Congratulations Queen Carina, and welcome once again everybody. I’m Lady Susan Clinkenbeard, and I was here as a camper, CT and counselor for eleven of the best summers of my life. I am so happy to be back here with you to celebrate this special day and to participate in this wonderful ceremony for the Queen and her Council.
One of the pleasures of being together at Fleur de Lis every summer is the singing. Fleur de Lis girls have been known to burst into song at the drop of a hat, and there are special songs for every occasion, place and activity at camp. There are songs we sing to celebrate rainy days, sunny days, ice cream days, and trip days. One of the songs that is a favorite in the dining hall is the song that starts “Tall girls, short girls, fat and thin,” and I got to thinking about how this silly, frivolous song is an interesting introduction to one of the valuable aspects of camp. And that is that Fleur de Lis is a very come-as-you-are kind of place. Girls come here from different schools and towns, different backgrounds, and different kinds of families. But when she gets here, each individual has joined a wide circle where she has her own place of belonging: in her tent or cabin, in her squad, as a Mid or Junior or Senior or CT or counselor, in her swimming group, in her part in the play, in her spot to line up for password or colors or Coronation. It doesn’t really matter where you come from. It just matters that you’re here, and there’s a specific place for you at the table and in the circle.
You’ll notice the song doesn’t say, “only tall girls” or “only short girls”, or “only girls with perfect hair, or who have excellent grades, or who wear certain clothes”. These kinds of distinctions don’t really matter at camp, because that’s not what camp is about. How you look isn’t what matters at camp. In fact, there may be days when you are so busy, or so excited about what does matter, like making a new friend, or working with your cabin-mates to keep your perfect inspection score, or arriving on time for your fourth activity of the day, that you reach Taps and realize that you forgot to brush your hair that morning, and it really doesn’t matter. And as for clothes, you’ll notice that on our most special occasions, we wear our camp uniforms, so that dressing up actually means wearing the same thing as everybody else. It’s not that people’s distinctions don’t matter. Everybody comes to camp with their different gifts and abilities, and the goal of camp is to provide a safe and nurturing place so that each of you can develop those particular gifts.
Fleur de Lis gives you a place where you belong, so that then each of you, with all your gifts and even your quirks and peculiarities, can find your own voice. You don’t have to have a perfect voice to sing camp songs. You just have to learn most of the words and when to join in, and the most important thing you bring to any song is your participation. So when we get to the end of this song, when we shout, “Come to Fleur de Lis, it’s the best of all,” what does that mean? Does it mean that Fleur de Lis is the best of all possible places to be for the summer? It may mean that for a lot of you. But I like to think of it as the best of all of us, together. We come here bringing our individuality and our gifts, and we are allowed to be our best selves. And having this place to be together where we belong to each other can bring out the best in each of us, and in all of us together. My hope for you is that by the time you leave Fleur de Lis at the end of the summer, whether you are a new girl or have been here many years, you will have a whole new repertoire of goofy songs, and a lot of new friends. The password for today is together.