First Day of Activities and the County Fair Comes to Town!

Two Camp Illahee campers hug a dappled horse.
Something about girls and horses!

We are already in our groove! I’ll have to admit that though I love “unplugging” in the summertime, I do love aspects of technology. One favorite is that it allows campers to sign up for activities well before their arrival…most camps do the registration we all remember from the “old days” at college. The first day of the session is spent wandering a big room table by table to see if there is still room in their laundry list of possibilities. At Illahee, since we have all that information early, we can make sure that we hire the very best counselors to cover those activities…so campers don’t get closed out of classes. The other great thing is what I referred to a second ago…we don’t waste a day on registration. Camp’s too short as it is.

There are a lot of moving parts to camp. We have over 140 staff hired during the summer to complement our 10 year rounders. We feed 330, schedule all the fun and growth that happens at camp, provide for medical care, take care of about 200 acres between camp and the farm and over 60 buildings. So, on a good day, what do I do in the summertime? Hang out and take pictures. Oh yeah, and answer lots of questions. My favorites come from campers, so I tend to hang out a lot. My favorite spot is sitting on a section of dock under a great big oak tree about halfway down the swim lake. It’s the same tree that holds the Tarzan swing. There are a lot of really fun things to watch at camp, but there is something about that great big tree with the really fat rope hanging from it that encapsulates the growth that happens at camp. It’s really a bit scary for a first timer, but perfectly benign. A girl with no arm strength at all will simply slide down into a deep section of water. But, when she discovers that she can stand on the knot, watch out. After practice and with growing confidence, it’s like watching a ballet. I sit there with my camera with its big lens, and listen to girls call out for me to watch this, or to cheer a first timer or a really great pose.

Camp is like that. It facilitates “trying.” And it comes complete with encouragement. From all corners. From friends from all over who reunite for a few weeks each summer. From young women who love children enough to give up some of their own freedoms for a summer in the “hive.” I absolutely loved walking around today and seeing girls “trying.” From the first bell, they were on horses, shooting rifles, molding clay, creating art, rolling kayaks, building things, heading to rivers, out to the farm, on hikes to John’s Rock, to climb on Pilot Mountain. Out of the gates. We’re off!

We were treated to a little rain last night. There is no more evocative memory than rain on a tin roof during the summer, and a number of girls I spoke to at breakfast fell asleep to the rhythm of the rain. The forecasters were wrong…as is often the case here in the mountains…and we were rain free with blue skies for our first day of activities. Breakfast was hearty…French Toast sticks, bacon, cereal and yogurt. Lunch brought the debut of our new salad bar. Dee ┬áis our “queen of the greens,” and we lured her back to camp with free reign to create salad bar heaven. Tomorrow is quinoa and tabouli along with the usual plus some great homemade dressings. I expected a rush but I guess the camper favorite lunch of grilled cheese, tomato soup, fritos and ice cream sandwiches was popular enough to fend off the masses. Our staff and older girls were raving. I was raving.

Tonight was our traditional opener…County Fair. Big fun with dunking booth, Moonwalk, snowcones, face painting, fortune telling, popcorn, limbo, apple bobbing, pony rides, and lots of music and dancing. Our unplugged theme this summer, “Illahee is Music to Our Ears” is a resounding success. There is music everywhere…it’s just G-rated. You may notice lots of t-shirts we gave out to campers on opening day…bright green complete with the theme. Sleep well knowing that your girls are having the summer of a lifetime!

One response to “First Day of Activities and the County Fair Comes to Town!

  1. Thanks for your great blog! I look forward to reading these every day! As an Illahee alumnae, I know how much fun Carson and all of the girls are having this summer, and it’s great to be able to get these daily updates, to get a sneak peek into their day! They are making so many memories! Thanks again!

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