We don’t take the 4th of July lightly around here. In fact, it might be the peak of the summer, combining everything we love about Rockbrook and then pushing it just a little higher, adding a tad more intensity, and turning up the volume… all, of course, just for the fun of it.
We began the day early, before the regular rising bell, like camp has for decades on the 4th, with the equestrian staff riding down the cabin lines shouting, “The British are coming!” The staff had braided red, white and blue ribbons into a couple of the horse’s tails and one had a small flag fixed to its saddle. As the campers woke to the sounds of hoof beats outside their cabins and all this strange yelling about “the British’ (which by the way, Paul Revere probably called them the “Regulars”), they stumbled out onto the hill, still dressed in their pajamas, for a flag raising ceremony led by the Hi-Ups and everyone reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing America the Beautiful.
At breakfast, the campers were met by the first wave of decorations meant to help celebrate the 4th of July. The dining hall had streamers, posters, ribbons, and balloons hung in every direction. We set a pile of red, white and blue head bands, stickers and temporary tattoos on all the tables, and combined with the campers’ own festive shirts, tights, and hats, the patriotic color scheme was elaborate, to say the least! Rick had eggs, sausage (veggie too) and oven roasted red potatoes for breakfast, and after singing several songs like “Yankee Doodle,” “Your a Grand Old Flag,” and Katy Perry’s “Firework,” the girls were definitely in the spirit of the day as they set out for their morning activities.
For the afternoon, we scheduled a fun, exciting series of all-camp relays that ran the campers in stages between the Alpine Tower at one end of the camp to the Landsports field to finish up. Part group games, part physical tasks, and part cooperation relays, the entire event challenged three teams (red, while and blue) comprised of girls mixed from all three age groups. Each team started by dressing and decorating themselves with washable body paint in their team color, and by creating a team cheer. Also, all the girls on each team selected an individual relay, a particular challenge to tackle and advance their team toward the finish.
There were 17 (!) different relays in all, so everyone had a role to play for their team. There were traditional relay race events like Dizzy Lizzy, Greasy Watermelon, Sponge and Bucket, 3-legged, and Egg and Spoon, but also silly challenges like moving marbles from one bucket of water to another using just you feet, and passing a banana backwards down a line of people lying on the ground, again using just your feet. One game used water pistols to roll a beach ball, another challenged the girls to sidestep while holding a balloon between a partner’s head, and still another required the group to thaw a frozen t-shirt as fast as possible. Dashing from relay to relay, the girls were so excited to finish their event and then cheer on their teammates as the mob grew larger the closer it got to the Landsports field. There we had music and watermelon to enjoy while the final events completed. We had a pie eating contest, and a crazy red, while and blue shaving cream fight at the end of the afternoon. But as a final surprise, Richie, Rockbrook’s builder and facilities manager, arranged to have a firetruck ready to spray a huge fountain of water up in the air. Instant rainstorm! With fun, danceable pop music blasting, the girls sweaty and messy from the relays and shaving cream, they had a complete blast together dancing around as the fire hose showered water. Almost unimaginably, it was a moment of sheer joy for everyone.
After cleaning up, we all enjoyed a traditional picnic on the hill, a yummy supper of grilled chicken breasts, baked beans, corn on the cob, and potato chips. We don’t serve soft drinks at camp ordinarily, but tonight we offered the girls each a can of Cheerwine, kept cold in the creek in front of the Goodwill cabin. For dessert it was shortbread, strawberries, blueberries and fresh whipped cream— red, white and blue.. again!
As night fell, the finale of the day was our own fireworks show. Chase was ready with glow sticks for all the girls and a playlist of fun music to blast during the show. For the next 35 minutes, we all enjoyed another dance party, as the girls twirled their glow sticks, sang along to the music and cheered with every sparkling blast in the air.
It’s hard to beat a day like this with one celebration after another, one exciting surprise after another. When you have all these great people having this much crazy fun, I can’t think of a better way to spend the 4th of July.