A Great Big Welcome to Our July and Mini 1 Campers!

A girl in a green bathing suit and green goggles smiles from inside an innertube.
Jumping right in with our new campers!

Camp just doesn’t feel right without campers…even for the day that we take to regroup between sessions. We said goodbye to a terrific group of three-weekers on Friday, and counselors had yesterday to explore the area, sleep…some of them to move into new cabins. We welcomed a new crew of Junior Counselors and a few senior counselors (all returning Illahee girls) as well. But things didn’t seem like camp until this morning…with the arrival of a bunch of excited girls here for either a month for the July session or two weeks for the Mini 2 session.

We’ll check in with you each night after a terrific camp day and before I hit the hay to try to let you know a little bit about what it’s like at camp…sometimes the energy and excitement is hard to describe, but I’ll do my best. Usually, this will be around 10:00 PM, but on dance nights or when I head to sliding rock, it could be later. We occasionally get angry with our web host when they let us down, so don’t fret if a post isn’t up or you can’t log on for a little while. Keep trying, and remember that technology allows us to give you just a taste of the fun we are having. (If it isn’t working, we’re still having fun.)

Of course, a picture is worth a heck of a lot more than anything I could pen, so we try to upload plenty throughout the day. Sometimes, there are some late deliveries (like from cameras we send out on trips), so be sure and check the previous day’s galleries each new day when you log on. There are some really cool features with our photo galleries…that will save you lots of time down the road when you are trying to find that really great picture from the first week of your camper.

We call Illahee the Heavenly World (sometimes shortened to the Heavenly) cause that’s what it means in Cherokee. We must be living right around here because we had a very dry and beautiful week to end last session, and then yesterday, between sessions, we got a great rain to green things up and make everything beautiful for opening day. We started with a little bit of fog this morning, which lifted to reveal an absolutely gorgeous opening day. It’s always so much fun for all of us to see all of our great girls a year older…and so excited to be back at camp. As you know, many are besides themselves counting down the days…but everyone is still a little nervous with butterflies as they round the corner and see Kris and Caroline waiting at the gate. It doesn’t take long for that to wear off! The four week session has a mini session within it. Out of 265 girls, there are about 60 younger girls who are here for two weeks. Of all of our session, the combination of these two probably has our largest percentage of girls who are new to a session all summer long (plenty have switched from a shorter session like the two week…to the four week). Perennially, we have about an 85% return rate. So, there were lots of new friends being made today!

After parents headed down the road, we had a cabin lunch of sandwiches, hummus, chips, chocolate chip cookies, and pasta salad. The afternoon was active…hills rotated through swimming, games on the field and the Rec Lodge, a quick health check with the doctors and nurses, the dining hall for a popsicle, and the Ship’s Store to get fitted for Pre-Ordered items and pick up Illahee gear. We flip-flopped our traditional Sunday lunch for dinner and had mounds of fresh fried chicken, broccoli, wild rice, and heaping bowl-fulls of warm yeast rolls. One Illahee traditon is that each table has a Honey Bear, so most girls douse their rolls with butter and honey…something most of their parents can’t get away with :-). There’s cheese sauce for those who would rather their vegetable be yellow than green, and white rice for the less “experimental.” Hand scooped cookies and cream ice cream filled in the cracks.

Tonight’s evening program was opening campfire. Set back in the hollow behind the swim lake under the big Hemlock tree, it is the perfect setting for great acoustics…which comes in handy with all the singing. Annie Mae, the Halleluia Medley, Linger Longer…all the camp favorites….plus skits, the presentation of Pinetree Pins to fiveĀ  year campers to wear on their ties, and songs by each counselor hill group. A story finished the evening followed by milk and cookies. I hear the sweet sounds of bedtime…doors slamming, laughter, music. Cabins are circling up for friendship circles, forging friendships that will in many cases last a lifetime. A great mountain’s night sleep will follow…with dreams of our first day of activities tomorrow.


3 responses to “A Great Big Welcome to Our July and Mini 1 Campers!

  1. Thanks for the detailed description of the day. I could almost smell the fresh mountain air and taste the fried chicken and rolls dipped in honey/butter. I had forgotten how good you are at this. Look forward to catching up on the news every day. Appreciate it!

  2. We appreciate so much the pictures and your recap of the day. A great way to end our day. Thanks.

  3. Hi to all the wonderful Illahee staffers! Though we had a really hard time saying goodbye to Jax (Jacqualyn) this year, we of course knew that she would be in excellent hands. Thanks for all you do, for the incredible pictures each day, and for this warm, detailed and fun blog. I really don’t know how you all do what you do, and with such love and affection for all of the Illahee girls. The Ellis family salutes you and we send our biggest hugs to Jax for a fantastic July session!

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