On a regular day, the girls wake up around 8am at camp. They get dressed and tackle their cabin chores before making their way to the dining hall for breakfast at 8:30. Today it was a cool 60 degrees when we woke up, so a cozy long-sleeve fleece or sweatshirt felt great. That’s pretty typical of the June weather at Rockbrook.
Some days, however, groups of girls will get up early because they are heading out of camp for an adventure. Today, a group of 36 campers, plus their counselors, met in the dining hall at 7am for a quick breakfast of bagels, fruit, cereal and yogurt. They were a little groggy, but also excited, because they were going whitewater rafting on the Nantahala river. This is by far the most popular trip we offer. It’s open to Middlers and Seniors (5th grade and older) and almost every one of them goes at some point during their session.
We ran two groups down the river today, one before lunch and one after, 84 people all together. Both trips hit the water with clear perfect weather and with boats full of high spirited friends for 2-hours of whitewater excitement. The rapids of the Nantahala all have unique characteristics that make them interesting and fun. There’s Patton’s Run, Delbar’s Rock, The Whirlpool, and the big finale, the Nantahala Falls. It’s a complete blast for girls to come this close to the power and intensity of fast-moving whitewater, to be bounced in (and sometimes out of!) the rafts while being splashed by the cold, cold water of the river. I always say, though, that the biggest reason rafting is so much fun is that you’re doing it with your friends. It’s the social aspect of rafting, the hilarity of being splashed together, the screaming with delight when your boat hits a wave— this creates the kind of fun that’s uniquely thrilling and memorable.
As I watched these trips unfold, taking photos along the way, I was struck again by just how unique this experience is for your girls. It’s not the rafting per se, the specific river we’re on, the RBC guides, or the weather. What’s unique is the fun created by the girls being together. Their friendships, relaxed way of interacting, and their silly enthusiasm amplifies the experience. Rafts from other rafting companies float by silently, while the Rockbrook rafts scream, and wave, and sing, and pose for the camera. There’s almost constant laughter, conversation, and wide-eyed exuberance. The adventure of the rafting itself initiates the experience, but it’s really just the context for the girls and their relationship with each other to flourish. It’s a joy to see it in action.
Something similar took place after dinner when another all-camp Evening Program brought us to the gym. It was time for our “Monster Mash” dance. Our theme for the day was “Not Scary Halloween,” which means “Let your costume imagination run wild!” There was a carton of milk, a hippie, Annie (from the musical), a taco, a pickle, a leopard, a kiwi, several princesses and fairies, and so many things in between. Our local DJ, DJ Marcus, was here with his lights and sound system, and our Rockbrook girls showed up ready to groove. Here too, they created the fun themselves. Together they jumped and sang. They literally let loose— hair, arms and legs flying around in all directions. They encouraged each other, modeled different dance moves, and joined line dances like “Cotton-eyed Joe.” The culture of camp makes being together like this generate energy, fanning the flames of excitement in ways that are impossible to duplicate elsewhere. Camp makes it possible because it encourages everyone here to relax and be themselves, be kids without academic or social pressures. It’s welcoming and relentlessly encouraging. It inclines everyone toward connecting with others, with nature, and with real-world activity. There’s simply a unique power when you combine all of this. And yes, it’s this power that makes anything we do at camp fun. Magic!