Air Band Brings Out the Performers!

A Camp Illahee camper poses with a turtle.
Illahee’s new turtle bog has brought turtles from far and wide.

Every year Laurie gets a bee in her bonnet that is a little outside the plans for the off-season. Usually it’s presented as “it will just take a little of this…or a little of that.” This was a big year for us facility-wise. We started out in September at the farm with major earth moving, pond building, and renovations to the barns and stables. We built fences, planted trees and grass, and then moved back to camp. An addition to the dining hall and kitchen started in late January and grew as we discovered wiring that needed to be replaced, and other things that just come with renovations. We painted every cabin in camp, replaced walks and built new paths, and renovated the Pineview and Hillbrook shower houses. As is often the case, the work went all the way up to the end of May. We do most things in house with our own crew. We have a couple of talented carpenters from the next town over who have supplemented our own crew of five pretty much full-time since the bottom fell out of the second home market a couple of years ago. I serve as the general contractor.

Deep in the middle of the action this spring, Laurie hired  a professional naturalist to help run our nature program. He has lots of skills, but one of his particular interests is turtles. His plan was to build a turtle bog behind the nature center. It is a good plan…and a perfect location with a stream running right through it. Some fencing, a dam, and voila…turtle paradise. In fact, we call it the “turtle resort.” We usually find a couple of box turtles each spring, but word gets around the turtle world I guess. They are coming out in droves, all vying for a chance to land a stay in the best turtle digs around. There will be other animals as well, snakes with tracking devices, toads, possums, a freshwater aquarium. I think as soon as we “coon proof” the cage area, we will get some new arrivals too 🙂 I guess coons are not welcome.

So, some pictures today are from yesterday’s Spark cameras on the rafting trip and overnight. As it turns out, when our maintenance crew went out yesterday to screen the windows in the top of the barn, I was most concerned about a family of barn swallows that had taken up residence up there. As it turns out, they trapped a momma and baby bat in there. The pair decided to hide until it got dark and all the girls were settling in. So, the call came about 9:45 PM. The climbing staff spending the night in tents with two other cabins had no idea, but Turner, our son, and Dave, our program director who was on late night saved me from a night of bat hunting. They caught the pair, released them outside, and just to be sure there were not others, took thick gymnastics mats out to another well-lighted and renovated rock building on the property. The girls slept soundly through the night and were very enthusiastic upon their return this morning. What’s an overnight without an element of adventure?

Pine day activities were in full swing today, and it was a clear, cool early summer day. Trips kayaking got out on the French Broad river, and the climbers were over in Pisgah. The hikers went up toward the upper end of the county and hiked down to Rainbow Falls, a magnificent waterfall that cascades 120 feet to pools below. Our Junior Counselors had an afternoon in town with Caroline, their “mom” for the summer. Besides assisting senior counselors with cabin duties and in activities, they also help out in the kitchen. They are a great group of former campers who are ready to start that transition to great staff members. Tonight, the kitchen staff also gets a break. They prepare a casual dinner of sandwiches, chips, milk, and a candy bar, and cabins sit around the lake, listen to James Taylor croon (a tradition…it has to be James Taylor), and enjoy each other’s company.

I’m posting a little early tonight, but stay tuned for some Airband pictures. Airband is the most anticipated camp evening program. Each cabin gets time on stage to present their well-choreographed dance and lip sync routine to a song from the “approved” list. Colorful costumes rule, and the energy is always high. It’s a big time. We are off to a great start. I want to put in a plug for the high resolution downloads. Tomorrow, I am going to reset this feature so that only the ones who ordered it still have it. Again, if you open an image you like, click the down arrow and you can save that image to your computer for printing.

What a great day in the Heavenly! Tomorrow’s weather looks great. Sunny and warm!