Welcome to Illahee!

Two summer camp girls jump into the lake
It’s Great to be Back at Camp!

If you ever toured Illahee before visiting, you were probably serenaded at least several times by groups of campers singing, “Welcome to Illahee…the mountains echo welcome to thee…” The sounds of camp were certainly echoing from Heigh Ho and Hillbrook hills as we started our four-week and mini 1 sessions today. All is “right” in our world again tonight with a full complement of 265 campers and the sounds of screen doors slamming, laughter, the occasional shriek which usually accompanies an encounter with some sort of wildlife, and my favorite…uncontrolled giggling. Tonight,¬† we especially welcome our new girls and families to camp. With the mini session girls, these four weeks mark the session with our largest percentage of new families at camp.


I am a “camp guy” from way back. Western North Carolina has a rich history of summer camping, and I was lucky enough to get my start in the early eighties as a counselor back when camp directors were named “Chief” and “Jim Daddy.” I watched the transition to the new generation, some successful and some…not so much. Laurie and I are celebrating year number 21 as directors…and we are well-preserved for the same reason that Peter Pan is. We both feel like we are the luckiest kids on the block to get to do what we do…it’s hard work, and we feel the privilege to make every single girl’s camp experience to be the best that it possibly can. The switch in sessions is an exciting time. I am fielding emails and calls from parents of girls who just finished our three-week session, and there have been some really thoughtful¬† and amazing ones…about how camp in three short weeks made unexpected and significant impact. So, it’s fun to see camp rev up like an Indy car. For some, the start is tentative, and there are butterflies as girls arrive. We come to life as a community, and we’re out of the gates by early afternoon with loads of activity. By tomorrow morning, we’ll hit our stride and get down to business with the start of activities. It’s the start of something big…impact for life. Whether a new friend, or a mentor, or a challenge to overcome, your girls will grow.

This afternoon after a picnic-style lunch of yummy sandwiches (white wheat, wheat, pita), turkey, ham, PBJ, hummus, pasta salad, chips, homemade hummus, fresh tomatoes, cheese, and big fat homemade chocolate chip cookies, there were LOADS of afternoon activities. By cabin, girls checked through the Ship Store and were fitted for and received any pre-ordered items, got a chance to try out all the cool stuff at the swim lake, checked quickly through our uber-cool medical staff to make sure there were no creepy-crawly hitchhikers being imported into camp, games in the Rec Lodge, and other cabin activities.

So, five minutes til Taps blows and Pineview (our oldest girls) are rocking. I’m going to go check on them and then hit the hay.

4 responses to “Welcome to Illahee!

  1. I think Jeanie and I have been anticipating today as much as Izzy! Thanks for making her arrival (first time she has gone to NC without me) so painless. Reading the blog and looking for her in the pictures, it doesn’t feel like its been a year – it feels like it was just yesterday that she was finishing Illahee 2011.

    Have a great four weeks!

    Jonathan Ross

  2. I’m a former Camp Illahee-ite myself (1974-6). Jax’s dad Blake and I were so thrilled to see the photos of Jax, her cabin-mates and her cousin, Clara , already up on the site tonight. Y’all are fast! Thanks for continuing the Illahee tradition with such aplomb, verve and passion. It’s clear you all love Illahee and cherish its traditions and spirit just as much as do we “alumnae,” and I wish you and all your staff a fabulous July session. Thanks in advance for taking such good care of Jax and Clara–who already look as if they’re having the time of their lives!

    All the best, Katherine

  3. My daughter went to Illahee last year and as she came back from camp, she wanted to be back in camp. She had a wonderful experience and I am sure that this summer will be even better. Attending a summer camp is a unique experience. Illahee’s philosophy has shaped for the better my daughter education and personality. I would like to thank you for taking part in the development of my daughter. Reading your blogs, makes me feel like I am not loosing a day in my daughter’s summer camp experience. Thank you!!!

  4. I am Olivia’s grandmother. Her mom, my daughter Elisabeth, loved Illahee when she was growing up. It is wonderful to be able to see this continue as a tradition. In being reminded of the final night ceremony with the “wish Lights” on the water – I become quite nostalgic in remembering this ceremony which we will never forget -and so happy that Olivia is there – now.
    How wonderful to have the advantage of the photos and blogs- and to be in real touch with their activities. Thank you for the experiences you bring in this Heavenly Place!!

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