If you ever toured Illahee before visiting, you were probably serenaded at least several times by groups of campers singing, “Welcome to Illahee…the mountains echo welcome to thee…” The sounds of camp were certainly echoing from Heigh Ho and Hillbrook hills as we started our four-week and mini 1 sessions today. All is “right” in our world again tonight with a full complement of 265 campers and the sounds of screen doors slamming, laughter, the occasional shriek which usually accompanies an encounter with some sort of wildlife, and my favorite…uncontrolled giggling. Tonight, we especially welcome our new girls and families to camp. With the mini session girls, these four weeks mark the session with our largest percentage of new families at camp.
I am a “camp guy” from way back. Western North Carolina has a rich history of summer camping, and I was lucky enough to get my start in the early eighties as a counselor back when camp directors were named “Chief” and “Jim Daddy.” I watched the transition to the new generation, some successful and some…not so much. Laurie and I are celebrating year number 21 as directors…and we are well-preserved for the same reason that Peter Pan is. We both feel like we are the luckiest kids on the block to get to do what we do…it’s hard work, and we feel the privilege to make every single girl’s camp experience to be the best that it possibly can. The switch in sessions is an exciting time. I am fielding emails and calls from parents of girls who just finished our three-week session, and there have been some really thoughtful and amazing ones…about how camp in three short weeks made unexpected and significant impact. So, it’s fun to see camp rev up like an Indy car. For some, the start is tentative, and there are butterflies as girls arrive. We come to life as a community, and we’re out of the gates by early afternoon with loads of activity. By tomorrow morning, we’ll hit our stride and get down to business with the start of activities. It’s the start of something big…impact for life. Whether a new friend, or a mentor, or a challenge to overcome, your girls will grow.
This afternoon after a picnic-style lunch of yummy sandwiches (white wheat, wheat, pita), turkey, ham, PBJ, hummus, pasta salad, chips, homemade hummus, fresh tomatoes, cheese, and big fat homemade chocolate chip cookies, there were LOADS of afternoon activities. By cabin, girls checked through the Ship Store and were fitted for and received any pre-ordered items, got a chance to try out all the cool stuff at the swim lake, checked quickly through our uber-cool medical staff to make sure there were no creepy-crawly hitchhikers being imported into camp, games in the Rec Lodge, and other cabin activities.
So, five minutes til Taps blows and Pineview (our oldest girls) are rocking. I’m going to go check on them and then hit the hay.