I don’t know that I have ever seen a happier start to Junior camp than today! I’m sure that is music to some of your ears. It’s a big step to take your “babies” to camp…they’ll seem like “big girls” when you pick them up…even after just a week of fun and exploring independence. Laurie and I are at the other end of the spectrum, and it’s no easier. We’re dropping our oldest off at college for her freshman year in a few weeks. I think we all have such high expectations of what our children’s experience is going to be, that we are sometimes surprised by the real growth that occurs.
We have an all-star cast this week. There are recent college grads, a 3rd year law student, a third year resident neo-natologist M.D. (all Illahee girls), and lots of our favorite counselors from this summer and past summers. We ended our two-week session last Friday, and many of our ranks went back to get ready for school, or new jobs, and their other lives. Junior camp is smaller by design…partly because we want to make sure we can offer re-enrollment spots to all returning Illahee girls, but also because we really want each beginning experience to be so much fun that camp becomes part of the fabric of each new Illahee girl’s life.
Laurie and I are celebrating 25 years in a few weeks, and 21 of those have been working together as camp directors. Each new season, I am reminded of how important camp is in the hearts of those who love her. We work hard to make sure that we provide the best facilities and equipment, but our most important role and the one where I think we really shine, is in hiring the young women who are going to be role models to your girls. I know from my own daughter, who loves to come back home and “grill” us about our counselors…”she seems really smart”…”she’s so great with her campers.” It is not lost on any of us that camp is about the relationships more than anything else. What else is there, really?
So, I’m excited for your camper and for you. She is likely embarking on a life-long love affair. She will join four generations of women who call Illahee home, and who hold its ideals above all else…at times it will sustain her through a cold winter, but it will always provide her with a friend in the far corners of the earth. I have run into Illahee friends blue-fishing in Nantucket, walking the streets of Barcelona at midnight, and on ski-lifts in Colorado. My favorite place to see them is at camp, though.
But, that’s stuff to play out over time. On this first day, it was all about fun. We are constantly fine-tuning everything we do. I love looking at angles. It drives everyone around me nuts. Just when we think we have it right, we try to get better. So, that’s why we “canned” campfire on opening night, and went “wide open” with the County Fair! Our buddy cabins showed up together dressed to the nines, and were treated to “Big Boomin Fun” at the Fair. With music playing, and costumes on display, girls could dance, limbo, get their face painted, bob for apples, enjoy the petting zoo, try to dunk their counselor in the dunkin booth, play all sorts of games, jump in the Moonwalk, and enjoy a snowcone. There were squeals and shrieks and happy faces all the way around.
The afternoon was high energy too. As soon as the last parents left, we enjoyed a quick picnic lunch of sandwiches, pasta salad, chips, and homemade chocolate chip cookies before heading to the cabins to get bathing suits. Any girls who pre-ordered items from the Ship Store were fitted and received their shopping loot. We took cabin pictures and individual shots that you can see online in the galleries. But the most fun occurred at the swim lake with the brave girls heading to the Tarzan swing and Streak water slide. We also had a Slip n Slide…the most fun you can have with a really long sheet of plastic and some dish soap. Our friend the reptile guy was here with some slithery snake and salamanders, toads and even an o’possum. Camp was alive with the sounds of laughter and the occasional squeals and shrieks.
Dinner tonight was yummy Illahee fried chicken. Served with lot sof warm yeast rolls, butter and honey, some wild rice and cheesy potatoes, steamed broccoli and hand-scooped ice cream for dessert. Yummm.
We’re glad to have your girls with us. Camp is happier when campers are in residence. We have a great big day of activities tomorrow.