Yesterday afternoon, our current mini session Seniors and their counselors packed a lunch for a trip to this waterfall located up on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Not knowing what weather we’d find at that elevation (a little over 5,100 feet compared to Rockbrook’s 2,300 feet), we took our chances and made the long climb in the buses up US276. As we ascended, however, the mistier and foggier it became. Finally up on the parkway, we stopped for a view and found we were within the clouds, completely immersed in the grey vapor and soon quite cold from the driving moist wind. Needless to say, there was very little “view,” and suddenly our picnic plans seemed at risk. We realized though, driving a bit further, that the wind was the culprit, and that with some shelter, the view to the north was sensational and the outside temperature was suitable, albeit still a little cool. The rain was very light, barely a mist, so we were able to find a nice overlook and have our picnic after all. Once at the trailhead for our hike, it began to rain a little harder and again I could tell from the looks on a few of the girls’ faces, there was some doubt that we could continue. Fortunately, though, the rain blew past us quickly and we could reach the waterfall without too much effort. Sure we got a little wet, and yes we had to take extra care scrambling down and over wet rocks, but the trail, lined with glistening bushes, was gorgeous and the falls were magnificent. Despite what first appeared as terrible conditions, our determination and perseverance rewarded us in the end.
In addition to “Play Outside this Summer,” which I wrote about here, one of the Rockbrook tag lines is “A Place for Girls to Grow.” It is another short phrase that, also like our mission statement, summarizes the goals we have for your girls at camp, our aspirations for everyone at Rockbrook. Quite simply put, we hope your girls will grow from their experience at camp, that they will develop in important ways, all the while having the time of their lives. We want camp to be for them both formative and fun.
This hiking trip, as is true for so many other experiences at camp, is a good example of how this growth takes place. It created for all of us a set of personal challenges and thereby opportunities to learn. Beyond dealing with slightly uncomfortable weather, it presented physical challenges because it required us hike a steep trail and at one point to balance carefully over slippery rocks. It required true teamwork as each person helped another through one especially tricky area. The hike demonstrated that a positive attitude— an enthusiastic, supportive, encouraging, friendly approach— is powerful and often a crucial part of a successful group endeavor. It provided experiential evidence that setbacks and disappointments can be overcome with perseverance. It became another page in a wonderful book of experiences your girls are writing at camp, a book filled with life lessons that will undoubtedly play a role in their later success.
So many of the other challenges at Rokbrook provide these opportunities to grow too. On the surface of things we are sewing pillows, weaving baskets, balancing on the beam, paddling canoes, shooting rifles, and getting to know each other while relaxing in the grass before lunch. We are doing amazing things everyday. But what’s most important about camp lasts much longer. Years from now your girls probably won’t remember very much about what they did or didn’t do at camp. They’ll forget that hike. Instead, they’ll recall the positive feeling of being a part of a caring community. They’ll know first-hand how honest communication, compromise and cooperation makes every group grow closer, more powerful, and rewarding. They’ll be more confident, more resilient, and more courageous when faced with challenges later in life. From their time at Rockbrook, we know they’ll have grown.
There are many marvelous things in store for these girls later in life. We’re quite proud to join you in guiding them toward that future success.