Lindsey and I traveled to our two largest camp towns, Atlanta and Charlotte, a few weeks ago. We decided that early January is a great time for camp movies as we had 75 energetic camp girls at each show. It’s fun to see junior counselors and older campers gather on the floor in a living room with 7 and 8 year olds. The older girls have “celebrity status” in the video- usually wearing a crazy costume or wig.
In Charlotte, where we had two birthday queens, our new campers set the record for most questions asked! They were an inquisitive bunch! Are there phones at camp? Where do we sleep? What do the first graders do? How do we know ‘what’s next’? Who will my counselor be? What do we get to DO? Where do they (the campers) come from?
And a few parents added- “My daughter is a picky eater. What if she can’t find anything to eat?” and another “How should we prepare a first year camper for camp?” Wow! So many good questions in this pre-camp season. Many are addressed in our monthly ENEWS sent to all enrolled families. Camp’s website and videos also guide families toward the summer.
But what about a picky eater? That is a good question and it gets asked a lot! Meals are important to the culture of our camp community. We eat family style and the menu is kid (and adult) friendly – spaghetti, pizza, grilled cheese and tomato soup, grilled chicken sandwiches. In addition to a “main dish” there is an extensive salad bar at lunch and dinner with cheeses, beans, and fruits and vegetables and we always have apples, bananas, bread and peanut butter available. Campers have a variety of options and even picky eaters try new foods when they see their friend or counselor eating them and after a busy schedule which builds an appetite. We encourage but never force a camper to try new food. Most girls return home with new recipes and more thoughtful manners!
After one camp show, a child told me that she wasn’t going to miss her mom because she was going to call her to tell her goodnight at bedtime. Oops! Preparing a new camper for her first summer is exciting. Tell her about her awesome counselor who is like her “mom/older sister” who will tuck her in and tell her goodnight. Bedtime cabin routines include cabin bonding and stories. It’s also helpful for parents to acknowledge that it is normal to miss home at times, and we are here to take care of them. Let your daughter know that you have confidence in her and that she can reach out to her counselor or to Laurie or Gretchen when she needs a camp mom. Meanwhile, we welcome parents to let us know their concerns or questions about camp! We want parents to enjoy the time while their daughter is at camp and not to feel worried!
While each session at Illahee is a little different based on length of time or age groups in attendance, all Illahee girls have several activities in common! Whatever session a girl attends, she will enjoy fried chicken and ice-cream on Sundays; will be a part of an Airband with her cabin; will have the opportunity to go down the Zip Line with her cabin group; will be able to enjoy County Fair and a hay ride with Dave; will visit Sliding Rock (and Dolly’s for ice-cream); will sing around the campfire ring; will float Wishboats on final night of her session; and will live with the best counselor ever! Many Illahee girls around the country share the sentiment that I heard in the last question at the Charlotte camp movie gathering, ”Why do we have to wait SO LONG?”…..for The BEST SUMMER EVER!