What Summer Camps are About

August 30, 2007

Summer Camp Baskets

Here’s another interesting bit of reading about summer camps, this time from Harper’s Magazine (September 2007 issue). Rich Cohen, in “The Summer of Our Discontent: An Ode to Sleepaway Camp,” writes about his childhood experience at Camp Menominee in Wisconsin, and brings to the article a good deal of research about summer camping in general. There’s lots of good stuff to be found (subscribers can read more here), but I wanted to simply pass along a summary quote.

“Life at camp was changing— the nature of the kids and counselors, the very sense of what camp should be about. In the 1800s, it was about religion; in the early 1900s, it was about preserving a spark of frontier spirit; in the mid-1900s, it was about the barracks and preparing a generation for the coming war; now it’s about preparing kids for school and work, speeding them through the meritocracy.”

Yes, “being prepared” is still a big part of camp, but at Rockbrook we want kids to be kids. So camp is a place where girls can try new things, play, and play some more, create things, explore the outdoor world, gain confidence (social, physical, etc.), and have some crazy fun. Of course, personal growth and “preparation” for being a happy, well-adjusted individual happens within this context, and under the supervision of many positive role models.

I guess we could say attending Rockbrook isn’t primarily about learning how to be a better student or employee at school or work (though that might happen in the end), but it’s about having a more rounded and complete childhood experience that serves you well later in life.


History of Camp

August 28, 2007

Girls Camping

We came across this interesting book, History of Organized Camping: The First 100 Years by Eleanor Eells. It discusses the earliest camps, the people who founded them, and the first motivations behind summer camping. While the ideas of how camp is beneficial to children have changed over the years (from providing exercise, to acquiring specific knowledge, to training for social service), one thread has remained. These benefits derive from “getting away” from the ordinary modern world… out into nature, away from family and the social pressures of urban life. Camp was a respite, an antidote many parents understood as valuable. We’ve discussed this before, but certainly the same can be said today.


Scary Bugs and Other Camp Critters

August 20, 2007

Korean Hair Bats

Saw this series of sketches over at the New Yorker and thought they were funny. Of course, none of the critters exist at Rockbrook, but they’re fun to imagine nonetheless.

Camper Bug Report


Final Campfire of the Summer

August 18, 2007

Campfire Girls

We’ve had our final closing spirit fire for the summer, and we can’t help but remember all of the wonderful parts of the summer. We’ve made so many amazing friends, seen so many beautiful places, and enjoyed so many fun activities. As we’re busy with everything each day, it’s easy to forget how much Rockbrook means to the campers and counselors that return each summer. It really is true. Rockbrook is their camp. It’s a place for them to explore nature, meet new people, try new things, and essentially relax and enjoy being themselves in a friendly and welcoming environment. It’s also a place where we all grow and discover amazing talents and other aspects of ourselves. Camp is a very special place, and we’re all very grateful for being a part of it. Thanks to everyone for such a fantastic summer. We’ll miss you… until next summer!


Camp Archery Program

August 16, 2007

Girl Archery Camp

Archery is another huge hit with the kids at Rockbrook this summer. Girls really enjoy learning about archery at summer camp. There’s something classic about it. Nocking an arrow, pulling the bow, taking a breath, holding still, and releasing the arrow toward the multi-colored target. Of course, we’re aiming for the center of the target, and when we hit it, we get a certificate proving we’re in the “Bullseye Club.” No matter how old you are, it’s not easy at first, but with practice it doesn’t take long to improve and hit the target more and more perfectly. Hey, there’s Griffin!


Rock Climbing Summer Camp Trip

August 15, 2007

A Summer Camp Rock Climbing Trip

After breakfast we hike up the hill in camp to reach Castle Rock. Locking carabiners, harnesses, helmets, rock climbing shoes, and ropes… everything in place for a day on the rock. Put on the gear and tie into the rope with a follow-through figure eight knot. Wait for the belayer to get set and begin the commands. “On belay?” “Belay is on,” she says. “Climbing?” “Climb on,” you hear, and you’re ready to go. A left foot up and you’re off. Lean to the right. A foot switch. A little tricky spot, but you get it. This is real rock climbing! Amazing view at the top. A quick rappel and you’re down. Great job!


Summer Hiking Birthday Party

August 14, 2007

Girls Camping Birthday Party

Tonight was birthday night at camp, but a few girls were heading out for an overnight backpacking trip and would have to miss the celebration back at camp. Rather than go without, however, Jessi made arrangements to bring a few party things with the hiking group. Yep, they had their own birthday party out in the woods, complete with balloons, streamers, and an awesome cake! It was a lot of fun, and a big surprise for everyone.


1-Week Summer Camp Session!

August 13, 2007

1-week Summer Camp Girls

Our final camp session of the summer has opened and we’re very excited to have all of the campers arrive. This session is unusual because we’ve got mostly new campers and it lasts for just one week. Everyone is so enthusiastic, it’s going to be great fun to introduce Rockbrook to these girls, and with everything we’ve got planned, it’s no doubt going to be a great session.


Day Of Celebration

August 9, 2007

Summer Camp Equestrian Show

This morning Rockbrook hosted its very own horse show, and many of the campers participated in the event. Parents were also invited and were able to watch their kids in the show. The show was optional, and some of the campers did some last minute packing instead. The other kids went to their scheduled first and second activity periods. Later in the afternoon the campers went to the gym to see the production of The Wizard of Oz.

For dinner tonight we had a traditional Spirit Fire dinner. The campers and counselors dress up in their uniforms and were recognized for how many years they had been at Rockbrook.Various gifts are given out to designate how many years at Rockbrook they have attended. Spirit Fire was then held a little after dinner. We sang special campfire songs and campers and counselors spoke around the fire. What makes Spirit Fire special is that it is done in such a way as if it were to take place in 1921, when the camp was founded. Each camper is given a candle and is lit by the fire. The campers then line up around the lake and sing songs. After the event they are made to go back to their cabins in silence and only use their candles for light. As it would be in 1921, no electricity is used. And so ends the last night of third session, we’ve had a blast and are looking forward to 4th session! Thanks to all of the campers, counselors, administration, and everyone who have made this session successful!


Collect $200 Salary As You Pass GO!

August 8, 2007

Today was cabin day and the Senior line took an excursion to Sliding Rock. The temperature peaked at around 98 degrees, so it was a refreshing change for the girls. Sliding Rock is basically a large rock which mimics a gigantic water slide. It is located in the Pisgah Forest, and is just a little ways outside of Brevard. The girls went down a handful of times, and then were taken to the infamous Dolly’s for some ice cream. We were quick to get back to camp, for banquet was about to begin!

Campers Monopoly Party

There was much anticipation in the air, for the kids were eagerly waiting outside of the dining hall to be called in for banquet. The CAs (counselor assistants) for this banquet were quite prepared, and hosted one smashing banquet! The theme was Monopoly, and the dining hall was set up in as if it were the board game. The posters were painted in various places on the board such as: Go To Jail, Chance, Community Chest, North Carolina Avenue, etc. The 4 of the 5 CAs were dressed up as pieces for the game, and were covered in silver paint. The other CA, Elizabeth, was the Monopoly guy. The skits involved the CAs moving around on the board by rolling dice, and advancing on the board. Jerry always has a role in the banquet skits, and this time he was the police officer, and took one of the CAs, Morgan, to jail! Thanks to the CAs and their counselors who put on banquet, they worked very hard and we all enjoyed another successful banquet!