“A roller coaster of emotions” hardly describes our feelings since Friday’s announcement to cancel this summer. It is more accurately a typhoon or a super cyclone of emotions. We know you all can relate, after hearing from many of our families and their response to the news. If you “took to the bed” on Friday, you were not alone. I soaked way too long in a bath with a side of double fudge chocolate ice-cream. Not my finest moment, but grief does not care. Henry, our camp pup, refused his puppy chow for the entire weekend and we decided he was also depressed.
While the office bustle is high with enrollment, phone calls, and payment processing, it is difficult not to mourn a lost summer in the Heavenly World. The sounds of the bell, morning Rise n’ Shines, sharing the Bull Frog nightly symphonies, and meals together in Tilley Lodge. The list of “misses” is endless. Brooks, my six-year-old, realized that no camp means no County Fair. He lives for County Fair and counts down to this event starting in February. He refuses to acknowledge the cancellation and is adamant we can still get a bounce house, llamas, and a dunk tank.
Amidst the disappointment and sadness, we cannot ignore how special Illahee is. The community that has rallied behind camp, reaching out to offer prayers and encouragement. We have heard from Brevard locals like, Robert, the owner of Dolly’s and the manager at the Sav-Mor grocery store, neighbors of camp telling us how much they will miss the sounds of girls’ squeals through the woods. Local camp directors in this area have become a cohort of khaki short, vest-wearing, walkie-talkied warriors; a force to be reckoned with. Working around the clock to gather information, meet with legislators, and fight for the camp cause. Though so much has been lost, this group has grown stronger together.
Strength and resilience. When I think of this week, this is what comes to mind. Not only in our year-round team, but in our families and our staff. Through teary phone calls we are constantly reminded that we WILL come out on the other side from this. The love that surrounds the Illahee community is giving us strength to move forward. And the hope that we will all be together next summer, for the best reunion ever. This hope is confirmed by the generosity and the trust that families are putting in us right now. As we are amidst enrollment for next summer, the majority of families are choosing to confirm a spot and roll their tuition over. This is incredible and we know the challenges that so many are facing right now. This choice will help ensure that next summer will be the best summer ever.
As we all continue to march ahead, spending another year apart, we remind you of the Illahee prayer. The spirit of Illahee and all the love and joy that is found in this place, goes with you each day:
Lord, give me grace when I go from the mountains, Away from the things that bring peace to the soul. Hemlocks and spruces, fresh sweet smelling balsam, all green things of the earth which in beauty unroll. Peaks in the sunrise, and peaks in the sunset, stars of pure gold in clear, silent nights. Mists full of stillness, bright clouds of soft whiteness, mystical glowing of far northern lights. Help me, I pray, when these joys are behind me, when down to the flat-lying city I go. Take me in spirit back, back to the mountains, to rest in thy presence, be still and know. Amen.
We continue to pray for you, Illahee family! And in the meantime, share a camp meal, or a song, Facetime with a cabin-mate, or send a letter! Continue to share the Illahee memory, and we will do the same.
Until next time!