Crafty Rockbrook Counselors

Who doesn’t love receiving a great homemade craft from a friend or family member? We are so impressed how some of our counselors (past and present) have been using their crafting skills to surprise folks throughout the year. Take a look at these fantastic crafts!

2009 Curosty counselor Anna Myers sent us a beautiful handcrafted bird (a Rockbrook Cardinal!) that we now have hanging in the camp office. Since her teaching days at Rockbrook and graduating from NC State University, Anna has been teaching art in Raleigh and most recently in Providence, RI. Her sweet gift most definitely brightened our day!

Redbird sculpture
Charming Cardinal

Longtime camper and counselor Christine Alexander, who served as both a CA counselor and the Junior Linehead in 2010, just sent us a very fun shot of a group of her mom’s adventurous friends. Christine heard they were preparing for a big outdoor adventure trip, so she took the time to make her mom and each of her mom’s friends a friendship bracelet and picked out colors specifically for their personalities. Now that takes a lot of time and dedication!

Christine hand circle
Beautiful Bracelets

Keep up the great crafting ladies!

Working at Rockbrook Camp for Girls

“I’m a counselor. You’re a counselor. She’s a counselor. We’re all counselors. Wouldn’t you like to be a counselor too. Be a counselor. Rock-Rockbrook counselor!”

The wonderful Rockbrook Counselors

Being a Rockbrook Camp staff member is one of the most fun and rewarding ways to spend a summer. Sleep-away camp counselors provide a nurturing and magical environment for Rockbrook campers. By living in the cabins with our campers (typically two counselors per cabin group), counselors truly get to know their campers and their goals for attending camp. We often say that our counselors are like big sisters to our campers while they are away from home. It’s a wonderful bond that campers talk about for years.

So what makes a great counselor? First and foremost, a counselor must have a strong desire to work with children. Many Rockbrook counselors are planning to be teachers one day. Our counselors are a diverse group of young women usually in the 18-22 age range. We have found that it is wonderful to have long-time Rockbrook counselors mixed in with new counselors who come to camp with lots of fresh ideas. A Rockbrook counselor has to be ready for anything. The camp environment is goofy and fast paced. It also takes a lot of initiative to help plan activities and events with an emphasis on the whole team or camp. By putting their campers needs in front of their own, counselors find their summer experience to be a very rewarding one.

We are currently hiring for our 2011 camp staff, so check out the staff area of our website for more details!

Rockbrook Counselors Attend Slideshows

Our fantastic counselors from summer 2011 have been popping up recently at the camper slideshow parties. It’s such a treat for Mandy and Sarah to visit with them in addition to the campers at the parties. Here are some updates from those visits!

Chase Nelson dropped by the party in Knoxville, TN. She is currently a junior at the University of Tennessee and is contemplating her degree focus. We can’t wait to hear when she chooses her focus, but most importantly, she can’t wait to get back to Rockbrook next summer. It seemed like she is enjoying being a counselor maybe even more so that her days as a camper.

Postma Girls
Michelle Postma with sister Deborah

The next familiar face was Michelle Postma in Atlanta. She drove all the way over from Athens, GA, where she is a sophomore at the University of Georgia. She seems to be super busy with classes. We are excited that she is planning to be back at camp next summer focusing her energy on outdoor adventure trips for our campers. Her wealth of knowledge about orienteering and the trails around camp are invaluable.

Finally, Maggie Cameron dropped by the Winston-Salem party. Maggie worked as a CIT (counselor in training) in 2010 and is very excited to be a full counselor in 2011. She is very busy finishing up her senior year at Mt. Tabor High School. While she isn’t sure where she will be next year for college, she is busy applying and is most excited about Wake Forest and UNC-Chapel Hill. Good Luck Maggie!

Rockbrook counselors are amazing role models to our campers. We would be lost without them and their great experience. We’ll see everyone on the road soon!

Counselor Updates

Just what have all of the awesome counselors from summer 2010 been up to? Like our campers, most are back in school and hard at work! We have been keeping up and have some updates to pass along. They would love to hear from their campers, so make sure to friend them on the Rockbrook Friends Net. If you don’t currently have a login, go to the community part of the camp website, and you can set one up there. Happy Fall!

Katie in Italy
Katie exploring the Italian coast

Middler Linehead Katie Estes is living in Europe for the semester instead of regular classes at Wake Forest. She is studying in Firenze, Italy, and making many trips to other destinations while there. Her most recent stop was Munich, Germany!

Riflery counselor Haley Hudler is loving being back at Denison in Ohio where she is very involved with her sorority Delta Gamma and enjoying the beautiful fall!

Outdoorsy Christine
Christine showing some true RBC skill

Junior Linehead and paddling guru Christine Alexander is living in up with every adventure she can take on. As a leader at George Washington’s adventure program, she is constantly leading trips with other students on the weekends.

Junior counselor and sports instructor Hunter Futch is continuing to pursue new athletic endeavors in college. As a Freshman at Millsaps, Hunter is not only starting on the soccer team but also enjoying being part of her sorority Phi Mu.

We are sure to have a great deal more news to pass on to you, so stay tuned!

Common Mistakes for Camp Counselors

3 Common Mistakes

Life as a camp counselor is a lot of fun, and is rewarding for all sorts of reasons, but it can sometimes be challenging too. Children are learning and growing, and in the camp environment away from their parents, it’s common for them to struggle a bit, need assistance now and then, and even make “less than ideal” choices leading to unwelcome behavior.

Seeing these behaviors and struggles, it’s common for camp counselors to want to “fix” the situation. They’ll rely on their instincts, their pre-camp training, and character to help their campers improve. At the same time, it’s also easy to fall into certain traps and make mistakes, despite their best intentions.

Here are 3 common mistakes camp counselors often make.

summer camp counselor fun

1. Telling children the things you don’t want them to do, rather than the things you do want them to do.

We often tell children, “Don’t fight! Stop running! Quit arguing! Leave that alone!” This way of communicating leaves children with a much better idea of what we don’t want them to do than of what we do want them to do. No wonder many child-care workers are exasperated with the ways children behave! It takes awareness and a concerted effort to break this habit, but learning to say what we want from children pays dividends. Calm, clear expectations are the goal.

2. The tug-of-war trap.

When a child says, “I’m not making my bed! My parents didn’t pay for me to come to camp to work; I came to have fun,” most novice counselors fall for the bait and immediately get caught in an argument about who paid for camp and whether the camper must make the bed or not. A better strategy is to understand what might be motivating the child’s behavior by kindly asking how you might work together to accomplish the goal at hand.

3. Missing the feelings in what children say.

We become fixated on behavior and forget that a child may be acting out of fear, sadness, or a sense of loneliness. Unless counselors learn to identify and name feelings, much of what campers communicate to them may be lost. Pause and listen. Bring out your compassion, and be patient. You’ll soon understand what feelings are present.

First-Time Counselor’s Camp Reflection

At the end of each camp session, select counselors and campers speak about their camp experience. Here’s what Kara Morris, a 2009 first-time counselor of the Junior line and archery instructor, said about her summer at Rockbrook:

Hello, I’m Kara Morris and this is my first year at Rockbrook. Being from the west where sleepaway camps are uncommon, I expected Rockbrook to be your typical Parent Trap style camp, where you pierce your ears, cut your hair, learn complex handshakes,  and of course, find your long-lost twin.

nifty knitter needlecraft

What I did not expect was this remarkable program enabling girls to constantly try new things, have endless amounts of fun, create life-long friendships, to grow, mature and learn life’s lessons with each passing day. I had no idea how intricate Rockbrook is, and how much work and effort goes into each and every single day. What’s remarkable is the resulting experience people receive by coming as a camper or a camp counselor.

What experience is that? It’s all of the chances we’ve had to enjoy ourselves, have our patience tested, a cold shower because you can’t get to Brad fast enough, it’s trial and error, attempting to catch-and-release a ginormous black widow instead of just killing him to be considered a “Bug Rescuer.” The personal thoughts you’ve collected while hiking miles or swimming that 440. Teaching someone how to make a cool design for a friendship bracelet. It’s the friendships you’ve made. It’s the laughs, the tears, the knowledge that you and a group of girls just got through a difficult situation, The battle scars from falling down the senior steps or the hill…Writing a handwritten letter. Watching the rain fall, listening to the thunder. Hauling trunk after trunk up the hill. Spending time in nature away from electronics and cares of the world. Finishing a great book. Encouraging another person. It’s Rockbrook camp. Young or Old, whether you know it or not, each of you have gained experience here over the past few weeks. You come as one person and leave a better person because of it.

I want S'more!
I want S’more!

My experience at Rockbrook has not only been these thing, but more. Camp has taught me to be a better person, more patient with others and myself; it has helped me be more forgiving and less judgmental. It has enabled me to contemplate who I am and why I do the things I do. It has drawn me closer to my beliefs. It has been a growth-promoting experience…

To my fabulous juniors, I love you girls. No matter where you are, every time I eat pudding I will think of your bright smiling faces. And I will hear little voices in my mind saying, “What about my pudding??” Thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn from you. As the Broadway Musical “Wicked” states, “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”

Tubing down the Davidson River

Adventure Trip Staff Member: Cherie Haseltine

Cherie to the Rescue!
Cherie to the Rescue!

Cherie was part of our Adventure trip staff this past summer. She is currently a student at Brevard College. She heard about Rockbrook through Clyde Carter, who is the Chair of the Outdoor Department throughout the school year and also Rockbrook’s Outdoor Director during the summer. Before coming to camp, Cherie did a 21-day paddling and backpacking trip with school. She also received a certificate in Wilderness First Response and Water Safety. Cherie lived at camp, in the cabin known as “Dilly”, that is built right next to a creek.

Blast Off!
Blast Off!

Throughout the summer, campers and staff often serenaded Cherie by singing, “Cherie, Cherie Baby”, usually when she was coming up to announce a rafting, climbing or backpacking trip after a meal. Her main duties included packing the food, raft guiding, belaying and making sure campers stayed safe. When she wasn’t out on a trip, she helped at the Alpine Tower, and occasionally offered roll clinics in the lake. And of course, in the evening she’d dress up for that night event!

Working with Older Campers

Why  I Enjoy Working with Seniors

By the time campers are Seniors (13 – 15 yo), they’re self-sufficient enough that they can take care of their basic needs on their own, and as their counselor you can focus on getting to know the person they are becoming. It’s a hard age, and being around Seniors is like taking a time warp to watch yourself as you were growing up. You’re just close enough to their age to remember exactly what is was like, as as their counselor you are in the perfect position to give them the helpful or encouraging word you would have liked, needed or even did get to help you through all the crazy transitions of adolescence.


Working with Seniors in your activity has the potential to be incredibly rewarding, because you can go past teaching basic skills and get into more of the technique and finesse of whatever i you teach. Watching a senior’s growth is amazing, because it’s often by leaps and bound you l have thought possible.

That being said, it’s important to remember that seniors are still campers. They still get homesick, sometimes forget to do their chores, refuse to get out of bed in the morning or go to bed at night and have their bursts of teenage sarcasm. But seniors are also funny, have interesting personal histories, and are just starting to articulate their goals and dreams to themselves – and maybe even to you, if you take time to listen. Every line has its own unique wonder, but working with seniors has helped me grow this summer in ways that I would not have imagined. Thank you, Senior Line!

Written by 1st time Senior Counselor, Kiva Nice-Webb who attends Elon University.

My Favorite Memories— Jill Purcell

The fabulous CA's waiting to greet surprised campers
The fabulous CA’s waiting to greet surprised campers

“Camp is a place to make countless unforgettable memories. You will often find, both Rockbrook campers and staff start stories with the phrase, ‘this one time, at camp’.

While I’ve made several wonderful memories this summer, one memory in particular that will stay with me always was the 24 hour period in which my campers, co-counselor and I set up and carried out 3rd session’s banquet.

Every wall of the dining hall was covered in theme posters like this one

Banquet is a HUGE deal to not only the CA’s ( the older campers who come up with the theme, plan and run the banquet) but to the entire camp. Personally, I wanted to do anything I could to help my campers put on the best banquet in Rockbrook history! The night before Banquet, my campers and I worked through our exhaustion by rockin’ out to Brittany Spears, Lady Gaga, etc., as well as maintaining a sugar rush from cookie dough and candy. The look on the girls’ faces after they had finished setting up was priceless – they were amazed with all that they had accomplished, as was I. Banquet itself was a great success and I was extremely proud of my fabulous CA’s. Every memory I’ve shared with them was unforgettable but Banquet was an especially great memory.”

ceiling decoration
The ceilings were decorated, too.

Being a Camp Leader

Leadership for Summer Camp Kids

One important mark of leadership for the staff at Rockbrook is their ability to model personal character for the girls at camp. We strive to hire cabin counselors and activity staff members who exemplify good character and thereby can serve as role models for the campers. It means a lot to children to see others they admire make good decisions. It’s just a crucial part of building character— having positive relationships with others who embody exemplary habits and attitudes. When we talk about “leadership” at camp, this is what we mean: being that sort of exemplary person.

But what is exemplary character, how do you recognize it, and how do you encourage its development? We’ve found the approach taken by the Josephson Institute to be extremely articulate and practical. It’s “Six Pillars of Character” is a well thought out resource. Essentially, the “pillars” are fundamental principles and values that serve as a core for ethical decision making. They are:

  • Trustworthiness
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Fairness
  • Caring
  • Citizenship. 

Without appealing to religion, politics or ideology, we strive to realize these six values in our camp community.

There’s a lot of good stuff in all of this, so go learn more about character.