I am usually the one to wrap up the updates on the final night of the session. It’s particularly nostalgic on the last night of the summer. Tomorrow, we close a great session for a really fun group of GREAT girls, and camp also gets really quiet until we all meet again in 2023 in our “Heavenly World.”
For probably 20 years, I blogged every night, and only in the past five or so have Laurie and Gardner added their voices to the mix. It was a little disconcerting at first. For the longest time, I felt like I was writing a chapter each night, with the subsequent one building on the night before. It was a little more challenging to maintain the flow and tell the story. Now we get in a rhythm and, I find myself making mental notes when I get inspired with something to tell you all. This session is a “hoot.” Younger girls come up with the greatest things and keep us smiling at their energy and “interpretation.” A camper who struggled a little with homesickness on the first day came up to Laurie and said, “I was homesick the first day of camp, but now I don’t want to leave in the morning. I want to stay at least until lunch!” (The food has been good…tomorrow is gonna be a big shock for me as I head to self-imposed body boot camp to pay retribution for trying to eat like a camper.)
Tonight, we enjoyed our last night as a family at Final Campfire…which started in our campfire ring and was interrupted by a drizzle that led us to McLeod Lodge to sing songs and hear stories and skits. Afterwards, each camper was given a “wish boat,” which we make…a 2 inch square of thin plywood with a birthday candle hot glued to the top. In longer sessions, we have an elaborate “light” ceremony that includes readings, “wishes” on behalf of each hill of girls, and floating of wish boats…which symbolizes the Illahee spirit going back out into the world. One of the little girls walked by and asked “how do you turn this thing on”? It really is a great sight to see the reflection of the light flickering on faces and then dancing on the ripples in the lake.
I have to give kudos once again to our amazing leadership team and to our equally amazing counselors. These are young women who are the cream of the crop…heading back to the top universities on the east coast or to great jobs as recent graduates. I’ll say it again…the blessing for Laurie and me is getting to watch these GREAT girls grow up. And yours are the next generation of Illahee girl! That’s super exciting. We’ve been around long enough to see former campers sending their daughters to camp now, and Illahee has been around long enough to see fifth generation campers. What’s equally amazing is that camp is as relevant…maybe more so…today than it ever has been. Each generation will face its own challenges. Growing up can be hard. There is no better respite from the occasional angst of adolescence than the opportunity to take a breath in a place of rarest beauty among a “tribe” of others who find comfort in the same “pause.” It is a place that values individuals for whom they are and bends with them as they evolve into young women…largely influenced by great girls before them.
So I hope that you will greet your camper tomorrow and that a seed will have been planted…that Illahee will become an enduring part of your family’s history like so many girls before and so many after. But if that doesn’t happen, I hope your camper is walking a little taller…more confidently and with lots of great stories to tell…maybe one like “I was looking for the “on” switch, and all of a sudden the girl next to me passed me her candle’s flame to light mine.”
May all our flames burn bright!
Rest well and carry on Illahee family! Until next year…