Who are the COWs ?

Today in the Dining Hall there was lots of moo-ing sounds during announcements. Campers and counselors alike joined in on the noise-making in eager anticipation of the reveal of this week’s Counselors of the Week, or COWs for short. Each week we recognize two counselors from each age group who have contributed in big ways to the camp community.

camp girl learning potters wheel

All of our staff are incredibly invested when it comes to creating camp magic, and it is a lot of fun to celebrate some specific victories amongst our staff once a week. Especially if that celebration sounds like moo-ing.

Campers have a chance to nominate their counselor for a COW award throughout their time at camp. The nomination form asks campers to tell us why their counselor deserves to be a COW, and we tend to get some very thoughtful responses:

“She has a solution to every problem and is always super kind. She never fails to make us laugh.”

“She is attentive to our needs and she knows when to joke around and when to be serious. My counselor helps us resolve conflicts in the cabin.”

“My counselor’s upbeat personality and awesome dance moves keep us going. She makes camp a truly wonderful experience. She has the amazing ability to both hype us up and calm us down as needed.”

“My counselor is so patient and nice!”

“She is funny and cool and always helps you when you need it.”

“My counselor holds us to a high standard because she wants us to be the best versions of ourselves. She recognizes our uniqueness and never talks down to us. She reads to us every night and she takes good care of us when we need help. We love her so much!”

Camp adventure staff woman helping child

Being a counselor at Rockbrook is a big job. Between teaching activities, planning special events, and serving up enthusiasm all day every day, our staff also make space for important one-on-one conversations with campers and reading a chapter to their cabin at lights out each night. Our counselors teach campers how to tie a friendship for their uniform tie, and they also teach campers how to bounce back after hurt feelings or a scraped knee. Rockbrook counselors cheer campers on as they make their own beds, climb to the top of the alpine tower, try a new food in the dining hall, sing a solo in the camp play, make a new friend, speak up for themselves in a cabin discussion, and try an activity they didn’t think they’d like.

Summer Camp counselor women

The most important part of the counselor job is serving as an example of what it means to have Rockbrook Spirit. We want our staff to exude kindness and enthusiasm, grit and determination, friendliness and inclusion, because we hope our campers will embody those characteristics, too. Our counselors model the ways they want to see our community thrive, and campers are right there watching and learning along the way. We know those campers are watching because they tell us on their COW nominations just how much they are learning from their counselors every day. But more than that, we see the strong bonds that form between counselors and their campers, a true reflection of the investment our staff members are excited to make in the Rockbrook experience overall.

So moo with me, won’t you? We’ve got lots to celebrate when it comes to these fantastic Rockbrook counselors!

group of young campers at the garden with their teachers

Building Relationships

camp girl descending rope

When people think of a summer girls camp, odds are good they picture kids canoeing, climbing a ropes course, riding horses, making tie-dye T-shirts, and hiking through the woods. That certainly is a big part of how we spend our days here at Rockbrook, but even in the midst of all of those fun activities, a main focus is our relationships with each other. In everything we do we are looking for ways to build connections, strengthen communication, and model positive conflict resolution. Whether we are reminding kids to walk instead of run at the lake or helping a first time camper find her place at camp, our goal is to have each camper feel they are a valued part of the Rockbrook community.

Living in community doesn’t always come easy. It can be tricky to learn to share close quarters with people you haven’t lived with before, but the good thing about camp is that we get lots of time to practice. Our counselors strive not only to provide close one-on-one interaction with every camper, but also to help campers learn their role in a group as well. Everything from morning chores in the cabin to planning camp-wide events teaches campers how to express their feelings, ask for what they need, resolve conflicts, and share ideas.

good camp friendship

Cabin groups work together to prep their living space for cabin inspection every morning. Each camper has a cleaning job in the cabin, but each girl is also responsible for keeping her own belongings tidy as well. This early morning exercise in teamwork helps girls delegate and ask for help, important skills both at camp and in their out-of-camp lives. Counselors can help them navigate disagreements in this time, reminding them to keep their voices calm and convey their feelings clearly. Campers might think they are just tidying up their cabin, but our staff is watching for any opportunity to help girls communicate better and support each other fully.

Cabin day is another time where group dynamics are the star of the show. A cabin group may have to work together to build a fire in order to enjoy a special campfire treat. They’ll have to talk together about the process, discuss supplies needed, assign different roles to each member of the group, and work together to get to that sweet result. There’s nothing quite like the victory of a cobbler that you’ve cooked together over an outdoor fire.

camp girls hugging as friends

Because of our investment in relationship building and teamwork as the core part of camp life, we see ripples of these practices all around camp. Everyday, the quality of our relationships, the growing care and understanding we have for each other, makes a difference. When a camper is hesitant at the top of the water slide, you can be sure her cabin mates will be there cheering her on from the lake below. Divvying up supper clean up chores becomes smoother every day as girls take turns delegating and sharing jobs. And on the river in a whitewater raft, those communication skills really pay off as girls work together to ride the rapids.

So when you think of camp and all those fun activities come to mind, know that the work is much more than finding rhythm on a horse, weaving a basket, and or molding something beautiful out of clay. We’re also finding our rhythm as a group, weaving a beautiful community, and molding each camper into a caring, strong communicator. And having lots of fun while we do it!

camp girl riding a horse