Ten years ago I started my first summer at Fleur De Lis Camp. I remember when they first sat me down to tell me about camp and handed me a brochure of smiling, happy girls. I instantly felt queasy. My parents started going on and on about how good of an experience this would be for me. They said I was so independent and mature that this would be a breeze for me. At that point there was no going back. They had pulled the compliment card and I, at the ripe age of ten, never turned down a boost to my ego. And so it was settled, I would start camp as a 3rd year junior, 925 miles from my home in Tennessee.
The couple months before my school year ended I started regretting my decision. I would miss summer birthday parties held by my classmates. I would miss going antiquing with my mom. I would miss going to Dollywood Splash Country with my friends. I would miss fried chicken and sweet tea. Most importantly, I would miss watching Disney channel and Nickelodeon for hours on end. My fear of missing out had set in and there was no convincing my stubborn head that an all girls camp in New Hampshire was better than eating a bag of flavor blasted goldfish in front of the TV for 5 hours. However, I never once told my parents this, I had too much pride. Every since my decision, they had been telling relatives, friends, and even strangers at the grocery store, that I, the independent and mature 4th grader, would be attending a summer camp for a month. I would look up grinning at the adult who always had a shocked expression.
Before I knew it, I had been whisked away to the chilly climate of New England. Now I’m not going to lie and say that I suddenly fell in love with camp, quite the opposite actually. The frogs kept me up at night. Laurel Lake was cold. I had a hard time making friends. I hated the food. Although none of this was camp’s fault. I had gone into camp with the wrong mindset. I hated camp before I even got there. This was the place that was keeping me away from my parents, my friends, my fast food, and my TV shows for an entire month. Fleur de Lis camp never stood a chance against my stubborn self.
I don’t know how or when it happened but something changed within me. Over the next couple of summers I grew to love the sounds of the croaking frogs. I became less stubborn and made the lifelong friends that camp had promised me. I even went from being a painfully picky eater to asking for “everything” at the meals, yes even the vegetable. I wish I could say I grew to love Laurel Lake but it is still too cold for my southern self. I began to think of Fleur de Lis as my second home. If my ten-year-old self could see me now she would be in disbelief. Never did I once think I would hear the words “Lady Claire” or walk up at August campfire to receive my ten-year bracelet, yet here I am.
-Lady Claire Denning