Building Leaders

Teaching the Basics

At Rockbrook, our primary focus is always to give childen the time of their lives in a fun, crazy, safe, and exciting environment. Our objective is to give girls the chance to let loose and get a little crazy, and create memories that will last them well into adulthood.

Full Costume
Steady…..

We do have another objective, though—one that is woven into much of our programming, often in subtle ways, but at times more explicitly. We know that the girls playing in our camp today will not be children forever. There will come a time when these girls will be populating boardrooms, operating rooms, courtrooms, art studios, sports arenas, Houses of Congress, and maybe even the White House. Much of what we do here is geared toward helping them to become the strong, positive leaders that they will need to be in the years to come.

Though, officially, our leadership program does not begin until the summer after ninth grade, we encourage all of our campers to be independent thinkers from the moment they step onto camp on their very first day. One of the most important ways that we foster this independence is by allowing our campers to choose their own activities every three days. No counselors, no directors, and no parents can tell them which activities to choose—only the campers, be they seven or fifteen, can make that decision. We urge them to choose activities based not on what their friends are choosing, but rather on what they are interested in, what they are excited about, and what activities might challenge them. Through this process, campers can learn the immense satisfaction that comes from crafting an experience that is wholly and completely their own.

Never Too Small
Working Hard

What’s more, our campers put together and perform skits nearly every night with their cabins. Returning campers look forward to these skits every summer—they are fun, goofy, and often hilarious ways to top off the day. Planning the skits, though, is not without its challenges. Skit-planning requires girls to think creatively, to determine how every girl in the cabin can contribute to the performance, to pool their resources (usually costumes) and use them in a way that benefits everyone, and to make sure that everyone is on board and happy with the process.

On top of all of that, the girls aren’t planning the skits under the direction of a counselor. The counselors wait in the lodge, and leave the planning, from beginning to end, to the girls. Throughout the session, the campers get plenty of practice in learning to solve disagreements in mature ways that benefit the cabin as a whole, without the interference of an adult. To help this process along, particularly for the younger girls, campers might be assigned days to be the “skit director.” On this night, they are the leader of the skit-planning, and it is up to them to make the tough decisions and make sure that every girl’s voice is being heard.

Yes, it can sometimes be messy—as learning new skills frequently is—but our campers often leave here at the end of the session with a better understanding of how to be a great leader of a team, and, sometimes more importantly, how to be a productive member of a team.

When campers reach 9th and 10th grade, they begin to take on more responsibilities around camp. They shoulder the responsibility of planning an elaborate Banquet as CA’s, then take on the myriad duties of a Hi-Up, many of which are vital to the smooth running of camp. Some girls are always nervous to take on this leadership role at camp. What they might not realize, is that they have been preparing to be leaders, at camp and elsewhere, since the moment their parents dropped them off on their very first day.

HUP Pals

Becoming Someone New

Deep Breath...

On this first day of activities—the first full day of camp—I am reminded that camp is more than just a chance to retreat from the rigors of the “real world,” to have some mindless fun and excitement, and to make new friends and reconnect with old ones. Camp is a place in which children can become someone new every single day.

Downward Dog

Most of the 207 girls assembled here at Rockbrook this session wear some pretty standard labels for most of the year: student, daughter, sister, class president, team captain, honor roll student, and the like. They will belong to categories like these for a while, before growing up, and gaining some more exciting ones like lawyer, doctor, engineer.

This, of course, is all in the normal course of events.

Kayak Race!

What camp does, is give girls a chance to don a whole host of other identities that most people never get to try. In just one day, I have seen the school-girls who were dropped off here yesterday morph into markswomen, mountain climbers, equestrians, basket-weavers, yogis, archers, and more.

Spider-Man Drop

I heard them swapping stories at lunch and during free swims. Giving each other tips on which side of the Alpine Tower makes for the best climb, as though they have been climbing for their whole lives and not just one morning. Boasting cheerfully about getting their wet-exits in kayaking on the very first day. Showing their cabin-mates the first steps of the dance that they will be premiering in the dance show at the end of the session.

Soaking the Reeds

A Junior spent about five minutes this afternoon, explaining to me exactly how long the reeds needed to soak in the stream before they would be pliable enough to make a basket. She had never made a basket before. She was repeating to me what she had heard the instructor say just minutes before. But, in her mind, she was an expert, a basket-weaving professional, when an hour before she had been nothing of the kind.

Perfect Form

Every day, every hour, almost, these campers get to try something new, become something different, and expand a little more. By the end of the session, they might decide that they never again want to be an archer, or a climber, or a basket-weaver—but the hope is that, through all of this experimenting, they will leave here with a bit more of the confidence that it takes to become the varied and interesting women that they will one day grow to be.

A Simple Costume

Never To Be Forgotten

Summer Camp Friends

Today was the final day of camp for our 2014 season, and looking back, recalling all the excitement and action of the past 10 weeks, we’re so grateful for the experience. It’s been a truly remarkable summer. We could point to many reasons for this, and while it’s tempting to list accomplishments or the successful special events that populated our weekly calendar, I think the most delightful aspect has been the bonds of friendship we all gained with the wonderful girls, staff members and directors who comprised our camp community. It was the relationships we formed that will keep this summer unforgettable. Here’s how Lucy Maud Montgomery put it.

“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams

Thank you everyone for contributing your enthusiasm and energy, your care and kindness, to our time together. Thank you parents for sending your girls to camp. We will miss you all. We’ll miss laughing and playing together, supporting and encouraging each other. We’ll miss you, friends, but also look forward to next summer when we can be together again.

Out and About with Eva

I’m excited to start a new camper spotlight segment on our blog called, “Rockbrook Girls: Out and About”.  It will allow us to keep up with our camp friends throughout the year, learn some new fun facts about them, and to hear about all of the cool things Rockbrook girls are doing outside of camp.

I’m happy to introduce our first participant, Eva, from Brevard.  Eva will be coming to our third session this summer.

Eva in her role as Cinderella for her school's production of "Into the Woods". She was awesome!
Eva in her role as Cinderella for her schools production of “Into the Woods”. She was awesome!

Check out Eva’s answers to our interview questions below.  I think it’s a safe bet that she will be signing up for archery as often as she can.  She’ll be shooting like Katniss in no time!  Eva also listed Peter and the Starcatchers as her favorite book.  If you’re looking for a new book to read, this one is a real page-turner.  Learn more about it here.

EvaCinterview

If you want to be part of our camper spotlight, email us for more parent information.  We can’t wait to hear from you!

Top 10 Reasons Every Rockbrook Girl Misses Camp

Every Rockbrook girl knows the bittersweet feeling that comes along with leaving camp at the end of the session.  We’ve had such an awesome time meeting new friends and trying new things, and leaving it all behind seems impossible.  The friends and memories made keep camp on our minds all year long.  We all know the truth behind the words, “The summers fly by, but the winters drag on.”  So, in an attempt to lessen the pain of children being “campsick”, this is an ode to every Rockbrook girl who misses her days in the heart of the wooded mountain.

The Top 10 Reasons Every Rockbrook Girl Misses Camp

1. Simple Days

simple life in the creek

I know what you must be thinking- camp isn’t SIMPLE!  No way!  We do fun things all day and wear crazy costumes to lunch and paint our faces and dance in the dining hall!!  Allow me to clarify: camp is really the only place where having fun is our main job.  We don’t have to worry about finishing our homework, making it to basketball practice on time or keeping up with our Facebook page.  It’s nice to escape the pressures of home and just enjoy ourselves.  At Rockbrook, time slows down, life is easy, we find fulfillment in the simple things — wearing crazy costumes, painting our faces, and dancing our hearts out.

2. Muffins by Katie

camp muffins

Our awesome baker, Katie, is the best of the best, the cream of the crop, at the top of the totem pole when it comes to making muffins.  Whether it’s a fancy mint chocolate chip recipe or a more simple “funfetti” or blueberry muffin, we can’t get enough!  Katie’s muffins are just what we need after first period, and muffin withdrawals are no joke after we leave camp.  Check out this video that shows just how important muffin break is at Rockbrook.

3. Counselors Like This

camp counselor and camper

We all know what it feels like to have that counselor.  You know the one I’m talking about — she makes you feel special because she truly cares about you.  She’s interested in you and is there to make your camp experience the best she can.  She’s cool because she understands that camp is cool.  She’s like a fun older sister, like the most awesome baby sitter you’ve ever had.  Most importantly, she’s a role model and a friend.

4. Friendship Bracelets

girls friendship bracelets

Chevron.  Twist.  Totem pole.  Diamond.  Ladder.  No matter how old we are, making friendship bracelets is a hobby enjoyed by Rockbrook girls far and wide.  We spend countless hours at camp making bracelets for our friends.  The only thing better than receiving a friendship bracelet is giving one.  Free swims and twilights spent on the hill making friendship bracelets are when we make some of our best memories- memories that stay with us long after our bracelets become dull, and after many years, eventually fall off.

5. Dolly’s Ice Cream

sophie dolly's

I’d be lying if it weren’t included on the list.  I’ve heard Rockbrook girls describe Dolly’s as the “best ice cream place in the world” on more than one occasion.  Whether you choose to order our very own flavor, Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion, or to go a different route, chances are you won’t be disappointed.  There’s no doubt that Rockbrook girls are missing Dolly’s this time of year.

6. Friends Like These

little jrs

Camp friends are the best friends.  Ask any Rockbrook girl, and she will tell you that this is true.  It is because at camp we get to know one another for who we really are.  The relationships that we form are based on real feelings, not on superficial things.  At camp, it doesn’t matter what brand our new shoes are, or if we have the coolest new cell phone.  It doesn’t matter if we are big or small, tall or short.  What matters is how we treat people, how we make them feel.  Camp friendships are built to last a lifetime.

7. The Songs

laughing

“Are you a camel, a good looking camel, and say, have you got a hump?”

“The rosy mist of the morning, veil it anew at dawn, like a fairyland of beauty…”

“I wish I was a honosorarius a ratamatatamy, a ha-ha-ha.”

“(Insert all lyrics to Oh I Was Born here)”

Yes, the Rockbrook songs are filled with silly lyrics like these.  We all know that we’ve randomly started singing these songs at home or at school on more than one occasion.  There’s nothing like singing along to a good Rockbrook song in the dining hall or around the campfire.

8. Moments Like This

grace and elley

Camp is silly.  Camp is carefree. Camp is relaxed, and camp is totally FUN! Ask any Rockbrook girl where her happy place is, and I bet she thinks back to a moment like this.  A moment in which nothing matters but the present, you feel totally accepted as your truly are, and time stands still. It’s special beyond words.

9. The Rockbrook (Harlem) Shake

harlem shake

Things like this happen at Rockbrook.  A lot.  They are wild and magical and unheard of everywhere else.  We miss having the opportunity to dress up in crazy costumes and dance with all of our friends. Pure fun and energy among friends.  This video of the Rockbrook Shake reminds us just how wonderful camp is.

10. The Spirit of Rockbrook is Real

spirit fire

There is a feeling that we get as Rockbrook girls — one that we can’t really describe.  A feeling of belonging, a feeling of certainty, a feeling of self-worth.  It’s this feeling that causes us to miss each other throughout the year, that causes us to yearn for the days of summer.  We know it’s real, because we’ve never felt a love like this.  It’s this feeling that assures us that no other camp is like our own, that no other place can do for us what this one has.  It’s the Spirit of Rockbrook, and it’s with us always.

New Orleans Camp Girls

New Orleans Camp Party
New Orleans Camp Girls

Yes, that’s what we’ve got at Rockbrook…!!! New Orleans camp girls!!! You might find it odd that girls from Louisiana would go to summer camp in North Carolina, but there’s a long tradition of exactly that, with generations of New Orleans and Baton Rouge children representing their cities at Rockbrook every summer.

And this is the time of year when we gather current NOLA girls (and alumnae!) for a Rockbrook party to celebrate the great time we had at camp last summer. Miriam and her sister Susan, who both attend Rockbrook’s 2nd session, hosted the party at their home in Carrollton. Chase and Grace brought plenty of photos and videos to present, and with a great crowd of both current campers and new girls interested in attending camp next summer, it was a really fun time. Thanks everyone for such a fantastic event!

These events are probably the best way to recharge your Rockbrook spirit, and if you’re new to camp, parents and children, to learn what makes Rockbrook so special.

We have more parties in other cities planned, so check the schedule to see if you can attend!

Friends True and Faithful

What is it about Rockbrook that makes it so special?  That’s a pretty loaded question- certainly one that has no right or wrong answer.  Some of us may say that it’s the beautiful mountain scenery, others may agree it’s the fabulous counselors, and many may decide that muffin break separates Rockbrook from the rest.  However, we think that the friendships made at Rockbrook are a good place to start when discussing what makes camp so wonderful.  Though we may only spend a few weeks each year with our camp pals, none of us would hesitate to call them some of our best friends.  Sarah and Evie, two Rockbrook girls who met last summer, are a perfect example of ‘true friendship born to last’.

Just last month, Sarah flew from Florida to Maryland to visit Evie and to celebrate her birthday with her.  According to her mom, who wrote to tell us about the trip, Sarah’s winter break was “full of firsts that wouldn’t have happened if she had not attended camp this past summer.”  Sarah and Evie spent a week together and had lots of fun along the way.  The girls saw Les Miserables, played in the snow, went skiing, and counted down to 2013.  What a fun trip!  Check out some pictures of Sarah and Evie during their trip below, and be sure to let us know about any adventures you have with camp friends during the year- you might just make the blog!

Evie and Sarah
Evie and Sarah reunite at the airport
Evie and Sarah skiing
Evie and Sarah hit the slopes!!!
Ready for the show
They don’t look Les Miserables to us!

On the Road Again

Howdy All!

Charlotte and I recently returned from a Rockbrook Roadtrip, and I wanted to share some of our highlights with you.  We traveled far and wide looking for RBC girls.  In just seven days we landed in five different cities, spent time with six awesome host families, met eight new canine friends, filled the gas tank close to ten times, saw nearly 150 slices of pizza be devoured, and laughed with countless Rockbrook campers, alumnae, and new pals. Needless to say, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

camp party girls

On day one, we headed south from Brevard and made it to Atlanta where we had a Rockbrook party at camper Kate’s house.  Kate hosted the party with her mom, Betsy, a RBC alumna.  We had so much fun! We weren’t ready to leave Georgia after we had such a great time in Atlanta, so we made stops in Columbus and Macon.  In Columbus, we laughed all night with Emma, our host camper, and her brother Cam.  We fell in love with their new puppy, Tank, but Emma wouldn’t let us take him home.

girl camp event
tank resting
Tank resting in his basket!

Tank wasn’t the only furry friend that we wanted to take home with us.  We had a party at Anna Kate’s house in Macon where I was introduced to her sweet dog, Ollie.  I had heard rumors that Ollie was one of the best dogs I would ever meet.  Let me assure you, THE RUMORS ARE TRUE.  We saw lots of Rockbrook campers at the party in Macon, and Anna Kate’s mom Kathleen, a former camper herself, built a fire so we could all make s’mores.  Yum- talk about a crowd pleaser!

Anna Kate and Ollie
Anna Kate and Ollie roast a s’more
Georgia Camp Girls

We visited Charlotte’s mom’s house in Georgia before heading North for our last two shows.  It’s only necessary that I mention this because I was able to snap a picture of LITTLE CHARLOTTE that I feel I must share with you.  Enjoy.  

Charlottesville VA

After three fabulous shows in Georgia we made the eight hour drive to Charlottesville to catch up with camper Hannah Margaret and her parents, Wendy and Ed.  We loved seeing so many Rockbrook girls in Virginia, and a couple of loyal counselors, Lyndsey and Greer, made appearances also.  However, it was Hannah Margaret and her dog, Freckles, who stole the show in Charlottesville.  Freckles, a show dog in his own right, has won ribbons in a couple of local dog shows with Hannah Margaret as his trainer.  Go Freckles, Go!!! 

Camp party friends
Camp Alumni gathering

We were sad to leave Charlottesville, but excited to make it to DC where campers Tia, Wiley and Sarah were waiting for us!  The DC party, hosted by Alison and Jill, was such a blast!  The energy was amazing, and everyone was so excited to hear about camp.  We gave all the girls some RBC shades, and they rocked them To wrap our trip up, we had dinner with some of our favorite Rockbrook counselors in DC.  Elizabeth, Katie, Christine, Jane, Kendal, Charlotte and I laughed all night long.  It was great to catch up! We had such a great time out on the open road, and we loved seeing so many Rockbrook faces- new and old!  Thanks for coming out, y’all!  We hope to see you all again soon!

Favorite Place in Nature

Place in Nature Child Essay

When 8-year-old camper Sarah was asked recently to write about her “Favorite Place in Nature” for her Science and Social studies class, she chose Rockbrook. She wrote about and illustrated what she loved about camp this past summer. Sarah’s mom passed it along to us, so we’re glad to share it with you.

“Have you ever wanted to go to the mountains? Have you ever wanted to smell a fresh summer breeze? Have you ever just wanted to let go and have fun? If so, I have the place for you! There are a lot of different activities like archery, horse-back riding, and mountain climbing. There are two mountains called Castle Rock, and Mt. Rockbrook. If you like to just relax, than the creek is the place to go. There you can have shoe races or just hang out. I went to the top of Castle Rock. There were these exotic plants that I never saw before, and I am a total plant lover. I stayed for sunset and it was the most beautiful thing I ever saw. I saw the cutest bunny in the world! The sun was beautiful. When my Dad picked me up, I didn’t want to go home! Rockbrook is a memory that I will never forget.”

Favorite Place in Nature

What’s your favorite place in Nature?

Meeting you in Charlotte for Camp

Summer Camp Charlotte

Are you ready for summer camp Charlotte girls? Judging from everyone’s enthusiasm at last weekend’s camp party at the Beltz’s home in Charlotte, the answer is “Yes!” With the new Rockbrook Camp movie and slideshow from last summer’s sessions all set to go, Sarah and Mandy met so many of our Charlotte NC campers and a bunch of their friends interested in learning more about RBC.

For returning campers and parents, it’s always fun at these parties to see the new camp movie, spot yourself and your friends in the photos, and just to recharge your Rockbrook spirit.

And for new campers, meeting all the people, talking with the families, having the camp directors answer your questions, these parties really are one of the best ways to see why so many girls love Rockbrook.

It’s wonderful to see that Rockbrook is the girls summer camp Charlotte families are buzzing about.