Summer Sleepaway Camp Memories

Summer Sleepaway Camp Catalog

“I have too many fond memories of camp to pick just one! It depends on my mood. Sometimes it is the memory of the candles reflecting in the lake at Spirit Fire. Sometimes it is all the singing we used to do (& the many, many songs I still know by heart). Sometimes it is the zany pranks and fun, kooky things that let us express ourselves so comfortably, like Kangaroo Court. And sometimes it is just the remembered pleasure of sorting mail in Goodwill on a rainy, misty day while everyone else was at lunch — and how the sound of singing would carry over from the Dining Hall. And the sound of the bells in the morning . . . Oh, just everything, then. (Except the spiders in the rafters!)”
— an Alumnae from the 1980s

P.S. This is the cover photo for the 1961 camp catalog!

Tie Dyes are Always in Fashion!

Camps Craft Tie Dye

One craft at summer camps like Rockbrook that’s always popular is making a tie dye t-shirt. It’s certainly a classic thing to do, and while you might think of swirls and colors on shirts from the 1970s, tying and dyeing cloth is common all over the world. For example, there is adire tie dyeing in Nigeria (Africa), shibori dyeing in Japan, and mudmee dyeing in Thailand, just to name a few.

In the Rockbrook craft activity called “Hodge Podge,” the girls use rubber bands to tie up the cloth. Folding, twisting, bunching, pinching, and wrinkling the material you make all sorts of different patterns. Then with the rubber bands, you keep everything tight. The tighter the fold, the more resistant to the dye that part will be. That’s part of the creativity involved— deciding what to make tight (resisting the dye) and what to leave loose (taking on the color of the dye). Plus, there’s the fun of picking what colors to use, and in what areas. With so much variation, it’s neat to see how each shirt turns out different.

North Carolina Stone Hotel, c. 1840

Dunns Rock Stome Hotel

It’s always fun to bump into a surprising historical connection to camp. Here’s a great example we spotted recently— a photo of what was called the “Stone Hotel.” It’s on display in the Transylvania County Courthouse (that’s the North Carolina county where Rockbrook is located) with the caption “Built circa 1840.” But do you recognize the big rock up above and behind it? It’s our very own Dunn’s Rock! The junction of Island Ford Road and US276 (Greenville Highway) was once a bustling little town with houses, this hotel, and a general store called “Powell’s Store,” which is still standing and is currently the Mud Dabber’s Pottery. An 1870 census of the Dunn’s Rock Township, as it was called, recorded 80 men, women and children living there. You have to wonder if the hotel was still open when Rockbrook was founded in 1921, and if any Rockbrook Camp families ever stayed there. Pretty cool.

The 10 best ways to dress up at Camp

Summer Camp Dressing Up Fun

What are the best ways to dress up at summer camp? Dressing up is one of the best things about going to an all girls summer camp. There seems to always be a chance to put on something funny, become a character, or create an alter ego of some sort. Parties, skits, shows! The zanier the better too. Thinking of Rockbrook, here are the top 10 fun dress up themes we love at camp.

  • 10. Crazy Hats
  • 9. Pajamas
  • 8. Super Heroes
  • 7. Backwards Clothes
  • 6. Fairies
  • 5. 70’s Disco Divas (or some other decade)
  • 4. Pirates
  • 3. Survivors
  • 2. Crazy Hair Styles
  • 1. Grannies

What’s your favorite?

Are your Kids Ready for Camp?

Kid Camp Summer

How do you know if your kids are ready for summer camp?

It’s an important question to ask, especially if you have a younger child who’d be new to the experience. Most discussions of this question focus on whether or not your child is outgoing and ready for the social component of camp. The idea here is that once a child makes friends at camp, they’ll enjoy the activities and be fine away from home. In fact, it’s often hoped that the camp program will help a shy child become more outgoing, more self-confident and independent. It’s true; camp is great for this reason.

Talking with Sarah, the Director of Rockbrook, she also cautions parents to make sure their child is honestly interested in attending camp. “It’s best for it to be her idea,” she says. As parents fondly remember their own summer camp experience, or hear that camp is “good for kids,” they can sometimes push a little too hard and talk their children into the idea, perhaps before they are really ready. “Research camps together and find one that sparks her interest and makes her really want to go. Learn about camps together; listen to her concerns, and with gentle encouragement, you’ll find the right camp,” Sarah suggests. You’ll know she’s ready for camp when it’s her idea and she’s excited to go.

Summer Camp Makes Kids Talented

Summer Camp Kids at Rockbrook

OK, what do these people have in common: Larry Page (co-founder of Google), Condolezza Rice (U.S. Secretary of State), Bob Dylan (musician), Drew Carey (television actor), J.D. Salinger (author), and Katie Couric (journalist)? You might guess, but it’s true; they all went to camp as kids. The list of other famous and influential people who attended or worked at a summer camp is a pretty amazing list. The talent and abilities these folk now famously show, is impressive.

What’s interesting about this is to think how so much of what we become springs from our experiences as kids, how the people we meet, the activities that challenge us, and the accomplishments that validate who we are, can so profoundly inspire who we might become. As summer camp was a part of these talented people’s lives, and as it continues to be for scores of children today, it played some, perhaps even crucial, part in making them so.

Knitting Camp Girls

knitting camp girl wearing a hat she made

“Like your hat Maddie.”

Knitting! It’s just one of the fiber arts activities available at Rockbrook each and every camp session.

With so many arts and crafts opportunities, you get to make some pretty cool stuff when you come to camp… like this hat for instance. Maddie knitted it when she first got to camp last summer, and from then on was rarely seen without it. A camp arts project that she used every single day!

It’s true; knitting has become an increasingly popular activity at camp. The Rockbrook girls are learning that it isn’t all that difficult (once you master the basic stitches!) to knit, is really a lot of fun, and is so satisfying when you see what you’ve made. Some girls describe the feeling of it, the process of twisting, looping and tying yarn in patterns of knots, to be relaxing, even meditative.

It’s the kind of thing that can become addicting.  As soon as you finish one project, it’s easy and exciting to imagine and start another.  In the long run knitting can then continue after camp at Home. It can become a life-long hobby!

P.S. That’s Looking Glass Falls in the background.

Pottery — A craft tradition for girls at Rockbrook

Girls Crafts and Ceramics Camp

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

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

Kids Summer Program

Kids Camp Time

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

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

Rockbrook Horseback Riding Video

Riding video girl

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

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