With the onset of the Christmas season, I have been thinking about what it means for Illahee to be a Christian summer camp. It’s no coincidence that Illahee is known by its family as “the heavenly world.” That title is used interchangeably with the camp’s name. The underlying core of the Illahee experience is the Christian foundation on which camp is based.
Camp Illahee is non-denominational, and campers and counselors come from a wide variety of Christian traditions. We understand that a child’s primary faith upbringing comes from parents, and there are different levels of comfort there. As a result we work to be sensitive to where people are personally and culturally within the judeo-Christian tradition. Our goal is to partner with parents to support them in their child’s development- emotionally and spiritually. We hope that our campers and counselors will each grow in their faith and in their relationship with God through a personal relationship with Jesus.
During camp, we start each day in McLeod lodge as a community at “Rise and Shine.” It is our morning assembly time and begins with singing: “Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory …Children of the Lord.” Cabin groups take turns leading daily devotionals, and many are based on Bible verses and stories. Camp songs are also a part of daily time to worship as well as play, and on Sundays the worship services are based on Christian themes and are delivered in a way that each age group at camp can enjoy and grow in.
We actively seek wholesome counselors who want to be part of a Christian community. In the cabin, we encourage our counselors to live as strong Christian role models and to share their insights and faith as appropriate with their girls. Often camp is a great time to delve further into questions that girls have and to help them in their understanding of the Lord. This year, Caroline is working on resources to use for this cabin time. Many of our counselors are part of an adult led counselor Bible study during camp. As a staff community, we begin our weekly staff meetings year round with prayer. We find that as our counselors grow in their faith, they are in a position to serve and love the campers even more. A recent staff member summed it up in a note that she wrote to us: “Yes, you expected us to lead in our cabins, lead in activities and lead in our relationships with other counselors, but first and foremost, you wanted us to show Christ’s love to our girls. You taught me more by that than you realize. “ It is often a “leap of faith” for a parent to send his/her child to camp and to a setting where the child will experience more independence from family. The Illahee experience gives campers the opportunity to grow in their faith and to experience God’s love away from their home family and church. We wish for you a blessed Christmas season! Laurie.