Favorite Bell

It might be everyone’s favorite bell at camp. It’s “THE bell,” the bell mounted high in a tree at the dining hall that we ring to announce times at camp. This old bell— It’s from 1895! —is 24 inches in diameter, and has an amazing clear tone that when rung can be heard all over the camp. A sturdy rope is attached to the bell so that when the rope is pulled, the bell rocks back and forth on its stand ringing loudly. I love the idea that every single Rockbrook camper over it’s 100-year history has heard this same bell ring. It’s called girls to meals, and woken them up in the morning for decades!

girls muffin break

Of all the times the bell rings at camp, the ringing to announce muffin break has to be the campers’ favorite. Muffin break is simply wonderful. It’s a time between the first and second activity periods when we all gather for a homemade snack. Everyone converges on the dining hall to find out what the day’s surprise muffin flavor is, and then when enjoying the muffin, to meet friends and talk about the day so far for a little while. Friends taking different activities can trade stories about what they’re making (“a new tie-dye!”), what they’re doing (“riding a new horse!”), and what they just accomplished (“getting a bullseye in archery!”).

The muffin flavors are delicious too! The surprise makes it fun. It could be “mint chocolate chip,” or the classic “pumpkin chocolate chip,” or the colorful “funfetti,” or the more traditional “lemon poppyseed.” There’s a huge variety that our bakers have introduced over the years. Today’s flavor was “white chocolate apricot.” Fresh from the oven this morning, it was a huge hit. Yum! It’s easy to understand why that mid-morning bell gets the girls excited.

It was a little rainy this morning at camp. That’s unusual for a morning, but also something that barely slows us down around here. A light rain becomes simply part of the wonderful outdoor experience of our day. We simply grab our raincoat and carry on. So many of the activities can operate indoors (with a few exceptions), we can still find plenty to do. The girls are still climbing (in the gym), riding horses (under the covered arena), and playing tennis (now the tabletop kind in the dining hall). Of course, all the ordinary indoor craft activities still happen— weaving, pottery, woodworking, painting & drawings, tie-dying, needlecraft and folklore.

Even our zip line crews were able to operate in the light rain today. Sure everything gets a little wet, but the equipment and the participants can all be dried! The whole zip line course takes about an hour to complete, and consists of three different zips and 3 different challenge bridges. It weaves its way between the huge boulders and among the large trees of the forest up the hill toward Castle Rock. One zip passes right in front of a waterfall, “Stick Biscuit Falls.” One of the bridges is 40 feel in the air. The final zip is the highlight of the course. It’s a 450-foot screaming ride back into camp that’s both scary, because it’s really fast, and exhilarating, for the same reason. For the smallest Junior and the seasoned Senior camper, the zipline course is a blast. The most common reaction? “That was awesome!”

It might be surprising to see everyone carrying on despite the rain, despite being a little uncomfortable or despite conditions being less the “perfect.” But to me it’s another example of the inherent resilience of the girls at Rockbrook. I’ve said it before; Rockbrook teaches resilience. All camps do by virtue of the experience being separate from a child’s usual sources of comfort— most importantly their parents, but also the core familiarities in their lives like food, unencumbered privacy (the ability to “check out” whenever), easy electronic entertainment, and so forth. (By the way, I would say that your child’s smartphone has become one of her major sources of comfort, perhaps without you recognizing it…. Hmmm.) At camp, girls learn to live without those regular sources of support, and to still land on their feet when things don’t go according to their expectations, or they find themselves dealing with something unpleasant. This is an incredibly important life skill, being able to bounce back and reapply yourself, and being able to find comfort internally, in your own abilities. The culture and community of camp helps girls do that because everyone is doing it. It’s just what we do; we keep on moving. It’s ordinary camp life, but truly impressive too.

line of summer camp pals


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