Eager Introductions

Camp Horse Girl
Camp Cabin Girl

Camp came alive again this morning as we welcomed 135 campers and opened the Third Session of Rockbrook. About 25% of these girls, those who are new to camp this summer, seemed extra-wide-eyed as they first stepped out onto the hill and were greeted by the mob of cheering counselors, the balloons, and the horses(!). The whole scene percolated as luggage was stacked and moved down the lines to cabins, campers and counselors introduced themselves to each other, and girls finished checking in and settling into their cabins. With campers arriving throughout the morning, soon there were groups of girls spreading out through the camp, some off on their first hike to Rockbrook Falls, others learning the basics of friendship bracelet making, and still others testing their Ga-ga ball skills. Everyone— campers, counselors and Directors alike —was really excited to get started. It’s time for camp!

Lunch was a delicious “comfort food” meal of Rick’s homemade mac-n-cheese (which has the most wonderful breadcrumb and cheddar crust on the top), salad, mixed berries and sliced watermelon for dessert. Combined with the two super-stocked salad bars, it was a perfect introduction to camp food— simple, wholesome, and equally yummy. Sarah made several announcements after the meal introducing everyone to some of the dining hall procedures… for example, where to find the vegetarian option, how to get extra milk to drink, what to do when your table needs seconds of something, and how to best stack your table’s dishes in a way that will help the Hi-Ups with their clearing job.

Hi-Ups Lead Songs

Instead of Rest Hour today, each cabin of girls and their counselors (and CIT in some cases) held a cabin meeting to play a few ice-breaker and name games, further introducing each other. They also discussed their cabin responsibilities, the daily schedule at camp, and learned about several important safety rules at Rockbrook (e.g., don’t run down the grassy hill… especially in the morning when the grass is wet… and doubly, when wearing flip flops!).

Meanwhile, as the cabins began their walking tours introducing them to the different activity areas of camp, each of the lines (Juniors, Middlers, and Seniors) took turns at the lake demonstrating to Chrissy, the Head of the waterfront, and the lifeguards everyone’s swimming ability. With all the directors and the entire team of lifeguards helping, Chrissy carefully explained to the girls our “Swimming Tag System,” the “Mermaid Club” and all the features of our lake, including the water slide, diving board, and shallow swimming area. Some say the most difficult part of the Rockbrook swim test is not the swimming (out and back about 50 feet each way) and treading water (for 1 minute) it requires, but rather the shock of the “refreshing,” cold water. This afternoon the weather was perfect for a dip in our mountain stream-fed lake: hot and sunny! After passing their test and receiving their green swim bracelet, the girls proudly added their swim tag, now with their name written on it, to the tag board, ready for when they arrive at the lake for a swim.

Counselor Skits

All dry and eager for the next event, everyone gathered on the grassy hill of camp for a quick assembly. Sarah greeted everyone again and introduced all of the Directors, the Line Heads, and the special Activity Heads at camp. All the age groups took turns singing their Line song, and the Hi-Ups (10th graders) led the crowd by teaching and singing one of their favorite Rockbrook songs, “Take a Little Bit of Ginger.” Shifting down to the gym, we next learned about all of the activities offered at camp by watching the counselors present short skits, often songs, about the different projects, trips, games and events they have planned for the session. These skits are chances for the instructors to show off cool equipment, entice the girls with new projects, and to demonstrate the enthusiasm they have for their activity. Later tonight, the girls will sign up for their first set of four scheduled activities, so knowing the options is an important first step.

We are settling in here at camp, quickly getting to know each other, already singing songs, wearing costumes to dinner (Hats!), and fully excited about the first day of activities tomorrow. Be sure to follow along by checking the online photos available each day in your parent account, subscribing to these blog posts, and perhaps liking our Facebook page or following us on Twitter or Instagram. These are the best ways to keep up with what’s going on at camp.

Camp Swim Friends

Jittery Excitement

Moving trunk into camp

“Welcome back to camp!” and “Welcome to Rockbrook!” were the phrases of the day as we opened our main session of camp today and a record setting 227 campers arrived (a bit above capacity because our 16-year-olds make a huge group this session). Beyond the phrase, the feeling of the day was jittery excitement as campers arrived and were greeted by Sarah, the other directors and their cabin counselors. Everyone was fired up and ready to get started. All this positive energy buoyed most everyone’s spirits as the line to check in moved entirely too slowly. Interestingly, also today, we had only about 8 girls flying into the airport, as opposed to what’s ordinarily 30 or so. I suppose air travel is becoming more burdensome for everyone! The whole morning had staff members hustling to help campers settle into their bunks while campers took short hikes, made bracelets, decorated name tags, and played their first game of ga-ga. We had a picnic lunch on the hill, and cabin meetings all before beginning the many tours of camp and the activity areas. With this much excitement bubbling up around here, the whole morning was a lot of fun.

Passing the swim test and receiving a bracelet

Before we allow anyone to use the Rockbrook lake (or participate in any of the “water trips” like whitewater rafting or kayaking), we want to make sure, for obvious safety reasons and as part of our American Camp Association accreditation, they can swim well and be comfortable in the water. For this reason, we asked everyone to demonstrate their swimming ability this afternoon by jumping in the lake, swimming out 50 feet, back another 50 feet using a back stroke, and treading water for 1 full minute. Our lake is fed directly by a mountain stream, so it is notoriously “refreshing,” or “shockingly cold,” as one camper put it. Fortunately, it was hot and sunny during the demonstrations today, and the waterfront staff saw very few girls struggle to complete the test. Everyone who passes receives both a swim tag labeled with their name and a bright green bracelet that serves as a way for the lifeguards to identify who is eligible to swim in the deep area of the lake. Girls who need to retake the swim test receive a different colored swim tag and can still enjoy the lake, but we require that they wear a life vest and stay in the shallow area. When the lifeguards call for a “Tag Check,” the girls in the deep area (who should have bracelets) hold up their arms, and it quickly becomes clear how many swimmers are in each area of the lake and that the total number matches the arrangement of tags on the tag board. It’s an elaborate system, but it is an essential and effective safety check for our waterfront.

Camp Potter staff perform skit

Before the girls sign up for activities, which as you know is something done twice per week here at Rockbrook rather than in advance at home, it’s helpful for them to learn more about what each option entails. Likewise, it’s fun to see which counselors and staff members will be the instructors for each of the 28 different offerings. With these two goals in mind, we spent time late this afternoon assembled in the gym as the activity instructors performed short skits to introduce what they have planned for this session. Like all good Rockbrook skits, these were a little silly, involved costumes, props, a little dancing, but also singing. Some of the skits, for example those by the climbing and paddling staff, included plenty of cool looking equipment… Ropes, paddles, helmets, and so forth. Many of the crafts areas presented finished examples of their upcoming projects… weaving, jewelry, and a “bunny pillow,” for example. The five ceramics instructors, dressed simply as different “pots” sang a song set to the tune “Be Our Guest” from the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast. “We can coil, we can pinch, after all miss this is camp! Make a handle, take a spot, and you’ll surely make a pot. Make a pot, make a pot, make a pot.” After each skit, it was all cheers for the animated enthusiasm demonstrated by the staff, and plenty of chatter among the girls about which activities they would be trying first.

We’re off to a great start, with all the girls settling down… jitters subsiding… getting to know one and other, and now even more excited for tomorrow’s first day of regular activities. Seeing that energy, I can already tell we’ve got all the ingredients for a great camp session. Stay tuned!

Camp Friends Ready to Swim

Ready to Go for 2014

Rockbrook Girls

Welcome everyone to Rockbrook Camp for its 2014 summer sessions! This is perhaps the most exciting day of the year for all of us at camp because it’s when camp finally comes back to life, when the enthusiasm of campers, the energetic anticipation of staff members, and the many months of careful planning by Rockbrook’s directors join forces again to create this wonderful place. Everyone looks forward to the opening day of first session, especially those of us that think about camp all year long… campers, counselors and directors alike. So welcome! This is going to be a great summer.

In these blog posts, we will report bits and pieces of camp life. In addition to the photo gallery (which you access only after logging into your parent account), these daily posts will provide a little detail about what’s going on at Rockbrook. They won’t be a “full report,” so to speak, but instead something that comes to mind as I recall the day, or feel compelled to comment on a photo or idea drawn from the people and events of camp. I hope you enjoy reading.

Camp bunk all set up

“A few butterflies” is how one mom described her daughter’s feeling this morning as the campers were checking in. Even when this might be a girl’s 3rd or 4th year coming to camp, those first moments driving up, meeting your counselor and experiencing the buzz of opening day— it can jangle the nerves. At the same time, it’s a happy feeling because there are smiles everywhere… So many examples of “run-scream-hug your camp friend from last summer” kinds of moments, friendly introductions, and excitement. There might be some jitters at the beginning, but with something this big and enthusiastic that’s pretty normal.

And of course it takes very little time for jitters to soften into a new smile and feelings of belonging. The feeling of camp is just infectious that way.

Passing the camp swim test

A little rain overnight made the ground this morning a little soft when we opened (especially our sports field parking area!), but as the morning progressed, the sun held brightly the rest of the day. The girls settled into their cabins, set up their bunks and began to explore Rockbrook. One new find was the Gaga pit. I’ll explain that more later, but think of it as an arena to play a special version of dodgeball. It addition, the campers staying on the lower line of cabins were surprised to find the newly renovated bathroom we call the “Be-Bop.” The “Half-Pint” cabin likewise was rebuilt last fall, making it the newest of our 25 cabins at camp.

The sunny weather made everyone’s “swim demonstrations” pleasant and fun. Our chilly lake, which is kept “mountain stream cool” by the creek that feeds it, can be a little shocking at first, but the encouragement from all of the lifeguards and the directors, as well as the vigor of the swimming itself, make it all a thrill. Bright warm sunshine made it all the better. The results? Everyone who tried, passed and received a green swim tag.

Climbing staff camp skit

Following the afternoon swims, camp tours, games in the lodges and cabin meetings, as well as a brief assembly on the hill to learn songs and meet this session’s Hi-Ups, we all gathered in the gym to watch the activity instructors and counselors perform short skits and songs to introduce all of the options available to the campers during the activity periods. This included costumes that integrated special gear, like the climbing instructors in this photo, music, props and even a few dance steps from some. These skits are also a neat way for the campers to see that their counselors, just like them, are having fun by acting silly, laughing and being supportive all the while. I did notice about 4 different references to the recent Disney movie Frozen… It’s just a hunch, but that might be a major theme all summer long!

It’s been a perfect opening day of camp. We’re all excited and ready to go.

View from Summer Camp