Your Child’s Time Away

Girls Tennis Camp shot

An article published in The Atlantic and written by Jessica Lahey caught my eye, and I wanted to pass it along because it speaks about how parents often feel when they send their children away to an overnight summer camp like Rockbrook. The article is entitled “A Summer Camp Lesson: Good-bye, and Go Away, Thank You Very Much” and argues that children benefit from time away from their parents because, as Michael Thompson author of Homesick and Happy claims, there are critical “developmental milestones” children must achieve on their own, separate from their parents. I found it a nice affirmation of our mission at Rockbrook. Through our camp program activities, trips, and special events, enlivened by our camp culture that emphasizes caring and kindness, and as modeled by so many admirable, friendly staff members, camp is a place of wonder, excitement and adventure for our girls. It’s a welcome haven ideally suited to foster the kind of growth we parents simply can’t provide our children… how to be happy despite setbacks (resilience), how to make friends (social confidence), how to feel good about our true self (high self esteem), and how simply to be more independent. It might be hard to admit, but it’s really good for our children to be challenged on their own, and camp is the perfect place to do it.

Camp Water Slide girl

The sheer fun of camp life and the encouragement quick to bubble up around here, make facing these parent-free challenging moments much easier too. For example, it can be pretty intimidating the first time you climb the tower and stare down from the top of our 50-ft water slide, “Big Samantha.” It looks like a long way down from up there, and the slippery ride is fast enough, and the splash at the bottom big enough to create some hesitation. Fortunately, the slide is described as “super fun” around camp, and for those a little nervous, it’s reassuring to see plenty of other girls racing back around the lake excited to do it again. Conquering that hesitation, and others like it, feeling the exhilaration of just doing it, can be a powerful boost to a child’s confidence… Even after camp.

Camper with bumble weaving loom

Here’s something fun. That flower-shaped item she’s holding is something called a “Bumble Loom,” and it’s used to weave cool thread bracelets and necklaces.  It’s just a flat piece of smooth wood with a hole in the middle and notches cut around the outside. The basic pattern uses 7 strands of thread (embroidery floss), all first pulled through the center hole, tied, but then divided so there’s one thread per notch. The girls then repeat a pattern of crossing one thread over to a different notch, twisting fibers and weaving as they go. The result is a colorful rope-like braid that can be tied and fastened to a lucky friend’s wrist, or perhaps given to someone special at home.

The Hi-Ups (our oldest campers: 10th graders) took a waterfall hike this morning to both Moore Cove and Looking Glass Falls in the Pisgah Forest. We’ve been having our typical afternoon scattered showers recently, and with that rain, the creeks are full, making all of the waterfalls around here more dramatic. The girls were particularly impressed by the sparkle of the sun as it caught individual drops of water gently falling at Moore Cove. Photo opportunity? You bet. Delightful forest experience? Absolutely.

Hi-Up campers at Looking Glass Falls


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  1. Avatar for Marjorie Carter
    Marjorie Carter
    11 years ago

    Jeff, Thanks so much for this post. Our daughter, Clare, has sprained her ankle at camp. When I heard from the nurse about this, I was worried that she would be homesick and not having as much fun. She went to the doctor today, and when the doctor called me to tell me that it was a sprain and not a fracture, he let me talk to Clare. Clare’s main message to me was that she didn’t want me to worry and that she was fine. It was clear that she was proud of herself that she was handling this situation without me and her Dad. Wow! Clare is a determined girl, for sure, but Rockbrook and her experience away from home is making her even stronger. Thanks for all that you do!

  2. Avatar for Joni Saxon-Giusti
    Joni Saxon-Giusti
    11 years ago

    Thank you, Jeff, for the reminder about how much the girls are growing while at Rockbrook; although even as a “first-timer” mom I can clearly see from my daughter Isabella’s pictures that she is having the time of her life and is growing so much in confidence! Thanks also for the Atlantic article rec. For fun, don’t miss the latest Shouts & Murmurs article by Jesse Eisenberg in the July 1 issue of The New Yorker, entitled “Separation-Anxiety Sleepaway Camp”. It is a hilarious spoof on what so many of us “first-timer” moms at times feel about sending our precious girls away!