Here’s a fascinating horseback riding photo for the fourth in our archival series. We’re not sure when the picture was taken, but it looks like some kind of gaited horse, perhaps a Tennessee Walking Horse. Also, the rider’s hands and leg positions look like she’s been trained for riding a gaited horse. While different from the American system of forward riding we teach at Rockbrook today, it’s fun to see.
For the third in our series of archival overnight camp photos, we have this great scene of four girls ready for a short hike at camp. Being so different from today’s look, it’s neat to see the hair styles and the different things they’re wearing.
The second in our series of old camp photos is this picture of a dance performance from the 1930s (we think!). It’s taken on the lawn of the Carrier House. Styles have changed a bit, but dance is still popular, and we still have a performance for the whole camp at the end of each session.
We thought it would be fun to share a few photos from Rockbrook’s past. So for the next few days we’ll give you a glimpse or two into what our girls camp looked like in days gone by. Being a camp founded in 1921, there are some really neat shots. This first photo is of the craft cabin called “Curosty.” It’s still where the girls do fiber arts, weaving, knitting, beading, and such. Those looms are still in service!
What is the best girls summer camp in North Carolina? That’s really hard to say, of course. There are so many great traditional overnight girls camps out there, ones with beautiful facilities, outstanding counselors, and a diverse program of activities, the differences can be subtle and often boil down to what’s emphasized and what stands out as a strength at any particular camp. Many do consider Rockbrook (at least “one of”) the best girls camp(s) in the south, with its equestrian program, ceramics program, adventure activities, and historic wooded setting. In fact, Rockbrook was just featured in a newspaper article for its traditional architecture.
Another way to put it is to say the best camp is the camp you love. It’s the camp for you, the one where you feel at home with good friends and fond memories. For a camp with a long history like Rockbrook, it’s easy to understand why so many consider it the best.
How old do you need to be to attend Rockbrook?
This question comes our way quite a bit, and some parents are surprised to hear that we have a group of campers we call the “Juniors” who are as young as 6 years old. These are girls who have finished kindergarten through the fourth grade. That might seem pretty young for a sleepaway camp, but the Rockbrook program is well designed for this age group, providing these young campers wonderful opportunities to try new things, explore the outdoors, and become more self-confident while away from home.
Here’s seven-year-old Lexi (one of our movie stars!) tubing on the Davidson River.
At the end of each main session, our CAs (girls who have finished the 9th grade) throw a big party for the whole overnight camp, an amazing banquet with special food, elaborate decorations, skits, songs, and speeches. They select a surprise theme of some sort and then spend a ton of time planning the whole event. Everyone looks forward to it because it’s such a great time.
What banquet themes can you remember?
Drama has always been a popular activity at Rockbrook. Throughout the week, the drama activity periods involve improv situations, puppet shows, charades, and other games, but during each main session the campers and drama instructors also produce a full-blown play. Costumes, scenery, music, choreography, and of course characters presenting a story— it’s an elaborate production performed for the whole camp at the end of the session.
The camp play brings together so many different campers and staff members, all in a cooperative and noncompetitive spirit. It’s a wonderful example of our kids camp philosophy, a great opportunity to create something together, and for all of us to marvel at the results.
P.S. This photo is from last summer’s production of Alice in Wonderland.
Here’s a shot from a rock climbing trip up at Castle Rock, the big granite outcropping on the Rockbrook Camp property (literally in our backyard ). It’s just one of the climbing spots we have at camp, and along with all the other outdoor adventure activities offered —backpacking, whitewater kayaking, sea kayaking, mountain biking, ropes course, day hiking, whitewater rafting— it’s one way Rockbrook girls “play outside this summer.”
An article in the New York Times this weekend about recess in school made me think how the “unstructured time outside with other children” that camp provides is so important. The article is by Debra Nussbaum and is here. It reports that many American elementary schools are reducing the time devoted to recess. With an emphasis on academics and required standardized testing, the school day is busier and unfortunately recess has been one of the first things to be cut. For many parents, this is an alarming trend.
Recess is important because it provides kids freedom to play as they (and not adults) choose. It’s physical, outdoor time for exploring and growing.
“It’s a time for children to relate to their friends. Society has taken away a lot of children’s childhood. Play is children’s work.”
One of the great things about camp is its ability to provide a safe context for girls to interact in this way. Between our organized activities and meals, campers can play in the creek, sit around and talk, play tetherball, read under a tree, or just run around together— all within the bounds of camp and close by a helpful staff member. As time for recess shrinks at school, time at camp seems even more important.
P.S. Of course, the value of recess as play incudes the value of being outdoors.