Rebuilding Social Muscle

A parent made an interesting comment to me today. She said that she could tell her daughter was relaxing and settling into camp. Looking at the photo gallery, she could “see it on her face.” After these first couple of weeks at camp, her daughter’s smile was more natural, her body language more comfortable, and her closeness to the other girls more obvious.

silly lake squirt gun fun

That was great to hear! I’ve noticed it too. As we’ve moved along into the session, and spent more and more time together— living in the cabin, playing in activities, and singing at meals —the girls have gotten to know each other better and begun to absorb the camp spirit that guides our relationships here. They’re beginning to intuit what I described yesterday… that the Rockbrook community is uniquely kind and supportive, upbeat and inclusive. It’s a place where being your true self, perfectly imperfect, is celebrated. Your girls are beginning to feel like they belong at Rockbrook, staying happily busy and deepening their friendships. It’s so nice to see this important growth.

We were worried this common experience at camp would be tougher or slower this summer following the social isolation most kids experienced during the pandemic. Social skills are like a muscle that needs both training to be fully formed, and regular exercise to maintain its strength and ability. And like a muscle, social skills can atrophy if neglected. By squashing in-person peer interactions and forcing relationships online, the coronavirus pandemic robbed our kids of crucial social development, potentially weakening their ability to relate positively with one another. Being separated from other kids this last year, our children received very little social-emotional learning.

Fortunately, the power of camp life to bring us together has been proven stronger. The spirit of the Rockbrook community has inspired us all again, helped us understand ourselves and each other. It’s working. We’re rebuilding social muscle and providing it regular exercise. And the results are beautiful!

camp sliding rock fun

It was the full session Senior’s turn to visit Sliding Rock tonight. We loaded up six buses after dinner and made the trip to the Rock. Slide after slide, the girls had blast zipping down the rock and splashing into the pool below. The scream-inducing cold water makes things extra exciting even as it makes it hard for the girls to slide more than 3 or 4 times. After that, lips are blue, and there’s so much shivering we have to call an end to the runs. Eating cold ice cream from Dolly’s immediately after sliding may seem odd, but not if you’ve tasted it. One girl said she was excited because it’d been two years since she’d had a Dolly’s cone. Her wait was over!

We also held the closing campfire for our first July mini session campers. Like our traditional session Spirit Fire, the girls took turns talking about their experience of camp this session, singing a few traditional songs, and to finish the evening, lighting a small white candle. It’s always a nice way to finish up a camp session— friends right by your side, thoughtful words about camp, time to recall good times together, and a desire to keep the good feelings going into next year. It means saying goodbye in the morning, but it’s also a recognition that what we’ve shared will certainly last a very long time. Something this good just sinks in like that.

best teen friends at summer camp

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