One of the technical skills we teach to the girls who select kayaking as one of their activities is the “Eskimo Roll.” This is a self rescue technique used to return your kayak right side up after flipping over. An experienced kayaker makes rolling look effortless, but in fact it takes great timing to coordinate several actions… tucking forward, setting and sweeping the paddle, snapping the hips, and positioning the head. And most of this is done upside down and underwater! Leland and Andria, our expert kayaking instructors, have been teaching roll clinics at the lake and report many girls are “getting their rolls.” A few have even successfully performed something much more difficult— a “Hand Roll.” You might be thinking sushi, but in kayaking this is rolling up a kayak without a paddle, using just your hands. Some kayakers try for years before successfully hand rolling. We’ve got 13-year old girls doing it! As the girls head out on kayaking trips, they are putting to use all this and other whitewater skills… reading the river, eddying, ferrying, peeling out, and navigating ledges and drops. It’s neat to see.
This week has been a big one in the “Hodge Podge” craft activity because the girls have been tie dying. Set outside near the upper pottery studio, the instructors have tables, newspaper, bottles of liquid dye (plenty of colors!) and lots of rubber bands ready for the tying. This is particularly fun for the girls because they can not only dye a t-shirt, but also any other cotton item they already own. So look out parents! You might find a rainbow spiral pair of underwear in your daughter’s trunk when she gets home, or a bright orange “target designed” hat, or as I saw one girl designing, a newly striped pair of Converse tennis shoes! All of these items first soak in a mild solution of water and urea (which helps keep the cloth damp while the dye sets) before being twisted, folded, and then bound up tightly with the rubber bands. The resulting pattern is the result of both the different colors of dye applied and the alternating areas of dyed and un-dyed (the “resists” created by the rubber bands) cloth. One quick tip when these items arrive home… They will still need quite a bit of rinsing, and I would suggest washing them separately at first before it will be safe to launder them with other clothes.
The ostensible goal for Archery and Riflery is, of course, hitting the center of the target and, using multiple shots, scoring points based on how close to the center each shot lands. We recognize this almost daily, in fact, during the lunch announcements when the instructors announce which girls have joined the “Bullseye Club.” Careful aim along with improving strength and technique allow the girls to better both the accuracy and precision of their shots. There is some keen interest in improving also since in a couple of weeks we will be challenging the boys of Camp Carolina to a scored tournament. But if you visit both Archery and Riflery, you won’t find girls just shooting for a score. Instead you’ll see balloons filled with paint, posters and markers, and even pieces of fruit. Now the targets are much more interesting, and the resulting splatter more colorful and yes, more glittery. Success and a good deal of the fun can now mean popping the balloon, piercing the apple, or destroying the banana.
Like so many other things at Rockbrook, what we do is driven by a spirit of creativity guided by a simple goal of having fun. Why shoot a banana? Just for the fun of it. Like all examples of free play, the primary goal is the play itself and not something external to the moment. That’s why we’ll play slow motion volleyball using a balloon for the ball, or we’ll wear costumes all day long (like for twin day), or we’ll stop lunch to dance and sing to a fun pop song. Without sacrificing the serious subject of safety— shooters always wear eye protection, for example —we encourage all of our activity instructors to restyle what they do occasionally, to add an unexpected element or substitute one aspect with another. That’s why Rockbrook girls might climb the Alpine Tower blindfolded, or add a pebble to their lanyard, tie dye their shoes, or paint with a leaf instead of a “proper brush.”
We think this kind of playful creativity is a wonderful approach for girls to experience, even acquire as they go forward. It’s a skill that easily conquers boredom, can be extraordinarily beneficial when problem solving, but perhaps most importantly, makes the world a joyful place. It proves that fun is for the making, and that we have the power to brighten up what we’re doing and en-joy ourselves along the way. Everyday, Rockbrook lives and teaches that insight.
Tonight we celebrated our first July Mini session with a banquet dinner party presented by the 9th graders and their counselors. The theme was “Night at the Red Carpet” and included appearances by an impressive list of celebrities, some of whom performed as well. We saw Lorde (Claire) sing, an original performance by Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez (Sam and Matilda), and the girls’ favorite English “boy band,” One Direction (counselors Miranda, Maggie, Paige, Gabi and Jenna). The celebrities were kindly signing autographs all night while they helped serve the dinner of pasta, salad, garlic bread and mozzarella sticks. For dessert, everyone enjoyed a “Red Carpet, Red Velvet Cupcake.” All the campers and counselors came dressed in their blue RBC t-shirts making the spontaneous dances a jumping, swirling crowd of long hair, blue and white, and smiling faces. Fueled by music, candy and the exuberance of this many happy, comfortable girls, the banquet was a great time and a wonderful success.