Ceramics has always been a popular craft activity at Rockbrook, and this session is so far no exception. Poke your head in the “Upper Clay” studio, which is an open-air work space next to the dining hall, or the “Lower Clay” studio, which is a narrow stone building in the woods down along the path leading to the stables, and you’ll see lots of muddy hands. That’s because seated around the work tables, there are campers rolling clay into coils, pinching it into small cups, and flattening it into slabs. Joining these parts together, interesting sculptures are emerging. Perhaps most amazing is what the girls are doing on the electric pottery wheels. Katie and Will, our two lead ceramics teachers, have been teaching wheel-throwing techniques, giving the campers tips and individual instruction as they practice centering the clay and pulling it up into a bowl or cup, for example. Learning to throw a pot on the wheel is an advanced ceramics technique, but these girls are handling it easily. It will be great to see how their pieces turn out once they are glazed and fired.
The rifle range is another place in camp that sees constant action, with campers signing up and filling every class period it’s offered. Perhaps it’s the thrill of shooting the gun, hearing that distinctive “pop!” when you pull the trigger, and smelling the gunpowder, but I think the girls also like riflery for the satisfaction it provides after scoring on the target (“hitting the black”). It’s also an activity so different from what’s available at home, and something in which the girls can experience real improvement and success- even scoring a bullseye now and then. Later in the session we will be challenging Camp Carolina for Boys and hold a riflery tournament to see who has the best team of marksmen (or -women!). Cliff DeMeritt, who has joined our staff after retiring from being a law enforcement sharpshooting instructor, has been working with the girls to improve their technique, so we’re hoping to see a great showing at the tournament.
Tonight’s evening activity brought our friend Gary Greene back for a campfire and program of story telling, skits and songs for the Junior and Middler campers. With a crackling campfire set, Gary played his guitar and led the girls in several songs. One favorite was “Little Cabin in the Woods,” a funny song with hand motions that’s sung repeatedly (and fast) while words are dropped leaving just the song’s hand motions in the end. Gary had the girls singing, laughing and smiling in no time, yet also on the edge of their seats, wrapped into his telling of a Norwegian folktale. A few counselors also led a favorite camp song or two- “An Austrian Went Yodeling” with more hand motions -rounding out the evening. A classic camp night, and the girls enjoyed it thoroughly.
My one and only time at Rockbrook was for the 6-week session in 1966; I was one of only 4 Yankees at the camp: my sister and I and 1 other from New Jersey; 1 from Maine. I was a Junior, my sister and Loti Woods were Middlers (“we like to sing and hike / and pra-a-a-ctice a-a-a-rchery!”) and somewhere in the attic I believe (I hope! I last saw it in 2014…) I have the slim, cardinal-red covered book of camp songs. 4th Yankee, a Mainer, was a Senior, and competent horsewoman.
Faye was the riding teacher; my two counselors were Hayden Ridley from Atlanta (Sweet Briar College in VA, I think) and Kathy Hatfield.