Hello from Rockbrook! Today we opened our first session of the summer 2021 season. After months of planning, and really two years of thinking about how camp would be this summer, the opening day arrived. Finally, we can welcome girls to camp, introduce them to all the other amazing campers and staff members that make up this community, and begin to experience all the special aspects of camp life. “More than ever” seems to be the phrase of the day. Given the feelings of loss, and many struggles imposed upon everyone by the coronavirus pandemic, we all need camp more than ever. The time outside, the laughter and smiling faces, the closeness of friendship, the hilarious silliness, the opportunity for fresh, real-world (tech-free) experience— yep, more than ever. You can already see it on the girls faces and hear it in their voices. They’re so happy to be here, so ready to play, to be carefree kids, and to enjoy the fun of camp. For the staff too, they missed this place and the simpler, more genuine life camp provides. This has always been true at Rockbrook, summer after summer, but this year, it’s even more so.
Thank you parents for helping make our new opening day procedure so smooth. Your attention to the details of our pre-camp protocols and instructions (so many forms! emails! text messages!) really helped make this new check-in a success. We especially appreciate all the effort you put into keeping your girls healthy before arriving. We know the symptom monitoring, and the testing was an added burden, but we think it is well worth the benefit it provides the whole camp community. Thank you! If you have any feedback about your check-in experience, we’d love to hear from you.
One worry about this new procedure was that the campers would not have their parents to help settle them into their cabin. From the camper’s point of view, his turned out to be unjustified. Since we had campers stagger their arrivals by age, this helped the girls in each cabin arrive close to one another, and that allowed everyone to set up their bunks together. A fun new group project was born, with the counselors and bunkmates helping make the whole cabin more comfortable. We were able the launch the whole cabin group into action right away. A great thing!
As campers arrived throughout the morning, those cabin groups already settled enjoyed playing tetherball, snacking on homemade banana bread, and exploring the main areas of camp. Sunny skies made this wonderful. By noon, everyone had arrived and were ready for our first dining hall lunch— Rick’s famous mac-n-cheese. Over the years (This is Rick’s 11th year managing the Rockbrook kitchen.), this has become a favorite opening day meal. With roasted broccoli, and bowls of freshly cut fruit, this meal is a true crowd pleaser. It think the secret is the 3 different kinds of cheese he uses, but it’s bound to be more than just that!
The girls had time for cabin meetings after lunch. They discussed general rules and good habits for getting along in such close living quarters. They talked about their “cabin contracts” that can help address disagreements, and guide their interactions positively. For example, they agreed that you should ask permission before sitting on another person’s bed.
The afternoon brought everyone to the lake. The lifeguards and directors took time to explain the safety procedures of the waterfront area and answer everyone’s questions about how to make the most of the swimming opportunities at camp— the “mermaid” (lap swimming) club, the water slide, floats, and free swim times. Then, cabin by cabin, the girls took turns demonstrating their swimming ability by jumping off the dock, swimming and treading water for a minute. Each camper received a “swim tag” based on that ability which determines where in the lake they can swim. We have ways to allow everyone at Rockbrook to enjoy the lake, no matter what their swimming ability. With fun music playing, and the encouraging cheers of friends, these “swim demos” were a fun way to spend the afternoon. Was the water cold? Let’s just say it was “refreshing.”
At its core, camp is about connection. It’s about taking a break from our screens, and discovering the beauty of nature that’s been there all along. It’s about the joy of friendship found in simple shared experience. In these ways and others, camp is such a relief. And yes, this summer, that’s true more than ever.