Every Opening Day, Visiting Day, Campfire Night and Closing Day, there is an easily recognizable group of women with tan skin and varying lengths of gray hair. They are often seen hugging other parents or families, usually with a daughter or niece with a short distance wearing the white Fleur de Lis polo. These women, comprised of four daughters and their extremely dedicated mother, are commonly known as the Cook girls. Always one of the first families to show up and definitely the last to leave, these ladies can never seem to get enough of camp, regardless of age, time, or distance.
For example, three of the four Cook daughters have daughters standing right here in the Password Grove. Combined with cousins who are or have been at William Lawrence, no 3rd generation Cook cousin has been left uncampified. And then there is Mama Cook, Mrs. Cook, affectionately known as Noanie, who will be visiting camp a total of 7 times this summer alone, yet has never actually attended Fleur de Lis herself.
On top of all that, at any family reunion, at the ripe age of 51, my mother’s nickname continues to be Lady Linda, not only by her Cook sisters, but by all their poor husbands too. And it is by no mistake that the first time I heard the song “Today” sung in the Dining Hall, I knew the words by heart because that’s what my mom sang to me when I couldn’t sleep. And every time we arrive at camp, my aunts Katie and Sydney inhale deeply the distinct small of must, lake, frog pond, and ferns. Not to mention the trunk that is currently in the Shang full of my clothes was used by one of my aunts when she was at camp. And whenever any of us are together, it takes point two seconds for the subject to reach camp.
I owe a lot to these five women, more than anything because I am standing here in a place I love, doing the things I love, all with the people I love. All because their love of camp spans infinitely farther than the ten summers they spent here. Despite having husbands, jobs, children, and living thousands of miles away, these women hold Fleur de Lis Camp close to their heart and camp is a better place and experience because of it.
-Lady Elsa Froelicher