The Best Summer Ever!

Hillbrook JC's sing with sparklers at campfire.
Hillbrook JC’s sing alternate lyrics to Katy Perry’s “Firework”!

But, this morning felt a lot like I remember Christmas feeling when I was Hillbrook age. Yesterday, I was dead-tired from the last “push” to get ready and then got “schooled” by my sixteen year-old on the Butter Gap trail on mountain bikes last night…(we left at 6:30 PM and rode until almost nine and were in the doghouse cause we were late to dinner). I started dozing as we finished dinner and fell into a deep sleep almost the second my head hit the pillow. My phone rang not long after that, and I was completely disoriented as I tried to answer. One of our more “dramatic” counselors reported that she was sweeping her cabin and that a “GIGANTIC” spider that she was 100% sure was poisonous had become part of the pile…and “wouldn’t I come get it.”

Of course, those 21 years allow me the discernment to know that a.) I was 100% sure that it was not poisonous, and b.) that she had the skills to bring the situation to a successful conclusion (which she did). My head, I’m pretty sure, never left the pillow. But, another glorious summer has started! I woke up earlier than I should have this morning, and walked through camp, still amazed at its beauty. Watching the mist come off of the lake…with horses waking up in the pastures below doesn’t “hold a candle” to the same vistas with shrieks and screams, laughter and slamming doors in the background. The soul of camp has returned.

We have all the “stuff” in place to truly make this the BEST SUMMER EVER… That probably sounds trite since it seems to come round every new season, but it’s our mission and our motto. Every summer has to be…it is my expectation and more than that, it is the expectation of every girl who comes through our gates.  We have a stellar staff, with only a handful who are new to Illahee…the smallest percentage ever. We know the counselors who are working with your girls well…in fact, we have known most of them since they were girls themselves. They love Illahee as do we…and they will make this the BEST SUMMER EVER! We have spent the year looking at all of our programs, evaluating, and making changes as necessary. Dave Hartsock is here with us year round as our program director, and we can already see positive changes. Caroline Warren has joined us full-time after graduating this spring from Vanderbilt for a two-season internship, so our leadership team is brimming with terrific experience without losing the “hip factor.” (It ain’t us anymore). Finally, our grounds and maintenance crew has a new leader. Those among you who are veterans surely noticed all of the work we did this year. Vincent  is a former camper himself and loves making sure that everything is in tip top shape for the girls. You can’t miss him. He is one of the only folks around that I have to look up to. The new entry and driveway, privacy fence, and landscaping all has come together to help Illahee continue to be the envy of the camp world.

We are blessed to be at capacity with waiting lists in all of our sessions this season with 262 girls in the June session. This summer’s campers represent 34 states and five foreign countries. Not only that, they are GREAT GIRLS! It is almost surreal to steal a hug or slap a high five with this crowd. It’s almost as if we never left the Heavenly World. If we could see Illahee from space right now, I’m sure she would have a great big smile on her face.

I’ll get into some more housekeeping tomorrow as far as the website is concerned, but know that today was a great day in our world…and that lifetime friendships are being forged as I speak…we all know that this is what camp is really all about.


3 responses to “The Best Summer Ever!

  1. Once I gave my last hug to Carly all I could think of was reading your blog tonight. Thank you for keeping me connected. Illahee truly is Heavenly.

  2. The pictures speak volumes. I’m so excited my daughter is experiencing Illahee for the first time! I know the difference between her real smile and her fake smile and the pictures don’t lie! Such happy faces! When does the mom camp begin!!!???? Thanks for all you do to create memories and allow the girls to create friendships! Hope you all get some rest tonight, Kim

  3. We traveled from Atlanta to Virginia this Spring so Sarah Kate could have a mini weekend reunion with her Illahee Friends. When we arrived yesterday it was like a “Family” reunion! She was like a caged animal getting out of the car to embrace everyone. I am so thankful she has had this experience. Passed down from her grandmother, a counselor in her youth, and a Cousin, now on staff! I saw Frank Tindall yesterday as we were dropping off Sarah Kate’s brother at Falling Creek. Frank and I want to Deerwoode Together. Shall I break into a rendition of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken?” Great Job . It is a Testimony to a job well done with Passion! We are all Blessed to be in the Illahee Circle.

Comments are closed.