Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow!

Illahee campers sing during worship in the Woodland Chapel
Starting the day in the Woodland Chapel is starting the day out right!

I love Sundays at camp. There’s something so pure and open about this community that makes us all acutely aware of God’s presence at almost every turn. On Sundays, we love to worship Him in His Woodland Chapel in thanksgiving for all that we have been given…especially each other and the opportunity to spend these weeks together. Today, the middle school girls on Heigh Ho led worship with the help of their counselors. They took turns singing songs, reading scripture, leading us all in prayers and telling stories. The theme was friendship, and the message was clear. We talked a lot this past week in Rise n Shine and in cabin groups about what it means to be a friend. There’s something about coming together each summer that brings out the best in all of us, as if we want to protect everything that has been built over the generations here. I built on this theme at yesterday’s morning devotional, and challenged the girls not to tolerate anything that is “mean spirited.” People who are mean lack self-confidence, and at that age, the ones who they are being mean to, often become the most interesting adults…the ones we all want to be friends with as we grow older because all the normal people are just so boring. But it’s still painful and something that Laurie and I just will not tolerate…nor will our Illahee girls. I love the fact that so many young women who come back to camp tell us that they found or strengthened their faith during the summers they spent at camp. It’s hard not to be caught up in that prevenient grace that envelopes us all, even before we have a relationship! 🙂

Laurie and I host a counselor Bible study each Tuesday morning early. We promise good coffee and fellowship, and occasionally good treats to eat. Last week, we talked about the “mountain top” experience that we look forward to each summer in the Heavenly, and how hard sometimes it is to take that back with us into our every day lives. As camp leaders, we see one of our primary roles (besides sending your daughter home better than she arrived!) as supporting our counselors so that they can be the very best that they can be to your girls. If we model love to them, they will reciprocate with their campers. Many of the decisions we make really are focused on that theory…hire the very best staff and take care of them and we will provide the very best experience possible. As I write, I am coaching our 17 year old son Turner, who loves to cook, on freezing some homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream that we are going to surprise the Pineview counselors with after they settle the girls in after Taps. Many of the decisions we make…like adding the salad bar…benefit campers, but are really made to make sure our hardworking counselors keep their spirits at the very highest level all summer long.

Camp Counselors at Camp Illahee gather for Bible Study at the director's home.
Camp Illahee counselors gather for Tuesday morning Bible Study at the camp director’s home.

Worship was my favorite, but certainly only part of an action-packed day. We started with a casual breakfast, and then we spent the morning in the gym taking pictures of each girl, each cabin, and recording a cabin “shoutout” to include with our Christmas DVD. The pictures are posted, so enjoy seeing your camper all “gussied” up in her Sunday “whites.” Worship does not end with our dismissal, as cabins gather in shady spots all over camp to discuss the service…small group style. Lunch was our Illahee traditional Sunday lunch. We sing the Doxology to start the meal…”praise God from whom all blessings flow,” and then sit down with cabins to enjoy mounds of fresh fried chicken, steamed broccoli, wild rice, and basketfuls of warm yeast rolls. I think we baked something north of 1300 rolls…for math majors, that’s 4 rolls per person. Butter and honey make it this side of heaven. The leadership team hand scoops yummy ice cream for dessert. I am quality control and make sure that every bowlful is heaping…not scrawny.

Our Junior Counselors and CITs cover cabins during Sunday rest hour while our counselor staff meets in Curtis for our weekly full staff meeting. We go over the Program notes for the week, start with cute stories from the week (I told the fertilization story I wrote about a couple days ago), and use the opportunity to build the team. Our day started off toasty, but a front came through with a threat of thunderstorms which never materialized. It’s a pleasant 75 out right now, and will drop to the mid 60’s. I do love the mountains.

The afternoon was a bit chaotic. We made the last minute decision to modify our traditional Illahee Olympics led by the Sparks and add a couple of water components. Multi-colored teams congregated in the Rec Lodge and competed in fun relays that ended in shaving cream everywhere…the Slip n Slide added soapy water fun, and then the Swim Lake added a rinse. I will say that Hillbrook looked as clean as I have seen them in a few days after showers and back in their “Sunday whites” for campfire. Chalk one up to the cleaning products…shaving cream and Dawn dish detergent…and a shower of course to end the day. The fine folks from our kitchen were off tonight and we enjoyed grilled burgers and hotdogs, chips, cookies and milk before campfire. Campfire was high energy, and started off in the campfire ring. Three quarters of the way through and after a bunch of songs, we all took a short walk to finish up in McLeod as the skies were rumbling all around us. Milk and cookies were served by the CITs and as I write, some tired happy heads are sinking into their pillows. After scooping some mint chocolate chip for our neighbors, I’m not far behind. It’s been an amazing week in the Heavenly. We have a lot planned starting tomorrow so stay tuned!

4 responses to “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow!

  1. My first note from Eva to Mumsie arrived from and I could feel her happiness and enthsiasm spill out of the envelope. Our family cherishes this experience you and your staff are providing along with large helpings of spiritual guidance.

    I sleep much better when i read about your fun packed day before my head sinks into my pillow! 🙂

  2. Of course, as a parent I am so happy to see my daughter have the time of her life at camp, but I also really appreciate the effort you all put into making it so much more, from lessons about God’s love and about simple kindness to one another. These are values that we as parents want to teach our girls, but I think it has a deeper impact when they can hear it and live it at camp. I would like for my daughter to grow up being a beautiful person on the inside and I know that the time she will spend at Illahee in the coming years will be a big reason that she WILL be. Thank you for making their camp experiences so much more! Your effort does not go unnoticed 🙂


  3. Just Reminiscing – such fond memories of all of camp

    Are Taps still played at night?
    Is there still a weaving room(looms) – was off the Dining Room eons ago.
    Fried chicken still served on Sunday’s?
    Water ballet taught? Water pageant performed? (I doubt it since probably no one stays for 4 – 8 weeks)
    Pine Tree Song sung with arms crossed and holding hands?
    Rifley? If so, is Skipper’s(?) longest word in the world still hanging at the Riflery range? Can anyone pronounce it still?

  4. Taps-Yes
    We have a separate weaving building now…where the infirmary used to be.
    Of course we have Fried Chicken on Sundays!
    We do teach Water Ballet, and perform it during the swim show, Boom Boom, Diddam Daddam and Watum Chew are the teams.
    Yes, we still sing the Pine Tree song with arms closed each night.
    We have Riflery and Skip’s Welsh Town name is not taught, but it lives on with alumnae. Dolly resides in Brevard in a Retirement Home.

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