A Rockbrook Slumber Party

The surprise everyone was waiting for was finally revealed last night. Planned from the very first day of camp, this was a well-kept secret all session long. The CA campers (9th graders) presented their banquet, an all-camp party to celebrate the session and our time together at camp. What’s kept a secret is the theme of the party. Only the CAs and their counselors know the theme— until the event happens.

summer camp party surprise

Based on the theme, the CA girls decorate the inside of the dining hall, dress in costume, serve particular food, perform skits and choreographed group dances, and play special music. So what was the theme this session? It was a “slumber party” banquet!

Imagine going to a huge slumber party of 160 girls all in the same room. That’s what we had at this banquet. The CAs all dressed as party guests in pajamas and slippers, while their counselors dressed as “moms” in velour tracksuit loungewear. All of the campers first removed their shoes before entering the “bedroom” where the sleepover would take place. On floor-to-ceiling paper panels, the CAs had painted all sorts of things to make the dining hall look like a bedroom set up for a slumber party. They painted balloons, bedroom furniture, a TV with Netflix, a diary, a telephone, an invitation, board games, sleeping bags, slippers, nail polish bottles, a book shelf, a closet of clothes hanging, eye masks, pajamas, a lava lamp, and Polaroid photos. These colorful wall decorations, plus the streamers, fairy lights and party hats made the whole scene fun and festive.

For food, they served Rick’s homemade pizza as the main “movie night” entrée. They had popcorn too, of course. And with a nod to the moms, they also served carrot and celery sticks. They gave each camper a small can of soda to drink and for dessert offered ice cream sandwiches, adding to the candy treats scattered across the tables.

In addition to playing a few classic slumber party games like Charades, painting nails, and Telephone, some interesting drama unfolded when one of the campers went “missing” during a game of hide and seek. Where was Virginia!? A little later someone dressed as a ghost appeared at the party to scare everyone as a prank! And it was Virginia! The velour tracksuit moms got in on the fun too when they performed a dance number for everyone. At one point a counselor dressed as a pizza delivery guy arrived to announce the main course of the meal.

Between scenes in these skits and the CAs delivering platters of food from the kitchen, everyone was up and dancing. It was an explosion of joy at times with the entire camp jumping up and down to a favorite song. That’s the feeling of a banquet. It’s incredibly fun, with friends all around, loud singing and dancing, and enough food and treats to fuel the energy.

These girls have grown so close over their time together at camp, it’s completely natural now to celebrate like this together. Toward the end of the banquet, emotions rise and even a few tears get mixed with the non-stop hugging. This makes it the best kind of party— one that brings you closer to your friends attending. The girls loved this banquet. It’s easy to see why!

summer camp party kids

Magic from the Outside

My friend recently visited Rockbrook with her daughter, a prospective Rockbrook camper. They had a wonderful visit, and I wasn’t surprised when she described Rockbrook as “magical.” If you read the camp blog on a regular basis, you know that the magic of Rockbrook is a recurring theme. Over the past few years, there have been numerous posts on this topic: “A Magical Day at Summer Camp,” “The Magic of Moments,” and “Reliving the Magic,” just to name a few. 

kind summer camp friends

It seems it would be easy to understand the magic of Rockbrook if you’re on the inside. Campers, counselors, staff members, directors, and even the owners get to witness this magic on a daily basis. For those of us on the outside, however, it’s not as easy to wrap our heads around this idea of magic – especially if, like me, you’ve never had the opportunity to experience Rockbrook (or any other summer camp).

As I write this, my daughter is at Rockbrook for her third summer. I think maybe I am starting to understand a little more of what the Rockbrook magic is all about. Over the last couple of years, I have seen hundreds of photos of girls smiling and laughing as they participate in camp activities. As I see photo after photo of girls living out the Rockbrook principle of “be kind, be silly, be brave,” it’s impossible to miss all of the magical moments taking place at camp. 

I pick up on a little bit more of that magic with every letter my daughter sends from camp. In a recent letter, she told us about the “polar plunge,” where at 8:05 AM one day, she would jump into a “freezing cold lake.” It may not sound very fun but when that lake happens to be at Rockbrook and you get to share the experience with your Rockbrook friends, it becomes something magical. The chance to earn a special bead (a fun Rockbrook tradition) only adds to the magic. 

I’ve even been fortunate enough to witness some Rockbrook magic in person. If you ever visit Dolly’s (a Rockbrook favorite) on a summer evening, you may see a large group of campers enjoying ice cream after a trip to Sliding Rock. And if you’re lucky enough, you may be treated to a live performance featuring classic camp songs that have been passed down through generations of Rockbrook campers. As these girls sing at the top of their lungs without a care in the world, you can feel the magic in the air. And while some may disagree, I think it’s more magical than a Taylor Swift concert. 

The magic of Rockbrook goes beyond the heart of a wooded mountain. When I pick my daughter up in a few days, I know she’ll be bringing some of that magic home with her. And maybe she, along with her fellow Rockbrook campers, will spread a little bit of Rockbrook magic into the world – because wouldn’t that be wonderful?

—Jean Lee, proud mother of a Rockbrook camper

pure summer camp friendship

Hello from Needlecraft

There are two historic log cabins at Rockbrook that are older than the camp and were moved here when the camp was established. Each has a stone fireplace, rustic wooden floors, and a shaded porch on one side. The “Goodwill” cabin is named after the estate in South Carolina where Nancy Carrier, the camp’s founder, was born. The other is called “Curosty” and is the home of our fiber arts activities, both Weaving and Needlecraft.

summer camp cross stitch info

The Needlecraft activity meets on the back porch of the Curosty cabin, right next to Rockbrook creek and in the shade of a nearby hemlock, a beech tree and rhododendron bushes. With the creek sounds and summer breezes blowing through the shaded porch, the campers and needlecraft instructors sit around a red painted table sewing, stitching, cutting fabrics, knitting and crocheting yarns. For more than 100 years, this has been a place for creative expression using threads, yarns, and ribbons.

Sara Green, one of the Needlecraft specialists this summer, describes this porch as “a truly magical and inspiring place where creativity flourishes, friendships are formed, and campers have the freedom to explore their artistic passions.” She explains how they take an expressive art approach. “On the porch, we embrace an expressive approach to needlecraft. This allows each camper to discover her own artistic voice and create projects that are meaningful to them.”

“We start with basic techniques like threading needles, sewing seams, and crocheting chains. By practicing the basic skills and learning new stitches, campers gain confidence in their abilities and become more comfortable with the crafts. We encourage the campers to slow down into the craft… to let go of what the finished project will look like and any time restraints. This patient and mindful approach creates a supportive environment where campers can take their time to hone their skills, relax, and get comfortable in their chosen craft.

“In their own time, each camper’s creativity and desire for self-expression naturally emerges. Whether it’s through a bit of gritty frustration or focused mindful practice, we witness a noticeable shift. This is a magical time on the porch! Campers begin to envision and design their own projects, guided by their creative hearts and empowered by the support of the specialists. Campers that were persevering through the basic crochet stitches are soon designing their own clothes. Campers that have never threaded a needle are soon creating personalized embroidered gifts designed for loved ones at home and here at camp.

The porch becomes a place of laughter, learning, and meaningful experiences as the campers stitch their way through big ideas and challenges. There’s something incredibly special about taking raw materials and transforming them into a completed masterpiece. By letting go of a strict focus on the final product and allowing the process to guide them, the campers can embrace the beauty of artistic expression and feel the joy of creating something truly their own. This pride in their work can build a strong sense of accomplishment, and the knowledge that they can create something beautiful with their own hands. We hope this is a gift that stays with them for life.”

— Sara Green

A Sunday in Candy Land

Sundays at Rockbrook slow down a bit. We paused our regular activity schedule to give us some time to reflect about camp life and to enjoy an afternoon all-camp event of some sort. It begins by letting everyone sleep an extra 30 minutes and come to breakfast in their pajamas. Cabin chores can be done later in the morning, so most everyone sleeps in and stumbles to breakfast in a warm sweatshirt over their pajamas.

camp theme ceremony about adventure

By mid-morning, everyone dresses in their camp uniform (white shirt and shorts with a red tie for campers) and assembles around the flagpole on the hill for a short flag raising ceremony conducted by the Hi-Ups. They raise the flag and we all recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Today the weather was threatening rain in the morning, so instead of walking to the Chapel area located past the end of the lower line, we made our way to the gym for the ceremony.

“Chapel” is not a religious ceremony at Rockbrook, despite its traditional name. Instead, we understand it as a time for us to recognize some of the important values and concepts we all hold as a community. We’ve started to understand “chapel,” for this reason, as an acronym standing for “Celebration of Happiness, Adventure, Peace, Earth and Love.” In addition to these, past chapel themes have been Friendship, Honesty, Compassion, and Community, to name a few. These are all experiences that we find at camp and we can endorse no matter what a camper’s religious upbringing. The different age groups take turns selecting the theme for Chapel, and then designing the program of songs and speeches that address the theme. Sarah always contributes a few thoughts on the theme too. She usually does this by reading a children’s book, and then commenting on how the book speaks to the theme.

Today, the Juniors presented their theme: “Adventure.” They sang a few Disney songs about adventure and the bravery it often requires. Sarah read The Fossil Girl, a story about Mary Anning, who lived in England and discovered the world’s first complete fossil of an Ichthyosaurus when she was just 10 years old. It’s a true story of a young girl whose persistence and daring makes her success possible.

The day’s highlight came after rest hour when we held a Candy land themed Carnival down on our grassy landsports field. This all-camp event featured 2 water based inflatables, silly games, upbeat music and special food. The girls came dressed in their swimsuits, and in the bright sun of the afternoon, climbed an inflatable waterslide to splash into the pool at the bottom. The other was a wild two-person race obstacle course that ended in another pool. We had a lawn sprinkler going too, so anyone could cool off if they wanted.

There were several carnival games to play as well: a life-sized Candy Land game that involved “rolling” a giant die, tossing an inflated donut challenge, a beanbag toss game, a dance competition game, and a strange game that challenged players to use only their feet to unwrap a giant ball of candy encased in plastic wrap. In all of the games, there were small candy treats and small toys to win.

For food, we had a special treat made by Jenny’s Mini Donuts, a local food truck. Each person from each cabin group got to choose between cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar mini donuts. They were a huge hit!

Bare-footed and excited, the campers zoomed from game to game, cooling off in the water events, eating the candy they won, and dancing with their friends to the music. The girls cheered for each other on the obstacle course and laughed with every splash at the bottom of the water slide. It was an exciting event, really an ideal way to spend the afternoon at camp.

summer camp carnival spray

Textures of Camp

If I had to define the gist of this blog, I’d say its goal is both to describe what happens at camp, and to explain why Rockbrook is what is, does what it does, and makes a difference for the people here. If you ask anyone who attends camp to convey what’s so special about it, they’re bound to struggle, and finally throw up their hands and say, “you just don’t get it.” I’ve been working at this task for almost 20 years, and I still feel there’s more to say. If discussing camp was a simple thing, you’d think I would have figured it out by now, but I haven’t! Sure, I have my theories, but they’re certainly incomplete.

Let me today interpret a few recent photos you’ve seen in the online gallery.

rockbrook camp muffin girl

Muffins! You may have heard of our famous muffin break, that special time between morning activity periods (around 11am) when we serve a freshly baked muffin to all the campers and staff members. When the bell rings to change morning activities, everyone detours toward the dining hall porch where the Hi-Ups pass out the day’s muffin. Everyday it’s a surprise flavor too! It could be “cherry white chocolate,” “pumpkin chocolate chip,” “funfetti sprinkles,” or classic “blueberry,” for example. The baker sometimes creates amazing unique flavors, like when she made “key lime pie” muffins, and the legendary “cookie dough” muffins that where topped with a small dollop of cookie dough. Realizing that the girls could use a mid-morning snack, and loving fresh baked goods herself, Sarah invented the idea of muffin break. Ever since, and probably forever more, we all enjoy muffins at Rockbrook.

two camp kids in woodworking shop

Woodworking! It’s our newest activity addition at Rockbrook and is quickly becoming one of the most popular. In the wood shop, located behind the lower pottery studio, the girls are measuring, cutting, shaping, gluing, drilling and sanding pieces of wood. They’re learning these basic woodworking skills while they make wooden journal covers, cutting boards, sculpted candle holders, or secret boxes. Along the way, they are using true woodworking tools like pull saws, block planes, chisels, rasps, tape measures, drills, and clamps. This is an activity that really empowers the girls and gives them a great sense of accomplishment when they have a finished project to take home. It’s a great example of camp proving to them they are more powerful than they think. No wonder it’s popular!

summer camp kid playing gagaball

Gaga ball! You may not have heard of this group game, but it’s always a big attraction at camp. During any block of free time, there’ll be a dozen or more girls crowded around our gaga ball “pit.” The game is a form of dodgeball and was invented in Israel in the 1970s. All of the players start in the pit and then swat a small rubber ball around trying to hit other players with the ball. If hit, a player is “out” and must hop out and over the wall to wait until the game is over— when only one player remains. Each game only takes a few minutes to play, so even if you’re out, you’ll be back in to play another game shortly. One variation allows players who are out to reach over the wall and hit the ball. If they hit it and get someone else out of the game, they get to go back in. Gaga ball is a fast paced game that’s easy to learn and fun to play, especially with a large group.

summer camp girl standing with horse

Horseback riding! Rockbrook is known for its riding program and, as you might guess, attracts girls who love riding. This is why we have so much of it going on. During the 4 activity periods each day, we’ll have up to 6 different mounted lessons occurring simultaneously— girls on horses learning to walk their horse through a course, to find the right posting rhythm while trotting their horse, and to canter over cross rails and jumps. There are lessons for all skill levels. The girls learn to tack up their horses and how to take care of their stalls. For those really excited about horses, there is our “stable club” which gives girls a chance to work even more with the Rockbrook horses— washing them, feeding and watering them, and taking care of their feet. With 32 horses currently at the riding center, there’s always plenty to do…. and usually plenty of girls eager to help.

rain storm at summer camp

Rain! This afternoon, like many afternoons around here, we had a brief thunderstorm pass over camp. In a way, these are welcome breaks from the heat, but they can also include lightning. To help us be safe during these storms, we have a lightning warning system that automatically sends out a loud horn-like sound whenever lightning is detected near camp. The campers and staff know that when they hear this sound, they should immediately take shelter in a building. The lifeguards clear the lake. Riders dismount from their horses. Tennis players, and everyone outside, moves inside. This lightning system continually monitors the storm, and when there has been no additional lightning in the area for 20 minutes, sounds an “all clear” horn signaling everyone that it’s now OK to resume their regular activities. The system works great, usually giving us plenty of notice before a rainstorm is upon us. Today that storm lasted about 45 minutes, just long enough to play a quick card game in the dining hall or ballgame the gym before heading back out.

Camp is so many things. These blog posts can only give a hint as to its depth, just like the photo gallery can only capture a handful of brief moments among millions each day. There’s cool grey fog in the mornings and golden sunsets at dusk, but in between there are Rockbrook girls woven into the textures of camp life. It’s a full life, rich with new experiences, a good life, for sure.

camp girls making hearts on sunset

Kids Being Kids

There’s a certain power to kids being kids. Especially when together and when fully involved with some kind of real world activity, when actually doing something physical with other kids. You might just call that “play,” but it can be more than that. Today at camp was rife with that power. It was our first full day of camp activities and we saw it everywhere.

silly camp zipline crew

After a yummy breakfast of Rick’s homemade oatmeal, fresh cut fruit, granola, yogurts and cereal, everyone at camp fanned out all over to get started with the whole range of camp activities. Each camper had chosen their activity schedule the night before, and now it was time to begin with the first of the four today.

All ten of the craft activities sprang to life. Girls were soon weaving colorful yarns on looms in Curosty with Lucy. They were pinching and rolling clay in one of the 2 pottery studios. They were learning to tie special knots to make their first friendship bracelet. They were twisting t-shirts and dripping dye on them, sticking scraps of paper to “memory boxes,” weaving wet reeds to make baskets, sewing pillows, dipping brushes into watercolor paints, and carefully measuring thin planks of wood before making their first cuts in woodworking. Many art projects had begun!

Sports too! The campers shot rifles and bows with .22 caliber bullets and arrows hitting their paper targets. They balanced on the beam after stretching in the gymnastics area of the gym. The tennis courts saw various tennis drills and short games. The gaga ball pit also was stirred up by game after game, with girls jumping and swatting as the ball bounced in their direction. For something more relaxed, there were yoga classes being held in the hillside lodge. Of course the lake, which (after to the dining hall!) is probably the most popular place in camp, was humming with fun as the girls zipped down the water slide, invented silly poses while jumping off the diving board, and just played around on different floating toys. As the weather was perfectly warm and sunny throughout the day, the lake was a great place to be.

The first riding lessons also took place today, with the campers who wanted to ride meeting new horses. There were riders in every ring walking, trotting and cantering their way around. The outdoor adventure staff offered climbing on the Alpine tower, trips through the zip line course here at camp, a hiking trip to High Falls in the Dupont State Forest, and chances to begin learning the basics of whitewater kayaking down at the lake.

old time jug band campfire

Dinner was a hotdog picnic on the hill— dogs (and veggie dogs), buns and regular “fixins,” homemade coleslaw, salad and potato chips. We also had freshly baked cookie bars for dessert. With ideal, almost cool, evening weather, we all enjoyed a breezy feeling dinner that was just the right balance of hanging out and silliness.

Tonight’s evening program was an all-camp campfire we call “Jug Band.” This is a silly program of traditional Appalachian songs and stories that the counselors, Hi-Ups and other directors present. Sarah dresses up like an old woman named “Sayree” and brings her fiddle to play. Tonight a guitar and ukelele joined in to play “She’ll be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountian,” “Mountain Dew,” and “Little Cabin in the Woods,” which were clear favorites with the campers. This was classic camp fun, and an excellent way to end the day.

It was wonderful to feel the energy of kids being kids at camp. Everyone seemed happy and excited, and nicely settled in. These camper are already feeling comfortable and enjoying camp life. My hunch is that it’ll soon be even better!

completely goofy kids at camp

More Memories Made

As closing day of this session creeps closer and closer, there is a noticeable buzz around camp as campers begin to check off everything they want to do before they go home. Craft projects are carefully completed, as each camper’s collection of creations grows bigger and bigger. The art studios are buzzing with laughter and camaraderie as masterpieces are meticulously completed. Through the process of creating and finishing craft projects, campers learn to embrace their uniqueness, overcome challenges, and celebrate their new-found talents.

the close summer camp friends

As the campers bid farewell to their beloved Rockbrook experience, they will carry with them not only the tangible craft projects they’ve lovingly created but also a newfound confidence in their creative abilities and the enduring memories of a summer filled with art, big exciting fun, and the best relax-in-your-lap friends.

On the more athletic side of things, camp-long goals such as Rockbrook Runners, Mermaid Laps, and The Bounce Club are wrapping up, with campers hurriedly spending as much free time as they can to achieve this. It’s a whirlwind of swimming, running, and bouncing tennis balls, with campers giving their all to achieve these epic milestones before the ultimate reward: a visit to Dolly’s, a legendary treat that’s worth every effort.

For our talented athletes, the anticipation builds as the team for the Camp Carolina tournament is announced. Girls with special talent in Archery, Riflery, and Tennis are picked by the counselors to create a select team to travel to Camp Carolina to take on the boys in a half-day long tournament. Girls who are picked excitedly receive an invitation, and start perfecting their skills in free times, practicing until the big day. 

With the end of the camp session, comes special traditions that the girls have looked forward to the whole session. The highly anticipated camp play, “Matilda,” is mere days away, and the cast is on a mission to dazzle the audience. With impressive dedication, they perfect dance routines, don fantastic costumes, and polish their acting chops, creating a theatrical marvel that defies the clock. It is truly remarkable that the camp play is always so amazing, considering that it is organized in just 3 and a half weeks!

In this flurry of activity and celebration, the bond among campers grows stronger. The friendships forged and memories made will forever hold a special place in their hearts. As they begin to prepare to bid farewell to Rockbrook, they carry not just the tangible tokens of their creative brilliance but a newfound belief in their abilities and the indelible mark of a summer filled with joy, growth, and unforgettable experiences.

girls outdoor summer camp dacning

Kayaking Katie Pocklington

Rockbrook has a wonderful community of talented staff who make camp a fun, exciting adventure! This summer, Rockbrook is proud to introduce one of our new international staff, Katie Pocklington, affectionately known around here as “Kayaking Katie”! 

whitewater kayaking racer Katie Pocklington

Katie is a member of our Adventure Staff and a kayaking instructor. She has been kayaking for over 6 years and competing for Team Great Britain Wild Water Kayaking Team for the last 3 years.

Katie came to us later on this summer. Why you might ask? Because this amazing Rockbrook Girl was competing at the European and World Wildwater Championships!

Katie said this about her experience:

“The European Championships were held in North Macedonia and involved a pretty complex river. The World Championships were held in Germany on the Munich 1972 Olympic course. The water was pretty challenging but it was amazing to compete on the world stage.” 

Our Katie proudly left the World Wildwater Championship coming in 21st in the world! This Wildwater kayaking competition involved both a sprint down a whitewater course and a longer “Classic” which is a 2-4 mile race.

Katie is so excited to work this summer at Rockbrook Camp with all the amazing counselors, staff and campers and to ensure the best kayaking experience for our campers!

kayaking instructor Katie

Full on Summer

Instead of following our regular afternoon schedule of activity periods, the girls stayed together in their cabin groups and enjoyed different special events planned by their counselors. This is an afternoon we call “Cabin Day.” It’s a long tradition at Rockbrook and is a nice change of pace that allows cabin groups to bond a bit more while doing something unusual. The variety of activities today was impressive, many tailored for the personalities and ages of the groups.

summer camp creek playing

The entire upper line of cabins held a “Block Party.” These Middlers, 5th and 6th graders, were first given a scavenger hunt task that sent them into the upper line cabins looking for a dozen different hidden items. One was to find the name of a camper written inside from 1943! They played music on the line, did face painting and hair braiding while enjoying popsicles too. One funny game was to use their feet to find a squirt gun in a pool of squishy beads, and once found use it to squirt the other players. Pretty silly, but also hilarious fun.

The weather this afternoon was full on summer— bright, almost blinding, sunshine, a little humidity and temperatures around 86 degrees. This led several groups to find one of the many water spots at camp to hang out and cool off. A group of Juniors played in one end of the creek near Curosity, racing small boats they made from Rhododendron leaves and other found bits and pieces. At the other end of the creek, a cabin of Seniors did facial treatments and fairy hair, hanging out, reading with their feet in the cool running water.

Of course a couple of groups headed to the lake to play there, doing tricks off the diving board, and goofing around on the floats and tubes. Another cabin of Juniors hiked to Rockbrook falls, one of the waterfalls on the camp property, to wade in the pool below. Nearby, a cabin took a dip in “the Cove,” a secret forest swimming spot, also on the camp property. It’s a magical place where a creek forms a deep, sandy-bottomed pool after splashing down a small waterfall. With a large rock face on one side and lush forest on the other, it’s a really unique place to take a dip.

A cabin group of Senior girls decided to spend their time sunbathing on the hill after making snow-cones. Still another group headed down to the lower pottery building to draw and paint self portraits, while yet another group had a fairy tea party on the dining hall porch, complete with tea, cookies, fairy hair and beaded bracelet making. Down on the land sports field, two cabins had a wild “color battle” using paint bombs and squirt guns of (washable!) tempura paint.

camp girls at sliding rock nc

A few cabins of Juniors took their trip to the Pucker Up Berry farm and later to Dolly’s for ice cream. The beautiful weather made playing with the rabbits and chickens at the farm, exploring its many plants, and assembling cut flower arrangements even more enjoyable.

The big outing happened in the evening when we took all of the second mini session Middlers and Seniors, 90 people in all, to Sliding Rock. This experience of accelerating down a natural waterside and splashing into the pool below never fails to thrill the girls. Since we go in the late evening, the fading light adds to the excitement of the crowd cheering each pair of girls as they sat in the brisk 55-degree water. When we were done sliding and driving our convoy of buses out of the forest, we stopped at Dolly’s for our favorite ice cream treat. Dolly’s ice cream is so good, we take every camper there at least once. It’s become a fixture of everyone’s camp experience that they look forward to each summer. You should definitely plan to stop by on closing day after picking up your daughter. You’ll love it too!

summer camp charming friends

A Splendid Start

It’s hard not to notice the weather when you essentially live outside like we do at camp. We’re cool in the mornings and hot in the early afternoons, at least until a late afternoon thunderstorm cools everything down again. Today, this pattern matched perfectly with our low of 63 and high of 81 degrees, and a brief shower at 7pm. There’s no need to control the climate or condition the air here. Instead we are immersed in whatever the weather brings, up close to the early morning fog, warming in the sun all day, running through the rain, and filling our lungs with the cool nighttime smells of the forest. There’s plenty of shade at Rockbrook too, from the mature trees all around, to the covered arena at the riding center. Even when other areas are baking in the summer heat, we ordinarily have ideal weather for camp.

Today was no exception, as we launched into a new rotation of camp activities. All of the girls scurried off to their activity areas to begin exploring a new craft, sport or adventure activity. The riding center hosted 5 different lesson groups simultaneously. Boots and saddles were moving! Out in the woods behind the gym, other groups of girls were snapping on different helmets to go climbing on our Alpine Tower. This 50-foot challenge course tower has dozens of routes to the top, each with a different climbing puzzle to solve. The girls were shooting archery, and taking aim down at the riflery range. They were hitting tennis balls on the courts, and cutting wood in the woodshop. Both pottery studios kept girls busy with clay, the Curosty weaving cabin with yarns, and the Hobby Nook cabin with paints and brushes. High above, girls zoomed by on the zipline course screaming with delight.

A day at camp is like that. Groups of girls are doing things together, counselors and instructors by their side, everyone chatting and enjoying each other’s company. They’re active! They’re concentrating and paying attention to new things. They’re challenging themselves physically. They’re exploring their own creativity. They’re outside! They’re smiling and laughing! They’re sharing experiences and building friendships. Taken together, it’s astonishing how much goes on.

Several trips left camp today as well. There was a day hike to a waterfall in the Pisgah Forest where the girls could splash around in the pool below. A group of kayakers ran a section of the French Broad River, and another group hiked to a high-altitude fire tower to catch the amazing view of the Blue Ridge Mountains up there. This week there will be a backpacking trip, whitewater rafting trips, and canoeing overnight trip, and a rock climbing trip as well. There’s adventure in the mix too!

Sunny Days like this also inspire more girls to take advantage of the lake during their free times before lunch and dinner. We open the lake for these “free swim” periods, and while there’s always a few girls who “love the lake,” nice weather bring more of a crowd. The water slide, which is also open during free swim times, is a wild thrill that for some becomes a habit. “I have to ride the slide everyday!” one camper claimed. The new lakeside dock has become a popular sunny hang out spot, just as the many floating tubes are ways to catch some rays at the lake. Some girls will be swimming “Mermaid Laps” (swim enough and win a trip to Dolly’s!), while others do tricks off the diving board. The lake is a social place offering just the right balance of relaxation and active fun.

With this wonderful day at camp, we’re off to a splendid start of the week. The girls are finding their way, learning and growing with each step, all while having a great time together.

summer camp dance girl class