Third Session Highlights Video – Part Two

We have another example of Robbie Francis working his filming and editing magic. Robbie was here again last week filming, and now we have this wonderful glimpse into life at camp. We think you’ll love seeing the sweet mood of camp… so much action, so much friendship, and so many happy, relaxed girls.

Be sure to watch it to the end to see a gorgeous drone shot from above camp.

Take a look, and let us know what you think.

P.S. If you missed last week’s video, here it is.

Their Ibasho

Jumping off the diving board at the Rockbrook lake really appeals to some kids. Some like to simply run off the end and land in the water, and others like to really bend it down and spring high into the air. Either way, there’s enough airtime to do a trick or strike a pose before splashing into the water. During the second free swim period yesterday (before dinner), a set of girls decided they could contort themselves in the air and form letters. And with one of the photographers coincidentally there, they decided to take photos of themselves spelling R-O-C-K-B-R-O-O-K. Here are some sample shots. Can you tell what the letters are? It was just a little silly camp fun before dinner.

It’s an example of the kind of silliness that naturally percolates up when girls find themselves in a safe place where they are comfortable enough to relax and be their true selves. Rockbrook is exactly that sort of place. Our philosophy and emphasis on kindness and community make it a place where girls feel included. It’s a place of belonging for everyone who is here, free from social judgment and competition for rewards. Kids here support each other, cheer for each other, and laugh together. It’s a little surprising compared to the outside world, and can take some time to realize it, but camp is a special kind of environment. Once you find the courage to embrace the community, it can be literally life changing.

camp campfire roasting marshmellows

The other day I was talking with a Senior camper who has been coming to Rockbrook for several years and she put it like this: “Camp is a place where I can finally be part of something that makes you feel so much gratitude and love and connection to the people, the earth and to yourself. Here I can be my true self, the person I have always wanted to be.”

What a lovely sentiment! And a great testament to the beauty of the camp community and what it means to so many of the girls here. Camp feels uniquely good. Being accepted for who you really are is a relief compared to the worry that often accompanies school environments. Camp feels good because it opens up a welcoming space for girls to let their true selves shine, and because it’s also supportive and encouraging, it provides tremendous opportunities to grow as well. When you’re not worried what someone might say, and you know you don’t have to hide behind something fake, it’s liberating, and the next thing you know, you’re being a little more silly and having more fun. It’s magical!

It reminds me of the Japanese word “Ibasho.” Popular in the 1990s, this word describes a “place where one feels at ease, safe and comfortable.” It’s a place of “refuge and empowerment,” as this paper puts it. Ibasho is a place where “you feel at home being yourself.” See the connection? Appropriate for most supportive communities, I think ibasho aligns perfectly with the haven we aim to create here at Rockbrook. For the girls here, Rockbrook is their ibasho. It too has this special character to encourage authenticity, to be comfortable and empowering.

I think this helps explain the feelings “camp people” have when they say things like: “I would not be who I am if it wasn’t for camp,” or “at camp I feel at home.” They’ve discovered their ibasho, a special place where they feel most at home being their true selves. It’s the central power of the camp experience.

There’s more to learn from this concept of ibasho. Questions come to mind about how to create and strengthen an ibasho community, and why ordinarily that is so rarely accomplished. From what I’ve seen at camp, kids thrive in such a community. It seems to me that everyone would benefit from finding their ibasho.

summer camp craft teens

Second Session Highlights Video – Part 3

We have another short video for you! Robbie Francis of FrancisFilmworks spent a day at camp earlier this week filming and now he’s put together a wonderful glimpse into life this session. Robbie has a real talent for capturing the special moments at camp— the girls happily doing their activities, bopping around camp, and just enjoying each others company.

The video shows lots of laughter, moments of concentration and accomplishment, and so many, many smiles.

Take a look! We think you’ll enjoy these 2 minutes immensely.

Second Session Highlights Video – Part Two

We have the next example of Robbie Francis of FrancisFilmworks working his filming and editing magic. Robbie was here earlier this week filming, and now we have this wonderful glimpse into life at camp. We love seeing the sweet mood of camp… so much action, so much friendship, and so many happy girls!

My favorite part is the camper yelling “I love camp!” as she flies down the zipline.

Take a look, and let us know what you think.

P.S. If you missed last week’s video, here it is.

Busy in Every Way

Today was the first day of activities for this session, a day when camp was busy in every way. Last night the girls were presented with the different options, and after much discussion among their friends decided on their first set of four activities.

summer calendar project

This practice of having the girls select their own activities has long been a part of Rockbrook. We believe that having to choose on their own, away from parents, is a really good experience for the girls. It’s empowering for them to make this decision, to make it based entirely on their own desires and interests. It might mean doing lots of crafts, or perhaps spending extra time at the barn with the horses. Or it might mean taking a break from tennis since that’s a regular thing at home. Parents are sometimes surprised to learn what their child selects, and they may even wish their camper would branch out more, or be inspired to try something different. Some of that variety happens on its own as the various options are limited, and peers often encourage each other to do things together. But the girls really appreciate this independence. Wednesday night, all the girls will select a new set of activities, giving them a chance to switch things up. Horseback riding operates differently. Girls can keep riding on the schedule arranged with Kelsi our riding director. They can switch up their riding days, but most don’t want to.

With the campers schedules set, they were off…. off to shoot arrows, to climb the alpine tower, and to twist, tie and dye white t-shirts. They were calming down and stretching out in a yoga class held in the stone hillside lodge. They were learning tricks to perfect a cartwheel in the gymnastics activity. They were getting the hang of operating the floor looms in weaving and the feel of cool clay in the two pottery studios. They were swimming in the lake and riding horses in the rings, smacking tetherballs and gaga balls, making friendship bracelets and painting flowers. They were busy!

There were trips happening too. Two different kayaking trips went out to the French Broad river, one in the morning and one after lunch. The CA campers (9th graders) took a hike in the Dupont State Forest to discuss and select their secret Banquet theme. Starting with about 80 different ideas, they narrowed down the options and ended up with a single theme that will focus their planning for the end-of-session party they host for the whole camp. Now, they have a theme, and it’s a good one.

In camp, zipline trips were happening all day as well. Different cabin groups were assigned specific times. This allows us to make sure that everyone, even the smallest Junior, has the option to take a ride through the course. Wearing a harness tethered to a dual-wheeled pulley and a steel backup carabiner, the girls also put on a helmet before following the adventure staff up into the forest where the course begins. With three zips and 3 different challenge bridges strung between huge boulders, the course is uniquely thrilling and beautiful at the same time.

I should add that despite this busyness, our regular daily schedule also includes three periods of “free time” when the girls can just hang out. They can join various clubs, swim in the lake, or play several games during these times, but they can also sit and read under the walnut tree on the hill, goof around in the creek by Curosty, or just sit and chat with a friend in one of the red porch rocking chairs. Here too, the girls decide for themselves how to spend this free time. Unable to default to technology or passive entertainment, it’s interesting to see them be more creative and active than they might be otherwise. They have plenty of friends to do things with, so their “free time” can seem busy as well.

Yes camp is busy, but it’s a good kind of busy. It’s self-directed and fun, filled with extraordinary opportunities to experience new things, and includes built-in companionship and support. It’s a busy that helps a girl grow.

camp nature girls exploring

First Session Highlights Video – Part Two

Robbie Francis of FrancisFilmworks worked his filming and editing magic again this week to produce another short video for us. He spent the day last Thursday filming, and now we have this wonderful glimpse into life at camp. The video does a great job of depicting the mood of camp… so much action and so many happy girls!

Take a look, and let us know what you think.

First Session Highlights Video

It’s always difficult to describe camp life to those who haven’t experienced it. Of course, we try all the time —by writing blog posts and posting hundreds of photos to our online gallery— but the experience is far too rich, complex and emotional to convey like that.

Fortunately, we have some video as well. We’re happy to say Robbie Francis of FrancisFilmworks is again working with us this summer to produce short videos each session.  He came to camp on Thursday and now has his first edited short of 2022 ready for you to see.

Take a look! You will love it.

P.S. Be sure to have the volume turned up. Hearing camp is amazing!

Camp Pen Pals – Hooray!

Coming to camp is so much about friendship. Camp means meeting new people and making friends. It means learning how to be a good friend, a true friend. Life at camp shows you that friends can be older or younger than you (doesn’t matter), friends can be from far away (even from another country), and friends can be deeply supportive (especially when they know you so well).

At Rockbrook making friends starts before you even arrive. That’s because, in the spring before camp, everyone coming is paired with a pen pal. Your pen pal is another camper who will be coming to your same session, and is someone we think you’ll enjoy getting know. She’ll be similar in age, and possibly assigned to your same cabin. Your penpal could be a returning camper or someone who is experiencing Rockbrook for the first time.

Camp Pen Pals

For years now, decades actually, we’ve paired up girls as pen pals before camp because we know how much fun it is to share your excitement about camp with another girl who will be attending. That’s the point— to begin making a connection with a new camp friend even before arriving.

Even if this is your first time at camp, and even if you don’t know anyone who already attends, your pen pal can be your first camp friend. You can look forward to seeing a friendly face you on your very first day. You can sign up for activities together, go to free swim together, and sit together during evening programs.

Every April, we send each camper the name and address (and email address) of her new camp pen pal. In the letter, we also enclose a fun postcard to help inspire your first letter.

So let’s get started! Grab a pen, some markers, or colored pencils and write that card. Or, if you’d rather, compose an email introducing yourself. Or, really get creative and write a whole letter on a piece of paper you decorated. But, don’t delay! Your pen pal really wants to hear from you!

What to write? Almost anything about yourself will be great— What’s your favorite food? Do you have any pets? Brothers or sisters? Hobbies? Sports? What are things about camp you’re looking forward to? Are you planning to pack a funny costume for camp? Ask some questions too, so you can get a conversation going.

Go ahead and write more than once! Everybody loves getting mail. If your pen pal doesn’t write back at first, don’t let that prevent you from writing again. It will help!

Writing your penpal is really fun! Hooray!

2nd Session Video Glimpse

Robbie Francis of Go Swan Filmworks is returning to Rockbrook this summer to film and present a series of highlights videos, each a unique glimpse into life at camp.

It’s Robbie’s 5th year making these occasional videos for us. Every time, he has a striking ability to convey the action, creativity and genuine closeness that make up our days.

Robbie filmed this past week and now we have his first video of the session. Take a look and enjoy!

You’ll want to watch it more than once!

Looking Forward to Camp in 2021

It might only be February, but we are so excited about welcoming girls back to Rockbrook in 2021! After all the challenges and sacrifices everyone has faced this past year, we’ve been thinking about camp, dreaming about camp, and feeling really good about what a summer in the heart of a wooded mountain will provide.

February 8, 2021

A Hello from Sarah and Jeff

In this video, camp directors Sarah and Jeff Carter look forward to the summer and discuss their planning for a healthy and safe camp in 2021.
 

As the coronavirus pandemic conditions have been changing, we have been considering how every aspect of life at camp might be affected. Working with guidance from the American Camp Association and our state Health Department, we’ve been identifying essential principles and protocols that will guide us as we adjust how certain things are done at camp.

If we are to protect ourselves from being exposed to the coronavirus, there will most likely be new ways we sign up for activities, take out-of-camp trips, eat our meals, and gather for evening programs, for example. We will have to be careful in several important ways.

While there is some good news on the horizon as vaccines are becoming increasingly available, it’s difficult to predict every detail of what will be different this summer at camp. Even so, while we ask for your patience, we would like to share with you what we are anticipating so you can begin planning and thinking about the summer.

Questions!

Here are a few of the questions we’ve been hearing, along with our best answers at this time.

Some of these answers may change as we get closer to the summer, but for now, this is what we know. We will certainly keep you informed when we have updates!

How will we practice “social distancing” at camp?

child and horse at summer camp

This summer we will consider every cabin group a “family” where the campers and counselors sleeping in the same cabin do not have to socially distance. These cabin family groups will eat their meals together, do daily activities together, and go on out-of-camp trips together. We will, however, practice distancing between cabin family groups. Partway through each session, as we are effectively managing the coronavirus (keeping it out of camp!), we hope to allow these family groups to form larger “neighborhoods” for evening programs and other special activities.


How will we sign up for activities?

At this time, we are planning for girls to attend activities with their cabin group. We will create an activity rotation for each group that will include a range of adventure-, arts-, and sports-related activities. We hope campers will be able to enjoy their favorites and try a few new activities as well. There will still be swimming, ziplining, and opportunities for free time most days. Horseback riding will remain an individual signup.


What about meals?

camp girl aiming rifle

To provide more space between cabin family groups while they eat, we are expanding our outdoor dining space by renovating the hillside lodge porch and dining hall porch. We anticipate eating outside most of time, either picnic style on the hill or at tables properly spaced in the dining hall and on these covered porches. Rick, our long-time chef at Rockbrook, will be back this summer to provide our favorite meals (and muffins!).


When will we have to wear a mask at camp?

Right now, we anticipate campers and staff needing to wear a mask whenever they cannot properly distance themselves from a member of a different cabin family group. At the same time, if you are only with members of your own cabin group— for example, at meals, during most activities, and when inside your cabin —you will not need to wear a mask. We will ask that campers bring with them to camp several of their favorite masks.


What about the vaccine?

girl holding knitting loom

We are hopeful that our adult staff members will be vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to working at camp this summer. As “out-of-school time” workers supporting children, camp staff have recently been made eligible for vaccinations like others in education settings (like teachers). At this time, it seems unlikely that a COVID-19 vaccine will be approved for children in time for camp. While helpful, having a portion of our camp community vaccinated does not eliminate the need for social distancing, mask wearing, and enhanced sanitation protocols.


What COVID-19 testing will be required?

camp girl canoeing trip on French Broad

We anticipate requiring all campers and staff to provide the negative results of a recent COVID-19 molecular (PCR) test prior to arriving at camp. Along with a few pre-camp precautions (limiting unnecessary travel and exposure to non-family members, and some symptom monitoring), we hope to increase the odds of beginning each session covid-free. As an additional check, we will use rapid antigen testing to screen anyone with COVID-19 symptoms. Since the availability and methods of coronavirus testing are rapidly changing, we will provide more details in the spring about how we will utilize testing. We understand the notion of testing is unpleasant, and we will do everything we can to minimize that.


What else will be happening to guard against COVID-19?

Above and beyond our regular American Camp Association standards, we will be implementing more rigorous cleaning procedures, regular hand washing and sanitizing, expanding our on-site medical facilities and staff, and ongoing self-reported health checks. Maintaining a healthy camp community will be our top priority!


Will there be changes to opening day?

Yes. We are planning to assign each family a staggered arrival time, creating “drive-thru” stations for all our regular opening day activities. We will ask that parents stay in their cars as our staff helps with your daughter’s luggage, you meet the directors and counselors, and your daughter is welcomed to camp. We will take great care helping every camper settle into her cabin comfortably.


Will there be any travel restrictions?

Currently, there are no restrictions against traveling into North Carolina, but to help socially distance while traveling, we prefer that campers arrive at camp by private car. We believe campers can still fly, but we ask they be extra cautious by wearing a face covering and maintaining proper social distancing while traveling. International campers should stay in touch with our office about travel plans.


What if there’s a positive case at camp?

relaxing girl floating on camp lake

While we hope to maintain a relatively closed camp community, one bolstered by many layers of protection, it will still be possible for someone to contract COVID-19 while at camp. We will be monitoring everyone’s symptoms daily (campers and staff), and when someone exhibits convincing COVID-19 symptoms, that person will be isolated and tested. Our medical team is developing a screening, testing, and quarantining plan, but at this time, we believe campers who test positive will need to be picked up from camp as soon as possible.


Gosh, should I still come to camp with all of these precautions?

If you have significant concerns about your daughter attending camp this summer because of underlying health issues, or for any other reason, please reach out to us to discuss things. We know camp will be a bit different this summer, but our goal is to keep everyone healthy while at the same time recreating the core of what we love about Rockbrook— the zany surprises, the fun activities, the incredible natural beauty, and that special feeling that comes from just being together at camp.

Thank you again for your support, cooperation and trust as we prepare for another amazing Rockbrook summer!

If you have questions not covered here, or you need clarification about anything, please let us know.

teenage girls at camp in NC