First Session Video Snapshot – 2

Robbie Francis, our amazing videographer, returned to camp this week to film another of his wonderful highlights videos. In just under two minutes, the video beautifully captures the feel of our days at camp. Each time you watch it, you’ll see something new— a new caring interaction, a genuinely happy and peaceful smile, or the simplest expression of friendship. It’s fascinating!

Take a look, and let us know what you think. …or use that share button! 🙂

First Session Highlights Video

We’re thrilled to have Robbie Francis of Go Swan Filmworks visiting camp again throughout the summer to film and present a series of highlights videos.

For three years now, we’ve had great feedback from parents about Robbie’s videos.  After filming for one day, it’s incredible how he captures all the action at camp, what life here sounds like, and a sense of how happy the girls are.  And all boiled down to just two minutes!

Robbie filmed on Wednesday and now we have his first video. As usual, it’s great fun and I think you’ll really enjoy it.

Little Paths at Twilight

My favorite part of everyday is Twilight– the time at camp between dinner and Evening Program. Our themed dinners, special trips, or crazy songs aside, dinnertime is pretty self-explanatory. At Evening Program, girls from different age groups retreat to their respective lodges to put on silly skits before ending the day with the traditional Goodnight Circle song and the Rockbrook Prayer.

view of NC mountains at sunset

While these other parts of the day are fun, I feel such a deep sense of love and appreciation for camp at Twilight. The day’s activities have brought the girls out of their shells: Juniors chase each other down the hill in front of their lodge; the tetherball pole hosts a crowd of audience members and competitors; and others enjoy quirky activities put on by counselors. Many times, Evening Program brings a special event that was announced during dinner and girls busily dress up accordingly during Twilight.

Camp girls lounging

Tonight’s Twilight was particularly wonderful. Everyone felt energized after our first full day of camp with the new group of mini-session campers, and the newly arrived campers clearly felt more settled in after an exciting day of trying new things and getting familiar with cabin mates and counselors.

One group of counselors brought biodegradable soap down to the creek for “Mermaid Baths.” Campers bounced down the hill in their bathing suits to soap up their hair, feet, and arms in the cold water. Note: We have made sure that campers know that these do not substitute actual bathing, no matter how much more fun the process!

outdoor yoga kids

Another group circled around one another to do yoga. I watched them take in the mountain view from the top of the hill as they practiced tree poses. They giggled as they tried to keep their balance, occasionally using each other to stay standing on one foot.

Two Junior cabins used Twilight to prepare for their Junior Overnight, which departed right as the bell rang for Evening Program. Most had finished packing early and sat enjoying the sunset for the second half of their free time. I spotted them at the ready, sitting among their sleeping bags, pillows, and stuffed animals.

Castle Rock at twlight

Everything stopped at a certain point during tonight’s Twilight, though. From the hill, we heard “Hello, Rockbrook!” and looked up to discover three or four little figures at the top Castle Rock, the rock face on camp that is a short hike away! Some Hi-Up campers have hiked to the top every single day this session with one of their counselors, and they provided us with a greeting to celebrate. We shouted back, “Hello, Castle Rock!” and girls on the hill waved their arms and delighted in being able to see them wave back.

If you ask me, the best place to enjoy Twilight’s cool golden glow and the merriment on the hill is from Hiker’s Rock. It’s this view of camp that I miss whenever I’m somewhere else, reciting a poem to myself in my head that we read at Spirit Fire.

“You may think my dear, when you grow quite old
you have left your camp days behind
but I know the scent of woodsmoke
will always call to mind
little paths at twilight
and trails you used to find.”
—Mary S. Edgars, To A Camper

Unbreakable Sisterhood

This Sunday’s chapel set the perfect tone going into the last week of camp for our Second Session campers. The theme was “We’re All in This Together.” Yes, it may sound like one of our favorite High School Musical songs (which was, indeed, performed during the service), but it was an opportunity to remind ourselves of the family that exists for us at camp even after we leave, as we get ready to say goodbye.

goofy teen girls
smiling teen girls
teen girls smile

Forever friendship is a an undeniably powerful, recurring aspect of camp. Just listen to a few of our songs: “And when we say farewell, it shall not mean goodbye. The spark we lit at Rockbrook we know in ages ne’er will die;” “Turn around and we are strangers, turn around and we are friends, turn around and we are sisters forever to be.”

An important part of this connection between Rockbrook girls that was talked about in chapel is that we don’t have to see each other that often to maintain this bond. Also, because of the shared treasured experiences that we’ve all had, sometimes we don’t need to know each other very well at first to feel like sisters. For instance, I’m thrilled to meet Rockbrook girls at reunions or run into them outside of camp, because I know that this person just gets it. Without being particularly similar at all, there’s a little spark when you’re together and you both know you’re on the same team. Like a camper said during chapel, “After you leave camp, you know there’s a Rockbrook family who’s always going to have your back.”

But don’t just take my word for it! Read a speech from one of our older campers, Annie, who was selected by her counselors to speak about the theme:

Hi. If you don’t already know me, my name is Annie and this is my 8th year at camp. When asked to speak today about the theme, “We’re all in this together,” I suppose you could say that I was hesitant. Not because I didn’t have anything to say or because I don’t believe this theme applies to camp, which I do by the way. The real reason I was hesitant is due to having too much to say and not enough time or courage to stand in front of you to recite the past 8 wonderful years to y’all.

When thinking about this theme though, I feel the necessity to look back to my first day as a Rockbrook girl and how I was embraced into the welcoming, compassionate, and completely understanding community. I was just another 7 year old who was afraid of her own shadow, a complete homebody, and was unwilling to personally embrace the change of environments away from all I knew. This all changed when I immediately entered a circle of friendship and all my doubts dissipated. I soon learned that my cabin mates were going through the same experiences as me of leaving home, being placed into new circumstances, as well as being taken in with open arms. That was my first realization at camp that I was not alone, but that we are all in this together.

When I think of camp, I think of a community and a family. We have an unspoken code between friends and family, through the thick and thin of life. Rockbrook girls have stuck together since 1921. Generations of girls connected spanning the globe. Remember to embrace one another, look at each other with compassion, and most importantly remember that we’re all in this together, whatever that may be. Rockbrook girls stick together.

Nick at Night

Nick at Night camp game

Who remembers watching Nickelodeon growing up? For many of us, thinking of the TV shows we watched when we were younger brings up nostalgia. This year, we decided to combine those nostalgic feelings with the pure fun and silliness that is Nickelodeon into a crazy surprise event! After lunch, we switched up our normal announcements routine and headed out to the hill to watch our lineheads get slimed! Everyone loved watching these special counselors get covered in Nickelodeon-style green slime, but that was only the beginning…

The dining hall was decorated for dinner with streamers and panels showcasing Nickelodeon’s greatest hits throughout the years. During the meal, we played a game of counselor musical chairs — while the music played, counselors roamed the dining hall, showing off their best costumes. When the music stopped, they sat at the nearest table and got to spend time getting to know campers from different cabins and age groups. I loved getting to see all the counselors interact with new campers!

slimed camp counselors

After dinner, we all headed to the gym for an evening program inspired by Nickelodeon’s Double Dare Challenges. We watched as campers and counselors participated in fun and messy challenges like “In Your Egg Hat” – a twist on a classic egg toss, but with a bucket attached to a helmet to catch each egg. However, many people’s favorite part of the evening was the final event. At dinner, each counselor’s chair had a number attached. Our game of musical chairs mixed up the numbers, and to end the night, we randomly selected a few counselor numbers to get slimed! All the campers cheered as counselors got covered in sticky green slime. After experiencing it myself, I can say that waiting for the slime to come was a little nerve-wracking, but the happiness on all the camper’s faces afterwards made it worth it. It was the perfect camp night, full of high energy and a little (lots of) messiness.

Getting Back to Basics

Tonight two junior cabins embarked on their very own Junior Overnight. This special trip is reserved just for our youngest campers, and the girls get to venture a short distance into the woods with their counselors, make s’mores, sing campfire songs, and hear stories. For some of our youngest girls, the Junior Overnight is their only opportunity to leave camp and sleep outside, and it’s a major highlight of the session for them.

The announcement was made during dinner: “Junior One and Five cabins, what’re your plans for tonight?!” The two groups looked puzzled being asked this question in front of the entire camp, completely unprompted. “We don’t know… ,” said one girl in the back. “YOU’RE GOING ON YOUR JUNIOR OVERNIGHT TONIGHT!!!” As soon as I declared the news, the girls squealed with excitement. Their time had finally come!

Junior girls camping

The girls wiggled into their pajamas and packed after dinner, running up to their cabins as they remembered water bottles, bug spray, or a critical stuffed animal before we left. Once we made it out to the outpost, I immediately started making the fire. One curious camper asked me to explain each step, which I was thrilled to do. Afterwards, the campers inhaled some s’mores and learned some new songs, including my personal favorite, the Cider Song.

For bedtime, after some discussion of sleeping arrangements and keeping spiders away, I read the girls a story about a girl who snuck cookies to her pet cow and another about a girl who dreamt of going to the moon. Most of the campers fell asleep before I was asked to tell “a Chelsea original,” which featured a little redbird who traveled the world helping others. 

vintage camping ladies

Full disclosure, I love this trip. My most treasured camp memories involve sleeping outside, eating something by a fire, hearing a funny story from a Director or counselor, and overcoming a little nervousness about a bug potentially crawling on me during bedtime. It was those particular experiences that brought me back as a counselor years later.

The Junior Overnight entails what summer camp is meant to be in its simplest form—quality time with friends in nature, away from modern conveniences. In my opinion, for these reasons, the simple little trip also celebrates the very reasons Rockbrook was founded.

A Brave Day

Today marked the first day of activities for Second Session! After receiving a warm welcome from counselors and fellow campers yesterday, new and returning Rockbrook girls got a big dose of “new” today– activities, responsibilities, places to sleep, places to go, morning chores, and more. I was reminded today that, with all of this unfamiliarity, the girls show so much bravery.

little girl archers

For example, I had the privilege of working with the archery instructors today. Dutifully learning each safety command and step, junior campers used bows as big as they are. They worked hard for their results and cheered for each other from behind the firing line. One girl hit the target on her fifth try, smiling to say, “Wow– That’s a satisfying sound!”

The much older CA campers challenged themselves today, as well. All 30 of them collaborated and took a leap of faith to choose a theme for their end-of-camp Banquet. (No, I won’t tell you what it is. You’ll have to wait and see…) When they returned to camp, they got started on talking through logistics and planning how to make their vision come to life.

camp friends sitting in camp chairs

The oldest campers, the Hi-Ups, dove into their many day-to-day tasks for the first time: Just to mention a few things,they assisted counselors in teaching activities, set all of the tables in the dining hall for every meal, rang the bell throughout the day, and walked other campers to the harder-to-locate barn for horseback riding.

Especially at the beginning of each session, younger girls overcome things that scare them a bit at first. Older campers and counselors learn how to give back to a place that has given them so much and find joy in learning how to create the magic for others.

Somehow, across the board, people don’t stop growing at Rockbrook– It’s a place that feels like home but keeps you on your feet with more and more to discover.

Toes in the Water of Independence

summer ice cream cones

One of the many amazing benefits of attending Rockbrook is the opportunities offered for girls to make their own decisions. Every day, our campers get to spread their wings of independence in choosing exactly what to do, both in their activities and their free time. For two hours each day, one hour before lunch and one hour before dinner, campers must decide how to spend their Free Swim. During this time we open the lake, but ultimately it is up to the campers to decide what to do. Some girls flock to the lake day after day, some choose to stay active by running or walking Charlotte’s Loop, a 1.5-mile loop through camp, and some choose to simply spend the time with friends or counselors, reading or playing in the creek. No matter how campers choose to spend their free time, the joy we see on their face when engrossed in play they are passionate about is unrivaled.

Several of the more organized opportunities that Rockbrook offers during each Free Swim allow campers to work toward a certain goal and enjoy the rewards of their efforts. Many campers choose to participate in these clubs since the reward is so sweet — an extra trip to our favorite ice cream stand, Dolly’s! The Mermaid Club rewards campers who swim a certain number of laps across our lake, determined by their age and the amount of time they are at camp. Campers who participate in the Marathon Club clock miles running or walking Charlotte’s Loop until they meet their age group’s goals.

child with ice cream cone

Today, we loaded up all 49 mermaids and marathoners and drove across town to Dolly’s! It’s pretty amazing that out of all the things that campers can choose to do during their Free Swim, these girls chose to work on this goal. Rockbrook girls are inspiringly ambitious! Although everyone was full from an excellent lunch (tacos!), I could see the pride on each girl’s face as she chose her favorite flavor to enjoy. Everyone was in a great mood — smiles and laughter were contagious, and we proudly sang Rockbrook songs at the top of our voices while eating. As we drove back to camp to return to normal activities, I watched girls of all ages laughing and talking together. These moments happen all the time at camp — immediate bonds over a shared experience, no matter how big or small.