“Who wants to go rafting?” That’s the question we asked all the Middlers and Seniors, and with little surprise, we had almost 90% of them sign up to go on a trip to the Nantahala this week. There were two options, a day-long trip that would leave camp after breakfast to return before dinner or an overnight-trip that would spend the night over at Rockbrook’s outpost camp near the river. Both are big adventures, with the overnight being even more so. The outpost is very remote (It adjoins the national forest and is not far from the Appalachian trail)— no cars, people or city lights for many, many miles. It’s a real treat to spend time out there sitting around the campfire, gazing at the stars, listening to the whippoorwills, enjoying the cool night air, and enjoying the social energy of being together. Monday night we had over 30 people out there, and while we made s’mores, I think we sang the entire Rockbrook songbook around the campfire!
And the rafting! Wow, it feels good these days. We too, like most of the southeast, have been experiencing some hot weather (For us that means highs just above 90 and lows just below 70), and this makes whitewater rafting all the more enjoyable. Each raft for these trips is guided by one of our seasoned guides, and is “powered” by 5 or 6 campers decked out in helmets and lifejackets ready to paddle. The 2-hour trip down the river is exciting right from the beginning with the first large rapid, “Patton’s Run,” around the first bend. Every rapid means a boat of happily screaming campers, the raft bouncing up and down, and plenty of splashing cold water to keep everyone cool. Between rapids, there’s time to trade places in the boats, maybe play a name game or sing a song, and even jump in the water for a super quick swim. And, you just never know when a splash war will break out between rafts. After successfully navigating a tricky rapid, often a boat will do a “high five” with the paddles proudly in the air. Sometimes campers will take a break from paddling and ride on the front of the boat as the “hood ornament,” something guaranteed to get you some serious splashing. It’s no wonder those two hours go by like 30 minutes!
Back at camp, the place was buzzing with activity, girls doing what they love and in lots of places, trying something new. At the very least, they may have tied a friendship bracelet before, for example, but not in such a beautiful place (like on the porch of the hillside lodge) or with so many friendly, supportive, nice people. Weaving a basket is fun, but so much more fun with your feet in the creek and good friends along side giggling in conversation.
Speaking of the creek, that short, open stretch of running water by Curosty, it has been a favorite hangout these days during free time. One thing the juniors like to do is have flip-flop races. Each girl takes off a shoe, drops it in the water simultaneously and then watches as they float down the stream. Of course, it’s important to catch them at the other end because that water ends up in the lake. If you miss your shoe, you’ll need a canoe to get it back!
Tonight’s evening program was a western themed, all-camp auction, a special event where our very own auctioneer, Jerry, “sells” surprise items to the cabin groups. Each cabin has $1000 of RBC bucks to bid, but what makes it exciting is that they don’t know what they are bidding on. Last night it might have been a yummy snack like chips and salsa, or it could have been something like serving your counselor breakfast in bed. Other prizes included glow sticks, sun glasses and tooth brushes! Some cabins were very careful with their money, waiting for the bid prices to begin lower before jumping in, while other cabin groups bid as high as they could, spending all of their money on a single item (of unknown value!). It’s easy to imagine the girls’ excitement when they win the bid and the prize turns out to be something great… hands-in-the-air-screams. Usually, each cabin can win two different items, and generally at least one is a snack of some kind. Either way it was loads of fun to dress up in out western garb, hear Jerry’s auctioneering, and enjoy the surprises unveiled to every winning bid.