Say hello to Casey Blair, Rockbrook’s new Program Director!
Everyone at Rockbrook is thrilled to announce that Casey Blair will begin serving as the full-time Program Director at camp. If you’ve attended camp recently, you already know Casey because over five years she has been a cabin counselor, Line Head, lifeguard, and most recently the Staff Coordinator. In addition to joining the team of directors, she now will be planning and organizing camp activities and summer events, managing the equipment and supplies for activities, and assisting special program staff members.
Casey was born and raised in Louisville Kentucky. She attended Centre College in Danville, KY, where she received a Bachelors of Art, majoring in studio art with an emphasis on ceramics. After that, she did an internship at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, working with school groups. From there, she went to University of Louisville, where she received a Master’s in the Art of Teaching (MAT) degree, becoming certified to teach elementary school grades K-5. She did her student teaching at Farmer Elementary and worked with 1st and 4th graders.
Casey is very excited to work at camp year round. She is eager to start planning for next summer, and “getting to talk about camp everyday.” She explained, “the campers keep me coming back— getting to know them, seeing what they have learned at camp and watching how much they have grown throughout the school year is always fun.”
When asked what she loves about camp, she said, “It’s the people. I really love the kind of community that we cultivate here. It is open, welcoming, and encouraging. And of course, I love the North Carolina mountains.”
When I was a junior in high school, my drama teacher set my class two challenges, each designed to get us thinking creatively:
Write down as many uses for a brick as you can think of.
Draw three creatures that do not exist, and that are combinations of a bunch of different animals. Use as much detail as you can.
The first challenge was a cinch. I’ve been writing fiction ever since I could hold a pen, and still can switch on daydreams as real as a TV show whenever I get bored. If you ask me to use my imagination to think up impossible things, I’m on solid ground.
Sure, I listed the usual (boring) uses for a brick: house construction, paperweight, impromptu dumb-bell, etc. But then came the fun ones: a piece of a giant’s Lego set, an impenetrable fortress for ant-armies, Twinkie-holder, napkin ring at a brick-layers’ convention, etc.
All this is to say, if you’re looking for something to do with that pile of bricks you have lying around your house for some reason, I’m your girl.
But then came challenge number two. Sure I could think of imaginary animals—how about a zebra-striped cow, with the head of a horse, the legs of a mini-elephant, and the horns of a water buffalo? Oh, and it can talk like a parrot! Oh, and maybe it can jump like a kangaroo! Oh yeah, the ideas were coming fast.
There was just one problem. I can’t draw. Not at all. Even stick figures are a struggle for me. I stared at that blank piece of paper, listening to the excited pencil-scratching coming from my neighbors’ desks, and my cheeks began to burn. I was the only one not drawing.
I just sat there, with my head down, until the activity was over. I couldn’t even let myself try. I couldn’t even permit a doodle. I couldn’t take the risk that the beautiful image I had in my head might not translate onto paper. Better to be scolded by my teacher for failing to complete the activity, than for it to be known that I might be less than excellent at something. So I just sat there, almost in tears, until the papers were collected.
I’ve thought about that moment a lot since then. Why hadn’t I even tried? Why had I assumed the result would be that horrible, without taking the simple step of just beginning? Why had I decided by the end of elementary school that I Am Not An Artist? End of story, no question about it, no need to try.
So many times, both in camp and out of camp, I see young girls give up on things before they’ve even begun.
“No, I can’t take pottery, I’m not artsy.”
“No way am I going to try out for basketball, I’m not athletic at all.”
“I can’t take the swim test. I’ve never been much of a swimmer.”
Somehow, it has become part of our mindset that our talents, our levels of intelligence and understanding, and our potential for achievement are set in stone from the very beginning. The thoughts that were racing through my mind that day in drama class consisted entirely of, I was bad at drawing in elementary school. Therefore, I am bad at drawing now. Therefore, I will always be bad at drawing, no matter how hard I try. Therefore, I should not try.
I know I’m not the only one that thinks this way. We have become so afraid of failure, because we think that that failure defines us even more than the successes that come afterwards. Sure, we know that da Vinci didn’t paint the Mona Lisa the first time he ever touched a paintbrush, and yet somehow we still think that if we fail the first time, then we will inevitably fail every time, with no shot at improvement.
But this is wrong. This is so wrong! Why should I, at 23 years old, have already decided which categories I belong in (Good Writer, Good Reader, Not-Good Drawer, Not-Good Dancer), and given up on changing any of them? Why should a 10 year old camper stand frozen at the edge of the dock on swim demo day, just because somebody told her one time that she wasn’t a very fast swimmer? Why should we throw away the chance to surprise ourselves with new, enjoyable experiences, in an attempt to save our pride from the sting of failure?
So here’s the challenge (you knew this was coming): allow yourself to be bad at something once a day. It can be a brand new experience, or an old one that you gave up on long ago. If you’re a bad dancer, then dance like a crazy person with your friends, and laugh when they tell you you’re not so good. If you gave up on piano after one lesson, sit down and bang out “Chopsticks” on the keys, and laugh when you hit a bad note. If you have always wanted to be a poet, then write down that poem that you have bouncing around in your head, and then laugh when you realize it sounds more like a Hallmark Card than Emily Dickinson.
That’s right: laugh. Train yourself to find the joy in failure. When that sinking feeling comes along that tells you to run away from the challenge before it becomes too much, then laugh it away, and try again. And again. And again. And again. Sure, maybe you’ll never be dancing at center stage in Radio City Music Hall, or tickling the ivories like Stevie Wonder, or becoming the next US Poet Laureate—but hey, maybe you will. You’ll never know unless you embrace the possibility that you might just fail, and then go for it anyway.
As for me, I’m still not a great drawer. But I hope that Mr. McFarland will accept this late addition to the creativity project. May I present, the Zebreleffow:
One of the great things about coming to a sleepaway summer camp is the way the environment, the setting, and the culture of the place, all encourage kids to make friends. We’re really seeing this these days at Rockbrook, as obvious groups of laughing girls seem to always be together, to be signing up for activities together, and grabbing muffins together at “muffin break.” We’ve talked about the importance of camp friends before, but it’s so obvious to notice in action. These girls are sharing so many wonderful experiences, meeting so many nice people who are relaxed and open, and exploring the outdoors together, it’s just an ideal setting to forge meaningful relationships. Away from the more rigid expectations of school and their school peers, and immersed in a place like this where you can be your true self, camp is a magical place where girls easily make true friends.
This morning we were treated to amazing mountain weather with a little fog and low 60s when we woke up and then bright sunshine throughout the day. It made our morning activities in camp and our out of camp trips (a waterfall hike and a rock climb) just perfect. The girls were finishing up their first set of activities today, so it was great fun to dig deeper into camp. Shooting a real gun, making a cool new pottery mug, learning a few yoga poses, and climbing up a 100ft tall rock. Pause for muffin break… today “Oatmeal Cinnamon Raisin.” Then, we’re off for more adventure, sports, arts and horseback riding, sprinkled with a good dose imagination.
The afternoon, it being Wednesday, brought “Cabin Day,” a time each week when we stick together as a cabin group for activities instead of breaking up and following our individual activity schedules. Groups of girls were playing games on the hill, taking hikes to Castle Rock, swimming at the lake, making baskets and others enjoying smoothies in the dining hall… all great ways to build cabin camaraderie. Later in the afternoon, the entire Senior line took a trip into Pisgah to visit Sliding Rock. We waited until later so the crowds would be gone and we could have the rock for ourselves, which turned out to be a good idea since we had 85 people in our group! Most of the girls slid down 4 or 5 times, until we all got hungry enough for a picnic supper (some of Rick’s homemade salads— potato, egg, chicken and pimento cheese —on croissants, fruit and Alison’s lemon bars. It felt so good to be out in the forest together enjoying each others company and good food after the big (and chilly!) adventure of Sliding Rock. And to top it all off, we just had to stop at Dolly’s for a cone of their fantastic ice cream, the Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion being a favorite flavor. An awesome trip.