As the season begins to turn toward fall, this part of North Carolina offers something truly spectacular. The mountains that are home to Rockbrook transform. Shades of reds and orange, and pops of yellow and brown replace the carpet of greens that we know during the summer. Off in the distance and all around camp, the colors and textures of the forest become even more magnificent.
You should come see it!
This fall, on two different Saturdays in October, Rockbrook will be hosting an open house: two different opportunities to come for a visit, and enjoy camp in the fall.
We think these will be wonderful occasions for families to learn more about Rockbrook, meet the directors and senior staff members, explore the beautiful grounds, and enjoy a few surprise fall activities. These open houses will also be a chance for current campers to see Rockbrook in a different season, and perhaps introduce their family and friends to the “heart of a wooded mountain.”
Consider yourself invited to one of our camp open house events!
Open House Dates
October 10, 2020
October 17, 2020
Drop in anytime between 10am and 4pm.
(scroll down to register)
What are the Fall Open House Days?
The Fall Open House Days at Rockbrook are opportunities for existing campers, families and friends, as well as prospective campers and their families, to spend a little time at camp during this beautiful season of the year.
What will we do at these open house days?
Our camp directors and other staff members will be on hand to greet everyone, lead guided tours of Rockbrook, and answer all your questions about camp life. There will be fall foliage hikes, a great campfire for making s’mores, a few fall activities, and warm homemade fall snacks.
Do I need to register to attend a Fall Open House Day?
There is no fee for anyone to attend, but we do ask that everyone RSVP.
Can I attend an Open House day if I am a current camper or alum?
Yes! We’d love to see you! In fact, we hope you will attend and we encourage you to bring a friend or family member who may be interested in coming to camp with you next summer! This is the perfect opportunity for you to show your BFF around camp and to let her in on all of the fun we have at Rockbrook!
What about social distancing and mask wearing due to CoVid-19?
North Carolina still requires face masks be worn when six feet of distancing between people is not possible. Our staff will be wearing masks and we ask that all our guests wear them as well. Also, please do not attend an open house if you or anyone in your party is experiencing any CoVid-19 related symptoms, or you have been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for CoVid-19 in the past 14 days.
Can we spend the night at camp?
Unfortunately, we will not be able to offer any overnight accommodation for these open house events, but we encourage you to consider staying in the area. Here is a list of nearby places to stay.
But I also have boys!
Both Camp Carolina for Boys and Camp High Rocks for Boys are holding open house events on the same October Saturdays! Come visit Brevard, and spend the day visiting two camps: one for girls and one for boys.
Why should I attend an open house day?
We all need a fall weekend in the mountains, and we think you’ll really enjoy visiting Rockbrook! Come say hello and sample that Rockbrook spirit.
It’s been a summer like no other. That’s for sure!
Five months ago, as we began to grapple with the serious implications of the CoVid-19 health crisis, we found ourselves going back and forth about holding our regular summer camp sessions. We devised different models for balancing the need to prevent spreading an infectious disease, and the need to fashion the kind of fun, carefree community we all so love about camp. Could we keep our campers and staff members safe, and at the same time recreate that feeling of togetherness that makes Rockbrook special?
Ultimately, as you know, we made the difficult decision to suspend our regular sessions because we did not feel comfortable compromising. The people of Rockbrook are too important, the friendships too central, the feeling of camp life too essential, for us to put any of it at risk either by drastically altering our camp program or accepting even a remote possibility of an outbreak. It was a heartbreaking realization felt by hundreds of Rockbrook Families and their girls.
But we couldn’t just sit by and do nothing! Rockbrook was ready to go! We had a beautiful camp, enthusiastic staff members, and loads of exciting plans all eagerly awaiting the return of happy girls. We needed something different where we could share Rockbrook, stay safe even as the pandemic was accelerating, and allow Rockbrook families to still get a little taste of camp life this summer. Soon, the idea of “Family Play Days” was born.
If you weren’t able to attend one of the Play Days we offered, they were fantastic! On four consecutive Saturdays in July, Rockbrook families and friends arrived at camp to spend the day exploring the forests and trails of Rockbrook, enjoying all sorts of creative, sports and adventure activities, playing at the Rockbrook lake and savoring a delicious picnic lunch. We had 30 staff members on hand to keep everything running smoothly for the 100 or so people who visited each sold-out play day.
We had girls climbing the Alpine Tower, moms shooting archery, and dads flying down the water slide. I think everyone made a tie-dye t-shirt, sampled several freshly baked muffins, and took the scenic hike to Rockbrook Falls. Ziplining was especially popular, with a non-stop series of groups navigating the course throughout the day. Live mountain music from Ray and Elizabeth entertained us during lunch. There was stunning weather for tetherball and tennis, baskets and bracelets, leisure and laughter.
Perhaps the best part of our play days was the real sense of relief they provided. After enduring months of social isolation, tolerating all sorts of loss, and being thrown into the most profound uncertainty any of us have ever experienced, it was wonderful to actually do something real. There was such gratitude from everyone attending, thanking us for providing these opportunities to get outside immersed in the natural beauty of Rockbrook. It felt great to splash around in the chilly lake, to lounge on the hill while eating lunch, and for many, simply to breathe in a bit of that familiar camp smell. For all of us, for the families attending and the camp staff alike, these play days were in many ways therapeutic, just what we needed to recharge our camp spirit.
Now, as we look forward to the summer of 2021 and Rockbrook’s 100th anniversary, we’ll recall this past summer with some fondness for what we were able to accomplish safely. Thank you everyone for your understanding and enthusiastic support. It’s wonderful to know the love for camp is stronger than ever!
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
These are a few of the questions many of you are asking right now. We hope you find the answers helpful.
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! We are always happy to offer tours of camp. An appointment will be required for tours, but we can accommodate just about any day or time.
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!
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:
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.”
Say hello to Casey Blair, Rockbrook’s new 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.”
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.
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.
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!
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.