We amplified the energy of camp today by opening our August mini session and welcoming 60 campers to Rockbrook. About a third of these are brand new to RBC, so for them this was an especially exciting time— driving in the main gate for the first time, rounding the lake with a glimpse of the water slide (aka “Big Samantha” —for no real reason, other than a junior camper suggested it), meeting Sarah at the top of the hill, and hopping out of the car to the cheers and whoops of the counselors. For the returning campers too, it’s a great feeling to arrive back at camp after waiting all year (and lately all summer!) and to take a deep breath of mountain forest air, only to need another after shrieking with joy at the sight of an old camp friend. This kind of enthusiasm mixed with all that anticipation can be almost explosive when it’s finally released, but that’s the kind of energy we love around here. It’s our day-to-day starting point.
While the mini session girls were arriving, the full session campers began their day like other Sunday mornings with a late breakfast in the dining hall (which included freshly delivered Krispy Kreme doughnuts), time to dress in their camp uniforms (white polo shirts, shorts and red tie), our traditional flag raising ceremony (led by the Hi-Up campers), and chapel program (that today focused on the theme of “Community”). Afterwards, these girls also had a “choice period,” an opportunity to sign up for an hour doing many of the most popular activities— archery, riflery, yoga, hiking to Castle Rock, a flower picking expedition, and various string and paper crafts, for example.
Right before lunch we brought everyone together, the mini- and full-session girls, for an assembly on the grassy hill in camp. This was a chance to sing a couple of favorite camp songs (like “An Austrian Went Yodeling,” for example), to shout out the 3 line (age group) songs, and to learn a new song from the Hi-Ups. The directors announced which cabin this week would be recognized as having outstanding camp spirit, and would thereby be able to display the Rockbrook “Spirit Paddle” on their table in the dining hall (It was Middler Cabin 1). We also had fun taking a “whole camp” photo. While some of the staff members were absent on their day off, the photo really shows how we’re a colorful bunch!
After what seemed like a steady stream of cheese tortellini coming out of the kitchen— bowl after re-filled bowl —and stacks of cool sweet watermelon turning into a pile of rind at every table, the mini session girls spent the first part of the afternoon demonstrating their swimming ability at the lake. If a girl could confidently jump off the dock, swim out 50ft and back 50ft, and tread water for a minute, she received a green swim bracelet and a buddy tag. If the lifeguards saw signs of struggle, as they did for a few of the youngest girls today, those girls can still swim at the lake, but they are restricted to the safety of the shallow area and must wear a life vest when in the water. Today, wonderfully warm sunshine buffered the chilly water of the lake, giving every swimmer a little boost.
By 3 o’clock, everyone was ready for an afternoon scavenger hunt. Working in cabin groups, the campers moved from station to station solving riddles at each place, sometimes having to tackle a group challenge (like untangling a “human knot”), sometimes finding a yummy treat like popcorn or cotton candy, and other times just enjoying a special activity. The dunking booth, for example, was a complete hoot. A brave counselor from each cabin climbed into the tank as each girl took turns throwing at the dunking target. Of course, we filled the tank with regular cold water making each dunk even more exciting (well, maybe a little less exciting for the counselors!). Several cabins, after throwing but failing to dunk their counselor, stormed the target to press it by hand, a clear violation of the rules, but entirely hilarious too. The whole event was a wonderful Sunday afternoon of helping cabins get to know each other better, to learn about the different buildings and areas of the the camp, and to enjoy a variety of snacks and activities together.
We’ve got a wonderful session going here. Thanks for being a part of it!
This is great! It’s awesome to have this opportunity (and comforting for first time worry-wart parents!) to keep in touch with RBC. Thanks so much for taking the time. ~Kathleen O’Brien Graves
P.S. You’re a great writer Jeff!