A Quick Quote on Camp

Camp Kid Reading

We ran into this quote the other day and thought we should share it. It’s from Charles William Eliot, who at 35 was the youngest president of Harvard University.

“I have a conviction that a few weeks spent in a well-organized summer camp may be of more value educationally than a whole year of formal school work.”

It’s nice to see the value of camp being endorsed by highly educated people. We agree. Camp is educational in the broadest, but also most fundamental, sense of the word. Through personal experience, it offers opportunities to forge connections and nurture children far beyond what school can provide. There’s really nothing quite like camp!

Spotlight on Sarah

Sarah Reed Carter is the Director of Rockbrook Summer Camp for Girls

Sarah Reed Carter is the Director of Rockbrook. She grew up in Winston-Salem, NC and began her Rockbrook career in 1985. Sarah thought it would be fun to be a CIT (Counselor in Training) while her older sister was a cabin counselor. So at 16, she had her first camp experience not realizing what a big part of her life Rockbrook would be years later.

Sarah returned to camp year after year while attending Trinity College in Connecticut and until starting graduate school at Vanderbilt University for her Masters of Education degree. She taught drama, worked as a lifeguard, and served almost every age group as a cabin counselor. Along the way, she met her future husband Jeff, who at the time worked as a hiking and climbing guide for camp. Sarah and Jeff were married at Rockbrook in 1996.

For the next 8 years, Sarah taught elementary school in Nashville, TN, Concord, NC, and Asheville, NC.  After returning to Brevard, she became the director of a local preschool for 2 years before returning to Rockbrook to be a full-time director with Jeff.

While camp is in session, Sarah oversees camp life and communication with parents.  During the off-season, she works on camper recruitment, communication with Rockbrook’s camp families, and child specific issues.  She also loves spending time with Jeff and her two daughters Eva and Lily.

Befriend a Special Horse

Youth Horse Rider

It’s so easy to enjoy horseback riding at camp. Everything is right there for you: beautiful horses, wonderful instructors, excellent equipment and riding facilities, and other youth to ride with.

Part of that enjoyment comes from befriending a special horse, from being paired with a graceful powerful animal you grow to trust and who trusts you. It’s really a special relationship. With kind and gentle communication, you and your horse become more responsive to each other, and more comfortable together. There’s nothing quite like it— the feeling of power and freedom you experience when you and your camp horse willingly cooperate and ride.

It’s also a real accomplishment for a youth girl to build this kind of friendship with a horse at camp. It takes patience and a caring attitude, but with good instruction and practice, every girl can do it. Every girl can experience the joy of horseback riding.

The Rockbrook Camp Bell

Girls Summer Camp Bell

Here’s something that all the girls who attend Rockbrook will easily recognize— the camp bell! This is the bell we ring to signal the whole camp when it’s time to change activity periods, come to meals, and of course, wake up in the morning. It has such a clear tone and is easily heard throughout the entire camp, even up on Castle Rock.

It’s actually a very old bell (1895), well over 100 years old, and older than the camp itself by more than 20 years. For as long as anyone around here can remember it’s been perched up in the big oak tree at the front of the dining hall, ready to be rung by pulling on the rope that leads to the dining hall porch. It’s one of those very familiar parts of camp that everybody loves.

Top 5 Summer Summer Camp Directories

When searching for summer camps, it’s always good to look at several to compare them and learn about which might best fit your child. You can spend a lot of time searching the Internet and reading different camps’ individual websites, but you can also visit one of the many summer camp directories out there. These are special sites designed to help sift through all the options. You can narrow the complete list of camps by region, by activity specialty, by gender, by type (sleepaway vs. day, e.g.), even by religion. As you enter your preferences, you’ll be presented with a more manageable list of camps to research in more detail, for example by requesting their catalogs and promotional DVDs.

Summer Camp Directories

Ah, but there are lots of summer camp directories out there too!  So here are what we consider the top 5 camp directories to visit.  Each is organized a little differently and will therefore yield somewhat different search results.  Looking for a residential girls camp in the southeast?  In addition to Rockbrook, each of these directories will reveal a range of options.  After spending some time on these sites, you’ll have an excellent idea about which summer camp will be right for your child.

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mysummercamps Summer Camps Directory
camppage camps directory
summercamps camp directory
kidscamp summer camps
Camp girl aiming arrow

Steep Hiking Adventure

Steep Castle Rock Hiking Girls

Here’s a picture of a hiking group at the top of Castle Rock, one of the two massive rocks on the Rockbrook Camp property (the other one being Dunn’s Rock). From up there, the view is out across the French Broad River Valley and out to the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s an amazing spot to see Cedar Rock (another climbing destination) and on a clear enough day, Tennent Mountain (a backpacking spot up near the Shining Rock Wilderness area). Sitting at this spot on Castle Rock your elevation is almost 2,450 feet above sea level. Below you is a 150 foot rock cliff and further below is the main part of camp which has an elevation of 2,250 feet.

You knew hiking the trail from camp to Castle Rock was steep uphill; now you know how much! You’re hiking up about 200 feet in about half a mile.  Sure there are switch-backs, but that trail is steep!

Summer Pottery Program

Summer Pottery Arts Program

The Rockbrook pottery program continues to be a very popular activity at camp.  Both  pottery studios always seem to be humming— girls sculpting, pressing or decorating something, and instructors zipping around to give pointers, prepare materials, or plan a kiln firing. All this action means that there are some pretty cool things being made too! There are multi-colored tiles, sculpted miniature animals, giant coil pots (like the one in this photo), and delicate wheel-thrown cups and bowls.

One really cool project is to take a smooth flat slab of clay and press natural forms into it so that they leave intricate textures. Little twigs, leaves, and tree bark, for example, all leave amazing patterns. You can then use the slab to make a vase or some other vessel.

It’s easy to see why the Rockbrook summer arts program is so well loved.  There’s almost an endless variety of pottery projects to make, great satisfaction seeing how they turn out when glazed and fired, and the fun of being with your friends throughout.

The Youngest Equestrian Riders

Young Horseback Riding Girls

Can the youngest children at camp take horseback riding?

Absolutely, yes! The youngest girls at Rockbrook, who are 6 years old, are some of our most enthusiastic riders down at the equestrian center. Camp is a great place to develop girls’ interests in horses, even to take their very first ride. Rockbrook has several experienced, gentle ponies, perfect for these young beginning horseback riders, and our staff is well qualified to teach beginner lessons. There’s lots to learn— what to wear, safety rules, grooming, tacking up, how to mount, riding position, communicating with your horse, and so much more— but step by step, you’ll progress through it all.

Equestrian Riding is fun and rewarding: yes, even for the youngest girls!

Summer Camp Musical

Into the Woods Summer Camp Musical Drama

Last year our summer camp musical was Into the Woods. Each summer we select a musical for the girls to produce, practice and perform at the end of the main sessions, and in 2008 it was this wonderful play by Stephen Sondheim. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a story that integrates aspect of Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Bean Stalk, and Rapunzel. With so many characters involved, it’s a great summer camp drama production because so many campers can have a part, even a singing part. Then the girls are also designing and making costumes, painting scenery, and pulling together all the details of the play. It’s always a treat to see the wide range of talents the Rockbrook campers can show off.

In the next few weeks we’ll be considering different plays for this summer’s camp sessions. If you have any suggestions, let us know in the comments.

Kids’ Freedom to Play

Kids Summer Free Time

“I’m so glad you build into each day plenty of free time.”

Yes, our daily camp schedule includes three different blocks of time when kids can do what they want— right before lunch, right before dinner and right after dinner.  Before lunch and dinner we open the lake for a “free swim,” a time when anyone in camp can come down for a dip.  Otherwise, kids can hang out in their cabin with friends, play games on the hill, explore the creek by “Curosty,” write letters home, chat with their counselor, prepare a skit for evening program, or just read a book.  There are so many options.

This kind of free time is such a welcome relief from the overly scheduled, competitive, pressured life so many kids deal with at home and at school.  Grades! Sports! Music Lessons! Home Chores!  Since their childhood is almost “job-like” with its extensive commitments and expectations, kids really need a place that allows for their own pace, their own interests, and their own sense of fun to flourish.  At Rockbrook, we all enjoy this, every day.

After all, you gotta have free time to really play.