Welcome (back) to Rockbrook! As we opened the second session and first July mini session today, it was clear again that arriving at camp is a pivotal moment for everyone— the campers, staff members, and yes the parents too. It’s certainly a day charged with eagerness and excitement… to the point of squealing in some cases, and quite understandably some jitters here and there, but it also marks the start of something we know is going to be great. It was wonderful to see the girls quickly settle in, meeting their pen pals for the first time, or reconnecting with their camp friends from last summer with huge hugs. A few parents mentioned that they were a little surprised, but also proud, to see how easily their daughter said goodbye and ran off with friends, literally leaving them in the dust! Friendly people everywhere, hikes, games and the first of many conversations already underway, it was a delightful opening day.
One of the magical parts of life at Rockbrook is the opportunity to explore. There are simply countless wonders to discover— old crooked trees, massive boulders and tiny flowering plants clinging to the side of a creek. There are log cabins, activity buildings hidden in the woods, a tunnel, a cave, several waterfalls, and a rock face promising a view of the distant mountains. In addition to the lake, there’s a creek to play in, a gaga ball pit, lodge porches with red rocking chairs, and forest paths that lead off in several different directions. And our daily schedule at camp provides several blocks of time for the girls to do this exploring. This is why we began immediately with tours of camp. Each cabin group and their counselors took a brief walk around camp identifying landmarks (Where’s “Hiker’s Rock?”) and explaining where the activities take place. Oriented to the physical layout of camp, let the exploration begin!
Right after lunch, as the heat of the day set in, we opened the lake to have all the campers demonstrate their swimming ability and cool off at the same time. We have a swim tag system that helps our team of lifeguards know which girls are strong swimmers and which should be restricted to the shallow area of our lake or be required to wear a PFD when in the water. To receive their tag, all the girls first perform a “swim demo” for the guards, a swim out about 50 feet in the deep part of the lake, back another 50 feet using some kind of backstroke, and finally treading water for a full minute.
You might think this sort of “swim demo” (AKA “test”) is scary or at least a little nerve-racking, and for some girls it is, especially when you consider the chilly temperature of our stream-fed lake. There are a few things that happen, though, that make this time at the lake more fun and festive than worrisome or distressing. First, it’s an incredibly supportive setting with all the lifeguards cheering the girls on, all the Directors likewise being encouraging. There’s camaraderie in the fact that everyone comes down together to “jump in the lake.” Add to that the congratulations afterwards no matter what color tag is earned. With everyone at the lake, colorful towels strewn about, it’s a lively atmosphere. We even pump out some laid back Reggae music to inspire the girls to take it easy and relax. Even for those girls who opted to not do their “swim demo” (and thereby chose not to participate in any of the water-related activities at camp), the afternoon was lighthearted and fun.
To explain the activity options available this session, to orient the girls to what happens during their 4 scheduled activity periods, we held an assembly and watched the counselors present skits and songs about what they have planned. The adventure staff (rock climbers, kayakers, zip line leaders, and hiking guides) presented some of their cool, colorful gear and explained how to sign up for these special trips. The lifeguards sang a song about the “Mermaid Club,” the fun lake toys, water slide, and free swim games available. All of the craft instructors showed off the amazing weaving, jewelry, sewing, ceramics, painting and paper projects that the girls can make. Later tonight, after dinner, all the campers will select their first set of activities, and now knowing the options, they can decide more enthusiastically.
We’ve got an excellent group of counselors and skilled staff members ready to unfold elaborate, multifaceted plans for creativity, adventure, and loads of silly fun. And we’ve got a completely packed camp of girls keen to get started. So let’s do it!