Let me tell you about the “Cove.” That’s our name for a lovely little swimming hole located on the Rockbrook property, hidden deep in the woods about half a mile from the center of camp. It’s formed by Dunn’s Creek as it cascades down from the mountain above. This is a very rocky part of the forest which makes the stream form a long string of waterfalls and pools. One of these pools is the Cove. Hiking there first follows the spillway that carries water toward the Rockbrook lake as it winds gently through thick Rhododendron and past an amazing variety of trees. As you approach the Cove, you first hear the crashing of the waterfalls and begin to notice varieties of moss covering almost every exposed rock.
The Cove itself is beautiful. You first notice the 20-foot rock cliff on one side and the small waterfall dropping into an inviting pool of water beneath. The pool is only about 4 feet deep at its deepest point and has a nice barefoot-friendly sandy bottom. It feels like an opening to something special, a secret part of the forest preserved for those lucky enough to stumble upon it. There’s something about it that’s immediately attractive. You can’t help but think, “Wow, this is really cool.” Today, as the weather warmed up, a small group of Seniors spent their rest hour enjoying a dip in the Cove. They played in the waterfall, and soaked in the natural pool of cool, refreshing water. They loved it!
Visiting the Cove, like so many of the experiences at Rockbrook, is delightfully sensorial. It quite literally bathes these girls in sensations, rich experiences that stimulate all their senses. The examples at camp are endless— the firm muscle of the horse they’re riding, the soft feathers of the chickens down at the garden, the refreshing chill of the mountain water around here. At camp you hear amazing things too: nighttime forest animals, the 100-year-old camp bell, and the occasional intense thunderstorm, for example. And taste! —the fresh organic corn we ate on the hill for dinner tonight, a different muffin flavor everyday, and the explosion of cool watermelon in your mouth when you take that first bite. At camp we get to smell the earthiness of the forest all around us, encounter the sharp smoke from a campfire, and breathe in full lungs of the freshest air. And of course, what we see everyday is the beauty of Rockbrook, this historic camp nestled in the “heart of a wooded mountain.”
You have to love this for your kids! When so much of their ordinary lives is spent staring at screens, passively receiving a filtered, curated version of the world— and even more so during the recent pandemic restrictions —they really need all their senses exercised. I suspect their longterm cognitive and emotional health depend on it! They need rich real world experiences like taking the plunge down Sliding Rock or a bite out of a freshly roasted s’more. Camp teaches them that feeling these things is normal and good, that the diversity of sensations offered by the world can be experienced by simply reaching out. I think children naturally do this. They’re curious and eager to explore. They instinctively revel in the sensorial character of camp life (no A/C needed!). I hope you can see the tragedy of those childhood instincts being hindered by the all too common allure of technological entertainment.
Thankfully, life at Rockbrook is a relief from all that. We know how to break the spell of those screens and return to more genuine experiences, more rewarding inter-actions, to a more colorful world. Your girls love it because I think they need it. And at camp, they enjoy it everyday.