Older Girls are the SPARK of Camp Illahee!
June 18th, 2010
Some nights I write from my office in Curtis in main camp, and some nights I write from Pinecrest, our home situated in the middle of Pineview, the oldest hill of girls. Every now and again, I am asked how we like living so close to all the campers in the summertime. I never really thought much about it, but it seems like the perfect place to be. Tonight, I’m enjoying the sounds of the Sparks, the oldest of this bunch…working on banners and signs for our final night banquet, of which they are in charge. They have some tunes cranking, and butcher paper spread out all over the driveway, and are painting away. It’s all top secret, and the rest of the hill is over in the Rec Lodge finishing up an Illahee version of the game show Minute to Win It. Cabins nominate contestants to complete stunts like knocking over empty soda cans with a yo-yo tied to the back of a belt or catching 3 balls in a bucket on top of the head. Many of these Sparks have been with us for seven or eight years so we have know them since they were little girls. It is a treat to watch them grow up and still love camp as much as they did when they first arrived. Folks who don’t know the camp culture assume that girls age out of camp when they hit middle school or beyond. In my opinion, middle and high school are the most important years to be at camp. A girl who has grown through the ranks may decide that she wants to try new activities or build on skills developed in previous years. Our program is designed so that some things are “out there” to look forward to. But, I certainly would rather my child be around really great mentors, with opportunities to grow and lead, in a wholesome, healthy environment…than hanging out at home. We all know what that means. I love seeing these girls negotiate what is really a big party for the entire camp. From initial planning, decorations, costumes, themes, music and menus. It’s a lot of work and keeps them busy and focused. And, they are great neighbors to boot!
Oh my…today was as beautiful day as it gets anywhere. I started the day with an early morning pick-up of the Pineview girls at Kuykendall. They had a spectacular night, with lots of skits and s’mores and most slept outside the tents on tarps so that they could see the stars. One camper reported seeing five shooting stars! When I got back to the campsite early this morning, the bus was loaded and all fogged up (I left it there last night). A quick trip back to camp revealed a crystal clear blue sky and mild temperatures. The high today was somewhere just a tad north of eighty. I have been watching the forecast intently for the last couple of days as a participant in the camper/counselor tennis tournament. This year, I was on team Brantley, and sadly we lost a tough match to team Erin. But, I did feign busy for a couple of days until the temperature got down low enough that I wouldn’t melt. What a wimp. It was fun while it lasted though.
Our paddlers went to the Chatooga river today. The Chatooga is a wild and scenic river that we are limited by permit to five days per summer. It is not dam controlled and the last couple of summers have been dry, so we have not paddled it. It is the most beautiful river around, even though the access is a little bit of a trek to get to. It is well worth the effort. The girls had a ball and came back raving about how pretty it was. The climbers went to the Nose of Looking Glass, an exposed granite promontory that makes you feel like the entire world is spread out before you. Tonight, the Heigh Ho girls are finishing up our encampment at Kuykendall with another beautiful night, and the Hillbrook girls are watching a moving in McLeod. I hear the rest of the hill coming back over and the Sparks scrambling to put away their projects. It must mean Taps is not far behind. Tomorrow is the Camp Rockmont dance. I’ll be scrambling to reset breakers from the “hair dryer overload.” It’s a smuch about the primping as it is about the dance itself. Look for a photofest tomorrow. I will have a less busy day to get out and help Gretchen take lots of photos. Sleep well. Gordon.