The NC Legislature just passed a bill, and the Governor has signed it, establishing a commission to study the current length of the school year in North Carolina. For the last couple of years, there has been a broad debate about how much classroom learning our children should have. On one side there are those that call for more time in school, more minutes in class per day and more days per year, because it’s believed academic achievement is proportional to the amount of time in school and it’s been observed that children lose some of their academic progress over the summer when they aren’t studying. On the other side, there are those that value the traditional summer break from school (June through August) and understand it as an opportunity to learn equally important non-academic skills, so-called “life skills” or “personal skills.” These are things like being creative and independent, being friendly and outgoing, being resilient and determined, and so forth.
It’s easy to guess what side summer camps come down on. We cherish the summer months because they provide time for camp, naturally, but what’s important about that is all the important “whole child” learning camp provides even as our kids are having a great time. Check out these two articles we’ve already written on this issue: Longer School Year and Amy Chua and Camp.
There’s plenty to say about this, and I’m sure there will be even more debate as time goes on, but it’s worth remembering the real growth children experience at summer camp. When your Rockbrook girls return home, you’ll see it. They’ll be more excited about things, more likely to “dive right in,” and be quick to smile and laugh at the most common moments. They’ll probably seem just a little taller, in several different ways. A camp experience provides so many benefits that are difficult to reproduce at home and at school, it can make a profound difference in a girl’s overall education, and that’s something really worth preserving.
Today, as part of our cabin day events, we took all of the mini session Middlers and Seniors to Sliding Rock. The Seniors took a morning trip and the Middlers an evening trip. With snacks packed (and a complete dinner for the Middlers— Rick’s chicken potato casserole, coleslaw, bacon, and nectarines— an amazing, delicious combination), we loaded all the buses for each trip into Pisgah. On both trips we went “after hours” so we could have the rock to ourselves and the girls could slide as many times as they wanted. The record I heard was 11 times. That’s a lot of slippin’ and slidin’! As the girls sit down at the top of the rock and they feel the cold water hit them in the back, it can be bit of a shock, the kind that brings out plenty of wide-mouthed screams. But as they begin sliding, pick up speed and get closer to the final plunge, just about everyone either has her hands in the air, is holding her nose, or is screaming her head off! Sometimes all three!
Topping off these trips, we just had to stop at Dolly’s so everyone could pick out a cup or cone of their favorite flavor of ice cream. Dolly’s is a wonderful ice cream stand located at the entrance to the Pisgah Forest that offers more than 50 different flavors, one of which is named after Rockbrook (there are 20 other camp flavors too), “Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion.” Yes, it’s an all-chocolate flavor with fudge, brownies and chocolate chips mixed in, but also mini-peanut butter cups to “lighten it up.” A little over the top, but yummy.
We are all having a great time… a getting a lot out of it!