The password for today is….

Each August, I volunteer at a bereavement camp called Circle of Fleur de Lis  a free camp for girls 9-15 who have recently lost a parent. After the bugle blows, we slowly roll out of our platform tents and cabins,  brush our teeth and then head to a grove where we start our day with a little reading. This morning ritual is called “Password” and has been a standard part of Fleur de Lis Camp since my grandmother attended in 1927.  Below is the password I wrote for the last day of this year’s Circle Camp, talking about how to hold on to memories of loved ones and our happy memories of our summer together. Hope it helps you with anyone, any place, or time you feel you have lost…


“Fleur de Lis Circle Camp 2016 has come to a close. Sometimes at the end of things we grasp for ways to hold on to the good feelings and to each other. We may look to photos or objects to help us hold on; our Circle Camp t-shirt, our messenger bag from sewing class, our bracelet from Arts & Crafts or a little rock we picked up along the road.

We often do the same when someone dies. We look to photos and objects to help keep them close. But the good news is, our loved ones like our camp memories are everywhere. They are carried to us through the sounds, smells and even tastes in our daily lives.

My friend Allison thinks of her Mom any time she smells the spice cardamon.
My friend Rebecca remembers dancing with her dad in the basement anytime she hears Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

I think of camp and of you all any time I hear a screen door slam, feel the morning dew on my toes, or smell a musty old house.

Our job in the coming days, weeks, and months ahead is to be on watch for the little ways camp and memories of our loved ones will come say hello to us.

Maybe the sound of rustling leaves will remind you of yoga in the Sunken Garden or ome blueberry pancakes will remind you of our breakfasts together. Or, if you’re like me, you might just find yourself humming verses of Boom Boom Ain’t it Great to Be Crazy in between classes.

So don’t worry if you do not have the perfect photo or a cool camp sweatshirt.  Circle Camp and the friends you made will visit you throughout the year in hundreds of tiny ways. Be on watch!

The Password for today is: Everywhere.”