It’s the 4th of July! And that means an incredibly action-packed, colorful day marked by celebration and special events. Right away in fact, it began with an odd alarm bell: members of our equestrian staff riding horses up into camp, and exactly at 8am, down into each of the cabin lines yelling “The British are coming! Wake up! Wake up!” (a reference to Paul Revere’s ride in 1775). Rockbrook has had this 4th of July tradition for many years, but it’s always a remarkable morning for the girls— hoof beats, and then dressed in a sweatshirt or robe, everyone assembling on the hill around the flagpole for the Hi-Ups to raise the flag, a reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance and singing of “America the Beautiful.”
Some of us spent the morning over at the Nantahala River on a rafting trip. Since our time together is limited and we want to give every camper old enough (5th grade and older) a chance to go rafting, we needed to squeeze in one trip today even though its a busy day on the river. Our solution to that problem was to be the first team of boats on the water, and it worked beautifully. Our seven rafts transporting 49 people followed clean lines all the way down the river, giving the girls a splashing fun ride. It was a little misty and rainy through most of the trip, but it cleared up nicely at the end for our fried chicken and watermelon lunch at the river’s end.
Meanwhile back in camp, other girls enjoyed a morning of regular activities, but with a double scoop of red, white and blue. What better day to show off our patriotic spirit with balloons, streamers, and table decorations in the dining hall, small American flags, beaded necklaces, face paint, temporary tattoos, hats and crazy flashing pins? Looking around, it was clear everyone knew which three colors to wear. It’s particularly neat to see the girls dressed like this while doing their activities. Wonder Woman on the zip line? Yes! A fireworks headband while shooting archery? Sure! Light-up star glasses for weaving a basket? Definitely. These girls are prepared and flamboyantly at ease.
For dinner, we added to our day-long celebration by holding a traditional 4th of July cook out, complete with grilled hotdogs (and veggie dogs), homemade coleslaw, corn on the cob and freshly sliced watermelon. We don’t ordinarily serve soft drinks at Rockbrook, but tonight we offered the girls each a can of Cheerwine, kept cold in the creek in front of the Goodwill cabin. Rick and his kitchen crew topped off the meal with a fun multi-layered (again, red, white and blue!) jello cup with whipped cream and a cherry on top. The weather was perfect, and as familiar “American Music” played, we had a great evening meal.
As I walked around taking a few photos of the girls, it struck me how content and relaxed everyone was. It made sense after us spending this much time together, not to mention the feeling that comes late in the day: a more soothing yellow sun, a delicious meal, and good friends all around. But the girls seemed so essentially happy tonight.
The next event was mostly about white, and not so much red or blue: a giant shaving cream fight! After a quick change into swim suits and short walk down to the landsports field, we had a grand time spraying each other with white slippery foam. The girls raced about, armed with a can or two of the stuff, spraying and smearing each other, pausing only briefly to pose for a photo now and then. With shaving cream lathering your hair, and all over your body (in some cases, every square inch!), you can strike a pretty funny pose. There was also a slip-n-slide set up, and Richie, Rockbrook’s Site Manager, brought over a fire truck from his Volunteer Fire Department boosting our messy fun with a giant 40-foot spray of water. There’s nothing quite like the exuberance of a shaving cream fight, and when the weather is warm and sunny like it was tonight, it’s extraordinary.
Not everyone wanted to get messy in the “fight,” so as another option we prepared one of the creeks in camp for gem mining. Of the several creeks running through camp, the one that feeds the lake —and which also is a common place to see Juniors exploring, building makeshift bridges from twigs, and racing their flip flop in the current —was the perfect location. We primed the creek with several 10-pound bags of “special dirt” from a local gem mine and gave the girls sifting pans to use in the creek. Gems kept appearing for a good hour as a few extra determined girls stayed focus on their panning.
All of this led up to the day’s finale, our Fireworks show. As the girls and their counselors arrived and set up their crazy creek chairs on the hill, some under blankets, Chelsea and Emily gave everyone a glow stick to play with as they waited for it to get dark. Of course, we had music pumping from speakers set up nearby, and the girls easily joined in singing along, some even getting up to dance now and then. By 9:30pm we were launching mortars high in the sky and enjoying the multi-colored flashes and booming sounds of each explosion. For the next 35 minutes or so, the girls cheered and sang with their friends while we presented our show.
This has been a wonderful 4th of July celebration. I’ve heard it from more than one camper— that they love celebrating the 4th here at Rockbrook. I hope you can now understand why.