Producing and performing a stage musical ordinarily takes a group of people hours of rehearsal over several months, unless, that is, it’s a group of Rockbrook Camp girls at work. Today we witnessed the powerful talent of these girls when they presented their production of “The Wizard of Oz.” With only about two and half weeks to prepare, the girls put on an amazing show complete with characters, costumes, music, singing, and stage acting. The familiar storyline made it even more enjoyable to see our friends from camp —”I know her!”— dress as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin man, the Lion, and the Wicked Witch of the West… and Toto too. Likewise, it was delightful to hear the girls sing favorite songs like “Follow the Yellow Brick Road,” “Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead,” “We’re Off to See the Wizard,” and “If I Only Had a Brain.”
During the intermission, more campers took the stage as the different age groups took turns performing a choreographed group dance. There was such enthusiastic support for all of these performers, as the crowd of campers watching cheered and clapped spontaneously.
Both in the dance performances and in the play, the girls seemed poised and relaxed, happily following the choreography and delivering their lines. It was clear they were having a grand time, slyly giving each other a smile at times, laughing at their minor missteps, and loving the attention and admiration from the audience. Wonderful!
Later in the evening as the sun began to set, the whole camp gathered at Vesper rock dressed in their uniforms for the closing campfire of the session. It’s a tradition, our “Spirit Fire,” that goes back to the very first summer when Nancy Carrier founded Rockbrook. She knew, and we continue to acknowledge, that when girls spend this much time together, build this much meaning together, grow this close, they need a way to express their feelings about camp before departing. The program of the Spirit Fire, for this reason, is a series of traditional camp songs, and speeches delivered by campers and counselors, with Sarah wrapping everything up. The setting is gorgeous— nearby the lake, surrounded by huge trees, with crickets and frogs chirping their calls over the crackling fire. Tonight it was also emotional as several speakers described Rockbrook as the only place were they feel accepted enough to be fully themselves. But mostly, we heard about how the people here at camp are so special, in ways vastly different than friends at home. For these girls, camp is different. And that’s a very good thing.
The final part of the Spirit Fire program is a candle lighting ceremony. Sarah lights a white candle from the fire and then passes that flame to every camper as they file by. Slowly, with lit candles in hand, the whole camp then forms a line around the lake. Facing inward, singing softly, it’s a last moment of quiet reflection to end the night.
Looking out over the candle reflections in the water, we all felt it tonight. We all knew this has been a wonderful session. The spirit of Rockbrook, focused and celebrated during the campfire, has affected us all, connecting us profoundly to this place and to each other.