“Manners make a person nice to know.” Or rather I should clarify that good manners make a person nice to know! And at Illahee, one area that we practice kindness and putting others first -is in Tilley Lodge, our dining hall. I figure that the community spends about three hours a day gathered in the dining hall for our family style meals. There is no “drive through” window at Illahee and there isn’t a couch in front of the TV. Instead, we squeeze around our tables flanked by the yellow cart that is piled with delicious food.
Each meal opens with a blessing – For health and strength and daily bread, we praise thy name oh Lord…” . We have regular feasts – fried chicken and wild rice on Sundays and homemade pizza midweek. Sometimes the simplest meals are favorites such as grilled cheese and tomato soup or walking tacos, and we connect with our Southern roots on “cracker barrel” night (mac-n-cheese, fried okra, ham, corn bread and green beans.) Camp is a great place to try new foods and with a full morning of swimming and sports, even the pickiest eater is ready for a healthy lunch. (And there is always peanut butter and jelly available and fruit along with the Encore table, our spot for an alternative entrée or special vegetable. Dee’s salad bar is another favorite area of the dining hall and is a relatively new addition to camp. Loaded with vegetables and toppings, it is also a spot for mixed salads, hummus and grains.
Good food and good friends are part of the dining hall. Girls sit together for three or four days before being assigned to a new table. Younger and older campers get to know each other and I am amazed by the creative conversation starters that the counselors introduce. Friendships grow at the table- after all, it is “family style.” Some days get a bit rowdy with camp songs and cheers, especially before Capture the Flag or the swim show. And it wouldn’t be camp without ice cream, Hershey pie, brownies, or chocolate chip cookies. All meals end with dessert!
Often when I ask girls their favorite part of camp, they enthusiastically reply- The Food! I would have to agree…and the warmth of the camp family and fellowship at the tables makes it taste all the better.