A Well-Oiled Machine!

A summer camp counselor helps a girl learn to roll a kayak.
The first step to learning to roll a kayak is mastering the hip snap!

Three and a half hours ago, I was wondering whether we were going to have dinner or not. After a beautiful sunny fun-filled day, around 4:30, the skies opened up and a deluge ensued…it was never really windy, but the skies were angry, and there were several “POPS” very close to camp. We practice emergency assembly with the girls, and had done that just after lunch today, but we also talk about staying put under the nearest cover when storms are brewing. This was one of those times where we held the activity bell. Having access to real-time radar on my cellphone has really revolutionized swimming in the mountains. We used to use the tried and true “one one thousand, two one thousand…all the way up to five. Lightning to thunder under five and its time to stop. We still do that, but we are veteran storm chasers in these mountains and can predict with pretty good accuracy what they are going to do. Most pass north or south, but occasionally it’s too big to miss us too. That was the case today. 1 3/4 inches in an hour and a half!

So, we had two or three really close “POPS” and not even a flicker of lights. Then, a fourth noticeably further away, and the Illahee grid went down. We got on the horn, called Duke Power, our local utility, and started the wait. This is when the well-oiled machine began to rumble. When we hire camp staff, especially year-round folks, we look for problem solvers…creative ones are all the better. There are things to think about when there’s no power, especially that close to dinner. You have to minimize opening and closing the Walk-Ins to conserve cool. There’s a BUNCH of inventory in there. We have to conserve water as our reservoir will last for several days in conservation mode. There’s dinner to think about. Luckily, tonight’s dinner was “fair fare” in honor of the county fair. There were chicken wings and salad, already cooked and warmed in the gas ovens. Salad and french fries were also on the menu…the salad was fine, chips were substituted. Paper plates and cups were set instead of the regular dishes, and dinner was served on time. A generator provided lights in the dining hall, and a non-observant visitor would probably be none the wiser.

As Murphy could predict, about the same time and completely unrelated, our website went down. I wonder how many of you noticed because I didn’t receive a single email. Click on the poll at the end of this post to let me know. That brings up a salient point. If for some reason our website is down, don’t fret! Camp Illahee was here long before websites, and we still are having a ball even if we can’t prove it to you by posting pictures :-)!  We’ve never had a power outage and a website problem at the same time…does make me think creatively about getting the message out…

Our evening program tonight was the Illahee County Fair. We had a dunking booth, snow cone machine, pony rides, great music and dancing and lots of games and costume parades. Everyone arrived in the dark, and as I got Dave to help me with the 100 pound generator, I remarked to him that as soon as I went into the Rec Lodge panel to rig the lights, the power would be restored. Sure enough, as I was about to flip the generator on, the lights came back on everywhere except…the Rec Lodge. It took me a few more minutes, and those too were on, revealing some pretty adorable campers in equally adorable costumes. There’s something about “roughing it without power” that ramps up the energy level because it was high. Lights or no…these girls had a blast.

I spent most of the day roaming camp, checking out activities and taking pictures. Again, I think it is remarkable that a day into camp, every activity can be into the thick of it. Girls were on horses, behind the looms, drawing back the bowstrings, enjoying the swim lake, and every other activity. It was an action packed and fun day. We’ll have another tomorrow.

A funny story…as I finished that last sentence, I heard a knock on our door right outside my home office where I usually blog. Our home is right in the middle and surrounded by Pineview cabins, the oldest girls in camp. It was Becca, a veteran counselor, with one of her campers who had borrowed rain boots from a friend. The problem was that she was a size 9 and her friend was a size 6. The shoe went on, but it wouldn’t come off. Conditioner and some gentle coaxing slid that puppy right off…everyone’s happy. Send me and a handful of these college girls to D.C. and we’ll have the debt crisis solved in no time :-)…creative problem solving!

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3 responses to “A Well-Oiled Machine!

  1. You rock! And so does Camp Illahee!
    A little hardship makes for better stories later!
    I’d totally support your trip to DC!

  2. we did try to logon.. felt like we were trying all afternoon… but we just figured everyone else was logging on then too, so we patiently just kept trying, never had the slightest idea something was really awry….
    glad you had your power outage under control…. our swiss miss probably enjoyed that — we don’t get many storms like that nor power outages where we live so she got an experience! And she had a flashlight to put to good use….Go Camp Illahee for giving our girls memorable experiences!! 🙂

  3. So sorry about the storm. I’m sure it didn’t phase Hardin! Being from New Orleans, we have power outages frequently. After Katrina, we Installed a generator and it has been used often.

    Hope everything is back up and running.

    Good night Campers!

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