Delightfully Familiar

It’s been a very special time at camp the last couple of days, that time between our July Mini sessions when just the full Second session girls are here at camp. After the first July mini session finishes, we go from about 210 campers to 130, turning Rockbrook into a smaller camp filled with well-adjusted camp girls. These are girls who are fully settled into the routines of camp, now comfortable with each other, and able to feel more at home rather than just “on vacation.”

water slide peace sign kid

That’s one of the benefits of coming to camp for a longer session. Camp life begins to mean more and matter more. With extra days at camp, these girls have more time to deepen their friendships, strengthen their relationships with the camp staff, develop more advanced activity skills, and begin to absorb some of the more nuanced qualities of the Rockbrook culture. Better habits can begin to form too— for example, being quicker and more cheerfully willing to help with chores, smiling and saying “hello” to everyone, even getting better sleep after our full, active, screen-free days. Some of the things about camp that are different from home, and maybe strange at first— like living this close to the weather, using a flashlight every night, walking up and down the hills, and the temperature of the lake —now become delightfully familiar.

I noticed an example of this familiarity today talking with a couple of 5th graders after lunch. They had hung back to get a drink of water before rest hour, and I bumped into them outside. I said hello, and soon we were having a 10-minute conversation about lunch (They loved the taquitos and guacamole.), their activities (They had swimming next. “That’s good,” they reassured me), and their favorite muffin flavor (Funfetti). I learned that one has a brother who goes to High Rocks, and the other is an only child. For both of them, this was their first summer at camp. They were here for 4 weeks, and they were doing great.

child pulling back archery bow

I was struck by how easy going this conversation was, how happily chatty these girls were with me, how relaxed they were talking with an adult. Outside of camp, I find these encounters more rare. On many occasions, I’ve met kids who are instantly uncomfortable talking with adults, who don’t ask questions or offer their perspective into things. Even when prompted with “what do you think?” they can barely squeak out “I don’t know.” I always find that so strange compared to the girls I know at Rockbrook.

At camp, friendly conversation is the currency of our day. It’s a powerful force always humming in the background if it’s not the focus of our attention. It’s the most natural thing in the world for camp girls… a genuine interest in those around them, and a desire to connect with them, and when at camp, to play with them. Camp girls know that everything is better when it’s done with others. With the right attitude, you can have fun with anyone. So, it’s almost an instinct to seek out new friends. This desire and ability to connect with other people is sort of a camp girl super power, and it’s one that I think will serve them very well later in life.

girls racing through carnival course

We held a special circus-themed carnival this evening on our landsports field. Scattered about the field there were activities and games for the girls: two large inflatables (One was a waterslide.), giant ring toss, pingpong ball tossing into a jars, water gun shooting pingpong balls, bean bag tossing (plenty of tossing!), face painting, hula hooping, and juggling. Two counselors drew caricatures of the campers. Throughout the event we ate snow cones, and played familiar pop songs, making the event a fun outdoor dance party as the girls zoomed from one activity to the other, pausing briefly to pose for photos. It was a lighthearted and silly evening for everyone. There’s an album of photos in the online gallery where you can see much more.

two teen girls wearing clown noses

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  1. Rika Toll
    5 months ago

    This post connected to me as a parent. I got a letter from my daughter this week and she wrote “everyone has a story” in reference to how great her new friends were. This really struck me. At 13 years old she is learning the value and wonder of each individual around her. Magic.