One important goal we have for everyone at Rockbrook, campers and staff members alike, is for each person to relax and be her “authentic self.” If the “real world” pressures us to conform to lofty ideals of personality, comportment and beauty, we want camp to be a haven from those pressures. It’s fine for our home and school lives to address these ideals, but if taken too seriously and if applied too rigorously, children can end up being more “fake” than “real,” and in the long run, unhappy. They can lose track of their true personality, spirit and character because they want to be who they believe others (parents, peers, preachers and professors) want them to be. Oscar Wilde put it this way. “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” But how can we guide and educate our children, yet also foster their true selves? How can we promote real self-esteem and self-confidence more powerful than external social pressures? It’s a lofty goal for a camp community, but how is it possible?
There’s quite a lot to this, but I think part of the secret of camp, part of what makes it so successful at being this kind of haven for girls, is the nature and strength of the relationships that form our community. As I have mentioned before, Rockbrook is an intentional community staffed by a group of well-trained, caring adult role models who know the importance of compassion, generosity, and contribution. Instead of competition, we applaud blameless communication and cooperation. Instead of insecurities and self-doubt, we inject genuine encouragement. Instead of being left out or ignored, girls here find a place of listening, respect and care.
There’s really no better way to put it; at Rockbrook there’s a feeling of being appreciated and respected, loved, for who you really are. And the girls can sense it. They feel connected to everyone here, and supported by them. It’s within this special environment, this tight-knit community of friends, that girls can feel safe enough to let down their guard and laugh their heads off, get their feet completely muddy, dance in front of a crowd, wear an outrageous costume, jump off of a rock (tethered to a zip line cable!), shoot a real gun or arrow, and connect so deeply with so many wonderful people.
This is another reason why camp feels so good also. It’s a relief from that nagging anxiety that can accompany social pressure to perform or be a certain way. How wonderful it is to be free of that pressure! Rockbrook is that kind of haven. It’s a place where, for a brief time each summer, your girls can celebrate their true selves growing more secure and confident. Of course, all of this might just mean your girls are “comfortable” here and are having a lot of “fun,” but I think it’s much more than that.
Today was “International Day” at camp. To celebrate, we welcomed Ras Allen and the Lions, a Reggae band to play an outdoor concert for us on the hill during dinner. They set up on the Hillside Lodge porch. The girls relaxed in their crazy creek chairs, applauding and cheering between songs. Many of them also hopped up to dance, especially when the band came down to the crowd for a drum solo. Singing about “Beauty and Love” and “Organic” gardening, among other things, Ras entertained the campers and counselors for 2 hours. Live music, some good food, a little dancing, and all with really great friends— it was a nice way to spend a Friday evening.