After more than a week of completely dry and rather warm weather, we had two hours of the opposite last night right before dinner. It was one of those storms where a fast moving front, with a solid blanket of rain and not so much wind, pushed past us, and in just that short amount of time we had almost an inch of cool rain fall. This didn’t really phase the campers much, since extending the last activity period and staying inside until dinner is simple enough, but the gravel roads around camp (a little less than 2 miles of them!) needed to be scraped and smoothed. This photo of a canoeing class this morning shows another remnant of the storm— the Rockbrook lake’s brown, almost coffee-like color from the silt washed down the creek. All of the rivers around here take on this color after these big, deep washing storms, so Rockbrook’s stream-fed lake is no exception. In about a day, the silt will settle and the deeper, dark lake color we know will return.
Waking up at Rockbrook, after an evening storm like that, takes on a magical quality. It starts with shades of gray and a gradually brightening of the sky. Everything is almost colorless as a thick fog, born from the cool moisture in the air, envelopes us. The sounds of birds awakening and the rich, organic smell of the forest remind you of the all the life hiding in the mist. At 8:00am the more human sounds of camp begin to mingle. A sleepy Hi-Up comes down to the dining hall porch to ring the wake up bell, a sound that girls at Rockbrook have heard for 90 years. It doesn’t take long for campers and counselors to begin trickling out of their cabins toward the dining hall. Meanwhile, it’s getting brighter and brighter, and everything is becoming more colorful. There are girls’ voices, sounds of cabin doors closing and tables being set with plates, cups and flatware as the sun pokes through the fog and the flowers on the grassy hill beam brightly. Rockbrook is set for another wonderful day.
Today was a big day on the Nantahala river for most of the Middlers and Seniors at camp. Yesterday we asked who would like to go whitewater rafting, and almost everyone signed up for either an overnight trip that included camping at our outpost near the river, or a day trip. The Nantahala is an ideal river to raft, perfect for beginners, but with enough bigger rapids to keep everyone excited. Our raft guides met us at the put-in with all of the RBC equipment so when the buses of campers arrived, they could hop right out and get suited up with lifejackets, paddles and helmets. Some of the girls looked a little nervous about the trip— perhaps it was hearing how cold the water is that worried them —but that was balanced by the overall excitement of the group and soothed by the raft guides. They calmly and cheerfully explained all the safety protocols, and coached the girls about how to paddle and stay in the raft during the trip. These are veteran raft guides; each one has more than ten years of whitewater experience and working with kids. The trip down the river takes a couple of hours alternating over rapids and calm spots, deep and shallow sections, rocky and clear stretches of the river. This photo shows one of the games the guides sometimes play. It’s called “Hood Ornament” and it’s when the campers take turns riding on the front of the raft, like the figurehead of a ship. Going over some of the smaller rapids, this can be a bumpy, face-splashing ride! The weather was perfectly warm and sunny today, making these trips loads of fun and what will be for many of the girls a highlight of their outdoor experience at camp.
Back at camp in time for dinner, the girls were surprised to learn that it was “Birthday Night.” This is a fun special dinner where a group of counselors throw a camp-wide birthday party, complete with decorations, music, costumes and of course birthday cake. They rearrange the dining hall so that everyone can sit at a table according to their birth month. The kitchen, mostly Alison our dedicated baker, prepares by baking 12 cakes, one for each month, and then with some help from the Hi-Ups, they are decorated to match the night’s theme: Candyland. With the counselors leading the way, the campers were encouraged to dress up in a “candy-related” costume. Of course, that can mean just about anything, but I did see at least one M&M and a couple of recognizable candy canes. There are a few shots of cakes in the photo gallery… lots of colorful decoration!
Oh, I almost forgot to mention the amazing muffins Alison baked for us today. She broke completely new ground with her “Lucky Charms Muffins.” Just for the fun of it, she took a granola muffin recipe and substituted part of the granola with the cereal making a colorful variation. You could still recognize the pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, and green clovers. They were magically delicious! 🙂