Visitors to Rockbrook are sometimes surprised by the variety of activities they see happening. It’s true; during each of the four activity periods per day, there will be campers and counselors engaged in sports, outdoor adventure, arts and crafts and of course horseback riding— more than 22 different options here in camp (not including the additional out-of-camp trips offered the older girls). What’s amazing is that these activities all happen simultaneously. In our little haven, you’ll find girls building and practicing skills, being physically challenged beyond their “comfort zone,” exercising their creativity, and exploring nature. They’ll be trying things they’ve never tried before, and all among friends who are quick to encourage and accompany them along the way.
The activity we call “Garden Art,” which the campers sometimes shorten to “Gart,” is a great example. As you might expect, this is an activity that takes place in our flower garden, and involves making art using the colorful plants growing there, plus various found objects like rocks and twigs. Using cloth, paint, and different types of string and cord as well, the instructor Bailey has many projects for the girls to try. For example, today the girls were painting stones and combining leaves and leaf-patterns to their designs. Other projects Bailey has offered in the past include pressing flowers onto cloth, macrame using plant stems and colorful cords, dyeing fabrics with indigo and other natural plant dyes, and flower arranging. Bailey is always coming up with new and exciting projects, so girls never know what they’re going to do next. Gart is a wonderful summertime activity that helps girls of all ages build their appreciation for these garden plants and inspires them to create in new ways.
In addition to the four activity periods, we also have three blocks of “free time” each day when the campers themselves decide what they would like to do. Hot and sweaty after an active morning? Head down to the lake to jump off the diving board, fly down the water slide, or splash around floating on a tube. Both before lunch and again before dinner the lake is open for “free swim.” Feel like playing a game? Wander down to the gaga ball pit, or one of the tetherball courts, the gym for basketball or the tennis courts. Are you curious about what creatures are living in the creek by the Goodwill cabin? Take off your shoes and wade right in! The shady breeze at the top of the hill overlooking the mountains might be the perfect place to dive deeper into that book you brought to camp. One of the red porch rocking chairs looks like a nice place to just sit and relax, working on a friendship bracelet tied to your water bottle. After dinner, during the “twilight” free time, the mountain view looks amazing in the golden evening light. Come out to the hill where there will always be folks soaking it in. Maybe a nice hot shower will feel right. It’s the camper’s choice.
Today was our first rafting trip on the Nantahala River. We gathered up all the Senior girls interested in going and split them into a morning group and an afternoon group, making it possible to raft everyone on the same day. Since the early 1980s, Rockbrook girls have been taking this trip. It’s that popular, popular for several reasons. It’s got a real sense of adventure: cool safety gear that allows you to get up close to a force of nature. It includes a hefty dose of fun socializing in the rafts, which easily turns into hilarity as the raft bumps into a hidden rock unexpectedly or someone falls backwards into (or out of!) the raft. It’s playful and silly as each crew plots different ways to pose for the camera. The water of the Nantahala is very cold, and that too adds to the excitement. Today’s gorgeous weather made that even more so. The final rapid of the day, the “Nantahala Falls,” is a screaming fun double drop rapid that thrills everyone. It’s a fantastic way to end the trip and is always everyone’s favorite.
Just for fun, we turned dinner into a costumed event: a night on the red carpet. With a wide runway of red paper on the floor as they entered the dining hall, campers and counselors arrived in their best “dress.” Sure there were a few dresses, evening gowns, and long skirts, but there were also feather boas, silly wigs, sunglasses and hats. It was fun to show off our outfits, laugh a little, and act like a movie star as we ate. Dressing up for dinner… even better when at camp!