There’s a remarkable energy at camp right now, a current derived from almost constant action, powerful enthusiasm, smile-filled interactions, and boundless opportunity for fun. It’s an energy that has sparked to life in the context of camp— the different creative, adventure, and sports activities, the awesome food, and the beautiful wooded setting Rockbrook enjoys —but has its deepest source in what our staff members contribute to the daily lives of your girls. And that’s what’s so impressive! This summer’s staff, our cabin counselors and special activity instructors, are down right fantastic, easily the best bunch of friendly, genuinely caring young women we’ve ever assembled. Several hundred people applied to work at Rockbrook this summer, so Sofie, our staff Director, was able to be very picky and select only those applicants that shined. And making the whole staff even better, these new hires joined a large group of veteran counselors (30% new and 70% returning overall). Combine all of this with the fact that these staff members now have (at least) 2 sessions of experience from earlier this summer to draw upon, and it’s simple to explain why this is such an outstanding bunch.
The campers are midway through their first set of activity selections that began on Monday. This means they have now mastered basic skills, are making progress on craft projects, and feeling more confident in their abilities. For example, the archers and marksmen are scoring hits closer to the center of their targets. The climbers are scaling more difficult routes up the Alpine Tower. The knitters are adding new colors to their woven cap projects. The kayakers are now comfortable performing a “wet exit.” There are smoother tennis (and teatherball) serves, bigger splashes from cannonballs off the lake diving board, and louder screams of delight flying by on the zip line. Each step, of course, only intensifies the satisfaction and fun of what we do everyday.
For 75 campers and a dozen staff members, today was a day of big adventure because we went whitewater rafting on the Nantahala River. About half these began their trip Monday evening by spending the night at our outpost camp over near the river in Macon County. With their clothes, sleep bags, brushes (hair and tooth), and spays (bug and sunscreen) packed, and in some cases with pillows and stuffed animals tucked safely underarms, the girls enjoyed having dinner together and then sleeping in one of the three platform cabins at the outpost. In the morning, we met our raft guides and prepared for the trip by fitting helmets, PFDs, and paddles, learning about how to stay safe in whitewater, and the basic strokes for paddling our rafts. The trip down the river lasts 2 hours and is the perfect river for a young, beginner because it includes several named rapids but also plenty of calm stretches for splashing, singing, clapping “high-fives” with paddles, and even jumping in for a quick (very quick, given the temperature of the water) swim. Today the weather was ideal too— hot and sunny, to balance that cold water.
It’s hard to describe what it feels like on these rafting trips, but this photo helps. Take a look at the faces of these girls. They are having an absolute ball! They’re screaming, laughing hilariously, and being splashed and bounced around like never before. Part of the fun is just being in the raft together, but when suddenly you hit a rock and someone falls backwards into the raft (or out into the river!) with her feet sticking high in the air, it’s uproarious fun. Like all good outdoor adventure activities, whitewater rafting feels edgy, gets your heart pumping, but is controlled and safe in the end.
Back at camp, one girl turned to me as she was getting off the bus and said, “Thank you for an awesome day. That was probably the most fun I’ve ever had.” Wow! That’s about as good as it gets! Thanks. I had fun too.