• 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)

  • 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

  • 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!

     

  • Farmhouse Update Spring 2020
    POSTED 5.1.20 Blog

    We hope you are all healthy and managing the restrictions and uncertainty that have become our new normal these days. First, we want to express our gratitude for this community. We have seen confirmed, through social media and people reaching out, that camp friends are the best friends. One thing these circumstances allow us is the time to connect with one another – by calling friends and having time to sit and talk, by sending letters, by posting camp memories on line. Let’s lean on each other, and encourage our campers to do the same, now more than ever. You will see fun ways to keep these connections growing on social media postings from camp!

    We want to let you know that the board has reached the decision to temporarily suspend the Farmhouse rebuild project and the Capital Campaign. This was not a decision reached lightly, and we spent time playing out several scenarios to best inform our decision process. At this time of uncertainty, we are mindful of how precarious the financial forecast is for everyone. It is unrealistic to be asking our community to make a three-year commitment to major donations during this time, and we do not want to take the financial risk of needing to borrow substantially to support this project. We are also mindful that construction jobs are being shut down and certainly don’t want to begin a project and have to abandon it partway through.

    At this point, our architect is completing the final design plans. We had not begun paying for construction costs, so we have not lost any money from this project and will be able to move forward with completed plans when we are ready to do so.  We are grateful for the money already raised and pledged toward the Farmhouse. This money will be held until the time we are able to move forward again. MJ and the rest of our full-time staff, as well as the Capital Campaign committee, have put tremendous effort and expertise into their work for the Farmhouse. We are more than grateful for all the work that has gone into this project thus far.

    For the summer of 2020, the Farmhouse will remain closed, and we will continue to utilize other spaces for all the purposes the Farmhouse has typically filled. This was already the plan for the summer, so the preparation is already in place.

    We look forward to the time when we will reach out with promising news about the timing of the Farmhouse rebuild and the renewal of the Capital Campaign.

    Should you have any questions please contact Board President Di Foster.

     

  • Flourishing Fleur de Lis
    POSTED 5.1.20 Blog

    We are so grateful for the continued support of our caring Fleur de Lis community. Every “like”, comment, and repost on social media helps us reach a greater audience and share the magic of FDL with the world. The more people talk about us the larger our collective FDL family grows. 

    We recently spoke with a new parent who said she heard about Fleur de Lis from a friend of a friend’s Facebook post years back. For some reason our name stuck with her and she decided to look us up once her daughter started thinking about summer camp. Just one single post made a new lifelong connection. 

    Thank you for keeping us in your minds and hearts. Your love and support are invaluable. 

    Continue to share and help Fleur de Lis flourish. 

    Ways You Can Help:

    Voting

    Most of you know the drill, vote for us for Best of the Best Summer Camp! Each spring we participate in two different voting opportunities for Best of the Best:

    We are currently in the final round of the Boston Parents voting and truly EVERY VOTE COUNTS. If we win (or are in the top 3) we are included in their publications and are awarded a 2020 Family Favorites logo, which helps with our marketing and camper recruitment. The same is true for the NH Union Leader. Last year we won Gold for Summer Camps in Readers’ Choice and Gold in Overnight Camps in Boston Parents. Your continued support and votes have allowed us to be in the running at least 9 years. We appreciate your vote! (Click on the blue links above!)

    Google Reviews

    I don’t know about you, but I put a lot of trust in Google reviews. Before I purchase anything online I read the reviews to make sure I am getting the right size. I read restaurant reviews to make sure the food is good and worth the trip. So you better believe I am reading reviews before I send my daughter away to camp! We have some terrific reviews already on Google about Fleur de Lis Camp that are great testimonials for interested families. Have something positive to say about your own experience? Please share by leaving a review! 

  • This is Grit
    POSTED 5.1.20 Blog

     

    Grit is an interesting word. The first definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is Grit: “small, loose particles of stone or sand”. In this context, grit is usually considered an irritant and is not something we welcome in our eyes or in our shoes. The second definition describes something very different. Grit: “a firmness of mind or spirit, unyielding courage in the face of hardship.” In recent years, the term grit has become the buzzword as a highly desirable characteristic for young people entering top educational institutions, sports teams, and employment. Grit is the popular way of describing determination, bravery, resolve, and tenacity, in short, the perseverance to keep working toward a goal even when it is hard. Recently, I heard another word associated with grit, passion. I can see how they are connected because to really WANT to keep going, you have to truly care about your goal.

    Throughout history, camps have placed a high value on grit and the process of practicing and building the belief in young people of “I can do hard things”. It’s not easy work to be gritty. It takes desire; the ability to ask for support and the willingness to learn; and the understanding that it’s ok to not succeed the first time and the confidence to try again. It helps to have supportive adults and peers that can encourage, coach, and celebrate successes. It also helps to have lots of opportunities to practice grit and camp has more than you can count.

    Obvious practice ground is in our program. The chance to try something and work toward mastery is a part of every activity. Another time grit is present is when it is wrapped up in an emotional challenge – a bit less tangible than succeeding in archery or riding, but oh so powerful. Last summer there was a girl who was very homesick but she wanted to love camp. Instead of going home or staying in camp unhappily, she drew on her courage and resolve to make friends and enjoy the fun. She discovered the duality that she could both miss her family, but also love camp. This fall she was concerned about being homesick again if she came back for another summer, but in the end, she decided to take that chance. This young girl has learned that she can do hard things, so even if she is missing home at some point she knows she has what it takes to get through it. This is grit.

    -Lady MJ Parry | FDL Executive Director

  • FDL Month 2020
    POSTED 5.1.20 Blog

    Can you even believe that #FDLmonth was just over a month ago? So much in our world has changed since that month began. Though we had an interesting turn of events in March, #FDLmonth2020 could not be stopped. (Curious about what #FDLmonth is? Read more here.) We kicked off the 5th annual month of celebrating our community with an in-person Alumni event at a cidery in Boston. Quickly followed by more in-person meetups spanning the country (see below), all before social distancing was a regular phrase in our vocabulary.

    Then things changed and as is the Fleur de Lis way, our community adapted when required to stay home. You, our alumnae, campers, and staff showed off your creativity by posting videos of yourselves thoroughly washing your hands while singing camp songs.


     

    You wholeheartedly participated in (and continue to today) FDL@Home, a program started to support families during this long stretch of staying at home. Together you continued to connect with each other by celebrating Secret Sister (S.S.) week. Reaching out to old camp friends and sending handwritten letters to each other, just like during camp. Just like classic camp, we closed out S.S. Week with a party and #FDLmonth with an alumni camp song sing-along.  Though we found that Zoom certainly does not have the same acoustics as the Dining Hall, the FDL spirit was certainly alive and well.

    In case you missed them, a couple of other things that happened during #FDLmonth were #friendshipfriday and #FDLgoesglobal. Each Friday in March we shared blogs written by FDL Alums all about camp friendships. To read them head to our blog. We loved seeing so many of you pop up on our #FDLgoesglobal world map! It has been so much fun to see how far the FDL community spans.

    Thank you FDL Community for being a place of support, creativity, silliness, and encouragement for each other these past couple months and always.

  • Camp Confidence
    POSTED 5.1.20 Blog

    I didn’t always have the confidence I do now. The idea of standing up on stage, or being in a large group of friends scared me, though I tried to cover it up. I felt as though I was too awkward to fit in, and I worried that people wouldn’t want to hear what I had to say. After moving from London to Connecticut soon after I turned six, and then switching schools again in two years, I found it easier to close myself off. I would sit on a swing during recess and read, and work on homework during snack. Although I had many people who I would call friends, I didn’t truly feel like I fit in. Camp definitely began to change that for me. From my first day (July 8th, 2012!!), I was swept up in the camp crazy that we all know and love, starting with Glop Night. From the moment I arrived, there wasn’t a second to doubt if I was fitting in, or if people wanted to spend time with me.

    As summers progressed, I found myself breaking out of the shell I had put myself in. At home, I was auditioning for shows, starting to make friends with people I normally wouldn’t talk to, and learning to speak up and join in. At camp, I was also gaining confidence through trying new activities that I could never imagine doing at home. If you had told my eight-year-old self that she would know how to waterski, make stained glass, or be an avid archer, I would’ve called you crazy. And the best part is, it feels so natural. Running down the camp road in the pouring rain, swimming the triangle, or just spending time in the cottage talking with friends comes easily now. Camp is a magical place, where trying something new doesn’t have downsides; it can only end well. And when one person succeeds in something, the whole community is there to cheer them on. It makes it easy to feel confident. Although it’s daunting, when you get up on stage, you will have your friends waiting to cheer you on. And when you finally stand up in ski, hit the bullseye for the first time, or perfect that piece you’ve been working on in ceramics, it’s that much better to know that the new thing you tried has paid off.

    It’s easy to be confident at camp. And when you feel intimidated by a new activity, or you’re unsure of who to talk to in the dining hall, remember that you have the support of all of the camp behind you. It may be scary now, but soon the fear will be a distant memory, and you’ll have tons of new friends to laugh with.

    – Edie Roth, FDL Camper 2012 – current (2nd Year CT)

  • Sister
    POSTED 3.27.20 Blog

    Written by Lady Kate in 2011 for a high school creative writing assignment. 

    I don’t have a sister. I have dozens. My mom, dad, and brother would probably be shocked to find this out and would wonder why they hadn’t been informed of the numerous additions to our family tree. I would kindly explain to them that they needn’t worry about funding skyrocketing grocery bills or hunting for a bigger home, because I only see my sisters for two months each year – and we’ve got other sources of shelter and supervision. My sisters aren’t exactly Webster’s idea of siblings. My sisters are camp sisters.

    A camp sister is the most generous kind of sister. See, between camp sisters, stealing clothes is not frowned upon…it is expected. I’ve got toppling piles of proof in my closet; worn t-shirts advertising Hoosick Fall Youth Soccer, Medfield Community Teens, Wellesley Student Council, and the Burlington Tennis Club form an overwhelming majority over my measly supply of Madison, Connecticut garb. Not to mention the navy shorts with a fading “Cushman” handwritten across the elastic waistband, or the Notre Dame Soccer sweatshirt with the name “Risko” penned on the tag. My sisters pawn their hometown clothing in exchange for anything from someone else’s worn apparel to (in desperate times) a stick of gum or a hair-tie. Not your average example of generosity, but at camp, the little things are a big deal.

    A camp sister is the most understanding kind of sister. Her support reaches far beyond your odd television preferences and over-the-top hygiene routines. She is a sanctuary of comfort and encouragement through divorces, college rejections, and deaths. When the world seems to be caving in around you, a camp sister extends her hand and pulls you out, whether she is by your side or a phone call away. She does not ask questions or offers opinions, unless of course, you request them, in which case her questions clear your head and hr opinions steer you straight. She holds your hands, wipes your tears, and lifts your spirits.

    A camp sister is the most special kind of sister.  If you want to tell her how she has changed your life, you’d better speak quickly because your list will grow faster than your mouth can move. When you hug her goodbye at the end of the summer, she will remind you though heaving sobs that you are her best friends in the world, that she will miss you more than you can imagine. And when you are struggling through your Calculus homeworld at 11 pm on a cold December night, she will call for no other reason than to tell you that she loves you. And suddenly, Calculus won’t seem to matter.

    My sisters and I don’t share the blood ties of real siblings – we share something better. Sisterhood is not forced upon us. We choose kinship, and our family tree grows taller and stronger each day.

    A camp sister is the best kind of sister.

    Blog written by: Kate Gladstone

  • Friends, Friends, We Will Always Be
    POSTED 3.20.20 Blog

    Alison White.

    Her winter address was 53 W 94th St NY, NY.  I haven’t seen or talked to her in nearly 50 years but I have never forgotten her.  We met in Cabin A.

    At the 90th Fleur de Lis Camp reunion in 2019, I was intrigued as I watched women of many decades share identical appetites for tradition. Could our Fleur de Lis Camp traditions forge that inexplicable bond, that beckons us back to each other summer after summer?

    I started camp as a very young 8 year old.  Early on I had a limited concept of seeing my camp friends during the winter.  It seemed to me they lived SO far away.   But, to my delight, in my teens, I discovered, Lady Chip and Lady Chinky were within driving distance.  When one of us got “the car” we’d often head up to Fitzwilliam. A 2+ hour drive each way.  We were carefree, happy summer camp friends out loose in the winter. How rare.

    Maybe it was the traditional camp song lyrics like “Friends Friends Friends…we will always be” that hard-wired us all for enduring friendships.

    June came. School was out.  Time for tradition. Dust off my trunk; gather my towel, my bather, my guitar, my riding boots and reunite with my FDL friends. Though we’d not been together for nine months, we never missed a beat. Yes, tradition must be the foundation that camp friendships are built on.

    I reflect on the most meaningful milestones in my life and usually, they’ve included my camp friends.

    18 years ago my husband Terry and I were married by long time camp friend Reverend Lady Mary Conant in a heart of shells, in front of our home.   Three years ago I flew to CA to sing at Conants’ beautiful wedding to Robin.  Guest Lady Wendy Keiver and I reconnected during that weekend and sparked a dormant camp friendship into one that has become extremely meaningful to me.  Suzanne MacPhail, my adorable little camp sister that I taught horseback riding to, insisted on getting me back in the saddle after my body was weakened by chemotherapy treatments.  I’ll be forever grateful for that.  I had the honor of singing camp songs at the bedside of FDL friend Martha Stacio Mafeo as she took her last breath. We gathered hand to hand and heart to heart as we paid tribute to Lady Nurse & Lady Sue Curry.  We now keep in the know with each other through the Camp Facebook page.  And that is how I discovered Lady Soupy had turned her buddy tag one last time.  But our FB page has also become a vehicle for arranging those fun offseason reunions.

    Do you have winter traditions with your camp besties?  I know there’s a group of my peers that take faraway adventures together.  Make this the year to reach out. Find that friend you’ve been thinking about.

    Alison White from Cabin A. I know you’re out there somewhere!

    October 10 2003 – Terry & I were married by Rev Lady Mary Conant in a heart of shells in front of our home on Coffin Beach, Gloucester MA RL Mary had just said, “now you may kiss your bride”. Terry hesitated, then reached into his suit coat pocket and pulled out a tin of bone-shaped breath mints. This was in honor of Sailor, my brother’s dog, who was not well and couldn’t participate. Conant saw the tin, threw back her head and busted out laughing. The surrounding party broke into laughter. Camp friends are truly the best!

    Blog Written By Lady Gwen Mahan Ryan | FDL Alumna 1960’s & 70’s