What do generations of Illahee girls have in common? Swimming! For decades, Illahee girls have taken swimming until they have completed Illahee’s Level Six (based on the American Red Cross program.) Swimming has been a required camp activity because it is one of the most important life skills to have. Not only does it help to insure individual safety, but it also offers a lifelong sport that is healthy and fun. And the Illahee swim lake is a great place to make that happen.
Fed by two streams, the lake stays cool and clean throughout the summer. I remember seeing a counselor scoop out a glass of lake water to show the girls that the water is clear- just like drinking water…(but don’t drink it!) For many campers, Illahee is their first experience with swimming in a lake and it’s normal to feel a little “jittery” on the first lake plunge.
The instructors are just as likely to jump in to demonstrate a skill or to help a camper with her back float. Their enthusiasm and care for each camper makes the activity fun. An on duty lifeguard keeps her eyes on the water while campers are placed in small groups based on their skill level. Camp’s “block rocker” keeps the lake lively with lots of favorite tunes. Before the activity ends, there is time for bobbing on the inner tubes, sliding down the Streak or sailing off the Tarzan rope. On a chilly or rainy day, classes may end with hot chocolate in the dining hall.
Toward the end of one camp session, I spontaneously decided to join a class and jumped in fully clothed. I was feeling pretty good about being such a fun and impulsive camp director until I realized that my cell phone was still in my pocket! Let’s just say that I was not a “happy camper,” but if I am looking for a spot in camp where I am sure to find loads of happy campers, I’ll walk over to the swim lake and will find them there every time!