Uniquely Memorable

It’s really one of the most popular things we do at Rockbrook, something we all enjoy multiple times a day, in fact. We can’t live without it, and fortunately we have an absolute expert guiding the activity for us. It’s the meals at camp, the delicious food served by Rick and his staff in the kitchen! Three times a day, he serves home-cooked main dishes and fresh side items, all while adding extra preparations to suit the vegetarian, gluten- and dairy-free needs of the campers and staff. And you’ve heard about the full-time baker who thrills everyone each day with cookies, breads, and a surprise flavor (today was mint chocolate chip) of fresh-baked muffins. It’s simply marvelous!

Preparing authentic corn TamalesToday’s lunch was a great example of the lengths Rick will go to make the food at Rockbrook special, uniquely memorable, and outstanding. It was authentic, completely made from scratch, tamales, served with black beans, fresh guacamole, sour cream, chips and salad. Preparations began several days ago, as the crew first made all the salsas: a bright red Guajillo chili sauce and a green variety combining serrano peppers, tomatillos, garlic and onions. They also roasted chicken in advance, pulling it off the bone in shreds, along with frying a blend of onions, green and red bell peppers. Each tamale has to be made individually and by hand, and when you need 1200 tamales to feed the camp, it’s quite a project. One by one, a layer of tamale filling (a paste of fine cornmeal, lime, oil and stock) is spread on a corn husk, and chicken or cheese along with one of the salsas and peppers added before folding the husk into a pocket and carefully being layered into several large pots to be cooked by steaming. The result is many delicious, hot savory treats. Part of the fun of eating tamales is unwrapping them, revealing the yummy middle of the husk pocket— undoubtedly a new experience for some the campers and staff. I would bet, this will be remembered as a favorite meal of the session.

Meanwhile, this morning girls were offered several adventure outings: a kayaking trip to the lower Green River, a canoeing trip to the French Broad, a hiking trip to Moore Cove in the Pisgah National Forest, rock climbing at Castle Rock, and a zip line tour through the course on the Rockbrook property. Such amazing opportunities to dive deep into the unique beauty of this part of western North Carolina!

rafting camp children child whitewater kayaking camp Child swimming with kick board at camp

This afternoon, cabin groups and their counselors planned special activities for their “cabin day.” One group had a relaxing float at the lake, while another chose an exhilarating ride on the zipline course. Two different groups took a hike to the top of Castle Rock to enjoy a view of the French Broad River valley. Two groups chose craft projects: one making tie-dye t-shirts, and another decorating compliment jars. One senior cabin planned an entire game show! —the wolves vs. the vampires in a competition to “Earn Lotso Respect.” All of the junior cabins loaded up the buses for a short trip over to Dolly’s Dairy bar, and for many their first taste of Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion or one of Dolly’s other camp flavors.

It was an exciting evening for the full session Middlers and Seniors. Along with their counselors, all 101 of us rode up into the Forest for a dinner picnic, visit to Sliding Rock, and final stop at Dolly’s. We love this trip because it combines time together eating and playing games, top-of-your-lungs excitement on the natural water slide, and what one camper called “the best ice cream in the world.” For many girls, this uniquely North Carolina experience is a highlight of their session.

Tomorrow we must say goodbye to our mini session campers, recalling fondly the fun we had together, and looking forward to our chance to be together again next summer. Thank you girls!

Sliding Rock Camp Buddies

It Leads to a Moment

girl on adventure bridgeWhenever the adventure staff announces that trips through the Rockbrook Zip Line course will be offered, there’s always a buzz among the girls. It’s a special trip open to everyone, no matter how old (yes even the smallest Juniors!), and we offer it almost everyday at camp, easily filling each group of 8 throughout the day. The trips take about an hour, so they nicely fit into our activity schedule. Our Zip course is uniquely woven into the forest above the dining hall, among several huge rock faces, old-growth trees, rhododendron thickets, and even a 50-foot waterfall.  With their harnesses, helmets and pulleys, the girls first hike along a trail to the first zip, a 200-foot, low angle ride across the front of Stick Biscuit falls. The second ride is faster, and flies the girls from one rock face to another about 40-feet above a deep contour in the forest floor. Then come the bridges, three different ones in all, challenging the girls to balance and hold on as they traverse to the final zip. That one launches from a rock ledge and screams 450 feet back into the camp, finishing right near the office building. The whole experience is a thrilling, immersive adventure into the natural beauty of camp.

wheel pottery girlBoth pottery studios have taken to the wheels today. Learning to throw on the wheel is often a goal of the girls who choose pottery for one of their four regular activities, eager to move past the basic hand-building techniques using slabs and coils of clay. It’s so much fun for the girls, almost magical when a ball of clay, perfectly centered on the wheel, slowly takes shape into a simple bowl. Zach and Joe, our long-time head pottery instructors, plus the counselors assigned, are right by the girls’ side assisting as they work on this skill. It can be frustrating at first, but with practice, and perhaps with some encouragement from the staff, the girls quickly feel successful. That look of understanding followed by pride at the moment a camper finally pulls up the clay on a spinning wheel —it’s really cool to see.

kayak roll learning at lakeThe same sort of progression— practice leading to understanding and accomplishment —happens down at the lake when campers begin learning to roll a whitewater kayak. What begins completely disorienting (being upside down, under water, in a boat) can become simply a moment to perform another maneuver. It begins for girls by learning to slip out of their flipped kayak, learning to “wet exit” —a crucial first step before taking any kayak trip. From there, girls practice a sequence of carefully timed movements (hip snap, paddle placement, etc.) that allow them to right their boat without exiting it. It’s not easy to “get their roll,” but we’ve seen most girls master it over time. Believe me, if your daughter is working on it, you’ll hear about it the moment she finally gets her roll. It’s a truly exciting achievement.

All is well at Rockbrook as we have moved through the week. Glorious weather has provided even more liveliness to what’s already a spirited bunch. Both campers and counselors have grown more confident and comfortable, making each moment even better. It’ll be great fun to watch this continue!

girls camp group

Comfortable and Confident

water slide splashIt’s only been a few days into the session, and already it’s clear that camp life is the good life. A casual stroll around the camp, really at any time, proves it. We have happy girls everywhere, engaged caring counselors, and genuine enthusiasm spilling out of every activity. It’s remarkable too how quickly this positive momentum has appeared. You see it at archery when the girls cheer for each shot that hits the target, at the Alpine Tower when a camper makes it to the top platform, and at Curosty when the looms vibrate from quick fingers at work.  The poses at Yoga, the canoe strokes at the lake, the backhands on the tennis courts, the careful protocols and aim at the riflery range —together, there seems to be a natural rhythm to camp now. It’s fascinating to see all this relaxed, comfortable and confident activity.

There also has been tremendous interest in the adventure trips being offered each day. When the staff announces a trip, the girls have been literally running to sign up. There’s been so much interest in overnight backpacking, for example, we’ve added more chances to go in the coming days. The Juniors have been filling day hiking trips, and tomorrow’s rock climbing outing to Looking Glass Rock will have a full group leaving bright and early. Likewise for the zip line trips: quickly full of eager adventurers. It’s impressive how much these girls are ready for everything camp has to offer!

sliding rock camp kidsThe entire Senior line spent their cabin day evening having a wild time at Sliding Rock. Just before dinner we loaded up all the buses, and drove up to a great grassy spot in the forest for a picnic dinner of hot dogs, Rick’s homemade coleslaw, potato chips and fruit. A quick game of “I’m a Rockbrook Girl” helped digest our meal before driving the short distance to the Rock.  Once again, since we were sliding after hours, we had the place to ourselves and the girls could easily get back in line to slide several times.  Some slid as many as 6 or 7 times tonight! Back in the buses and after a short drive back down the mountain, Dolly’s Dairy bar was our last stop of the evening.  Cups and cones of delicious “Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion,” or some other camp flavor made a nice cap for the fun trip.

Keep that snail mail coming. Receiving a true card or letter in their mailbox is a wonderful gift for the girls. Follow the instructions for keeping in touch on this page.

rifle target kids

Camp Teaches Kindness

Rockbrook is accredited by the American Camp Association, an organization dedicated to defining and promoting professionalism and program quality among America’s summer camps. Through its many educational efforts and accreditation program, the ACA’s goal is to foster “greater public understanding of and support for the value of the camp experience” while “increasing [the] number of children, youth, and adults of all social, cultural, and economic groups [who] will have a camp experience.”

horse and small kidToday, the ACA has deemed July 24th “camp kindness day,” a day simply to celebrate kindness as a core characteristic of many camp communities.Tom Rosenberg, the current President and CEO of the ACA, and good friend of Rockbrook, put it this way: “At camp, everyone belongs and learns to contribute altruistically in a nurturing, physically and emotionally safe environment where they learn to build caring, trusting, and respectful relationships with individuals who are different from themselves.”

We’ve said it many times before; camp teaches girls to be kind. There’s a kinship, an intensity and closeness, to camp life where sharing this much (meals, chores, songs and laughs, for example) charges up our sympathy and compassion for each other. The camp community, defined by heartfelt relationships rooted in caring and generosity, simply inspires kindness toward others. At Rockbrook, it’s easy to see too. Girls are helping each other in every activity. They’re quick to comfort, support and encourage each other. There’s warmth and affection in every greeting and cheer. Living in this kind of positive community feels really good also. It opens us all up to be more trusting, and paves the way toward greater resilience and self-confidence. Of course, friendships blossom along the way, making everything more fun. Kindness is definitely key at camp. Hooray for #CampKindessDay !

camp rafting kidsAbout half the camp went whitewater rafting today on the Nantahala river. One group drove over on Monday to spend the night at our outpost campsite before rafting the next morning. This group had a great time roasting marshmallows over a campfire, listening to the whippoorwills out at night, and battling at least one wolf spider hiding in the rafters of the tent platforms. The second group arrived in time for lunch before their trip down the river.  For each trip, six girls, each outfitted with a PFD, paddle and helmet, piled into one of our rafts and with one of the RBC guides steering in the back, bumped and splashed down the 9 mile section of river. The predicted afternoon thundershowers held off until we were on our way back to camp, adding to everyone’s enjoyment of their time on the water.

Back at camp in time for dinner, the girls were excite to find out that it was “Birthday Night,” a fun special event where the dining hall is rearranged to allow everyone to sit at a table according to their birth month.

birthday campers birthday goofy girls

This is always a popular event because it means sitting with different people, staff and campers alike. It’s one big birthday party for everyone at camp, and since there are 12 months, we had 12 cakes, each decorated by the Hi-Ups with colorful frosting and candy designs. Never missing an opportunity to dress up, we also made this party even more fun by giving it a “sports” theme with decorations and costumes based on different sports teams and uniforms. It was a colorful party of good silly fun for the whole camp.

Nantahala falls rafting splash

A Real Camaraderie

small camp girl kayaking in rapidOur kayaking camp girls, the “Rockbrook Rapids,” just completed their week-long kayaking trip camp today with a run on the Upper Green River. Altogether this week they paddled the Tuckasegee, the Nantahala, the Broad, the Chattooga, and the Green. The group spent the night out a couple of times camping, and returned to camp the other nights. The water levels were high everywhere, but not too crazy, and with no rain all week— nothing but sunshine! —the trips enjoyed excellent boating conditions. It was fun hearing the excitement in the stories the girls told after arriving back at camp, accounts of specific rapids, odd things seen in the river (for example a picnic table and a swing set!), and the personal quirks that become funny when a group of girls spends this much time together. It was obvious that they were enjoying a real camaraderie as well as the thrill of all that whitewater. It was a great week of adventure.

We’re about a week into this first session, and to the experienced eye, it would be possible to guess that by measuring the number of finished craft projects appearing around camp.

weaving camper kid camp necklace girl

There seem to be examples everywhere, and if it’s something that can be worn, then those colorful handmade crafts are now part of the landscape. Of course, almost every wrist has a friendship bracelet or lanyard adorning it, for example. I’ve also seen delicate and elaborate beaded necklaces coming from the jewelry making activity. Pottery is being glazed, and tie-dye t-shirts rinsed and dried for wearing. Woven placemats and potholders, cross-stitch designs, sequined headbands, leather bracelets, and knitted hats are now proud possessions (perhaps later gifts). The girls have also been painting small smooth stones, using acrylic paint to blend colors. They’ve been making post cards, ready now to be mailed home. You too will be impressed when you seen these crafts.

One quick reminder about mail… It’s a BIG deal to receive mail at camp. Everyday after lunch the girls check their mailboxes on the porch, ending up excited that they have something waiting for them, or a little disappointed that “maybe next time” they’ll have a card or letter to read during rest hour. You know the address, so keep that mail coming!

Camp is feeling really good. The girls are happy and engaged, excited and active. They are growing closer as friends, to each other and their caring counselors. There’s a daily enthusiasm for the simplest things, from muffin break to free swim. Friendly greetings punctuate every walk we take. A genuine community is taking shape with everyone involved. It’s beautiful to witness and a joy to share.

Camper Friendship

Backpacking Reflections

Every week at Rockbrook, we offer adventure trips out of camp where the girls can hike, swim, paddle or climb in the nearby National or State forests. These trips are always optional; like all the activity offerings here, the girls themselves select whichever they like. Often how they select involves considering who among their friends will also be signing up, what they’ll be missing when out of camp, and sometimes a consideration of what seems new and interesting.

Today a group of girls returned from a backpacking trip through a high elevation area in the Pisgah Forest. Clyde and Jane led the trip that included visiting a waterfall on the Flat Laurel Creek and a morning hike to the summit of Sam Knob (elev. 6050 ft). The girls took some time during the trip to reflect and write about their experience, so I thought it would be nice to publish some of their thoughts. When you read what they wrote, it’s clear they really got a lot out of the experience.

Teen hiking

“Though it doesn’t even come close to the excitement and wackiness of Jayne and Clyde’s Everglades adventures that Jayne recalled as we sat around the fire, here is a little recap of our overnight hike. Started with a 45-minute bus ride where I talked with Sarah Jane and Mae about our favorite Netflix movies, our dogs, and our favorite thing about our houses.Then a simple but gorgeous (and mostly flat!) hike to the campsite. Collapsed onto the ground with our packs still buckled. Pitched tents with no help and relaxed in Mae’s Eno hammock. While the burritos warmed on the fire Clyde made, we played the World Map game where we shared memories from our childhood home and where we want to be at age 25. I stood on my tiptoes on a small piece of moss to show how tiny Rhode Island is. That was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip because I learned a lot about people such as: Mia lives in London and used to live in Germany. Jayne told stories around the campfire. Then s’mores (we polished off a 64 marshmallow bag… Ooops). Peed in the wilderness. Bonded with tent mates as we successfully removed two mating daddy longlegs and a moth, then talked about life. Clocked out at 11ish. Then up and at ‘em at 5:15am for sunrise hike! HA HA just kidding. Mother Nature decided to rain on our parade so back to bed until 8:30. Woke up (part 2) to oatmeal and packing then stunning waterfall, then top of Sam Knob then back to the bus. I’d say first overnight hike = GREAT SUCCESS!!” — Ellery

Teen Hiking Girls

“I’ll preface by saying that I am not someone who considers herself athletic. Not in the slightest. However, if you were to tell me that Rockbrook was offering a position on the same overnight hike that I just returned from, I’d accept that offer in a blink of an eye. This trip pushed me in so many ways and although the saying goes “nothing changes overnight” I certainly returned to base camp with a new notch on my belt that will (and already has) help me grow as a person. On this hike I learned that pitching a tent easily and very quickly reveals one’s inner character. Some think rationally and set up the tent within a matter of minutes. Others take their time cracking jokes and making fools of themselves. Some others offer their help without being asked. Some might lay low in the helping department (and in the hammock at the campsite) and provide entertainment. These characters discovered early on in the trip, continue to blossom and to take new forms. The trailblazer, the campfire storyteller, the pack mule who is more than willing to lessen another’s load, and the photographer, observing the action and capturing it as they relax on a sturdy rock. Each character is integral and a crucial part of the hiking experience. With each of these characters by my side, it suddenly became much easier to hike. It was the difference between exercise being a burden and an adventure.” — Sarah Jane

Campfire Hanging Out

“Well, it sure was a trip, but I enjoyed every bit of it. Being out in nature with friends is truly one of the most enjoyable experiences. Even when wet, dirty, and overall just disgusting, we can look past the inconveniences and still keep a good attitude. I know that this trip will definitely be held in my memory for many years. I made new friends, and got to know past friends even better. I learned new tricks, both for camping and for knot tying. It was a great first-time backpacking experience. I always felt strong and powerful, like I was ready to take on the world, one muddy trail at a time. Of course, I wouldn’t go it alone. I would travel far and wide, but I would never have to look for a friend because I would always have many with me. Even when clean clothes, games and food were short, we could spend time together to feel fresh, entertained and fulfilled. I think that’s why I was never hungry on the trip. Even though we hiked a lot, sweat a lot, and burned tons of calories, I survived on one burrito, some oatmeal, and trail mix. Truly fascinating. I guess being hot, sweaty, tired, and hungry is no match for the good feeling you get from being outside with friends. I could tell that I had a good time even when I wasn’t doing anything in particular. I would walk down the trail, red-faced and sticky, and I would be beaming, even when there wasn’t anything to smile at. It’s something I could get used to.” — Mae

Rock Water Hiking

“Over the whole trip we hiked 5 miles, saw many pretty views, and got to sleep in tents. Even though we were different ages we all bonded so much. We all learned something new about each person. It was beautiful. I have never seen anything like it. It was so magical and an experience I will never forget. When we woke up, we went on a hike to a waterfall. It was super special because we got to look behind us to see the top of the waterfall, and in front of us to see a view of some beautiful mountains. Then we went to the top of Sam Knob, and the view was breathtaking. I would not trade the experience for the world. Then we hiked back and we were all exhausted, but knew it was all worth it. Back to the first day, we hiked 2 miles in just under an hour. It did not feel long at all. It was not that steep. It felt pretty flat. When we got to our campsite someone was already there, so we went back to a vacant spot for us to sleep. We learned all about what to look for as a sign of a good campsite. We also learned how to leave no trace by packing it out. We had to figure out how to put up a tent with no help. After we got our sleeping situation all figured out, we sat around the campfire and learned a lot about where we all live and what we want to be doing when we’re 25. We ate our burritos and s’mores as we talked. Then played a few riddle games including black magic and the elephant game. Overall it was super fun, and an experience I will never forget.” — Mia

NC Meadow Hiking

“On this trip I experienced amazing new things that I never would have before. First, we hiked two miles of a straight path with a few muddy spots. It took us a little while to find the perfect camp spot but when we did it felt so nice to take our bags off. We set up camp and then made a campfire. Then we learned things about each other by playing world map while our burritos got warm by the fire. Even though some of the burritos were burnt, they were still delicious. Afterwards, we told stories and had s’mores. We played black magic, which I did not understand for a long time. Then we went to our tents because we were all exhausted. Even though we were really tired it took us a while to go to sleep. When we woke up at 5:15am we were even more tired. It started raining so we all decided to go back to sleep instead of seeing the sunrise. The second time we woke up it wasn’t raining and we went for a hike to a waterfall. It was gorgeous! By the end of the waterfall, my shoes and socks and feet were soaking wet, but at least it was so fun. Then we hiked to the top of Sam Knob. It was tiring, wet, and muddy, but all of that made the hike better. And when we finally got to the top it was one of the prettiest views I have ever seen. From beginning to end, this hike was and always will be an amazing memory I will never forget.” — Emma

NC Hike Overlook

“From the minute I hopped off the bus and felt the weight of the pack on my back, I knew I was in for something special. I have to say, knowing that I have never done a trip like this before I probably would have never learned as much as I did if I didn’t have Jayne and Clyde and Rebecca. They really just made the trip with the games and the hikes and their leave no trace knowledge. I feel so enlightened. I also learned a lot from the campers like how to set up a tent. Ha Ha. I don’t think I would have had the bravery to hike down that waterfall if I didn’t have them with me either. The waterfall ended up being the most exciting part of the hike. When I stood on that rock and looked at the view ahead I just felt everything in me break free. All the tension and tightness in my back from the pack just released off me. Those are the kind of feelings I live for. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to venture out of the city and feel the breath of life and see mountains of trees and never ending skies. I also love the huge space of just grass and flowers, the meadow where we dropped our backpacks off. It’s another whole feeling being in the mountains and this trip is one I will never forget.” — Karma

Teen Hiking Pose

Doing this Beautifully

Girl Power kayakerThe kayakers have taken trips almost everyday this week. The interest in kayaking continues to grow, so Leland, Sarah and Stephanie have been busy meeting that demand by offering lots of trips. The beginners went to the French Broad River twice this week. After mastering their “wet exit” (sliding out of the kayak when it tips over), the French Broad is a perfect place to learn other important kayaking skills like ferrying across moving water and catching an eddy. On both Thursday and Friday, groups of kayaking girls drove over to the Tuckasegee River in Swain County to run its rapids. The river was really moving after our recent rains, giving the girls a little extra push over the shallow areas and making a couple of the rapids like Moonshot and Dillsboro Drop even more fun. This section of the “Tuck” takes 2 or so hours to complete giving the crew plenty of time to play on the water and still be back at camp for dinner.

Today, the Hi-Ups had their third “Girls With Ideas” session— a curriculum designed to foster confident girl leaders. On sticky notes, they began the meeting by writing down times that they were positive role models for the younger campers, moments that challenged them, and how they want to end their camp session. Although they only had the space of a sticky note for each answer, their responses and following discussion were quite wise and thoughtful. Between setting and scraping for each meal, putting on Rockbrook surprises, and helping to teach activities, these 10th grade campers have packed schedules! The downtime to reflect was much deserved. Personal goals of theirs for the rest of their Hi-Up year include being good team players, staying selfless, and taking initiative.

Camping Trip Sunrise Mountain TopAnother adventure trip also returned to camp today with stories and photos to share. We were planning an overnight canoe trip on the French Broad river near camp, but at the last minute a huge thunderstorm caused the river to rise too fast for the group to paddle safely. Shifting gears a bit, adventure staff leaders Jayne and Mattie decided to camp in Pisgah instead and show the campers several very cool spots. They first went to Courthouse Falls for a swim in the icy pool beneath. From there they camped further up the mountain along the Silvermine Ridge. The next morning, despite being pretty tired, everyone woke up early (5:15am!) to summit nearby Black Balsam mountain and watch the sunrise. Being that high up (over 6,200 feet!), far above the morning fog in the surrounding valleys, was quite a treat. Click this photo (any of these!) to see a larger version.  Passing by one more waterfall on the way back to camp, the group just had to stop for a quick swim. These girls love the cold mountain water around here!

Camp Ceramics Class for Teen GirlsSimilarly, we’ve been happy to see so many campers improving their skills in pottery. The Rockbrook ceramics program has always been extensive, with two studios, 3 professional potters who serve as instructors, and a steady stream of enthusiastic campers returning year after year to work with clay. Lately, the older girls have been doing amazing work on the wheels. Throwing on the potter’s wheel takes some practice at first, but once you learn to center the clay, stay steady and draw the clay up slowly and evenly, it’s magical to see a lump transform into a delicate, symmetrical pot.  The girls are doing this beautifully. The next step is to vary the final shape of the cup or bowl, perhaps flaring the lip, bulging one side, or adding a handle.  Next week after the pots dry a bit (There’s a special dehumidifying room for that.), it will be time for glazing, and the final kiln firing that will bring out the colors of the glazes. Look for incredible creations coming home after camp.

cute all girl camp basket weaving

Campers Take Trips

Girl Kayaking down riverGirls hiking on John RockIn addition to the regular daily activities at camp, the four in-camp activities each camper has as part of their day, the adventure staff announces special trips everyday. During breakfast and lunch, everyone finds out about these optional out-of-camp trips where small groups of girls get to go rock climbing, whitewater kayaking, overnight backpacking, day hiking, whitewater rafting, overnight canoeing, or ziplining. A trip might be a short hike that takes half a day, or a full-day of kayaking or climbing. It could be a night hike, a creek crawl, a visit to a nearby swimming hole, or to the cave under Dunns Rock.  You just never know what trip will be a surprise announcement. Since these trips are extra and optional, and since they require the girls to miss their regular activities, it presents them with a choice. Are they willing to skip, for example, riflery and tennis in the morning to go rock climbing instead? There seem to always be girls willing to say yes, and take advantage of these special trips.

Recently the kayaking instructors took girls to the French Broad River and the Green River. These were all-day trips that departed after breakfast, included eating a picnic lunch, paddling for several hours and returning to camp just in time for dinner. Another special trip brought a small group of seniors backpacking and pitching their tents near John Rock in the Pisgah National Forest. It allowed the girls to watch the sunset from up on the rock and be back to their campsite for an evening of roasting marshmallows around the campfire before heading to their tents.

Girls Drumming LessonAnother special trip-like offering today was the two drumming workshops taught by our friend Billy Zanski. Billy owns a drum shop in Asheville and has been teaching drumming lessons for more than 10 years (He’s been coming to Rockbrook for 3 or so). He studied under master drummer Bolokada Conde from Guinea, and no is well known in this area to be a great teacher and performer. Today the workshops included working on the Doundoun bass drums, which are double membrane, cow-skin drums played with sticks… three at a time, each tuned to a different tone. Billy also brought with him about eight Djembe drums, which are single-membrane, goat-skin drums played directly with your hands. After learning the three basic notes to make on the Djembe (called a bass, tone and slap), the girls followed Billy’s lead imitating different rhythms. Pretty soon they were playing very cool beats, and sounding great.

The biggest event of the day, a dance with the boys of Camp Carolina, in a way started long before the music. It began at lunch when the CITs announced that we would be dancing tonight, and for most of the afternoon as the preparations unfolded… non-stop showers, more hair brushes than you can count, and some of the cleaner clothes we’ve seen lately… the dance was on our minds. We learned long ago that splitting the boys and girls into two dances, one for the young and another for the older children, makes it more fun for everyone. The music at both tends to be similar (pretty much exclusively Pop), but the style of dancing differs a bit, with perhaps more jumping for the older girls. The songs with well-known group choreographed dances (the “Cha Cha Slide,” or “Cotton-Eyed Joe,” for example) are the most popular, as they get everyone dancing. All the dancing— the jumping, shaking, and spinning —gets all of us heated up. Smiling, laughing and sweating: it’s a very fun combination.

Middle Girl Camp DanceSenior Girl Camp Dance