What’s an activity where your feet are numb and there’s sweat under your helmet? What activity alternates between moments of calm scenic beauty and wide-eyed, scream-inducing thrills? When does a team of girls work together and rescue someone on the team when needed? What’s delightful and a little bit scary at the same time? When can you sing and dance with your friends while accomplishing important goals? When can you do a high five simultaneously with six other people? What activity brings you face to face with a powerful force of nature but ends up being hilariously fun? When is “riding the bull” the best seat in the house, and falling “in” often a highlight of the experience? When is there talk of “all forward” and “all back,” bracing and balance, surprise bumps and spins. There’s really nothing else quite like it.
If you guessed whitewater rafting, you are correct because all of these things are true for the Rockbrook girls who took a rafting trip on the Nantahala today. We took about a third of the entire camp over there in Macon county for two different trips down the river. More will go next week as well, giving every Middler and Senior a chance to go. We’ve been taking these Nantahala rafting trips at Rockbrook since the early 1980s, and since we have a US Forest service permit to do so, we can use our own guides and equipment to raft a lot, thereby allowing every girl old enough to go if they like.
Looking at these photos, and from the description above, you can tell that the girls absolutely love these trips. I’d say when the weather is good, like today’s hot and sunny conditions, whitewater rafting is easily their favorite outdoor adventure experience offered at camp. Being in the boat with your friends for the two-hour trip is both a fun social experience, and a uniquely funny one. Almost like slapstick comedy, rafting tosses the girls about, sometimes sending them into the bottom of the boat, arms and legs hilariously sprawling, and other times out into the cold river water— exciting and hilarious at the same time.
This is another example of Rockbrook girls taking something that’s already a good time and making it fantastic. They have this remarkable ability to turn up the fun. When people see our boats floating by on the river, they’re surprised and impressed by the singing, the laughing and the camaraderie. It’s not just rafting for these Rockbrook kids; it’s playful, silly, and enthusiastic rafting. It’s a group of positive friendly girls, already primed to enjoy each others company, diving deep into this experience. It’s part of that camp magic we all appreciate around here— a kind of collective exuberance for whatever we’re doing. With everyone’s bright attitude (and honestly plenty of snacks too!), at camp there’s fun to be found in everything.
One last example… Back at camp, during the block of free time we call “Twilight,” I saw a group of Juniors playing on the hill. Head counselor Ellie pulled out a pile of hula hoops and yelled, “Who wants to do some hooping?” Soon there were hoops spinning in all directions. Some spun around girls’ waists as they found the right speed to wiggle back and forth. Others spun hoops around their arms. Some rolled them along the ground and down the grassy hill. The counselors were helping and encouraging this creativity. One hoop swung like a jump rope. They had music playing from a small speaker, as well, inspiring what we might call “interpretive dance” with the hoops.
Here too, we soon had girls laughing and cheering, jumping and twirling, releasing a mysterious power to have fun. It was so simple and genuine. Just hula hoops and a little music, plus just the right amount of encouragement from some great staff members, made it possible for these young girls to exercise that power and be extraordinarily happy. It’s phenomenal to see that Rockbrook just works like that— girls getting together, relaxing into their most authentic child spirit, and creating unique experiences for each other. It’s so refreshing and very fun to see!