Ready for Camp in 2022

You can feel the excitement, because in just a few weeks, Rockbrook will be welcoming girls back to camp for the 2022 summer season! We’re all looking forward to camp and the fun of getting together in the “heart of a wooded mountain.”

We want to share with you our current plans for addressing the lingering impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Things have improved since last year at this time with higher vaccination rates, lower case numbers, and milder variants being predominant, but some risks remain.

Thank you for your patience as we have again consulted with our state and local health authorities, the American Camp Association, and other experts about what reasonable precautions we should now take to protect the health and safety of our camp community. As conditions have changed since last summer, some of our protocols are different, even as some have remained in place.

Questions!

Here are the answers to many of the questions we know you have about how camp will run and how we will handle COVID-19 concerns this summer. Here is what know at this time.

There is important information here to help you understand and prepare for your session at Rockbrook.

 

What pre-camp COVID-19 guidelines will we have?

sliding rock children

This summer, we will again ask our camp families to take important steps before they come to camp that will help us achieve the goal of every camper arriving at Rockbrook covid-free. This is a critical component of our plans for a healthy camp season, and we need your help!

All of these pre-camp guidelines were in place last summer.

We realize that to some these precautions may seem excessive, but we hope that everyone can understand how our entire camp community benefits if we all take a few simple steps to arrive at camp healthy.

14 days of pre-camp caution:
We ask that each family follow common sense precautions during these few days before camp. Please stay away from anyone with a potentially contagious disease, and anyone who is feeling sick or has symptoms. We want you to do your best to avoid contracting any communicable disease. Please consider avoiding large gatherings of people (e.g., parties, playdates, weddings, etc.), and unnecessary travel.

7 days of pre-camp symptom monitoring:
During these final days leading up to arrival at camp, parents will track the symptoms of their campers by completing a simple “health check” and recording their temperature on a paper form. This form is available in your online account and here. You will need to download it and print it. The form asks if your daughter is experiencing any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 that day, or has been exposed to anyone with a contagious illness. Important! We will collect this signed and completed form when you arrive on opening day.

Pre-camp Molecular PCR test sampled 3-4 days prior to arrival:
Campers must arrive with a recent negative molecular (PCR) COVID-19 test result. You may arrange for this test anywhere that can guarantee you receive the results prior to your arrival date. We want this test to occur as close to your arrival as possible, but still with enough time to receive results. Most PCR tests take 24-36 hours for results. You must bring written evidence of the negative COVID-19 test result with you on Opening Day.

As an option, we have again made arrangements with CommunityLab to provide at-home saliva-based PCR tests. After registering with CommunityLab, you will receive a sample kit in the mail with a pre-paid Fedex return label. CommunityLab will file with your health insurance plan. Please follow this link to learn more or register for this service. We recommend registering at least 14 days in advance of your arrival date.

camp horse girl

Strict Quarantining following PCR test sample:
Campers should strictly quarantine after taking their PCR test, as they await results and during the time leading up to their arrival at camp. Please take extraordinary care during this time, especially when traveling to camp.

Testing Positive or Recovered from COVID-19:
If your camper has recovered from COVID-19 (tested positive) in the last 90 days, it is important you contact our office with details of her positive test and recovery. The date of her positive diagnosis may change these pre-camp requirements. Likewise, if your pre-camp PCR test is positive, contact us right away.

Vaccination:
Ninty-nine percent of our counselors and activity instructors at Rockbrook will be vaccinated this summer. While not requiring COVID-19 vaccination for campers, Rockbrook highly recommends eligible campers be vaccinated if medically advisable. Campers are attending camp from all over the United States and from several other countries, and the available coronavirus vaccines have been proven to provide significant benefits to anyone living in a communal setting.

If your camper is vaccinated, she still needs to take the pre-camp PCR test. We ask also that she still complete the 7-day symptom monitoring form and carefully quarantine during those last days leading up to camp.


Will there be other testing at camp?

garden art project

We are not planning to conduct camp-wide surveillance testing of all campers during their session. Instead, we will be carefully monitoring everyone’s health on a daily basis, and administering a rapid antigen test only if a camper presents convincing COVID-19 symptoms. We will confirm the results of any positive rapid test with a followup molecular PCR test.

Our medical staff will contact parents if we determine their daughter should be tested, and keep them informed every step of the way.


How will activities work this summer?

Good news! This summer, campers will again select their individual activity schedules after they have arrived at camp. As before, there will be a rotation where each camper selects a new set of activities every 3 days. We will operate our regular daily schedule with its activity periods and blocks of free time.


What about out-of-camp trips?

whitewater rafting campers

All of our regular out-of-camp adventure trips will operate normally. Girls will be able to sign up for canoeing trips, whitewater kayaking trips, backpacking and day hiking, and rock climbing trips. These trips are optional. When girls choose to go on a trip, it means they will be skipping their scheduled activities for the duration of the outing. Girls who are 5th grade and older can go whitewater rafting if they choose.


And masks?

More good news! This summer we will not require campers to wear masks. Campers can wear a mask if they choose. We ask that campers still pack masks in the event that conditions change and masking is warranted.


How will Opening Day work?

We will again stagger Opening Day arrival times by grade. This helps us prevent long lines of cars and make the arrival of cabin groups go more smoothly.

Grade Completed:

  • K-3rd grade – 8:30am
  • 4th grade – 9:00am
  • 5th grade – 9:30am
  • 6th grade – 10:00am
  • 7th grade – 10:30am
  • 8th grade – 11:00am
  • 9th grade – 11:30am
  • 10th grade – 3:00pm-4:00pm on the prior Saturday.

These arrival times are according to the grade your child has just finished. If you have more than one camper in different grades, please arrive at either assigned time.

summer camp swimmers

Once you arrive at Rockbrook, you will first enter the Rockbrook Horseback Riding Center, located just south of the main camp entrance. This is the same as last year.

We will again use our “drive through” check-in procedure that will include stops for meeting the directors, office staff, and nurses. We ask that all family members stay in their car during this process.

When you arrive on opening day, it is critical that you have written evidence of your camper’s negative COVID-19 PCR test, plus the completed 7-day symptom monitoring form.
She must also be feeling healthy!

After checking in at the riding center, you will then drive into camp through the main entrance to meet your counselors and unload your luggage. This will be the last stop, and will be the time to say your goodbyes.

We know this may be a difficult time for families, but rest assured, our counselors will take extra care helping your daughter get settled into her cabin and begin the fun of meeting her bunk mates.

Don’t worry parents! You’ll be able to tour camp on closing day with your personal tour guide. 🙂

We will distribute pre-ordered camp gear, and do our regular head lice check after parents depart. Camp will launch into action right away!


What if my camper feels sick while at camp?

As always, we will do our very best to keep your daughter healthy and safe while at camp, and will be ready to care for her medical needs if she feels ill. Our medical team will be on the lookout for common COVID-19 symptoms throughout the session, and when concerned, will perform a rapid antigen test (We will try to contact parents prior to testing, but will not delay if they cannot be reached.). If a camper’s test is negative, we will continue to monitor and treat her symptoms in our Health Hut until she is fever-free for 24 hours (just as we do with any potentially contagious illness). If a camper’s test is confirmed with a second test to be positive, we will ask that you come pick her up as soon as possible (preferably within 24 hours). We have a special building dedicated to keeping sick campers comfortable and isolated from others at camp.


What if someone in my child’s cabin tests positive for having Covid-19?

shaving cream pair of girls

If we verify that someone in your daughter’s cabin has COVID-19, we will notify you right away of that exposure. Our medical staff will then monitor any exposed campers for signs or symptoms of illness, and perform a rapid antigen test if symptoms do arise. Our plan is to allow those exposed campers to stay at camp, but require them to wear a mask for five days when interacting with others outside their cabin.

If we do have a positive COVID-19 case at Rockbrook, we plan to let our greater camp community know as well. Without discussing the specific camper infected, we will identify the cabin group exposed, and any other relevant contact tracing information.


What is your refund policy?

Ordinarily Rockbrook does not offer refunds for campers who arrive late or must leave early from their camp session. For this summer of 2022, we have put in place a thorough set of reasonable measures to diminish the risk of contracting COVID-19, but we still cannot guarantee anyone attending Rockbrook will not become exposed or infected.

For this reason, like last summer, we will make an exception. If a camper must leave camp with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, we will refund 50% of the tuition paid for the days she is unable to attend.


Wow! That’s a lot!

Yes it is! Reuniting as a camp community while still aware of the coronavirus requires us again to be extra cautious. At the same time, we are working to do everything we can to recreate the special feeling of camp we all enjoy. This summer, Rockbrook will again get girls outside, give them loads of fun activities to try, allow them to laugh and play like kids, and relax with friends in a truly caring and supportive community.

Thank you again for the support and confidence you have shown as we prepare for your daughter’s camp experience. We’re excited to see everyone back at Rockbrook!

If you have questions not covered here, or you need something clarified, please let us know.

blue ridge mountains

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!

Welcome Mimi and Sofie!

We’d like to introduce you to Mimi Dunn and Sofie Ehlinger Lawrence, our two new year-round directors at Rockbrook! While both are stepping into new roles at camp, Mimi and Sofie have already spent many years as part of the Rockbrook Camp community. They both know the benefits of being a camp counselor, have worked with children outside the camp setting, and have now returned to Rockbrook.

Mimi Dunn, Staff Director

Mimi Dunn - Staff Director

Mimi is now the Staff Director at Rockbrook. She returns to camp after spending 4 years teaching middle school social studies, most recently in Colorado. Mimi grew up in Charleston, WV, received her undergraduate degree from Rhodes College, and her Masters in Education from Northwestern University near Chicago. Mimi has worked as Rockbrook’s Staff Coordinator, a Hi-Up counselor, and Senior Line Head. If you’ve been following the Rockbrook blog, you may recall some of her previous posts. Mimi will be recruiting and hiring cabin counselors and activity instructors, designing and leading staff training sessions, and assisting staff members during the summer. Look forward to meeting her this summer and enjoying her fun sense of humor. Pun alert!

Sofie Ehlinger Lawrence, Wellness Director

Sofie Ehlinger Lawrence - Camp Wellness Director

Sofie is the new Wellness Director at Rockbrook. Rockbrook has created this new director position to provide greater support for the social, emotional and mental health needs of its campers and summer staff. Following the struggles many young people have endured during the pandemic, and given our philosophy of creating a caring and supportive community at Rockbrook, we recognize that everyone at camp would benefit from more attention to personal wellness. Life at camp is already a place of incredible well-being (great food, great sleep, tech-free outdoor play, warm friendly relationships, and a feeling of belonging —truly a haven from the outside world), but when we sometimes need a little extra care, Rockbrook will be ready. Sofie will lead our efforts to help campers, their parents, and staff members alike navigate potential personal wellness troubles we might face while at camp.

Sofie brings to this role her experience and insights gained from many years working at camp. She has been a cabin counselor, the head of the waterfront, and our former Staff Director. Sofie was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow while completing her Bachelor’s degree at UNC-Asheville, worked in the wellness community in Raleigh, NC, and is currently pursuing a Masters in clinical social work.

Welcome Back!

Everyone here at Rockbrook is excited to welcome both Mimi and Sofie back to camp. We’re certain you’ll enjoy getting to know them this summer! Meanwhile, give them a shout, and say hello!

summer camp celebration

Camp Open House

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 yellow, and pops of orange and brown replace the blanket 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 beautiful.

You should come see it!

camp open house girls

This fall Rockbrook will be hosting an open house, giving everyone an opportunity to come for a visit, and enjoy a bit of camp in the fall.

We think this will be great occasion 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. This open house will also be a chance for current campers and alumnae 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 our summer camp open house!

Open House Date

October 9, 2021

Drop in anytime between 10am and 4pm.

(scroll down to register)

Questions

What is the Fall Open House Day?

The Fall Open House Day at Rockbrook is an opportunity for existing campers, alumnae, 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 this open house day?

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 few fall activities, and warm homemade fall snacks.


Do I need to register to attend the Fall Open House Day?

Yes. Please give us a call to RSVP.


What does this open house day cost to attend?

There is no fee for anyone to attend, but we do ask that everyone RSVP.


Can I attend the 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. We plan to spend all of our time outside and maintain proper social distancing during these events. Our staff will be wearing masks when near guests and we ask that all our guests wear them as well. Also, please do not attend the 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 this open house event, but we encourage you to consider staying in the area. Here is a list of nearby places to stay.


Why should I attend the 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.

A Smashing Success!

At the end of August this year, Rockbrook continued to celebrate its 100th year by holding a weekend alumnae reunion. Women from all over the country who had attended camp as children, and some who had worked as staff members, made plans to return to Rockbrook, reuniting with camp friends and reviving their camp spirit.

alumna zip lining smile

The reunion was a smashing success! Altogether 340 alumnae attended, bringing together women who were campers in the 1950s up to the 2000s. Most stayed overnight in Rockbrook’s historic cabins. Several mother-daughter pairs, both of whom attended camp, enjoyed their time together. Perfect late-summer, mountain weather added to everyone’s joy of spending time back at camp.

The weekend was full of laughter, conversation and reminiscing, but also filled with fun. The alumnae went on hikes around the camp property, swam in the lake, shot archery and riflery, climbed the alpine tower, flew through the trees on the zipline course, made pottery, tie-dye t-shirts, and friendship bracelets for each other. They enjoyed delicious meals, including fresh-baked muffins (of course!), a costumed dance party in the gym and a Spirit Fire.

Other highlights included tributes to former directors Teed Poe and Jerry Stone, and long-serving caretakers, Gladys and J.D. Owen. There was an afternoon wine reception at the Clarke-Carrier Rockbrook house where alumnae could view historic artifacts, photographs, and documents from the camp’s 100-year history.

Here we’ve got a short video of highlights from the reunion. Filmed on Saturday, it’s a wonderful tribute to the power of Rockbrook to make a difference in the lives of so many women.

Take a look and let us know what you think!

camp history book cover

Also during the reunion, Sarah Carter unveiled, In the Heart of a Wooded Mountain: Rockbrook Camp for Girls 1921-2021, the hardcover book recounting the history of Rockbrook. All of the alumnae attending received a copy of the book and were thrilled to page through its detailed accounts and rare photographs. Copies are still available for sale in the Rockbrook online shop.

As memories of camp bubbled back to the surface— inspired by sleeping in the same cabins, walking along the same trails, taking a dip in the same lake —the women attending the reunion relaxed outside and enjoyed each other’s company. They were so grateful to feel again the comfort of this special place, and the true friendship that it fosters. Following the struggles and isolation inflamed by the pandemic, the whole weekend was a rejuvenating testament to the power of camp and how much it means to everyone. Like for our campers this summer, being together at Rockbrook felt just right, proving once again that, now for 100 years, camp is indelibly fulfilling.

That Great Feeling

With the summer now behind us, and our attention focused on the new school year, I wanted to think back about camp and thank everyone who helped make this one of the best Rockbrook summers ever.

camp teen girl friends

Back in May, we weren’t 100% certain how it would go when we opened camp. There were still plenty of unanswered questions looming about how the pandemic would affect camp life.  But working with guidance from the American Camp Association, we rethought everything in terms of the coronavirus. We took great pains to consider how we might keep infections out of camp and how we could minimize its spread if it did, despite those efforts, sneak in. We changed how we organized our in-camp activities, doubled our health care team, spread out our food service onto new outdoor dining areas, and created a plan for pre-camp testing, quarantining, and a reasonable system of mask wearing for campers and staff members.

But all of this wouldn’t have been enough if our campers and their parents hadn’t been so supportive of these new safety protocols.  Thank you parents!  Thank you for placing your confidence in Rockbrook and for believing in the benefits of a camp experience for your girls, even if that experience would be different in some ways from years past. Thank you campers for your enthusiasm and love of camp. Thank you for sticking with us through 2020 when we had to close camp. And thank you for your trust in 2021!

fun kayaking camp instruction

The success of the summer wouldn’t have been possible without the extra hard work of our leadership team, incredible staff of cabin counselors, adventure guides, activity specialists, housekeeping, maintenance and kitchen teams.  While some camps struggled to fill positions, Rockbroook was fortunate to have every role filled with excellent folks who showed real dedication and commitment to doing their best work, even under more challenging conditions. To everyone who worked at Rockbrook this summer (all 172 of you!), thank you! Each of you contributed something special to this camp community.

Thanks to this good planning, to families doing their part, and to an incredibly hard-working camp staff— plus a dose of good luck —this past summer was COVID-free. We had no positive cases of the coronavirus at Rockbrook. Despite the ongoing pandemic, Rockbrook had a fantastic camp season— refreshing everyone at camp, rebuilding our connections to what really matters, and reviving that camp spirit we’ve all yearned for. We are all grateful beyond words.

We’re already looking forward to next summer when we can welcome everyone back to Rockbrook and recreate that great feeling of camp— the relief that comes from being surrounded by a supportive community, the joy of being utterly silly just for fun, and the pride that blossoms after accomplishing new things.  We’re looking forward to seeing again all of the great people that make up the uniquely caring camp culture of Rockbrook.

Let’s stay in touch, and we’ll see you real soon!

small camp girls building fairy houses

Precious Time

The last full day of our third session was today. After the upbeat excitement of the banquet last night, there was a different tone today. Instead celebrating with singing and dancing, we were more thoughtful. We slowed down and tried to savor the simple moments of camp. While packing we chatted with cabin mates. We admired each other’s finished pottery pieces. Some of us rode horses for the last time at the barn party. We watched the play performance. Mostly though, we simply wanted to spend time with our friends, to hang out with them, not really doing anything in particular. Each minute of the day seemed to include that feeling of it being precious time. We knew our days together were waning.

camp girl holding ceremonial candle

It’s a fact about camp life; we don’t want it to end. Especially during the 3rd session when school is right around the corner for most, we can’t help but lament the ending of what we love about camp: the relaxed pace, the freedom to decide things on our own, the constant support and encouragement from the community, the feeling of belonging and love that follows from being our true selves, all the action, and the refreshment from being outdoors so much… and yes, even the break from social media and screen-based entertainment. We love all this and more about camp— it provides so much joy —so on the last day, it’s a little sad to think about it coming to a close.

This tone carried into the final campfire of the session, our “Spirit Fire.” The tradition of this ceremonial campfire started 100 years ago when Rockbrook was founded. With the whole camp gathered, it is a chance for everyone in the session to reflect a little about their time at camp. We sing traditional songs, and listen as campers and staff members take turns giving short speeches about what Rockbrook means to them. Tonight they talked about making quick friends, feeling at ease and at “home” after arriving here at Rockbrook, and also feeling incredibly grateful for all that camp has provided them over the last few weeks. There was a real awareness of how special this experience is, and how much they’ll miss it back home.

As the girls circled the lake holding their candles and singing softly, it was clear again that camp was just right. It provided the deep human connection we all needed, helping everyone feel happy and normal again. Such comfort and satisfaction to end our day, and our time together, it was a touching, sweet moment I think we’ll all remember fondly.

rockbrook candle ceremony at camp lake

Two Extraordinary Surprises

We love surprises at Rockbrook. Today the campers had two extraordinary surprises, one that they were eagerly awaiting and another that was totally unexpected. In both cases, I suspect these surprises included completely new experiences for the girls.

camp girls and lama

The first happened late in the morning. Without explaining, we interrupted the girls and told them to gather down at the landsports field. When they arrived, they were greeted by nine furry new friends, nine llamas. Yes, a herd of llamas had come to Rockbrook, just for a visit. We thought the girls would enjoy interacting with these fascinating animals, and we were right! They took the llamas for a walk and had loads of time to hug and pet them. Of course, they made great companions for photographs, but the highlight was racing the llamas. Lined up on one side of the field, a few of the girls took off running to the other side, llamas easily keeping up with their sprint. So fun! Came to camp; hugged a llama. Check.

The second surprise was tonight’s banquet, the big all-camp party to celebrate the session that the CA (9th grade) campers have been working on since the second day of camp when they devised the party’s secret theme. The theme guides their selection of decorations for the dining hall, their costumes, the food, music and dance performances. So what was their theme?

club olympus sign
banquet costumes

They brought together the idea of a dinner casino club and various Greek gods and goddesses, and called it “Dining with the Divine.” Using painted panels for the many gods and goddesses, strings of lights and elaborate table decorations, the dining hall became “Club Olympus.”

All of the CA campers dressed (and acted) like different gods and goddesses, with Athena, Hera, Ares, Zeus, Hermes, Hestia, Achilles, Demeter, Aphrodite, Persephone, Poseidon, Dionysus, Apollo and Hades all making an appearance. Their counselors also dressed up, each as a different Muse, like Thalia, Ourania, Terpsichore and Erato.

The menu included pasta and red sauce, chicken nuggets, bread, grapes, and very decadent dessert cupcakes “from the underworld.” Of course, there was some candy involved as well!

The program alternated between dance performances by the gods and goddesses and other dance songs where the whole camp could get up and dance together. Everyone especially loved the choreographed dance of the muses.

The banquet ended with the CA campers singing a song to their counselors, and then their counselors singing one to the campers in return. The Hi-Ups followed with songs to their counselors as well.

The evening ended with the entire camp gathering into their cabin groups and singing “Rockbrook Camp Forever,” one of everyone’s most loved songs. It can be a little emotional as the girls and their counselors stand arm in arm singing the song multiple times. It’s a collective hug, a heartfelt musical embrace that brings everyone together. Came to camp; hugged each other. Check!

camp friends hug

Love Like No Other

craft dye summer camp child
summer camp art child

Why be a junior counselor? This is a question I have heard many times, especially from counselors on other lines who are accustomed to living with Rockbrook’s older campers. I’ve considered the question many times through the summer.

Recently, one of my former campers from earlier in the summer wrote me a letter, updating me on her post-camp life and asking how the rest of my summer had gone. “Dear Ellie,” she wrote on the envelope, continuing the rest of her sweet notes inside. She wrote about how much she missed me, and asked me to say hello to some of the other counselors she had bonded with throughout her session. The love that this camper expressed for her counselors (many of which were not even in her cabin) is a true testament to how the Junior Line really becomes a family. 

The phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” comes to mind often on the Junior Line where cabins up on the top of the hill go on exciting adventures together, support each other, and share in each other’s triumphs and joy. We clean cabins together, swim together, and laugh together. 

Living with our youngest campers is truly, in my opinion, the most rewarding experience one can have at camp. Many of our Juniors are coming to camp for the first time ever. They’re embarking on a huge journey, and being part of that first step is an incredible privilege. Although I’m not a parent myself, I like to imagine that there’s a lot in common; I’m introducing my girls to my favorite place in the world and helping them turn Rockbrook into their home away from home. 

Junior counselors experience Rockbrook like no other counselors. I’m constantly looking at Rockbrook through fresh eyes, sharing my campers’ new experiences and sharing their unbridled joy. I dance when we get to go to Dolly’s, scream with laughter when someone drops a meatball on the ground, and shed a happy, heartwarming tear when I watch my girls reunite with their parents at the end of the session. 

So why be a junior counselor? Because the juniors love like no other campers do. They love their new cabin mates, their new adventures, and their counselors who help make it all happen. They especially love Felix, the camp dog. Being a junior counselor is full of ice cream, hair braiding, and watching groups of girls become sisters — I wouldn’t change it for the world. 

—Ellie Culin, Junior Line Head

summer camp natural childhood

Camp Hilarity

Sunday morning again took on a more relaxed pace. After our active weeks at camp, we love a little extra sleep and a casual breakfast in our pajamas. It actually felt a cooler, almost fall-like, in the morning, so most of the girls showed up with an extra long-sleeve layer. A fun treat of doughnuts complimented the regular breakfast fare. With the only the full session girls here at camp— the August mini girl finished their session last week —we now can eat all together in the dining hall and still space out the tables appropriately. This has been a nice coming together of sorts after being spread out previously on the two eating porches.

After the flag raising ceremony led by the Hi-Ups, the girls turned their attention to the notion of “joy” in their chapel gathering. The Senior line girls decided on the theme, and led the program. It included a rendition of the song “Joy to the World,” and a reading of “Ferdinand,” the story of the bull who would rather smell flowers than fight like other bulls. Joy can be found in the most unexpected places.

We had a quick assembly on the hill were we announced the mop awards, recognizing the cleanest cabins. We likewise announced campers who were especially helpful around camp this week (the “bend-a-back” honor) and others that showed remarkable camp spirit at some point.

The main event of the day was an afternoon carnival of games and inflatables down on the grassy landsports field. The girls wore their swimsuits because one of the inflatables was a giant, dual water slide where two campers could slide at once. The other was a crazy obstacle course race, also for two campers at a time.

The games included a ball toss challenge, a surprisingly difficult pingpong ball toss into jars, and another that involved water guns fired at pingpong balls. There was a hula hooping club, a face painting station and a caricature drawing table staffed by two counselors. The silliest game was a team event that had one girl tossing cheeseballs onto another girl’s head as she wore a plastic shower cap with a blob of shaving cream on it. The goal was to “catch” the flying cheeseballs in the shaving cream. We found yet another form of camp hilarity involving shaving cream!

Throughout the event we played up-tempo music turning it into a fun outdoor dance party as well. With this kind of camp enthusiasm and ideal sunny weather, it was an afternoon of positive energy, smiling faces and laughter— girls feeling totally relaxed and confident. It was one of those classic camp experiences that can’t really be recreated anywhere else. It takes these people, and this place, and this spirit. That’s a rare combination, but thankfully you can count on it at Rockbrook.

cabin group award winner