And the bronze medal goes to…

November 21, 2011
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Rockbrook girls can run! You may have read about camper Eliza winning her school track meet a few blog posts back, and we’re proud to report that camper Gracie from Greenville, SC has similar fast feet! A few weeks ago, Gracie participated in the Caine Halter Lungs 4 Life 5k, a race that raises money for lung cancer research. Over 1150 people attended the event to walk, run, and support the cause to end lung cancer. Gracie pedaled her way around the course and came in third in her age group! With a finishing time of 27:02, Gracie kept a quick 8:43 mile pace and she was the only 9 year-old in the top three; the other runners were 10 years-old! Way to go, Gracie!

Gracie begins her race!

Gracie charging along the track!

Gracie posing with her well-deserved medal!

Teens Seeking Sensations

November 18, 2011
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Girls Camp for Teens Thrive on Sensation
If you spend time around teenagers, it’s easy to see them exhibit “sensation seeking” behaviors. They thrive on new experiences and stimuli of all kinds, and tend to take surprising risks. In fact it’s widely accepted within psychology that this personality trait is a dominant force in the lives of teen girls and boys. This sensation seeking is thought to be an evolutionary skill, something that helps teens learn new things, become more independent from their parents and to increase their social competence. Overall, it’s a good thing.

On the other hand, chasing novelty like this, even if they’re unaware of it, can sometimes get teenagers into trouble. As a young teen girl or boy is bombarded by urges to experience new things and to be included in their peer group, they may lack the cognitive development to temper risky behaviors, or blindly hold the perceived benefits of that behavior supremely important over everything else. For example, a girl may experiment with drugs at the urging of her friends, effectively ignoring the personal, legal and health consequences of that decision, because she values the approval of her peer group more. Put differently, it’s thought that risky teenage behavior can be understood as “sensation seeking” run amok.

It’s a dilemma; we want our teenagers to experience new things and meet new people, and thereby to learn and grow from that novelty, but we also want them to choose less risky behaviors and seek out positive experiences and peer influences. How to land on the right side of that equation?

Summer camp is well suited to provide this kind of positive sensation seeking for teens. Everyday at sleepaway camp, girls can enjoy new experiences, whether they be climbing a rock, the excitement of shooting a gun, or just making friends with new and different people.

Camp is a pool of positive peer pressure. Chock full of excellent role models, it promises to help teens channel their urge for novelty and their desire to connect with friends. Camp is also a place where teens can take acceptable risks, challenging themselves in exciting new ways, even as parents can be assured their children are kept safe, encouraged and supported. It’s just an ideal environment for teens seeking sensations. It’s no wonder they love it so much!

Her Very First Ride

November 14, 2011
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Little Summer Camp girl horseback riding
For little girls, taking their first equestrian lesson can be a mix of excitement and nervous jitters. It’s exciting because horseback riding seems so fun when you read about it or see it in movies, but for your first riding lesson, it can easily be a little overwhelming. There is so much to learn— special clothes, important safety rules, riding gear for the horse, how to mount, different riding positions, and communicating with your horse. The horses and ponies can seem so huge! And there is a lot to remember all at once.

That’s why it’s so important that a girl’s first experience learning to horseback ride be a safe, caring, gentle introduction. It’s crucial that her instructor be experienced working with small children, that he or she be kind and patient, and that the pony be calm and gentle in the ring. Taking small steps, gradually gaining confidence and greater understanding, is the best way to maintain a girl’s enthusiasm for riding. The best children’s horseback riding centers know how to pace this kind of progression.

The equestrian program at Rockbrook Camp has a long history of introducing young girls to horseback riding. Camp has just the right combination of skilled instructors and gentle ponies, enthusiasm for riding, and great equestrian facilities to encourage girls on their very first ride. At camp, we’re well prepared to make every girl’s first horseback riding experience a positive one. It’s the perfect recipe for a life-long love of horses and horseback riding!

Healthy Kids Get Outdoors

November 7, 2011
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Canoe kid in the water with canoe outdoorsThere’s a new bill introduced in the US Senate that authorizes “the Secretary of the Interior to carry out [state and local] programs and activities that connect Americans, especially children, youth, and families, with the outdoors.” It’s called the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act of 2011 and was introduced by Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, and co-sponsored in the House of Representatives by Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin.

Prompting this legislation is a growing concern that American children are increasingly sedentary, spending most of their time indoors, and overweight. A wide range of studies show our kids are addicted to electronic media, watching on average 7.5 hours per day. Obesity and its related health problems are closely related to this. And now, seeing that kids are spending on average less than 10 minutes a day in unstructured outdoor play, an alarming trend is appearing. There’s even some worry that an unhealthy American population would be a national security threat given how many overweight people would be disqualified from military service.

The Healthy Kids Outdoors Act would combat these trends by funding state and local organizations in their efforts to get kids outdoors, to encourage active outdoor experiences. Here too, studies show outdoor activity yielding incredible public health, local economic and national conservation benefits. Seeking these benefits, this legislation would provide up to $15 million dollars of matching funds to sponsor programs and infrastructure that effectively connect Americans, especially kids, with outdoor experiences.

Of course, we are cheering this legislation! At an outdoor summer camp like Rockbrook, we know and celebrate the wonders of outdoor experience everyday. We spend most of our time (not just 10 minutes!) outside, actively engaged in dozens of activities.

At camp, we know all about the benefits to kids of outdoor activity. It’s nice to see those same benefits being championed nationally.

Look at us and you will see, the very best Pets have we!

November 6, 2011
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Since the beginning of their fall travels on the road, Sofie and Frampton have had so much fun hanging out with RBC girls and their pets! Big dogs, little dogs, crazy cats, lazy cats, and even a pair of very social guinea pigs (One named “Chocolate” and the other named “Chip”), Rockbrook girls call a variety of different animals family members. In fact, camper Elley from Montgomery, AL is such an animal lover that she had her birthday party at the Humane Society! When preparing to come to camp, the thought of leaving behind your pet for a few weeks can bring a smidge of sadness, so when settling into the cabin on Opening Day, you’ll find that lots of campers bring photos of their furry best friends to Rockbrook. Below are some of our favorite pet portraits!

Heathie and Jake
Rebecca's dog, Doc
Sofie, Emma, Cody, and Frampton pose with Snickers
Campers McAuley, Elley, and Rosemary love Winston, their Golden Retriever

Dude, Do you Extrude?

November 4, 2011
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extruded pottery and glazed ceramics

One of the ceramics hand-building techniques we teach in Rockbrook pottery classes is extruding. This involves creating clay forms, or consistent shapes, by pressing clay through an extruder, a simple hand-powered machine. An extruder is really a piston of sorts operated by a lever. On one end of the piston’s cylinder is a wooden or metal plate called a die. Different dies have different shapes cut out of them. The whole thing works by filling the cylinder with clay, and pulling the lever of the extruder, thereby forcing the piston to push the clay through the die, and out in the shape of the cutout. It takes muscles to pull that lever, but it’s so cool to see the extruded clay come out!

Some dies extrude circular tubes, but there are also square, hexagonal and octagonal tubes as well. You can extrude slabs, coils and even half-spherical shapes. Extruders are great at making long, even forms of clay.

Of course, these shapes then can become the building blocks for more complex hand-building projects. Extruded clay can be combined to make really complex sculptures, for example when extruded tubes are cut at different angles and joined to make multi-sided vessels.

And don’t forget glazing and firing these pieces. Like all the pottery and ceramics projects at camp, the results are beautiful! Yep, at Rockbrook, we do extrude.