Congratulations Queen Zenshia, and welcome everyone to another beautiful Coronation ceremony and Visiting Day. I’m Susan Clinkenbeard, more often known as Lady Clink, and I went to Fleur de Lis many years ago for eleven happy summers.
We have just participated as a community in one of the longstanding traditions here at Fleur de Lis. Another tradition that I am particularly enthusiastic about is singing. I love how there is a body of songs that has lasted through the years and that is Fleur de Lis’ own particular repertoire. Some songs come from the folk tradition, some come from a different source and the lyrics have been changed to make them specific to Fleur de Lis, and some were written just for us. We have special songs for every ceremony, for different times of day, for different meals, for putting up the flag, for taking down the flag, for sunny days, for rainy days, for being silly, and a song just for eating ice cream. I love that I can sit with my Mom and an old songbook, and she can tell me what occasion a song was used for when she was a camper and what era it was popular. I love that we know a lot of the same songs and can sing them together. And I love when I visit camp and sit at a table in the dining hall and listen to a brand new song that I never heard before.
The great thing about singing at camp is that everybody gets to do it. Sure, it’s terrific when there’s somebody with a really good voice, or when people can contribute a harmony part, especially when there’s a campfire song; but mostly it just matters that we all sing, and sometimes it doesn’t matter whether you can sing it pretty, or whether you know all the words, or whether you get all the hand motions right on the active songs. What really matters is that everybody participates and we make a joyful noise. Another great thing is that you can come in as a new person, and at first you may have to listen, but by the time a song goes around a few times, you can pick up the words quickly, and by the end of the summer, you have a whole catalog of songs in your head that you learned just by being here.
Being at camp is like singing. When you come here the first time, all the songs are new, and so are the people, but by the end of your time here, the songs are familiar and so are the faces and names. You may have come to learn some songs, and some people, really well. You may have your favorites. You may have some that you didn’t take to at first, but find that they grow on you over time or when you hear them in different settings. If you have been here a while, there may be the old reliable songs you are happy to sing over and over again, the people you are happy to see again year after year. There may even be that song, or that friend, who was there all along who you didn’t realize you liked so much until you just click one summer.
Each year the repertoire of camp songs changes, with the addition of new songs to a steady stream of old favorites, and songs that make a re-appearance after being on the shelf for a while. And each year of camp has its own special chemistry based on the people who are here, who comes back, who’s new, the special gifts that each of those people brings, and the unique things that happen that summer. No two years are the same. But it’s reassuring that there is always a basic group of songs that don’t change and are still there to be enjoyed and discovered every year.
I want to encourage each of you to find and contribute your voice this summer. Figure out your favorite song and get your table to sing it with you and sing it LOUD. Make sure you learn the campfire songs and notice how different it feels to sing them in the dark by candlelight or firelight with the whole camp participating in hushed wonder. Maybe you will make up your own song, by yourself or with your small group, and add it to the repertoire. But whether you have a loud or a soft voice, and whether you are an experienced singer or can’t carry a tune in a bucket, all that matters is that you sing, and that we are all singing together.
The songs we raise up are unique to the moment that we sing them, and are also what we hand down from year to year. Make a joyful noise. This is your summer. Sing your own special song.
The password for today is: SONG.