For your convenience, we've assembled the most popular and often-asked questions and provided in-depth answers. If you don't see your question answered here, drop us an e-mail or call us directly at (828) 883-2181. We'd be delighted to hear from you.
- What is a camper's daily schedule like?
- What are the cabins like?
- Can we request for my daughter to be in a cabin with someone? And what if my daughter comes without a buddy?
- What are the arrangements for medical care?
- What is the food like?
- How do I choose my activities?
- What type of communication can I have with my daughter? How do I know if my daughter is enjoying camp?
- How do I know if my daughter is ready for Camp Illahee?
- How do you choose your counselors?
- What makes Illahee special?
- What should I look for in a girl's summer camp?
- Illahee is a Christian camp. What does that mean?
What is a camper’s daily schedule like?
Days at Camp Illahee are great fun and full of activity. After the 7:45 wake up bell, campers dress, clean up the cabin, and get ready for the day. Cabin groups eat breakfast together in the dining hall and then go to McLeod Lodge for “Rise and Shine,” which is kind of a daily camp pep rally. Songs, announcements, and a camper-led devotional start the day. Campers then go on to three morning activities followed by lunch and rest hour in the cabin. Rest hour is a quiet time for reading, taking a nap, working on a craft or writing a letter home. (Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone had a rest hour?)
In the afternoon there are two more activity periods. During the June and July session, the choice period allows campers the flexibility to try new activities that change daily.
Campers enjoy a little free time before dinner and then a delicious meal in the dining hall. Every evening brings a planned activity. Some are camp-wide; others are organized for hill groups. These often consist of skits, games, or trips out of camp. Girls gather back in their cabins at the end of the evening to get ready for bed and for Friendship Circle. This is a time for stories and building cabin unity as the girls listen to and support each other. The bugle blows Taps signaling bedtime and the end to a great day.
What are the cabins like?
Illahee cabins are well-maintained, board and batten structures with screened windows. Girls are assigned to bunk beds. When they arrive at camp, their beds are made and ready for them. The cabin group functions as the camp family unit. However, girls travel independently to their activities so there is the opportunity to branch out and make other friends.
Illahee cabins are situated in three Hill groups organized by age. The two younger hills, Hillbrook and Heigh Ho are situated along the swim lake and are designed as “double cabins” with a bathroom between them. The double cabins share a roof but consist of separate cabin groups with a bathroom (sink and toilet) in the middle. Most cabins accommodate two counselors and 6 to 8 campers. Each hill has a shower house near the cabins.
The oldest hill, Pineview, is situated around the director’s home. These cabins vary in design and use a common shower house and bathroom. Cabins have six to eight girls and a counselor. Pineview girls enjoy a later bedtime and more time in the evening on the hill. With the directors living “next door” there is a lot of adult interaction and supervision.
Can we request for my daughter to be in a cabin with someone? And what if my daughter comes without a buddy?
A camper may request a friend to be in her same cabin. If the request is mutual, we are happy to arrange that. Sometimes it’s best to put friends from home next door in a double cabin in order to give each girl some space to make new friends. In order to encourage new friends and experiences, we try to avoid putting groups of friends from the same school/hometown in the same cabin.
Camp Illahee is a very welcoming community and is not a “clique-y” place. We are careful to put new campers and campers who come solo into cabin groups where they will make friends and not be left out. Often parents worry about whether a daughter will make friends at camp, but with the counselor’s leadership and group activities, the cabin becomes one big happy family early in the session.
Camp is a great place to make new friends. Girls may have a chance to reinvent themselves in this new context. Shy girls often grow more confident and the class clown may feel that she can relax and let others shine.
What are the arrangements for medical care?
Camp Illahee has a wonderful health center with a homey atmosphere. The Wishing Well, located conveniently across from the dining hall in camp, is staffed with two to three RNs at all times. In addition to the nurses who live in the Wishing Well for the session, a local pediatrician comes to camp twice a week and is also available to see campers in his office. Transylvania Community Hospital is ten minutes away.
What is the food like?
Gone are the days of chicken noodle soup and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (though we always have plenty of pb&j available along with apples and bananas). Kid’s palettes are much more sophisticated these days. While we don’t offer sushi (yet), we do have traditional well-prepared meals. Some favorites include Sunday fried chicken, wild rice, broccoli and lots of Rich’s rolls, ice cream, homemade chicken enchiladas, pizza, spaghetti with meat sauce or with pesto and lasagna. Salads and vegetables are served with all meals and the "encore table" offers alternative options for vegetarians or for campers who may want to explore new dining options.
Meals in the dining hall are served family-style with a counselor assigned to each table and campers changing tables every few days. Camp is a great time to encourage a healthy lifestyle and eating habits. Food allergies and special requests can be discussed with the directors, who will work with the kitchen manager to best accommodate your daughter’s needs.
How do I choose my activities?
All camper activity schedules are made prior to arrival at camp. Each camper (with the help of her parents) selects her activities in the spring by submitting an online form. Individual schedules are ready for each camper when she arrives. If a child gets to camp and wants to make a schedule change or sees another activity that she would like to try, we’ll be happy to help her do it.
There are ten activity periods - five on Pine day ( MWF) and five on Tree day (TTS). Most girls choose ten different activities. Signing up for activities prior to arrival at camp insures that girls will get their choices. It also allows the girls to take what they are most interested in rather than being influenced as heavily by their peers.
What type of communication can I have with my daughter? How do I know if my daughter is enjoying camp?
Though we may live in the technological age, Illahee encourages the good old-fashioned tradition of letter writing. Campers love getting mail and cards from home, and they are encouraged to write home to parents as well. Counselors also send postcards and letters home to parents during the session. For convenience, parents may email their daughter at camp. Email is printed each morning and put in the mailboxes with the US mail.
Unless an emergency, we discourage campers from talking to their parents on the phone. These calls can bring about homesickness and disrupt the independence fostered in the camp environment. The camp directors are happy to talk with parents, check on campers, and address any concerns that parents may express.
Parents can also gain a picture of camp from Gordon’s daily updates as well as the hundreds of photos that are posted each night for parents. Getting a glimpse of your daughter in a photo every few days will show you that she is having a truly great time at camp.
How do I know if my daughter is ready for Camp Illahee?
There is no “magic age” for starting camp. Some girls are ready at seven, others at twelve. Some girls need to be encouraged to try new things, while others are ready to go at the drop of a hat.
In general, girls are ready when they are genuinely excited by the activities and intrigued by what they may experience. They also need to be able to spend the night away from home, follow a schedule, and be willing to work in a group setting. If your daughter is young but talking a lot about camp and excited to go, she is probably ready. If your daughter is older and is interested in camp, but a little tentative about trying something new, she may need an extra push to really go for it.
We are happy to talk with you on the phone to help you determine whether your daughter is ready for camp.
How do you choose your counselors?
At Camp Illahee we choose our counselors very carefully. Laurie and Gretchen work together to hire the best candidates possible. Many are former campers or friends of current staff members. We visit many college campuses to recruit and select great role models and mentors. Counselors are interviewed personally. We check references and run background checks on all staff members. We seek enthusiastic, wholesome counselors who are genuinely interested in working with children.
What makes Illahee special?
Illahee is a warm and welcoming place. There are buildings, songs and ceremonies that have been part of Illahee since the 1920’s, yet each summer brings new songs, new skits and new ideas that make Illahee a dynamic environment for each successive generation of girls.
At Illahee, we are committed to making each summer the "best summer ever.” To do that, we must be committed to the happiness of every one of our girls. It is knowing and recognizing that each camper is truly special that makes the camp community so warm and accepting.
Camp Illahee is community and family. A medium-sized camp with a summer population of 250 girls, Illahee offers each camper a broad enough group of friends to find a niche, but not so broad that she will feel lost or overwhelmed. Girls grow up at Illahee. It is not unusual for campers to attend for seven and eight summers setting new goals and developing new interests as they get older.
What should I look for in a girl's summer camp?
The most important thing to look for is the involvement and leadership of the directors. The long-term investment of the adults in charge is essential for setting the tone and standards for the counselors. At Illahee, the directors bring over 20 years experience each in the camping industry and are fully involved and committed to the camp's daily operations. Their leadership sets a strong positive tone for camp. In fact, Gordon Strayhorn’s camping peers elected him President of the North Carolina Youth Camp Association. In addition to Illahee's leadership, its wholesome, talented counselors and well-maintained facilities will impress you.
Camp Illahee is accredited by the American Camping Association (ACA) and follows or exceeds the standards set forth by the camp industry. The ACA maintains an excellent website (acacamps.org) that offers lots of information and advice for parents.
Illahee is a Christian camp. What does that mean?
Camp is a wonderful place for girls to enjoy the beauty of creation and develop a personal relationship with God. As a Christian summer camp, faith is an underlying part of the camp’s program. Illahee is non-denominational. Our campers come from a variety of Christian traditions representing many different styles of worship. We actively seek staff who are comfortable leading by Christian example, and who will reinforce the religious instruction taught at home. Devotionals, Sunday worship services and songs represent Christian themes and teachings. Many former campers and staff tell us that camp was where the seeds of a lifelong faith were planted!