Bigger Than Me…

I think we all went overboard with our gushing praise for all things mediocre when I was raising our kids. Non-competitive camps were all the rage, and there were ribbons and trophies for participation. There’s some holdover there, but for the most part, I think parents and their kids know when something is praiseworthy, and the feedback is more in line with what a young adult will see when she reaches the Great Big World out there when the boss isn’t showering her with praise for “participation.”

The unintended consequence of all of our lavish praise was a generation of kids who were disappointed when they didn’t get the corner office as they showed up for work the first day. “E.Q.” came along…I guess in addition to “I.Q”… as an important element in leading a healthy adult life. Emotional Intelligence. I think we’ve had that all along, albeit without the fancy name. I remember a checkbox in elementary school that read “Plays Well with Others.” I guess that’s the same thing.

This generation of parents…like most…want the best for their children. Sometimes, that can be confused with trying to pave an easy street for them. Best clothes, best schools, best sports teams, tutors, vacations…camps. It can be exhausting. I remember sweating whether our kids would make friends, do well in school, get in college, get a job…and they did all that despite my worries. There were some “fasten your seatbelt” moments, but both are now healthy adults and one is sweating all of that for her own kid now. And…now my worries with Brooks are limited to how I can be his favorite grandparent! (Spoiler alert…it’s not about the best of anything and more about the time I spend with him.)

I started thinking about all of this tonight, the last night of the summer with a little nostalgia. It has been an amazing summer. We always start each summer with the expectation that it will be the Best Summer Ever, and this one may have been. It’s always bittersweet to end something that so many have poured into. We are surrounded by the cream of the crop. Illahee girls have E.Q. and I.Q. to “beat the band.” It is so fun to be around them. Optimism abounds. I’ll miss all that until we meet again next summer.

I took a picture this afternoon of first-time camper Jane Ellen Norman, the great-granddaughter of Jane Ellen Taylor, who was a camper within Illahee’s first five or so years in the 1920’s. She too was named after her only surviving great-grandmother when she was born in 1916. Their pictures are side by side as the featured image in this post. Jane Ellen Taylor passed away in 2011 and her spirit lives on in her namesake and in her camp. (Both girls are on the right in the picture.)

Your own camper grew a bunch this week. Many of you will see that almost immediately. Of course, she learned some new skills…she also met some amazing young women, many of whom got their start at Junior camp over ten years ago and are now in college or recently graduated. She likely navigated some cabin dynamics…and this is where it gets good. She realized that being part of something bigger than herself is challenging at times, but mostly really rewarding. Our hope is that like so many before her, she will call Illahee her own.

At final campfire tonight, the last of the summer, songs learned at Rise and Shine were sung with confidence…and together as family. It was hard for me not to look around at the faces…more confident with a week of independence under the belt, and wonder…who among them will be sitting there ten or twelve years hence, introducing a new generation of girls to our Heavenly World? I hope a lot. Thanks for sharing your girls with us. Until next summer when we all meet again in the “Heavenly.”

One response to “Bigger Than Me…

  1. Thank you.
    Mother, Jane Ellen Taylor, was always proud to meet any Illahee alumna. It is a treat to have the camp celebrate with Jane Ellen, my grand daughter in this manner.
    Thank you for being that kind of camp. Keep it up. We are all proud of this relationship.
    Jim Norman

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