A parent mentioned the other day that she is impressed, and so pleased, that her daughter feels “successful” at Rockbrook. That got me thinking about how and why that’s such a common sentiment around here. What is it about life at Rockbrook that makes girls feel comfortable and successful? And in what way is this special, different from ordinary life?
It’s certainly not because everyone here achieves some distinction, wins some kind of contest, or acquires a superior skill (though these can happen). Not every shot hits the target, every stitch is even, or climber makes it to the top. There are plenty of challenges at camp, activities that require practice and skill development, even social challenges… resolving a disagreement between cabin mates, for example …each that may or may not work out perfectly. With these kinds of “failures” (“opportunities to grow” might be a better way to put it) intentionally built into the camp program, with having the best skills of some sort being insignificant, how do girls feel successful at Rockbrook?
It’s also not because the girls here are suddenly popular, that they have succeeded by joining a cool “in crowd.” That phenomenon —social grouping dictated by who is considered most liked or admired— is simply not prevalent at Rockbrook. Instead our camp community is defined by a more inclusive culture driven by kindness, caring and generosity. Everyone has a place here and feels like they can be their true selves. In this way, Rockbrook really is comfortable. It’s a relief from the popularity contests that affect school life. So if success at Rockbrook isn’t about having a social standing, what is it?
I think success at summer camp is about enthusiasm. It’s about passion for what we do and who we are. At camp we find a spirited attitude infusing just about everything: singing show tunes while setting the tables for meals, skipping arm-and-arm down the path to the bathroom, greeting everyone who passes by, laughing hilariously with friends during evening program, stopping to marvel at a spider spinning a web, and diving into all the creative, adventure and athletic challenges of the many activities offered. In all these ways, and in our close relationships with each other, this joyful, enthusiastic attitude is the secret of success at camp. We all, campers and staff members alike, are “successful” here because we have wholeheartedly joined an positive community, one filled with passionate people ready to support and encourage everyone. We are successful through that infectious attitude. At Rockbrook, we don’t succeed by striving to be popular or by acquiring exemplary skills; those measures carry little weight for us. Instead, passion trumps popularity, and enthusiasm outshines talents.
There are many ways that Rockbrook is a haven for girls. Being a place to live a passionate life is one of the best.