Learning From Camp

silly camp girls in red white and blue costume

If you’ve been reading our posts over the years, you know that we believe summer camp is more than just fun. It’s certainly filled with laughter, smiles and exciting activities, but it’s also formative, truly educational in important ways.

For everyone at camp, life here teaches you things, really foundational things that stay with you long after you leave camp. The culture of Rockbrook, guided by its philosophy and values, drives this learning, creating the perfect context to explore, discover and grow… and along the way, to form incredibly meaningful friendships.

One place where this is especially clear is during the ceremonial campfire that closes each session, our “Spirit Fire.” This is a time when we sing traditional songs and listen to campers and staff members reflect a little on their time at camp. With the whole camp gathered, we hear about making best friends, being your true self, feeling “at home” here at Rockbrook, and also deep gratitude for the experience.

Here’s a great example.

This past summer, Liz Lydon, a longtime camper and now staff member, shared her thoughts on what Rockbrook means to her. Liz does a wonderful job describing how her Rockbrook experience has shaped her over the years. She writes:

Seven years ago I came to Rockbrook for the first time filled with excitement. Excitement for all of the fun activities, crafts, and trips that I would get to do here. Little did I know that I was coming to a place much more valuable than what the website could ever display. Little did I know, just how much I would fall in love with this wooded mountain, and how special it would be in my heart. Special enough for me to return time and time again, and even now, to return for the first time as a counselor.

There’s something in the air at camp that makes you feel so valued as a person and sparks a lot of personal growth. I give much credit to Rockbrook for shaping me into the woman I am today.

summer camp counselors
rockbrook young girls
camp slip and slide girls

Here at camp we all learn so many valuable lessons whether we realize it or not. So I ask all of you to reflect on three lessons that I’ve learned through my years at camp.

How to Live Free of Fear and Judgment

The first thing I learned at camp is how to live life free of fear and judgment. To make mistakes and grow from them rather than feel embarrassed. Ultimately, life is too short not to jump in the lake, or go down that rapid, or even just hop in the middle of a banquet dance circle. Rockbrook was my first safe space, and after years of revisiting camp and growing in confidence, Rockbrook taught me how to make a safe space within myself. It is so important for every one of you to understand that you are valued and loved and respected. Bring the confidence that you’ve learned while here at camp into the rest of life.

How to Be a Good Person

The second lesson I learned is that it feels good to be a good person. As you get older every year at camp, you pay closer attention to the songs, the prayers, and the history; and decide what it all means to you. They all teach lessons that we may forget while distracted by the real world and by social media. Rockbrook has maintained a culture at camp that encourages everyone to be the best human that they possibly can be.

Here, we remember the true value of being kind and having compassion. We know that it is much healthier to acknowledge the positivity in an individual rather than focus on what you might not like about them. We understand that every single person that you come into contact with can offer something valuable in your life.

How to be Myself

The third thing I’ve learned from Rockbrook, is how to learn about myself. It’s here at camp that you have the time to look inward and reflect on who you are. How would you define yourself based off of your actions, emotions, and your perspective on life. Are you proud of who you’ve become? And most importantly, think about who you would like to be. Identify that person and actively work towards it. I know that for me, the best person to be is, in fact, a Rockbrook camper.

I learned through the years that a Rockbrook camper is kind and creative. They are never afraid to get a little dirty and have a little fun. They’re the first to lend a helping hand and the last to run away from a challenge. It’s the little things that everyone does while here at camp that make Rockbrook so special. I’m so thankful that I found Rockbrook and I couldn’t imagine how my life would be without it.

At camp, you can’t help but learn these sorts of things. The environment, the support, the encouragement, the other people reflecting these same values, and yes the fun of it all —everything contributes to making camp life this rich and meaningful. It’s a wonder to witness and for everyone, a joy to experience.

camp girls candle ceremony

Many Lessons Remain

Looking back on twelve years at Rockbrook Camp, I am lucky enough to have experienced Rockbrook as a camper, counselor, and now assistant director. I’m filled with a sweet sense of pride and joy when I see junior campers excitedly finding minnows in the creek, middlers walking (with purpose) to muffin break, and senior campers strategizing how to get tortellini refills as quickly as possible. I love watching counselors sing with their campers, lead dance breaks during meals, and teach new skills during activities. Nothing brings me more joy than watching counselors welcome campers into the Rockbrook community.

summer camp group hiking on forest

As I watch campers and counselors navigate their summer at Rockbrook, I am constantly reminded of what I have gained because of camp.

Speaking to an excited Hi-Up counselor looking forward to cabin day, I was reminded today of how appreciative I am that Rockbrook is a community that fosters independence, confidence, and growth. From the youngest campers to our CAs, these skills and qualities are ingrained into life at Rockbrook. Campers are encouraged to choose their own activities, and every activity is open to every age group. Even though some activities have unfamiliar names— Hodge Podge, Curosty, and Folklore, to name a few —campers quickly learn that stepping out of their comfort zones is an experience that is celebrated at Rockbrook.

It’s not an unfamiliar sight to see a camper’s activity card filled with a variety of activities like horseback-riding, tie-dying, jewelry-making, and rock-climbing. More often than not, campers try to take all these activities in the same day! Of course, there are also plenty of opportunities outside of activities in which campers can experience something they’ve never done before. The junior overnight is a great first camping experience for our youngest campers, in which the junior cabins spend the night camping at the Rockbrook Junior Outpost. The Junior Outpost is a pair of roofed platforms tucked away on the Rockbrook property, in which juniors make s’mores, learn new songs, and fall asleep under a blanket of stars. The Middlers and Seniors are offered incredibly exciting opportunities to whitewater raft, kayak, hike, and climb on real rock.

One of my favorite trips as a camper was when I got to climb at Castle Rock, the beautiful rock face that overlooks camp. You can climb to the top, shout out your success, and hear campers cheering for you on the hill far below! While all these amazing opportunities are being offered, the motto for encouraging campers is “challenge by choice.” These activities are brand-new to many campers, and the Rockbrook community encourages campers to take on new experiences with gusto.

summer camp girl climbing tower

As a former Rockbrook camper, I have benefitted time and time again from these opportunities for growth. I am constantly rewarded for my curiosity and independence, which encourages me to “choose more challenges”- and at Rockbrook, I always come out the other side stronger for it. Life is full of moments outside of my comfort zone, and I’m thankful for the experiences at Rockbrook that taught me the value of resilience, dedication, and hard work.

After over a decade at camp, I attribute a lot of my self-confidence and positive self-image to the unbelievably encouraging and supportive community at Rockbrook. No day at Rockbrook goes by without celebrating campers who are gaining new and wonderful experiences at camp. Whether it’s soaring to new heights on the zip line, the first slide down the waterslide, or trying a different cereal for breakfast, each and every person taking a step out of their comfort zone is met with cheers, applause, and even spontaneous song.

Rockbrook has taught me many wonderful lessons that have remained with me into my adult life, and I’m lucky to have learned the confidence to keep choosing challenges and work to succeed at something new.

—Ellie Culin

camp cool dance girls

Reliving the Magic

Over 25 years ago I was a counselor, and this summer it feels as though I’ve come home to relive the magic of camp.

Morning view from Castle Rock NC

Long ago mornings at camp began with Rockbrook runners and I’m happy to say that opportunity has grown to have many campers running and walking a beautiful (and hilly) loop around camp. During free time campers and counselors may run or walk or a combination of both along the knobby hills and alongside the creek.

Nowadays my mornings have varied: taking a hike to Castle Rock that can unveil a new perspective, enjoying peaceful moments to write and reflect, or having time to take a much needed shower. A recent morning I happily used the early quiet before the rising bell to read and type up journal entries from one hundred years ago. The women adventurers who led the inaugural summer of 1921 have the same spirit felt at Rockbrook today. The journal entries feel more exciting than finishing my book right now. I’m not sure what is more amazing and beautiful, the way they wrote so eloquently and efficiently or the open spirit of adventure and ‘can do’ attitude that were so clearly a part of Rockbrook days. Not the drizzling rain nor torrential pours would stop them from an outdoor adventure!

Rockbrook Sunset Hill

There was and still is a rushing around at camp that might start with the constant sounds of the water flowing in the creek or nearby waterfall, then it’s eager campers running to their next activity or maybe to a muffin break. This feeling of haste is a welcome one; a retreat from life outside of camp and brings me to those summers a quarter of a century ago. There are of course the moments that also slow down time, when I see campers focused and chatting while working on a project or hopping along the creek searching for crawfish and salamanders and playing along the lake edge scooping up tadpoles. Campers might also be relaxing reading, knitting, or sketching in a crazy creek. There are the familiar smiles and songs along with silly and savvy announcements and twilight dance parties or sunset on the hill.

Cat Sobieszczyk

Rockbrook’s pace, living outdoors, surrounded by new friends has been the anxiety reducing treatment I didn’t anticipate, but see in the smiles of campers each day. I have learned my camp mom role is to be present, and ready to help, but the counselors do all the real work of a camper’s ‘mom’. I remember the life of a counselor is the world of their campers. Setting the tone of friendship and fun. Not only do I hear words of wisdom from counselors (and campers too), shared during unexpected moments, but also the caring and thoughtful voices that are most often just the right thing to say.

I’m so grateful that the counselors along with HUPS, and CAs know the campers and carry forward the traditions of Rockbrook. I also appreciate that my daughters and I get to experience the spirit and be part of the history during this one hundredth year of summertime at Rockbrook Camp for Girls.

—Ramblings from Cat, first time camp mom

Teen camper girls

Making a Difference

Hey there! My name is Emily Schmitt and this is my eighth summer at Rockbrook! Six of those years have been as a camper and I’m now in my second year on staff, this year being my first as a full counselor. Last year, I lived the CIT (counselor in training) life and was not sure what to expect this summer because I’d be filling a role completely new to me.

pair of girls on sliding rock NC

I’m on the Middler line, leading a group of girls either going into sixth or seventh grade— so a very transformative period in their lives to say the least. I started coming to camp at this age. I was about to start sixth grade and though I remember a lot about my camper years, details of my activities and the small minutia of camp life have faded from my memory. The main thing I remember clear as day are all the interactions I had with my counselors. They were my world when I was at camp. I was so obsessed that even after my second senior year I made one of my counselor’s names my computer password!  Yeah, I was that obsessed.

I was here for second session this summer and now that we’re officially in third session, which happens to be the session I attended as a camper, I’m getting daily confirmations of the impact that I’m making on my campers— something that surprises me every time it happens. Recently, we had Jugband, where the whole camp gathers together and we sing old camp songs, make silly jokes, put on our best southern accent, and use anything around us as an instrument. I took on the persona of ‘May,’ short for “Mayonnaise,” and soon after my campers started to copy me, and in the back of my mind I knew it was because they were following my lead.

camp life counselor and camper

I’m teaching tennis and riflery this session, and though I am experienced down on the riflery range, tennis is something I am less proficient in, although I’ve played casually before. This was rather daunting for me, but I knew if I was enthusiastic, then the girls would be too. So, when we were signing up for activities, I explained to my girls that I was doing something that made me slightly uncomfortable, but I was going to do it with all I had and encouraged them to follow suit. Many of my campers signed up for new activities like climbing and gymnastics, and I even got one of my girls to sign up for tennis! Another example was during our Animal Planet themed dinner, when I started singing along to the songs that were playing over the speaker.  Soon my whole table chimed in, and we were all singing along to “The Circle of Life” from The Lion King.

It’s in the small ways that I know I’m making a difference in these girls lives, like when one of them will randomly give me a hug or they’ll call out my name as I’m walking down the hill, just to wave. Back when I was a camper, I didn’t know or realize that the small interactions I had with my counselors meant as much to them as it did to me. These girls are the reason I love this job and the reason I hope to come back for many more years to help create the magic of Rockbrook and make this place as special for my campers as it was for me when I was growing up.

— Emily Schmitt

We Love You Counselors…

Camp counselors in waterfall

At Rockbrook, we talk a lot about the friendships that campers develop as the days and years go by. Many campers, reflecting on what makes Rockbrook a special place to them, talk about the people that they meet here — people that will color their memories of camp for years to come. Often, the people that come to mind when thinking of camp friends are peers — the people who are in your cabin, that you take activities with, that you go on adventure trips with. Tonight in the dining hall, while listening to campers belt out an appreciation song dedicated to “counselors,” I realized that maybe thinking this way might be putting a limit on our experiences. There are many others involved in creating the camp experience special for campers, but the people with the biggest influence are counselors.

Camp Counselor and girls

We are always so proud of the staff that we hire to be counselors at Rockbrook. Every year, Sofie works hard to hire a group of women who are confident, strong, and empathetic, as well as fun and silly! These women are the role models and beloved leaders for our campers. They do so much for everyone here, and at the end of the session, campers get to show their gratitude in classic Rockbrook style…with a skit!

The Monday before camp closes (today!), the theme for Evening Program skits is “Counselor Impersonations.” In these very special skits, cabins get to reflect on their favorite memories with their counselors. Campers work together to recreate moments when their counselors made them laugh, comforted them, or any other special memories they share. Because of this, these skits are always incredibly unique and unbelievably touching. I got to watch some of these skits tonight, and from the silly moments that juniors chose to share to the sweet moments that seniors chose, I loved getting to see the relationships that campers and counselors have formed over their time at camp. As the song goes, WE LOVE YOU COUNSELORS!

68 Ways To Illuminate The World

Working at a summer camp is not the only way (even though it’s one of the best). Consider these 68 simple ways to make the world a better place.

North Carolina camp mountains

1. Be curious
2. Lend a hand
3. Learn all you can
4. Be gentle with those who make mistakes- including yourself
5. Share
6. If you don’t have to step on that bug, don’t
7. Upcycle, recycle, reuse, home make- turn trash into treasure
8. Be open, stay soft, be flexible
9. Ask questions
10. Remember names
11. Put people first
12. Invest in your neighbors daily
13. Listen
14. Don’t stop at the surface
15. Say, “I love you”
16. Withhold judgement
17. Start over whenever you need to
18. Reach out
19. Try
20. Advocate for something

girl camp Friends
i love you necklace

21. Plant a seed
22. Add laughter where can
23. Spend time outdoors
24. Let others have the right-of-way
25. Give thanks
26. Say thanks
27. Give people a chance (or two)
28. Dismiss perfectionism
29. Explore
30. Every now and then, ignore the mirror
31. Start from the heart
32. Choose words that lift people up
33. Buy two, give one away
34. Sometimes, step up- other times, stand back
35. Hear people out
36. Seek understanding
37. Never boo- always cheer
38. Have a hankering, a sweet tooth, for life
39. For someone in need, give up your place in line
40. Be humble
41. Appreciate yesterday, but move on from it
42. Celebrate even the smallest of achievements
43. If you can lighten someone’s load, do it
44. Invest in children
45. Don’t turn a blind eye
46. Trust
47. Pats on the back, high fives, hugs- reach out and touch
48. Celebrate others
49. Celebrate success
50. Celebrate failures
51. From harvest to heart- honor the work that goes into a good meal
52. Bring life wherever you go
53. Don’t give too much thought to what happens behind your back
54. Deliver bad news tenderly
55. Remember what it’s like to be every age you’ve been thus far
56. Be someone’s safe haven
57. Stay true to truth and dare to dare
58. Break as many falls as possible
59. If you can’t find splendor at first glance, take a second

60. Give compliments
61. Accept compliments
62. Think long and hard before you ever swing a fist
63. Recognize lessons everywhere
64. Show up for tomorrow
65. Trust in your ability to do hard things
66. Lean on someone
67. Let someone lean on you
68. Be of service

Journal Topics for Leaders

We all have the potential to impact the world in a meaningful and lasting way. Learning who we are and what we have to offer takes time, patience, and thoughtful self-reflection. Taking a job at a summer camp, allow the following questions help you discover your own capacity for leadership.

Blue Ridge Mountains

1. Consider the concept of control as a leadership principle. Rather than attempting to control others, how can you enhance your ability to lead by controlling your own feelings and actions?

2. Challenges will help to define your leadership style. In moments of struggle, how will you remain disciplined enough to act in accordance to the purpose you’ve set forth for yourself?

3. Consider all the ways that your life has fallen into place at the exact right moment at the exact right time in the exact right order to lead you to this moment. Life has conspired to help you make an impact on those around you. How will your acknowledgment and gratitude toward these things impact who you are as a leader?


4.  Your integrity and credibility define your ability to lead. List experiences when you intentionally allowed ethics to drive your actions.

5. A successful leader values others and keeps a constant awareness on what she can learn from them. How will you work to remain open to perspectives different from your own?

6. Altruism serves as a solid foundation for leadership. List how you put people first.

7. As a leader, you’ll dedicate your life to resisting your own immediate desires and shortcomings in favor of long term success. Consider your vices. How will you work to gain control over these?

8. Leadership begins with a strong belief in your work and an ability to communicate this meaning to others. What makes your work meaningful? How can you share this meaning with the world?


9. Effective leaders empower others by encouraging autonomy and mastery. What tools can you employ to help others feel independent?

10. Leaders choose meaningful, deep interactions over surface exchanges. How do you take an interest in people?

11. Effective leaders understand how to manage conflicting personalities. How can you reconcile people of divergent belief systems to create a cohesive group?

12. Negotiating a wavering sense self-assurance can greatly enhance your capacity for leadership; it promotes empathy and a sense of authenticity. How will you navigate your fears and feelings of self-doubt to enhance your ability to lead?

Staff Development: Sample Lesson Plan

The perfect shot

Partner work can have a powerful affect on a staff development curriculum. This lesson plan focuses strongly on elements of staff accountability and communication. Our goal is to subtly guide cabin leaders to communicate the ideals of camp within the framework of their own experiences. This lesson is best presented mid-season.

Materials Needed:

Large slips of paper, pens, ziplock bags or small jars


1. Staff are instructed to sit with a partner. (Counselors will switch partners throughout this activity, ten partners total.)

2. On a slip of paper, staff then write a response to a prompt (see below) read by the group’s facilitator (one prompt response per slip of paper).

3. Upon completion, staff will fold their responses and present the folded slip of paper to their partner. (It is critical that each partner cannot see the other’s written response).

4. Partners then place the folded response, without looking at it, from their partner into their ziplock bag or mason jar.

5. This pattern continues for three prompts per partner set.

6. This entire activity will yield a total of thirty different responses for each staff member to store in their bag or jar. Staff can read each response from their partners in any way they desire- they can read the prompt responses all at once, one each day, one each time they need a piece of inspiration, etc…

Blue Ridge Parkway

Partner #1: Focus- Cabin Culture

1. Write a statement that makes your partner feel powerful and confident in her capabilities as a cabin leader. This can be advice, a compliment, a recount of a camper’s description of your partner- or anything else you can think of!
2. Suggest how your partner can pamper herself during challenging moments at camp. How do you suggest your partner step back and relax when she feels overwhelmed?
3. Write a “big picture” statement. Remind your partner of the dent that her work in her cabin is making in the universe.

Partner #2: Focus- Program Objectives

1. What can your partner do when she wants to add new excitement, zip, and illumination to her teaching style at camp? Give her ideas.
2. Remind your partner how the energy and effort she puts into teaching her activity is actually changing the world. How is her hard work making our corner of the world a better place? What is it doing for our campers?
3. Give your partner a unique and creative idea to add a little spunk and spark to her activity’s lesson plans. If you were a camper in your partner’s activity, what would you like to learn and do?

Partner #3: Focus- Navigating A Session Change

1. Tell your partner what you really admire about her. How she can keep this element of her character strong even in moments of fatigue?
2. Describe how you think the new session’s campers will remember your partner.
3. Share a quote or saying that you think will inspire your partner’s stamina and endurance.

Camp Crafts

Partner #4: Focus- Gratitude

1. List ten things that your partner can be thankful for here at camp.
2. Tell your partner why you’re thankful for her.
3. Tell your partner why she should always remain thankful to her campers.

Partner #5: Focus- Life Beyond Camp

1. Tell your partner how she can use her experience in this job to elevate her next academic year or her next year in her career.
2. Remind your partner of her potential and capacity to change the world for the better.
3. Suggest five skills and traits of your partner that she can use on a resumè or highlight in an interview.

Partner #6: Focus- Happiness and Laughter 

1. Tell your partner three things that will make her happy.
2. Describe and thank your partner for a time when she made someone else happy.
3. Write a joke to make your partner laugh.

Partner #7: Focus- Negotiating Feelings of Fatigue in a Job that Requires Energy and Effort

1. Write something, anything, that will give your partner good, energetic vibes.
2. Share with your partner how you navigate your own feelings of fatigue- these tips and tricks may help her too!
3. Work often requires us to give of ourselves completely. Even in moments of fatigue, explain to your partner why this job is worth doing.

Climb to the top

Partner #8: Focus- Morals and Ethics

1. How will your partner impact her campers as she makes morals and ethics the driving force behind all of her actions during the camp season?
2. Think of the little ways that we can “slip” in our job description at camp- staying up late, lingering a touch too long in the staff lounge, etc… Remind your partner of how her own experience will be enhanced if she stays strong and resists these little moments of temptation.
3. Your partner is a role model. Share with your partner how her high standards and morals inspires those she works with.

Partner #9: Focus- Challenges and Conflict

1. Name a time when you observed your partner artfully and effectively solve a problem.
2. What is it about your partner that makes her so well equipped to handle the world and whatever it throws her way?
3. Anticipate a challenge that your partner may encounter this week. Based on your knowledge of her capabilities and skills, how do you foresee her successfully solving the problem?

Dog Days

Partner #10: Focus- Our Imprint

1. Why should your partner dedicate her summer to giving her absolute all to this job, her campers, her peers, and herself?
2. How has your partner impacted the camp community thus far?
3. For the remainder of the summer, how can your partner work to make everybody feel like a somebody?

Staff Training: Ideas and Instruction

Reflection is an essential component of any staff development curriculum. The following topics provide a solid foundation for individual contemplation as well as ideas to stimulate large and small group discussion. This material focuses on staff attention and efforts while it also communicates clear expectations of a camper-centric work ethic. These themes also help to reveal the meaning and power behind a staff’s work and purpose during the camp season. Each question can be easily tailored to reflect an individual camp’s philosophies, missions, and program objectives. Most of these questions are best presented to a staff at the middle or end of a camp season.

1. Describe a time this summer when you completely exceeded your expectations for yourself.

2. This summer, did you experience more moments that were professionally rewarding or professionally challenging? Throughout the season, did you focus more attention on the rewarding moments or the challenging ones?

3. Describe a moment with campers that made you stop and think.

4. Practice gratitude. Create a list of ways to thank yourself on your time off.

5. Do you have a role model on staff? Identify what you admire about her.

Tower climbing at camp

6. Can you recollect a time when you solved a problem by stepping back and using a sense of humor? Conversely, can you recollect a time when you solved a problem by stepping in and taking yourself and the situation completely seriously?

7. Share a positive thought for the start of each day.

8. Describe one topic that you’re passionate about outside of camp and explain why you’re so dedicated to it.

9. Set a milestone to celebrate with your campers this summer. What will it be and how will you celebrate it?

10. Describe a time when you thought and acted beyond your own immediate needs for the good of the camp community.

11. Create an award to present to the entire staff.

12. Name a way that this job will affect your life outside of camp.

13. Name one thing that you offer the camp community that is uniquely your own; something that can never quite be replicated.

14. Imagine that you’re giving advice to next summer’s staff. What would you like to say to them?

Water Fall

15. How do you define “success” at camp?

16. Is there anything about yourself that you wish you’d known at the start of the season?

17. Imagine that you’re writing a thank you note to your campers. How will you thank them for who they are and what they’ve taught you about yourself and your place in the world?

18. Imagine that you’re writing a thank you note to your co cabin leader (or program instructor). How will you thank her for who she is and what she’s taught you about yourself and your place in the world?

19. If your campers learn just one thing this summer, what do you hope it is?

20. What has this job done for you? What have you done for this job?

21. Describe a time this summer when you were pushed to think outside the box.

22. If you could take one thing that you’ve learned in this job and incorporate it into your life, everyday, what would it be?

23. Name your favorite place at camp and a moment that you shared with a camper there.

24. In the last 24 hours, try to count how many times your campers have made you smile. In the last 24 hours, try to count how many times you’ve made your campers smile.

garden cabbage

25. Did anything happen this summer that you expect to impact your next off-season year for the better.

26. What is the quickest way to make someone smile? Do you do this often throughout your day?

27. If this summer has encouraged you to add any three things to your life’s bucket list, what are they?

28.Describe five random acts of kindness that you’ve witnessed this season.

29. What are our ultimate goals for our campers? How can we begin our work with these in mind?

30. If you could teach humanity a single lesson, what would it be?

31. If you had to create a time capsule to represent your work this summer, what would you put in it?

32. Give an example of a minor victory that we can celebrate as a staff.


33. Was there a mystery that you solved this summer?

34. Describe how we’re making a difference throughout our day’s work.

35. Name three character traits that are essential to being an effective and successful cabin leader.

36. Did you build anything from scratch this season? (Think beyond things here.)

A Look Behind the Scenes

Bentley Parker — Camp Mom

I think I was supposed to write on the events of the day here at RBC, but I wrote about the ones that make those events happen. I just thought that you, as parents, would fully appreciate learning more about these great leaders that your girls will, most certainly, come home talking about.

Let me begin by saying that this blog entry was left to my discretion. Our humble full time staff here at Rockbrook would not choose to be boastful by having an entry written about them. But, Mama B has the password, and I feel this post is well deserved!

As a camp mom, I get to show up and do what comes natural by helping out in situations that warrant a mom’s attention. My duties seem simple compared to the ones of the full time staff around me who work all year and around the clock in the summer to provide the very best camp experience for our daughters. I am amazed every year at the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes requiring countless hours of planning and organization. What appears to campers to be spontaneous activities, really takes hours of planning to make it happen. Every detail of all planned activities here at Rockbrook has been thought out months ahead of time, so that everything runs smoothly down to the daily muffin flavor, bead color, and set of paddling gear.

This is all made possible by a staff that has a passion for Rockbrook Camp. They were all campers and/or staff here previously, which makes their jobs personal. They all have a great love for this camp, and their goal is for our daughters to have the same great experience that they did. They work continuously to make it even better. They each have gregarious personalities and each possesses individual gifts, that when combined, make RBC run like a well oiled machine.

The descriptions below are only a portion of all the tasks that the administrative staff accomplish here at Rockbrook. I took the liberty of interviewing a variety of campers and counselors here this session because when I try to describe such an amazing team, my words seem inadequate.


SOFIE-She describes herself as “a counselor the counselors,” but she’s so much more than that!  Her gift is with people, and her spirit is electric. She does interviewing that takes place all year, as she handpicks the young women that will lead your children. And, I must say, this is one of the best staff of counselors that I have ever seen. Their energy is continuous, and their smiles are never ending. The personalities spotted by Sofie have meshed perfectly with one another, and the joyous spirits have transplanted  to the campers, providing  a perfect camp atmosphere.  The counselors all laugh with her and enjoy her company here at camp, but they have the utmost respect for her. She holds them accountable in a joyous way that makes them want to strive to be better leaders. One counselor described her as “the sun,” and I think that’s a perfect description.


GRACE-She can be spotted here at camp with what she calls her “squinty smile,” and she’s easy to identify because it’s always on her face. If you listen carefully, you can also find her by hearing her laughter, which makes her the perfect liaison between the girls and parents.

She’s on top of any situation that may arise with campers, and she does such a beautiful job of communicating with young girls in a way in which they can relate. She also insures that your girls have every opportunity to participate in all their desired activities here at camp, so that their experience is all that they hoped it would be. She has the gift of organization as shown by her assurance that each child is on the appropriate list for the activity that they have chosen, and that the counselors of that activity are anxiously awaiting their attendance. She spends a great deal of time pairing pen pals, which the girls look forward to, and allows new campers to feel connected before their arrival. Cabin assignments are also a crucial part of Grace’s job, as she carefully places each child with a peer group and counselor for each session.


CHASE-Chase exemplifies the epitome of the Rockbrook Spirit, and I think this is essential for someone planning all the events that your girls attend here at camp. She makes everything “fun,” as shown on your girls faces as they attended a pirate party, World Cup soccer night, pancake breakfast, overnights, vegetable garden cutting, and the list goes on. I can only imagine the preparation it takes to get ready for a party for this many girls with various silly activities and snack choices. She makes it look easy, and the greatest part is, she has the best time of all!  She has insured that all the activities are stocked with all the necessary equipment and supplies. A great deal of her time in the off season is spent ordering beads, paint, fabric, clay, string, and all the necessary supplies needed so your daughter can create masterpieces to bring home. Her jovial spirit is evident in everything she coordinates, and a good time is had by all.

SARAH and JEFF Carter-I can honestly say I don’t have any conception of the quantity or  variation of tasks this couple accomplishes on a daily basis to run this camp so successfully. If I attempted to describe their efforts, I’m sure I would way under estimate the time and energy it takes to run such an extraordinary organization. But, I can say with confidence, that every detail is considered, every activity researched, every staff member contemplated,  and every aspect perfected.


JEFF-Although he may appear to be in the background to many of the younger campers, he plays a profound roll in the experiences of the older campers. As a past Rockbrook hiking instructor, he has a great knowledge and love for the outdoors that he enjoys sharing with the older girls. He provides great safety skills and a sense of security for the girls that are transitioning to counselors, on their three day overnight. One counselor stated “He had a great Rockbrook experience, and he wants to give back so that girls can grow, learn, and pass it on to their campers.” Jeff has a keen awareness of everything that is going on during camp. He’s always there to making sure everything is running according to plan. His state of the art website is work of its own, and he’s constantly seeking improvements to be made each year.


SARAH-Sarah fully appreciates each and every Rockbrook tradition, and she values its meaning. She has worked very hard to preserve the heritage here that she remembers as a child. It is such a joyful experience for her and for the rest of the moms who attended here, to be able to share this with our daughters. Her gentle, calm spirit  makes campers comfortable, and she handles all situations with such grace.  Whatever circumstance she is faced with at camp,  she exemplifies patience, which puts everyone around her at ease. She not only knows each and every camper by name, but she recognizes their distinct qualities. She fully appreciates each of your daughters’ uniqueness, and how they contribute to their cabin community.

When you have owners and staff who are emotionally invested, it drives them to make camp all it can be. Their spirit for camp is contagious, and your daughters will hold on to the memories they have helped create throughout the year. I am grateful that all the girls who attend Rockbrook are the beneficiaries of such a passion, aimed at the creation of a great camp experience!