Cabin life is a big part of the Camp Illahee experience. We like to think of the cabin group as a “family at camp.” When a camper arrives on opening day, Kris greets her at the gate with her cabin assignment. Girls are often full of emotion as they hop out of their car to head up to their new cabin, and the excitement continues upon meeting the counselor who helps everyone to feel at home right away. Girls live in a cabin with seven or eight other campers who are their same age or grade level. Cabins at Illahee are organized on three different hills by age group.
Camp Illahee is a very welcoming community and is not a “clique-y” place. Some campers worry about not knowing anyone at camp, but camp is a great place to make new friends and the cabin is the place to start. Many times relationships from home are continued at camp. One of our mottos is ‘make new friends, but keep the old.’ By the end of the first day, at opening campfire, everyone blends together in their Illahee white uniform and no one is considered “new” anymore.
The cabin group spends a lot of time together. From starting the day at breakfast to living in close quarters, the girls in the cabin become like sisters. Each girl is assigned a “chore” from the “job wheel” and the cabin group works hard to keep their space tidy. From making sure that beds are made to serving the table, everyone pitches in to help out. Campers learn how to work together and live among a shared space, which creates life skills and prepares them for the future.
After a day full of activities followed by evening program, friendship circle is a great time of the day to bring everyone back together. Everyone puts their PJs on, grabs their stuffed animals and pillows, and gathers on the floor, to talk about the ‘highs and lows’ of the day. Sometimes, the girls will choose a book to read and the counselor will spend time reading aloud. Following friendship circle, flashlight time is a quiet time for reading before Taps is played. Afterwards, the counselor comes around to check on and tuck in each girl – a favorite part of the day for many girls.
It is common to have girls who come to camp with a friend, but it is just as common to come not knowing anyone. We love watching friendships bloom at camp. By the end of a session; the cabin is in tears at the thought of separating to go home. When girls arrive at Illahee, they are greeted with hugs and smiles, whether it’s their first or tenth year at camp. Opening day next summer – Illahee’s 95th – will be time for welcoming girls to camp- both new and old!