Laurie had a “Skype” appointment with one of our campers from Massachusetts this weekend. She was interviewing Laurie about camp, and had a laundry list of great questions for her research paper. One of them was “what makes Illahee unique”? I know Laurie did a great job in her answer, but it made me think. There are a bunch of great camps in our area, and collectively they provide over 50,000 campers a terrific experience each and every summer. A lot goes in to the “soul” of a camp, and traditions sculpted over generations makes sure that each camp is significantly different than the next. In this generation, though, I think that an underlying desire on our part to make each summer better than the next is what sets us apart. None of us is content to sit around and say”hope next summer is as good as this one.” Instead, we repeat each and every year, “Get Ready for the BEST SUMMER EVER!” And, it will be.
Part of my love is improving an already great facility. Some years it is fun because the projects we do are so readily visible. Others,
they are things that I know about (like replacing a sewer line that repeatedly clogged because the tree roots found it), but most others don’t consider. We always work hard, and one of the first things visitors notice when they come through our gates is how well-kept our campus is.
This year has seen a little bit of both types of projects. We’ve replaced electrical and water lines on Hillbrook and past weaving and down to Curtis Lodge and added gas lines to the bath houses for more energy-efficiency in our hot water heating. For campers, maybe a little more water pressure; for most, it will still look like the pristine white graveled walkway down a cabin line of fun. The other projects will be readily visible as soon as you turnoff Illahee road. We have brand new stone columns and will add signs and lighting as well as a “Gordon-crafted” laurel gate made out of red oak which fell on the property and was milled on our own portable sawmill. The entire driveway has been repaved, Curtis painted and renovated, and the dining hall lovingly restored, painted with a new stone porch and log columns. It looks great and will look even better when the trees leaf out next week.
We spent the day Sunday afternoon checking out a hike for the new Trips Hiking program in the Smokies. Charlie’s Bunion is on the Appalachian Trail and is quite a scenic walk…absolutely gorgeous on an early spring day. Our summer plans are coming together with only a few more staff positions to fill. We can’t wait until you get here to start the summer of 2011! It truly will be the BEST SUMMER EVER![imagebrowser id=14]