The last few days of a camp session have a new momentum, a slightly accelerated pace and intensified rhythm that feels a little like the finale of a fireworks show. There’s a flurry of events that cascade into a blur of activity and emotion. The whole session culminates with different moments of celebration and reflection when we gather as a community and enjoy each other’s talents and accomplishments. Each event is a beautiful reminder of how we’ve grown, and grown together, over our time together at camp. You’ve never seen such support! These girls all mean so much to each other now, it’s amazing to watch.
A good example of this community festivity is the session banquet. Essentially an all-camp party, the banquet is a themed dinner planned by our 9th grade campers (known at camp as the “CAs”). These girls select a secret theme on the first day of the session and then work to transform the dining hall for the party. They work on costumes, music, decorations, the menu, and rehearse group dances and skits to entertain the rest of the campers and staff. This session’s CAs presented their “Into the Storybook” banquet complete with a cast of different fairy tale characters: Little Red Ridinghood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Peter Pan, Snow White, Three Blind Mice, Hansel and Gretel, and others.The girls did a great job decorating the dining hall, covering every inch of wall with floor-to-ceiling posters depicting scenes from fairy tales. They served “Maleficent’s Mac and Cheese,” “Peter Pan’s Popcorn Chicken,” “Jack’s Magic Green Beans,” and “Poison Apple Slices.” The tables included souvenir cups, candies, and streamer decorations. With a large area cleared for a dance floor, soon the entire camp, fueled by friendship, was singing, dancing, and having a great time.
Another community celebration was the presentation of this session’s musical, “James and the Giant Peach.” Over the course of the session, 55 campers, under the direction of 4 staff members, rehearsed songs, built scenery and props, and memorized lines to present this adaptation of Roald Dahl’s popular children’s novel. The story presents the fantastic adventure of orphan James, the magical garden insects he befriends and their journey across the ocean inside a giant peach. It was a joy to watch. The girls really had fun acting the parts, singing the songs, and at times being silly on stage for a laugh. During the show’s intermission, the Junior, Middler and Senior dance classes each presented a group dance. Showing off their moves, choreographed for every dancer to move in unison, it was entertaining and impressive to see what the different age groups could do.
One of the most beautiful moments of the session, our closing campfire or “Spirit Fire,” is another example of how close we’ve all grown at camp. Dressed in their white uniforms, the girls and their counselors all crowd around a glowing campfire to sing some of the more traditional songs and to pay tribute to the experiences shared, the deep relationships formed, and the personal strides made while together at camp. It’s a time to reflect on what camp means to us, to hold our friends close, and to marvel at the Rockbrook Spirit that makes camp special. Campers and counselors are invited to address the group too, sharing their thoughts about camp.
Olivia Vasquez, who is a new counselor this summer, spoke particularly well, and I thought you’d enjoy reading part of what she said.
“The Rockbrook community is a unique and funny thing, hardly something you can explain without jumping into it. It’s so incredibly tight-knit, which can make new people feel unsure and hesitant. How can you fit into a place already so beautifully woven together? But it’s through this same closeness that the magic can happen. That suddenly, before you even know it, you become part of a family you wonder how you’ve gone so long without.
The community here is joyful. When friends and family ask me how it is, I tell them, “It’s somewhere I can be happy all the time.” Not that I need to be or can’t be sad — If I am sad, there are always open arms and ears ready to listen. But if I want to be happy, there is someone to share my joy, to celebrate even the smallest victories, to remind me that there are few more freeing things in the world than to express the deepest gladness you hold inside you.
And so, in these few weeks I’ve spent here in the heart of the wooded mountain, witnessing the magic of my first banquet, the sweetness in the sound of our cabin’s laughter, the realness of the spirit of Rockbrook, I have ended up different, and yet the same. More myself, and yet less about me. These campers have made me laugh, cry and search for answers. Counselors and directors have done the same. But Sofie said it pretty perfectly the other day when she said that no matter what happens, we’re all just here— at Rockbrook and on Earth —to walk each other home. And what an honor it has been, is, and always will be, to walk with each of you.”
The Spirit Fire closed with everyone lighting a small white candle and forming a row around the lake. As we sang softly and candlelight reflected from the lake back onto everyone’s face, it was a beautiful summer camp moment. What could be better than being surrounded by all these friends and filled with so many great memories from our time together? It was the perfect way to close what truly has been an amazing, wonderful session.