Fleur de Lis Camp is a sleepaway camp for girls ages 8 to 15, located on the shores of Laurel Lake in Fitzwilliam, NH. For over 90 years, girls have known FDL as their second home – the magical place where they have so many opportunities to learn new skills, take on challenges, discover their passions, develop independence, step out of their comfort zone, revel in deep friendships, discover their best selves, and make life-long memories.
How does this magic happen? Is it intentional? Yes. One pathway is through the many “activities” that are a major element of each week at camp – swimming in the lake, throwing a pot on the wheel, starring in a play, shooting for the bullseye, building a fire, paddling a kayak, and so many more. Of course, these activities are fun, exciting and celebrated – but they are also something more! FDL’s camp activities are designed to provide a safe platform for real growth. Each activity presents opportunities to take a risk or try something new and that fosters self-confidence and courage. Activities also involve setting goals and figuring out the steps to achieve those goals; by doing this, girls develop or strengthen life skills in planning, organization and time management. Perhaps one of the most valuable experiences for many arises in instances when a girl doesn’t succeed the first or second time; these are the moments when perseverance is developed to deal with disappointment, to learn from mistakes and try again. By experiencing such moments in this safe environment guided by caring, supportive counselors, they quickly become the kind of girls that can proudly say, “Yes, I can – I can do hard things.”
Camp is full of structured activities, but it also has plenty of time for girls to play, reflect, and just be. In our busy, highly scheduled world, this is a real gift. Seeing girls sitting under a shady tree reading a book, writing in a journal, or just enjoying the feel of the cool grass is as common a sight as girls hanging out making up silly games or chatting and laughing with friends. The power of being unplugged is clear as girls talk face to face without screens and discover that writing and receiving old fashioned letters is so much fun.
While some camps are set in urban or indoor settings, the Fleur de Lis site is one rich with forests, fields, streams and beautiful mountain views. Being surrounded by nature every moment of the day provides girls with an opportunity to grow in their appreciation of sunny days and star-filled nights, cool breezes and bird songs, glimpses of wildlife, and those incredible moments of seeing something in her natural world that is “just so cool!”
Girls will often say, “My best friends are my camp friends”. This may seem hard to believe, particularly if they may have only known each other for one summer, but it truly is what happens at camp. A lot of how girls get to know each other in such deep ways is simply by living and playing together 24 hours a day. They find common ground and learn about their differences. Camp friends learn to accept each other as they are and share the journey of self-discovery. They quickly learn to see and celebrate the best in each other. Sure, sometimes they see the “not best” in each other, so when that happens, they get real-life practice in problem-solving, negotiation, and developing empathy for others different from themselves. Camp friends share deep history and have moments together that live in their hearts forever – just ask any camp alum!
In today’s world, it is sometimes hard to feel like you are a part of something good that is bigger than yourself. The experience of Fleur de Lis Camp is like a beautiful, richly colored tapestry. When a girl comes here for a summer, she becomes part of that tapestry forever. She knows that she shares in magical experiences that thousands of girls before her have and thousands more will experience in the future.
It is no wonder that Fleur de Lis has won top awards from groups like Boston Parents Paper Best of the Best and Manchester Union Readers’ Choice, and is a place many girls come back to year after year.
We hope you’ll join us this summer at camp!
MJ Parry, Executive Director
Fleur de Lis Camp 120 Howeville Rd Fitzwilliam NH 03447