Every session, I visit each age group’s lodge during a morning assembly to chat with the campers about what makes Rockbrook different from “the real world.” Campers right away pipe up that people are kind, everyone is included, and that camp events are a lot of fun. But when we delve deeper, we talk about how to ensure that people are kind, how it can be hard to be nice to people you live with after three weeks, what to do when we make mistakes, and how important it is to do the right thing, even if it is hard, and even if nobody is watching.
I’m always encouraged at the end of these visits, by the sincerity of the answers. And I love it when I see moments of these chats in action. Like tonight in the dining hall, when I spotted a senior camper helping our youngest junior refill her serving bowl. Or the middler that I spotted cleaning up cups on the hill after a picnic yesterday. Or the CA camper who walked a younger camper all the way back to the barn this morning because she forgot to leave her boots there. Each day at Rockbrook, there are a multitude of moments for campers to practice and to develop being a kind and caring person.
The program at Rockbrook is designed to give campers increasing independence. As they grow older, so do their responsibilities around camp, with each step helping the camp run smoothly. Our leadership program for our 15-, 16-, and 17-year-old campers was developed many years ago, and it is still incredibly effective. These oldest campers see the direct result of their efforts in the experience of the younger campers, from the silly campfire the Hi-Ups led on Monday night to the sparkling plates the CITs cleaned tonight to be ready for tomorrow’s breakfast.
A former Rockbrook counselor put it this way:
I like to think that we become our best selves at Rockbrook because the people around us believe that we can be our best selves.
One of my favorite things about Rockbrook is how much trust it places in the people who live here. We trust our juniors to get to activities on time, create fabulous skits each night, and even refill food from the kitchen. We trust our middlers to be kind to each other, be role models for the juniors, and to embrace the crazy adventures of camp. We trust the seniors to be real leaders, our CAs to plan an amazing banquet, and our HUPs to make sure we all wake up on time.
From ages six to sixteen, we believe in each other to laugh often, love kindly, and be there for one another. It’s no wonder we find it easier to be our best selves — when two hundred people believe that you can do it, we find ourselves proving them right.
We know the campers can do so much, and we depend on all of them to make each day run smoothly, to help take care of camp and each other. And they do!