Instantly Empowered

There’s an article on the Rockbrook website where we identify the top reasons camp is important for children. If you haven’t seen it, it can be understood as a list of benefits of summer camp, as a summary of what kids gain from their experience at Rockbrook.

summer camp tennis serve

If camp is “fun that matters,” these are some of the ways it matters.

Some of the “reasons camp is great for kids,” in the article, spring just from living the life we have at Rockbrook. For example, “Reconnecting with Nature” is the simple consequence of being outside most of our day. We’re living in a forest, hearing and smelling it, even through the night in our open-air, screened cabins. We’re getting wet when it rains, and finding a bug of some sort almost anywhere. “Being physically active” is built into our day too. We’re walking up and down the hills just getting from one activity to another, not to mention the activities themselves— the hiking, swimming, tennis, gagaball, horseback riding, and so on. “Unplugging from technology” is likewise simply a part of camp. Quite intentionally and for many reasons, we don’t allow anyone to be “on their phone” at Rockbrook. Everything about that is antithetical to the attentive community we value at camp.

creative summer camp kids

Other reasons camp is important, listed in the article, focus on how kids grow from the experience. Many of the particularities of camp life— being away from parents, making decisions like choosing your own activities or when to take a shower, experiencing all sorts of new things, overcoming challenges when something doesn’t turn out just right —are behind this growth in character. The article puts it this way; at camp, children “become more confident,” “gain resiliency,” and “grow more independent.” The examples are endless. Think of the confidence it takes to control a 1,200-pound horse, or to climb a 50-foot tower. Imagine the resilience, flexibility and persistence required to keep trying when you can’t figure out how to center a ball of clay on the wheel, but still try again, or when your first choice of activities is not available after all. Of course kids are practicing being independent at camp (no parents or teachers to guide every move) too, but it’s exactly that practice that proves, even on their own, they can do it.

strong summer camp children

Recently another idea came to mind that brings together these aspects of the camp experience. It’s the idea that camp life empowers the girls at Rockbrook. We might say, most of the “benefits” in the article can be understood as different ways camp girls are empowered by the experience. They’re made more physically powerful by being active most of the day, more socially powerful by joining this cooperative community, and more personally powerful by gaining confidence and resilience. They’re empowered by discovering they can be creative and attentive when away from electronic entertainment. They’re more powerful from the expanded awareness that comes from spending this extended time in Nature. And they’re certainly empowered knowing they can be friends with anyone who is open and kind in return, no matter where they’re from.

It was a quote by writer Wes Angelozzi that got me thinking about “camp as empowering kids.” He writes:

“Go and love someone exactly as they are. And then watch how quickly they transform into the greatest, truest version of themselves. When one feels seen and appreciated in their own essence, one is instantly empowered.”

Reading that, I thought, “Yes, that is so true at Rockbrook.” We are helping our girls discover “the truest version of themselves” by creating a loving community of care and kindness. We strive for everyone here to feel accepted “as they are,” respected and appreciated, no matter their looks, smarts or talents. This extraordinary, friendly community proves, over and over, that everyone belongs. And yes, that feeling of “the people here love the true me” is instantly empowering. It’s freeing, empowering and joyful.

I think it’s a bit of secret sauce— the culture of Rockbrook. A community this friendly and accepting, one that opens girls up, inspiring them to learn about themselves and be genuine to themselves, is an added force making camp even more empowering. Now when you see Rockbrook girls being powerful and especially amazing, you’ll have a hunch why.

powerful summer camp cabin group


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