Part of the joy of being at camp is having the freedom to do things just for the fun of it. It’s one part of what we mean in the Rockbrook mission statement by “carefree summer living.” We know that most children feel certain pressures at home and at school, perhaps to be productive (like adults) or efficient (also like adults). Camp is a special environment where girls are allowed to put aside those adult-like cares and concerns, and revel in the fun of this community of friends, active and outdoors.
A good example of this is a shaving cream fight, like the ones we held today for the three different lines (age groups). There’s no real serious purpose to the event. It’s girls in their swimsuits, a sunny patch of grass, a can or two of plain shaving cream per person, and the overall goal of smearing the slippery foam all over oneself and the others nearby. For some the goal might be to cover every inch of your body with the stuff. For others, it might be to completely lather your hair and then make crazy hairstyles. It’s also a chance to sneak up and surprise a friend with a handful of cream splattered on her back. You see, all of these are simply for fun, messy, slightly mischievous fun. Today we also pulled out a long piece of plastic to make a slip-n-slide. It turns out, bodies covered in shaving cream slide extra fast when sprayed with a little water from a hose. Again just for fun, but really big fun the girls.
“Just for fun” applies to a lot of the regular activities at camp, even ones that for some can be taken very seriously. For example, dance can be a serious endeavor for some girls, one that includes hours of training, rehearsals and performances. Dance can be someone’s profession! Our dance activity at camp is more lighthearted. It does include learning specific dance moves or a choreographed routine, but it’s intentionally a little silly. It’s meant to accommodate a range of talents and experience so everyone can feel good giving it a try. Not a great dancer? We want to prove that dancing can be fun no matter what your sense of rhythm or timing. Feel a little awkward on the dance floor? When something’s just for fun, you don’t have to be “good” to enjoy it. Encouragement and support in a non-competitive community make trying something new all the more enjoyable, no matter how it turns out. Girls who are serious dancers have told me they love dancing at Rockbrook precisely because it’s not serious. They love being free to experiment and be silly (since that’s not as celebrated ordinarily in their dance world). I’ve heard this same comment about tennis and swimming too. Even though they need to be serious at times, kids also need to do things just for fun.
All that being said, what happens at camp is not “just” fun. The experience of being here is not simply some kind of fleeting entertainment. As I’ve said before, camp is “fun that matters.” In addition to the outward physical skills developing at camp— learning to sew, to do a cartwheel, to play gaga ball, to shoot a bow and arrow, and so forth —girls are improving their self confidence by accomplishing so much independently from their parents. They’re becoming more resilient as they deal with manageable setbacks or disappointments. They’re definitely improving their social skills living so closely within this small community. Perhaps most importantly, they’re discovering more about who they are and feeling good about their authentic selves. Wrapped in a thick layer of big fun, there’s a lot of really important, long-term personal strengths developing at camp as well.