When people think of summer 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.
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.
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!