I wonder if everyone gets more nostalgic as they age? The last days of camp are pretty long for us on the leadership team, and by the time final campfire rolls around, my body is ready to put another log on the fire and head to the tent. Sometimes I wonder if my Apple Watch step counter wonders if it is still on the correct wrist. I do enjoy everything about this final time we gather as a community in Dohivi Noche. We sing, and call the campfire with a ceremony of light with readings from Scripture and other authors like Emerson and Edith Wharton. Hill representatives take turns kindling the fire with different symbolic “woods.”
I love looking at Cabin 1 campers craning their necks as they search for the top of the towering white pine that holds sentinel as it has for so many generations prior. I love the glow of the pinetree lanterns that became a part of this tradition close to a decade ago now, and each Hill’s standard bearer who lifts theirs high and leads the processional along the fern-lined path. I love recognizing new campers…I told you there were eight, but actually there are nine out of our 275 plus…we award each an Illahee banner that will become her keepsake to showcase her accomplishments over her many years here. There are other things to love…recognition of hard-working JCs with their Bible presentation; CITs with their silver charms; 17 gold signet rings for girls who have spent a decade here, lovingly hand-engraved with a CI by retired jeweler Otto C. in Alpharetta.
But, what I love most is hearing the hearts of the girls who have been chosen by their own “group” to represent them in a “Wish.” I’ve heard a lot of wishes over the years, and though some stood out tonight, what I feel “humbled” by is what I see as the hand of God firmly holding on to this place and all who enter through its gates. A favorite verse from Deuteronomy speaks of God walking through the camp…and the need therefore to “make thy camp a holy place.” Who has a favorite verse from Deuteronomy? But this verse has guided us, and tonight’s collective voice reinforced to me how solemn a task it is for us to choose GREAT mentors for your girls. Each one spoke of an influential counselor, and the freedom to be one’s self and the joy of being loved for it. Ann Harper challenged us all to love our Lord and to praise Him through thanksgiving; Counselor Ann reminded us all that we are here for a reason…that we are cogs in a much greater purpose…and that we are stewards of all that has been given to us. And so it goes for Camp Illahee.
So thank you for trusting us to be stewards of our mutual loved one. I do pray that God has planted seeds in her that will bloom, and that you will be faithful to enjoy the harvest. It has been a GREAT session…one for the memory books. Amen.