Horseback riding was back in full swing today under bright blue skies and without a drop of rain to speak of. Kelly and her team of dedicated instructors were excited to move their classes from the porch of the equestrian office and inside the barns, where they’ve been meeting during that spell of soggy weather, to back outside for mounted lessons. The riders in every lesson were itching to ride too, the beginners ready show what they’ve been learning about the horses’ tack (saddles, reins and bits) and the more advanced riders thrilled to be meeting a new horse. A big part of riding is creating a level of trust, friendship really, between a horse and rider. The best riders “click” with their horses, communicating clearly, respecting and sympathizing, so it’s always a great thing to see Rockbrook girls out riding and demonstrating this kind of intimacy with their horses. Almost 100 girls rode today, so it was a big day of horseback riding down at the barn!
The Alpine Tower came alive with all kinds of high ropes course adventure today as well. Driving up the north driveway of camp, you may have spotted in the woods this giant, 50-foot climbing tower made of massive telephone poles, cables, bolts and rope. Up close, and particularly when there are (up to six at a time) girls climbing all over it, it’s even more impressive because there is such a variety of climbing challenges to try. There are swinging logs, tall cargo nets, climbing ropes, inclined poles, wiggly planks, and a strenuous overhanging climbing wall to choose from. At the top of the Tower, there’s a triangular shaped deck where the staff have placed a poster for girls to write their name as having successfully made the climb. Coming down from the platform is simple. Every climber is on belay when climbing, so when ready, the belayer lowers her slowly down on the belay rope. Like being on a big rope swing, it’s a fun ride.
At the rifle range, which is also set back in the woods away from camp, the girls are focused on the upcoming riflery tournament against the Camp Carolina boys. The instructors are hoping to match last session’s win, so they are really working, shooting hundreds of rounds everyday. Cliff, who is a retired law enforcement trainer and our marksman coach this summer, is helping the girls with their shooting technique as well as keeping the rifles perfectly sighted and maintained. And his coaching is paying off! Some girls are consistently scoring in the mid 30s (out of a possible 50 points- 5 shots, with a bullseye scoring 10 points) and a couple are clustering shots and scoring in the 40s. Very impressive accuracy and precision!
Get ready for tie dyes! The craft activity we call “Hodge Podge” has been cranking through tie-dye t-shirts giving everyone a chance to twist, fold and squirt colorful dyes. The process begins with soaking a plain white t-shirt (though a few other cotton items have found their way) in a solution of urea. The girls then use rubber bands to bind folds of the still wet fabric tight enough that when they apply different colors of dye, some parts absorb less dye than others. The shirts then sit overnight. It’s always fun to see what cool patterns are revealed when the they are finally unfolded and rinsed.
Tonight was a camp dance night as we hosted the young boys from Camp Carolina in our gym, and our oldest girls rode over to dance in their dining hall. For years we have done it this way, holding two simultaneous dances to manage better so many children and to play more age appropriate music at each venue. The senior girls seemed most excited about the event, but in a great lighthearted, Rockbrook, way. Instead of fancy outfits, most of them wore campy clothes, t-shirts, even crazy costumes. Most brushed their hair, I suspect, but face paint and glitter were more prevalent than make up. When came to dancing, it was just as silly, with small clusters of girls laughing and jumping together to the beat, almost oblivious to the (much more shy) boys. These are strong young ladies who know how to have good fun. You should be proud!