Joy in Re-Connecting…

I am writing over the loud hum of the leaf-blowers, one of the many sounds of summer. In years past I would have greeting that sound with an annoyed sigh, but lately I have found a sort of comfort in the familiarity of it. After a stormy and rain-heavy weekend, the maintenance guys are on full camp cleanup mode. Their schedule has officially shifted to off-season projects, which means the lawn mowers are working overtime. Last week they put a little TLC into the stone path by the office and will continue to look for the usual “wear and tear” that comes from 100 years of use in this Heavenly World. Their eyes for detail come in handy, especially now.

Illahee has been a revolving door this week. We have greeted many visitors who are spending their final weeks of summer in the mountains. This has been a highlight for us! As our short session ended a little over two weeks ago, we were reluctant to head back into a quiet office. However, these visits have offered a good transition, and we have loved catching up with families who we have not seen in over a year.

Last Thursday I spent close to an hour with an alumna and her husband who traveled from Lake Lure to see camp for the morning. She had not been back since the 40’s and while her memories were a bit foggy, I was amazed by some of the stories she recounted. It was Illahee that gave her a first taste of Archery, eventually leading her to become a master Archer and competing in college for the sport. While her time at camp (six years in total) was brief in comparison to her long life, she has recognized that Illahee has had one of the biggest impacts on her- shaping who she is today. She smiled as she remembered the rain on the tin roof- another beloved sound of summer.

Last week, tour-guide Lindsey greeted lots of families who were taking advantage of their mountain time to come see camp for their first time. A big selling point for visitors, especially during these quiet days, is our welcoming committee- aka Churro, Liza, and Henry. Nothing excites the pups more than small humans giving them belly rubs. Henry usually offers slobbery licks, while Liza assumes her favorite position, “dead bug” where she freezes on her back, legs up, tongue out, until she gets some love. I think furry friends, families, directors, and alum who have all stopped by in the last few weeks, can agree that these short visits at camp bring a familiar hope and joy from reconnecting inside the Illahee gates.

We have begun a new schedule here at camp. For the first time, probably ever, we are partaking in an August respite. Each of us plan to work just one week in August to cover the office, while the remaining three weeks are used for vacation. It is quite revolutionary and probably the longest we have gone without seeing each other. Laurie and Gordon jet-stetted to the beautiful New England coast in Nantucket. While they planned to have a relaxing quiet two-weeks, in true Strayhorn fashion, these plans were upended within twelve hours of their departure. They added a six-year-old passenger (their idea!) and Brooks tagged along for his first ever solo vacation without me. My house has been a lot quieter, and I am getting my first taste of what it will be like when he is off to summer camp- for the time being, I am very thankful for grandparent camp!

Lindsey will visit her family in Cincinnati and Colorado for some much-needed snuggles and visits with her baby nephews. Gretchen and her crew are planning a camping trip and a visit with Yoda, Gretchen and Gordon’s dad. Stay tuned for a post-vacation blog and another camp update.

Until then, we are thinking of our Illahee families as you plan to head into a school year that looks a little more uncertain than most. Our prayers are with you all. We love hearing from our families through phone calls and social media, and are welcoming visitors! Please do not hesitate to reach out, and we will continue to keep you updated on our camp happenings.

Until next time,