The ordinary frenzied tempo of camp yields to something more tranquil and relaxed on Sunday mornings at Rockbrook. Instead of all the activities, adventure trips leaving the camp property, and lively play filling our day, we take time to sleep in a bit and reflect on some of our experience together at camp. The rising bell rang at 9am (instead of 8)… Ah, sleeping in following such a busy week … and after a breakfast of Krispy Kreme doughnuts as well as scrambled eggs, English Muffins and our regular cereal, fruit and yogurt bars, the girls changed into their camp uniforms (white polo shirt, white shorts, and a red tie) in time to meet on the camp hill for our traditional flag raising ceremony. Led by the Hi-Up (10th-grade) campers, this was a particularly beautiful moment today. Met by an extraordinarily bright blue sky and sunshine above, the campers lined up around the flag pole, and with everyone so cleanly and sharply dressed, the setting made reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing “America the Beautiful” very special.
It’s a short walk from this ceremony down the lower line of cabins to the Chapel area of camp, which is a small clearing in the woods with rustic benches arranged into an amphitheater. Today the Senior campers and some of their counselors presented a program on the theme of “Nature.” Like all of our chapel programs, this gathering was not a religious ceremony, but instead an opportunity, a moment, to identify and contemplate a core value or feeling we all share at camp. This morning that meant considering our relationship with the natural world. We sang “This Land is Your Land,” “The Sound of Music,” and “What a Wonderful World,” heard short readings presented by Olivia, Nisha and Eileen, and Sam played her guitar and sang an original song. Sarah read the illustrated children’s book, Brother Eagle, Sister Sky: A Message from Chief Seattle, highlighting its message about preserving our relationship with nature (or how that relationship enables for us “living” instead of merely “existing”). Toward the end of the program, Sarah also invited the campers to add their thoughts and ideas. First one, then another, but soon more than a dozen girls came forward to describe how camp has strengthened their love and appreciation of nature. One told of releasing a captured spider (instead of simply killing it), and another described how she wished there were more opportunities at home to be outside. With these stories and others, the girls proved they really care about this topic.
After a little free time following Chapel and before going into lunch, we all assembled on the hill under the walnut tree to announce the “Mop Awards” (highly stylized mops, that this year look like cats) to the cabins that had the best inspection record this week. Two campers were recognized as “Happy Campers” and a Junior cabin received the RBC “Spirit Paddle” for their overall enthusiasm for camp (Here they are in this photo.). The Directors made a few short announcements, and to wrap things up, the Hi-Ups helped lead several rousing songs punctuated by the Line cheers.
The afternoon event got everyone in camp moving… running in fact, as we played a new game Chase called “Around the Camp in 80 Ways.” With help again from the Hi-Ups, we set up 12 different obstacles or group challenges throughout the camp. The cabin groups, staying together, then tried to complete each challenge as fast as possible, including mad sprints from station to station. The obstacles required various camp skills, some teamwork, and other odd talents. There was untangling a human knot, hair braiding, bouncing a tennis ball on a racquet, friendship bracelet tying, riddle solving, and a swimming challenge at the lake. For many groups, the most difficult activity turned out to be starting a fire, and the messiest station involved finding a piece of bubblegum in a pan of flour. All this running up and down the hills of Rockbrook really worked up a sweat, so it was nice to find icy popsicles at the finish line, and likewise to cool off with a dip in the lake. While perhaps a little strenuous, this turned out to be a really exciting, fun event.