Getting into the Groove!

July 27, 2015
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IMG_9764_mThe first full day of camp is always a mixed bag of emotions for our campers. For campers young and old, new or returning, there’s a lot to process throughout this day. New activities to try, new people to meet, new friends to make… It can seem just as overwhelming as it is exciting. This is the day that marks the start of the few weeks these girls have waited 12 months to experience again, and that knowledge carries a lot of anticipation and anxiousness as the girls leave breakfast to enter a day of fun, creative activities.

Our staff are very attuned to the first-day jitters. We encourage everyone to wear their name tags to make the introduction to new peers as easy as possible. We also make sure to cater to all experience levels in each activity, helping a novice pinch-pot maker feel as comfortable as an expert wheel thrower. This is integral to our philosophy behind activities at Rockbrook.

IMG_9846_mIMG_9924_mWe’re also so excited to start this day because the girls have each customized their own activity schedule. This independence isn’t easy for every girl. Sometimes it’s more comfortable to do what someone has told you to do, but taking the braver step to choose their own activities is a huge sign of growth and maturity. Rockbrook encourages our campers to lean into the discomfort of trying new things, and to create a “new normal” for themselves where they achieve things they may have never thought possible.

One particular group of campers experienced a Rockbrook milestone they have probably been looking forward to since their very first day of camp ever, driving up the gravel hill years ago. The two cabins of CAs—the second-oldest group of campers—proudly announced at lunch that Banquet is coming and that they are pumped!

IMG_0355_m(2)The CAs ventured after breakfast with Jeff into the DuPont forest on a hike that mirrored their brainstorming process. On the drive there, the girls threw out as many ideas of potential Banquet themes they could think of, many of which I suspect they’ve been dreaming up all year long. Upon arrival in the trail parking lot, we read aloud every idea to give the girls a chance to begin to sift through themes they really liked. Throughout the hike, Jeff stopped the girls three times. At each stop on the trail they discussed pros and cons of certain themes, each time eliminating a few as they went. The group engaged in good discussion, honoring each individual’s thoughts and ideas. The energy in the air was palpable and the collaboration between the girls was inspiring.

IMG_9887_mFinally, as they reached the peak of the mountain, the 2015 Third Session CAs emerged from the forest with a Banquet theme that all girls were excited about. They’ll spend the next few weeks hard at work in their secret, off-limits “Cabin 9″ at the end of the lower line working with paint and glitter to transform the Dining Hall into a whole new world. Get ready, folks, because these CAs are going to put on a show!

Dinner tonight was the best representation of camp really being in full-swing. We thought yesterday was grand, having so many new arrivals and feeling the camp filled with fresh excitement. However, at tonight’s pizza dinner, the Dining Hall was roaring with happy conversations and enthusiastic (and loud!) singing. We cheered, we requested so many songs, and we sang our hearts out. As fun as yesterday was, we can now say that camp has officially started. Our Third Session 2015 campers are finally here, immersed fully in camp life. Let the games begin!

— Chrissy

Eager Energy

July 26, 2015
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camp friends at summer campWhen you gather together this many friends, all packed and ready for an extended “sleepover,” it’s exciting… like this morning when we welcomed our third session campers to Rockbrook, and we were jumping up and down, cheering, and screaming with delight as each camp friend arrived. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect— sunny skies and the cool morning temperatures we’re accustomed to here in the mountains —but what made the morning fun, was how eager everyone was to see each other and get camp started. That eager energy, which I suspect is fueled by months of anticipation, sped everyone through the “check in” process (meeting office folks, browsing the latest RBC gear, and consulting with the medical team) and added muscle to delivering the trunks to the cabins. As girls arrived throughout the morning, there were Welsh ponies to meet (“Cool Beans” and “Cloud Nine”), short hikes to the biggest waterfall on the camp property (“Rockbrook Falls”), Gaga Ball and Tetherball to play, and friendship bracelets to make. For girls starting their very first session at Rockbrook, and for those returning to the place they already know, this was a great day.

Swim test girl jumps in lakeIt was easy to carry this energy forward into lunch as we enjoyed another of Rick’s yummy “comfort food” meals— his homemade macaroni and cheese, green beans, and fresh fruit salad, plus a gluten-free pasta dish, and the regular super-stocked salad bars, and peanut butter and jelly station. While eating, the girls had no trouble launching into favorite camp songs, their hands clapping and waving to “An Austrian Went Yodeling,” for example. There’s no shyness here, as everyone was swept into the exuberance. It’s always remarkable how quickly the good feeling of camp springs up.

After a shortened rest hour for cabin meetings, the different age groups came down to the lake for a quick dip to demonstrate each person’s swimming ability. For clear safety reasons and as part of our American Camp Association accreditation, we want to make sure everyone is comfortable in the water before jumping off the diving board into the deep end, zipping down the water slide, or going out of camp for a whitewater rafting or kayaking trip. All of the lifeguards and all of the directors are involved in these “swim demos,” some in the water, some handing out the swim tags and swim bracelets, while others answering campers’ questions, or just helping them through the process. The mountain stream that feeds our lake is notoriously “invigorating” (or “feezing,” depending on your point of view), so it can take a little coaxing and encouragement to build up each swimmer’s nerve before jumping in off the dock. Today was no different; the girls screaming just before they hit the water, but also having a ball with all their cabin mates ready to take their turn.

For years now at Rockbrook, we ask our campers to select their own activity schedule twice each week, having multiple chances to try different things while they’re here. We’ve found that giving the girls themselves (rather than their parents beforehand) this responsibility, this independence, helps bolster their confidence. It helps them realize they can make a good informed decision themselves and enjoy the outcome.

camp assembled girls smiling

Late this afternoon, after a quick assembly on the hill with songs, introductions and skits, we organized a fun camp tour for the girls to orient them to the different activity areas. The tour brought them everywhere in camp, stopping along the way to meet the instructors, see demonstrations, hear songs and enjoy skits about what each activity offers. They met the climbing staff at the Alpine Tower, the kayaking instructors at the lake, and the ceramics counselors in the upper studio. They tromped out into the woods to visit the Nature Nook, down the path the the riflery range, and back up to Hiker’s Rock to meet the WHOA (“Wilderness, Hiking, Outdoor Adventure”) leaders. The whole event was a great way to learn both where everything happens at camp but what each activity has planned for the session. Some of those weaving projects look pretty cool! Now understanding all of this, the girls were ready to choose their first set of activities tonight before bed. In the morning, we’ll launch right into everything. We’re set!

Today was the day when we reacquainted ourselves with camp, or for some, when we first began to know “the Heart of a Wooded Mountain.” I can tell this will be a great session. We’re going to laugh, play and sing (a lot!), share meals, reconnect with nature, and get to know each other really well. Stay tuned; we’re excited!

good camp girl friends

A Day of Hugs

July 23, 2015
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Closing our long session of camp, as we did today, is always emotional, and often a tearful experience for all of us— campers, staff members, and parents too. Combined with the happiness of reuniting with family members, today brought on a sudden sadness from realizing that everything we’ve been loving about camp is ending… at least for now. Today we had to say goodbye to the freedoms of camp, to all the action, the silliness, creativity and adventure built into everyday of the last few weeks, but more intensely, to all the wonderful people of camp, to the love and support everyone cherishes about life at Rockbrook. There are friends here, true friends who we will miss deeply even as we know that camp will always welcome us back. It’s been a day of hugs, where we try to embrace, for just a moment longer, how Rockbrook feels and what it truly means.

It’s really a difficult thing to describe, but here’s a lovely message from a parent that speaks to it:

kaitie U. From 2007

I cannot believe that 10 years have passed since we first made our way up the gravel driveway to camp. It really did not dawn on me until Kaitie came home that this was her last year as a Rockbook Camper. She loves her special time there so much, I guess I thought it would just go on forever. Until I read her statement that she gave at Spirit Fire and saw the tear stains on the ink, I didn’t fully appreciate how much this summer meant to her. I was touched by the raw emotion she expressed and the anxiety she feels about the possibility of never returning again in the same capacity. Rockbrook is more than just a “camp” that she goes to for a few weeks every summer. Rockbrook is a part of the fabric of her very being. It is a part of her philosophy of living. She sees the world through the eyes of a 7 year old little girl who found her way through the heart of a wooded mountain, cabin by cabin, to become the amazing young woman she is today. I find it difficult to put into words…it is the way she stands, the way she walks and the smile on her face when she speaks of this special place that is hers. I cannot thank you enough for everything you have given her.

I hope you have a great rest of the summer. Know that she is thinking of you every single day. I cannot imagine better thoughts.

Laurie Uebelhoer

Thanks everyone for a great session! We’re all looking forward to when we can see you again at Rockbrook.

Marvelous Events

July 22, 2015
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Summer Camp Party CostumesAs we’ve arrived at the last day of our session, it’s time for everyone at camp to gather for several special all-camp events. Some have been in the works for weeks, like the fantastic Banquet presented by the CA (9th grade) campers. Kept hidden since the very first day of the session, the Banquet’s theme defines all aspects of the event: the colorful, painted posters lining every inch of wall space in the dining hall, decorations hung from the rafters, costumes for skit performances, special food and music. The Banquet is really an elaborate, highly decorated, over-the-top, party that’s so much fun everyone really looks forward to it.

The theme for this session’s Banquet was “The Great American Road Trip.” It featured characters dressed like tourists as they traveled to different cities and attractions across America. They stopped in New York City to see the Statue of Liberty, New Orleans for Mardi Gras, and Los Angeles to see a music video being filmed. The posters decorating the dining hall walls showed all these places plus other American landmarks like Chicago, Niagara Falls, Mount Rushmore, Las Vegas, and even the Pisgah National Forest. The posters were outstanding… some of the most well-drawn, with colorful details, I can remember. The biggest surprise, however, came when the campers realized that all of the tables and chairs in the dining hall had been removed, and they would be sitting around checkered tablecloths on the floor for a picnic! Each picnic tablecloth included a basket of assorted candy along with the platters of chicken fingers, french fries, small canned drinks, and fruit kabobs. The whole banquet was marvelous, and easily one we’ll all remember.

Peter Pan Acting Camp KidsThe entire camp, campers, staff members and a few lucky parents, all were thrilled today to watch our camp musical, Peter Pan. This is the familiar story based on the Disney film where Peter Pan whisks away three children to Never Land where they encounter Tinkerbell and other fairies, the Lost Boys, Indians and Captain Hook. Using all homemade costumes and simple scenery, the girls put on an excellent show singing songs like “You Can Fly” and “Yo Ho, A Pirate’s Life for Me.” Marvelous is a great way to describe this event too. I’m certain everyone who saw the show would agree.

Campfire Camp ProgramWe closed the day with a campfire, our traditional “Spirit Fire.” As the sun dropped behind the huge poplar trees across the lake, the whole camp dressed in their “whities” (camp uniform) and gathered around the fire ring near Vesper Rock. For the next 40 minutes or so, the fire blazed, the crickets chirped and many voices sang traditional Rockbrook Camp songs like “How Did We Come to Meet Pal,” and “In the Heart of a Wooded Mountain.” We heard first-year campers stand and describe how they’ve settled in at camp, and also from returning campers about what Rockbrook means to them after so many years. Sarah spoke about friendship and the special sort of friends you make at camp. She described them as “Chocolate Chip Cookie Friends” because they make you feel that good. Arm in arm, huddled together as they sang and listened, the scene was emotional and beautiful, marvelous in so many ways. We closed the campfire as Rockbrook girls have for generations, with a candlelight procession forming a line around our lake. Each girl, with a small white candle lit from the Spirit Fire, stood facing the lake softly singing, absorbing the warm feelings of affection reflecting all around.

Girl Camp KidsFinal Campfire Lake Procession

Second Session Video Part Three

July 21, 2015
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Robbie from Go Swan Filmworks recently spent another day at Rockbrook filming, capturing on video some of the ordinary sights and sounds of camp life. The edited clip, despite being less than 2 minutes long, conveys wonderfully the atmosphere of camp so loved by the everyone here.

We hope you enjoy watching!

P.S. If you missed the two earlier videos of Second Session, they are here and here. :-)

5 Steps to Being Camp Chic

July 20, 2015
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The Complete LookSo you’re coming to camp on Sunday, and you want to know what to pack. The costumes are a given, of course. All the tutus, masks, wigs, and funny hats that you can cram into your trunk will be put to very good use here at camp.

But what about the everyday clothes? Maybe you have been scanning the packing list on our website, trying to determine, among the listings of “7-10 shirts/shorts,” what kind of clothes are actually considered cool at camp.

First of all, don’t worry. You could wear anything—literally, anything—at camp, and no one would bat an eye. A counselor once wore an astronaut helmet for the entirety of dinner, and I never once thought to ask why. The more typical question asked at camp when it comes to fashion is, “Why not?”

Water Bottles: The Vital AccessoryAt camp, the fashion rules of the outside world don’t apply. Makeup is only used for clown costumes and such, hair straighteners and curling irons are useless at best in the heat and humidity, and high heels can only ever end in sprained ankles on the gravel roads.

Here, the rules are rewritten to fit our environment—pretty clothes are replaced with functional ones, carefully styled hair is replaced with crazier styles, and traditional jewelry is replaced with colorful, homemade creations that express personality instead of expense. Camp fashion standards leave more room for creativity and originality, and allow campers and counselors to express exactly who they are and look so cool doing it.

Every summer at Rockbrook has its own styles and trends. Sarah Carter told me today about when she was a counselor in the eighties, and everyone wore oversize t-shirts and men’s boxers as shorts. When I was a counselor, it was all about tank tops and bandanas-as-headbands.

So what are the trends this summer? I talked to a ton of counselors and campers today (several of whom you’ll see in pictures) to find out the big ones.

SHOES
Chacos and SocksShoes at camp are all about comfort and functionality. Most people wear Chacos, Tevas, or Keens–though one counselor asked me to point out that Crocs, if worn with the right amount of confidence, are still cool. It’s always a good idea to jazz Chacos up a bit with some colorful socks, too, just to keep things interesting. For extra points, make sure to wear your Chacos enough that you can show off a beautiful Chaco tan-line.

SHIRTS
Double DyeHome MadeSome of the coolest clothes at camp are the ones that you make right here at Rockbrook. Once you make yourself the perfect multi-colored tie-dye, the only logical thing to do is to show it off as much as possible. Also, see if you can convince your counselor to let you make cabin shirts for Cabin Day. A white t-shirt+puffy paint=quality camp fashion. Odds are very good that you’ll go home with a very cool shirt after your session at RBC!

HAIR
Hair trends often take some interesting twists and turns (often literally) at Rockbrook. Through my years here, I have seen Afro wigs, Mohawks (usually for the dances), Kool-Aid tips, and more. This year, the trends have mainly centered around crazy pigtails and cornrows. Braids are always cool at camp–the more complicated the better. But the cornrow trends (and particularly the half-heads of cornrows that I’ve seen wandering around camp, have really taken this to a new level.

CornrowsPigtails

ACCESSORIES
As I mentioned earlier, accessories tend to be made here at camp, not bought. Campers often don’t consider their camp session complete until they have wrists full of friendship bracelets, survival bracelets, and paddling achievement bracelets. But the accessorizing doesn’t stop there. Campers love to show off their camp-made duct tape headbands, wallets, picture frames, and more. They can knit themselves hats in Needlecraft, and weave themselves headbands in Curosty. Rare is the camper who goes home without at least one of these stylish creations.

Full WristsHeadband

THE FLASH-TAT

Flash Tats

This year, the wildcard trend that none of us saw coming was the Flash Tat. These are basically temporary tattoos with a metallic sheen that work way better than regular make-up at making a girl’s face look unique and interesting. In fact, an entire cabin covered their faces with Flash Tats for their Miss RBC dance, and they all looked so incredible!

These are all of the trends that have come to my attention so far this summer, but if you have noticed others in the pictures, or during your camp session, feel free to comment and share!

As Though All the World Saw Us

July 19, 2015
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Speaking on IntegrityOn Sunday, the Juniors put on a beautiful Chapel for all of camp, on the theme “Integrity.” Though I shouldn’t have been, based on the campers that I have the pleasure of getting to know each summer, I was surprised by how firm a grasp many of these girls had on a concept that can best be described as, “You know it when you see it.”

Oftentimes, in thinking of integrity and in striving for it, I find myself mired in complexity. Integrity, after all, is composed of a hundred different qualities that are, in themselves often difficult to achieve. Honesty, industriousness, moral fortitude, and trustworthiness are all components—but which are the most important, and which can I fail to achieve from time to time without losing my integrity?

As I so often realize in my job, even the most daunting and complicated of topics can be made simple by the solid logic of a child. Integrity, as was expressed many times throughout Chapel, is achieved when you “do the right thing, even when no one is watching.”

Singing for the CampPondering...One after another, campers explained that this is the standard that they set for themselves: not only to do the right thing, but also to do it for the right reasons. To clean up the dinner table for the cabin-mate who forgot, and keep it to themselves. To pick up the trash strewn around the over-full trashcan in the empty lodge. To take just one muffin during muffin break, even though the Hi Ups’ backs are turned and they could easily take two. To do all of this without asking for praise or recognition—to do it only because it is the right thing to do.

The Juniors were also quick to acknowledge that it is impossible to live up to these standards at all times. A significant part of integrity, to them, is falling short of these goals and owning up to it afterwards. The example that stuck with me was a camper who took a nice pen from the lost and found at school, then returned it a day later. Nobody would have known that the pen had been taken or who took it, but still she returned it so that it might still have the chance of being reclaimed by its owner.

I like to think that camp is the perfect environment in which to develop integrity. This kind of close community living helps campers to feel accountable to their peers and to the camp as a whole—they learn quickly that if they are not behaving well, then their actions will have repercussions that affect many others. Likewise, good deeds tend to be recognized and appreciated more often here than in the real world. Even if campers are not behaving well specifically for attention, that attention still might find them, and teach them one of the many rewards of integrity.

Speaking on Integrity 2Sarah pointed out at the very end of chapel that, built into the routine of camp, is a daily reminder of all that having integrity entails. Every night before bed, campers of all ages recite the Rockbrook Prayer. Conceived ninety-four years ago as a Christian prayer, and changed in later years to reflect the disparate religious beliefs of our many campers, the prayer is essentially a challenge to every camper to be a better person tomorrow than she was today. In it is outlined the behaviors and qualities that give a person integrity, even though it doesn’t say so outright. Countless alumnae have told us that this prayer has stayed with them throughout their lives, and that various lines will come floating up out of their memories in moments when they need reminding of the sorts of women that Rockbrook has helped them to become.

That Takes Muscle!

July 18, 2015
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George Peterson giving a wood turning demonstrationSanding wood turning projectWe were lucky today to host local artist George Peterson and his wife Margaret (who is an Alumna of RBC) for a workshop on wood turning. George works with wood and is known nationally for his carving, etching and finishings of both functional pieces and sculptures. He’s shown his work across the United States, in New York, San Francisco and Atlanta for example, and recently returned from a gallery opening in Japan. You can see a few examples, including his latest work with old skateboards, on his Web site: The Circle Factory.

Beginning with a block of wood, George demonstrated how a wood lathe spins the block, and when he carefully presses a sharp chisel into the whirling wood, twisty shavings fly away. It’s mesmerizing to see how a uniform bowl is revealed, like it was hiding inside the block of wood. After removing it from the lathe, George then showed the girls how he uses an electric carving tool to shape the bottom of the bowl. The best part was next; giving it a try themselves! With George guiding the tools, the girls took turns working on their own shallow bowls, shaping and sanding them to a smooth finish. After branding each piece with the letters “RBC,” the girls added a coat of mineral oil to bring out the wood’s grain and give the bowls a protective and pleasing shine. George presented 4 workshops throughout the day, giving the 12 girls in each a really cool, unique wooden bowl to keep as memento from their camp session this year.

camp girl weaving on the loomgirls in yoga poses at summer campcamp horseback rider girl

Meanwhile, the full range of in-camp activities kept hands and feet busy all day. Badminton in the gym, loom weaving in Curosty, horseback riding down at the stables, yoga in the Hillside Lodge, climbing at the Alpine Tower, swimming at the lake, shooting at the archery and riflery ranges: all examples that come to mind. Action springs up in every corner on a day like this, but also a yummy, mid-morning muffin break, free time before lunch to chill out, and a delicious rest hour before jumping right back in for the afternoon. The pace of our day here at Rockbrook is wonderful.

Fairy garden house at summer campHidden in the shade among the ferns and broad-leafed hostas (which by the way are sometimes called “Plantain Lillies”) just behind the office, a few junior campers have discovered a fairy garden. It’s a delicately cultivated part of the forest really, an area that catches the eye as somehow more alive, more intentional and definitely more beautiful… painted rocks, colorful leaves and flowers, neatly arranged pieces of bark, sticks and lots of moss. After discovering it, it made complete sense to help the fairies be more comfortable, so using popsicle sticks, candle wax, string and beads, the campers built houses for the fairies, one with a back porch and another suspended from a low-hanging branch. On the roof of one house, they made their intentions clear by writing, “Welcome Home.”  Now, thankfully, the fairy garden is a fairy village, proving again, thanks to these generous, creative campers, that Rockbrook is a “Fairyland of Beauty.”

The biggest thrill of the day came after dinner when we held a dance, as Rockbrook has for generations, with the boys of Camp Carolina. The girls eagerly look forward to this night as a chance to clean up a little (which of course means firing all of the camp’s tankless water heaters at once), dress up a little, but really to giggle, be silly (again!), and jump around with each other. Tonight we held two dances simultaneously, the Juniors and Middlers staying here in our gym to dance with the younger boys, and our seniors and Hi-Ups heading over to the CCB dining hall for their dance. At Rockbrook, we invited our friend Marcus (aka, DJ Dawg) to pump out the music. He always does a fantastic job playing songs the girls know, as well as songs with popular dance moves like “Y.M.C.A.” The older girls spent a solid hour and a half dancing, at one point forming a conga line, singing along to the songs, and sweating as the night wore on.  That much dancing takes muscle! A little tired and definitely hot on the bus ride back to Rockbrook, the girls seemed to have all good things to say about our excellent night out.

SR teen camp dance girlsmiddler camp dance for girls

Switching It Up

July 17, 2015
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Different special events, “Rockbrook Surprises,” switched up our day today. We like to do that around here, change our routine by announcing surprise events, establish an unexpected theme for the day, or offer additional activities that the girls can do instead of following their regular schedule. It might be having a pancake breakfast in the lodges, or making it “Side Ponytail Day” (or “Twin Day” or “Superhero Day,” for example), or offering a hula hoop making workshop, to name just a few recent examples. It’s part of the playful spirit at Rockbrook to be excited about surprises and changes like these, and it’s another way that everyday at camp is extra special.

Camp beach girl reading on towel camp girls blowing bubbleThe lifeguards surprised everyone by announcing that they would be hosting beach parties during the activity periods today. That meant bringing out the outdoor sound system to play fun summertime music, having bubbles to blow, frisbees to toss, and other games to play. It was a bright, sunny day today, so as the girls sunbathed, played and read, they enjoyed taking breaks for cool lemonade, and later cold frozen popsicles. It was a fun, yet easygoing scene, at times rising into a singing dance party, only to then slow down to apply more sunscreen and splash in the water a bit… a lovely beach in the North Carolina mountains!

Shaving Cream FightSlip and slide camp girlThe roar was deafening when Chase announced the next surprise after dinner: a shaving cream fight and slip-n-slide down at our sports field. And the roar came from all directions in the dining hall, from the area where the Junior campers sit and equally from the Senior area. Girls of all ages were pumped to participate. A shaving cream fight is pretty simple. You need everyone dressed in their swimsuits, a large grassy field, and enough shaving cream so everyone can be armed with a can. Like all great games, there’s no keeping score, no clear beginning or ending point, and the only reason to play is for the fun of it. Some girls would run up and spray you directly from their can, while others would load a blob in their hand and plaster it on your back or chest, or in your hair. Actually, just about anything goes, making part of the fun becoming completely covered with the stuff. There was a certain devilish grin on the girls’ faces as they raced around smearing their shaving cream, but also wide-eyed surprise when someone snuck up and smacked them on the neck with a handful of the white slippery foam. Painting designs in the foam and styling wild hair formations soon became part of the fun, but we also pulled out a long sheet of plastic so, with some water sprayed on it from a garden hose, we could have a slip-n-slide. We added a little soap to the plastic, but with everyone so covered in shaving cream, the girls had no trouble zipping down the slide. It took a short run and then a belly flop to ride about 80 feet! These photos (clicking them brings up a larger version) should give you a sense of just how fun and crazy an evening it was.

I can’t verify that this other special event happened, but many of the girls told me of a dream they had last night where they were woken up by glowing fairies and invited to a dance party on the hill. With bright, beautiful stars shining above, girls from all over the camp, every age group, were there dancing and eating candy and snacks. Was it real, or a figment of our collective imaginations? It’s hard to tell!

shaving cream group of girls

A Fun Sandwich

July 16, 2015
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Alpine Climbing Kids CampDance Kids CampThere’s news from the climbing staff down at the Alpine Tower, our 50-foot tall climbing tower located in the woods behind the gym. If you rode our bus shuttle on opening day you may have caught a glimpse of it. It’s an impressive structure made from 20-inch diameter treated telephone poles, 14,000 lb aircraft cable, 1/2-inch galvanized bolts, Crosby clamps and 1-inch think nylon ropes… all fastened into a pyramid shape creating 3 sides where girls can climb. There are different routes up each side, some with rope ladders, climbing walls, swinging logs, and all sorts of handholds bolted to the poles. With dozens of ways to climb the tower, some straight forward and others being a tricky challenge, it can satisfy all kinds of climbers. The news is that a few “crazy climbing girls” have climbed to the top using all three sides of the tower and have begun attempting them again while blindfolded. Yes, blindfolded! It might sound impossible to climb without seeing, but these girls can do it, carefully feeling for good holds, making slow progress and trusting their climbing instincts to stand and balance on each foot. It’s amazing to watch!

There are amazing things to watch in the dance studio as well. Located in the Lakeview Lodge, with its stone walls, 4-foot fireplace, and hardwood floor, one end of the studio has a wall of mirrors perfect for rehearsing group choreography. They may not start out completely in sync, but it’s fun for the girls to practice their moves, giggling as they figure things out. The instructors tell me the girls are preparing two different dances that will be part of the musical to be performed at the end of the session. That will be fun to see!

Waterfall Campers HikingCanoe Trip PackingIn addition to the in-camp activities, our out-of-camp adventure trips have been heading out in multiple directions all week. The recent fantastic weather has made the conditions for hiking, rock climbing, kayaking and canoeing just perfect. Here are some of the trips… The kayakers have been to the Green River, the French Broad River, and the Tuckaseegee River so far this week and they are planning to paddle Big Laurel Creek tomorrow. There have been day hikes to the Dupont State Forest to marvel at some of the waterfalls, for example, the Hi-Ups hiking to High Falls to take a swim at the pool of water below. Rock climbers have set up multiple routes on Looking Glass Rock out in Pisgah, spending all day out.

One special outing thrilled a whole cabin of Middlers last night. It was an overnight canoeing trip on a section of the French Broad. They packed tents, food and cooking gear, as well as everyone’s personal belongings (clothes, sleeping bag, etc.) in 8 canoes for the trip. They paddled along the gently moving water, the river bank curving left and right, for about 2 hours to reach a grassy campsite where they pitched their tents, cooked dinner and enjoyed making s’mores around the campfire before heading to bed. The next morning under bright sunny skies (Yay!), after pancakes for breakfast, the crew repacked their boats and paddled a shorter section of the river to the takeout spot. It was an excellent trip.

Meanwhile, the girls back at camp had a chance to bust out (actually re-create by swapping elements) costumes again. For our “Twilight,” that block of free time between dinner and our “Evening Program,” the counselors organized a game that crossed a scavenger hunt with Halloween trick or treating. Wearing their costumes, the campers hunted all over camp for places to find someone handing out treats (stickers, glow sticks, small toys and candies). Groups of wacky, colorful girls had a grand time pausing for photos while they scurried about searching for the next goodie to add to their bags. It was a brief, fun special event sandwiched into another full day at camp.

Halloween Costumes Campers