CoVid-19 Decision

May 22, 2020

A Message from Sarah and Jeff

Sarah and Jeff announce their decision about the 2020 camp sessions amid the CoVid-19 pandemic.
 

Dear Rockbrook Families,

Thank you for all the encouragement, support and patience you’ve shown us as we have been grappling with the complexities of how camp might operate during the unfolding of the CoVid-19 pandemic.

After weeks of consideration, gathering expert advice and guidance from various state and national authorities, it is still unclear how to bring campers and staff members together for camp, while at the same time keeping everyone healthy.

The recent set of rules given by our state health department define so many restrictions, that taken together, really make it impossible for us to gather as a community, and to recreate what we know and love about Rockbrook.

We are very sorry to say it, but we have made the difficult decision to suspend all of the Rockbrook sessions this summer.

It is very hard for us to give you this news because we know how much everyone has been looking forward to returning to camp, seeing friends, and just being at Rockbrook. We have been looking forward to it too! We all need to get outside, and breathe in the mountain air. We need to dress up and sing, laugh and dance with our friends arm-in-arm. We need to ditch our screens and return to what’s real… our real friends, our real selves, and the real love we feel at camp.

We hope that you will work to re-create some of that camp magic wherever you are this summer – reach out to others you don’t know well, try out a new skill without expecting perfection, and let the silly, carefree side of you out.

We know this is a hard thing. It’s hard for us. It’s hard for everyone. But we also know that you are strong, resilient Rockbrook girls.

Most importantly, we want to stay in touch with all of you this summer as we all work through this crazy time. Next summer will be Rockbrook’s 100th Birthday, and we very much hope to see all of you here. We will be in touch more about that in the coming months. We would love to connect with each of you soon to discuss your individual situation.

We can’t wait to see every one of you again. You’ll always have place here in the “heart of the wooded mountain,” just as Rockbrook will always have a place in your heart.

Sending Rockbrook love,

Sarah and Jeff

Questions

These are a few of the questions many of you are asking right now. We hope you find the answers helpful.

Please reach out if we can help.

Why did you decide to close camp?

Rockbrook is foremost a close-knit community, a place where we do everything together. Our camp spirit is literally fueled by the close relationships between the friends we make here. This summer, given the real health concerns of CoVid-19 infection, we would have to follow so many distancing requirements, group size limitations, and other program changes, we simply would not be able to revive that camp spirit we all expect. There are many factors that led to this decision— too many to mention here —but for Rockbrook, it’s currently impossible to offer a healthy, positive camp experience during this unfolding pandemic.


What happens next?

This is very difficult for all of us, but especially for your children. We hope first that you will take time to reassure them, and empathize with their feelings of loss. For many, Rockbrook is a true home, something deeply meaningful and essential that can’t be replaced. Listen a lot. Answer your child’s questions about CoVid-19. Without trying to “fix” the situation, offer whatever comfort you can. Reassure them that Rockbrook will still be here next year.


What about the tuition paid for this summer?

We hope you will look forward to next summer and apply your camp fees to a 2021 session. This will be a huge help to Rockbrook as we consider the reality of surviving for two years on one summer of income. If you do roll your paid tuition forward, you will still be eligible for a full refund before February 1, 2021. We are likewise committed to giving you the option of a full refund, if you choose.


Why do you prefer families roll their tuition forward to 2021?

Since September last year, Rockbrook has been relying on tuition deposits to maintain and improve its facilities, support its full-time leadership team, and prepare for this summer. Refunding 2020 tuition would be a significant financial burden for Rockbrook, while choosing to roll your paid tuition forward to 2021 will allow us to manage our cash and expenses as we look toward next summer. We certainly recognize this may not be feasible for all families, and we respect everyone’s individual choice to chose a refund instead.


How will I indicate my preference with respect to tuition paid?

We ask that you submit an online form to indicate your preference. Login to your CampMinder account using your email and password, then select the “Forms and Documents” Icon. You will find several options listed, along with an opportunity to ask questions and offer comments. You can also indicate which 2021 session you prefer. Please note that you must complete this form for each child. If you would like to discuss the options listed, or if you need assistance completing the form, please contact us. Even if you have already communicated with us about your preference, we ask that everyone complete this form before July 1.


What are the dates for next summer?

First Session: Sunday, June 6 – Thursday, June 24
June Mini Session: Sunday, June 13 – Thursday, June 24
Second Session: Sunday, June 27 – Thursday, July 22
July Mini Session I: Sunday, June 27 – Thursday, July 8
July Mini Session II: Sunday, July 11 – Thursday, July 22
Third Session: Sunday, July 25 – Thursday, August 12
August Mini Session: Sunday, August 1 – Thursday, August 12
July Kayak Camp: Friday: July 23 — Saturday, July 31
July Horse Camp: Sunday: July 25 — Saturday, July 31


What about CA and Hi-Up campers?

We know how disappointed our senior campers are to miss out on these special Rockbrook experiences this summer. While we can’t recreate this year for them, we are already working to expand our opportunities for Rockbrook girls as they move through our leadership program. For now, we hope all our 2020 CAs will apply to be Hi-Ups next summer and all our 2020 Hi-Ups will apply to be CITs. There will be more details about that process in the coming months.


What if my camper was on a waitlist?

We will reach out later in the summer to provide you an opportunity to register before we open to new 2021 camper applications.


Can I make a donation to help Rockbrook?

Yes! Many parents have already asked if they can donate the fees they have paid, either as a tax deductible contribution to our scholarship fund, the “Redbird Endowment,” or as a direct contribution to the Rockbrook operating budget. Both will help Rockbrook during this challenging time. The online preference form mentioned above will allow you to indicate if you wish to donate all or a portion of your tuition to either fund.


Will you be offering some kind of “virtual” camp this summer?

We will be working on ways to connect with camp and with camp friends over the summer. We hope to sustain our camp community for both our campers and staff. You can also see us on Instagram (@rockbrookcamp) and Facebook (Rockbrook Camp).


If this mess clears up during the summer, will you reconsider this decision?

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely. While we can’t predict how the CoVid-19 pandemic will unfold, gathering the resources and staff to operate camp later will be too difficult.


Can I come visit this summer?

Yes! In addition to offering tours of camp, we will be holding several “Family Play Days” later in the summer. Learn more about these play days by clicking here. An appointment will be required for tours, and spaces for the play days will accommodate limited registrations.


How else can I help Rockbrook?

Keep being awesome Rockbrook families! We’re so grateful for all the caring messages of trust and support you’ve been sending, the encouragement during this difficult decision-making process, and the confidence you’ve shown about camp being a place for your children in the future. Thank you! Next summer will be Rockbrook’s 100th anniversary and we’re planning lots of special surprises. Help us spread the word!

RBC Camp Girls Together before covid-19

It’s the Season of Hygge

Thanksgiving is so hygge! Wait, what? What in the world is hygge, and how do I even pronounce it? To start with, it is a Danish word, and it is pronounced “hoo-gah.” Denmark has been getting a lot of attention lately, because the people in this country are known to have a very high level of personal satisfaction, informally known as the “happiest people in the world.” In a country where there is so little sunlight in the winter and the weather is usually cold and overcast, how can they be so happy? Some Danes claim it is because of their cultural concept of “hygge,” or “consciously cozy.” This is an important value in their culture, to make things as cozy as possible. And there are certain ingredients that help create a cozy atmosphere. As I was reading The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking, it made me so excited about the upcoming holiday of Thanksgiving, because it is a time when we all slow down enough to savor these cozy elements. And then I realized that the culture of Rockbrook really aligns with the concepts of hygge as well. No wonder I like the book so much!

Here are the essential ingredients to help create ‘hygge,’ according to Meik Wiking:

Camp Candlelight

1. Atmosphere: Turn down the lights, burn lots of candles and light the fire. From learning to build a campfire in WHOA to our spirit fire candles, we naturally create atmosphere often at Rockbrook. At your Thanksgiving table, add some candles and soft music.

2. Presence: Shut down the screens. Be here now. We all know how easy it is to be distracted by screens. Rockbrook girls tell me all the time what a relief it is to be without their phones at camp. Remind yourselves and your family to power down on Thanksgiving.

3. Pleasure: Take the time to really taste your food. Mmmm. Muffins. Turkey. Rockbrook girls run to the dining hall when the muffin break bell rings. Standing in the late morning sunshine as the fog is lifting and munching down on a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin is the best. You will surely have some wonderful dishes at your Thanksgiving table. Really savor them.

4. Equality: “We” over “me.” The community is stronger than just one individual. Camp is all about the amazing people we get to meet from all over the world. Your family is amazing too – slow down and have some complete conversations with them. Ask them unexpected questions and really listen to the answers.

5. Gratitude: Look around. Take it in. You are very lucky. There is so much activity at camp for girls that we build in times to reflect upon all of the wonderful parts of it. At the end of the day, campers and counselors talk about their “rose, bud, thorn” moments. Try asking those around your Thanksgiving table what they are grateful for before they dig into the food. (rose = the best part of your day, thorn = the most challenging part of your day, bud = what you are looking forward to the most)

6. Harmony: It’s not a competition. We already like you. There’s no need to brag about your achievements. Isn’t it the best to feel part of the gang, the big Rockbrook family? You don’t have to pretend to be different from how you really are. Your quirks are celebrated. Let your real family know how much you like them too.

Camp Togetherness

7. Comfort: Get comfy. Take a break. It’s OK to relax. Camp girls for sure know how to do this, as I see them lounging on the hill in their crazy creek chairs, wearing their footie pajamas, and braiding each other’s hair. Find cozy nooks in your home too and invite your Thanksgiving people to join you.

8. Truce: No drama. Let’s discuss politics another day. Sometimes it is a relief to step into the child’s world that is camp. Yes, there is a lot going on in the world that can be stressful, but we choose to put that aside for our camp session. Give yourself a break from that on Thanksgiving too!

9. Togetherness: Build relationships and shared experiences. Trying new things brings people together. Just as a white-water rafting adventure can bond a cabin group, doing something new as a family can build connections. Maybe a fun outdoor game to get moving on Turkey Day would provide exercise plus a little shared fun.

10. Shelter: This is your tribe. This is a place of peace and security. During the summer, we often get mountain gullywasher rainstorms. Those are the best times to get cozy in the cabin with our cabin mates, telling funny stories. Thanksgiving is a wonderful time when your tribe, your family comes together and enjoys that shelter of our relationships with each other.

From our Rockbrook family to yours, we hope you have warm, wonderful hygge Thanksgiving!

Camp Belonging

DIY Halloween Costumes Ideas

Are you still looking for Halloween costume ideas? Well, camp is one of the best sources of costume inspiration because as you know, we love dressing up at Rockbrook! Costumes make all of our theme special events come alive, but they are also something that makes every day, certainly every meal, and almost every moment just that extra bit special.

At camp, we foster a deep love for silliness and self-expression. You can see that in tutus, sparkly fairy hair, colorful face paint, and glitter (so much glitter!). This spirit of creativity and free flowing whimsy leads to some really great spur of the moment costumes at camp!

pac man costumes

Our camp banquets are a chance for 9th grade campers to really stretch their creative muscles! If you have some cardboard and paint laying around the house then you could make these amazing Pac-Mac and ghost costumes. This would be a simple and easy DIY costume for just one person or for a whole group of friends. Another amazing banquet inspiration is from “That 70’s Banquet.” I’m sure every camper has at least one tie-dye shirt in her closet. Grab that, some jeans (the more flare at the bottom the better) and make yourself a flower crown. You’ve got an instant 1970’s colorful classic.

Up for just a little shopping? Take a cue from some of our camp themes this summer! A great scientist (mad or otherwise) is simply a white coat, plastic gloves, and a pair of goggles away! Add a beaker and white wig for extra detail.

silly camp costume

Camp is a place where you can express yourself and know that the community will support you and celebrate you for exactly who you are. Sometimes that’s a peacock on the hill, or a mermaid at archery or just lots of smiles and shine and silly faces and glitter (oh, so much glitter!).

However that creative spark manifests in our campers, we want to encourage it. Silliness is brave. Rockbrook is full of brave, bold, silly and special girls!

“There’s power in looking silly and not caring that you do.”
—Amy Poehler

mad science costume
teen camp costumes

Casey Blair New Program Director

Say hello to Casey Blair, Rockbrook’s new Program Director!

Casey Blair Program Director

Everyone at Rockbrook is thrilled to announce that Casey Blair will begin serving as the full-time Program Director at camp. If you’ve attended camp recently, you already know Casey because over five years she has been a cabin counselor, Line Head, lifeguard, and most recently the Staff Coordinator. In addition to joining the team of directors, she now will be planning and organizing camp activities and summer events, managing the equipment and supplies for activities, and assisting special program staff members.

Casey was born and raised in Louisville Kentucky. She attended Centre College in Danville, KY, where she received a Bachelors of Art, majoring in studio art with an emphasis on ceramics. After that, she did an internship at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, working with school groups. From there, she went to University of Louisville, where she received a Master’s in the Art of Teaching (MAT) degree, becoming certified to teach elementary school grades K-5. She did her student teaching at Farmer Elementary and worked with 1st and 4th graders.

Casey is very excited to work at camp year round. She is eager to start planning for next summer, and “getting to talk about camp everyday.” She explained, “the campers keep me coming back— getting to know them, seeing what they have learned at camp and watching how much they have grown throughout the school year is always fun.”

When asked what she loves about camp, she said, “It’s the people. I really love the kind of community that we cultivate here. It is open, welcoming, and encouraging. And of course, I love the North Carolina mountains.”

Here is a press release announcing Casey’s new position.

Welcome Casey!

Rockbrook Camp full year directors plus felix the dog

What is the Spirit of Rockbrook?

We closed our third session of camp by gathering around the “Spirit Fire,” our traditional campfire that we have held every summer since the founding of Rockbrook in 1921. Many Rockbrook alumnae talk about the spirit of Rockbrook, but what is that exactly? What is this spirit that camp girls refer to, that we write songs about, and that we feel so intently while here.

If we think of spirit as the defining element of a group, then perhaps Rockbrook spirit is a healthy combination of acceptance and adventure.

Rockbrook girls often stand up at the Spirit Fire and declare that they can be their true selves at camp, that they don’t need to hide behind a facade that is like all of their friends.

At this session’s Spirit Fire, one girl declared that Rockbrook is a place where calling someone “weird” is a compliment. Campers love the fact that they can wear a costume if they choose to and nobody seems to blink an eye. In our most recent chapel program on “individuality,” the campers enjoyed the story of “The Big Orange Splot,” in which a neighborhood all decides to make the most of a mistaken spilled can of paint on a house by transforming each house into the home of their dreams.

rockbrook camper girl

This celebration of being creative and accepted is just one feature of the spirit of Rockbrook, but it also seems the other is a sense of daring and adventure. Campers are exposed to so many options of new things to try at camp, and, with their friends by their side to laugh with them, girls are encouraged to try these new things, to go beyond what’s merely comfortable and familiar to them.

It is also fascinating for our current Rockbrook girls to learn more about their predecessors, the campers who came before them. Being our 98th summer, we have been starting to look back and learn more about the women who are the foundation on which our camp began. It is so interesting to learn that those early campers were possibly even more adventurous than our current girls, starting each day with a dip in the lake and setting up exercises before breakfast. They also went on many trips, including the famous three-day canoe trip to Asheville in the old wooden canoes that now decorate our dining hall.

At this session’s Spirit Fire, Sarah read a first-hand account from a camper who attended in the 1930s. It was clear even that many years ago that this Spirit of Rockbrook, of acceptance and adventure, was already a deep part of who the camp was and continues to be. As we look around the campfire at the girls of 2019 who share this same spirit, it is exciting to imagine what they will do with those qualities.

Candle lake procession

A Wild West Banquet

People say you never forget your first banquet at Rockbrook. It’s simply like no other party experience, and for a girl who’s spent time at camp, it’s an incredible cap to the fun of the session. Many girls will tell you it’s their favorite event at camp, something they look forward to, and during the days leading up to it, they can hardly contain their excitement.

Understanding why the banquet is such a memorable and important experience for Rockbrook girls is not too difficult. It’s first of all a sensory overload. The CA campers (9th graders) work hard all session long to accomplish this. They select their secret theme on the first day of their session, and then transform the interior of the dining hall into a new environment using painted banners, lights, balloons, streamers, table decorations, and props. A real opportunity for creativity! These girls then dress in costumes taking on different personalities or roles. They create a playlist of music to complement the theme, and ask the kitchen to cook special foods and snacks to serve.

All of this creates the scene of the party, but what makes it fun is having all your camp friends attending, all the people of camp excited to celebrate their session together, with music, dancing, great food, entertainment, and sweet treats. When friends this close get together, it’s an especially fun event.

It’s so exciting when it’s time to enter the dining hall (which has been hidden all day by sheets hung over the windows while the CAs decorate and prepare). All the campers and staff members, dressed in their camp t-shirts, crawl through the porch to emerge into a line of the dressed CAs and the wildly transformed dining hall. It’s such a great feeling to be surprised like that!

cowgirl costume camp girls

Tonight’s banquet had the title, “Welcome to the Wild West.” It featured girls dressed in black with bandanas hiding their faces— definitely “robbers.” There were two girls dressed as sheriffs on the hunt for those robbers. Cowboys dressed in boots and hats, and square dancers dressed in frilly skirts, performed skits, pausing at times for choreographed dance numbers also.  The CA counselors dressed as green desert cacti and performed a dance number as well.

The music was “wild west” related too: “Cotton Eyed Joe,” “These Boot are Made for Walkin’,” and of course, “Old Town Road” were all included, along with a great mix of popular dance hits.  Likewise for the food: “tumble tots” (Tater Tots), “sugar cubes” (apple cubes), “cacti” (green beans), “hay bales” (cornbread), really delicious barbecue chicken, and blackberry cobbler for dessert.

We ended the banquet like we have for decades at camp: singing the song “Rockbrook Camp Forever.” The girls stood, arm-in-arm, singing as loudly as they could, “friends true and faithful.”  Filled with emotion, the girls ended up singing the song multiple times (with no claps at the end)! Thank you CA girls for a wonderful banquet. The whole camp had a fabulous time.

Publishing Traditions

This session, an old Rockbrook tradition has resurfaced at camp. Campers from all age groups get the chance to express their creative selves and sharpen their reporting skills when they write for The Toilet Paper, Rockbrook’s self-published newspaper.

camp newspaper with drawings
The first edition of the Toilet Paper, 3rd session 2019

“So, what’s with the name?” I’m sure you’re wondering. As a camper, I remember The Toilet Paper getting taped up to the back of each bathroom stall door. Another Rockbrook gal who went to camp in the 80s told me she remembers the same thing being called “The Wall Stall.” So, even if the name has changed over the years, the concept remains!

The paper is largely a result of the resurgence of “PhoJo” (Photography/Journalism) as a club at camp. Coming to PhoJo is a fantastic way to spend a free swim. The favorite activity is a pass along story, where campers all sit in a circle and each write a story for one minute. Then they pass their paper around the circle, and everyone adds to each other’s tales until your original paper is returned to you–though now with some twists and turns you probably didn’t anticipate.

tiny green frog on leaf
Don’t let these cute little frogs scare you!

Reporting on camp events is also a great way to meet new people.In meetings, we go over the best ways to conduct an interview and some sample questions to ask. Rockbrook reporters can write about all camp events, such as an update on a specific activity or special theme day, or share a funny experience from their cabin with the whole camp. In the last edition, some Juniors reported on a frog that appeared in their cabin and startled their counselor! Campers gain confidence among their peers as their stories get read and discussed by the all the girls at camp, including the directors!

We can’t wait to see what shows up in the next edition, coming soon to a deducky near you!

-Alyssa Calloway

best friends quote drawing
“Best friends are like stars-you might not see them, but you know they’re always there!”

A Place of Their Own

teen camp girls singing

Sunday morning got off to a peaceful start with the sun shining, campers smiling, and donuts at breakfast. After flag raising, our chapel theme today was Individuality, and was led by our Senior line. Speakers were asked “what does individuality mean to you?,” and several cabins led songs along the same theme. It was apt to have the teenage seniors lead this chapel since they have had the most experience learning to be themselves at camp.

One speaker explained that, to her, you need to be comfortable enough first before expressing yourself. This idea of comfort stuck with me, because it illustrates the feeling that is needed in order for you to share who you are. You can be comfortable in your own skin, but perhaps not comfortable in your surrounding environment. Both levels of comfort are essential in order to express your individuality, and at camp we strive to cultivate an accepting, loving environment in which girls can freely be themselves.

three teen girls in camp uniforms

Outside of camp, we are all faced with pressures to act, dress, speak, or be a certain way. Expectations from school, peers, family, or society as a whole can weaken our desire to truly express ourselves. Whether this pressure comes from an internal or external source, it influences our actions and thoughts all the same. At Rockbrook, we try to minimize these pressures. Part of our mission “is to provide a haven for girls, a place of their own.” We aim to provide a place where girls can practice being their own person—a space to be your most genuine self.

This afternoon, campers had a chance to practice just this at our Miss RBC talent show! Each cabin gets an opportunity to get on the stage in the gym and share a special talent. Some cabins create songs, dances, or even a non-talent talent show skit! Every act is unique, silly, and creative, showcasing the diversity of imaginations amongst the campers. The variety of costumes (avocados and tutus), goofy answers to questions (“dirt” as a new Dolly’s ice cream flavor), and the laughs from the audience (good-natured and frequent) were proof that Rockbrook is a place for girls to be their most unabashed, genuine selves.

scarecrow dressed child