Leadership Summer Camp

Kids Learning Leadership

Summer camp is one of the best places for children to learn about leadership, to explore what it means to be a good leader, and to practice the kinds of personal skills important to being a leader. Bring together kids of different ages (at Rockbrook that’s girls between 6 and 16 years old) and provide so many activities where they interact and play together, and you’ll have one event after another where leadership is central. Campers find themselves asking questions like, “How can we work together on this?” and saying things like “Let’s make a plan.” It might be for a cabin skit or preparing for a group hike, but being a good listener, cooperating, maybe compromising, being creative about individual contributions, and being confident about being part of a team are almost daily parts of camp. Particularly for our oldest campers, for example the CAs who plan the end-of-session banquet, overnight camp offers (even requires, at times) chances to develop leadership skills and serve as leaders for the younger campers.

Sure there’s lots of crazy fun going on, but we’re growing as well.

Camps in the South

South summer camp

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been making our fall travel plans, scheduling Rockbrook Camp parties all over the south. Several are set on the calendar. Chances are we’re coming to your city or some place close by, so check out the schedule here: Camp Party Schedule. If you haven’t come to one of these parties before, they’re great fun. We watch a movie and see some slides from last summer, see each other again 🙂 and meet loads of new people interested in camp for next summer. We’ll be going to more places in the winter also, so stay tuned!

Every year Rockbrook girls all across the the south get re-energized about attending camp.  These parties spark that energy in the fall and early spring, so that when summer approaches, everyone is bursting with excitement.

Kids Camp in NC

Kids at camp in North Carolina

Rockbrook is a kids camp in NC, that’s for sure, but we have so many kids that come to camp from other states far and wide. Of course, most are in the south— South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and Florida —but campers come from the midwest (e.g. Ohio!) and the northeast (Washington, DC and Brooklyn, NY for example) as well. Most campers drive to camp with their parents, so being within a day’s drive is the norm. Still, plenty of kids end up flying to camp when they live too far away to drive (like in California!). North Carolina is just a great NC location for a kids camp, even if (and especially if!) you don’t live here.

Take a look at our location page, and learn even more about this area of North Carolina.

Childrens Outdoor Experience

Another article has come our way (thanks Bird!) about the value of outdoor experience for kids. It’s “Time Outdoors Gives Kids a Big Boost” by Tom Stienstra of the San Francisco Chronicle. The article is about an initiative in California to recognize a “Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights,” a document declaring that every child should have certain opportunities connected to the outdoor world. It lists ten things every child should do:

  • 1. Discover California’s past.
  • 2. Splash in water.
  • 3. Play in a safe place.
  • 4. Camp under the stars.
  • 5. Explore nature.
  • 6. Learn to swim.
  • 7. Play on a team.
  • 8. Follow a trail.
  • 9. Catch a fish.
  • 10. Celebrate his or her heritage.

And quotes Gov. Schwarzenegger.

“Parents could start by applying the lessons to themselves and sharing the outdoor experiences with their children… I believe that learning outdoor skills should be a required class.”

The connections here to summer camp, of course, are strong. After all, it’s what camp does every day— we splash, play, climb, camp out, explore and discover, celebrate and learn… all in the context of being outside. It would be great to see some of this implemented in schools, but at the very least, we know that camp is a great start.

Childrens Outdoor Camp and Games

What Summer Camps are About

Summer Camp Baskets

Here’s another interesting bit of reading about summer camps, this time from Harper’s Magazine (September 2007 issue). Rich Cohen, in “The Summer of Our Discontent: An Ode to Sleepaway Camp,” writes about his childhood experience at a camp in Wisconsin, and brings to the article a good deal of research about summer camping for kids in general. There’s lots of good stuff to be found (subscribers can read more here), but I wanted to simply pass along a summary quote.

“Life at camp was changing— the nature of the kids and counselors, the very sense of what camp should be about. In the 1800s, it was about religion; in the early 1900s, it was about preserving a spark of frontier spirit; in the mid-1900s, it was about the barracks and preparing a generation for the coming war; now it’s about preparing kids for school and work, speeding them through the meritocracy.”

Yes, “being prepared” is still a big part of camp, but at Rockbrook we want kids to be kids. So camp is a place where girls can try new things, play, and play some more, create things, explore the outdoor world, gain confidence (social, physical, etc.), and have some crazy fun. Of course, personal growth and “preparation” for being a happy, well-adjusted individual happens within this context, and under the supervision of many positive role models.

I guess we could say attending Rockbrook isn’t primarily about learning how to be a better student or employee at school or work (though that might happen in the end), but it’s about having a more rounded and complete childhood experience that serves you well later in life.

Rock Climbing Summer Camp Trip

A Summer Camp Rock Climbing Trip

After breakfast we hike up the hill in camp, just up the trail behind the dining hall, to reach Castle Rock. Locking carabiners, harnesses, helmets, rock climbing shoes, and ropes… everything in place for a day up on the rock. Put on the gear and tie into the rope with a follow-through figure eight knot. Wait for the belayer to get set and begin the commands. “On belay?” “Belay is on,” she says. “Climbing?” “Climb on,” you hear, and you’re ready to go. A left foot up and you’re off. Lean to the right. A foot switch. A little tricky spot, but you get it. This is real rock climbing! Amazing view at the top. A quick rappel and you’re down. Great job!

RBC and the Brevard Music Center

Nancy Barnum Clark Carrier

Here’s a cool bit of Rockbrook Camp history for you. Nancy Barnum Clarke Carrier, the founder of Rockbrook (and who by the way is the great grandaughter of P.T. Barnum), is also one of the founders of the Brevard Music Center. The Music Center is a summer camp in Brevard for teenage musicians who come to collaborate with professional musicians, practice, perform, and just enjoy the wonderful mountain setting of Brevard. It was originally founded in 1936 at Davidson College and later moved to Brevard in 1945, only a few years after Rockbrook was established in 1921. Mrs. Carrier was also the Music Center’s first president and a director of its board until her death in 1977. Here she is in this great old photo.

Will you dance with me??

Dance at Summer Camp

It was lunch time when the girls got the announcement. The dining hall was completely filled with excited screams and a little bit of nervous laughter. Tonight was the dance. All the girls wanted to shower and get freshened up for those Camp Carolina boys, but unfortunately, due to the massive amount of rain and mud that afternoon… cleaning up was a little harder than most would’ve liked.

The boys arrived soon after dinner, and the dance was on its way. The thing I love about the dance is it’s not even about dancing with the boys, it’s about dancing with your campers. I know it was a great bonding experience for me and my girls. I mean, what bonds you better than dancing crazy to some Backstreet Boys and totally being silly!? I was dancing with one of my campers and later that night she told me that dance had been her favorite because I was the one dancing with her!

Camp Trick or Treat!?

Summer Camp Halloween Party

Walking into the dining hall, you couldn’t help but to look at every girl that passed by. It was Halloween night and we were all dressed up in our costumes. Pirates, cheerleaders, cowboys, and tourists filled each table. The Senior line put on a little after-dinner haunted house for all of us to participate in. Waiting in line, you could see all the girls were excited and anxious to get inside of the haunted house, and by the time they got through and out, you knew the wait was more than worthwhile. The seniors did a great job at making it fun and scary for all the girls, even the young juniors.

Childrens Camp Games

Summer Sports Camp

Basketball! Dodgeball! Kickball! Four Square! Volleyball! And more versions of tag than you can count! There always seems to be some kind of gym sports camp game going on— counselors and campers running around and having fun in the Rockbrook gym. One of the best things to do is to make up a game. Take something you already know, like dodgeball for example, and then change it up somehow, like by having 3 or 4 teams instead of 2, or playing with a really huge ball, or having a “come back to life” ball. Gosh, the options are almost endless!