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  • Summer 2020 Galilean
    POSTED 9.16.20 Blog

    On August 30th we hosted a virtual Galilean ceremony for the full FDL community, it was pure camp magic. Being able to be together as a community and share an experience that spans generations of Fleur de Lis campers and staff was truly uplifting, even through screens. We are so incredibly thankful to those of you who shared something you personally wrote, read a passage, sang a meaningful song, or led a camp song for us all to sing along to. If this summer has reminded us of anything it is that our camp family is strong, resilient, full of love, and always there for each other. Thank you to all who attended and made this event one to remember. If you were unable to attend and would like to watch the ceremony, we invite you to view the recorded event below.

     

  • Change for Change
    POSTED 8.21.20 Blog

    Hear from 2nd year Senior campers, Carly and Holly, about his generous initiative launched by these dedicated young women to support Fleur de Lis  through Change for Change.

     

    And here are more details…

    Dear Fleur de Lis Campers and CTs,

    We hope you’ve seen our video that camp posted on Facebook and Instagram or have seen it through the Saturday S’Mores newsletter that was emailed to your families.

    We were devastated when we learned that we couldn’t be at camp this summer. We were looking forward to being with our friends and doing all of the things that we love.

    We know that not opening this summer also is difficult for camp financially, and we began to worry that camp might not be able to open in the future. We learned that the people who lead camp are working to make sure that camp is around for many more years. That’s a big relief. Now we are looking forward to summer 2021 and bet you are too.

    We also wondered if there was anything we could do to help support camp at this time. We’ve come up with a plan and want you to join us.

    We challenge campers and CTs to use the boxes we’ve enclosed to collect your change throughout the year and bring it to camp at the start of the 2021 season. Sophia Halasz, who like us, would have been a 2nd year senior this summer, designed a sticker to help get you started on decorating your box. If all of us collect our change and donate it to Fleur de Lis, it will go a long way towards making sure that we get to do all the fun things we are looking forward to next summer and also help camp continue many years into the future.

    We are sending this to all the campers and CTs who were signed up for summer 2020 and to campers from 2019 who hadn’t yet registered. We hope to see all of you in 2021.

    Please help us with our Change for Change project!

    Holly McGee and Carly Haessler

    (2nd year seniors 2020)

     

     

  • Virtual Circle Week – Join Us!
    POSTED 8.20.20 Blog

    Hello Circle Week Campers!

    Virtual Circle Week is just around the corner. We’d love to have you join us via zoom each day for some fun activities.

    The zoom link will be posted on social media 15 minutes before each meeting

    Below is a list of daily activities:

     

    Monday, August 24th at 5 pm

    • * Check in with camp friends you haven’t seen in year
    • * Wear a Circle Week t-shirt and necklace
    • * Play a camp game

    Tuesday, August 25th at 10 am

    * Circle Time!! Bring a fun item, that you can’t bring to camp, to share with us that was your parents Or share a funny story about them

     

    Wednesday, August 26th at 4:30 pm

    • Arts and Crafts with Lady Julie

    Thursday, August 27th at 7:30 pm

    • Campfire Night!!!
    • Come ready to sing camp songs with us

    Friday, August 28th at 1pm

    • Yoga with Lady Cindy
    • Wear comfortable clothes, find a space to get some good stretches with us

    Can’t join us for Circle Week or want more camp activities, try these at home activities instead.

    • Make your own stress ball with items you have around your home. Grab a balloon or two plastic baggies. Fill half to three quarters of the way up with flour or dried beans.  Tie off or zip to lock.  Now you’ve got your stress ball.
    • Make your own memory garden. Find a rock. Paint it or write on it. Place it somewhere outside your house or make it a decoration on your desk. Remember to take a picture of it and share with us. You can post your picture online on

    Facebook or Instagram or email it to circle@fleurdeliscamp.org.

    Feel free to email if you have any questions.

    Ladies Kate, Sarah and I hope you will be able to join us for all or part of Virtual Circle Week 2020.

    Lady Jenn

    circle@fleurdeliscamp.org

     

  • Campers & Alum Use Their Talents to Help Camp
    POSTED 8.8.20 Blog

    My summers at Fleur de Lis taught me about the collective power of women and girls working toward a common goal, and, more importantly, about the value of each of our individual talents and voices in this process.

    In order to bring Bye Bye Birdie to life on the Barn stage in July of 1990, my fellow Seniors and I each played a different role on the team… Some of us practicing our songs and dances in the grass outside the Barn.  Some of us painting murals for the backdrops with an impossible-to-find-the-right-ratio mixture of powdered paint and water.  Some of us hand-lettering programs.  And a couple of us digging our way through the costume room finding the perfect outfits for our castmates.  (Spoiler alert: the perfect outfit involved covering a pair of pants in shiny silver tape.)

    I now have the opportunity to return to camp for Circle Week and find that same spirit of Fleur de Lis collaboration.  Before the campers arrive, the staff readies camp for them.  As Lady Kate reads the Task Cards, we each wait for the ones that are suited to our interests and skills.  Some of us will do anything that provides an opportunity to be on the waterfront with a view of Mount Monadnock.  Some of us jump at the chance to organize — shirts, bunk boxes, or name necklaces — it doesn’t matter, as long as we can sort and arrange.  Some of us use our creativity to make the signs welcoming each tent or cabin.  Before long, camp is ready for Circle Week and we can all come together to wait for the campers on the road.

    This summer camp needs our help, and true to form, Fleur de Lis campers and alumni are stepping up, using their unique creativity and talents to raise money:

    Alumni and former staff member Hannah Fricke is selling a collection of Fleur de Lis Camp artwork that, in her words, “remind me of all of the beauty of FDL that we all are missing a little bit more this summer”.   The profits from her art sales will be donated to the Come Home to Fleur De Lis campaign and matched in donation by her family.  Bidding started on July 28th and will end on August 8th at 5pm. www.32auctions.com/hannahmakesart

     

    CT Edie & CT Kate both created several designs of Fleur de Lis stickers and have set up online shops to sell them.  Their designs include lake scenes, Fleur de Lis’ filled with camp-inspired scenes, an FDL sailboat, and the 03447 zip code we can’t wait to come home to. They plan to donate profits from their sales to the campaign.

    https://www.redbubble.com/people/edieroth03447/shop

    https://www.redbubble.com/people/katyacon/shop?artistUserName=KatyaCon&collections=1585823&iaCode=all-departments&sortOrder=relevant

     

    CT Kelsey is selling friendship bracelets through her private Instagram account to benefit the campaign for camp.

     

    Fleur de Lis loves a team challenge…  Senior camper Hannah has challenged the rest of her fellow Seniors to donate at least $5 to the Come Home to Fleur de Lis Campaign.

     

    Our memories of camp stay with us throughout the year, as does our desire to help camp when it needs us.  Senior campers Carly and Holly are getting ready to kick off Change for Change to encourage campers to collect their change all year long to bring back to camp with them next summer.

     

    Finally, I wanted to help too.  Using designs created for the Come Home to Fleur de Lis campaign, I created a Fleur de Lis shirt to remind us of the place we love and set up a fundraising site to sell it. https://www.customink.com/fundraising/come-home-to-fleur-de-lis

     

    When I heard that camp would not raise its tent flaps this summer, I thought about all I learned during my time at camp and was disappointed at the prospect of putting those lessons on hold until 2021.  My disappointment was premature.  Our efforts to support the camp we love are teaching us about the value of cooperation, collaboration, and uniqueness of individuals within a team, even if we are not on the shores of our beloved lake this summer. 

    If you are interested in helping camp out with your own grassroots efforts, please email sarah@fleurdeliscamp.org first. 

    Written By: Lady Julie (Raye) Horton
    FDL Alum 1985 -1993 & Circle Week Volunteer 2014 – 2019

  • Current Campers, Families, & Recent Staff Listening Sessions
    POSTED 8.3.20 Blog

    It certainly has been a unique and busy summer this year and one of the things we have been thinking a lot about is next summer!

    It may seem like summer 2021 is a long time away, but we are busy planning and our goal is to make it the best summer ever for our campers. We would love to hear your thoughts about Fleur de Lis – what you love about it, what’s really important about camp, and suggestions you have to create an outstanding camp experience! You’re invited to share your thoughts, ideas and suggestions during Listening Sessions that MJ Parry and Sarah Castro will be hosting during August. The links are below.

    To help frame your thoughts, check out this list of questions we will be asking during the sessions. Please join us – we want to hear from you!

    Listening Session Questions:

    For Parents/Guardians

    What are the most important reasons you send your daughter to Fleur de Lis?

    What are the most important areas of growth and development that you want to see in your daughter as a result of coming to camp?

    Can you envision ways that we could enhance your daughter’s growth and development?

    What are specific programs or experiences that could enhance your daughter’s experience at camp?

    If you could imagine camp being even better than it is, what should camp start doing, stop doing and continue doing?

    What are, or could be, reasons that you may choose not to send your daughter to camp in future summers?

    What else would you like us to know that would help us provide your daughter with the best camp experience?

     

    For Campers

    Why do you choose to come camp?

    What are the things you love most about camp?

    You might not choose to come back if _____________ (fill in the blank) was different at camp.

    What are some of the most important things you have learned about yourself at camp?

    If you could imagine camp being even better than it is, what should camp start doing, stop doing and continue doing?

     

    For Staff

    If you were a camper at Fleur de Lis, how did camp prepare you for your adult life?

    How, or in what way, could camp have better prepared you for your adult life

    What do you feel are significant challenges facing girls today and in the next 5-10 years?

    What do you feel are some of the most important ways that we could be helping girls grow through their camp experience?

    If you could imagine camp being even better than it is, what should camp start doing, stop doing and continue doing?

    What are specific programs or experiences that could enhance a girl’s experience at camp?

    Zoom Links:

    Current Parents/Guardians – Tues. 8.4 @ 7pm

    Current Campers – Thurs. 8.6 @ 4pm

    Recent (2018-2020) Staff – Mon. 8.10 @ 7pm

    Current Parents/Guardians – Tues. 8.11 @ 7pm

    Current Campers – Thurs. 8.13 @ 4pm

     

     

    If you are unable to attend the scheduled meetings or have additional thoughts you would like to share with us please email MJ Parry.

     

  • FDL Financial Update 2020
    POSTED 7.10.20 Blog

    We hope that your summer is starting off as well as possible and that you and your family are healthy. Like you, we wish that our campers were spending today running around camp, laughing, trying new activities, swimming in Laurel Lake, playing with great friends, and singing camp songs! Unfortunately, instead we are writing to share the financial status of camp given the necessity to close for the 2020 season.

    Fleur de Lis has lost close to $750,000 in camper tuition revenue that would have come from this summer. Our Executive Director, MJ Parry, and Board Treasurer, Christine Cressey, have worked to reduce our yearly expenditures as much as possible in response to the lost income. However many of our expenses are fixed or ongoing. For example, camp spends about $130,000 a year on property taxes and insurance. 

    Our tuition income generally covers about 85% of our operating expenses. This is then supplemented with donations from our yearly “Friends” annual appeal. This is standard practice across the nonprofit camping industry. Fleur de Lis has not operated at a loss in years past and has met its budget with this combination of tuition income and annual appeal donations. 

    Even with cuts to our expenses where possible, Fleur de Lis faces a net loss of $400,000 for fiscal year 2020 which ends September 30. In addition as we incur expenses for the next fiscal year, we will need an additional $400,000 to cover expenses until tuition for summer 2021 starts to come in. For clarification, one summer of tuition covers expenses for the second half of a fiscal year and the first half of the following fiscal year.

    Two major roles of our board are to ensure that Fleur de Lis continues to serve its mission and remains the home away from home for girls for generations to come. This includes maintaining and managing camp’s financial health. It is a heavy responsibility and a duty we approach with our utmost seriousness and determination.

    In order to help secure Fleur de Lis’s financial health and its future, we have undertaken a multi-faceted approach to financial recovery. This includes:

     

    Resetting Financial Priorities: The loss of a full year of income compels us to examine all of our financial endeavors. Through this process, we have made the decision to postpone the Farmhouse project and Capital Campaign for at least five years. In the interim, we will look at the possibility of funding base level work to make the Farmhouse usable.

    Cutting Expenses: We have carefully reviewed the budget to reduce expenditures where possible while still ensuring that we will be able to offer an outstanding program to our campers when we return to camp and to maintain our facilities appropriately. Part of this effort has included a reduction in our full-time staffing. We have eliminated one Assistant Director position and reduced our Accounting and Office Manager position. We have also been able to reduce other budgeted expenses.

    Securing Available Grant Money: Early on, FdL secured a Paycheck Protection Program grant that offset our payroll expenses through the spring. Additionally, we have applied for a New Hampshire Nonprofit Emergency Relief Fund grant, and expect to hear from the State in August if FdL will receive a grant. We will continue to aggressively explore other state and federal relief grants available to nonprofit organizations impacted by COVID-19.

    Borrowing: We have worked closely with FdL’s bank and have submitted a loan application to help us pay immediate expenses. The bank has made this a positive experience and we anticipate a low-interest line of credit will be forthcoming.

    Effective Money Management: FdL has a reserve fund worth about $1 million. While we utilize the interest from this fund to offset expenses, we also recognize that tapping into the principal from this account is not financially responsible for ensuring the long-term fiscal health of camp. This fund, along with our property, are our greatest assets. We borrow against these assets and show our vitality in grant applications. We know that if we spend down our reserve fund, it puts us in a position that may be insurmountable in the future if camp faces another financial crisis such as an additional summer closure or natural disaster.

    Enrollment: Certainly our financial health relies upon a full camp. A strong recruitment strategy and efforts are in development for 2021. We all have a role to play in introducing Fleur de Lis to potential campers and their families. We are pleased that so many of our 2020 families have said that they are not only looking forward to summer 2021 but also planning to extend their length of time at camp.

    Fundraising: We are poised to launch a major campaign to help alleviate our current financial crisis and ensure Fleur de Lis’s fiscal health as we move forward. All of us – current and former parents, alumnae, staff, and friends of camp – can work together to save Fleur de Lis from this crisis. Look for important information about this opportunity on Sunday, July 12 (Visiting Day).

    While this is certainly the biggest financial crisis Fleur de Lis has ever faced, it is not insurmountable. Over 90 years ago, the women who founded Fleur de Lis envisioned a camp where girls could be their true selves, have opportunities to try new things and take exciting risks, build lifelong friendships, and develop enduring values and leadership skills. That vision is realized every summer, and with all of us working together, will continue to be realized for many many years to come.

    Click images below to see full PDF

    Thank you,

    Diane (Di) Foster, Board President
    on behalf of the FdL board

    Libby Williams, Vice President
    Christine Hassig Cressey, Treasurer
    Liz Ramos, Secretary
    Ingrid Haessler Scanlon, Member-At-Large
    Allison McCartney, Member-At-Large

  • Nature Nuggets
    POSTED 7.4.20 Blog

    Check back every few days for new nuggets and fun things to do!

    August 29th

    Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

    Yesterday as we sat on the office porch for a meeting, we had a wonderful visitor to the hanging geranium baskets – a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird!

    Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds are the only hummingbird that is regularly seen in New England from May until September. These tiny birds have a metallic green head and back, white breast, tail feathers and a long, needle-like bill. The male has a distinctive iridescent red throat (which at certain angles can appear to be black). The female does not have a red throat and her outer tail feathers have white tips. The juvenile resembles the female.

    Some of the great fun facts about these beautiful and amazing little birds include:

    • * They have an extremely rapid metabolic rate. Their hearts beat more than 600 times per minute, and their tiny wings can beat up to 70 times per second during regular flight.
    • * Their wings create a characteristic buzzing sound that also makes them easy to identify and they can even fly backwards!
    • * These tiny birds, only 3 to 4 inches long and weighing less than 2 ounces, migrate north from Central America and Mexico every spring to breed throughout the US and parts of Canada.
    • * They eat 5-6 times each hour to maintain their high metabolic rate and in the late summer they will eat even more as they build up fat for their migration south. While they will eat all sorts of nectar and even insects, they prefer tubular flowers that are red or orange in color.
    • * Females build their nests on tree branches or in shrubs, from a variety of materials held together with spider silk.
    • * A typical hummingbird will live about 5 years, but individuals have been known to live up to 12 years.

    Check out this great video of Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds in action!

     

    Check it Out!

    • * See if you can spot two fall flowers that start blooming at this time of year are yellow Goldenrod and purple New England Asters.
    • * As  we get into September,  look at the sky and see if can spot soaring hawks that are starting their fall migration.
    • * Sit quietly near flowers and see if you can spot a hummingbird coming to drink nectar. If you are lucky you may even catch a glimpse of a Hummingbird Moth!

    August 22nd

    Animals Preparing for Winter

    Even though we are still enjoying summer days, our wildlife is already preparing for the winter months ahead. Black Bears are fattening up on insects, berries and other vegetation for their winter sleep. While they may get up and move around their dens, they do not eat during these months and instead rely on the fat they have built up over the spring and summer. Woodchucks are fattening themselves up on a variety of food sources to be ready for their true hibernation period, which begins in October. Other mammals are hoarding food stashes to see them through the winter. One animal that most of us can observe is the Gray Squirrel.

    Gray Squirrels who are active in the winter are “scatter hoarders”. You’ll see them busily collecting acorns and stashing them in a variety of spots – crevices in tree trunks and holes under the ground and rocks. But how do they find these stashes in the middle of the winter? They actually use their saliva to glue their food into the chosen spot. Then they follow the scent of their saliva back to that spot when it is time to eat. By scattering their food, they aren’t putting all of their eggs in one basket so to speak, so even if other squirrels find a stash or two, they still have more food supplies to fall back on.

    Then there are “larder hoarders”, like the chipmunk. You can see them in the late summer filling their cheeks with seeds and nuts to be carried deep into the underground burrows. During the winter, chipmunks sleep in the burrows and awake occasionally to enjoy their fall harvest. See for yourself a chipmunk hoarder in action.

    Check it Out

    * Collect random items from nature and create a collage, mobile, sculpture, etc.

    * Seed Hunt – go outside to any area with trees, bushes, plants, etc. and see how many different types of seeds you can find.

    • * Go outside and look around – frogs and toads are everywhere – in the woods, in your yard, in ponds and steams, and wetland areas.

     

    August 15th

        

    Beavers

    Anyone who has spent time at camp has seen evidence of Beavers – they are amazing animals and here are a few fun facts about them…

    • * Beavers are second only to humans in their ability to create their environment – one reason they build dams is to raise the water level so that they will have open water under the ice in the winter. The largest dam is in Canada. It stretches for over 1⁄2 mile and is visible from space.
    • * Beavers build lodges out of sticks and mud and have an underwater entrance. They choose a spot on a lake or river where they will be safe from predators. A whole beaver family will live in a single lodge – mom, dad, young kids, and yearlings.
    • * Beavers can close their ears while swimming, have a set of transparent eyelids which enable them to see under water, and webbed feet – basically like our ear plugs, swim googles and flippers!
    • * Beavers use their broad, stiff tails like rudders to steer under water, and for balance while sitting on land. They also use their tails to slap the water as a warning of danger, or a warning to keep away.
    • * Beavers’ teeth look orange and that’s because they have iron in them for strength – they need super strong teeth to chew through the tree trucks and branches they use for building lodges and dams as well as for a source of food.

    Check out this great video of beavers taking down trees and building lodges. Want to learn more about beavers?

    Check it Out!

    • * Try making your own beaver dam – if you don’t have a stream nearby, how about a tasty one with pretzel sticks and melted chocolate!
    • * Go outside at night and see if you hear an insect symphony filled with lots of chirps and trills. Many of the sounds you hear will be made by crickets, katydids, grasshoppers and cicadas.
    • *  If you’re lucky enough to have ferns nearby, you can make beautiful rubbings or prints with chock, crayon or paint. Or perhaps use ferns for designs in clay projects.

     

    August 8th

    Perseid Meteor Shower

    It’s time to get outdoors at night and see one of the best meteor showers of the year! The Perseid meteor showers are active from the middle of July to almost the end of August and peak on August 11th, 12th & 13th. Just like all meteors, the Perseids come from leftover comet particles and bits from broken asteroids. When comets come around the sun, they leave a dusty trail behind them. Every year Earth passes through these debris trails, which allows the bits to collide with our atmosphere and disintegrate to create bright streaks in the sky.

    The very fast and bright meteors of Perseids frequently leave long “wakes” of light and color behind them as they streak through Earth’s atmosphere. The Perseids are one of the most plentiful showers (50-100 meteors seen per hour) and while best viewing is after midnight and before dawn, you will still be able to see meteors in the earlier evening. People from all over the Northern Hemisphere will be watching so, get out a blanket, find a spot of dark sky, and enjoy the light show!

    Want to learn more about the Perseids and meteor showers? Click here

    Check it Out!

    * Want to learn more about the constellations in the night sky? It can be hard to pick them out whether you live in a dark or light-filled sky area. A great app is the Night Sky app and it can be downloaded here

    * When you see a spider web in your home or yard, take a close look at the amazing construction and design. See if you can copy it by making a web out of yarn or string or by making a sketch.

    • * Caterpillars are out! See how many different kinds you can spot in your area – but be aware some caterpillars are harmless to humans while others can cause skin irritation and different problems for humans, so look, but don;t touch!

    August 1st

    Granite

    Granite is all around us in New Hampshire! It is an intrusive igneous rock that forms from molten material (magma) that flows and solidifies underground, where magma cools slowly. Granite is tough, very dense, can bear significant weight and resists weathering. Depending on where it is found it can have a wide variety of colors and patterns. These are all reasons why all of us have first-hand experience with granite. You see it in countertops, floor tiles, doorsteps, cemetery monuments, and it’s used as a primary building material.

    Granite is everywhere in New Hampshire from the White Mountains to the seacoast. New Hampshire has honored granite by naming it as the state rock and our nickname, “The Granite State”, comes from the huge number of granite quarries that are found here.

    Our very own town of Fitzwilliam had an important quarry off the lake road that you pass on the way to camp. It became a one of the three largest suppliers of granite in NH, in part because it was easily accessible and could be shipped to far off places from the Fitzwilliam Depot. Happily, we benefited from this quarry as well. We have lots of this fine gray granite around camp. It serves as the foundations for most of our buildings today and those of long ago. We have steps and benches made out of granite and if you look around the woods you’ll see more. Two of my favorite areas of granite are by the waterfall where you can see old slabs of rock that channeled the water to be used to power the mills downstream. Another is past the Password Grove and behind Junior Lodge where you’ll see how a granite wall is actually holding the beaver pond. So next time you are at camp, take a look – you’ll see this very cool rock all over the place!

    Check it Out!

    * Go on a granite hunt – see how many different ways you can find granite used in everyday things. Of course, see if you can find granite in it’s naturally occurring state – hint it will be the most common rock you’ll find in fields, the forest and maybe even your backyard.

    * Continue the rock theme – our Richard is a master of finding large and small rocks that look like animals and other things. Then he gets his Sharpie markers out and adds to what is there naturally – eyes, snout, etc. Try it out and bring a favorite to camp next summer to show him!

    * There are tons of old rock walls in New England. If you are lucky enough to live by one, check it out. In the days when most of the land was cleared in New England for farming, you can tell which walls were around fields for grazing and which were for farming by the size of the rocks. All big rocks were used for livestock fields, the walls that may have some big but many more small rocks were for planting. Why do you think that was so?

     

    July 25th

    High Bush Blueberry

    The blueberries at camp are ready! My walks along the trail from Treat Beach this week were very slow because there were so many perfectly ripe berries just waiting to be picked. They are delicious! This trail and the road to the Fields are perfect places for these bushes to grow. They love sandy soil that is rich in organic matter. They certainly need water but also lots of sunshine. We aren’t the only ones that love our blueberry bushes. Bees, particularly bumblebees, visit the flowers of blueberry bushes in the spring for their nectar and in the process, pollen sticks to the bees and as they visit more bushes, they spread the pollen. Deer love blueberry bushes because the berries are high in vitamin C and other nutrients that they need, and of course, birds can clear a bush of berries very quickly. We’re sad you’re not here to gather blueberries, but our wildlife friends are not letting them go to waste!

    Check it out!

    * While you may not be able to collect wild blueberries at camp, you may be able to around your home. Roadsides, sides of lakes and ponds, and edges of fields are all great places to check. Pick some and add them to muffins or pancakes, make jam and just eat them by the handful!

    * On a day with clouds in the sky, find a spot to lay on your back   and take a look at the sky – what images do you see in those clouds?

    * Go outside in the evening and see if you spot fireflies – while more common earlier in the summer, there are still something twinkling after dark.

    July 22nd

    Comet Neowise

    Do you want to see something that people won’t see again for 6,800 years??? A recently discovered comet, NEOWISE, will be passing closest to Earth on July 22-23 – but still visible for a bit after that. Neowise is estimated to be about 4.5 billion years old! A simple way to describe a comet is that it’s a collection of rock particles, dust and ice. Neowise is about 3 miles across and the reason we can see it is that it is passing relatively close to the sun and the ice in the comet is being melted which creates a glowing vapor that reflects the sun. Comets are really cool to see and while Neowise has definitely been seen with the naked eye, a simple pair of binoculars may help you to spot it. Look to the northwest sky after sunset and spot the Big Dipper and it will look like it is sitting below the Dipper closer to the horizon.  One way  spotting the comet has been described, is by stretching out your arm, making a fist pointed at the Big Dipper and then lower your fist toward the horizon three times.

    Good luck spotting Neowise – otherwise it’s going to be a very long wait until it’s back!

    Check it Out!

    * Take a walk in the grass… how many different things do you feel?

    • * When the weather is starting to change, take a look at trees around you. Do you notice anything different about the leaves?

    * Lot’s of plants are flowering – take a look at who’s visiting them – you may see butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.

    July 18th


    The Common Milkweed

    If you took a walk today around camp or a field or even a country roadside, you’d spot Common Milkweed plants. Milkweeds are very adaptable, but they do love sun and water in their habitat. If you look closely, you’ll see lots of insect activity – in fact it is natural mega food market for insects. Monarch butterflies laying eggs and feeding on the flowers (milkweed is the only source of food for Monarchs), bumblebees drinking the nectar, and in the evening, moths that are attracted by the milkweed’s sweet smell. One of the physical characteristics of milkweed is its sticky flowers which means the insects that successfully visit a patch of milkweed will carry the pollen to another patch of milkweed which continues the plant’s process of developing seeds. While many insects benefit greatly from this plant, you may see some that have not been so lucky and have instead gotten stuck and died.

    Most of us probably notice the Common Milkweed most in later summer or early fall when the brown pods completely open and the seeds are dispersed by what looks like silken, white parachutes with a brown seed attached. Milkweed plants are amazing at spreading thousands of seeds far and wide watch them here

    As much as insects rely on milkweed, humans too have found great value in it over the years. The book “Naturally Curious” by Mary Holland describes some these human uses of the silken white fluff: “Over the years it has provided mattress stuffing (8-9 pounds of fluff per bed); a substitute for life preserver filling during the Second World War (26 ounces of the waxy hollow threads packed inside a life jacket will keep a 150 pound person afloat for 48 hours); and cloth (the silky hairs, mixed with flax or wool, were woven to create a softer thread than either fiber alone).”

     The Common Milkweed is not so common after all!

    Check it Out!

    * Keep your eye out for abandoned bird nests. If you find one, make sure it is empty by observing it for a few days, and then with gloves on, take a close look at the construction – birds are pretty amazing engineers.

    * If you are lucky enough to have conifer (needle bearing) trees nearby, check out the bark for blobs of resin. Carefully scrap it off and drop it into hot water and smell the great scent. If you can’t find resin, try the needles themselves in hot water.

    * Get out your crayons and paper and head outside to do nature rubbings – so many cool textures in leaves, bark, stone, etc. etc.

    July 15th

    A Friend at Camp  We have a big woodchuck enjoying camp this summer! I have seen him around the Dining Hall frequently and that’s not surprising. At this time of the year woodchucks are HUNGRY. They are eating lots to build up a large fat layer for hibernating during the winter. While he or she is not actually eating in the Dining Hall , the woodchuck loves the grass, dandelions, and clover all around it. If you or someone you know, has a vegetable garden, it is quite possible that at some point, a woodchuck has come for lunch! I haven’t found the tunnel our friend lives in yet, but I am keeping my eyes open for piles of dirt that are typically outside it’s 3 or 4 entrances. Other fun facts to know, woodchucks stand up on their hind legs to look around the landscape, if they feel threatened they make a high pitched whistle, and woodchucks are also called Groundhogs. Woodchucks are diurnal (active in the daytime), so if you are in a grassy area, a field or a garden, keep your eyes peeled for a fat, brownish, furry friend! You can also check one out here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKmguHnd5DE

    Check it Out!

    * Lots of songbirds are busy with their babies this month. Look for signs of birds and nests in trees, shrubs, and under the edge of roofs or porches. Listen for the sounds of baby birds as they ask for food – they can be really loud and insistent!

    * For all of you that live in cities or more developed areas, look closer at the shapes of buildings, fences and any other human-made structures. See if you can find patterns, textures or shapes that imitate something in nature.

    * Butterflies are here! Spend a bit of time watching how many different flowers and shrubs they visit as they look for nectar. You may even see a “puddling of butterflies” (a bunch all together on the ground) – see if you can figure out why they puddle.

    July 11th

                   Loons on Laurel Lake

    The Common Loon is often described as majestic with its striking silhouette, black and white spotted plumage, and red eyes is one of the most amazing birds of Laurel Lake. We are so lucky to be the home of nesting loons throughout the summer months. These amazing birds delight us daily with their swimming skills, diving and popping up some distance away, and their distinctive and haunting calls.

    They are fascinating birds with many unique characteristics including:

    Loons are amazing swimmers and divers – they look a bit like submarines. Their solid bones make them less buoyant, and they can quickly expel air from their lungs and flatten their feathers to achieve great distances and depth in the water. 10-60 seconds underwater is typical, but can extend to three minutes or more.

    As graceful and efficient as Loons are on the water, they are awkward walkers on land. Their legs are very far back on their bodies which leads to stumbling and pushing themselves on their bellies. Their land time is limited to mating and incubating their eggs in the nests on the water’s edge.

    Loons are like airplanes. They need a long runway, at least 30 yards of open water “running”, to take off. Once airborne, they can fly at speeds of up to 70 mph.

    Fish are a favorite food and a hungry family of four can eat about a half a ton of fish over 4 months.

    Loons usually mate for life and raise their chicks together. It’s not uncommon to see their babies riding on their backs for the first week after hatching to protect them from predators.

    Open water is a must, so Loons migrate, often spending winters in the ocean. At that point their plumage changes from black and white to gray, and their eyes turn from red to gray.

    Loons have four distinct calls: tremolo, wail, yodel and hoot. These are used in courtship and territorial disputes, communication between pairs and offspring, and among flock members, and to signal danger.

    We are so lucky to share Laurel Lake with our Loons!

    Want to learn more? Visit https://loon.org/

     

    Check it Out!

    * If you’re curious how often the weather forecast is correct, go to your favorite app and check out what the hourly or daily forecast and do some comparison with your own observations.

    * Wildflowers are everywhere! Try pressing a few simply by placing them between a few between a piece of parchment paper or a coffee filter inside a book. Add another book or two on top for extra weight. Wait a 5-7days or until dry.

    * If you are lucky enough to live by a pond or wetland, take a close look around the edges and you might see America Toad egg masses (they look like light green jelly) or tadpoles that have hatched from the eggs.

     

    July 4th

    The Buck Moon July’s full moon, the Buck Moon, is tonight. It’s called the Buck Moon because it’s time of year that male deer will start growing their antlers. The rising moon will be visible in the southeast sky after sunset and will be at its brightest illumination at 12:44am. A really cool thing about this full moon is that there will also be a partial lunar eclipse beginning at 11:07pm and ending at 1:52am. Even if you’re not a night owl, treat yourself to a walk outside in the evening and see the Buck Moon near the bright planets of Jupiter and Saturn! Want more info? Check out https://earthsky.org/?p=333122

    Check it Out!

    • * Go out in the early morning and look at your yard or a patch of grass for small silky webs. These are the work of young spiders born this spring. As spiders get older their webs get bigger and more noticeable.
    • * Roll over a log or good-sized rock – so much is happening underneath it! How many different crawly things, colors, or textures can you see?
    • * Sit outside for 5 minutes with your eyes closed. Count how many different sounds you hear.

     

     

  • Summer 2020 Announcement
    POSTED 5.5.20 Blog

    Dear Fleur de Lis Community,

    It is with a heavy heart that I write to inform you that our Fleur de Lis Board has made the difficult decision to close camp for the summer of 2020 due to the threat of COVID-19.

    We know this is difficult news to hear. The Board and staff have spent a tremendous amount of time weighing different scenarios and considering numerous options and variables. In the end, the most important responsibility we have as a camp is to provide a safe and healthy experience for our campers. This is just not possible at this time.

    The joy and magic of the summer experience at Fleur de Lis is something we wish we could safely provide for our campers. We recognize that it is just what they are craving and needing at this time. Camp provides a setting which is the opposite of social distancing – a worry free environment where we gather together and connect deeply, emotionally and physically. We truly hoped that camp would be the much needed light at the end of this long tunnel we are in. Fleur de Lis has provided this joy and magic for 90 seasons. It breaks our hearts, as we know it will for our campers and their families, not to be able to gather at camp for our 91st season. While words cannot adequately express our sadness, our Executive Director, MJ Parry, has prepared a special video message about this news to share with our community.

    We have considered possibilities for opening camp for even a shortened season and have monitored closely the requirements for each phase of reopening. We know that we can not offer our typical standard of programming. So many of the aspects of camp that we value would be compromised, such as Evening Programs, mixing together in varying age groups, meals together, and much more.  We would need to isolate small groups of campers and staff, restrict contact within and from outside of camp, and provide for effective, continuous sanitation and daily monitoring of campers and staff to ensure the health of our camp community. These are changes we tried to work out because providing any kind of camp experience might be better than none. But in the end, we know that the risk to our campers and their families is still too great.

    Our Fleur de Lis families are a top priority for us. We have let them know that Fleur de Lis will provide a full refund for their deposits and tuition payments. Families may choose to take a refund or to apply this to next summer’s tuition, and/or to make a donation to camp.

    Many of you will be wondering about the financial stability of Fleur de Lis. That is certainly a priority for the board as well. We are committed to ensuring that camp continues to operate well into the future. We will provide more information about this in the near future.

    We have been fortunate to have board members and advisors helping with this decision process including those in the medical, government, education, and business fields as well as information coming from the CDC, World Health Organization, state and local health departments, the American Camp Association, and regional camp organizations. Some of us are also parents of campers and staff. We, along with a growing number of camps in the region, have had to face the difficult truth that we cannot provide the necessary screening and distancing still required during this national health crisis. It is a decision we made unanimously after weighing all the factors. I want to personally thank our board for their exhaustive and thoughtful work during this time period. Fleur de Lis is fortunate to have such a strong group of volunteer leaders at its helm.

    I also want to thank our Executive Director, MJ Parry, and her staff, who have done such an amazing job keeping us all connected with one another during this time, while also preparing for the potential scenarios for the summer. Their focus will now shift to ways to make sure that Fleur de Lis can be a part of the lives of campers and staff this summer, in safe and fun ways. MJ has been a tremendous leader during this time, for us and through her work in state and regional camp organizations. We are grateful for her steadfast leadership and guidance.

    We know you may have questions as you process this decision. Our staff has tried to anticipate some of those and provide answers in a special section of our website.

    Summer 2020

    Please know that you are all in our hearts.

     

    Diane Foster
    Fleur de Lis Board President

    On Behalf of the FdL Board

    Libby Williams (Vice-President)
    Christine Cressey (Treasurer)
    Liz Ramos (Secretary)
    Ingrid Scanlon (Member-At-Large)
    Allison McCartney (Member-At-Large)

  • FDL Directors Past & Present Share About Community
    POSTED 5.1.20 Blog

    Lady Liz Young – FDL Director 1977-2005

    What is the FDL Community and what does it mean to me. Where do I start and how do I put it into written words. For those of you who know me, you know that I would be much happier sitting around the Writing Room table with a group of you, having a discussion about the FDL Community and what makes it special to each of us. Since that is not possible, I will attempt to put a few thoughts onto paper.

    To me the FDL Community is all about the people with whom I have spent most of my life; some as mentors, some as peers, and all as part of my “family”.  When I arrived at Fleur de Lis as an awkward and shy Mid in 1961 I found myself accepted by a very welcoming community. FDL’s caring community continues to welcome and include the shy, awkward Mid, the new Junior who is away from home for the first time, the girl who is the only new camper in the Senior Field, and a counselor who is arriving in the USA for the first time. Each summer this new group comes together in Fitzwilliam experiencing longstanding traditions, creating new traditions, and building a community of people with shared experiences. And this group always builds life long friendships.

    Each summer’s new group becomes part of a bigger community since some members of the new group are part of groups from previous summers. And some of this summer’s new group will be the core of next year’s new group. The FDL community continues to grow in numbers each year as we share common experiences such as singing the same songs in the Dining Hall, finding your favorite spot at camp to sit with friends, experiencing the smells of camp, achieving the same awards in an activity, acting for the first time in a camp play, or living in the same cabin as another family member. The list of these common experiences is endless but very special to each one of us who is a member of the FDL community. These common experiences bind us together as a community.

    In my observations, this community has become a very special part of each of us. I know it has for me. It is a group that people often turn to in times of joy, in times of need, and everything in between. Spending time with any part of the FDL Community usually puts a smile on my face and always warms my heart. The hard and soft skills that we all learn at Fleur de Lis have made us an exceptional community. It is a community that I cherish. I can not imagine my life without it!

    Lady Di Foster – FDL Director 2007

    When I think about the Fleur de Lis community, I immediately picture those places around camp where people gather. I think of the porches of camp… I picture people sitting in the rocking chairs on the Farmhouse porch while a crowd gathers to play roof ball. I picture the more mellow vibe of the small infirm porch where you can watch the camp world from behind the blueberry bushes while a group of campers gathers around the porch swing on the larger one. I picture the dining hall porch and all the activity as campers wait for the meal to begin.

    I think of the busy areas where people gather as well. The waterfront as everyone readies for class- hanging towels on the horses, turning buddy tags, hauling surfboards into the water, readying the sailboats. I think of the fields during rec time where campers and staff are clustered in small and large groups – lounging on camp beds, jumping around the tetherball pole, strolling to and from the showers, running around the field involved in some game or joke. I think of meals in the dining hall and EPs in the barn. And, of course, I think of the camp road and the streams of girls and young women headed to their next place, arm in arm, hand in hand.

    When I think about the Fleur de Lis community, I immediately hear the laughter. It’s always been true that you don’t laugh anywhere else the way you laugh when you’re at camp. We laugh with abandon. We laugh with utter joy. We laugh with our whole bodies and our whole hearts. We laugh over those moments that wouldn’t be nearly as funny anywhere else or with anyone else. All those places I picture around camp, they resonate with the sound of laughter.

    I picture these places and hear this laughter because Fleur de Lis is a place of connection. At the foundation of all the activities, all the fun, all the new experiences, what holds it all together is that we are connecting with one another. We are growing connections that will last a lifetime. Our connections support us through the toughest of times in our lives and surround us during our most celebrated moments – both at camp and in our outside lives.

    In these days of social distancing, I find myself relying heavily on these connections. I know I can still laugh together with my camp friends just as if we were walking the road or sitting in the rockers. We can support and surround one another. And, until we are able to gather at Fleur de Lis once again, I can close my eyes and picture these places at camp. I can hear the laughter in my imagination. And, I can feel connected.

     

    Lady Lexy Heatley – FDL Director 2008 – 2010

    Fleur de Lis recently held its 90th celebration and it is hard to believe that I have been actively involved with Fleur de Lis for 40+ years of them.  There are a few who do rival this, however. I have experienced just about every role within this amazing organization with the exception of being a junior camper and it appears to be a little late for that. When asked to participate with other directors in this article, I thought this will be easy.  And like that I accepted the challenge and I was sure that I would be able to impart a story, an anecdote, or even some wisdom.

    And in a moment the world changed and quickly our live communities had become virtual.  Before I knew it, FDL@Home surfaced.  It was well designed, inclusive, accessible, fun, thoughtful, and much needed by many.  Soon I began to experience the daily virtual Password and that’s when I realized this wasn’t going to be an easy task. As I listened to daily lessons provided by FDL women who span the decades, I concluded that I alone did not hold the answer in any way to what makes Fleur de Lis an exceptional community.  Over 90 years the values and beliefs of Fleur de Lis have successfully been shared and are alive within the women of FDL many of whom started their camp journey as little girls. Each of the Passwords described what it was that they had learned at camp that has made them able to survive this uncertain time. Their messages referenced structure, silliness, laughter, acceptance, support, friendships, and community. If you have not heard these messages, I strongly encourage you to listen to them.  It will become evident that FDL continues to do its job to develop strong women who are grounded, connected, and who are of good character.  When asked what is great about the FDL community, it cannot be based on my knowledge but rather that the proof is in the pudding.

    Lady Carrie Kashawlic – FDL Director 2011 – 2018

    Lady Sarah Castro sent a note asking me to write something for Laurel Leaves.  I was excited as I miss camp, but truthfully, I have struggled to put feelings into words.  She is receiving this a day late – and for those of you who know me, that’s a pretty unusual behavior.  My struggle is real – I missed a deadline!

    It’s not that I cannot write, but let’s face it I’m no Lady Kate Gladstone or Lady Lindsay Heller who seem to write so well – Lady Kate with her powerful camp essays and Lady Lindsay who just published a book of short stories.

    And I’m no Lady Matoaka Kipp or Lady Di Foster, each of whom are blessed with such empathy that one cannot but feel empowered to conquer life when in their presence.  In stepping away from Fleur de Lis, I realize how much their strengths have taught me, and enriched my life to make me a better person.

    That’s what camp really is, the opportunity to get to know people.  To interact for a season or a lifetime.  The opportunity to learn from others and to share of yourself with them.

    Camp is a place of great joy, freedom, exploration, growth, smiles, laughter, tears, friendships, new activities, successes, failures, creativity, tradition, fears that blossom into resiliency, self-confidence and love.  But all of this is nothing without the people of camp.

    When I think about Fleur de Lis, it is synonymous with New England and Fitzwilliam.  I had never been to New England before arriving to Fleur de Lis.  The day I interviewed Lady Libby Williams sat with me on Farmhouse porch (I was early) making small talk. She asked about what states made up New England; I got it wrong, and she deftly informed me that New York was not included.  I had never experienced New England before, or the glorious summer sunrises at 5am.  I miss them a lot.  It’s almost as if God knew that our time at camp is too short and we need as much daylight as possible to make memories and friends.

    As the director, I saw much of my role to be in creating a culture and community where young adults focus on sharing their skills and talents to our campers.  It was a pleasure to get to know campers and families year over year; that was unique to Fleur de Lis as many of the camping programs I had previously known were only a week in length.  The level of connection was different.  My childhood camp friends were from when I was a CT/staff member…not from when I was eight years old sitting on the steps of Cabin A as my niece, Emboo, gets to do.

    While to many Fleur de Lis may be summer seasons only, it was my every day for eight years.  My memories of camp have a lot to do with the Board of Directors, professional staff, and Farmhouse teams in planning for the ten weeks of summer.  I spent 42-weeks a year working hard with them to plan and deliver an intentionally sensational summer.

    Memories of Farmhouse, both the space and the team bind me to camp.  There is an after-camp moment with Ladies Sarah Castro, Hannah Weiner, Karin Strickland, and Sir Richard sitting in rocking chairs, looking at the lake on the day after camp was done-done.  The relaxation of a successful season, great partners, peaceful camp beauty, and coffee.  Coffee and chocolate in front of the pellet stove during the winter talking camp and everything else with Sir Richard is a memory I cherish.

    Roofball.  I think Lady Bridget Scollan invented it, I think.  It’s a version of the basketball game where you try to avoid earning a letter to spell a word.  The word, of course, is ROOFBALL. The game is played with a beach ball that gets batted up onto the Farmhouse roof, then when it descends the next person must thwack it back onto the roof.  I wasn’t much of a player, but I did revel in the joy and laughter of everyone who did.

    One morning after Password, walking down the camp road Lady Elana Ramos was wearing pin striped overalls.  Not just any pin striped overalls, but maize and blue pin striped overalls.  I was walking with Ladies Amy Bates and Annie Brown and making comments to about how I preferred scarlet and grey.  That scarlet and grey is such a better color combination.  They humored me but didn’t get the (not so) subtle references to the mid-western rivalry.  Lady Elena did, she smiled and answered back with a University of Michigan cheer.  I had to give the -IO ending myself after a long awkward pause to my OH- retort.

    Much of my time was served with Lady Jane Lawson as President.  She and I both lived in New Hampshire; the monthly Board Meetings occurred outside of Boston.  I’d meet her at the Rindge Market Basket and we’d drive together.  While it may be a small thing, I really missed her and the joy of this time together when she retired from the Board.  It was full of conversations about everything – life.  And I can never forget her gracious kindness when I actually vomited in her car.  It was awful, and SO embarrassing.  But ever a Fleur de Lis Lady, she was gracious and understanding.

    I fondly remember the little porch and rocking chairs behind the large blueberry bush at the Infirm.  Lady Cathie McGuirk and I would sit, rock, and relax during the summer while watching the comings and goings of life on the camp road.  Friends running up to meet each other, walking arm and arm or holding hands.  Laughter and songs, little bits of conversations overheard. We were slightly hidden away to be an observer of the tiny, ubiquitous interactions that happen on the camp road.  And then as Circle launched, that same spot became a daily joy sharing early morning coffee with Ladies Ruth Keogh, Toni LaMonica, and Ellen Dezieck, and others.  No better way to start a Circle day!

    I remember Ladies Sarah Heller and Megan Madden, who were alumnae visitors readily stepping up to help when needed.  And all of Farmhouse as we struggled to eliminate the dreaded louse from camp.  It was weeks of sitting on the Infirm porch with patient campers, necks craned as they grabbed bites of breakfast while we stroked their hair.  It was Farmhouse porch after lunch, daily, as we checked and re-checked to confirm the extinction of the elusive tiny beast.  In the midst of…well, EEEWWW, there was joy in small talk conversations as we all just took care of each other.

    I am always slightly jealous of individuals who can express emotion publicly.  I am not so good at it, it’s not that I don’t feel, I just find it hard to be public about it.  There are many, many private tears or an excited call to share news with a friend.  However, the superhero supper that all of camp planned was a moment of uncontrollable emotion.  Such love and immense sadness all wrapped into one moment for me.  It was classic camp as I walked into the dining hall to see everyone dressed in tights, swimsuits and towel-capes.  It is an image that created overwhelming emotion and still brings a smile to my face when I remember it.  You are Fleur de Lis.  I miss you; I cannot wait to see you again when Emboo returns to 120 Howeville Road.

    Lady MJ Parry – FDL Director 2019 – current

    Community. Google the definition and you’ll find phrases such as; “a group of people living in the same place” and a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals”. But the one that most resonates with me is; “a group of people that care about each other and feel that they belong together”. Now that really captures the experience I cherish at camp!

    There are so many big and little ways community comes to life at Fleur de Lis… in the fields and activities, during crazy EPs and well-loved traditions, in the moments of walking arm and arm up the camp road, giggling under the shade of a tree, or being comforted by a dear friend in a time of sadness. I’m grateful that my fellow directors have reflected on so many heart-touching examples of community. I’d like to add my own simple example… singing together.

    Singing together evokes a magical experience of deep connection between people and requires true listening and deep attention to others. It builds a bond among a group by creating something special together. Everyone can participate. It brings happiness and soothes pain. Singing together links those who have come before us to those who will come after us as we bring to life again and again the music that has been a part of camp for 90 years.

    Remember singing, stomping and clapping in the Dining Hall – don’t these memories bring you joy, and the vision of friends gathered around? Or, how about Evening Circle with singing together Peace and Taps as the sun set on our beautiful camp? Perhaps this even brings back a feeling like everything was right in your world.

    A short story – I came to Fleur de Lis for an interview in the summer of 2018. After touring camp and several conversations, it was time for lunch. My tour guide said, as we approached the Dining Hall; “Just so you know, we sing a lot here – I hope it won’t be overwhelming”. Nope. To the contrary, this was exactly what I was hoping for at FDL. I  loved the welcome song, the spontaneous jumping up and singing, the great energy and fun happening all around me. This is exactly the magical feeling I wanted in a camp! After lunch, I had the opportunity to talk with some counselors. One of the moments I treasure from that conversation was when I said; “The way I see it is that music is the soundtrack of camp”. Their response – the nodding of heads, smiles all around, and even a teary eye or two convinced me that singing together truly was a highly valued experience that was a daily part of life at Fleur de Lis Camp – a place I could feel at home.

    Singing together – such a simple thing, but one that creates a timeless connection for all of us who are a part of Fleur de Lis. This is community.

     

    A special thank you to our FDL Directors!

     

  • Meditations on Independence
    POSTED 5.1.20 Blog

    Some weeks ago, just as the current crisis began, Lady Annie reached out to ask if I might write a small piece about independence for Laurel Leaves. But as COVID-19 has continued its worldwide onslaught and we are all forced into a state of isolation, I find myself wondering what independence means in this strange, new world. The dictionary defines “independent” as; free from outside control, capable of thinking or acting for oneself, and not connected with another or with each other; separate. It is, of course, the third definition which is so striking now and which makes us feel more lonely than independent. But it is also a reminder that part of what it means to be independent is being resilient—making do with what we have, digging deep into untapped wells, and yes, sometimes feeling very alone while we do so.

    All of this is very much in contrast to what happens at Fleur de Lis Camp where community gets built, powerful personal connections get forged, and no girl is “separate” from the others. When we think about what independence means at camp, what we’re really talking about is the second definition which has everything to do with personal growth, strength, and individuality. It is the ability to stand in one’s own individual place, have one’s own individual thoughts, and express one’s self in clear, confident ways. It is the capability to listen respectfully and kindly to others while formulating one’s own viewpoint and holding it steadfastly but flexibly within. Fleur de Lis Camp nurtures these independent qualities, in a few important ways:

    By stitching together a web of love and support; a net into which girls can safely fall when they fail. Having confidence in the fact that you’ll be caught makes it possible to strike out on your own. This supports not only independence but bravery as well.

    By creating an environment where individuality is celebrated. If you know your “differences” will be appreciated and enjoyed, it is easier to develop a strong sense of self and carry out acts of independence.

    By fostering an ecosystem whereby younger girls can look up to older girls and older girls can mentor younger girls. Independent spirits abound at Fleur de Lis; a personality trait that naturally inspires emulation.

    As this mind-bending landscape continues to unfold around us, it will be important for our FDL community to remember that the independence nurtured in ourselves and/or our daughters at camp summer after summer will continue to keep us strong AND connected. Even when we can’t be together.

    -Annie (Kuniholm) Lundsten

    FDL Alumnae & Parent of current FDL Camper Gwennie Lundsten