“[At the gathering] I was reminded that the Spirit of Rockbrook is ageless, timeless, and omnipresent. And while we may find ourselves having moments where we forget about it in the un-real world, it never forgets about us. It connects us all no matter what “school or name or fame” because at its core, the Rockbrook Spirit has the uncanny ability to gather and welcome hundreds of women (and the select irreplaceable male figures) with wide open arms whenever we feel like going home.”
Although Rockbrook has offered pottery since the 1950’s, it really took off in the 1980’s when John and Sybil Dodson aka “Mr. and Mrs. Potter” began their work at Rockbrook. They created a fabulous program and helped build our first pottery studio, located down in the old garage of The Rockbrook House. For over 20 summers the Dodson’s taught legions of Rockbrook girls the art of hand building, wheel throwing and glazing. If you were a camper during that time you probably also remember the petting zoo down at pottery! Mr. Dodson would often bring a goat or a chicken as artistic inspiration. When we hear from former campers and staff they often talk about Mr. and Mrs. Potter as some of their favorite camp leaders.
In addition to working at Rockbrook, Mr. and Mrs. Dodson had their own pottery shop. Mud Dabbers Pottery and Crafts was located in the Old Distillery Building on the Rockbrook property. It did not take long for them to outgrow their original shop with all of their amazing pottery, so they moved Mud Dabbers down the street to the Old Powell Store, where it is currently located. It is quite an amazing shop, filled with the work of over 20 artists. It is still a destination location for many people who journey up the mountain just to visit Mud Dabbers!
So, In honor of Mr. Dodson and all of his amazing work with so many people over the years, his family and friends are organizing a memory book for him for his upcoming birthday. If you have a memory of Mr. Potter that you would like to share for this special tribute, please write Shannon at: email@example.com. Deadline for submissions is Memorial Day. We love you Mr. Potter!
In the stories of Rockbrook, perhaps no one is more legendary than former counselor and director Ellen Hume Jervey. Fondly known as “Jerky”, she was an institution at Rockbrook for over 40 years. Jerky grew up in Charleston, SC (just an interesting side note, Jerky lived next door to The Verner Gallery, the art gallery of Elizabeth O’Neill Verner, another memorable Rockbrooker). She began her Rockbrook career as a counselor in the 1920’s. After college, Jerky was the Physical Education Director at Hood College, but she continued to work at Rockbrook for the summer. In the 1940’s Jerky became a Director at Rockbrook and continued working at camp through the 1960’s. She lived in Charleston, SC during the school year where she taught at Ashley Hall, a private girls school. She is referred to by many of our alumna as one of the most influential people in their lives.
One of the most shared stories about Jerky is that during WWII she was commissioned as an officer with the US Naval Reserves! Rockbrook closed for the summers during the war and many women became involved in the war effort. None more so than Jerky! We have searched high and low for more information about it and were thrilled to find the following article from a Charleston, SC Newspaper.
The WAVEs (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) division of the Naval Reserve consisted entirely of women. From the very beginning, the WAVES was an official part of the Navy, and its members held the same rank and ratings as male personnel. The first commissioned female officer in the Navy was the commander of the WAVES, and she was commissioned in August, 1942. You can see from the article that Jerky was not far behind, being commissioned in December. We are not sure how long Jerky served, but will continue our research to find out more about her time in the Navy. You can see just one of the reasons why she was an amazing role model and mentor to so many Rockbrook women.
Stay tuned for more Jerky stories! If you have any you would like to share we would love to hear from you!
Singing is a huge part of camp life and one of the funniest song traditions at Rockbrook is the Parlez-Vous Song. A Parlez-Vous is a song made up by a cabin or group of campers and then performed spontaneously in the dining hall. After asking several Alumna if they remember singing Parlez- Vous at camp, it seems that they have been part of the Rockbrook lore since the 1930’s. Here is an example of a Rockbrook Parlez- Vous:
We had so much fun at the camp out last night, parlez-vous
We had so much fun at the camp out last night
The S’mores and stories were out of sight
Inky Dinky parlez- vous
These spontaneous songs are often very humorous and creative and always bring a laugh and a smile to everyone as we enjoy our meals together.
So, what in the world is the history of the Parlez- Vous and how did it come to Rockbrook?
After a little digging it appears that the origins of the Parlez- Vous come from a World War I song called Mademoiselle from Armentières“. This song was adapted from a British Indian Army song called Skiboo. It was a rhyming song, whose lyrics changed quite regularly. During World War I it was often referred to as the Hinky Dinky Parlez Vous Song and would be adapted and sung by soldiers. Some versions were a bit risque but we were able to find a great version. Listen below and be sure to wait for the chorus!
Isn’t it fascinating how songs at camp are passed along from generation to generation? If you remember any funny Parlez-Vous from your days at camp, please send them in! We would love to hear them.
We enjoyed a beautiful walk around camp last week and wanted to share some of the scenes we captured as we wandered around. Camp is quiet in the winter but the beauty of the quiet cold season is remarkable. It is hard to believe that there will be flowers blooming, frogs chirping and kids laughing at camp in just a few short months! Enjoy these winter shots. Can you tell where they were taken?
Check out this great old photograph we found in a camp scrapbook that was recently donated to Rockbrook. The Lakeview Lodge and Vesper Rock are the stars of the show! Here is an earlier blog post with a great photograph of the interior of the Lakeview Lodge.
If you have not been to camp recently you will be relieved to know that it still looks very much the same as in this wonderful old photograph. The trees are a bit taller but the feel of camp is just like this picture! If you look really hard you may even see Mrs. Carrier in the front left of the image, walking down the road wearing white.
We love the unique perspective of this photo as it was taken from the hill where the gym currently stands. Be sure to click on the photo to see a larger version of the image.
We are excited to share the news that former Rockbrook counselor Megan Hansen Shepherd is releasing her debut novel, The Madman’s Daughter today! The Madman’s Daughter is the first in a trilogy of Young Adult Novels. Check out Megan’s website to learn more about this exciting read! We have even heard that her book has already been optioned to be turned in to a movie. Way to go Megan! We are all so proud of you! If you are in the area, be sure to stop by her families bookstore, Highland Books, to pick up your autographed copy!
Also check out this short trailer about Megan’s book and potential movie! We can’t wait to read it!
Singing is a HUGE part of life at Rockbrook and is something that every camp generation can share. We hear fabulous stories from our alumnae of camp songs being sung at weddings, college events, in the middle of a restaurant, or even when you run into a friend at the grocery store. What is it about those fun camp songs that sticks with you forever?
Because singing is such a big part of camp life at Rockbrook, we are in the process of updating our famous camp songbook. Over the years some songs drifted out of popularity, while new ones “came into fashion”. Songs like “Liberty” and “When the Moon Plays Peek A Boo” were very popular in the 60’s while songs like “The Coconut Song” and “Yogi Bear” are a few current hits. With our new songbook we hope to include ALL of the camp songs from the Rockbrook repertoire. That is where you come in! We do not have a songbook from the 20’s-40’s. If anyone has an old songbook or can send us any information about the songs from the early years of Rockbrook we would SO appreciate your help.
Now that camp songs are running through your mind, visit this page to hear some recordings of some popular Rockbrook songs!