrate more milestones in camp history in the coming years!
Head over to our Alumnae page to see photos from the reunion!
-Hilary Robinson & Jess Wojslaw
Summer 2019 – 90 Summers on Laurel Lake
Greetings from Laurel Lake!
The Summer of 2019 was a great one! 147 girls from different parts of the country and the world joined us for fun, friendship, and adventures.
As always, the waterfront was a busy place with girls learning to swim, paddleboard, waterski and kayak. Girls had great fun playing on the water mat and floating in our huge inflatables, as well as swimming to Flat Rock and taking on the challenge of swimming The Triangle. The arts were popular choices, with girls creating beautiful projects in stained glass, sewing, and ceramics. Many girls worked on perfecting their skills at the archery and riflery ranges. While all of these traditional FDL activities were highlights for campers, some girls chose to try out two new activities at camp – music, and fire-building. In music, the girls were introduced to new songs including the melodies, harmonies and percussive accompaniment and then performed them for the camp. Fire-building was a hit with girls learning how to lay and light the fire, and then enjoyed their accomplishment by doing a bit of outdoor cooking making s’mores and banana boats.
Special Events are always a highlight of camp and this year was no different! There’s nothing like crazy games and cotton candy at the Carnival, gathering gold and eluding bandits in Gold Rush, or ranging far and wide to win the prize in Capture the Flag. EPs included some old favorites – FDL Auction, Talent Show and Air Bands. The Fields added their own creativity and hard work to these special times with their plays – the Juniors with “The Lorax” and “The Little Prince”, the Mids with “Finding Nemo” and “Toy Story” and our Seniors with “The Wizard of Oz” and “Ella, Enchanted”. The CTs created magic with their CT theme dinners Vegas Night and Space Invasion Night. We even introduced a new EP, “Fireside”, a campfire in the Mid Field with the whole camp sharing stories and singing together in the quiet of the evening.
And of course, all the traditions of camp were alive and well, from the big ones of Campfire, Coronation, Cathedral, and Galilean, to the simple ones of starting each day with Password, singing at every meal, and ending each night with Evening Circle and Taps.
In some ways camp is like a kaleidoscope – colorful, changing, and complex. So much happens every day, it’s hard to pick out the best day or favorite moments. As I reflect on the summer, the things that touched my heart most were simple ones that the girls did daily – trying new things, laughing over silly jokes, holding hands as they walked the road, comforting a friend, playing in the Fields, sharing their stories, and just “being” in our beautiful camp, Fleur de Lis.
When I have a chance to connect with Fleur de Lis Camp in some way, whether with the people or the program, I try to take it. Maybe it’s a reunion (huge thanks to the 90th reunion team!) or simply a drive down the lake road. Maybe a visit to Kimball Farm (that counts, right?) or a swim in our beloved Laurel Lake. If I get the chance, I say ‘sign me up’.
How about when you throw in an entire week at Fleur de Lis Camp? And you are going to be surrounded by some of the most amazing people. Cooks, counselors, directors, nurses, dishwashers, and grief experts. Everyone there with one purpose in mind.
Fleur de Lis Camp Circle Week 2019 had one singular focus. To ‘fill up’ a group of 43 grieving girls. To fill them with support, fun, love, encouragement, friendship, laughter, listening, food (yes, Sir Eric Haessler, fabulous food), patience, and presence.
Started in 2013 Circle Week has served a community of hundreds of grieving girls in its first seven summers. Most come from nearby New England but the good word is getting out and girls now come to Circle Week from all over the eastern seaboard and as far away as Oklahoma. And the staff? Well, mileage and time zones don’t matter to them. East coast, West coast, Midwest, Europe, Australia. Like I said at the top. Invite them and they will come.
Ladies Jenn, Kate, and Sarah asked me to write up a little something for Laurel Leaves about my time at Fleur de Lis Camp Circle Week 2019. For me, it felt like success from beginning to end.
Every single thing that makes for the success of Circle Week could be a spotlight subject. There are not enough hours in the day to replay it all. So here’s my week in triple time.
Ice breakers, grief camp 101, experiential activities, safety training, field prep, bunk meetings, camper introductions, BIG bus welcome, beaded necklaces, camper swim testing, Circle time, Body Mapping, Invisible String Connections, Rainbow of Coping, Mandala’s, feelings, coping skills, staying connected to loved ones who have died, memories, EP’s (games/campfire, waterfront night, scavenger hunt, life inventory, closing campfire), activities (sewing t-shirt bags, woodworking with Sir Richard, fairy houses, yoga, ceramic flower pots, and more!), meals, booty shaking, handbags, swinging, yummy food, magical cleaning crews, golden dustpan interruptions, packing, bunk goodbyes, slide show (fabulous Lady Pam), rock ceremony, BIG bus goodbye, staff debrief, Lady Clink’s ‘farm’ to table dinner, affirmation bags.
Slowing back down to real-time. There is one activity that I believe is a great example of the good that Circle Week does.
Here’s how it happened…first for the staff during our training afternoon and then for the oldest girls as a grief activity.
Ellen Dezieck, LISCW (the awesome leader of Circle grief work since 2014) led each group in a personal journaling activity. The instructions were to remember a loved one who had died. Participants were to listen to quiet music while writing a journal page specific to their loss. They used words, drawing, poetry, or letter writing. Then, when ready, they used modge-podge and colored tissue paper to ‘cover’ the journal entry.
In the end, each small group shared a bit about their journal page. What the colors signified. What loved one or loss they chose to honor. How the activity made them feel.
The activity was powerful for everyone who participated. Many campers were surprised at how the introspection called up thoughts and feelings, some that had been buried deep. Some needed to get lost in the music in order to be freed up to feel. Many embraced the ‘covering up’ of thoughts and feelings and felt it a safe space and place to experience the release of sadness and pain.
What did this activity teach all of us campers and staff alike? The same things we worked hard to impart to our grieving girls during each thoughtfully planned, age-appropriate, grief activity throughout the week.
The girls learned that each person’s grief is unique to the individual. That you likely have feelings of loss that are common to another grieving person’s feelings. That when you experience and express sadness or anger due to grief, it helps to hear someone say that they can relate, that they have felt that way, or to have someone simply validate your feelings by listening. A lovely byproduct of the activity is that it allows each member of that group to heal in some way by simply sharing and listening. It allows that group to become a community of grief and support. A group that they will likely never forget. Memories of a group which may help them when they experience hard times related to grief in the future.
This activity, to me, was a powerful example of the good of Fleur de Lis Camp Circle Week 2019.
I’ll end with this. During our last night together, around the campfire in the midfield, we were all asked to share one thing that was special to each of us about the week.
“When we honestly ask ourselves which people in our lives mean the most to us, Circle Campers have taught us that it is a friend who chooses to share our pain and support us with a gentle and tender hand. It is a friend who can be silent with us in a moment of sadness and confusion. A friend who can stay with us while we grieve. A friend who can tolerate not knowing and not fixing. That is a friend who truly cares. Circle campers of 2019, thank you for sharing your laughter, compassion and courage.” (adapted from Henri Nouwen quote)
– Grief Team Closing Campfire 2019
Ellen Dezieck, LISCW; Toni LaMonica, MSW; Sarah Coburn, LCSW; Robin Van Ness Nelson
If you are interested in learning more about Fleur de Lis Camp Circle Week, how to volunteer in 2020, how to donate or help during the off-season, please reach out. If you want to know more about what it’s like to be a volunteer I am happy to share my experience with you. Email anytime: email@example.com
Until we meet again!
Lady Robin Van Ness Nelson
Big & Little Weekend
We had an amazing weekend this year for our Big & Little program! Thank you to all who attended from August 16-18th. Our pairs had a blast swimming in the lake, canoeing, kayaking, surfing, making friendship bracelets, and more. Archery and riflery were a hit, along with tennis and Outdoor Pursuits. Lady Beth helped everyone learn how to start their own fire and cook outside and the marshmallows and banana boats were the talk of the camp road.
Our pairs participated in a traditional opening night Evening Program complete with get-to-know-you games. Saturday night the “Littles” treated everyone to a Talent Show and scavenger hunt they designed themselves.
Big & Little Weekend is a terrific opportunity to introduce girls ages 6-11 years old to overnight camp. With the comfort of a “Big” (Mom, Aunt, Grandma, babysitter, etc.), girls get to experience how camp works and participate in all the fun FDL has to offer! They try new activities, sing in the Dining Hall, “Jump, Shake Your Booty” on a surfboard, and walk up the camp road with a new friend. It is amazing to see how quickly the camp bonds form between the girls.
If you know a girl 6-11 years old who would be a great fit at Fleur de Lis, please tell them about Big & Little Weekend!
This summer we offered a new introduction to camp with our Try-It Days on July 13th and 27th. Girls interested in Fleur de Lis were partnered with a current camper and followed their schedule for a day of fun. Everything from swimming to ceramics to archery.
Our guests arrived in the morning after breakfast. The girls went straight into activities while the parents took a tour around camp with veteran staff members. Parents left at 10am and the girls continued through the day experiencing a song-filled Dining Hall lunch, rest hour, and 4th period choice activity with their buddy. Parents returned at 4:30pm to pick up their daughters.
We had incredible feedback about these days, which really gave the campers and parents a great taste of FDL. One family shared that before they made it home their daughter had already informed them she would be coming next summer.
Thank you to our terrific camp ambassadors and Try-It Day buddies who were so inclusive, energetic, and kind to our guests!
If you know anyone who might be interested in experiencing a day at Fleur de Lis, please share the information about our Try-It Days!
Host a Meet Up
Interested in hosting a Fleur de Lis Meet-Up or Open House? We are looking for families interested in helping to host or organize a gathering for new campers, returning campers, and families during the offseason. We want to share the joy of Fleur de Lis with others and reconnect with friends. Ideas for events could include cookie decorating, friendship bracelet making, letter writing, pumpkin carving, etc.