May 15, 2020
Dear Camp Illahee Family,
We are grateful for the love and encouraging messages that you have sent to us during the emergence of the COVID crisis. Since the middle of March, we have continued moving forward with plans for operating camp. As we have watched our counselors leave college to quarantine at home, and campers shift to a virtual school room, we have all known that Illahee girls need camp more than ever this summer!
While continuing to hire staff, open buildings and get ready for the BEST SUMMER EVER, we have been doing research and actively seeking guidance from our medical staff, state health department, the CDC, and the American Camp Association. We started planning alternate opening day processes, dining practices and ways to run activities safely. We also heard from so many of you- hopeful and prayerful for camp.
As guidance has started to trickle out, we have looked at ways to follow recommendations. Based on the guidance that is evolving, we have determined that we cannot offer the Illahee we all know and love.
Camp is about community- coming together to sing around the campfire…sharing family-style meals in the dining hall…walking arm in arm with a new friend…squeezing into the camp bus for a trip to Sliding Rock and Dolly’s. Camps evolve, and while it’s not unusual to change over time, the restrictions needed to open camp this summer…if we are even able to…don’t allow us to give you the best of Camp Illahee.
We are heartbroken to let you know that we will not be opening camp this season.
For the past six weeks, we have prayed daily for wisdom and discernment and as painful as this is, we are confident that it is the best decision. In 30 years as camp directors, Gordon and I have never faced not opening a season, but Camp Illahee…in what would be her 100th, has weathered the Great Depression, World War II, polio outbreaks, and with your help and love, she will weather this pandemic too.
While Camp Illahee – the place- will be quiet this summer, we hope she will be vocal through you. You carry the spirit of Illahee out into the world. Keep that spirit alive throughout this summer as you reach out to your camp friends while we look for creative ways for us all to stay connected.
We cannot wait to welcome you with a great big hug on opening day of 2021!
Gordon and Laurie Strayhorn