A Decision to Leap

One of the special thrills at Rockbrook, something that every camper can experience if they choose, is to ride through our zipline course. “If they choose” is important because, like all of the activities here, it’s up the girls themselves to decide what they would like to do. Nothing is mandatory. So if someone doesn’t want to swim in the lake, or take riflery, or climb the tower, or only do craft activities (there are eight different ones!), that is perfectly fine. We want girls here to feel empowered and this agency is a simple way for them to experience that.

high flying zip girl

Signing up for the zipline does take some nerve. After all, there are three different zips and three different challenging bridges to cross during the hour or so of making your way through the course. Like many high adventure activities, there is special safety equipment involved and important protocols that must be followed. There’s a certain degree seriousness to it, which can add to the jitters a girl might have. But it also looks really fun, and almost everyone in camp is eager to give it a try.

We designed the course to be scenic, to be a progression of challenges, and to be a unique thrill. The course is woven into the forest with each zip going between huge boulders, among the trees and even a waterfall above the main part of camp. The first zip is slower, and the last is an eye-popping, you-can’t-help-but-scream, blast. The girls wear a helmet and climbing harness tethered to a dual-wheel pulley with a steel backup clip. Launching on a zip, trusting this equipment, takes courage, but the exciting payoff comes right away as the girls zoom through the air waving their arms. Their being brave, their making a decision to leap, despite being a little nervous, ends up being something they really enjoy, and will probably look back on fondly. The lesson, even if they can’t say it out loud, is that they are stronger than they think. These girls can do things!

summer camp dance class

Dance is one of those camp activities that you can do elsewhere but is uniquely different at camp. When campers sign up for dance, they don’t know what the instructor will choose to teach. It might be a ballet skill, or a particular Hip-Hop move, or a country line dance routine. What’s guaranteed though is that the scene will be lighthearted and upbeat. There’s a playfulness to learning dance, as everyone starts out being kinda clumsy, making moves with odd timing. This tone, plus the fact that friends are trying to learn together, makes taking dance really funny too. There’s something particularly hilarious about watching your crew twist or spin in the wrong direction or on the wrong beat. The wall of mirrors makes this inevitable. Dancing and laughing: it’s a great combination.

Girls Sliding Rock

It was time for another classic camp thrill last night after dinner— a trip to Sliding Rock, with a stop at Dolly’s Dairy Bar afterwards. After a little late start, we arrived at “The Rock” when nobody was there, giving us the whole place to ourselves. Since we had six buses and vans full of girls and counselors, that was a good thing. We placed two lifeguards at the top of the slide and four at the bottom, giving us plenty of eyes on the girls as they slid two-by-two. As you might expect, the water is “mountain stream cold” and is, like riding the zipline, something that takes a little nerve to try, but once you literally take the plunge, it’s an exciting experience. It’s so fun, most girls immediately want to do it again. In fact, because it was getting dark, we had to end the sliding, even though there were girls who would have gladly kept going.

We wrapped up the evening at Dolly’s so everyone could enjoy a cone of their favorite flavor. This is so popular with the girls, we make sure every camper gets to sample some Dolly’s ice cream while they’re here at camp. Good stuff, for sure!

summer camp teenagers

A Rainy Rafting Day

As we loaded the first three buses and vans early this morning, we had a hunch it was going to be a challenging day. The weather forecast called for patchy rain, but we had 70 people signed up to go rafting. The real question was how much rain would fall over at the Nantahala river, and could we avoid the heaviest periods of rainfall. Despite that uncertainty, the guides left at 6:15am to stage all the equipment in advance of the first group of campers arriving. And despite it being early in the morning, that first group woke up early for a quick breakfast before leaving around 7. Dressed in their swimsuits, with towels, water shoes, and a backpack of warm dry clothes for after the trip, and a little bleary-eyed, we were off!

summer camp rafting girls

Sure enough, as we drove toward the river, the skies darkened and a light drizzle began falling. And by the time we reached the put in to the river, we’d passed through periods of real rain alternating with a cool mist.

The Nantahala is already known for its chilly water temperature (because it’s fed partially by a hydroelectric project that pulls water from a deep lake), so to add a cool rain and cloudy skies meant making an even chillier experience. Fortunately, we were prepared for that, and gave all of the campers blue spray jackets to wear. These repel the rain and help retain some body heat when paddling.

It was a rainy rafting day. Was it miserable or disappointing? No! Just the opposite— it was uncomfortable for sure, but also exciting, adventurous, and still very fun. The girls laughed and splashed their way down the river, taking turns “riding the bull” on the front of the raft. They had a great time posing for photographs and chatting in the boat. In each rapid, when there is an even greater chance someone might fall out of the boat, the splashing was extra thrilling.

Rafting is always a challenging experience to some degree. It’s something that’s a little scary ordinarily, but when it’s rainy like today, it’s even more so. What surprises the girls though is that even with their nervousness, their nagging worry perhaps, they find themselves leaning into the situation and doing just fine. What seems like something they would usually avoid, if given the choice, they in fact enjoy quite a lot.

Rafting helps them learn that approaching new experiences together, having friends around you in uncertain situations, makes a big difference. Rafting proves that when you’re nervous, it’s comforting to have your pals right there with you. That support helps you be more confident to give things a try, to be brave even when you’re not sure how things will turn out. Camp is full of these experiences. And, a rainy rafting day is a particularly good example. Today the girls showed real resilience and grit to stick together, endure some challenging conditions, but still have a blast on the water.

campers dressed as old person
granny costumed counselors

Meanwhile back at camp, we suddenly found that many of the campers and counselors had mysteriously aged dramatically. Instead of blond and brown hair, we saw many people with grey and white hair. Instead of girls running up and down the Rockbrook hills, folks were moving more slowly, almost limping along with one hand pressing their backs as if slightly in pain. The yoga class went from doing downward dog poses to easier moves that allowed these folks to sit in a chair. At the lake, instead of diving board tricks and waterslide splashes, there were people taking a gentle water aerobics class.

What was going on?

Curlers in their hair? Walking canes? And so many nightgowns! Well, it was a day of costumes at camp, of grannies and grandpas. It was a chance to take on a character and dress up. It was a chance to drop a “dad joke” and maybe speak with a higher pitched, scratchy voice.

After dinner, there was a brief fashion show on the hill. Anyone interested could take turns showing their best geriatric style. With music and an announcer narrating the scene, everyone clapped and cheered for each presentation… all just for the fun of it.

Capping things off, tonight’s evening program was a raucous game of bingo in the dining hall. The grannies and grandpas selected their bingo cards, and as the pingpong ball numbers tumbled out of the cage one by one, they placed pieces of cereal on the matching numbers. Round after round, lucky (seemingly) elderly people would raise their arms and shout “BINGO!” excited to win a prize. Like so many things at Rockbrook, the whole day was funny and fun… silly, joyful fun.

girls relaxing on porch at camp

Leap Into Camp Life

The first full day of camp today came alive beautifully. You might think that the girls would ease into things, maybe need some further introductions or explanations, and therefore move a little slowly at first. You might think some lingering uncertainty about what to do would keep certain things from happening right away. But none of that is true. Instead, like a light switch, everything at camp energized simultaneously.

kids washing a horse

For example, down at the riding center our staff taught lessons in all four rings for all four activity periods. The girls are assigned different lessons based on their ability and experience riding, and hence there are many lessons happening at once. This allows the more advanced girls to ride different horses and work on different skills. It’s quite a complex task to organize 32 horses and 7 instructors to teach these lessons everyday, but our Riding Director Kelsi has years of experience taking care of it. Our “Stable Club” also met today. It’s a chance for interested girls to spend more time with the horses, helping with grooming and washing them for example. It’s a great way to increase their understanding of horsemanship.

The zipline was likewise squealing with excitement today as the first cabin groups took their turn on the course. With three zips (the first of which glides past “Stick Biscuit Falls,” the waterfall up behind the camp office) and three wiggly challenge bridges, it’s an exciting adventure. We’re planning for everyone, all ages of girls at camp (Yes! even the Juniors!), to have a chance to ride the ziplines this summer.

archery camper girl

Archery and riflery are always popular activities at Rockbrook, quick to fill up with eager shooters. One girl told me she would take riflery every period if she could! Archery is similar in that anyone can learn to do it, and see real improvement in a short amount of time. Our instructors teach the important safety protocols and the essential techniques, and then the girls improve simply through practice. It’s a satisfying accomplishment when they hit a bullseye and join the “Bullseye Club.”

Over in the gym, Leo, our new gymnastics and tumbling coach, taught several classes of girls how to do cartwheels and back walkovers. He’s got years of teaching cheer squads and is great at providing tips and tricks that make learning these moves a lot easier. The girls are really excited to make progress on learning those skills.

All over camp today there was virtually no hesitation to leap into camp life. We’re playing games, and spending all day outside. We’re laughing and learning. We’re enjoying each others company and conversation. We’re eating well and sleeping even better. Camp life feels really good, and the girls are really enjoying it, even more than perhaps expected.

That’s a true joy to see.

The Delight of the Morning

You can’t open a summer camp without the people. And today people finally showed up! After months of thinking and planning, Rockbrook opened its first session of 2022 this morning. Our staff arrived last weekend to work through a series of orientation meetings and trainings covering topics like health and safety protocols, how to teach activities, tips for managing cabin group dynamics, and how the philosophy of Rockbrook guides what we do here. Honestly it’s a lot of discussion about what camp will be like, what we will be doing, so while informative, it just adds fuel to the feelings of anticipation leading up to opening day.

Excited summer camp counselors

So it was very exciting for all of us to see those first campers arrive at around 8:30 this morning. Dressed in their red and white staff uniforms, our counselors were literally jumping up and down with excitement, clapping, singing, and playing games on the hill waiting for their girls to arrive. Everything we’d been talking about was coming to reality!

Our drive-thru check in procedure worked very well. Each station from the office folks to the nurses was organized and efficient, and that helped keep the line of cars moving nicely. And the staggered arrival times spread everyone out enough that we never had a rush of families arriving at the same time.

I want to thank all of our families for being so organized and arriving having complied with all of our pre-camp protocols. We know it was a burden to arrange for a PCR covid-19 test, to track symptoms for a week, to complete all of those forms (!), and package medicines especially for camp. Thank you! We’re certain that your efforts will play a critical role in our running a safe and healthy camp. It really means a lot.

girl camp smiles

The absolutely perfect weather added to the delight of the morning— old camp friends reuniting, new campers being welcomed and suddenly finding themselves swept along as cabin groups began setting up their bunks. Soon groups of girls led by their counselors were exploring camp, warming up the tetherballs, and getting to know each other. The organic beauty of Rockbrook was sparkling all morning long, and mixed with the joyful cheers of everyone arriving, it was extraordinary.

Lunch was a perennial favorite: Rick’s homemade mac and cheese, fresh fruit and salad. All hot and cheesy, its a pasta dish that always pleases the crowd. It took about five minutes before a song broke out during lunch, and then only a few minutes longer for another to bubble up. It’s part of the fun of having dozens of friends sitting together for a meal.

The afternoon brought us all to the lake because the lifeguards were ready to let everyone demonstrate their swimming ability in anticipation of all the water action we’ll be offering at camp. Ready to swim, each age group took turns jumping off the dock, swimming out to give a high five to one of the guards, and then back to the deep part of the lake to tread water for a minute. There are a few different “swimming levels” that align with any difficulties doing any of that, but everyone can take advantage of the lake at camp in some way (maybe while wearing a life vest, for example), no matter what their swimming ability.

This summer we have brought back individual activity choice for the girls, so we also spent some time later introducing them to all of the choices. While the campers watched, the counselors and activity instructors took turns making short presentations, performing skits, and singing songs about their activities. These silly presentations are great ways for the girls to meet the counselors and pick up on the joy they have for what they teach. It demonstrates that there’s big fun to be had by singing, dancing, putting on a costume, and laughing at each other’s antics. It proves how the spirit of Rockbrook can begin with genuine kindness, and lead to a confidence that opens you up for silly, silly fun. Experiencing that. That’s how we start.

joyful camp kids in towels

Ready for Camp in 2022

You can feel the excitement, because in just a few weeks, Rockbrook will be welcoming girls back to camp for the 2022 summer season! We’re all looking forward to camp and the fun of getting together in the “heart of a wooded mountain.”

We want to share with you our current plans for addressing the lingering impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Things have improved since last year at this time with higher vaccination rates, lower case numbers, and milder variants being predominant, but some risks remain.

Thank you for your patience as we have again consulted with our state and local health authorities, the American Camp Association, and other experts about what reasonable precautions we should now take to protect the health and safety of our camp community. As conditions have changed since last summer, some of our protocols are different, even as some have remained in place.

Questions!

Here are the answers to many of the questions we know you have about how camp will run and how we will handle COVID-19 concerns this summer. Here is what know at this time.

There is important information here to help you understand and prepare for your session at Rockbrook.

 

What pre-camp COVID-19 guidelines will we have?

sliding rock children

This summer, we will again ask our camp families to take important steps before they come to camp that will help us achieve the goal of every camper arriving at Rockbrook covid-free. This is a critical component of our plans for a healthy camp season, and we need your help!

All of these pre-camp guidelines were in place last summer.

We realize that to some these precautions may seem excessive, but we hope that everyone can understand how our entire camp community benefits if we all take a few simple steps to arrive at camp healthy.

14 days of pre-camp caution:
We ask that each family follow common sense precautions during these few days before camp. Please stay away from anyone with a potentially contagious disease, and anyone who is feeling sick or has symptoms. We want you to do your best to avoid contracting any communicable disease. Please consider avoiding large gatherings of people (e.g., parties, playdates, weddings, etc.), and unnecessary travel.

7 days of pre-camp symptom monitoring:
During these final days leading up to arrival at camp, parents will track the symptoms of their campers by completing a simple “health check” and recording their temperature on a paper form. This form is available in your online account. You will need to download it and print it. The form asks if your daughter is experiencing any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 that day, or has been exposed to anyone with a contagious illness. Important! We will collect this signed and completed form when you arrive on opening day.

Pre-camp Molecular PCR test sampled 3-4 days prior to arrival:
Campers must arrive with a recent negative molecular (PCR) COVID-19 test result. You may arrange for this test anywhere that can guarantee you receive the results prior to your arrival date. We want this test to occur as close to your arrival as possible, but still with enough time to receive results. Most PCR tests take 24-36 hours for results. You must bring written evidence of the negative COVID-19 test result with you on Opening Day.

As an option, we have again made arrangements with CommunityLab to provide at-home saliva-based PCR tests. After registering with CommunityLab, you will receive a sample kit in the mail with a pre-paid Fedex return label. CommunityLab will file with your health insurance plan. Please contact us to learn more or register for this service. We recommend registering at least 14 days in advance of your arrival date.

camp horse girl

Strict Quarantining following PCR test sample:
Campers should strictly quarantine after taking their PCR test, as they await results and during the time leading up to their arrival at camp. Please take extraordinary care during this time, especially when traveling to camp.

Final Rapid Antigen Test:
On the day before arriving, all campers should take a rapid antigen test and bring a photo of the negative results with them on Opening Day.

Testing Positive or Recovered from COVID-19:
If your camper has recovered from COVID-19 (tested positive) in the last 90 days, it is important you contact our office with details of her positive test and recovery. The date of her positive diagnosis may change these pre-camp requirements. Likewise, if your pre-camp PCR test is positive, contact us right away.

Vaccination:
Ninty-nine percent of our counselors and activity instructors at Rockbrook will be vaccinated this summer. While not requiring COVID-19 vaccination for campers, Rockbrook highly recommends eligible campers be vaccinated if medically advisable. Campers are attending camp from all over the United States and from several other countries, and the available coronavirus vaccines have been proven to provide significant benefits to anyone living in a communal setting.

If your camper is vaccinated, she still needs to take the pre-camp PCR test. We ask also that she still complete the 7-day symptom monitoring form and carefully quarantine during those last days leading up to camp.


Will there be other testing at camp?

garden art project

We are not planning to conduct camp-wide surveillance testing of all campers during their session. Instead, we will be carefully monitoring everyone’s health on a daily basis, and administering a rapid antigen test only if a camper presents convincing COVID-19 symptoms. We will confirm the results of any positive rapid test with a followup molecular PCR test.

Our medical staff will contact parents if we determine their daughter should be tested, and keep them informed every step of the way.


How will activities work this summer?

Good news! This summer, campers will again select their individual activity schedules after they have arrived at camp. As before, there will be a rotation where each camper selects a new set of activities every 3 days. We will operate our regular daily schedule with its activity periods and blocks of free time.


What about out-of-camp trips?

whitewater rafting campers

All of our regular out-of-camp adventure trips will operate normally. Girls will be able to sign up for canoeing trips, whitewater kayaking trips, backpacking and day hiking, and rock climbing trips. These trips are optional. When girls choose to go on a trip, it means they will be skipping their scheduled activities for the duration of the outing. Girls who are 5th grade and older can go whitewater rafting if they choose.


And masks?

More good news! This summer we will not require campers to wear masks. Campers can wear a mask if they choose. We ask that campers still pack masks in the event that conditions change and masking is warranted. For example, there may be a need to wear a mask when indoors.


How will Opening Day work?

We will again stagger Opening Day arrival times by grade. This helps us prevent long lines of cars and make the arrival of cabin groups go more smoothly.

Grade Completed:

  • K-3rd grade – 8:30am
  • 4th grade – 9:00am
  • 5th grade – 9:30am
  • 6th grade – 10:00am
  • 7th grade – 10:30am
  • 8th grade – 11:00am
  • 9th grade – 11:30am
  • 10th grade – 3:00pm-4:00pm on the prior Saturday.

These arrival times are according to the grade your child has just finished. If you have more than one camper in different grades, please arrive at either assigned time.

summer camp swimmers

Once you arrive at Rockbrook, you will first enter the Rockbrook Horseback Riding Center, located just south of the main camp entrance. This is the same as last year.

We will again use our “drive through” check-in procedure that will include stops for meeting the directors, office staff, and nurses. We ask that all family members stay in their car during this process.

When you arrive on opening day, it is critical that you have written evidence of your camper’s negative COVID-19 PCR test, plus the completed 7-day symptom monitoring form.
She must also be feeling healthy!

After checking in at the riding center, you will then drive into camp through the main entrance to meet your counselors and unload your luggage. This will be the last stop, and will be the time to say your goodbyes.

We know this may be a difficult time for families, but rest assured, our counselors will take extra care helping your daughter get settled into her cabin and begin the fun of meeting her bunk mates.

Don’t worry parents! You’ll be able to tour camp on closing day with your personal tour guide. 🙂

We will distribute pre-ordered camp gear, and do our regular head lice check after parents depart. Camp will launch into action right away!


What if my camper feels sick while at camp?

As always, we will do our very best to keep your daughter healthy and safe while at camp, and will be ready to care for her medical needs if she feels ill. Our medical team will be on the lookout for common COVID-19 symptoms throughout the session, and when concerned, will perform a rapid antigen test (We will try to contact parents prior to testing, but will not delay if they cannot be reached.). If a camper’s test is negative, we will continue to monitor and treat her symptoms in our Health Hut until she is fever-free for 24 hours (just as we do with any potentially contagious illness). If a camper’s test is confirmed with a second test to be positive, we will ask that you come pick her up as soon as possible (preferably within 24 hours). We have a special building dedicated to keeping sick campers comfortable and isolated from others at camp.


What if someone in my child’s cabin tests positive for having Covid-19?

shaving cream pair of girls

If we verify that someone in your daughter’s cabin has COVID-19, we will notify you right away of that exposure. Our medical staff will then monitor any exposed campers for signs or symptoms of illness, and perform a rapid antigen test if symptoms do arise. Our plan is to allow those exposed campers to stay at camp, but require them to wear a mask for five days when interacting with others outside their cabin.

If we do have a positive COVID-19 case at Rockbrook, we plan to let our greater camp community know as well. Without discussing the specific camper infected, we will identify the cabin group exposed, and any other relevant contact tracing information.


What is your refund policy?

Ordinarily Rockbrook does not offer refunds for campers who arrive late or must leave early from their camp session. For this summer of 2022, we have put in place a thorough set of reasonable measures to diminish the risk of contracting COVID-19, but we still cannot guarantee anyone attending Rockbrook will not become exposed or infected.

For this reason, like last summer, we will make an exception. If a camper must leave camp with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, we will refund 50% of the tuition paid for the days she is unable to attend.


Wow! That’s a lot!

Yes it is! Reuniting as a camp community while still aware of the coronavirus requires us again to be extra cautious. At the same time, we are working to do everything we can to recreate the special feeling of camp we all enjoy. This summer, Rockbrook will again get girls outside, give them loads of fun activities to try, allow them to laugh and play like kids, and relax with friends in a truly caring and supportive community.

Thank you again for the support and confidence you have shown as we prepare for your daughter’s camp experience. We’re excited to see everyone back at Rockbrook!

If you have questions not covered here, or you need something clarified, please let us know.

blue ridge mountains

Camp Pen Pals – Hooray!

Coming to camp is so much about friendship. Camp means meeting new people and making friends. It means learning how to be a good friend, a true friend. Life at camp shows you that friends can be older or younger than you (doesn’t matter), friends can be from far away (even from another country), and friends can be deeply supportive (especially when they know you so well).

At Rockbrook making friends starts before you even arrive. That’s because, in the spring before camp, everyone coming is paired with a pen pal. Your pen pal is another camper who will be coming to your same session, and is someone we think you’ll enjoy getting know. She’ll be similar in age, and possibly assigned to your same cabin. Your penpal could be a returning camper or someone who is experiencing Rockbrook for the first time.

Camp Pen Pals

For years now, decades actually, we’ve paired up girls as pen pals before camp because we know how much fun it is to share your excitement about camp with another girl who will be attending. That’s the point— to begin making a connection with a new camp friend even before arriving.

Even if this is your first time at camp, and even if you don’t know anyone who already attends, your pen pal can be your first camp friend. You can look forward to seeing a friendly face you on your very first day. You can sign up for activities together, go to free swim together, and sit together during evening programs.

Every April, we send each camper the name and address (and email address) of her new camp pen pal. In the letter, we also enclose a fun postcard to help inspire your first letter.

So let’s get started! Grab a pen, some markers, or colored pencils and write that card. Or, if you’d rather, compose an email introducing yourself. Or, really get creative and write a whole letter on a piece of paper you decorated. But, don’t delay! Your pen pal really wants to hear from you!

What to write? Almost anything about yourself will be great— What’s your favorite food? Do you have any pets? Brothers or sisters? Hobbies? Sports? What are things about camp you’re looking forward to? Are you planning to pack a funny costume for camp? Ask some questions too, so you can get a conversation going.

Go ahead and write more than once! Everybody loves getting mail. If your pen pal doesn’t write back at first, don’t let that prevent you from writing again. It will help!

Writing your penpal is really fun! Hooray!

Welcome Mimi and Sofie!

We’d like to introduce you to Mimi Dunn and Sofie Ehlinger Lawrence, our two new year-round directors at Rockbrook! While both are stepping into new roles at camp, Mimi and Sofie have already spent many years as part of the Rockbrook Camp community. They both know the benefits of being a camp counselor, have worked with children outside the camp setting, and have now returned to Rockbrook.

Mimi Dunn, Staff Director

Mimi Dunn - Staff Director

Mimi is now the Staff Director at Rockbrook. She returns to camp after spending 4 years teaching middle school social studies, most recently in Colorado. Mimi grew up in Charleston, WV, received her undergraduate degree from Rhodes College, and her Masters in Education from Northwestern University near Chicago. Mimi has worked as Rockbrook’s Staff Coordinator, a Hi-Up counselor, and Senior Line Head. If you’ve been following the Rockbrook blog, you may recall some of her previous posts. Mimi will be recruiting and hiring cabin counselors and activity instructors, designing and leading staff training sessions, and assisting staff members during the summer. Look forward to meeting her this summer and enjoying her fun sense of humor. Pun alert!

Sofie Ehlinger Lawrence, Wellness Director

Sofie Ehlinger Lawrence - Camp Wellness Director

Sofie is the new Wellness Director at Rockbrook. Rockbrook has created this new director position to provide greater support for the social, emotional and mental health needs of its campers and summer staff. Following the struggles many young people have endured during the pandemic, and given our philosophy of creating a caring and supportive community at Rockbrook, we recognize that everyone at camp would benefit from more attention to personal wellness. Life at camp is already a place of incredible well-being (great food, great sleep, tech-free outdoor play, warm friendly relationships, and a feeling of belonging —truly a haven from the outside world), but when we sometimes need a little extra care, Rockbrook will be ready. Sofie will lead our efforts to help campers, their parents, and staff members alike navigate potential personal wellness troubles we might face while at camp.

Sofie brings to this role her experience and insights gained from many years working at camp. She has been a cabin counselor, the head of the waterfront, and our former Staff Director. Sofie was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow while completing her Bachelor’s degree at UNC-Asheville, worked in the wellness community in Raleigh, NC, and is currently pursuing a Masters in clinical social work.

Welcome Back!

Everyone here at Rockbrook is excited to welcome both Mimi and Sofie back to camp. We’re certain you’ll enjoy getting to know them this summer! Meanwhile, give them a shout, and say hello!

summer camp celebration

Camp Open House

As the season begins to turn toward fall, this part of North Carolina offers something truly spectacular. The mountains that are home to Rockbrook transform. Shades of reds and yellow, and pops of orange and brown replace the blanket of greens that we know during the summer. Off in the distance and all around camp, the colors and textures of the forest become even more beautiful.

You should come see it!

camp open house girls

This fall Rockbrook will be hosting an open house, giving everyone an opportunity to come for a visit, and enjoy a bit of camp in the fall.

We think this will be great occasion for families to learn more about Rockbrook, meet the directors and senior staff members, explore the beautiful grounds, and enjoy a few surprise fall activities. This open house will also be a chance for current campers and alumnae to see Rockbrook in a different season, and perhaps introduce their family and friends to the “heart of a wooded mountain.”

Consider yourself invited to our summer camp open house!

Open House Date

October 9, 2021

Drop in anytime between 10am and 4pm.

(scroll down to register)

Questions

What is the Fall Open House Day?

The Fall Open House Day at Rockbrook is an opportunity for existing campers, alumnae, families and friends, as well as prospective campers and their families, to spend a little time at camp during this beautiful season of the year.


What will we do at this open house day?

Our camp directors and other staff members will be on hand to greet everyone, lead guided tours of Rockbrook, and answer all your questions about camp life. There will be fall foliage hikes, a few fall activities, and warm homemade fall snacks.


Do I need to register to attend the Fall Open House Day?

Yes. Please give us a call to RSVP.


What does this open house day cost to attend?

There is no fee for anyone to attend, but we do ask that everyone RSVP.


Can I attend the Open House day if I am a current camper or alum?

Yes! We’d love to see you! In fact, we hope you will attend and we encourage you to bring a friend or family member who may be interested in coming to camp with you next summer! This is the perfect opportunity for you to show your BFF around camp and to let her in on all of the fun we have at Rockbrook!


What about social distancing and mask wearing due to CoVid-19?

North Carolina still requires face masks be worn when six feet of distancing between people is not possible. We plan to spend all of our time outside and maintain proper social distancing during these events. Our staff will be wearing masks when near guests and we ask that all our guests wear them as well. Also, please do not attend the open house if you or anyone in your party is experiencing any CoVid-19 related symptoms, or you have been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for CoVid-19 in the past 14 days.


Can we spend the night at camp?

Unfortunately, we will not be able to offer any overnight accommodation for this open house event, but we encourage you to consider staying in the area. Here is a list of nearby places to stay.


Why should I attend the open house day?

We all need a fall weekend in the mountains, and we think you’ll really enjoy visiting Rockbrook! Come say hello and sample that Rockbrook spirit.

A Smashing Success!

At the end of August this year, Rockbrook continued to celebrate its 100th year by holding a weekend alumnae reunion. Women from all over the country who had attended camp as children, and some who had worked as staff members, made plans to return to Rockbrook, reuniting with camp friends and reviving their camp spirit.

alumna zip lining smile

The reunion was a smashing success! Altogether 340 alumnae attended, bringing together women who were campers in the 1950s up to the 2000s. Most stayed overnight in Rockbrook’s historic cabins. Several mother-daughter pairs, both of whom attended camp, enjoyed their time together. Perfect late-summer, mountain weather added to everyone’s joy of spending time back at camp.

The weekend was full of laughter, conversation and reminiscing, but also filled with fun. The alumnae went on hikes around the camp property, swam in the lake, shot archery and riflery, climbed the alpine tower, flew through the trees on the zipline course, made pottery, tie-dye t-shirts, and friendship bracelets for each other. They enjoyed delicious meals, including fresh-baked muffins (of course!), a costumed dance party in the gym and a Spirit Fire.

Other highlights included tributes to former directors Teed Poe and Jerry Stone, and long-serving caretakers, Gladys and J.D. Owen. There was an afternoon wine reception at the Clarke-Carrier Rockbrook house where alumnae could view historic artifacts, photographs, and documents from the camp’s 100-year history.

Here we’ve got a short video of highlights from the reunion. Filmed on Saturday, it’s a wonderful tribute to the power of Rockbrook to make a difference in the lives of so many women.

Take a look and let us know what you think!

camp history book cover

Also during the reunion, Sarah Carter unveiled, In the Heart of a Wooded Mountain: Rockbrook Camp for Girls 1921-2021, the hardcover book recounting the history of Rockbrook. All of the alumnae attending received a copy of the book and were thrilled to page through its detailed accounts and rare photographs. Copies are still available for sale in the Rockbrook online shop.

As memories of camp bubbled back to the surface— inspired by sleeping in the same cabins, walking along the same trails, taking a dip in the same lake —the women attending the reunion relaxed outside and enjoyed each other’s company. They were so grateful to feel again the comfort of this special place, and the true friendship that it fosters. Following the struggles and isolation inflamed by the pandemic, the whole weekend was a rejuvenating testament to the power of camp and how much it means to everyone. Like for our campers this summer, being together at Rockbrook felt just right, proving once again that, now for 100 years, camp is indelibly fulfilling.

That Great Feeling

With the summer now behind us, and our attention focused on the new school year, I wanted to think back about camp and thank everyone who helped make this one of the best Rockbrook summers ever.

camp teen girl friends

Back in May, we weren’t 100% certain how it would go when we opened camp. There were still plenty of unanswered questions looming about how the pandemic would affect camp life.  But working with guidance from the American Camp Association, we rethought everything in terms of the coronavirus. We took great pains to consider how we might keep infections out of camp and how we could minimize its spread if it did, despite those efforts, sneak in. We changed how we organized our in-camp activities, doubled our health care team, spread out our food service onto new outdoor dining areas, and created a plan for pre-camp testing, quarantining, and a reasonable system of mask wearing for campers and staff members.

But all of this wouldn’t have been enough if our campers and their parents hadn’t been so supportive of these new safety protocols.  Thank you parents!  Thank you for placing your confidence in Rockbrook and for believing in the benefits of a camp experience for your girls, even if that experience would be different in some ways from years past. Thank you campers for your enthusiasm and love of camp. Thank you for sticking with us through 2020 when we had to close camp. And thank you for your trust in 2021!

fun kayaking camp instruction

The success of the summer wouldn’t have been possible without the extra hard work of our leadership team, incredible staff of cabin counselors, adventure guides, activity specialists, housekeeping, maintenance and kitchen teams.  While some camps struggled to fill positions, Rockbroook was fortunate to have every role filled with excellent folks who showed real dedication and commitment to doing their best work, even under more challenging conditions. To everyone who worked at Rockbrook this summer (all 172 of you!), thank you! Each of you contributed something special to this camp community.

Thanks to this good planning, to families doing their part, and to an incredibly hard-working camp staff— plus a dose of good luck —this past summer was COVID-free. We had no positive cases of the coronavirus at Rockbrook. Despite the ongoing pandemic, Rockbrook had a fantastic camp season— refreshing everyone at camp, rebuilding our connections to what really matters, and reviving that camp spirit we’ve all yearned for. We are all grateful beyond words.

We’re already looking forward to next summer when we can welcome everyone back to Rockbrook and recreate that great feeling of camp— the relief that comes from being surrounded by a supportive community, the joy of being utterly silly just for fun, and the pride that blossoms after accomplishing new things.  We’re looking forward to seeing again all of the great people that make up the uniquely caring camp culture of Rockbrook.

Let’s stay in touch, and we’ll see you real soon!

small camp girls building fairy houses