What are you really giving?
POSTED 12.1.14 Blog

When I was 10 years old, my aunt gave me a week at the Bronx Zoo’s winter day camp for Christmas. She worked there at the time in the Funds Development department and I, like most 10 year olds, was pretty into animals so it was a convenient, well thought out gift. 20 years later, I still have pretty clear memories of that week and if you were to ask me what the best gift I ever received was, my answer would be camp, both that week and the summers my parents generously let me spend at resident camp (farm camp to be precise, again I was pretty into animals).

With these gifts, I was able to have some incredible experiences like petting alligators (granted very small ones, which were very carefully supervised) and helping to design and build a new chicken coop with a counselor and a bunch of other 12 year olds. I was also given a sense that I was capable of anything I wanted to do, like catching all the chickens to move them into said new coop or performing a reinterpretation of the Wizard of Oz in front of all of camp. I gained a better sense of the kind of person that I wanted to be through the counselors who I idealized and was able to make friends with people who accepted me fully, flaws and all. With them, I learned the difference between doing what was asked of me and accepting real responsibility for my surroundings and actions.

Regardless of whether or not my family was aware of it at the time, giving me the gift of camp helped to determine who I would become, more so than any other present I have ever received. It taught me what I was capable of, what I valued, and what it meant to think about more than just my own experience in any given situation. So as the holiday buying season looms large, I ask that you think about what you are really giving the recipients of your gifts this year and when it doubt, give camp, whether it be directly or by donating to Fleur de Lis so more girls can experience its magic this year.

-Lady Sarena