First Session Video Snapshot

Most people have a hunch about what it’s like to be a kid at summer camp, but when anyone tries to describe life at camp to those who have not experienced it, the picture is dim at best. Even when you ask girls who attend Rockbrook to describe it, they often struggle to convey why they love it. There’s just so much more to it than any verbal account can provide. Likewise, photos don’t fully do it justice. Photos are better perhaps, but what about the emotion? The action, the laughter, and chatter of a vibrant group of kids?

Fortunately, we have some video as well. We’re happy to say Robbie Francis of FrancisFilmworks is again working with us this summer to produce short videos each session.  He came to camp recently and now has his first edited short of 2023 ready for you to see.

Take a look! We love how it captures the feeling of camp this session.

P.S. Be sure to have the volume turned up. Hearing camp is amazing!

A Candy Land Carnival

Today the June mini campers arrived. Wide-eyed with anticipation and excitement literally bursting through the sunroofs of some cars, it was clear these girls were eager to start their summer at camp. Our drive-thru check in process unfolded smoothly with each stop only taking a couple of minutes. Driving around the lake and finally reaching the top of the hill, the counselors jumped and cheered, adding to the festive atmosphere of the day. The full-session girls carried on with their Sunday morning schedule of flag raising and Chapel gathering, but they too were excited to see more camp friends arriving. By noon, a brief spot of rain came through, so instead of out on the hill, we gathered in the gym for a quick assembly. This was a chance to welcome everyone, have a few introductions, and sing a couple of songs.

I asked a few of the arriving campers how they felt, and while most said they were excited, several also said they were nervous. I tried to reassure them that being a little nervous on opening day was very common, even for seasoned, returning campers. Like the start of anything, there’s uncertainty involved, and if you care how something will go, it’s just natural to feel some nerves. Being nervous is just that, so once we get going and begin to dissipate the uncertainty that came before, everyone begins to feel better. At camp, feelings of nervousness fade fast as soon as we begin— finding our penpal, meeting our counselors, setting up your bunk, getting a sense of how kind everyone is at camp, seeing that there are all kinds of girls here and that it’ll be easy to fit in, hearing the enthusiasm in the camp songs, even tasting something yummy and familiar, like the mac-n-cheese we had for lunch.

homemade camp donuts

The main event of the day happened after rest hour, just as the rain stopped. It was a Candy Land Carnival down on our grassy landsports field featuring two large inflatables, games, music and special food.

First the food. It was an excellent treat of freshly made mini donuts for each camper. Our local donut-making food truck, Jenny’s Mini Donuts, had come and was busy pumping out the treats. The campers took turns by cabin groups coming up the pink truck and deciding if they preferred cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar on their donuts. As you might imagine it took quite a while to make donuts for 200 campers and 60 staff members! But they were delicious, and definitely worth the wait.

Meanwhile, the carnival games and inflatables entertained everyone. Both of the inflatables involved a pool of water. The girls had come dressed in their swimsuits, and since the sun had come out, the afternoon heat made the final splashes feel great. One inflatable was a steep slide into a pool about a foot deep, and the other was a side-by-side obstacle course where two people raced through the course to the pool at the end. This was a little challenging, but doing it with another person made it more fun, and more entertaining to watch.

For both inflatables, crowds of girls gathered around to cheer for each person as they splashed into the pools at the bottom. Campers raced campers; counselors raced other counselors. Everyone got in on the fun. I’m certain lots of girls jumped back in line multiple times! A little messy and a little wet, they raced and raced.

One of the candy-related games was a life-sized Candy Land game spread across the grass. Teams of girls would “roll” a giant inflated die and move along a colorful trail of rubber mats. Like the board game, certain squares had effects whenever a team landed on them. For example, if you landed on Gramma Nutt’s square, you would have go back 5 squares. But if you landed on Missy Lolly’s square, everyone won a lollypop. The first team to reach the end of the squares also won a small candy treat.

Another of the games challenged the girls to toss inflated donuts onto a cone, which ended up being much more difficult than it sounds. Luckily, the girls could try as many times as they liked until they succeed to land a toss. Similarly, one game involved tossing beanbags at a target trying to get a toss through a small hole. That one too took some practice to conquer.

Throughout the event, the girls sang and danced along to some fun pop music with a few candy-related songs mixed in. “I Want Candy” by Bow Wow Wow, and “Lollipop” by the Chordettes made a appearance, for example.

Under the sun, with friends, great food and music, games to play and treats to win, it was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon, and an even better way to launch our June Mini session.

summer camp carnival kids

Essential Nourishment

The community spirit of camp is something we really value at Rockbrook. It resides at the heart of our mission and is the aspiration of our philosophy. All of our core values— kindness, cooperation, compassion, care and generosity —serve to create, enhance and maintain our sense of community at camp. We know that these values lead us toward connecting with the people around us, toward the power of friendship. These values, once embraced and widely practiced together, form a collective spirit that’s immediately welcoming and supportive. Feeling truly accepted and valued for who you really are brings people closer together. Camp has this power to forge community, to connect and bolster everyone here.

The feeling of being part of a camp community, as well as other communities, is wonderful. It feels really good, I believe, because as human beings— and this is especially true for children —we yearn for this kind of connection. We all have a fundamental need to belong to something greater than just ourselves. Unfortunately, American life ordinarily provides this kind of experience only rarely. Aren’t we usually focused on individual achievement, advancement and accumulation? Isn’t life often a race for access to personalized and curated comforts? Aren’t we typically oblivious, dis-connected, to the majority of people around us?

I’ve speculated before that this is one reason why kids love camp; it serves as an antidote to modern life. It provides something our children need that’s difficult to get in their regular lives. Put simply, Rockbrook is “a place for girls to grow” because it provides them essential nourishment in the form of community. They will tell you camp is “fun,” and that they simply “love it,” but I think it’s this community spirit that’s really at work.

This afternoon we switched up our regular activities and instead offered an array of new options. The girls who were already signed up for horseback riding, zip lining, and pottery (three of the most popular options around here) kept those, but everyone else could choose something completely new. We called it “Choice Day Saturday.” Different counselors led the activities. There was an epic scavenger hunt that sent small groups of girls dashing about the camp. The was an activity where the girls painted positive messages on rocks and then positioned them around camp to be found. One group of girls found themselves turning a crank to make ice cream. Another found themselves dancing and sweating to a Jazzercise class. Some of the senior girls chose to attend a self care spa that included calming music, herbal tea and easy yoga. One counselor led a jam session where the girls could bring any instrument or play one of our ukuleles. Casey led a group playing pickleball. A few enjoyed doing water color paintings, while another made flower crowns. There was also a candle dipping activity and even a lively game of bingo on the dining hall porch. It was great fun to have all these options.

boy and girls at fun camp dance

Tonight marked the highly anticipated return of the Camp Carolina Dance. After a few years of missing this event for COVID reasons, this is bound to be a highlight of the session. Our younger campers, the Juniors and Middlers, remained at Rockbrook, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the CCB boys. Our CITs served as DJs. Led by the counselors, the kids enthusiastically danced and grooved to pop songs and classic line dances like the Cha Cha Slide. For those not interested in dancing, or if they just needed a break, there were games outside like gaga ball and tetherball. Cookies made a nice snack for everyone along the way.

Simultaneously, the Senior girls and Hi-Ups were able to show off their dance skills in the Camp Carolina gym. Some added glitter to their faces, while others came dressed in full costume. The girls brought an undeniable energy to the event and were thoroughly excited to let loose on the dance floor. They jumped and danced for two exhilarating hours, only pausing briefly for sips of water. It was an intense, sweat-inducing, and incredibly thrilling night.

Back at camp, everyone took a bit longer than usual to settle down for the night as they were still excited and engrossed in conversations about the dance. With fun like this, that’s to be expected!

girl at camp dress up eveing

Buzzing Creativity

The weather in this part of North Carolina is extraordinary, often impressive, even astonishing at times. We’re located in the western mountains and have enough elevation to help us stay cooler in the summer, but also far enough south to moderate our winters. We are surrounded by national and state forests (many hundreds of thousands of acres) and are far enough away from large cities that we enjoy remarkably clean air. By the way, we haven’t seen any impact from the Canadian wildfires affecting areas of the northeast. This morning when we woke up, everyone was surprised how chilly it was. Checking the Rockbrook weather station, the low temperature was 44 degrees! Brrrr! Time for another layer! Once the sun rose from behind the hill it warmed up fast. By noon it was 70 degrees, and later in the afternoon, the temperature hit 80. Perfect!

tiny kid climbing

Yes, perfect weather for climbing. Our Alpine climbing tower, which is located in the woods a short distance from the gym, sees climbing all day long. It’s a 50-foot tall system of logs cabled and bolted together providing dozens of different routes to the top. It can accommodate up to 6 climbers simultaneously, each exploring different routes and overcoming unique climbing challenges on their way up. This makes it an excellent place for learning how to climb, even for our youngest campers. They start by learning essential climbing knots, understanding rock climbing equipment like an ATC, and practicing belay commands used by climbers worldwide.

The Alpine Tower provides such a variety of climbs it takes quite a while to conquer them all. Some are direct routes to the top, stepping on the small holds and gripping others one by one like a ladder. Others involve pulling up on ropes or rope cargo nets, and navigating swinging obstacles. A few are really challenging because they are vertical or even overhanging, or involve more arm strength to reach the next hold.

Some girls are even climbing the tower blindfolded just for the fun and added challenge. It’s incredible to witness how they can successfully climb without the ability to see the next hold.

After each climb, there’s an exciting thrill of swinging on the belay rope, sometimes even upside down, while being lowered down.

Another area buzzing with activity at camp are our fiber arts programs. In the activity Curosty, campers can weave headbands, bookmarks, placemats, among other projects on our vintage restored looms. The historic building the activity takes place in is even older than the camp itself! On the idyllic back porch, campers can work on their weaving or needlepoint while listening to the creek rushing by. Campers who especially fall in love with weaving spend multiple other free-swim periods perfecting their projects, adding extra color, beads, or other personal touches.

In the other historical building on camp, Goodwill, named after Nancy Carrier’s birthplace, another popular activity takes place: KIT. KIT, which stands for “Keeping In Touch”, focuses on paper crafts. Campers take advantage of our arsenal of craft supplies, using colorful paper, stickers, rhinestones, stencils, markers, and beads to perfect their masterpieces. Some favorite activities to make in KIT include stationary, greeting cards, journals, calendars and keepsake boxes. KIT has some of the best vibes on camp, with the cozy lighting of Goodwill combined with laughter of campers as they create their unique projects makes for a truly special scene.

One last word about the importance of sending Mail. After lunch, all the campers rush to check their mailboxes to see if they received a letter. It can truly put a smile on your campers face to see a letter in their box, even if it is a short note. So keep those letters and emails coming, your camper will truly thank you!

teenage tennis girls at camp

A Giant Dose of Freedom

Another somewhat typical comment we hear from parents touring Rockbrook while it’s in session— after they marvel at the abundant joyful energy of the place —is how often they see girls doing things on their own. By that they mean doing things without counselors or staff members assisting the campers, sitting right by their side or orchestrating their experience. From the littlest Juniors to the oldest Hi-Ups (10th graders), you can find girls, usually in pairs or threes, walking together somewhere, sitting together, or playing together in some way.

summer camp girls being independent

This shouldn’t be too surprising since camp is a place that encourages friendship and togetherness, and we do allow the girls to decide how to spend their free time. But without knowing any better, you might think Rockbrook is a “free range” camp where the girls can wander freely whenever and wherever they want, with no supervision or structure to guide them.

Well, that’s only part of the picture. We DO want to allow our campers to engage in activities without constant adult supervision. We do want them to make decisions for themselves— what activities to take, how to spend their free time, who to be friends with, what foods to try, how often to brush their hair, what to wear, and so forth. In fact, being away from home, away from the assistance and guidance of parents, camp is an exercise in independent decision making for kids.

This is great! It means your girls are being given daily opportunities for self-reliance and problem-solving. With the support and encouragement of this caring community, they are experiencing what it’s like to do all this for themselves. And when they succeed, perhaps surprising themselves (“I can do it..!”), they’re both building core life skills and gaining self-confidence.

Compared to life at home or at school, camp provides a giant dose of freedom.

The other part of the picture is that this freedom has some limits. Campers can explore, but they are not allowed to wander past certain points or near certain areas that are risky (e.g., the waterfront when it is closed and unsupervised by the lifeguards). Naturally, our staff is always present at camp, nearby and usually within eyeshot of the campers, available to help as they can, and ready if there’s an emergency of some sort. There is a structure to our day where everyone must attend all the meals, set activity periods, rest hour, and certain “lights out” times that vary by age group. In the interest of safety, and considering the age and maturity of the campers, there are certainly rules to follow.

There’s a balance to be found between encouraging independence and adult supervision, between the freedoms and the conventions at camp. With years of experience, and guided by our overall philosophy, we’ve landed on this balance.

Our hope is that we’ve balanced it to empower our campers, and help them be more confident in their independence. We hope that life at camp provides both challenges and moments of successfully overcoming those challenges. We hope each day Rockbrook campers discover something surprising and wonderful in the world, and that they feel more at ease in it. The Rockbrook community is here to help, to provide kind reassurance, genuine cheerful support, and more joyful enthusiasm than you can measure. It’s something that matters and is truly a great feeling for kids.

summer camp garden welcome sign

Spontaneous Spirit

Take a casual stroll around camp at any time, and you’ll get a good sense of how this is the good life. You’ll see happy girls everywhere. You’ll meet caring and engaged counselors, and find genuine enthusiasm spilling out from every activity area. It’s remarkable how quickly this spontaneous spirit has appeared. At archery you’ll see it when the girls cheer for each other after a shot hits the target. You’ll discover it at the Alpine Tower when a camper makes it to the top platform. Among the weavers in Curosty, it’ll be clear from the conversations bubbling up while the girls work the looms. The poses at Yoga, the canoe strokes at the lake, the backhands on the tennis courts, the careful protocols and aim at the riflery range—together, there seems to be a natural rhythm to camp now. It’s fascinating to see all this supportive energy and the connections it’s forming.

two summer camp kids in hammocks attached to rocks

Here’s a photo of two girls on a trip to the “Nest.” What’s the nest? It’s a special spot up in the forest above camp where a group of girls can hang up hammocks. You get there by hiking up the hill along the trail to Castle Rock. Partway up, you will find a unique cave-like feature where the rock overhangs and creates a large, dry area. We have drilled multiple rock hangers into the rock there, providing enough space for up to 14 hammocks to be strung in different directions. Along with a book, journal or friendship bracelet making supplies, and a water bottle, each girl carries a hammock and set of straps to this spot. The hammocks are a fun challenge to set up, and the cave-like feature makes this a great spot to relax and enjoy the forest, comfortably in the shade and fully sheltered from the rain. This is another of the trip options available for the girls, and something unique to the Rockbrook Camp property.

Down in the woodworking shop the girls are working on cutting boards. It’s a multi-step process that begins by measuring a plank of wood and cutting it into a rough shape using a hand saw. For these small cutting boards, the next step is to use a rasp to round its edges. In this photo you can see what will become the finished board clamped in a bench vice. Sanding and finishing will come later. It’s wonderful to see these kids explore these skills and enjoy the process of working with wood.

summer camp girls sliding down mountain creek

Tonight we took our first trip of the summer to Sliding Rock, and it was a great one. It involved all of our vans and buses to transport 90 of us up and into the Pisgah Forest. With our own lifeguards on duty, we slid two-by-two down the 60-foot natural water slide formed by Looking Glass Creek. The campers loved it! They screamed, cheered, and smiled as they slid down the rock. The water at Sliding Rock averages about 55 degrees, so you can imagine the eye-popping feeling of that last plunge into the pool at the bottom. It’s a classic mountain experience that we love at Rockbrook. Most girls were able to slide three or four times before our daylight faded and it was time for us to gather all our things and head to Dolly’s Dairy Bar for the last stop of the evening.

Of course, we all look forward to this treat. The ice cream really is top notch, and after tasting it, most everyone agrees with what one camper exclaimed, “This is the best ice cream in the world!” Whether it’s Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion or another camp flavor, a frozen sweet treat after riding down a waterfall is the perfect way to end the night. It was a little late by the time we got back to camp, but as the girls headed up the hill to their cabins, I could tell they were happy and content. Where else can they feel the chill of a mountain stream and the warmth of true friendship at the same time? That’s right— at camp.

Even Better at Camp

Visitors to Rockbrook are sometimes surprised by the variety of activities they see happening. It’s true; during each of the four activity periods per day, there will be campers and counselors engaged in sports, outdoor adventure, arts and crafts and of course horseback riding— more than 22 different options here in camp (not including the additional out-of-camp trips offered the older girls). What’s amazing is that these activities all happen simultaneously. In our little haven, you’ll find girls building and practicing skills, being physically challenged beyond their “comfort zone,” exercising their creativity, and exploring nature. They’ll be trying things they’ve never tried before, and all among friends who are quick to encourage and accompany them along the way.

summer camp garden art

The activity we call “Garden Art,” which the campers sometimes shorten to “Gart,” is a great example. As you might expect, this is an activity that takes place in our flower garden, and involves making art using the colorful plants growing there, plus various found objects like rocks and twigs. Using cloth, paint, and different types of string and cord as well, the instructor Bailey has many projects for the girls to try. For example, today the girls were painting stones and combining leaves and leaf-patterns to their designs. Other projects Bailey has offered in the past include pressing flowers onto cloth, macrame using plant stems and colorful cords, dyeing fabrics with indigo and other natural plant dyes, and flower arranging. Bailey is always coming up with new and exciting projects, so girls never know what they’re going to do next. Gart is a wonderful summertime activity that helps girls of all ages build their appreciation for these garden plants and inspires them to create in new ways.

summer camp tetherball game

In addition to the four activity periods, we also have three blocks of “free time” each day when the campers themselves decide what they would like to do. Hot and sweaty after an active morning? Head down to the lake to jump off the diving board, fly down the water slide, or splash around floating on a tube. Both before lunch and again before dinner the lake is open for “free swim.” Feel like playing a game? Wander down to the gaga ball pit, or one of the tetherball courts, the gym for basketball or the tennis courts. Are you curious about what creatures are living in the creek by the Goodwill cabin? Take off your shoes and wade right in! The shady breeze at the top of the hill overlooking the mountains might be the perfect place to dive deeper into that book you brought to camp. One of the red porch rocking chairs looks like a nice place to just sit and relax, working on a friendship bracelet tied to your water bottle. After dinner, during the “twilight” free time, the mountain view looks amazing in the golden evening light. Come out to the hill where there will always be folks soaking it in. Maybe a nice hot shower will feel right. It’s the camper’s choice.

girls summer camp rafting

Today was our first rafting trip on the Nantahala River. We gathered up all the Senior girls interested in going and split them into a morning group and an afternoon group, making it possible to raft everyone on the same day. Since the early 1980s, Rockbrook girls have been taking this trip. It’s that popular, popular for several reasons. It’s got a real sense of adventure: cool safety gear that allows you to get up close to a force of nature. It includes a hefty dose of fun socializing in the rafts, which easily turns into hilarity as the raft bumps into a hidden rock unexpectedly or someone falls backwards into (or out of!) the raft. It’s playful and silly as each crew plots different ways to pose for the camera. The water of the Nantahala is very cold, and that too adds to the excitement. Today’s gorgeous weather made that even more so. The final rapid of the day, the “Nantahala Falls,” is a screaming fun double drop rapid that thrills everyone. It’s a fantastic way to end the trip and is always everyone’s favorite.

Just for fun, we turned dinner into a costumed event: a night on the red carpet. With a wide runway of red paper on the floor as they entered the dining hall, campers and counselors arrived in their best “dress.” Sure there were a few dresses, evening gowns, and long skirts, but there were also feather boas, silly wigs, sunglasses and hats. It was fun to show off our outfits, laugh a little, and act like a movie star as we ate. Dressing up for dinner… even better when at camp!

summer camp girls dressed up for red carpet event

Unique to Us

It’s hard to say what makes an ideal camp day, but today must be pretty close. It was a day absolutely jam packed with action, classic camp activities, perfect weather, and the kind of enthusiasm we love around here.

rockbrook camp buddies

That means waking up to a cool foggy morning after hearing our 120-year-old bell ring across the camp.  Grab an extra layer on the way to the dining hall. Eggs, sausage and Rick’s warm breakfast potatoes really hit the spot, if you didn’t prefer yogurt and cereal. By 9, the fog had lifted and everyone suddenly had a mission, someplace in camp to be to begin their first camp activity. 

A little like dropping a handful of marbles that bounce in all directions and filling a space with energy, the campers and our staff scattered throughout the camp ready for action. Fire building in one direction and climbing the alpine tower in the other, with zip lining through the trees above the camp, and horseback riding down below. All the colors you can imagine began to appear in craft projects: paintings, friendship bracelets and pot holder weavings for example.  Dodgeball and tennis, tetherball and Gaga ball, kayaking and of course lots of swimming sprouted up with excitement.

Knowing that parents at home are always interested in catching a glimpse of their kids at camp, we have several photographers roaming about. Each day we take what they shoot and upload hundreds of new photos of the girls enjoying camp. We can’t catch everyone each day (though we sure do try!) or record something from everything going on, but you can definitely get a sense of our days by logging in to see the daily gallery. Login with the same credentials you used when completing the camp forms. Once logged in, there’s a way to mark your favorites, and to email photos to friends for free. There’s also a way to purchase downloads and prints if you like.

After dinner tonight we held an evening program for the whole camp that included live music, a campfire, skits, costumes and special guests. It was a “Jug Band!” Like other jug bands, we encouraged the girls to bring improvised instruments (e.g., spoons, pots and pans, etc.), and to dress up. Sarah was the star of the show when she appeared as “Sayree,” with her long dressing gown, walking stick and fiddle. We all sang a few songs, and laughed at the skits. We also enjoyed Sayree and two of her friends who also play the fiddle perform several classic old-time tunes. That was definitely a highlight of the event.

It was a cool evening, and as the sun set and the wood smoke from the campfire drifted through, I couldn’t help but think how unique this experience was. Just a few days ago many of us were in cities, or at least inside at 9:30pm. Instead of the whir of an air conditioner, we were sitting under the stars and marveling at the spring peepers. And instead watching something on a screen, we were listening to young voices singing, joining and creating something unique to us. Camp returns us to these more genuine and natural experiences, refreshing and inspiring us. No wonder it feels so good!

campfire summer camp friends

Smile after Smile

“We welcome you to Rockbrook Camp; we’re mighty glad you’re here…” As the camp greeting song goes, today we all enjoyed that sentiment— the feeling of being welcomed to a special place. Some have been waiting an entire year to return to their “haven in the mountains,” while others have been wondering and dreaming for months about what camp will really be like. For everyone though, both campers and staff members alike, today was a blend of excitement and joyful relief, of nervous enthusiasm, and of eager anticipation. And smile after smile, after smile.

So welcome everyone to Rockbrook! What a wonderful opening day today and start to the 2023 summer season! The cars arrived at a steady pace throughout the morning, easily making their way through our “drive-thru” check-in process. (Thank you for arriving according to your designated arrival times, and for having your camp forms and medication processing completed.) The lush forest of Rockbrook and the colorful containers glistened in the sun from the slight rain we had the night before. The mob of cabin counselors clapped, and cheered, and literally jumped with excitement as campers arrived all morning.

joyful first day of summer camp

Returning campers reunited with camp friends as new girls slipped right into cabin groups. Soon there were groups of girls just walking about, immersing themselves step by step into camp, visiting the lodges, marveling at the rushing creeks, and likewise beaming with excitement.

By about noon, everyone had arrived and we were ready for our first gathering on the hill under the walnut tree that looks out across the mountains. This was a chance for singing a few songs, and for Sarah to introduce the directors, line heads and other special staff members. We learned the line songs, and the Hi-Ups, who are our 10th-grade campers, said hello by teaching everyone the “Coconut song.” Funny and silly right from the start!

10th grade summer camp girls

That’s something you realize pretty quickly when you arrive at Rockbrook. There’s a sense of relaxed freedom here that creates a feeling of celebration for no particular reason. You’re surrounded by friendly and welcoming people. You’re immediately a part of something special, and you can tell a lot of exciting things are happening. All the spontaneous singing, clapping and dancing around here— in the dining hall, on the buses, almost whenever we get together —is simply an inevitable expression of this celebration. It’s contagious, joyful, and honestly a little shocking how different it is from regular life. I’m sure that has a lot to do with why everyone here so eagerly soaks it in. Today was no exception. With the arrival of the campers, that incredible joy was energized and we all began to feel recharged, truly ready for camp.

Rick’s homemade Mac-n-Cheese, along with sweet, juicy red watermelon, and a green salad made our first lunch together. That’s a meal that’s become a tradition of sorts for our opening days. The warm yummy cheeses and crunchy breadcrumb topping make for just the right dose of comfort on the first day. The gluten-free and vegan version was popular popular today as well, since it had a little spice to it. Meals at Rockbrook are served “family style” with each cabin group sitting at its own table. Each cabin then has family-sized dishes of each menu item that then gets passed around. If something runs out, then a camper will get up and take the dish back to the kitchen for seconds (or thirds!).

girls holding swimming tag

After lunch, it was time to head to the lake for what we call “swim demos.” This is simply a chance for everyone to demonstrate their swimming ability and receive a swim bracelet and buddy tag that qualifies them to sign up of paddling trips (whitewater rafting! —for girls 5th grade and older) and enjoy free swim times each day. It’s a simple test that assures the lifeguards that girls can be comfortable in the water and can tread water for a minute without struggling. Each age group arrives to take a turn jumping off the dock. Our “refreshing” mountain stream-fed lake can be a little shocking at first, but today the girls seemed to have no trouble. I did hear a few screams after girls felt the water, but I’m sure the bright warm sunshine made a difference too.

Meanwhile, the cabin groups set off on short tours of the camp, visiting important activity areas. They learned, for example, how to find the tunnel that leads to the riding center, where to meet for the climbing activity, and where the health hut is located if they take medications or need something from the nurses. One stop was the camp store where we began to distribute all the camp gear campers pre-ordered. Soon you’ll start to see girls wearing their new swag. By the way, it is possible for them to purchase other items at the store if needed. We’ll keep track of purchases and let you know the total spent on closing day.

Later in the afternoon, the counselors and activity instructors presented skits to introduce all the activities we’ll be offering at camp this session. Set to pretty silly songs, and at times with dance moves and plenty of costumes, we all enjoyed a fun variety show for about an hour. Later the girls will be signing up for their first set of activities, now with a better understanding of what each involves.

It’s been a marvelous opening day, full of already-surprisingly-loud songs, smiles and laughter. All around, there are excited girls ready to jump into the spirit of camp. Amazing!

girls start the summer fun

Ready for Camp in 2023

In just a few weeks, Rockbrook will be welcoming girls back to camp for the 2023 summer season! All of us are excited and looking forward to the fun of getting together in the “heart of a wooded mountain.”

We want to share with you our current plans for maintaining the health of our camp community with respect to the coronavirus. Things have improved since last summer, and while there is still a chance that an infection can occur at camp, this summer we plan to treat the coronavirus like other infectious diseases.

We will emphasize the importance of everyone arriving at camp healthy.


Here are the answers to many of the questions we know you have about how camp will run this summer. This is what we know at this time.

Please read through this important information to help you prepare for your session at Rockbrook.

What pre-camp health guidelines will we have?

messy camp fun shaving cream fight

10 days of pre-camp caution:
We ask that each family follow common sense precautions during these few days before camp. Please limit your exposure to anyone outside your household, and with 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.

Recommended pre-camp COVID-19 Test:
At this time, we are not requiring pre-camp testing, but we still recommend that campers complete a COVID-19 test within 48 hours before arriving at camp. This is particularly important if there has been any recent exposure.

Please contact us immediately if your camper tests positive, is not feeling well, has signs of any illness (i.e., fever, rashes, cough, or vomiting), or is exposed to anything contagious in the days leading up to camp. We will discuss the possibility of late arrival or switching sessions.

Healthy campers = a healthy camp community! Please help us start off on the right foot.

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.

happy summer camp young rider

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
Hi-Ups – 3:00pm-4:00pm on the prior Saturday.

Horse Camp – 9:00am (all grades)

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.

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.

This will begin a “drive through” check-in procedure that will include stops for meeting the directors, office staff, and nurses.

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. We have found that this drop off method helps children feel more connected to their cabin mates and adjust to camp more quickly.

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!

How will activities work this summer?

Campers will select their individual activity schedules after they have arrived at camp. Every 3 days, there will be a rotation where each camper selects a new set of activities. We will operate our regular daily schedule with its activity periods and blocks of free time.

What about out-of-camp trips?

summer camp rafting thrills

All of our regular out-of-camp outdoor adventure trips will operate normally. Girls will be able to sign up for canoeing trips, whitewater kayaking trips, backpacking and day hiking outings, and rock climbing trips. These trips are optional. When girls choose to go on a trip of some kind, 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.

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. If a camper presents symptoms (e.g., fever, cough) that suggest a contagious disease (Flu, Strep, Coronavirus), our medical team may conduct a diagnostic test. They will notify you of the results of any test, as well as discuss treatment plans.

What if my camper tests positive for COVID-19 while at camp?

summer camp girl aiming archery

We will contact you immediately if your camper tests positive. We will ask that you come pick her up as soon as possible (preferably within 24 hours). We are unable to quarantine campers for extended periods of time.

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

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.

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?

Rockbrook does not offer refunds for campers who arrive late or must leave early from their camp session. For this summer of 2023, we still cannot guarantee anyone attending Rockbrook will not become exposed or infected with the coronavirus.

Wow! That’s a lot!

Yes it is! We are committed to reuniting as a camp community and doing our best to assure everyone is healthy throughout their stay.

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.

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