Dance Party!

Peaks of Panthertown backpacking 3-day returned today!Peaks of Panthertown backpacking 3-day returned today!

The mountain bike crew from the Pisgah 2-day that just returned!The mountain bike crew from the Pisgah 2-day that just returned!

It wouldn’t be the full summer camp experience without the classic girls’ camp dance, and today was the big day! We had a big morning full of activities and plenty of trips returning to camp for the weekend, but meeting up with Camp Illahee For Girls was certainly the highlight for many. After a hearty lunch of cheese and broccoli soup, sloppy joes, kettle chips, fruit salad, and M&M cookies, Kyle announced the big plans for the afternoon. Fourth period would happen as usual, but during regular fifth period, the younger Cherokee and Catawba cabins would get ready for the dance while the older Tuscarora and Iroquios boys played tribal games similar to Evening Program. This gave the younger boys time to shower and change before leaving for Illahee, and the older boys had more time since Illahee’s older girls would be coming to us. Tuscarora and Iroquois were excited because they got to play dodgeball in the “thunder dungeon” and capture the doughnuts on the turf field. Meanwhile, Cherokee and Catawba were excited because they would have the chance to visit another local camp for dinner and a dance party!

I drove boys from cabins Satank and Keokuk, and they were beyond excited. I asked them who was the best dancer, and both Ellis and Thomas immediately shouted, “me!” It was decided that they would have to have a dance-off to determine the winner. “This is the best day ever, probably the best night of the year,” Thomas gushed, more excited for the dance than anyone else I’ve seen. After our scenic drive over to Illahee’s campus, the boys spilled out of the van, eager to start dancing, eating, and socializing. There were several boys who had sisters at camp as well, including Buddy and his sister Virgina. Even though Virginia ran to Buddy and gave him a more enthusiastic hug than he was probably expecting, you could tell he enjoyed seeing her more than he wanted to let on.

Cooties are still a very real thing when you’re an 8 to 10 year old boy, and girl’s camp is a danger zone for catching them. Nolan and Leuven were busy making a cootie immunity circle with chalk, just in case. Several Cabin 3 boys came to the back of the dinner buffet area with me, because the front was “too close to the girls.” Camp dances create very different reactions for older or younger boys, and while there is excitement for some, there can also be fear and nervousness in others. Langdon and Beckett were nervous about the dance, but Zeb, our F.A.R.M. manager, reminded them what they had already accomplished that day. “If you’re brave enough to start a fire with a magnifying glass in class, then you’re definitely brave enough to talk to girls if they come up to you,” he told them. “Oh yeah,” Beckett said perking up, “we kept that fire fueled for like 20 minutes!”

The Illahee girls were great hosts as usual, serving us a delicious chicken tenders dinner with macaroni and cheese, kale salad, chips, carrots and hummus, and chocolate chip cookies. We enjoyed a picnic dinner before heading down to their gym, where the dance music was already going. Camp Illahee’s owners and directors, Gordon and Laurie, are no strangers to Falling Creek themselves. Both of them actually met at Falling Creek in college while they were counselors, and later went on to become the owners and directors of Camp Illahee in 2003. We’re lucky that our local camp world is such a tight knit community.

Marcus, the DJ of the dance, is always a hit. He had everyone getting excited about the boys vs. girls dance-off, with the counselors as the judges and “hype men.” Andy and HarryO asked some counselors off the dance floor to come dance with them, and they shrugged and responded, “ok, but only if Yates comes too.” Surprisingly, Yates took their challenge and got right in the mix with the other dancers, much to the excitement of all the boys. As the evening wound down, we were treated to popsicles to cool off after all that dancing, and said goodbye to our new and old friends.

Back at Falling Creek, the older boys hosted the other half of Illahee. They ate grilled chicken that Chef David prepared on the big charcoal grill, pasta and kale salad, texas caviar (black eyed pea salad), coleslaw, and lemon bars for dessert. Everyone had Cheerwine as well, a special two-in-one-week treat! After dancing in the gym and minute-to-win-it style challenges with the girls, everyone enjoyed cherry popsicles to finish off the night. Everyone had a great time tonight, and it was a quiet ride home as my van full of passengers all fell asleep after a big day.

Before the dance, Yates and Kyle always talk to the boys about what it means to be a gentleman, and how the expectation is that they will act like the upstanding young men that we know them to be. We are never worried about this being an issue though, and tonight they proved us right again with their model behavior. As we were leaving, one of Illahee’s nurses stopped me to brag about one of our boys in particular. “I wish I knew his name,” she said, “but I just wanted to tell you about how he made a point to introduce himself and say thank you for hosting. I was very impressed by his manners, you all should be proud.” I’m sure several campers displayed the same good manners, and we are always proud of our Falling Creek boys. We’re looking forward to a late sleep-in and fun weekend ahead tomorrow!

One more note: since it was a late night of fun, we don’t have the photos from the dance ready yet. Please enjoy these photos from earlier in the day in the meantime. Plenty of dance photos to come!

-Annie Pharr

Grayton forging steel at blacksmithingGrayton forging steel at blacksmithing

Tuscarora Campfire Talk from yesterday eveningTuscarora Campfire Talk from yesterday evening

Last night’s Evening Program got intense!Last night’s Evening Program got intense!