So Much Joy!

Junior Camp is a grand finale to a great summer! After 30 years of camp directing, I feel a little like Peter Pan with the lost boys…I won’t grow up. Living life surrounded by childhood is a gift filled with optimism and wonder. Our college aged counselors are anticipating their careers and a life that involves service and meaning- many of them experience that in the summer as staff members and want to take that calling with them. Our Junior Counselors are anticipating senior year and their college future around the corner and they are seeking advice from their senior counselor partners. They relish in the responsibility of camp- taking care of your girls and leading activities and running “Hobart.” Our camp dishwaher is personified and generations of JC’s take on the beloved chore of washing all the camp dishes after meals. The mountain of dishes is daunting at first (especially when drenched in spaghetti sauce like tonight) but they play their tunes and find their rhythm and gel as a team. A lot of them recall JC summer as the best. So with this team, we jump into a week with a camp full of 2nd to 5th graders and it’s magic.

Monday morning- crazy hair day and pony tails sticking out all over heads and through hats- some even wore underwear (clean) covering their heads to get into the crazy hair spirit. We enjoyed French toast sticks, bacon, bananas, cereal and yogurt for breakfast along with scrambled and boiled eggs. Exploring the dining hall to see what they can gather from the Encore table and salad bar is part of the adventure for these girls. They set their tables and refill water pitchers and at the end of meals, dirty dishes are rolled back to the dish window on circa 1940 quirky yellow carts. We dine family style and the counselors serve from the carts and clear onto the carts. Sometimes the Tilley Lodge perimeter takes on a race track feel when girls get a little eager, but it works. I love the time in the dining hall watching the table groups talk and relax. One of our nurses this week, was at Falling Creek with her son for the past two weeks. She shared with me that she most valued his disconnection from his Ipad and screens during camp and all the physical camp activity.

From breakfast we all head to the Rec Lodge for Rise and Shine- this is a combination devotional time/ assembly/ pep rally! We start by singing, “So let’s all Rise and Shine and give God the Glory Glory…” and then a cabin group shares a devotional or thought for the day. Today’s was about our camp motto: Be a Great Girl and a chance to talk about what that means at camp. We celebrated our birthday queen- Claire, who turned 8 today. After more songs and announcements, we were off and running to the tune of “Make new friends…but keep the old…” (another camp tradition.)

Cabin groups stick together and follow a schedule throughout the week. The barn was hopping with girls riding in the covered arena and some groups trying out vaulting moves on a horse. Our riding director, Rollins and her crew do a great job making campers feel welcome and it’s been a fantastic year with our horses coming from St. Andrew’s University. (They’re such smart college horses.) The pickle ball and tennis courts were lively and our former ceramics director, Betsy is back at camp this week to run the ceramics program.

Valeria, from Mexico, was excited to teach her cooking classes how to make Mexican pastries- and they were enthusiastic about sampling them. One camper got a little teary because she wished her mom could taste the pastry too. Valeria helped her write down the recipe so that she can make it with her at home, and that seemed to stem the tears.

Lunch was a camper favorite- grilled cheese with tomato soup (great for dipping) and ice cream sandwiches; dinner was spaghetti with marinara sauce and caesar salad and watermelon for dessert. The Hillbrook campers skipped out early to head to Sliding Rock with Gardner, Gretchen and all their counselors. They stopped at Dolly’s on their way back for a real dessert! Heigh Ho had a camp wide scavenger hunt that included a campfire and s’more making at Willow. Other stops all over camp included playing manhunt, a song session, hopscotch and a basketball toss in the rec lodge. Judging by the squeals it was a blast!

You’re going to enjoy the photo galleries this week! Directors Gardner, Gretchen, and Gordon get out and about with cameras as much as possible and Marie helps out as well, but our long time camp friend Rosie is here all week doing the lion’s share of the shooting. We first met her at the 2005 Illahee reunion. The next summer, she and her daughter, a new 7 year old camper were at camp. Rosie took two weeks off from her day job as a DC Federal prosecutor to be camp photographer. Ellie is now grown and working and Rosie recently retired to Wilmington, but she continues to come back and forth to camp snapping pictures and keeping us in good cheer! She likes the camp food, afternoon rest hour afternoon breaks and the “early to bed” schedule. Don’t we all?!

I hear the buses rumbling back into camp! Time to sign off! Sleep well, camp family!