If you surveyed the 214 acres of land that make up Rockbrook, it would become clear why it is so aptly named. You’d see two large brooks (Dunn’s Creek and Rockbrook Creek) and two very large rock faces (Dunn’s Rock and Castle Rock). Here’s our camp map showing these features, and a cool aerial view that provides a sense of how the core part of Rockbrook is tucked in the valley between Dunn’s Rock and Castle Rock with creeks and streams carving crooked lines and channels downhill.
These rocks high above camp have, over millennia, left many huge boulders scattered below. All over camp, there are examples, with some as large as houses, and many providing interesting features for camp life. There literally are rocks everywhere- prominent, named boulders like “Hiker’s Rock” and “Crack Rock,” rock steps, stone buildings, and surprising outcroppings in the forest. Just walking around Rockbrook means a lot of climbing and balancing.
This setting has proven ideal for engineering a new adventure activity this summer: a 450-foot-long zip line. While most zip lines are built in trees or require the construction of a tall artificial tower of some kind, the steep terrain and rock outcroppings at Rockbrook provide a superior solution. We found the perfect rock up in the woods behind the dining hall that serves as the launching pad for a zip line. Accessing it however would have been difficult (there’s a steep gully to cross), so we built a fun swinging bridge from yet another boulder over to the launching rock. The girls gear up with helmets and a special dual-wheeled pulley tethered by a strong rope to their climbing harness, and then hike up the trail a short distance to step out on the swinging bridge. Suspended high above the gully, the bridge requires the girls to step carefully because we intentionally build gaps into the walking planks… more fun that way! The zip line itself is a heart-pumping ride all the way across the camp to a sloping platform where the rider comes to a gentle stop and a staff member can assist her unclipping. Every girl in camp, even the littlest juniors, will have a chance to experience the thrilling rush of the zip line this session.
Another thrill popular with the girls this session is something we built last year, our 150-foot water slide, affectionately known as “Big Samantha” (it was unofficially named by a cabin of girls last summer). You can see from this photo that riders careen down a wet vinyl tarp material draped over two parallel cables, and fly out the end into the lake. Holding your nose is almost a necessity because you splash into the water surprisingly fast. Then it’s a short swim over to the exit ladders and back around the dock on the far end of the lake for another ride. Here too, every girl who passes her swim demonstration can enjoy riding the water slide twice a day.
For their afternoon “Cabin Day” activities, cabin groups of Juniors and Middlers scattered around the camp creating collage projects, arranging cut flowers from the garden, creating elaborate “spa” treatments, making treats in the dining hall, taking hikes, and playing in the creek. Meanwhile, the entire Senior Line loaded into 5 buses for a trip into the Pisgah National Forest where we enjoyed a picnic dinner at one of our favorite secret spots. We ate, played a few group games (“Birdie on a Perch” and “Ride that Pony” for example), but didn’t dawdle because we next stopped at Sliding Rock for yet another mountain thrill. Sliding Rock is a 60-foot, all natural water slide formed by Looking Glass creek as it flows over a smooth rock and tumbles into a deep pool. It’s great fun, but it also takes some courage to bear the cold water. As the girls warily cross out into the water at the top, with the first chilly droplets spraying their legs, it’s a startling moment when they sit down and their backs are doused. There’s then a sudden urgency to get moving, and with the current propelling them forward, out comes the screams and up go their hands in the air. The biggest surprise, though, is the final thrilling plunge, going under and thinking, “Oh my gosh, this water is freezing!!”
The last stop for the evening was our favorite ice cream stand located at the entrance to the Forest, Dolly’s Dairy Bar. This is a chance for all the girls and their counselors to have a cup or cone of their favorite flavor, like the always popular “Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion.” You might think that eating ice cream after swimming in cold (“refreshing”) mountain water would be a far fetched idea, but with it being this yummy, and this much fun with all your friends around, it’s double scoop good!