When it’s the 4th of July at camp, we can’t have an ordinary day. There’s always a bit of celebration going on at camp since we’re gathering together and enjoying ourselves just by being here, but when there’s a clear holiday happening too, we’re all in!
We started the day with horses riding up and down the cabin lines, a long July 4th tradition at Rockbrook. All eleven of our equestrian staff rode a horse, and while they rode, they woke up the campers by yelling, “The British are coming! Wake up! Wake up!” Unlike Paul Revere, our horses were highly decorated with red, white and blue ribbons, bows, paint, leg wraps, blankets, and even jaunty hat. You can imagine the surprise of the campers to hear hoofbeats outside their cabin along with the warnings to wake up.
The girls next came out on the hill for the Hi-Ups to raise the American flag along with our white Rockbrook flag underneath. We all recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sang “America the Beautiful,” as the sun began to clear off the morning fog.
The Middlers presented a chapel program on the theme of “Courage,” focusing on different examples during camp when a little bravery can make a big difference… helping remove a spider from a cabin by catching it in a cup, taking your first ride down the 50-ft water slide at the lake, even trying a new food like stuffed grape leaves or falafel. Sarah read a book by Bernard Waber entitled Courage. Like all the chapel programs at camp, this was a brief time to think about an idea that can guide us all as we face the challenges of being at camp, not religious per se, but still something that recognizes a fundamental quality of being human.
Grilled Chicken caesar salads, potato chips and fresh blackberries made our excellent lunch. During rest hour the girls prepared for our all-camp afternoon event by dressing up in their best red, white and blue— shirts and shorts with American flags, headbands, sunglasses, and hats. These girls were ready to go all out! A few counselors pulled out tempura paint to add colors to their arms, legs and faces too!
We divided the camp into 4 large groups, and created a rotation where each group would travel to a different part of camp to play a series of games. With music playing at several of the locations, we were at the lake, on the hill, the archery field, and by the creek.
A lot of the games involved water. The girls tossed water balloons back and forth trying not to pop them. Toss, step back and toss again, farther and farther until someone got wet.
They used sponges soaked in water to fill an empty bucket, but they had to pass the dripping sponge hand-to-hand to every cabin mate. And the sponge had to be passed over their heads and through their legs.
A similar race involved filling a bucket with water from a leaking cup, also passed overhead from person to person.
One game had girls racing to find marbles in a pool of water, only using their feet! Picking up a marble with your toes is surprisingly difficult!
At the lake, the girls swam with greased watermelons trying to be the first cabin to move the melon across a distance a few times. They did tricks off the diving board and gathered pingpong balls from another section of the lake.
One of the funniest challenges combined shaving cream and cheese balls (?)! One team member squirted shaving cream on her head (shower cap optional) and the other stood at a distance tossing cheese balls hoping to stick them in the shaving cream. The team with the most balls stuck “won.” I think the record was 13. Silly but loads of fun.
Dinner was a classic Independence Day picnic: barbecue sliders (with a tempeh option), corn on the cob, homemade vinegar coleslaw, tater tots and watermelon, with cans of Cheerwine chilling in the creek. For dessert, the bakers impressed us all again by serving a brownie cheesecake bar with red, white and blue icing. Like all the desserts at camp, this homemade treat was a huge hit.
After dinner, a few brave counselors entertained everyone by demonstrating their ability to eat a pie (“pie eating demos”?). Without using their hands, and as fast as possible, each person bent over a full-size pie, digging in face-first. The entire camp cheered them on, the loudest being the girls from those counselors’ cabins. In the end, Cary noshed here apple pie most completely and “won” the contest.
The highlight of the evening was the fireworks show we launched from the lake. With fun dance music pumping across the hill, and the girls dancing about with flashlights and glow sticks, colorful explosions filled the night sky. It was quite an elaborate show lasting about 30 minutes, turning the hill into an amazing nighttime dance party of “oohs” and “ahhs.”
What an action-packed celebration! A community of friends playing, swimming and singing… cheese balls and pingpong balls… leaking cups and dripping sponges… pies and pyrotechnics. Good food and good feelings. All part of a great day at camp.