“We welcome you to Rockbrook Camp; we’re mighty glad you’re here…” was the lyric of the day as we welcomed all of the August mini session girls to camp this morning. For these girls the wait was finally over; after weeks and often months of getting ready, time is about to speed up dramatically because they are joining the non-stop action of camp. There are a couple of hundred really great people to meet, songs and hand motions to learn, and lots of new things to try. For some, the opening day is a gradual introduction to camp life—meeting your counselor, setting up your bunk, spending a few minutes with cabin mates making your first friendship bracelet. Others, though, jump in feet first and are running off with other girls already enjoying the enthusiasm and freedom of camp. Sometimes, parents have to hunt down their daughter just to say goodbye! Either way, it doesn’t take long for the girls to begin making Rockbrook their camp.
Before we gathered for lunch, the whole camp assembled on the grassy hill in the shade of the big walnut tree so everyone could sing the line (age group) songs, hear about the different camp activities, and meet a few head counselors and the directors. It provides the first taste of what happens when you bring together this many excited girls. You see it in the energy of the staff, the enthusiasm of the directors leading the songs and the sheer volume of the singing. The effervescence of it all can first be a little shocking, but it quickly pulls you along and the next thing you know, you’re clapping and shouting too!
That was certainly true for the afternoon’s big event also: a camp-wide, Outer Space Carnival. Think aliens, astronauts and other “space beings,” but then add pink feathers, beads and colorful face paint, and you can imagine the costumes we saw. A crew of the counselors organized this event and came up with several different games and activities for the girls: a hula-hoop relay, a ring toss game, a “Cream the Alien” (“pie” in the face) challenge, a ribbon dancing project, face painting, and a giant bubble “machine.” We rented a 40-ft inflatable obstacle course and a 20-ft tall Velcro wall. To keep things lively, we also had the music pumping and served cotton candy and popcorn during the whole event. Teamed up in groups, the girls went from station to station trying what looked fun to them. They might put on the Velcro suit for a quick jump onto the wall, then make a ribbon dancing wand, or just dance around, cotton candy in hand… lots of fun choices for a Sunday afternoon.
After the Carnival and before dinner, the mini session Middlers and Seniors changed into their bathing suits so they could demonstrate their swimming ability down at the lake. We want to make sure everyone at camp can swim and tread water confidently before allowing them to enter the lake, zip down the water slide, or take a kayaking, canoeing or rafting trip. Girls who “pass” the swim demo receive a special colored buddy tag and a green bracelet that then alert the lifeguards that they can swim in the deep area of the lake. For those uncomfortable in the water, or for those who can’t complete the “demonstration,” they will have to wear a life jacket and stay in the shallow end of the lake. We always offer swim lessons during the swimming activity periods, so we encourage (though don’t require) girls to work on their strokes while at camp. The chill of our mountain-stream-fed lake can be a little shocking for girls used to warm water, but it also feels really good on a hot summer day.
One quick reminder: be sure to send those letters and emails to your girls (check the RBC parents manual for the addresses). It’s such a treat for campers to find something in their mailbox after lunch, and to have something to read on the way to rest hour. Plus, it’s the best way to inspire them to right a letter home as well!