Meals at camp punctuate our day at Rockbrook, as they do elsewhere, but here they are regular times for not only delicious food, but also songs, conversation, skits, surprise announcements, and even dance breaks. As I write these updates, I should probably mention what we’re eating more often because it’s so great. Rick and his team in the kitchen consistently serve balanced, artfully prepared meals that are made from scratch. His entrees, side dishes, sauces and dressings are all made in house, not reheated, frozen, processed institutional “products.” Rick just loves to cook, actually cook, and add his own creative ideas to the process. So here goes… today at breakfast Rick had a giant mountain of fried potatoes that he delicately spiced with a mix of garlic, white pepper, salt and fresh dill. Those potatoes joined heaps of scrambled eggs and sausages, along with our regular breakfast bar of fruits, yogurt, granola and other cereals. Then for lunch (in between, of course, there was muffin break… Blueberry with cookie crumble topping, this time), Rick made us fried green tomatoes with a mild rémoulade sauce. This involved slicing dozens of tomatoes, soaking them in a saltwater bath, dipping them in a cornmeal/flour breading made with just the right amount of salt and pepper, and frying each slice until golden brown. Outstanding! Dinner was a little more mainstream with his homemade marinara sauce (onions, garlic and carrots first sautéd, with added crushed tomatoes and spices) and pasta with steamed broccoli. Someone could write a daily food blog about all the wonderful things prepared for us at Rockbrook. Thanks Rick!
Down at the Equestrian center, Liz, our Director of Riding, and her instructors have been working with the girls in mounted lessons throughout the day. The recent improvement in the weather has allowed our regular riding to charge ahead as well as a few make up lessons to be arranged for girls who missed their riding when it was raining. In addition to the beginners feeling more confident about walking their horses, the ground poles are out, and for some riders, the jumps and other gymnastics have been set up. The girls are returning for each lesson with added enthusiasm for riding, often a desire to ride a new four-legged equine friend, and generally “champing at the bit” 😉 to try the next skill, like learning to trot or the first techniques for jumping. It’s thrilling to see these girls enjoy riding this much.
Blocks of free time also punctuate our days at camp. Tucked in between our four organized activity periods and our three meals and snack breaks, we have three periods each day when the girls can decide what they would like to do around the camp. This might mean heading down to the lake for a ride down the water slide, a quick game of tetherball, lounging in crazy creek chairs, playing a game of tennis, grabbing a quick shower, having a flip-flop race in the creek, reading, writing a letter, or enjoying the view from a red porch rocker. Not everyone or every camp might see it this way, but we believe camp should be a haven from the hectic pace of ordinarily life because kids benefit from the freedom to meander. Our girls feel empowered when they are given a chance to pursue their interests here at Rockbrook. It really is one of the joys of summer… To have time to enjoy all these great things to do with so many great people.
Let’s take all the Middlers and their counselors, 93 people altogether, to Sliding Rock! That’s exactly what we did tonight, and it was a blast! We started out with a picnic supper in the forest, and then played a few field games to digest a little, but made our way to the rock around 7pm. Sliding Rock is officially closed that late, but going on our own (with our own lifeguards) is great because we can have the place to ourselves and the girls can easily slide multiple times. Tonight the water was higher than normal, and was so powerful, it was difficult to stand in it at the top of the rock. Several strong counselors anchored themselves to help the girls step out and begin their unusually fast ride down to the pool at the bottom. Our last stop of the evening was Dolly’s Dairy Bar. Combining mountain stream, toe-numbing water and ice cream might seem a little crazy (and doing it at night, even more so!), but when it’s this sweet, these girls didn’t hesitate to pick out a flavor. We all returned to camp a little cold and a little tired, but also full of that satisfied feeling of having had a great day at camp.