Friday Night with Admiral Radio

I’m just back from evening program- a concert in the Woodland Chapel with Admiral Radio. Coty Hoover and Becca Smith are married musicians in Columbia, SC and got to know Gardner and Lucas through Downtown Church where Lucas was associate pastor. They are taking a few weeks to tour in North Carolina and have had Camp Illahee on their calendar for a few months. They lead a song writing workshop for the Sparks in McLeod, and helped them through the creative process. Becca started writing at age 8 and picked up a guitar so that she could put her poems with a tune. The Sparks performed their song creation in the dining hall after dinner- something about their desire to go the Twin Dragons Grand Buffet in Brevard.

After dinner we all gathered in the Woodland Chapel to hear some of Coty and Becca’s original songs that can be heard on on Spotify and to sing along to familiar tunes like “This little light of Mine,” “Lean on Me,” Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams and Taylor Swift’s “You Belong with Me.” When Lucas was prepping them for their Camp Illahee gig, he said that they had to learn at least one Taylor Swift song for their show and judging from the volume, it was a winner. Their name Admiral Radio comes from a 1941 Radio that they bought at a second hand store a few years ago. When Becca’s dad helped them move it home, he shared that his father, who Becca had never known, was the regional salesman for Admiral Radio- with that bit of serendipity, the band name was chosen. Becca told campers how people used to gather around the radio for their news and stores and connections, much like we gather around the campfire at camp. We are grateful to them for a warm and memorable evening and hope that you’ll check out their music!

I was proud of the audience that our campers were for our guest artists and realize how much “manners make a person nice to know.” (That was the title of a little book my grandmother gave me in elementary school.) When Gordon and I first started as camp directors in 1990, we were getting ready for staff orientation with the seasoned interim director. She wanted to know when the training session on camp manners would be. Having just moved back south after teaching at a boarding school in New Jersey (where Gordon and I were the only southern faculty and southern kids were scolded for saying yes ma’m), I thought- a session on manners- that’s old fashioned and superficial. Well, after a first few weeks in the camp dining hall, I realized that a manners session might be a good idea… and that manners are more about being thoughtful and aware of others and often that doesn’t come “naturally.” So Miss Tilly started making appearances at Illahee in recent years inspired by Tilly Lodge, the camp dining hall.

This morning we celebrated Ansley’s 25th birthday and camper Sara’s 15th. Miss Tilly popped into Rise and Shine after Merriam Webster introduced his/her word of the day- JOY which also included the song- “I’ve Got the Joy Joy Joy Joy down in my heart…” Miss Tilly made a few reminders about passing food rather than diving across the table, and chewing with your mouth closed, and including all table guests in the conversation, etc, etc… By my calculations, the Illahee community spends 2 to 3 hours a day in the Tilly Lodge! It’s a big part of our community’s bonding time and today’s meals were favorites- pancakes, link sausage, and strawberries- our chef/ manager Carli started the grill at 5:45 a.m. to be ready to feed hungry campers at 8:30. For lunch we enjoyed meatball subs and crinkle fries and dinner was southern fair- mac and cheese, grilled chicken, fried okra and roasted sweet potatoes on the encore table and caesar salad. Klondike bars- a camp favorite- were dessert.

The trips climbers spent the afternoon at the Northside Boulders of Looking Glass with Marie and Emma Grace- a drizzly morning gave way to a beautiful day. The kayakers went to the Mighty Tuckaseegee River with Lee and her husband Jono, and the 7th graders headed up to the parkway for the traditional 7th grade hike on Balsam Mountain. They finished their day with a trip to Dolly’s. In camp, girls were looking confident and settled in as we reach the end of the week! I’m looking forward to Super Saturday tomorrow! Hope you sleep well!