Freaky Friday: The Great Switcheroo

Most of us have seen the movie Freaky Friday (starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsey Lohan). Through some mysterious circumstances, mom and daughter suddenly switch places! Mom lives in her daughter’s body and finds herself navigating through the social and academic world of high school. Meanwhile, daughter finds herself juggling a career, kids, and everything that comes along with “the real world.” Needless to say, this mix up brings mom and daughter closer together than ever!

At Rockbrook, we thought it might be fun if we switch your day as a college student with your day as a camp counselor. This change up comes with some very kooky surprises!

Mornings as a college student:
-Alarms
-Hair dryers
-Quiet conversations over croissants and coffee
-Wearing your fancy jewelry

Morning as a camp counselor:
-Rising bells
-Pony tails
-Singing at the top of your lungs over eggs and bacon
-Wearing your friendship bracelets and name tag

Afternoons as a college student:
-Naps
-Study groups
-Thesis writing
-English, political science, math, history…

Afternoons as a camp counselor:
-Naps (well, that one is the same)
-Swims in the lake
-Writing letters home
-Kayaking, crafts, hiking, drama, dance…

Evenings as college student:
– Studying
– Logging onto Facebook with your roommate
– Telling your friend “Happy Birthday” over email
– Trying to stay awake so you can study

Evenings as a camp counselor:
– French braiding
– Exploring logs for bugs and creepy crawleys with a group of 6-year-ols
– Celebrating everyone’s birthday with cake, costumes, and presents at Birthday Night
– Trying to stop laughing so you can finish your dessert

Nights as a college student:
– Requesting that your roommate to turn down the music so you can read
– Pop Tarts before bed
– Falling asleep to the sounds of your roommate snoring

Nights as a camp counselor:
– Requesting that your co-counselor to turn up the music for the dance party!
– Milk and cookies before bed
– Falling asleep to the sound of a crickets, streams, a gentle rain on the roof

We hope you make the great switcheroo with us this summer!

Switch it up!

Poetry Slam

Poetry does just not appear out of thin air. It begins with a spark of inspiration. Because our campers and staff inspire us to “play more and sit less,” we thought it fitting to write a poem for all our Rockbrook girls. Whether you’re a camper in kindergarten,  a staff member at a university, or an alumna crossing your “t”s and dotting your “i”s out in the “real world”, this one goes out to you….

An Ode to a Rockbrook Girl

A Rockbrook Girl.

She’s as sweet as a marshmallow (and fiery enough to melt one).

Her sneakers are muddy and her smile is bright.

It’s hard to slow her down!

She’s zippy, peppy, and over-the-moon.

camp surprised look
Sweet and Fiery
girl rock climbing
Can’t Slow Her Down
camp kids dressed alike
Born To Stand Out

She’s loyal, courageous, and true.

She always stands out in a crowd.

Rain or shine, count her in!

She splishes and splashes and sploshes and takes the world by storm.

sliding rock at night
Rainy day? A Chance To Play!
shaving cream in hair
Happy As A Clam!
shooting arrow
Leaving Her Mark on the World

A Rockbrook girl is a mover and a shaker. She slam dunks, flips and flops.

She’s a friend and a joy. She’s happy as a clam!

She’s a sweet treat. She plays outside.

She explores the world up-side-down, right-side-up, and side-to-side.

A Rockbrook Girl leaves no stone unturned.

The world is just a little bit better because she’s a part of it.

Take our Holiday Challenge!

Each year, we challenge our staff to spread the camp spirit around their community well beyond the summer. The holidays are a great time to utilize the lessons you learned while working at camp. See if you can complete all ten of these holiday tasks by the new year!

1.  Try something new. It can be anything- a new food, signing up to volunteer – whatever you want!

Kayaking at camp
Try Something New

2. Slow things down and spend some quality time with your friends.

summer yoga
Spend Time With Friends

3. Reminisce about the passing year. Think about all the fun you had in 2012. Be prepared for all the good times you’ll create in 2013.

Learning how to use a camera
Reminisce About the Passing Year

4. Be silly! Have a dance party, sing in the shower, put on a costume!

Costumes at camp
Be Silly

5. Lead the charge. Be the one to start something. Organize a food drive in your neighborhood – start a jump rope contest – make and deliver wreaths to all of your neighbors.

summer fun
Be a Leader

6. Get Crafty! You don’t need to spend a fortune to give great gifts this holiday season. Just a little creativity and inspiration and va-la! You’ve created a gift from the heart.

Crafts for kids
Get Crafty

7. Lend a helping hand. Wherever you see the need, help out.

trunk moving into camp
Help Out

8. Laugh until your stomach hurts!

goggles for kids
Laugh

9. Kick your shoes off. It’s so easy to rush, rush, rush during the holiday season. Remind yourself to relax.

rain boots at camp
Relax

10. Let the comfort and joy you experienced at Rockbrook show loud and proud in your community.

joyful camp girls in play
A Rockbrook Girl, Loud and Proud

Turkey Day…Rockbrook Style!

Rockbrook girls know how to have a good time. Thanksgiving is the perfect day to show off your camp skills. Read on for a few ideas about how to put your Rockbrook knowledge to use this Turkey Day, Gobble Gobble:

-Rockbrook girls love to help out! Offer a helping hand to anyone who is working to prepare the holiday meal.

-Rockbrook girls love to get creative! Prepare a skit or talent show for your family. While the turkey’s in the oven you can wow the crew with your talents!

-Rockbrook girls love to get dirty! If there is any dish that requires you to mash, peel, or mix with your hands-go for it. Who needs a mixing spoon when you have the opportunity to make a little mess?

-Rockbrook girls love to share! If you and your sister both love pumpkin pie and there’s only one piece left, why don’t you split the piece in two? Vwah-la!

-Rocbrook girls love to get a little silly! Tell a story or two from camp at the table. The sillier the better. (You’ll get extra points if you can make your family laugh so hard they snort!)

-Rockbrook girls love to sing! Teach your family a campfire song to sing after the meal. They’ll be thankful you did.

-Rockbrook girls love to try new things! Go for it! Today’s the day- you’ve never tried Brussels sprouts? gravy? cranberry sauce? Be a little adventurous and give them a whirl!

However you use your Rockbrook style this Thanksgiving, just do your thing!

Thanksgiving Style Found at Summer Camp
What’s Your Thanksgiving Style?

“The Big Five Model”


Your personality. You take it with you everywhere you go in life. Just like your trunk and your linens, it certainly comes with you to camp. Dr. Ethan D. Schafer describes different aspects of our personalities in his article How Understanding Your Personality Will Make You a Better Counselor. He shows us how understanding these components and their interplay with one another can transform our success as counselors.

fun outdoor field games

Dr. Schafer outlines “the big five model”. This is a set of five major traits by which we can all be measured- thus, our personalities. Each of the five traits exists in a continuum rather then a category. If you categorize your personality your claim, then, is that you’re either, for example, an extravert or you’re not. You may not be surprised that researchers claim that your personality is much more complicated than that. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle of these two claims.

The “big five” personality traits Schafer suggests that counselors explore in their own personalities are extraversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness. As previously mentioned, considering each trait as a continuum, counselors determine where their personalities fall by aligning with a “very low” or “very high” amount of each trait on the five scales. It is important to keep in mind, Schafer warns, that personality traits are neither “good” nor “bad- they are what they are. The importance in understanding our own tendencies lies in how we use our personalities to effectively interact with the world.

Extraversion:

Extraversion refers to how strongly someone is programmed to seek positive emotions. In general, high scorers on this scale are sociable and enthusiastic. At camp, these counselors will embrace all the new opportunities presented to them, but may struggle to “follow through” on certain tasks.  Low scorers are sometimes called “introverted.” They tend to be more careful and measured in how they relate to others or how they try new things. These counselors may prefer small group settings and will need to schedule more down time to refresh themselves.

Neuroticism:

Neuroticism refers to how someone is wired to experience negative emotions like anxiety or sadness. High scorers tend to be “sensitive”, they feel emotions intensely. This can work well at camp because these people tend to be more prepared for stress as they have had more practice dealing with it. They are more likely to be on guard for dangers; a very useful tool in risk management. These counselors really need to monitor their emotions while at camp. Low scorers on this scale tend to stay calmer in a crisis situation,  but are less likely to take the emotional distress of others seriously because they struggle to connect with it.  These counselors need training in risk management.

Conscientiousness:

Conscientiousness refers to self-control. High scorers tend to be disciplined and organized. These counselors do well at camp with autonomy and a set of responsibilities. They may have trouble when a situation calls for flexibility. Low scorers are a bit more spontaneous and impulsive. They do well with situations that are fluid and constantly changing. These counselors must work on skills such as planning and promptness.

Agreeableness:

Agreeableness refers to caring about others. High scorers are empathic. Counselors with high agreeableness will be very patient and understanding. They will, however, need to work on listening to constructive criticism without taking it too personally. Low scorers put less weight on emotional factors and interpersonal issues when making choices about how to behave. These counselors tend to do well with making difficult decisions without taking matters personally. Low scorers need to make deliberate efforts to understand the emotions of other staff members and campers.

Openness to Experience:

High scorers in this category tend to be unconventional and creative. At camp, this leads to innovated thinking and leadership styles. These counselors may need direction, however, to value the traditions and the structure of camp. Low scorers are more literal and concrete. These counselors love to work on concrete tasks. They need to work to remember not to allow their disinterest in more free-flowing ideas to influence their camper’s decisions.

Schafer concludes by stating that learning what works best for our personalities is a lifelong process. Camp is the perfect place to begin.

Words that Inspire

During a staff meeting this past summer, we divided our counselors into groups of four. Each group was given a set of famous quotations that they were asked to relate to their job at a summer camp. After five minutes the groups traded quotations and the pattern continued until each counselor had analyzed about 25 different quotes.

Some of the responses from counselors were funny, some sweet and tender, and many were thought-provoking. Take a look at a sampling of the words that inspired our job performance last summer.

camp garden and girl back

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the sky.”     -Jack Kerouac, On the Road

“Do the things you talked about doing but never did. Know when to let go and when to hold on tight. Stop rushing. Don’t be intimidated to say it like it is. Stop apologizing all the time. Learn to say no, so your yes has some oomph. Spend time with friends who lift you up, and cut loose the ones who bring you down. Stop giving your power away. Be more concerned with being interested than being interesting. Be old enough to appreciate your freedom, and young enough to enjoy it. Finally, know who you are.”     -Kristin Armstrong

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”     -Neale Donald Walsh

“Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing until it gets there.”     -Josh Billings

“If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in the dark with a mosquito.”     -Unknown

Icing on the Cake

Magic Show banner

We all come to camp prepared to work with children. We think, ‘Psych 101 taught me stages of development- check. My education and public speaking course taught me effective teaching techniques- check. Living on my own taught me healthy conflict management skills- check.’ Good to go, right? Not quite. Camp is about expanding on your knowledge during staff training and learning how to put it into practice with children, and it never hurts to have a little extra icing on your cake.

What does “icing on the cake” mean exactly? Working at camp requires a pretty strong set of toes because you are on them all the time. Children have figured how to keep things fun, exciting, and unpredictable for camp counselors. In order to return the favor, you should have a few tricks up your sleeve. In addition to learning all you can about the stages of development, respectful behavioral management, and  effective activity teaching techniques- you may need just a little more uumph to keep your campers in engaged.  Read on for a few ideas of how to put the icing on the cake:

Fun Facts:

Introducing fun facts into conversation is a very effective tool for reaching campers. Incorporating new information that surprises your campers during meals, at bedtime, or during rainy day activities will keep things fresh and exciting. Your facts will be met with wide-eyes, giggles, and very interested campers.

Here are a few examples provided by Science Kids and National Geographic Kids:

-Even when a snake’s eyes are closed, it can still see through its eyelids.

-Cats use their whiskers to check whether a space is too small for them to fit through.

-Teddy Roosevelt had snakes, dogs, cats, a badger, birds, and guinea pigs as pets while he was in office

-FDR was the first president to ride in an airplane

Magic Tricks:

Now this one is a bit “tricky” (pun certainly intended). It’s very easy to go over-board with magic tricks, but it does not take much to incite wonderment in kids.

PBS Kids takes up step-by-step through a fabulous trick to perform with your campers.

The Disappearing Salt Shaker (You’ll need a salt shaker, a dime, a napkin, a table, and a chair)

1. Begin by stating that you will make a dime disappear by rubbing the salt shaker over it.

2. Cover a salt shaker with a napkin and put your hands over it.

3. Place the salt shaker, now covered by the napkin, on top of the dime and say the magic words, “zooma zooma zoom- make this coin leave the room!” and then take the napkin with the salt shaker off the table. The coin is still on the table. Now pretend that you are disappointed because the coin didn’t disappear and the trick has failed.

4. Then, while the napkin and the shaker are off the table, open your hands and let the salt shaker fall into your lap. The napkin will still look like the salt shaker is in it. Then say, “let me try that again.”

5. Now place your hands over the “shaker” and say the magic words, “zooma zooma zoom- make this coin leave the room!”

6. Push down the napkin, and it will seem like the shaker has fallen through the table!

7. You campers will be amazed!

Jokes and Riddles:

Jokes and riddle are classic and match the spirit and pace of camp- fun and sweet!

Take a look at a few of our favorites also provided by PBS Kids:

Q: What do puppies eat at the movies?/ A: PUPcorn

I was wondering why the baseball was getting bigger and bigger and then it hit me!

Q: Where does a duck go when he is sick?/ A: The DUCKtor

Q: How do you make seven even?/ A: You take away the “s”

With all this icing and all the cherries on top, it’s important to remember, however, that the most important thing to your campers is the cake- that’s you!

Yoga and Camp

children's yoga

Camp provides so many wonderful opportunities for girls to try new things- whether it’s creative, athletic, or adventurous. Our counselors spend quite a bit of time preparing to become experts in the instruction of our camp activities. Often time this preparation can be quite a process! One of our fabulous cabin counselors, Mallory, recently received her Yoga Instructor Certification. She recounts her experience and how she plans to use her new knowledge in the future below:

“I literally did yoga from before sunrise to after sunset on many occasions (6am to 8:45pm…CRAZY!), but I loved every moment of it.  We learned to adjust students, come up with class themes and sequences, learned to sing/chant in sanskrit, and worked on some fun arm balances.  We got to do a kids’ yoga class, a chair yoga class, a prenatal class, a mommy-baby class with sandbag babies, and more!  I tried a lot of different styles of yoga (Bhakti, Jivamukti, Ashtanga, Anusara, Viniyoga, and Kundalini) with a lot of AMAZING teachers! We ate a lot of weird green smoothies (avocado, dates, walnuts, banana and chocolate, anyone?) since we were always doing yoga…I’m super excited to begin teaching yoga and figuring out how to incorporate it into my future science/public school teaching!”

We are very proud of Mallory!

Counselors On Target

Archery at camp

This past summer, our staff meetings focused on the personal and professional development of our counselors. We explored positive leadership qualities, relaxation techniques, and several other topics meant to equip our staff with all the tools they needed to best serve their campers. One article that drove our staff’s performance last summer was Stephen Wallace’s Letters From My Campers- A Counselor’s Guide to Mentoring Youth. The article provides simple, yet powerful principles for the profession. Here are a few our favorites from Wallace:

Relaxing at Camp
  • Communicate information
  • Have a sense of  humor
  • Clarify expectations
  • Be relaxed
  • Be a good role model
  • Show leadership
  • Have fun with your campers
  • Model responsible behavior
  • Discourage foul language
  • Teach fair play
  • Supervise for safety
  • Show a knowledge of each camper
  • Be fair to all campers
  • Encourage campers to try new things
  • Foster self-confidence
  • Be patient
  • Be vigilant

Notes From the Field

A Cultural Study at camp

Margaret Mead, a leader in the field of anthropology, dedicated her life to studying the interactions of cultures foreign to the western world. Your work as a new camp counselor closely mirrors that of Meade and her colleges.

You begin your “field work” by leaving your own comfortable world and entering into a culture you know very little about. Of course, you’ve completed as much research as you can- you’ve explored the camp’s website, spoken with the directors, and perhaps have even made contact with others who have worked in the camp community. Even with all this preparation, you’re still unsure of what you are about to encounter.

Upon arrival, you take vigorous mental notes. Everything is new to you. Even the “jargon” doesn’t fit into your own catalog of words- “Be-Bop”, “Dog-Trot”, “Hi-Ups”. You have no meaning to attach to these words just yet.

The interactions among members of this community is conduct that you have experienced in your own culture, but not to the extent as it is observable here- the girls are so friendly and encouraging to one another. No one seems to be concerned with make-up or physical appearance. Girls spend the majority of their time laughing and playing. They conduct their lives in a noticeably carefree manner.

Within three months, you have become fully indoctrinated by this new community. Your work is brave and tireless. You have transformed something enigmatic into something comprehensible.  Although your work may never be published or studied in its own right, you will, like Margaret Meade, change the world.