If you ask a Rockbrook girl, during muffin break for example, what she’s done this morning you get excited answers like, “I rode a horse,” “I shot a gun,” “I made a bracelet,” or “I jumped in the lake.” With more than 25 different activities going on simultaneously, there are a lot of possible responses, but one you hear a lot is, “I climbed a real rock!” That’s because we do a lot of rock climbing here at Rockbrook. After introducing the girls to climbing- to the equipment, basic techniques and safety principles- on our 50-foot Alpine Climbing Tower, we then offer almost daily trips to the big rock above camp called Castle Rock. There’s a great view of it looking up from the Hillside Lodge porch, and likewise a breathtaking view of the French Broad river valley looking down from on top. And when you see it, it might be a little hard to believe these Rockbrook girls climb such a huge natural feature, but they do! Take a look at this post about Castle Rock to get a sense of that. Yes, it is tall, and yes the girls are way up there, but there are extremely safe as well. The girls are always held up by a strong (6,000 lbs!) PMI Kernmantle rope, are securely fastened with a Yates Alpine harness, and protected by a Petzel rock climbing helmet. This is all professional-grade gear, and combined with our well-trained and experienced climbing staff, your girls are kept safe allowing them to simply enjoy their climbing.
Meanwhile at the lake, our Head paddling instructor Mallory has been helping the girls with kayaking. She’s been preparing them for upcoming whitewater river trips by teaching them about balancing in the boats, paddle strokes, and what to do when you flip over. Part of this is learning to “wet exit,” to remove the kayak skirt and slide out of the boat, even when upside down! It is the first self rescue technique to learn before practicing how to roll a kayak back over, right side up. Several campers are really taking to kayaking and looking forward to getting out on moving water.
This morning I took the Hi-Up campers (16-year-old 10th graders) on a day hike into Dupont State Forest. This forest is the site of several large, well-known waterfalls and offers a maze of trails popular with hikers and mountain bikers. It also was used to film several scenes from the recent movie, The Hunger Games. If you haven’t seen it, or read the books by Suzanne Collins, it tells the story of a 16-year-old girl who is forced to fight for her life against other teenagers in a cruel “game” designed and televised to entertain an audience. This heroine, named Katniss Everdeen, uses her ingenuity, kindness, a little luck, and her archery skills to succeed in the end. One scene in the movie occurs at the base of Triple Falls, so what better place to pose for a photo with a bow and arrow? So that’s what we did… scrambled up the rocks, bow and arrow in hand, to feel the spray of the 100-foot waterfall. A little “Hunger Games Hike” for our own 16-year-olds, and now with photos to prove it. All good fun.