Today we opened our second camp session of the summer welcoming a little more than 200 girls to Rockbrook with what can easily be described as explosive results. Starting with the very first camper arriving, you could feel a special energy that rapidly expanded all morning, reaching its height around 10am. In what seemed like no time, we had more than a hundred girls through the check-in process and happily filling the camp with their enthusiasm and excitement. Each arriving camper added to the emotion of the day— anticipation realized, joyful reunion, simple affability, immersive natural beauty, immediate belonging —amplifying everyone’s experience and making even the first few minutes at camp fun. Most of the girls were wearing their new RBC t-shirt, so as the morning unfolded, we saw more and more red and blue on the grassy hill. An opening day like today is always a wonderful mix of meeting new campers who are attending Rockbrook for the first time, and seeing former campers returning to camp. With this much power, these girls are going to have a great session.
Naturally, we didn’t idle while everyone was arriving. Once parents said goodbye, groups of campers formed for friendship bracelet making, a hike out to Rockbrook falls (the largest of the waterfalls on the camp property), a game of tetherball or gagaball, or just playing in the creek that feeds the lake. Other groups took tours of the camp, exploring the different activity areas, even heading down through the tunnel to go see our new covered horseback riding arena.
Around noon or so the whole camp gathered under the walnut tree on the hill for a quick program of introductions and songs. Led by Sarah, this was a chance for the girls to show their camp spirit by singing their line songs and for everyone to meet the line heads, Hi-Ups and a few special activity instructors. Sitting together like this, standing to cheer now and then —all with a gorgeous mountain view in the background— it seemed like the magic of camp was already at work. The girls were relaxing and opening up, lounging together, and chattering easily. It seemed to me camp had already (this fast!) become a haven for the girls, a special place of welcome relief ready to provide— daily experience with close friends away from technology and the pressures of school, kindness offered in a caring community, and time to explore the wonders of nature and engage new activities. Even though we haven’t yet experienced all of these, there’s already a feeling this is special.
Later in the afternoon, the campers received an orientation to the lake and demonstrated for the lifeguards their swimming ability. We ask every camper and counselor to do this “swim demo,” and based on the results, to wear a color-coded, elastic necklace whenever they wish to swim in the lake or participate in any of the water-related trips offered. With fun music playing and hot chocolate and lemonade waiting for after the swim, the girls enjoyed trying out the lake and knowing they are set for more “refreshing” during free swims each day.
Right before dinner, the counselors and activity instructors presented a series of skits to highlight what to expect in the different activities offered this session. From tennis, to archery, to rock climbing, the skits kept us laughing. For example, the Climbing instructors formed a “rock” that one climbed using a harness, rope and helmet. The Tennis instructors dressed like tennis balls and told a few jokes while being hit in an imaginary tennis match. The Paddling staff used a kayak and all the basic paddling gear (helmets, skirts, PFDs, etc.) to simulate kayaking through a whitewater rapid. The skits provided an introduction to each activity while showcasing the creativity and personality of the staff. After dinner, the girls will sign up for their first rotation of activity selections, so these introductions will help them decide what to take.
It’s been a wonderful first day for both the campers and staff members. We’re now more oriented to the camp and to the activities offered. We’ve gotten to know each other better, and now we’re even more ready to dive into the action in the morning.