The girls at Rockbrook select their regular daily activities after they arrive at camp. Twice a week they are presented with options that rotate through the different age groups, sharing the arts, adventure, and sports activities. From these options they select 4 activities to try for the 3 days, before selecting a new set. Of course there are more options than there is time to try them all, so selecting can sometimes be tough. Choosing any four means not selecting all those others.
There are two exceptions to this: horseback riding and ziplining. Girls sign up for horseback riding by discussing their interest and experience with our Riding Directors Kelsi and Brittany on opening day. And once assigned to a regular lesson, a girl can keep that lesson time all session long. So for example, she might ride during first period 5 days a week, or just a couple of days a week, depending on interest. For some girls, riding is so central to their daily schedule, they get a lot of exercise walking up and down and through the tunnel to the riding center.
Ziplining is different too because we know that almost every girl wants to take a ride through the course. For this reason we schedule every cabin a time slot during their session. It’s not required that girls zipline, but this way we can make sure everyone gets a chance.
Between these activity periods are blocks of free time, three in particular: right before lunch (1st “free swim”), before dinner (2nd “free swim”) and immediately after dinner (“twilight”). Heading to the lake during the free swim times is a great way to cool off in the middle of the day, especially if you’ve been doing something active in the morning like climbing, horseback riding, or tennis. It’s when the waterslide is open as well, making free swim times even more inviting.
The two different tetherball courts at camp are almost always in motion. It only takes a couple of minutes to play a quick game, or to just hit a bit, and just two people are needed to play. When there’s more than two, the girls take turns challenging the winner of each match.
Gagaball is more fun with a larger group of kids. It’s a version of dodgeball where everyone is inside an octagonal court. A single ball bounces around, being hit, not caught, by the players. The goal is to avoid letting the ball hit you. If it does, you’re out and the remaining players continue to play. The last person still in wins.
A new ball game available for the girls during their free time is called “9 square in the air.” This is a game that also takes a large group of kids. The game happens under a structure making a grid of 9 squares (about 3×3) above your head. Each person stands under a square. Like volleyball, you play by hitting a large ball out of your square and into another’s square. If a person misses, hits twice, or doesn’t hit the ball into another square they are out and a new person rotates in. It’s a fun group game.
Campers can also spend their free time down in the gym playing basketball. Another option is meeting a friend at the tennis courts to hit for a while.
The after dinner “twilight” period is a wonderful golden hour time when many campers like to hang out and play on the hill. Some bring out their crazy creek chairs to sit and read, work on friendship bracelets tied to their water bottles, or just talk while watching the sun slowly set in the distant mountains. Playing in the creek by Curosty is a popular option too. That might mean building a dam of sorts from small rocks and mud, or racing flip flops down the length of the creek.
During these free time periods, you’ll always find girls sitting in the many red rocking chairs found on all the porches around camp as well. Clustered in groups of two or three, they are comfortable place to hang out and chat with friends.
And finally, these blocks of free time are the perfect opportunity to grab a quick shower. You can count on the tankless water heaters getting a work out before each meal and after dinner at camp.
Having this amount of free time built into our daily camp schedule is intentional. We know kids are often highly scheduled at home, zipping from school to sports, music lessons and the like, and so making sure there’s time at camp to do what they want, even if it’s just hanging out, is a very good thing. It’s another way we give girls a chance to make decisions for themselves. They get to decide, not someone else, how to spend their free time.
Giving kids control over how they spend their time, in a place where electronic entertainment is absent, helps teach them that the world is marvelous on its own. There are interesting people to play with and talk too. There are wonderful things to see and activities to try. There’s always something new to experience if you just pay attention and engage. Most likely different from home, camp free time is rich.