A Giant Dose of Freedom

Another somewhat typical comment we hear from parents touring Rockbrook while it’s in session— after they marvel at the abundant joyful energy of the place —is how often they see girls doing things on their own. By that they mean doing things without counselors or staff members assisting the campers, sitting right by their side or orchestrating their experience. From the littlest Juniors to the oldest Hi-Ups (10th graders), you can find girls, usually in pairs or threes, walking together somewhere, sitting together, or playing together in some way.

summer camp girls being independent

This shouldn’t be too surprising since camp is a place that encourages friendship and togetherness, and we do allow the girls to decide how to spend their free time. But without knowing any better, you might think Rockbrook is a “free range” camp where the girls can wander freely whenever and wherever they want, with no supervision or structure to guide them.

Well, that’s only part of the picture. We DO want to allow our campers to engage in activities without constant adult supervision. We do want them to make decisions for themselves— what activities to take, how to spend their free time, who to be friends with, what foods to try, how often to brush their hair, what to wear, and so forth. In fact, being away from home, away from the assistance and guidance of parents, camp is an exercise in independent decision making for kids.

This is great! It means your girls are being given daily opportunities for self-reliance and problem-solving. With the support and encouragement of this caring community, they are experiencing what it’s like to do all this for themselves. And when they succeed, perhaps surprising themselves (“I can do it..!”), they’re both building core life skills and gaining self-confidence.

Compared to life at home or at school, camp provides a giant dose of freedom.

The other part of the picture is that this freedom has some limits. Campers can explore, but they are not allowed to wander past certain points or near certain areas that are risky (e.g., the waterfront when it is closed and unsupervised by the lifeguards). Naturally, our staff is always present at camp, nearby and usually within eyeshot of the campers, available to help as they can, and ready if there’s an emergency of some sort. There is a structure to our day where everyone must attend all the meals, set activity periods, rest hour, and certain “lights out” times that vary by age group. In the interest of safety, and considering the age and maturity of the campers, there are certainly rules to follow.

There’s a balance to be found between encouraging independence and adult supervision, between the freedoms and the conventions at camp. With years of experience, and guided by our overall philosophy, we’ve landed on this balance.

Our hope is that we’ve balanced it to empower our campers, and help them be more confident in their independence. We hope that life at camp provides both challenges and moments of successfully overcoming those challenges. We hope each day Rockbrook campers discover something surprising and wonderful in the world, and that they feel more at ease in it. The Rockbrook community is here to help, to provide kind reassurance, genuine cheerful support, and more joyful enthusiasm than you can measure. It’s something that matters and is truly a great feeling for kids.

summer camp garden welcome sign


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