Ready for Camp in 2021

In just a few short weeks, Rockbrook will be welcoming girls back to camp for the opening of its summer 2021 season. All spring we’ve been considering new information about the coronavirus pandemic, hearing from communicable disease experts, and receiving detailed guidance from the American Camp Association and our state Health Department.

Using this advice, we have established a number of new protocols and made a few changes to our camp program that will help protect against a COVID-19 infection, and reduce the spread of any disease at camp. Our goal throughout this process has been to take reasonable precautions, but with an eye toward retaining the core elements of the Rockbrook experience.

More Questions!

Here are a few questions we know many of you are asking about how COVID-19 will affect camp this summer.

Our answers provide important information that will help you understand and prepare for your session at Rockbrook.

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

two camp girls on NC sliding rock

This summer, as we take precautions to guard against COVID-19, there will be several important pre-camp health protocols we are asking campers and their families to follow. All of these are designed to help us achieve the goal of every camper arriving at Rockbrook healthy and covid-free.

14 days of pre-camp quarantining:
We ask that each family follow common sense precautions during these few days leading up to their camper’s arrival at Rockbrook. By “quarantining” we mean wearing a mask and distancing when interacting with those outside your immediate family, avoiding gatherings of people (e.g., parties, playdates, weddings, etc.), and unnecessary travel. We also ask that campers do not eat inside restaurants during this time. To protect your camper, we encourage family members to likewise follow these precautions.

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. 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.

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 past), it is important you contact our office with details of her positive test and recovery.  We will need written evidence of her positive test. The date of her positive diagnosis may change these pre-camp requirements.

Vaccination:
If your camper is vaccinated by the time her session begins, she does not need to take the PCR test, but we ask that she still complete the 7-days of symptom monitoring and careful quarantining during those last days leading up to camp. We will require a copy of her vaccination record.


Will there be other testing at camp?

At this time, 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?

young horse camp girl

Ordinarily at Rockbrook, campers select their individual activity schedules after they have arrived at camp. This summer in 2021, as we take COVID-19 precautions, we will schedule in-camp activities according to cabin “family” groups.

We will create an activity rotation for each group that will include a range of adventure-, arts-, and sports-related activities. We hope campers will be able to enjoy their favorites and try a few new activities as well. There will still be free time and opportunities to enjoy the Rockbrook lake.

Horseback riding will remain an individual signup. Our riding director will interview girls on opening day.


What about out-of-camp trips?

Many out-of-camp adventure trips will allow individual choice. Girls will be able to sign up for canoeing trips, whitewater kayaking trips, backpacking and day hiking trips. Choosing to go on a trip means a camper will be skipping her scheduled activities for the duration of the trip. Cabin groups who are 5th grade and older will go whitewater rafting together.


Who will be vaccinated at camp?

At this point 99% of the counselors and activity instructors at Rockbrook will be vaccinated this summer. We are urging everyone on our staff to be vaccinated if eligible. We are grateful for the efforts our staff are taking to protect our camp community.

While a few campers will likely be vaccinated, and more so as the summer progresses, we do not plan to alter the health and safety measures established for this summer.


When will masks be required during camp?

two camp girls goofing around

Campers will not need to wear a mask when they are exclusively with their cohort (family cabin group). This means that for long stretches of time during the day, they can be mask-free: anytime when inside their cabin, at mealtimes with cabin mates, during activities held exclusively for their cabin group, and when it’s unsafe to wear a mask, for example when doing water sports like swimming, rafting and kayaking.

Otherwise, when encountering anyone from another cohort cabin family group, we will follow a “2-out-of-3” rule. This means we will make sure two out of the following three conditions are always met: outdoors, distanced and masked.

Outdoors + Distanced = No Mask Needed
Outdoors + No Distance = Mask Needed
Not Outdoors + Distanced = Mask Needed

In other words, girls will need to wear a mask only when distancing between girls in other cohorts is not possible, or when in an enclosed space.


How will Opening Day work?

For the summer of 2021, there are assigned arrival times staggered by age group. To prevent long lines of cars, we ask that campers arrive as follows (Your child’s grade is the one she just finished.):

Juniors (K-4th grades): 8:45am – 9:30am
Middlers (5th & 6th grades): 9:30am – 10:30am
Seniors (7th-9th grades): 10:30am – 12:00pm
Hi-Ups (10th grade): 3:00pm – 4:00pm (prior Saturday)

girls nc summer camp outdoors

Once you arrive at Rockbrook, you will first enter the Rockbrook Horseback Riding Center, located just south of the main camp entrance. This is different than previous years!

There is a new “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 (or vaccination), 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.

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?

If we verify that someone in your daughter’s cabin has COVID-19, we will contact you right away. Our medical staff will immediately evaluate everyone in that cabin group and arrange for a PCR test for each camper. If those campers test negative, we will screen them for any symptoms or signs of illness for seven days. They will take extra care to remain in their cohort distanced from others at camp, but will be able to continue to take their activities.

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 specific contact tracing information. Our decision to organize campers into cohorts (“family cabin groups”) and to properly distancing between them should make this information clear, and give us all confidence that the positive case is limited to that single cohort. If your daughter is not within that specific cohort, it is very unlikely she would have been exposed.


What is your refund policy?

camp children hugging

Ordinarily Rockbrook does not offer refunds for campers who arrive late or must leave early from their camp session.

For this summer of 2021, 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, this summer we will make an exception. If a camper must leave camp with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, we will refund a prorated amount based on the days she is unable to attend.


Wow! That’s a lot!

Yes it is! Reuniting as a camp community while still grappling with the coronavirus requires us to be cautious. At the same time, we are working to do everything we can to recreate the special feeling of camp we all need— now more than ever. This summer will still mean time outside, lots of fun activities to try, a beautiful natural setting everywhere you turn, and the freedom to relax with friends in a caring supportive community. We’ll eat well, play hard, and laugh like we used to.

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.

three young teenage camp girls wearing climbing helmets

Looking Forward to Camp in 2021

It might only be February, but we are so excited about welcoming girls back to Rockbrook in 2021! After all the challenges and sacrifices everyone has faced this past year, we’ve been thinking about camp, dreaming about camp, and feeling really good about what a summer in the heart of a wooded mountain will provide.

February 8, 2021

A Hello from Sarah and Jeff

In this video, camp directors Sarah and Jeff Carter look forward to the summer and discuss their planning for a healthy and safe camp in 2021.
 

As the coronavirus pandemic conditions have been changing, we have been considering how every aspect of life at camp might be affected. Working with guidance from the American Camp Association and our state Health Department, we’ve been identifying essential principles and protocols that will guide us as we adjust how certain things are done at camp.

If we are to protect ourselves from being exposed to the coronavirus, there will most likely be new ways we sign up for activities, take out-of-camp trips, eat our meals, and gather for evening programs, for example. We will have to be careful in several important ways.

While there is some good news on the horizon as vaccines are becoming increasingly available, it’s difficult to predict every detail of what will be different this summer at camp. Even so, while we ask for your patience, we would like to share with you what we are anticipating so you can begin planning and thinking about the summer.

More Questions!

Here are a few questions we know many of you are asking about how COVID-19 will affect camp this summer.

Our answers provide important information that will help you understand and prepare for your session at Rockbrook.

How will we practice “social distancing” at camp?

child and horse at summer camp

This summer we will consider every cabin group a “family” where the campers and counselors sleeping in the same cabin do not have to socially distance. These cabin family groups will eat their meals together, do daily activities together, and go on out-of-camp trips together. We will, however, practice distancing between cabin family groups. Partway through each session, as we are effectively managing the coronavirus (keeping it out of camp!), we hope to allow these family groups to form larger “neighborhoods” for evening programs and other special activities.


How will we sign up for activities?

At this time, we are planning for girls to attend activities with their cabin group. We will create an activity rotation for each group that will include a range of adventure-, arts-, and sports-related activities. We hope campers will be able to enjoy their favorites and try a few new activities as well. There will still be swimming, ziplining, and opportunities for free time most days. Horseback riding will remain an individual signup.


What about meals?

camp girl aiming rifle

To provide more space between cabin family groups while they eat, we are expanding our outdoor dining space by renovating the hillside lodge porch and dining hall porch. We anticipate eating outside most of time, either picnic style on the hill or at tables properly spaced in the dining hall and on these covered porches. Rick, our long-time chef at Rockbrook, will be back this summer to provide our favorite meals (and muffins!).


When will we have to wear a mask at camp?

Right now, we anticipate campers and staff needing to wear a mask whenever they cannot properly distance themselves from a member of a different cabin family group. At the same time, if you are only with members of your own cabin group— for example, at meals, during most activities, and when inside your cabin —you will not need to wear a mask. We will ask that campers bring with them to camp several of their favorite masks.


What about the vaccine?

girl holding knitting loom

We are hopeful that our adult staff members will be vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to working at camp this summer. As “out-of-school time” workers supporting children, camp staff have recently been made eligible for vaccinations like others in education settings (like teachers). At this time, it seems unlikely that a COVID-19 vaccine will be approved for children in time for camp. While helpful, having a portion of our camp community vaccinated does not eliminate the need for social distancing, mask wearing, and enhanced sanitation protocols.


What COVID-19 testing will be required?

camp girl canoeing trip on French Broad

We anticipate requiring all campers and staff to provide the negative results of a recent COVID-19 molecular (PCR) test prior to arriving at camp. Along with a few pre-camp precautions (limiting unnecessary travel and exposure to non-family members, and some symptom monitoring), we hope to increase the odds of beginning each session covid-free. As an additional check, we will use rapid antigen testing to screen anyone with COVID-19 symptoms. Since the availability and methods of coronavirus testing are rapidly changing, we will provide more details in the spring about how we will utilize testing. We understand the notion of testing is unpleasant, and we will do everything we can to minimize that.


What else will be happening to guard against COVID-19?

Above and beyond our regular American Camp Association standards, we will be implementing more rigorous cleaning procedures, regular hand washing and sanitizing, expanding our on-site medical facilities and staff, and ongoing self-reported health checks. Maintaining a healthy camp community will be our top priority!


Will there be changes to opening day?

Yes. We are planning to assign each family a staggered arrival time, creating “drive-thru” stations for all our regular opening day activities. We will ask that parents stay in their cars as our staff helps with your daughter’s luggage, you meet the directors and counselors, and your daughter is welcomed to camp. We will take great care helping every camper settle into her cabin comfortably.


Will there be any travel restrictions?

Currently, there are no restrictions against traveling into North Carolina, but to help socially distance while traveling, we prefer that campers arrive at camp by private car. We believe campers can still fly, but we ask they be extra cautious by wearing a face covering and maintaining proper social distancing while traveling. International campers should stay in touch with our office about travel plans.


What if there’s a positive case at camp?

relaxing girl floating on camp lake

While we hope to maintain a relatively closed camp community, one bolstered by many layers of protection, it will still be possible for someone to contract COVID-19 while at camp. We will be monitoring everyone’s symptoms daily (campers and staff), and when someone exhibits convincing COVID-19 symptoms, that person will be isolated and tested. Our medical team is developing a screening, testing, and quarantining plan, but at this time, we believe campers who test positive will need to be picked up from camp as soon as possible.


Gosh, should I still come to camp with all of these precautions?

If you have significant concerns about your daughter attending camp this summer because of underlying health issues, or for any other reason, please reach out to us to discuss things. We know camp will be a bit different this summer, but our goal is to keep everyone healthy while at the same time recreating the core of what we love about Rockbrook— the zany surprises, the fun activities, the incredible natural beauty, and that special feeling that comes from just being together at camp.

Thank you again for your support, cooperation and trust as we prepare for another amazing Rockbrook summer!

If you have questions not covered here, or you need clarification about anything, please let us know.

teenage girls at camp in NC

Summer 2021 Covid-19 Planning

climber descending upside down

Summer 2021! Rockbrook’s 100th birthday! It’s hard not to be excited about the coming camp season, but at the same time to wonder what the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis will mean for camp. While there is some good news on the horizon as vaccines become increasingly available, we know the coronavirus will most likely still be a concern this summer, and our planning must include specific steps to maintain the health and safety of our entire camp community.

As we consider additional protocols and how we might modify our current procedures to address these concerns, we’re fortunate to have several sources of expert advice and guidance. Our national accrediting organization, the American Camp Association (ACA), has worked with the CDC and an expert panel of health professionals to publish a “Field Guide for Camps.” Written with input from State Health Departments across the country as well, including North Carolina, this is an ever-updating summary of information and best practices for camps. This Field Guide is excellent, and Rockbrook will use it extensively as we plan for the summer of 2021.

camp girl in nest of hammocks

We realize too that the effects of the pandemic and the country’s response to it are still changing, and that therefore our plans must remain flexible as new information becomes clear. We hope you can be patient as we learn more and slowly crystalize the details of our plans. Most importantly, yes, we are actively planning to hold camp at Rockbrook this coming summer.

So how will camp be different in summer 2021? With all of the current health and safety concerns, recognized best practices and Covid-19 information for camps, and a degree of provisionality in mind, we do expect a few changes. For example, to minimize the risk of spreading any infection, we will wear masks when appropriate, change how we gather in large groups, how we schedule our activities, and how we eat our meals.

Here are a few other points of action we are considering in our plans:

  • Utilize Covid-19 testing for all staff and campers, both as a pre-arrival screening and on-going assessment.
  • Define cohort groupings: cabins as “families” and larger “neighborhoods.”
  • Wear masks when appropriate (e.g. when within 6 feet of different cohorts).
  • Eat meals mostly outside with greater outdoor, covered eating areas.
  • Enhance our sanitation procedures and emphasize hand washing.
  • Expand our on-site medical staff and Health Hut procedures.
  • Alter our opening and closing day procedures to limit contact.
  • Emphasize outdoor activity whenever possible.
  • Limit exposure to “non-camp” population generally.

It is likely we will be able to offer most of our core programming for in-camp activities (including rock climbing, ziplining and hiking), as well as most off-site adventure trips.

Again, like us, we hope you will remain flexible as we work to create a safe camp environment. We’re committed to keeping everyone informed as we move toward that goal.

While camp will be different in some ways, we know there will still be the kind of authentic friendship, daily experience with nature, opportunities for creativity and adventure, and the kind of carefree fun the Rockbrook community always provides. More than ever, it seems, we all need camp, so we’re extremely excited about this coming summer at Rockbrook.

Thank you once again for your overwhelming support and encouragement over this past year. It’s been a real comfort to know our camp families love Rockbrook as we do, and a true joy to feel that camp spirit in anticipation of our next summer together.

Meanwhile, if you have any questions about next summer, give us a shout. We are always happy to hear from you!

powerful camp girls showing their muscle

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 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!

camp open house girls

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)

Questions

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?

Yes. Please give us a call to RSVP.


What do these open house days cost to attend?

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.

camp open house invitation

That Feeling of Togetherness

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.

mother and daughter at summer camp

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.

camp girl holding a basket she made

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!

CoVid-19 Decision

May 22, 2020

A Message from Sarah and Jeff

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

Questions

These are a few of the questions many of you are asking right now. We hope you find the answers helpful.

Please reach out if we can help.

Why did you decide to close camp?

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!

RBC Camp Girls Together before covid-19

Casey Blair New Program Director

Say hello to Casey Blair, Rockbrook’s new Program Director!

Casey Blair 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.”

Here is a press release announcing Casey’s new position.

Welcome Casey!

Rockbrook Camp full year directors plus felix the dog

3rd Session Video Note – Part Two

We’ve got one last highlights video to share!

It’s the latest from Robbie Francis of Go Swan Filmworks. Earlier this week, Robbie spent a day filming at camp, and with his skilled editing, has provided another fascinating glimpse into camp life.

Spend two minutes watching, and you’ll be amazed.

Click here for the video. Or see below.

Parking the Helicopter

There’s probably no need to discuss the concept of “helicopter parenting” with camp families. Odds are good they already know how some parents can be “overprotective” or have an “excessive interest” in what their children are doing. Like a helicopter constantly hovering above, parenting can become excessive if children aren’t allowed to branch out on their own to try things without mom or dad always quick to swoop in to the rescue. It can be difficult for parents to “let go” like this. Camp parents, though, are presumably different. After all, they are choosing to “let go,” to send their children away into an environment where they will make many decisions for themselves, confront regular challenges on their own, probably struggle, and perhaps even fail at times. The independence gained, along with the feelings of confidence on competence that come with it, are valuable assets as a child grows up. I’d recommend reading How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims to better understand this modern phenomenon.  I can also recommend her 14-minute TED talk if you are really interested.

climbing girl dressed in blue

This is not to say camp parents are completely immune to helicoptering influences. We can’t really help but wonder how our girls are doing when they’re away at camp. Are they eating right? Are they remembering to take a shower? Brush their hair? Wear a clean shirt everyday? Are they having a good time? That’s the big one, right? Camps like Rockbrook understand this impulse and realize that all parents, to one degree or another, need some kind of reassurance that their kids are OK when they are away. That’s why, for example, we have our cabin counselors write letters to parents updating them.  It’s also why we maintain a daily photo gallery, and post the occasional videos during each camp session.

At the same time, checking the photo gallery can become an obsession for some parents, multiple times a day, combing through every photo for even a glimpse of their child. From afar, this form of helicoptering interest seems harmless enough as long as the child at camp is unaware of it, and the parent can resist the instinct to reach out and help in some way. We don’t want the photo gallery to energize the parental snowplow, so to speak.

One form of this helicoptering goes too far, however, and when parents fall into this trap, their child’s experience at camp often suffers. So let me warn you so you can, I hope, resist the urge to over-parent your child’s camp experience like this. The trap is to establish some hand gesture, like a “thumbs up,” that you tell your child to flash when their photo is being taken as a coded signal home about how camp is going. Akin to a “pick up deal” where a parent promises to “come get you if you’re homesick,” this kind of messaging might seem innocuous, but can be a real burden for the camper. It effectively is removing her from the moment, distracting her from the people and activity around her with thoughts of evaluation rather than true participation. When sending your daughter to camp, it’s simply best not to tether her to home in this way, and instead to send her off by reassuring her that you are confident in her ability to handle life at camp independently.

I’m sure you know that camp is the ideal place to practice this independent self-efficacy, and this is one of its main benefits. Oddly if we’re not careful, our parental instincts can undermine the opportunity for our girls to grow while away at camp. Some camps are so concerned by this signal phenomenon, they have banned campers from making signalling gestures and instructed their photographers to delete photos that appear to have them. My hope is that Rockbrook parents will see the problems associated with all of this, park their helicopter for a few weeks, and trust that their children and our staff at camp can work through any problems that may arise, and together ultimately create a rich, rewarding, and enjoyable camp experience.

girl camp friends

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to enjoy camp!  Your girls and their friends will splash and scream with delight rafting the Nantahala River.  They’ll climb the Alpine Tower and Castle Rock.  They’ll swim and float in the Rockbrook lake, tie increasingly elaborate friendship bracelets, shoot more arrows, and sing even louder songs. They’ll be surprised by hidden talents and creativity. They’ll find kindness and caring permeating their days, a refreshing tech-free, authenticity to what they’re doing and with whom they’re doing it. Surrounded by the beauty of these wooded mountains, they’ll explore and be amazed by what they find in the natural world. They’ll laugh harder than they have ever laughed before. They’ll learn a lot about themselves, and be proud of who they are and what they can do. They’ll make more fond memories and best friends than you can count. They’ll be at camp.

3rd Session Video Note

Robbie Francis of Go Swan Filmworks (and Rockbrook dad!) has returned this summer to film and edit more of his occasional highlights videos. Each video provides a fascinating 2-minute glimpse into life at camp, the buzz of activity, and the sweet friendships blossoming all around us.

Here is Robbie’s first video for the third session. Take a couple of minutes to watch. We think you’ll really enjoy it.

Click here for the video. Or see below.