Let’s get started! The day that so many of us have been waiting for has finally arrived. For the directors, all of us who work year round, today begins the unfolding of many plans and the thrill of seeing everything come together— the people, the equipment and supplies, the activity ideas, special events, new camp buildings, and surprises for the campers. For the staff, today is the culmination of their week-long pre-camp training where they learned about the Rockbrook Camp philosophy, protocols, teaching methods, and ways to focus on their campers’ needs in the cabin. And of course, for the campers, today is when their time at camp finally begins, when the fun and excitement of the next few weeks can get started.
Most importantly though, today is the day when we can all come together in “the Heart of a Wooded Mountain” and form the caring, and proudly a bit zany, community that is camp. We can all now begin to do things together— share our meals, dress up in costumes, sing (!!), be creative as we make things, reconnect with nature, truly feel the weather, laugh, and play all day long. It’s this sense of community, energized by all the wonderful people here, that makes the fun of camp life so powerful, and ultimately meaningful.
These blog posts, we hope, will dip here and there into life at camp. They will report items of news, announce special events, outdoor adventure trips, or just what we had for lunch. Please don’t be shy about giving us feedback or asking questions in the comments. We’ll be happy to respond!
Once all of the campers had arrived today, and we finished up a delicious lunch of Rick’s homemade Mac-n-Cheese with fresh fruit and salad, all of the girls joined their counselors for a trip to the lake. It’s been a long tradition to begin each camp session by orienting everyone to Rockbrook’s lake, explaining the various safety rules, and assessing everyone’s swimming ability. With everyone dressed in their swimsuits and with towels at the ready, each girl takes turns demonstrating that she can swim out about 50 feet, back another 50 feet using a back stroke, and then tread water for one minute. It can be a little shocking to first feel the temperature of our mountain stream-fed lake, but it also makes most girls swim that much stronger/faster. Successfully performing the “swim demo” earns each girl a green bracelet and a buddy tag with her name on it for the tag board. If a girl has difficulty with the swim demo, she can still use the shallow area of the lake while wearing a life jacket. With the sun shining, and lots of cheering and congratulations going around from all the counselors, special staff and directors, it was wonderful to see the girls enjoy the lake for the first time this summer.
After changing back into dry clothes, all the girls gathered on the hill in the center of camp for a quick assembly to meet all of the special staff members, sing a few camp songs, and learn a few more guidelines about camp. For example, we demonstrated the lightning prediction and detection system we recently installed at Rockbrook. Called the “Thor-Guardian,” this system is a sophisticated sensor that measures electrostatic energy in the atmosphere near camp, and sends out a loud warning when there is a danger of lightning. It continues to monitor the atmosphere and sends a different warning sound when it is all clear. Everyone at camp will take shelter in a building whenever there is a warning, and stay there until the system indicates it is safe to go back outside.
The other highlight of the day was the activity tour, where the counselors introduced the campers to all of the activity options here at Rockbrook. Split into several groups, the girls toured camp stopping at each activity area to hear a brief presentation from the activity instructors. They saw kayak rolling at the lake, bows and arrows at archery, looms at Curosty, and flips at gymnastics. Many of the counselors made up songs and skits to illustrate what their activity involved, as well. It was a fun and informative afternoon giving the campers what they needed to sign up for their activity schedule later after dinner.
For the first day of camp, this one ranks right up near the top. It seemed like there was instant enthusiasm, loud excitement for everything we were doing and about to do. This session is off to a fantastic start!