The “Extra” in the Ordinary

Tetherball Camp GameAn ordinary morning at camp is always extraordinary in some surprising way. It’s ordinary because the structure is predictable: rising bell and cabin chores, breakfast, morning assembly in each Line’s (age group’s) Lodge, the first activity period, muffin break (yum!), a second activity, and then an hour of free time, all before lunch. This is the schedule that moves our girls from place to place throughout the camp, some stretching into a yoga pose while others flexing their arms learning to roll a whitewater kayak in the lake, for example. All about the camp, our schedule makes outdoor adventure, sports, horseback riding and crafts available for the campers. What’s extra-ordinary are the details of this outline and what each camper feels throughout the day. It’s the heart-pumping thrill of climbing Castle Rock, or the satisfaction of being one of the last players in a game of Gaga. It’s befriending a special horse, or seeing a complex weaving pattern emerge on the loom. It could be a day hike to a new waterfall, your best hit of the tetherball, or a ride on our 450-foot zipline. What’s most extraordinary though about our ordinary days at camp are our companions. It’s the great girls, the inspiring, friendly counselors and the caring relationships knitting us together. The camaraderie of camp, no matter what the activity, makes it special.

Hiking View up HighIf you go northwest about 12 miles from camp, and climb 3,700 feet in elevation, you reach one of the highest mountains east of the Mississippi River, Black Balsam Knob. Taking further advantage of the fantastic weather we’ve been enjoying, Clyde led a group of campers on a day hike this morning up and over this mountain. The drive up first takes you to the Blue Ridge Parkway, a wonderful scenic road that stretches for 469 miles through the southern Appalachian mountains between Virginia and North Carolina. The trail began by twisting through an old grove of balsam fir trees, but soon popped out into the open with grass and rock outcroppings covering the hillside. At the summit where there are no trees, the view was spectacular sloping off in all directions. This elevation, high above everything nearby (even many of the clouds in the sky), makes the distant mountains look like a green marbled carpet, and with very little wind today, the sun seemed especially warm and bright. This is an other-worldly place that’s both thrilling and memorable.

Block Party HorseInstead of regular activity periods this afternoon, since it was Wednesday, we held “Cabin Day,” in this case all-age-group, special events. The Middler Line turned “country” and threw a “Southern Block Party” complete with painted decorations (e.g., a poster that simply read “More Butter!” and another, “Run Forest Run”), silly snacks like Cheetos and iced tea to drink, and games like the corn hole and bobbing for apples. Counselors and campers dressed up in overalls, straw hats, and boots. Two special guests, Cool Beans and Cloud Nine, two of our white ponies, also attended, happily ready to have the girls paint them with colorful hand prints (using easily washable paint). They had country music playing and several line dances soon sprung up, keeping it all pretty silly, but also great fun for the afternoon.

Swim Girls in NC Sliding Rock NC Girls

Ice Cream Teens at CampMeanwhile all the Senior Line girls and their counselors took a trip to Sliding Rock. We started with a picnic in the Pisgah Forest and afterwards played a huge game of “I’m a Rockbrook Girl” (a name game that sends everyone dashing across a circle of people). This was a fun way to digest our food a bit before hitting the icy water of Looking Glass Creek that flows over the Rock. Enthusiasm for this plunge down a natural water slide seems to never wane. Even tonight with slightly cooler than normal weather, these Senior girls loved it. For over an hour, slide after slide made for splashing, screams, shivering and a few blue lips, but also the kind of enthusiastic smiles that are hard to beat.

To “warm up” on the way home, we stopped at Dolly’s Dairy Bar for a cone of what many campers describe as “the best ice cream in the world!” Some girls ordered “Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion” or some other “camp flavor,” while others stuck to traditional favors like strawberry or soft-serve vanilla. Everyone found something sweet to enjoy. Energized, and at least a little warmed up, we had fun singing “Peel the Banana” and other songs, posing for a few group photos, and simply having grand evening together.

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