Camp — A place for girls to grow

Weaver Baskets at Summer Camp

Back in 1998, Kellogg’s produced a television commercial that, quite unintentionally, reminds us why a girl’s time at summer camp can be so valuable, why it really can fuel tremendous personal growth. The commercial shows a little boy reciting a “declaration” of sorts about what children need.

“We the children need the following:
We need encouragement.
We need to laugh.
We need inspiration.
We need to be read to.
We need to have self-esteem,
Love and security,
Adventure,
Discipline and Freedom.
We need to make mistakes,
Ask questions,
To imagine.
We need to win,
And sometimes we need to lose.
We need to be hugged.
We need family, friends and even foes,
And heroes.
We need nourishment.”

It’s just amazing how camp is one of those unique places that provides almost all of these ingredients. With its wide ranging program of activities, caring staff members, traditions and overall philosophy, summer camp satisfies these needs for children. We’ve often said it at Rockbrook; “camp is a place for girls to grow.”

Here’s the commercial.

A Crazy Camp of Grannies

Summer camp Girls Dressed as Grannies

A bathrobe
A wig
A couple of hair curlers
Lots of powder for all over
Glasses, preferably small ones on the end of your nose
Pillows or other stuffing for certain areas 😉
A walking cane
Loose, baggy nylon stockings
Big puffy slippers
Really red, and a little messy, lipstick
A scratchy or frail sounding voice

“Put them altogether, and you’ve got a Rockbrook…” Well, a granny of course! And not just one, but a couple of hundred! It’s one of our favorite special evening programs at camp— to get dressed up like old ladies and play bingo. “Granny Bingo.” The thrill of the game, the awesome prizes, the costumes, and all the laughing. Sure it’s silly, it’s crazy, it’s goofy, but it’s also excellent fun.

Teen Programs for Girls

Girl Teen Outdoor Program

The teen programs for girls offered by Rockbrook bring together several unique aspects. First of all there are all the amazing things teen girls can do at camp… everythng from outdoor adventure trips like climbing and kayaking, to arts and crafts like pottery and weaving, to sports like soccer, basketball and volleyball. There’s plenty to keep your activity level way, way up.

Then there are special leadership opportunities at camp, the chances to plan special events like the banquet and to help with activities for the younger kids. It’s very clear how teenagers are role models for the other girls at camp. Finally, the teen programs at Rockbrook provide a place were girls can relax and enjoy carefree summer living with some good friends who appreciate you for who you are instead of who you’re pretending to be. It’s welcoming and friendly, and that’s really great.

Girls love camp because it offers the good life.  Just ask anyone who’s attended!

Leadership Summer Camp

Kids Learning Leadership

Summer camp is one of the best places for children to learn about leadership, to explore what it means to be a good leader, and to practice the kinds of personal skills important to being a leader. Bring together kids of different ages (at Rockbrook that’s girls between 6 and 16 years old) and provide so many activities where they interact and play together, and you’ll have one event after another where leadership is central. Campers find themselves asking questions like, “How can we work together on this?” and saying things like “Let’s make a plan.” It might be for a cabin skit or preparing for a group hike, but being a good listener, cooperating, maybe compromising, being creative about individual contributions, and being confident about being part of a team are almost daily parts of camp. Particularly for our oldest campers, for example the CAs who plan the end-of-session banquet, overnight camp offers (even requires, at times) chances to develop leadership skills and serve as leaders for the younger campers.

Sure there’s lots of crazy fun going on, but we’re growing as well.

Camps in the South

South summer camp

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been making our fall travel plans, scheduling Rockbrook Camp parties all over the south. Several are set on the calendar. Chances are we’re coming to your city or some place close by, so check out the schedule here: Camp Party Schedule. If you haven’t come to one of these parties before, they’re great fun. We watch a movie and see some slides from last summer, see each other again 🙂 and meet loads of new people interested in camp for next summer. We’ll be going to more places in the winter also, so stay tuned!

Every year Rockbrook girls all across the the south get re-energized about attending camp.  These parties spark that energy in the fall and early spring, so that when summer approaches, everyone is bursting with excitement.

What Summer Camps are About

Summer Camp Baskets

Here’s another interesting bit of reading about summer camps, this time from Harper’s Magazine (September 2007 issue). Rich Cohen, in “The Summer of Our Discontent: An Ode to Sleepaway Camp,” writes about his childhood experience at a camp in Wisconsin, and brings to the article a good deal of research about summer camping for kids in general. There’s lots of good stuff to be found (subscribers can read more here), but I wanted to simply pass along a summary quote.

“Life at camp was changing— the nature of the kids and counselors, the very sense of what camp should be about. In the 1800s, it was about religion; in the early 1900s, it was about preserving a spark of frontier spirit; in the mid-1900s, it was about the barracks and preparing a generation for the coming war; now it’s about preparing kids for school and work, speeding them through the meritocracy.”

Yes, “being prepared” is still a big part of camp, but at Rockbrook we want kids to be kids. So camp is a place where girls can try new things, play, and play some more, create things, explore the outdoor world, gain confidence (social, physical, etc.), and have some crazy fun. Of course, personal growth and “preparation” for being a happy, well-adjusted individual happens within this context, and under the supervision of many positive role models.

I guess we could say attending Rockbrook isn’t primarily about learning how to be a better student or employee at school or work (though that might happen in the end), but it’s about having a more rounded and complete childhood experience that serves you well later in life.

Camp Trick or Treat!?

Summer Camp Halloween Party

Walking into the dining hall, you couldn’t help but to look at every girl that passed by. It was Halloween night and we were all dressed up in our costumes. Pirates, cheerleaders, cowboys, and tourists filled each table. The Senior line put on a little after-dinner haunted house for all of us to participate in. Waiting in line, you could see all the girls were excited and anxious to get inside of the haunted house, and by the time they got through and out, you knew the wait was more than worthwhile. The seniors did a great job at making it fun and scary for all the girls, even the young juniors.

Sleep Away Camp Girls

Sleep Away Girls Camp

When you ask people who attended a sleep away camp when they were a kid, you’ll find that they recall the experience, not only fondly, but also as one of the most important things they did as a child. And this is true for just about everybody you ask, not just the occasional “camp fan.”

A famous example here is Michael Eisner and his book about camp. There’s a lot to it, and we’ve discussed the benefits of attending camp before, but this photo speaks to the empowerment and self confidence girls often develop at summer camp. Being away from home and parents, being challenged and succeeding in different activities, and being friends with so many different types of people— all weave together to give camp its secret power.

Take that power gained as a child and watch it do great things in adults!