Merry Christmas to All…

Summer camp counselors and campers work on a joint "paper painting" project.
Summer camp counselors and campers work on a “paper painting” project of Newton the camp dog.

The good news is that our day recovered nicely after a pretty wet start. Whereas yesterday was misty and overcast, today, it flat out was raining through the morning…not a downpour that can deliver inches in an hour, but steady enough that I put my hood up on my parka when I was walking around camp. I think we got about an inch between last night and noon. And then, the clouds parted, revealing that Carolina blue sky that we know always eventually returns. It does seem like a decade ago, we would get socked in for days at a time, and expect a shower or two every afternoon. It just was the trade-off for such lush surroundings. Things are beautiful around here, except for a couple of areas where we have been trying to start new grass. We’ll try again tomorrow!

I can always tell when morale is high at camp when the rain does not seem to slow anything down. Today was Christmas in July, and I snuck away from evening program a little early after a terrific Christmas dinner of roast turkey, gravy, warm yeast rolls, green beans, cranberry sauce, and chocolate chip pie for dessert…really not a whole lot different than the Christmas in December. I ate too much and am ready for bed too early. The girls are down enjoying Will Ferrell’s antics in ELF. Ferrell stars as Buddy, a regular-sized man who was raised as an elf by Santa Claus (Edward Asner). When the news is finally broken to Buddy that he’s not a real elf, he decides to head back to his place of birth, New York City, in search of his biological family. Rise n Shine helped us all get in the spirit with a group reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas, and then a couple of Christmas carols. Plenty of folks were decked out in their Christmas best. Gretchen got a second wear out of her thrift store sweater vest that she bought for our Grinch Who Stole Christmas float. Most activities were able to “carry on” despite the rain. Tennis played in the Rec Lodge, but almost everyone else had indoor options any way. It sure is nice to have a gym, an indoor riding arena, dance studio, woodworking shop, etc. But, it’s also nice to have sunshine, and we were all ready for its re-emergence.

I have to rave about our studio arts folks. We have some all-stars leading these activities…from Sew Unique, to Arts and Crafts and Ceramics, I am amazed at what goes on up there. Today, during my picture-taking tour, I was delayed in Arts and Crafts by a group of campers working with a counselor on a “paper painting” project. The brainchild of Hollis Andersen, our Arts and Crafts Queen, she found a picture of our beloved camp dog Newton with his head resting on a lifeguard’s rescue tube from the website. The girls are using torn up pieces of Illahee-themed paper to “paint” a copy of the image. It is simply amazing. There are pieces of a songbook, mailing labels, directions to Dollys…all arranged on a board to create the image. Newton was my family’s present to me on my fortieth birthday, and he is a fixture at camp to say the least. He is an expert like no other in curing homesickness. The finished product may have to hang in the Strayhorn home when camp is not in session!

We decided to delay our Mini 2 girl’s trip to the Farm for an overnight until Monday night to let the soggy conditions dry out a bit. With the little ones, I want it to be super-positive and the farm is best when there is room to roam. With its calendar freed up, a couple of cabins from Pineview jumped at the opportunity to head out there and enjoy it all to themselves. The loft in the barn is set up perfectly for a couple of cabins (even more) to enjoy a dry and fun evening sleepover. I have about decided that my favorite place to hang out in camp is the Tarzan rope. A proper rope swing is as much art as it is science. We have the perfect tree on the perfect swim lake for a swing. We went to an unnamed boy’s camp a few days ago, and one of the activities was rope swinging. The boys thought they had the cat’s meow. It was a little higher at its drop to the water, but the arc was all wrong, and the rope was not thick enough. The girls were polite as the staffer told them not to step on the knot at the end, and I held my tongue because we were guests after all. But, I could just see those girls wanting to show the boys how they could do a complete flip from it, entering the water perfectly straight. The Tarzan rope is about as perfect as a rope swing can get, and I love watching girls work toward their flip. I also love the challenge of getting good pictures. I finally switched lenses the last couple of days, and my faster dedicated zoom has yielded more success.I have emails to answer, other business stuff to attend to, but nothing puts me in a better mood than announcing to the rest of the office that “I am going out to take pictures”! (and it’s not about taking the pictures).

It looks like we are in for a run of sunshine. Bring it on!

2 responses to “Merry Christmas to All…

  1. We love reading your posts at the end of the night. It is wonderful to know what the girls are doing throughout the day.


    P.S. I only refreshed my screen 5 times today.

  2. I love reading your blogs everyday. They bring a smile to my face at the end of long work days. I don’t read them so much to see if Anna is having fun. I’m pretty certain of that. (It is nice to know what she is doing). They bring back such vivid wonderful memories of my summers as a camper. How I long to be in the mountains again as a camper. I’m so glad we found Illahee and Anna is having that experience.


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