Willy Wonka’s Final Night…and Our’s Too!

Summer camp girls at Illahee float lighted wishboats on the lake.
The spirit of Illahee going back out into the world!

The perfect end to a perfect session. There’s part of me that would love for this to go on forever. I think if I could reconcile the sleep thing, I’d be good to go. It’s true…the older I get, the less I need, so maybe in five or ten more years, we’ll just keep these girls all year long! We’ll throw in some school work to keep everyone happy, and just enjoy year round camp. Now, that’s a novel idea! We are going to miss your girls, and I think many of you may have to deal with some campsickness too once the novelty of being reunited with the “boob tube” and Facebook wears off. The four-week session is just the greatest, and we hope that our new girls grow to love camp as much as these girls do and get to come take advantage of all that we have to offer at some point in their Illahee careers.

We started our day with gymnastics, dance routines and then vaulting in the Rec Lodge. These girls can move! It’s always fun to see some of the routines that would put a guy like me in the hospital. Double and triple back handspings? One even landed in a split! Ouch! About the time we were halfway through the gymnastics routines, one of our office folks ran down to the Rec Lodge with a panicked look on her face. The health inspector had chosen this day of all days to do her surprise annual visit! I had a pang of panic too as Laurie went off to escort her. The cabins looked like a tornado had come through and turned them upside down. Counselors were helping girls pack, and let’s just say that on Hillbrook, they were in preliminary stages. So, I think that’s dirty pool, but we did score a 96.5 despite all of the mess.

The rest of the morning was a blur as campers finished packing, trunks were carted down that were being shipped home, and some great last activities were offered during a Choice Period. The lake was a popular spot as the heat index rose. We have had some classic summer weather…great camp weather. We’ve been getting rain here and there, but virtually no thunderstorms since our June session. We had a week of cool in there, but there’s nothing like afternoon warm sunny skies to make the swim lake rock! There were also some arts and crafts activities, games, the finals of the tennis tournament, and opportunities to finish up projects. After lunch, cabins each made a plaque to leave their name on the cabin walls. Alumnae still come back looking for their “legacy,” memories flooding back.

The excitement rose as the afternoon turned to early evening. Everyone looks forward to the revelation of one of camp’s most closely guarded secrets…the theme of Final Night Banquet. The Sparks, our oldest girls, chose Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory…the dining hall was transformed into his factory, and it looked GREAT…I think this was the first group I can remember who used the opportunity to thank our leadership team, and the rest of camp for their own “epic” summer. They left two Smiley Faces to replace the “lost one” which hung for a long time from the dining hall rafters. Pizza was their choice, with Coke, Sprite, and salad…cookie pie for dessert! Yummm.

The procession over to Final Night (Dohivi Noche) is always a sight to see…girls dressed in white, holding hands, the sun setting behind them…one last chance to gather and sing, watch the presentation of JC Bibles, CIT charms, 10 year gold signet rings, and first-year Illahee banners. I love the fact that we celebrate all the girls for their accomplishments and challenge them through Wishes from each hill and staff group.

We have loved having your girls and consider it a privilege that you entrust them to us. We don’t take that lightly and hope that you will find that she comes home with a little more confidence, a little more independence, and some great memories of the Best Summer Ever. We look forward to the time next year when we can gather again in the Heavenly for another great season together.

3 responses to “Willy Wonka’s Final Night…and Our’s Too!

  1. Thanks for a wonderful camp experience for Emilia. Myrtle and I are so appreciative of the job you both do. Keep up the important work and we will see you next year.


  2. I have never seen Jax smile so ebulliently, so irrepressibly as I did when her dad Blake and I picked her up on Hillbrook (Muy Bien in Cabin 10!) today. Clearly, Jax and Camp Illahee were a match made in heaven–the Heavenly World, to be exact! Thanks to all of you, especially her lovely, committed counselors Jamie and Lindsay, for making Jax’s summer the best yet. She is already missing her friends, the activities, the food and the fun, and talking about coming back next year. We are so proud of her and all her accomplishments, and it was an extra special treat to run into my old Madeira School classmate Elizabeth and her daughter Ann on our way into Brevard for lunch. Oh, and I think my sister Robbie has mentioned that our sister Liza, also an Illahee alumna, went to Purnell? Small world!!! We hope that her daughter Kalea, now 5, will be able to join her cousins in the coming years to continue the Illahee tradition!

  3. Thanks for making this such a wonderful experience for Amelia. This is her 3rd summer at Illahee and I see her growing fonder of Camp each summer. She was so sad to leave Camp, she kept hugging her counselor, Maddie and crying. We, of course, had to walk around and hear about her stories from the session (you know, I don’t mind walking around Illahee and being at camp, myself) then when we got in the car to FINALLY leave, she broke into tears again, sobbing, “Mom, I don’t want to leave!” which I fully understand.
    And as most of us know, we never leave Illahee, as it stays in our hearts for a lifetime.
    Thanks for making The Heavenly World available to share with our daughters and future generations of Illahee girls too!

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