Farewell to our Mini 1 Campers!

In what seems like a blink, Laurie and I have been camp directors for a long time. We have stewarded three different camps through good times and challenges, and I was along for the ride at a fourth! We have weathered recessions, the dawn of the digital age, pandemics… and through it all, I remain its greatest cheerleader. There is no experience that I know that can offer what camp does for a child. It is a gift. Your gift.  It is doubly valuable in this day and time…especially for girls. Watching tens of thousands of girls grow up as their “summer dad” has opened my eyes to the transformative magic of camp. And by this point, I can confidently say that Illahee provides amazing growth opportunities for this next generation of camper. What we offer is needed more than ever.

At Illahee, girls have the chance to break free from familiar routines and immerse themselves in a world of new experiences. Away from home, they learn to be independent, responsible, and self-reliant. Campers are encouraged to make decisions, solve problems, and navigate challenges on their own. These skills foster confidence and resilience that will benefit them throughout their lives.

Camp also offers a unique social environment where girls develop valuable interpersonal skills in “double time.” Girls make new friends from all over the country…and world, and they learn to work together as a family, and to build lasting connections. Our ideal works to promote inclusivity and to encourage girls to find the “best versions” of themselves, fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance. Campers grow socially, emotionally, and it is our hope that each develops empathy and understanding for others.

Outdoor activities and adventures at camp provide opportunities for physical and personal growth. From hiking and swimming to arts and crafts, girls explore new hobbies and discover hidden talents. They push boundaries, conquer fears, and gain a sense of achievement. Camp encourages each girl to embrace a healthy lifestyle, appreciate nature, and develop a lifelong love for the outdoors.

Finally, the structured yet fun-filled environment at Illahee instills essential life skills in girls. They learn time management, responsibility, and cooperation through daily routines and shared responsibilities. Camp provides a safe space for girls to learn from mistakes, try new things, and develop a growth mindset. I think these invaluable skills will help them thrive academically, professionally, and personally.

As the two-week Mini session comes to an end, and you prepare to welcome your camper back home, I predict with some confidence that you will notice a difference in your camper. The friendships she has made, the challenges she has overcome, and the skills she has developed will shape her into a confident, capable, and well-rounded individual. So, help her cherish the memories she brings back, encourage her to share her camp experiences, and support her as she applies the lessons learned from camp to her everyday life. It is our hope that Illahee is a remarkable journey that fosters personal growth, independence, and resilience in your girls, setting them on a path to success and fulfillment.

So there! We’ll miss our youngest girls. They provided an energy and enthusiasm…and some pretty fun comments…that we will miss. We say goodbye tomorrow to about 80 girls out of our total of 280. Today was as active as the two weeks before, so please forgive the state of the laundry that comes home. Long time parents know that a well loved trunk usually means a great session. We had a hike to Hooker Falls in DuPont, two trips down the French Broad in “duckies,” lots of cabins on our high ropes course, and plenty of sunshine with our typical quick afternoon shower to cool things off. Tonight’s evening program was the Illahee Olympics, with teams dressed the colors of the rainbow vying for the gold in some fun-filled relays, dance offs, and spirit competitions. It was a beautiful evening with lots of energy.

We’ll see our Mini 1 parents bright and early. I know you are excited to see your girls. We are thrilled to be back to normal with invitations to gather your camper and then park and get her to show you around. Illahee is a beautiful setting and we love to show it off! We do ask dads to remain away from the cabin lines as we do have four-weekers who will be moving about their “summer homes” between activities. Four week parents (best session at camp), we have lots of “‘tween” special activities planned before we welcome our Mini 2 girls on Sunday.

Until then, sleep well. Gordon.