What do you DO in the OFF Season?

My favorite time of the year is the SUMMER!  Each camp day is an adventure.  From pancakes at breakfast to songs in Rise and Shine to popping over to the barn to watch a riding lesson, checking out the synchro class on the lake or watching a tennis volley on the courts …the days pass quickly.  A daily “rest hour” recharges me for the evenings that include setting up for picnics, carnivals, lifeguarding at the lake or attending a dance party followed by strolling along the cabin lines after Taps to assist counselors with a giggling cabin group.

Camp is a celebration of childhood and a place where a pink wig, tutus and feather boas are considered “normal attire.”   Peter Pan told the Lost Boys, “Don’t grow up.  It’s a trap.”  How do childish camp directors transition from a ten-week party as full time “event planners” to a more studious role the rest of the year?

The summer moves quickly so the off season is a time for dialing in all aspects of camp.  Activities are planned with improvements; supplies gathered; programs evaluated and changed and researched.  As I write this Tommy and Tim are hammering overhead, replacing the office roof and James and Hilario are catching the leaves as they fall.  We’ve started the addition to the Pineview shower house (whoohoo!) and are milling lumber to rebuild cabin 32.  Gardner and I recorded the audio for the new camp video that is underway, and we are organizing host families for November’s camp movie tour! Meanwhile, we’ve contacted our counselors and are beginning the interviews for next season.  You get the idea…we are taking care of the behind the scenes details that help to make camp great.

Camp directors like to be involved with people and when the campers are gone, we try to turn some of our energy toward Brevard’s local community.  Prior to camp directing, Gretchen taught 2nd grade, 4th grade and studio art over a 10-year period.  She serves on the School Improvement Team for Brevard’s elementary school meeting regularly with a team of teachers and administrators.

Dave, our year-round program director, first came to Illahee 13 years ago as our tennis director.  He teaches tennis on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings.  His cardio class has a loyal fan following.  Participants have been known to pick up a racquet, not because they enjoy tennis, but to get some of Dave’s encouragement and coaching.  Lindsey is beginning her 3rd year as a Young Life Leader; she leads “Club” weekly and visits the high school for a 10:30 a.m. lunch.  It’s not unusual for her to be at Friday night football games or Thursday evening volleyball matches, or to see a group of high school girls hanging out on her front porch.  A core value of Young Life is about the importance of showing up in a child’s life- something that we see a lot of at Camp Illahee through the dedication of the counselors during the summer.

Gardner is a leader for Young Life’s new chapter of Young Lives, a weekly club for teen mothers and their children.  It’s a time for games, a devotional, a great dinner prepared by volunteers and a way to nurture these moms who are still teens themselves.  Young Life meets at the local Boys and Girls Club, which after Camp Illahee, is one of my favorite places.  I get to apply my camp director bossy side to fill board member duties but mostly get to observe an awesome group of young adults run a fantastic after school program.  Several Illahee counselors have worked as program specialists at the club during the school year.

During the summer, we talk about the Illahee spirit and on final night float wish boats on the canoe lake to represent the Spirit of Illahee going out into the world.  That is a big part of the off-season for us and for you as well….taking that spirit of Illahee into our community and to yours….

With gratitude,