The Rockbrook Water Wheel Song

Rockbrook Water Wheel
Rockbrook Water Wheel, 1923

Did you know that in the 1920’s the power for most of Rockbrook was created by a water wheel?  In 1923, a water wheel was installed just below the lake and dam to run the electricity for the camp.  The water wheel came from the Federal Distillery right across the road from camp. The Distillery building is one of three in Transylvania county, and currently the only one still standing. The distillery is believed to have operated from the mid-nineteenth century until Prohibition when the wheel was removed and relocated across Hwy 276.  The water wheel was such an important feature of camp there was even a song written about it!  Check out the sheet music that we found in honor of Rockbrook’s Water Wheel.

The Heart of Rockbrook

The 2011 Carrier Pigeon, our annual summer yearbook, is at the printer right now in preparation for sending out over the holiday.  It is filled with so many wonderful stories and memories of the past summer. There are so many highlights, we thought we would share a few with you!  The fun, friends and feeling of Rockbrook never changes, whether it is 1921 or 2011!

Splashing and laughing
in the rocky creek,
with our tangled hair
and our soaking wet feet;
In the dining hall
we all loudly sing,
then at rest hour flop down
and don’t say a thing.

Cabinmates are like sisters,
and friends ever better,
everyone’s hoping
to receive a letter.
Walking along
a quiet forest trail
or running a brush
through a horse’s soft tail.
In hilarious evening skits
every girl has a part,
In this beautiful wooded mountain,
you can tell why we’re called the heart.
       —Miriam E.

Old Camp Photo

Swimming, Diving, I’ve Been Striving

Swim Lessons at Rockbrook Camp, 1920's
Swim Class at Rockbrook, 1930’s

Since 1921, Rockbrook has offered swimming lessons to campers of all skill levels using the Red Cross swimming system.  In those early years swimming was required each day for every girl. After an 8 week session ( there was only one session of camp back then) you would be a fantastic swimmer! Rockbrook also taught Lifeguarding classes to the older campers to help prepare them as they developed into counselors themselves.  One famous Rockbrook swim teacher was Helen Chiere, who taught swimming for over 25 summers.  She taught generations of Rockbrook girls how to swim and was famous for her style of instruction which included sayings like “scrape the jelly off the belly” for learning the backstroke, or “pick an apple and put it in the basket” for learning the side stroke.  Her humor and warmth helped all the junior campers have a great experience at the lake.

The camp lake is still the center of daily life at Rockbrook!  Between swim classes, free swim, canoeing, kayaking and trips down the water slide it is always abuzz with activity.  Most of the campers these days already know how to swim, but lessons and fun are still at the center of it all at the lake.  And as the camp song says: “Swimming, diving, I’ve been striving, striving hard to pass my test, and before the summers over, I’ll be swimming with the best.  Jump on the spring board, dive in, SPLASH!”

The Summer Camp Dance

Vintage Camp dance NC
Rockbrook and Camp Carolina Square Dance, 1950’s

Who does not remember the excitement and nerves that came with your first summer camp dance?  Multiple generations of Rockbrook Girls have participated in this summer ritual.  The dances originally were held in our Dining Hall (see photo above) but are currently held in our Gymnasium.  They are usually held once or twice a session, the dates of which are a highly guarded secret.  The Hi- Up campers get to announce the dance to the camp and the reaction is quite  loud and boisterous.  It is a very light and fun experience with everyone dancing together, laughing and being silly.  For those who are not interested in participating we also offer a separate activity that is equally fun!  Feel free to share with us any camp dance stories that you have- we would love to hear them!

Basket Weaving at Rockbrook

Basket Weaving at Rockbrook Camp
Campers gather at the creek to work on baskets circa 1970

One of the traditional mountain crafts that is still taught at Rockbrook today is basketweaving.  Curosty, our weaving and basketry center, has been the home of this mountain activity since Rockbrook’s founding in 1921.  With its location right next to the creek, it is the ideal sight to learn this ancient art.  Campers soak their reeds (dried grass) in the creek for several hours until the reed is soft and pliable.  Then they are able to weave them together to make baskets of all shapes and sizes.  For the younger campers we provide a weaving base which helps them to arrange their reeds in the proper order.  It is quite a special moment when all of your weaving efforts pay off and you have a functional art piece, handmade at Rockbrook!

woven basket from summer camp
The finished product!

The Brevard Music Festival

Brevard Music Festival program

We came across an interesting document the other day while doing some research for the Rockbrook archives that features Nancy Carrier, Rockbrook’s founder.  We have mentioned in a previous blog post that Nancy Carrier was instrumental in the creation of The Brevard Music Center and served on it’s board of directors until her death in 1977.  Here is a copy of the Music Center’s very first summer series from 1946, featuring a great picture of Mrs. Carrier.

Nancy Carrier, Founder of Rockbrook was instrumental in the founding of The Brevard Music Center
Brevard Music Festival Officers

Rockbrook Road Trip 1930’s

We found some wonderful pictures of Nancy Carrier, Rockbrook’s founder, and her family on a road trip.  The photographs are dated from the 1930’s.  Nancy is pictured on the left in the first photograph and second from left in the middle photograph.   She is also pictured at right taking a photograph.  We can only imagine the adventures they had as they all piled into the car and hit the road.  Other pictures we found show the same group camping out on a mountain top with a gorgeous view, riding in the car, taking photographs and hiking.  It looks like quite an adventure!  Nancy Carrier’s adventurous spirit continues today at Rockbrook!

If you haven’t seen this video about the history of Rockbrook Camp, it’s a “must see!”

Nancy Carrier and friends prepare for a road trip
Nancy and friend camping
Nancy Carrier, at right, enjoys a road trip with friends

Generations of Rockbrook Women

During the recent Rockbrook reunion there were several sets of Mothers and Daughters in attendance.  It was such a special experience for Moms and Daughters to finally get to be campers together, sharing bunk beds, singing camp songs and dining around the green tables in the dining hall.

During the activity portion of the reunion there were lots of Mother and Daughter sets spotted sliding into the lake on the water slide, hiking together, playing tennis or making crafts.  Overall though, the favorite experience for everyone was just sharing time with their loved ones in such a special place.  Sharing the gift of Rockbrook with your daughter is definitely the gift that lasts a lifetime.

Camp Friends are Forever Friends

Morgan and Linda
Morgan and Linda

The years drifted away during the recent Rockbrook Reunion weekend as old friends reconnected in the heart of a wooded mountain.  For some women it was their first trip back to Rockbrook in more than 40 years but it did not take a moment to find a friend and jump right back to where they left off. The joy on everyone’s faces as they saw their old friends was magical!

Phyllis and Sparky
Phyllis and Sparky
Kelly and Jennie
Kelly and Jennie

We will post more stories and memories from the reunion soon.  It was a spectacular weekend filled with fun!

Nancy Carrier’s Family Legacy

Walk in the Woods
Caroline, Emily and Hannah -Nancy Carriers Great- Great Granddaughters with their Aunt Helen and Grandfather Gus

Each summer we are always thrilled to have campers in attendance whose family members are also former campers.  This year we were especially excited as we had three campers during our Third Session who are the great-great granddaughters of Nancy Carrier, Rockbrook’s founder!  It was so great seeing their enthusiasm about camp and knowing how proud their great great grandmother would be to see them as campers!

The Spirit of Rockbrook is with you always!