Our Woodland Chapel

rainbow clad campers pose before competing in the Illahee Olympics

Our Woodland Chapel is one of my favorite places on camp. It’s neck and neck with our campfire ring…and we gather in both as a full camp each Sunday…the Woodland Chapel for worship, and the campfire ring to bring each week to a close as a community. I like campfire because it’s nestled in a natural bowl a short walk through the woods from McLeod. There is a “sentinel” hemlock there that we have been taking special care of that presides over each campfire. It sits on its own little knoll off and to the left. I sometimes walk back there for a respite from all of the activity, but I especially enjoy it when there IS activity.

The Woodland Chapel sits at the confluence of the canoe lake below Pineview Hill. Many an Illahee girl has fanned the flames of her faith here. Today, we slept in a little. Full disclosure here…I am describing Sunday from a camper’s point of view, not my own. Sundays are not a day of rest for the leadership team…a change of pace, yes, but in a way, this day takes a little more energy than others through our week.

Oh, to be a camper, though! Sleeping in…waking to the early morning dew and cool temperatures, knowing that the day will be warm, wrapping that blanket tightly around your chin for a few more minutes. Your counselor is the first to venture out from the warmth of her bed, and you know your time is limited.  Two feet on the floor. But on Sundays, the entire cabin heads to the dining hall, pajama-clad. Hair mussed, sleep still fighting to hold on, the sugar from those fresh Krispy Kremes…a respite from Laurie’s “War on Sugar” … kicks in and helps your brain focus on the potential of this new Illahee day.

Major changes at camp happen slowly. The decision to move staff meeting from after lunch on Sunday to 9:30 am, pretty quickly after breakfast…a no-brainer. What took us so long to figure that one out? Less time away from the cabin. The Junior Counselors and CITs did a great job supervising while we huddled about the coming week…a BIG one by the way.

We worshipped at the Woodland Chapel, with Heigh Ho our spiritual guides. I love watching each girl participate, LOVE hearing angelic voices in unison, praising our GREAT GOD,…the One who has His hand in everything we do here…on EVERY girl who passes through our gates.

The highlight of Laurie’s week, and of many an Illahee girl through the years is Sunday lunch. Heaping mounds of fresh fried chicken, fresh steamed broccoli…(I asked Laurie why camp broccoli tasted so much better than when it was served at home, and she replied, “butter.” ), cheese sauce, wild rice, and lots and LOTS of fresh rolls…the honey bear on each table was Mr. Popular today! Hand scooped ice-cream to fill in the cracks was dessert.

The afternoon activity brought the Illahee Olympics. Teams of all shades competed in friendly goodwill games…lots of relays, energy, and shaving cream to end the afternoon fun. I also love winding down at the end of the week with Sunday cookout. Burgers and Dogs, cooked on the grills with all the fixins…turkey burgers for a little healthier fare, and veggie burgers for the “complicated.” (That’s me.)Oh yeah…and those warm chocolate chip cookies for dessert. The best part is enjoying the company of cabin mates and friends outside on such a great summer’s eve.

And then there is campfire…a different energy from opening campfire. We’re a family now, and there is an “ease” in our community. Songs and skits and stories…counselors performed a favorite skit, “Kick the Bucket.” I helped everyone “make rain,” which would be nice this week (fingers crossed.) A bedtime story by LIndsey ended the night. Well, almost. Cookies (graham crackers) and milk before bed…it’s “all in” on Sunday night. The entire cabin, including counselors goes to bed together, to get a GREAT night’s sleep. We’ll need it. It’s going to be a BIG week in our Heavenly World.