Nothing like a Great Camp Day!

Molly Christman, a twenty year Illahee "girl," leads the girls in step aerobics.
Molly’s 20th summer – and still going strong!

It was NICE to be in camp all day today. And for those of you keeping score, being around this crowd settled any tech frustrations I may have been feeling last night when I was fighting with our website. It’s hard to stay mad when you’re at camp! And, (fingers crossed), I think I may have settled our site issues with no thanks to Dreamhost (more like Bad Dreamhost). We’ll see, but I reset our server and tweaked the memory allocations to accommodate more mySQL requests. I sound like I know what I’m doing don’t I? If I really did, I wouldn’t even be writing about it…it would just be working :-). Thanks for your patience…too bad you couldn’t be here to dissolve your frustrations too!

Can you believe closing day is next Friday…a week from today? This session has absolutely flown by, and the next week will go even faster. Our final week is full of all sorts of special activities, finishing up projects, three day trips, final shows…it will go by quickly. This is a really exceptional group of girls. They are just so thoughtful. For those of you who are weathering that teenage angst and attitude, I wish you could walk in my shoes for half a day. These girls want to be with us…and by us, I mean adults…old people…Laurie and me!

Camp brings out the collective best in girls. They become thoughtful, and funny…engaging and interesting. Without the distractions of iPods and Kindles, cell phones and texting, these girls actually are craving interaction. I wish I could tell you how to make it last. At the very least, it is a reference point that I think will stick. For some, it will be subconscious, and for others, they get it cause I have talked with them about it. Even our youngest feel the difference going days and weeks without seeing a single cellphone cradled between shoulder and ear. I wonder why it took us so long? Camp definitely beckons back to a simpler time where entertainment was home grown and didn’t have an on/off button…where community is more than a collection of friends on Facebook. One of the traditions at camp that we continue to encourage is sitting on the rock wall before meals in the dining hall. Counselors and campers alike spend fifteen minutes visiting…like the neighborhood front porch on a summer’s eve.

There is so much going on at camp, that a day away seems like a lifetime. I do love getting out and hiking, but piddling around camp is a blast too. Today, I spent an hour or two in the Rec Lodge, our big gym, rigging a perch for our new projector to sit on. It pulls by cable up to lie flat against the high ceiling and then swings down to its correct position to show movies on the jumbotron screen we installed on the stage. We also have a projector in our more intimate McLeod lodge, but this will be like going to the drive in movies. I was working installing pulleys and cables on ladders, up and down. I was able to watch basketball classes, and then the girls practicing for the musical next week. I am super-impressed with the focus of our staff and their teaching abilities. A lot of this focus has come at the hands of Dave Hartsock, our year round program director. A long time teacher and tennis coach, he has spent the last off-season honing programs, refining syllabi, and then giving staff resources and follow-up to teach effectively.

We had pancakes and link sausage for breakfast this morning. Bill, one of our longtime kitchen techs, knows how to flip some flapjacks! At this stage of the game, I really try to watch the caloric intake, but I always allow at least one of Bill’s pancakes. We had wraps for lunch…turkey, lettuce, cheese, Tzatziki sauce, sweet potato fries and salad with homemade brownies, and then jambalaya for dinner. We have a Cajun friend who runs Camp Kahdalea nearby and she gave Laurie the recipe. Kahdalea has mostly New Orleans and south Louisiana girls, and Laurie did “sell” this first time meal. Heigh Ho was at the farm for the night and cooked out burgers and dogs, and though very tasty, the jambalaya hit a homerun with  maybe half of the girls. The other half gave it a good camper’s bite. Luckily there was some amazing cornbread with a little bit of a bite, fried okra, lima beans, and fudgesickles for dessert. Oh yeah, and Dee made a terrific orzo, tomato, feta, apple mint dish that was on the salad bar…yummy.

Our Hillbrook girls were a hoot tonight. They dressed up as one of 10 states (Florida, New Jersey etc) and played Bingo, complete with “state trivia” points. Apparently, it was quite a hit with some fabulous prizes. Pineview cabins competed in a scavenger hunt tonight. A key piece of treasure hunting attire was a digital camera. They had tasks like accessorizing our new carved bears and taking a picture, taking a picture of the entire cabin in one of the bath house “stalls,” having the entire cabin sign a banana and leaving it on Caroline’s desk (who hates bananas and is on the farm overnight with Heigh Ho), drawing a chalk picture of me on the driveway, building a graham cracker sculpture on the tennis courts (Liza the dog enjoyed systematically deconstructing these upon completion), getting one of the camp dog’s pawprints, jumping off the Tarzan rope (with lifeguard present of course). Finally they had to write a thank-you  note to Vincent, our maintenance supervisor.

It was a great day in the Heavenly…great weather…great girls…great fun. Can’t wait for tomorrow.

3 responses to “Nothing like a Great Camp Day!

  1. Wish you had a session for 70 yr. old grandmothers!! I’m grateful everyday that my daughter & granddaughter have had the experience of Camp Illahee.
    Joy (Caroline Yarborough’s Jamma & Lee C. Yarborough’s Mother)

  2. I feel your tech pain! Don’t worry, you are still doing a fabulous job keeping us informed of the day’s activities; and warming our hearts at the same time.

    Glad that the girls are “unplugged,” and glad that you can share with us via technology.


  3. It has been seven years of reading your blogs and I have enjoyed each one!! You have such a wonderful writing style! Has anyone commented that you write a lot like Craig Wilson from the LIFE section of Wednesday’s USA Today? If you don’t know who I am talking about, I think you would enjoy him on Wednesday mornings! Have a great week with the girls!!

    Julie U

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