Rockbrook Riflery Woman of the Week

Earlier this summer, we were lucky enough to have former camper and counselor Dolly Robertson Herron stay with us for a few weeks during 1st session. Dolly helped out around camp in a variety of ways, and one of her biggest projects was refurbishing old riflery plaques from the 1960s. After over 40 years on the riflery range, the weathered plaques had lost their shine, and Dolly decided to preserve these important pieces of Rockbrook history. While cleaning the plaques, which were emblazoned with the names of expert riflewomen, Dolly noticed that one name in particular, Vesta Bateman, was inscribed several times on a 1974 plaque. After doing a bit of her own research, Dolly found Vesta’s contact information and sent her an email asking about Vesta’s camper days.Vesta wrote Dolly back, confirming that that was indeed her name on the plaque. Vesta also sent a picture of her shooting on the Rockbrook range in standing position! Thanks to Dolly’s hard work, Vesta and other former campers will continue to be honored and recognized for their sharpshooting abilities!

Riflery Woman
Rockbrook Riflery Award- Before and After
Vintage rifle girls
Far left, Vesta Bateman shooting from the standing position, 1970’s RBC Catalog

The Carrier House Tennis Court

We recently found another Rockbrook photograph during our search of the archives at The Transylvania County Library.  In their records they had this photo of the original tennis courts at The Carrier House.  The Carrier House or Rockbrook House as it is now known was the home of the owners and directors of Rockbrook, Henry and Nancy Carrier.  Here at their house many camp activities were offered including tennis and lawn dancing. Tennis was a popular activity from the beginning of camp and quickly outgrew this first court as the  number of campers increased.  In the late 1920’s two more courts were added and then ultimately three more courts were built.  This original court was removed from The Carrier House lawn and was turned into a beautiful side porch.  Note the small boxwood hedge in the background of the picture, those same boxwoods are now over 9 feet tall!  Here is a previous blog post that tells you more about our current tennis program.

Carrier House Tennis Court
The Carrier House and Tennis Court, circa 1920’s

The Art of Weaving at Rockbrook

Fiber arts have long been a popular activity at Rockbrook Camp
Weaving Class at Rockbrook Camp, 1930

Arts and crafts has been an important part of the program at Rockbrook since it’s founding in 1921.  Giving girls the chance to express themselves creatively, the crafts program features many specialties such as jewelry making, pottery and painting.

A favorite creative outlet at Rockbrook is weaving on the loom.  Weaving takes place as part of the “Curosty” activity.  Curosty (a regional term for “know-how”) is the home of our fiber arts classes which include weaving, basketry, knitting, cross stitch, and needlepoint.  The class takes place in our 19th century log cabin which can be seen in the photo above.

In a catalog from the 1930’s Curosty is described as: “a place where the lore of the mountains is preserved in the indigenous craft of weaving.”  In the 1920’s the creative outlets were also considered important to young women as they would “help make their homes more attractive.”  Although the roles of young women have changed a lot since the 1920’s, the creative outlets still give the campers the chance to express themselves creatively and expand their skills in a multitude of outlets.

Click here for more about our current craft program which still features weaving on the very same looms from the 1930’s!

SC Artist Elizabeth O’Neill Verner

Charleston Artist Elizabeth O'Neill Verner
Elizabeth O’Neill Verner by Marie Danforth Page, 1937


There are many fascinating and inspirational women who have been a part of Rockbrook and it’s history.  None more so than the artist Elizabeth O’Neill Verner of Charleston, South Carolina.  Mrs. Verner was a long time neighbor of Rockbrook, her seasonal home Hanty Branch Hill is located next door.   Her daughter Elizabeth Verner Hamilton was the first camper at Rockbrook in 1921.  Mrs. Verner and Mrs. Carrier were good friends and Mrs. Verner was often recruited to come teach the campers the art of sketching and pastels. We can imagine her walking over from her home, ready to teach the enthusiastic campers.  She is mentioned in the journals and scrapbooks of several campers from the mid 1920’s.  It must have been a great occasion when Mrs. Verner was in attendance.

While at Rockbrook she also created an etching of the waterwheel that ran the power for the camp.   We will be sure to share that image with you in a later blog posting.

Rockbrook campers in the early 1920's take part in a drawing class
Rockbrook campers sketching with Elizabeth O’Neill Verner

As an artist, Mrs. Verner is recognized as the “matriarch of the Charleston Renaissance” and is considered the “best known twentieth century woman artist of Charleston. “She is famous for her etchings and pastels of life in Charleston. Her studio The Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Gallery is still in operation in Charleston and is the oldest fine arts gallery in the city. She is such a well respected and important artist that the state of SC has named their highest honor in the arts after her. The Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Awards  recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina. According to their website: “These awards honor South Carolina arts organizations, patrons, artists, members of the business community, and government entities who maximize their roles as innovators, supporters and advocates of the arts. In 1980, the Verner Awards took on a special significance with their designation as the official “Governor’s Awards for the Arts.”

Mrs. Verner’s great great grandchildren are current campers at Rockbrook.  What a treasure that they can share in their families wonderful legacy at RBC!

Camp – A Place to Recharge

Rockbrook Camp, founded 1921, Lake and Lodge View
Rockbrook Lake and Lodge, 1921

In a time when we all lead such busy lives it is nice to have a place like Rockbrook where you can step out of the hustle and bustle of the modern world and live a more simple and thoughtful  life.  We recently discovered a chapter in the Rockbrook Memories Book that was written in the 1960’s that expresses this same thought.   Whether it be the 1960’s or the 2010’s, we all appreciate that Rockbrook provides a haven for girls to reconnect with themselves, friends and the natural world.

“Living in a world so filled with change that it is difficult to communicate with one’s grandchildren, it is good to know that girls still enjoy living close to Nature, hiking down mountain trails, sleeping under the stars, cooking over an open fire and swimming in a rocky pool.  It is refreshing to discover that there is one area, at least, where time has stood practically still.  That area is summer camping where a cardinal is still a cardinal and although one may picnic on plastic instead of paper, one gets the same thrill from a mountain sunset or a flamboyant rainbow covering the earth with its semi-circle of jeweled colors.”– Mary Bissell McIver Thompson

Horseback Riding History at Camp

Since the founding of Rockbrook in 1921, Horseback Riding has been a perennial favorite  for many of our campers.  Our program is based on the forward seat style of riding and we have always had horses and instructors to work with all skill levels.  In a Rockbrook catalog from 1926 the Horseback Riding program is a featured activity.  Here is an excerpt:

“A string of well broken horses affords every girl an opportunity to enjoy this wholesome sport.  In an enclosed field each camper is instructed by experts in the arts of horsemanship.  She is taught how to bridle, saddle and mount a horse; how to care for it on trip; how to feed and groom her mount as well as how to ride gracefully and securely.”

Here is another featured comment of the 1926 catalog:

“The horse show of Event Week attracts spectators from the neighboring country and cities and Rockbrook has been referred to as “The Camp where the girls are taught to ride so well.”

The horse show at Rockbrook occurs at the end of each session.
Campers each receive a ribbon during the Rockbrook horse show

So as you can see from the 1920’s or 1970’s up to today, our riding program continues to offer girls a wonderful place to learn the skills and joys of horseback riding.  If you have any great horseback riding stories from your time at camp we would love to hear from you.  We would love to know more about some of the overnight trail rides and any of your favorite horses.  Some of the horses we often hear stories about are Sambo, Peaches, April, Be Good and Druid.  Please help us add to our horseback riding archive!

Visit our website to learn more about our current horseback riding program.

Canoeing at Camp

Canoe Camp for Girls

Rockbrook has a long tradition of canoeing at camp. From the earliest days, Rockbrook girls could learn how to canoe in the camp lake, and later take canoeing trips on the local rivers. For example, read this account of a camp canoeing trip. Even on whitewater rivers, Rockbrook campers were some of the first girls to brave the local rapids in a canoe.

Here is an old photograph from our archives showing a girl solo canoeing by the waterfall in the Rockbrook lake. We’re not sure what year it was taken or who the camper is in the photo, so if you know, please share it with us!

We love canoeing!

We All Scream for Ice Cream!

The Biltmore Train arrives at Rockbrook Camp
The Biltmore Train, Summer 1968

One of our favorite and long standing Rockbrook traditions is the special treat known as “The Biltmore Train.”  It is an all you can eat ice cream extravaganza that has been happening at Rockbrook for many years.  It is a Rockbrook  “Surprise” and is announced with a special “choo choo” train song and skit.  When the tradition started the actual Bitmore Dairy Truck would drive up to camp and serve the ice cream (as seen in the photo above).  The Biltmore Dairy is no longer in business but we sure still enjoy it’s namesake activity.  “Biltmore, Biltmore” can often be heard being chanted around camp as the campers hope for the surprise ice cream day to arrive.