One of the activities offered each day at Rockbrook is something called “Nature.” While rather broadly defined as anything involving the plants, animals and forests of camp, it’s a real treat for the campers. The notion of exploration, of discovery, describes it pretty well also, because mostly the campers are tromping around through the woods and finding fascinating bits of the natural world. With more than 200 acres of Rockbrook property available, the counselors have come up with loads of really fun ways for the girls to be true naturalists. They take stream hikes, stopping to turn over rocks looking for crayfish and salamanders. Like in this photo, they take nets and capture tadpoles at the lake to compare their stages of development. Or, they may simply hike through the woods, perhaps bushwhacking off-trail, to marvel at some of the huge old growth trees on the property. Of course part of the fun is getting a little dirty and truly feeling the grit and grime of what they find, but that’s one of the things that helps the girls appreciate the beauty of it all, and for us, is something we can feel good about because of the benefits outdoor experience provides.
During one of the swimming activities this morning, the counselors greased up a watermelon for the girls and organized several fun relay races. There’s still plenty of silt coming down the creek and into the lake making the water cloudy, and this made the watermelon a little more difficult to find when it went under. Having to hunt for a hidden, submerged fruit is surprisingly fun because it can appear far from where you expect it. On a bright sunny day, this is good old fashioned fun, and it comes with a sweet tasty watermelon treat.
Being Wednesday, the afternoon was our cabin day, a time when instead of each camper pursuing her individual schedule of regular activities, the cabin groups and their counselors stay together for special whole-cabin events. Each cabin decides what they would like to do. Many involve hiking, like along the gentle trail to Rockbrook Falls or the steep and severe trail up to Castle Rock overlooking the camp. Today, a few cabins played group games on the hill, a couple of Junior cabins played board games, and others relaxed on the porch of the Lakeview lodge making friendship bracelets. One cabin was caught doing outdoor yoga!
All of the senior cabins took a special trip right before dinner. Dressed in their bathing suits and with towels in hand, they loaded up the buses to head out to a special spot in the Pisgah Forest for a picnic. Our timing was excellent because when we arrived, we were the only people there to enjoy a wonderful grassy field, trimmed with awesome shade trees and just the right number of picnic tables. Rick packed us another amazing dinner of fresh corn on the cob, tortellini, warm rolls, and cool, bright red raspberries. The late afternoon sunshine was gorgeous and we had plenty of altitude to keep things breezy and comfortable. After eating, we couldn’t help but skip around the field and play an exuberant game of “Duck Duck Goose.” You might think teenage girls would be “too cool” for this kind of game, but not so with this crowd.
Our next stop on this outing was the main event: Sliding Rock. Always a favorite, this is the natural waterslide formed by Looking Glass Creek as it drops about 60 feet over a gently sloping rock into a deep pool. Going this late after the Forest Service lifeguards have left (we bring our own) is ideal because it avoids the typical crowds of summer, and thereby allows our Rockbrook girls to spend less time waiting in line and more time sliding. Is the water cold? You betcha! That explains why most of the photos of the girls sliding end up showing them with their mouths open. A few can remain poised enough to smile for the camera as they accelerate toward to bottom, but most are anticipating the plunge that awaits and just let loose with a wide-eyed, full-throated scream. You can almost hear it in each shot. Meanwhile, the rest of the girls waiting their turn are cheering their friends on, clapping and shouting. It really is super exciting.
With our fill of sliding, there was one more stop to make, and it’s always a crowd pleaser. On the way out of the forest we took that happy left turn into Dolly’s Dairy Bar so everyone could enjoy a cone of their favorite flavor of ice cream. There were more screams and cheers of delight as we pulled into the parking lot and all the girls ran to join the line waiting to order. Dolly’s has refined their serving so it took just a few minutes for everyone to be savoring (for some, gobbling) their treat. Yummy stuff. It was dark by the time we made it back to camp, bringing our surprise night out to a close, but it was the kind of big group fun we love around here, and a really good time.