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Friends, Friends, We Will Always Be

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

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