Pottery — A craft tradition for girls at Rockbrook

Girls Crafts and Ceramics Camp

One of the many folk crafts of the Appalachian region, including the area around Rockbrook Camp, is pottery. Following a long tradition of people making household pots from clay, there are now, according to the Southern Highland Craft Guild, more than 125 ceramic artists and potters working in western North Carolina. Using traditional and modern techniques, the most amazing sculpture, tiles, pots and other vessels still spring from these hills.

At Rockbrook, girls and crafts definitely go together, and making pottery is something just about everyone does. It’s probably one of the most popular activities, in fact (not counting horseback riding 🙂 ). Working with clay, pinching, rolling, flattening, shaping, texturizing, and spinning on the wheel, the girls make some amazing things. It’s particularly exciting to see how the glazes come out after firing their work. Who would think continuing an Appalachian crafts tradition would be so fun!

Kids Summer Program

Kids Camp Time

Is it possible to have “too much summer camp?” According to Abby Brunks, in her recent Atlanta Journal Constitution article, the answer might be yes. Ms. Brunks fears that being at summer camp can become an extension of the busy, overly scheduled life most kids experience throughout the school year. She believes that kids need a “good long break to just hang out,” and therefore cautions parents not to send their kids away to summer camp (particularly “specialty camps” apparently) for “weeks on end.”

Here at Rockbrook, we understand this concern. That’s why we build into every day a good amount of free time when campers can just “hang out.” There’s time to sit on the porch and talk, explore one of the camp streams, goof around with your cabin mates, make up a song, write a letter, or just relax. For years we’ve recognized this as one of the great opportunities of camp— it’s a chance to experience carefree summer living, to have the freedom to decide for yourself what you feel like doing, while having so many fun options easily available. That’s why coming to camp is so great. Sure at home you may be able to hang out, but you won’t have near the opportunity to try new things, meet new people, and explore nature. And because it is so refreshingly different from home or school, weeks easily seem like days.

Rockbrook Horseback Riding Video

Riding video girl

OK, are you ready for an awesome video of horseback riding from camp last summer? You can poke around the Rockbrook Camp web site and see all kinds of great photos of girls riding, taking care of horses, and enjoying their time at camp.

But, nothing beats a fun video of all that action. Here is a riding video! Watch closely, and you’ll see plenty of people you know, lots of jumping, views of the upper and lower riding rings, and of course a bunch of the Rockbrook Camp horses. A little Rockbrook summer horse camp fun. Enjoy!

Camp — A place for girls to grow

Weaver Baskets at Summer Camp

Back in 1998, Kellogg’s produced a television commercial that, quite unintentionally, reminds us why a girl’s time at summer camp can be so valuable, why it really can fuel tremendous personal growth. The commercial shows a little boy reciting a “declaration” of sorts about what children need.

“We the children need the following:
We need encouragement.
We need to laugh.
We need inspiration.
We need to be read to.
We need to have self-esteem,
Love and security,
Adventure,
Discipline and Freedom.
We need to make mistakes,
Ask questions,
To imagine.
We need to win,
And sometimes we need to lose.
We need to be hugged.
We need family, friends and even foes,
And heroes.
We need nourishment.”

It’s just amazing how camp is one of those unique places that provides almost all of these ingredients. With its wide ranging program of activities, caring staff members, traditions and overall philosophy, summer camp satisfies these needs for children. We’ve often said it at Rockbrook; “camp is a place for girls to grow.”

Here’s the commercial.

Advanced Riders at Rockbrook Camp

Horse Riding Girl at Summer Camp

“Can I learn more advanced riding skills at Rockbrook Camp?”

The director of our riding program, places each camper who wants to ride at camp in a class with girls of similar ability, and assigns each camper an appropriate mount. This could be a gentle pony for a younger beginner, or a schooled hunt-seat horse.

With outstanding horses from St. Andrews College and Sweet Briar College, as well as the camp’s own horses, and with skilled instructors who work with horses and teach riding year-round, Rockbrook horseback riders are set to learn. It’s so great to ride an excellently schooled horse, and have fresh, appropriate instruction for your riding. Advanced riders can learn to post the trot, canter and jump. No matter what your level, the horse riding program at RBC is ready.

Advanced riders have a special advanced riding camp at Rockbrook!

A Crazy Camp of Grannies

Summer camp Girls Dressed as Grannies

A bathrobe
A wig
A couple of hair curlers
Lots of powder for all over
Glasses, preferably small ones on the end of your nose
Pillows or other stuffing for certain areas 😉
A walking cane
Loose, baggy nylon stockings
Big puffy slippers
Really red, and a little messy, lipstick
A scratchy or frail sounding voice

“Put them altogether, and you’ve got a Rockbrook…” Well, a granny of course! And not just one, but a couple of hundred! It’s one of our favorite special evening programs at camp— to get dressed up like old ladies and play bingo. “Granny Bingo.” The thrill of the game, the awesome prizes, the costumes, and all the laughing. Sure it’s silly, it’s crazy, it’s goofy, but it’s also excellent fun.

Childrens Summer Camp Needlecraft

Children Needlecraft at Summer Camp

Another super popular summer camp activity for children at Rockbrook is something we call “Needlecraft.” It’s a craft activity where we make all kinds of things out of yarn, string, and thread, and as you might expect, use “needles” to weave, tie, twist and knit the strands into interesting patterns and shapes. Sometimes we do cross stitch (like in this photo), sometimes knitting, sometimes crocheting, or needlepoint, or other kinds of embroidery. It’s fun to learn these “old timey” crafts, and you can make some amazing things… hats, scarves, bookmarks, monograms, blankets, even socks! Plus, it’s the kind of thing that you can keep doing when you get home if you like.

Sitting on the back porch of Curosty, under the trees, listening to the creek and the birds, wiht lots of friends… it’s the perfect place to enjoy needlecraft.

Why Do Girls Go Rock Climbing?

Girls Rock Climbing Summer Camp

Why do girls go rock climbing when it looks so scary?

Well, there’s something fun about the challenge of it all, the concentration and the determination it takes. You know there’s an amazing view waiting at the top and the repel down is thrilling, but it also feels good to use your muscle strength to balance up. The whole thing is like a puzzle you solve through coordination, physical and mental endurance powering your careful movements on the rock. Making it past difficult spots, maybe even all the way to the top, is a great confidence boosting experience. Sure it’s a little scary, but it’s perfectly safe too. When you’re done, it just makes you want to climb again!

Rock climbing is one of those summer camp adventures that’s just loaded with surprising benefits.

Pottery Camp for Girls

Pottery Camp at Rockbrook

What’s the pottery program like at Rockbrook Camp?

It’s fantastic! There are two different pottery studios at camp, each with work tables for hand building (using coils, slabs, and pinch techniques) and potter’s wheels for learning how to make wheel-thrown pots. No matter what their level of experience, campers can make all sorts of bowls, plates, cups, and sculptures. One popular thing to make is a whistle that you shape into some kind of animal, like a turtle for example. It’s neat to actually make your own pottery at camp instead of just glazing pre-made pots. After your creations are “bisque fired” (the first kiln firing that completely dries and stabilizes the pottery), you then paint on different color glazes, and after the final firing, you’ve got the coolest, shiny colored ceramics. Of course, in addition to learning all about this, it’s great to bring home all the pottery you’ve made.

Outdoor Programs for Girls

Outdoor Girls at Summer Camp

There’s something really special about spending most of your time outdoors. When you’re a girl who goes to school all day, rides around in a car between things, and maybe lives where the weather is a little “tough” most of the time, it’s a rare thing to be outside. Because it’s so rare, it feels so liberating to have regular outdoor experience, to romp through a stream, feel a warm breeze, hear the sharp clap of thunder, get muddy 🙂 and just plain explore all the wonders of nature.

There’s a lot to say about how this time outdoors is extraordinarily good for us, but it’s perfectly fun too. Summer camp, of course, is one of the best places to find all this. It’s a place where you can recharge and balance out what we’ve been missing most of the year. Just thinking about it, makes us smile with anticipation!

Get out there and explore! Make a yummy treat over a campfire. Sleep in tent pitched in the woods. Climb to the top of a mountain to catch the view. Soak your feet in the creek. Hold perfectly still and listen to the birds of the forest. The opportunities are endless!