One of the greatest reminders of the value of camp is hearing from families, former campers, and staff members about the ways camp continues to bring joy into their everyday life. We often receive hand-written notes, photos, or Christmas cards expressing gratitude for camp and the values gained as a result of this greater community. However, it’s something far greater than ourselves that creates this community, and we are all lucky to be stewards of this Heavenly World.
Campers often embark on their own walk of faith during their time at camp. For many, Illahee creates a space where girls can grow in their own understanding of God, while experiencing the beauty of His creation. Gordon has written about Illahee as a place where the veil between the earthly and divine, is a bit thinner and where we feel a closeness to God through the community we serve.
A few years ago we introduced the activity Faith and Fellowship for campers entering 8th grade and up. It was spurred by the older girls on Pineview seeing the counselors come and go from Laurie and Gordon’s early morning Bible studies at Pinecrest. A few asked for their own Bible study and some counselors offered an impromptu gathering after evening program. After seeing the interest, we decided to offer an activity that would be led by counselor mentors who could lead the girls through Biblical themes and share some of their own experiences.
The campers explore themes such as gratitude, empowerment through Christ, or being more present in the moment. The girls discuss topics through scripture and personal experiences and do other activities in pairs or in small groups that help further their understanding. Trips to the farm, exploring the trails around camp and having lively discussions are often part of Faith and Fellowship. Last summer’s group focused on the book of Psalms and the year before Romans was the backdrop for themes and discussions.
Maggie Hilderbran is a longtime Illahee camper and staff member and will be returning this summer to help as program assistant and JC mom. She has worked to develop this activity and looks back on her experience teaching it with fond memories:
“Teaching Faith and Fellowship has definitely been one of my favorite parts of camp for the past two summers—it’s the perfect way to start the morning each day. The community we create in Faith and Fellowship is very intentional and close-knit, and so we’re able to have meaningful conversations about our faith and our challenges. I’ve always especially loved our retreat to the farm at the end of each session, where we eat breakfast and reflect on our time together at camp. It was one of the most memorable parts of Faith and Fellowship when I was a camper, and I’ve enjoyed getting to pass on that experience to new groups of campers.”
We look forward to seeing the ways this activity continues, and value the opportunities girls have in exploring their faith. Our hope is that this continues throughout their life, as we have seen in so many ways.
Thanks for reading Illahee family.