The Wizard of Seuss

Chappie Powell playing the bagpipesMost mornings at 8am, our 100-year-old camp bell, hung high in the oak tree below the dining hall, wakes us up with its distinctive notes. It’s a sound familiar to every Rockbrook camper since 1921, the year the camp was founded. Today, however, a very different, though equally distinctive, sound echoed through the camp first thing— bagpipe music. Local musician Chappie Powell, who is also the son-in-law of Steve who works with our camp office crew, arrived early this morning to surprise everyone with a short concert. Perched on a rock in the center of the grassy hill, he played wonderfully and filled the entire camp to everyone’s delight. The girls were surprised and at first didn’t quite know what to do, but soon there were small crowds of curious campers straining to get a glimpse of Chappie while he played. Morning in the mountains… and bagpipes! It was a very cool experience.

Summer camp girls in painting classAfter breakfast, the girls were eager to start their activities because today was the last full day of our regular schedule this session.  This meant returning to Curosty to remove weavings from the looms, touching up paintings begun in Hobby Nook, visiting the garden to pick flowers, making one last s’more over a campfire built in WHOA, taking another ride on the zip line or climb up Castle Rock. A few girls took a final kayaking trip to the Nantahala too.  More importantly, girls all over camp knew they wanted simply to be with their friends as our precious time together was coming to a close. While it feels good to complete a project, to have something we’re proud of like a freshly glazed pottery mug or even a riflery target pierced by a bullseye, it feels even better to work on it with your best friend. The product might be cool, but it’s the process we truly love.

Tonight’s special event dinner is something everyone’s been looking forward to since the start of the session— the surprise theme banquet presented by the CA campers. After discussing and settling on a theme, preparing for weeks (painting banners for decorations, writing scripts for skits, rehearsing group dance performances, gathering elaborate costumes, and selecting special food and music), and setting up the dining hall all day, tonight was the night to reveal the theme and throw an amazing party for the whole camp. And the theme was 100% unique— The Wizard of Seuss.

Banquet costumes Banquet Dorothy Costume Banquet grinch costume

Combining characters from both the Wizard of Oz and different Dr. Seuss stories, we heard a new tale about Dorothy, Toto, the Lion, Tin man and Scarecrow being caught in a tornado and finding themselves in the “Land of Seuss” where they met the Lorax and the Once-ler, Thing 1 and Thing 2, Star-bellied Sneeches, the Grinch, and the Cat in the Hat.

Wizard of Suess Banquet Costumes

The decorations were awesome and colorful with a forest of Tuffula Trees, lights, glitter, streamers, a model house with the legs of a crushed witch sticking out, and lining every wall, paintings depicting characters and scenes from the Wizard of Oz and Dr. Seuss books. For dinner, the girls chose to serve tri-colored tortellini, green eggs and ham, zucchini, and an amazing dessert of Thing1 & Thing2 cupcakes complete with blue icing.

The entire evening was a wonderful celebration of camp creativity and teamwork that everyone enjoyed and will certainly remember.

Camp Banquet costume members

A Spies Banquet

Kid holding her riflery targetWe’re approaching the end of our main session of camp, as today was the last day of regular activity periods. With the sun drying everything (“Hot and sunny without a drop of rain,” describes the weather.), and the campers feeling fully relaxed after all these weeks together, there seemed to be an extraordinary buzz of activity today. Down at the riflery and archery ranges, the girls have been preparing to challenge the boys at Camp Carolina in a shooting tournament scheduled for tomorrow. The shooting instructors select 3 girls from each age group to join the team that travels to Camp Carolina for the friendly match, so everyone interested was eager to practice before the event. Likewise, the tennis instructors were coaching the girls who would go to play a tennis match against the team of boys. For many of these girls, they look forward to just going on the trip, regardless of whether or not they win.

Bright tie dyesWe saw all kinds of completed craft projects appear today also. Ceramics pieces emerged from the kilns shiny and colorful. Tie-dye t-shirts were unfurled to the delight of their makers. Weavings were cut from the looms, and their loose ends tied, in Cursoty. The individual months for decorated paper calendars were finally assembled. Candles received their last few dips in the colored wax. Final beads were strung on many-stranded bracelets and necklaces. The finishing stitches were added to knitted hats, and needlepoint designs. When you see all these wonderful creations, I’m sure you’ll be impressed.

Lake Party GirlsToday’s sunny weather became the inspiration for a lake party before lunch. With all the lifeguards on duty, we opened the water slide, slipped all of the floats into the water, blew up a few extra beach balls, and pumped out some fun, up-beat music to set the mood. A few girls soon took turns doing crazy jumps from the diving board, jumps where they had to act like an animal, mid-air, before hitting the water. Just lounging in the sun was also pretty popular, for example on one of the big rocks near the lake. A couple of counselors showed up with muffins (yellow cake with roasted pumpkin seeds!), fruit and drinks for everyone to enjoy. In no time, it was a fun party!

The main event of the day, however, was something the CA campers (9th graders) have been planning since the first day of the session, something kept a secret this whole time, and something everyone looks forward to immensely… the final Banquet. This group of CAs decided to make their banquet revolve around the theme of “spies, detectives and mysteries” and entitled it, “Who Dunnit?” Their decorations, which completely covered every inch of wall spaces in the dining hall, were awesome posters of movie and TV characters like the Pink Panther, Inspector Gadget, Scooby Doo, James Bond, Men in Black, and Nancy Drew. Caution tape and balloons hung from the rafters. Then even further, all 29 of the campers dressed as a different character, from inspector Clouseau, to Dr. Doofenshmirtz, to Charlie’s Angels. All the CA counselors dressed as minions from the movie Despicable Me. The campers performed several choreographed dance numbers, enacted a skit investigating who stole the sun (I suppose a nod to the rainy weather we had this session), and served a meal of “Bondwiches,” “Secret Service Caesar Salad,” “Spaghetti & Mystery Meatballs,” and “Scooby Snacks” for dessert.

Mystery Banquet Theme Scooby Doo costumes Girls Banquet Table

The campers and staff members, all dressed in their green RBC t-shirts, danced and sang together between skits and performances. For everyone, this was a lavish party, pushed to the limit with plenty of sugar-fueled fun. At the end, it turned a little serious though, as groups of the oldest campers presented songs to their counselors, and vice versa. They took a well-known song and changed the lyrics to express the friendship and feelings that have grown over the session. It became clear just how much these girls have shared, and how much they’ll miss each other when the session ends Thursday morning.

Yes, the Banquet night can be a little emotional, like tonight, but ti was wonderful too.

Girls Camp kids

A Giant Success

Girls Whitewater Rafting

If you’ve been paying attention, as we do, to the weather forecasts for this area over the last few days, it would seem that rain would be a constant companion for us. Everyday we’ve been told there would be a 70, 80, or even 90 percent chance of rain. Indeed it has rained every day this week, but happily we’ve been lucky about when it has rained. For example, today we took a group of seniors whitewater rafting, and when we left camp at 7:15am there was a steady, drenching rain. Most of the camp was asleep, but these brave, determined girls woke early and headed out, nervously glancing to the sky. As we drove through the rain toward the Nantahala River, and as the sun rose to heat things up a bit, the clouds parted and we found bright sunny skies. This made for a perfect trip… Fun splashing around, “accidentally” falling in, and the thrill of crashing through each rapid’s waves. The ordinarily cold water of the Nantahala even felt a little warmer than usual for some reason. The girls had a blast on the water… the kind of outdoor adventure we love around here … enjoyed a picnic lunch by the “Worser Wesser” Falls, and were back at camp in time for their afternoon activities.

Camper wearing leather purse she made

In the craft cabin tucked into the woods just below the first cabin of the lower line, the cabin we call “Hobby Nook,” the girls taking “Folklore” have been up to something cool. They’ve been making these neat leather purses. Just a few instructions, and even fewer materials, are needed to get started. The girls cut pieces of soft leather into shapes, punch holes and sew everything together with other strands of leather. Some girls trimmed their creations with beads, while others attached braided friendship bracelet patterns… mixing media and craft activities at RBC! As you can see, the results are dazzling, and a clear source of pride for the girls.

I should probably write more about the food we are all enjoying at camp, because it’s been so yummy and good. Rick and his crew constantly amaze and satisfy us all.  There are so many examples— his baked cheese grits (with scrambled eggs and bacon) we ate for breakfast, the massive bowl of secret-recipe guacamole he added to our “taco lunch,” the baked chicken, homemade tomato soup, fresh steamed broccoli and warm focaccio bread —all examples of Rockbrook eating well. Don’t be surprised if your daughter comes home with a new favorite food. Maybe it’ll be something simple like raspberries and blueberries on waffles, but it might be lemon hummus with roasted red peppers and pine nuts!

Riflery girl bullseye target

The scattered rain showers of late haven’t stalled the action at our riflery range. The girls down there, girls of all ages, have been steadily improving their shot. And they have been shooting a lot! From the gym and even from near the lake, you can hear that “pop pop” sound of the .22 caliber rifles discharging. From this photo, you can also see that the coaching provided by instructors Leah and Haley is really paying off. Each day we hear (usually announced to cheers in the dining hall) of new members joining the riflery “Bullseye Club.” Check out Anna’s perfectly centered shot!  Awesome!

Girls Banquet posing
Girls Camp children

Dinner tonight was another surprise, and a first for Rockbrook. Our 9th graders who are staying for the current mini session presented a banquet to the camp, just as the full session 9th graders will do in a couple of weeks. We ordinarily don’t have a mini session banquet, mostly because planning one (painting decorations, rehearsing skits and dances, designing props, etc) takes more time than is really available in a short session, but this group of nine girls really wanted to do it. And they did an amazing job presenting “Rockbrook Under the Rainbow,” their banquet celebrating “colors.” Each CA dressed in a different color, all the colors of the rainbow plus white and pink (ROYGBIV + WP), and their counselors in tie dye t-shirts. Colorful designs like spirals, stripes, polka dots, and stars covered every wall. A multi-colored parachute hung from the ceiling, and the centerpiece was a “ball pool” filled with bright plastic balls and a rainbow of colored balloons. While this banquet didn’t pull out all the stops of our full session banquets, it showed the CAs’ impressive enthusiasm and their hard work. And judging from the other campers’ excited response— the dancing, singing, cheers and applause —the whole event was a giant success Thank you CAs!

A Source of True Fascination

Camp girl find tadpoleThis lovely photo was taken as Karen, our head photographer, followed a group of Junior campers down to the lake for their “Nature” activity period. Each armed with fine mesh nets, Hannah their counselor/instructor, soon had the girls skimming the lake water to “see what they could find.” Finding living things in nature is, in fact, something we do a lot around here. It might be a black snake climbing a low branch, a spider crawling innocently along the top of the shower door, or a shiny snail leaving its glistening trail up a rhododendron leaf. Each is, or at least can be with a little encouragement and sincere enthusiasm, a source of true fascination. Instead of squealing at bugs, have you noticed the fine segments of their legs? Instead of avoiding tadpoles in the lake, how cool is it to see them swim? These are little natural miracles ripe with fresh detail and ready to capture the curiosity of a child. That’s what’s going on here at camp. In this brief time, these girls can pour themselves into the experience of nature, in this case, of catching a tadpole, giggling as it wiggles in a little cup, and clapping a little cheer as it swims safely back into the lake afterwards. With so many moments like this at camp, we hope they sink in a bit and your girls are just as curious and engaged throughout the coming year.

Rifle Marksman girl at campA rather different experience awaits the girls who elect to take riflery while at camp. Instead of marveling at the wonderful details of the natural world, riflery follows a more measured path. Shooting accurately and precisely requires consistency, a steady, practiced set of actions. The girls learn quickly that riflery rewards a gentle, yet confident hand, and it shows in their improvement. Bullets in the black… I’m sure you’ll see a souvenir target to prove it!

Tonight the CA (9th grade) campers revealed their secret banquet theme and opened a “Big Top Circus” for everyone by transforming the dining hall with wall decorations, streamers, and brightly colored tablecloths. The girls each dressed in a a different circus costume too with mimes, a contortionist, dancers, a fortuneteller, lion tamer, and ringmaster all playing a role. For the menu, the girls chose to serve hot dogs, soft pretzels, popcorn, corn on the cob, cotton candy, and soda.

Circus decorations banquet Camp circus girls posing

As everyone enjoyed different courses from the menu and listened to classic circus music (like “Entrance of the Gladiators”), the girls performed skits showcasing their talents… Juggling and even riding a unicycle. They presented choreographed group dances, amazed everyone with several mimes, a life-sized puppet show, and even made a “Photo Booth” for the campers complete with silly props. Overall it was a fun, interactive party. We all danced and sang, laughed and posed for photos, all charged up on plenty of sweet candy treats. Thank you CAs for an awesome night!

First session 2013 camp CA girls

Jumping with Excitement

Sunny Horse GirlThe first full day of camp opened quietly this morning with a thick fog lingering from yesterday’s rain. Some girls, not yet accustomed to the schedule at camp, were up before the rising bell ringing at 8, while others seemed pretty sleepy when they arrived for breakfast at 8:30. Everyone though, enjoyed a hearty breakfast of oatmeal, fruit, yogurt, cereal and juice to start the day.

After breakfast, the girls assembled in their lodges (Each age group or “line” has it’s own stone lodge.) for a quick meeting with announcements and a song or two. These “morning assembly” times are another way that the girls in an age group get to know each other, see their counselors lead and interact with the group, and simply have fun doing something together. Activity time was next. Hooray! It was finally time to run off to a part of the camp and begin climbing, swimming, paddling, drawing, shooting, riding, and creating in so many ways. Without a minute to waste, there were girls with their hands in clay, holding rifles and bows, gripping paddles and paint brushes, climbing up onto horses and all the way to the top of our 50ft Alpine tower. Happily, the weather cooperated beautifully and with sun shining, we could leave our rain coats in the cabins and instead carry a towel down to the lake for a swim.

If you haven’t heard about Rockbrook’s “Muffin Break,” you certainly will from your daughter in a letter or after camp because it is a moment each day that everyone looks forward to. It happens between the first and second activity periods, and is exactly that, a break in the camp action to enjoy a freshly baked muffin served to everyone on the dining hall porch. It’s particularly exciting because the flavor changes regularly, so the girls are always excited to learn if today’s muffin is one of their favorite varieties. Today we enjoyed pumpkin chocolate chip, a classic and very popular kind.

Riflery Girl Protection Kayak Girl Smiling Camp Calendar Craft

This afternoon the “CA” campers, who are girls who have finished the 9th grade, took a hike in the Dupont State Forest. Their goal for the hike, besides enjoying the fantastic mountaintop views and blooming mountain laurel bushes along the trail, was to discuss their ideas for the end-of-session banquet. They needed to pick a theme for this special dinner/party they plan and produce for the whole camp, and since that theme is kept secret until the night of the banquet, discussing and debating the options away from camp is a good idea. They brainstormed more than a dozen initial ideas, and by the end of the hike they had selected an exciting and creative theme, one that included thoughts about the food to be served, decorations, costumes, dances, skits, props and music. They all seemed very excited about the idea… jumping with excitement …and I’m sure it will be a great event.

9th Graders Jump together

I hope you are enjoying the daily photos we have begun posting. If you haven’t already, you simply login to your parent account, and click the photos link. You’ll be able to browse through each day’s galleries, mark your favorites, and at the end of the session purchase prints or high-resolution downloads, if you like. Karin, Becca and Rachel, our camp photographers, are busy taking and posting these photos for you. We hope you enjoy them.

Thank you for sharing your girls with us. Camp is off to a great start!

Alice Banquet

Alice Banquet Title and ProgramThe end-of-session Banquet is a huge deal at Rockbrook, something that everyone, from the youngest first-time camper to the most senior staff member, looks forward to. The element of surprise drives this to some extent, since the Banquet’s theme is kept secret, but it’s also a marvelous experience to attend, one filled with colorful wall panels, table decorations, choreographed dancing by live characters, special food, and dance music.

The planning for each session’s banquet begins long before the girls arrive at Rockbrook. In fact, for girls who attend camp every summer, it can be a topic of discussion years before they even become “CA” campers, 9th graders, the age-group given the task of presenting this end-of-session party. Many of these girls have grown up attending RBC Banquets, seeing what the CAs before them have done, so when it’s their turn, they are full of ideas.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee CharactersMad Hatter Character in Alice BanquetThe CAs this session decided to make their banquet an Alice in Wonderland theme, titling it “Down the Rabbit’s Hole” and featuring decorations and characters based on the well-known novel by Lewis Carroll, and the Disney animated film adaptation of the book. The decorations were phenomenal! Every wall of the dining hall was covered with a unique poster painted with a scene of character from the story. There were over-sized and regular playing cards hung among strands of lights, curtains, and fabric. On each table, there were paper mushrooms, plenty of candy, more playing cards, top hats, small bottles of bubble solution, and souvenir red cups. Here’s a short video to get a sense of the detail of these decorations and the amount of time and energy it took these girls to paint and set up the entire dining hall.

The costumes were amazing as well. Several of the counselors dressed as main characters: Alice, the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, and the Dodo Bird, while the campers became Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Caterpillar, the King and Queen of hearts, the Door Mouse, and the March Hare. The combined effect of these characters greeting the campers as they came through the red curtain into the now unrecognizable dining hall was magical. The girls, especially the youngest Juniors, had such looks of astonishment when they first realized the theme and took everything in.

Cheshire Cat costume at Alice in Wonderland BanquetAlice and Caterpillar costumes for banquetThe program included a series of skits and dances enacting scenes from Alice’s adventures alternating with courses of food. They served chocolate chip scones after Alice descended the Rabbit’s Hole and met Tweedledee and Tweedledum, cheesy bread sticks after the Cheshire Cat appeared, and fancy small sandwiches when Alice saw flowers dancing in the garden. Cupcakes decorated like mushrooms topped off the meal, followed by cards dancing with the Queen of Hearts. In between program events, the campers, all dressed in this year’s RBC t-shirt, were invited to get up and dance to some of there favorite pop songs from the summer.

“You always remember your first Banquet,” a couple of Seniors told me today. And everyone agreed after tonight’s; this was one of the best banquets that everyone here won’t soon forget. It was awesome. Thank you CAs for all your hard work!

Alice Banquet Dancers Banquet Dance of the Cards

Cast of Allice in Wonderland Banquet

Safari Banquet

Welcome to the Safari Banquet! After weeks of planning and plenty of hard work preparing, tonight the senior line CA campers and their counselors presented the second session banquet. On the very first day of camp they debated and selected a surprise theme for the banquet, and finally it was time reveal it to the whole camp. They chose to make the entire experience a safari, a rich jungle of animals, exotic birds, wild plants, trees and vines. Using paint, paper and a few props, the whole dining hall was transformed so that in every direction you’d see safari animals— lions, zebras, baboons, giraffes —and scenery. The green tables and chairs of the Rockbrook dining hall fit right in. Just guessing, there were probably sixty or so different painted panels lining the walls. The centerpiece was a wrecked jeep, complete with real tires and working headlights (flashlights). No wonder it takes all session to prepare for this night!

Safari Camp Banquet Campers enjoy camp banquet Banquet camper dressed in monkey costume
 Camp Banquet Girls Lion costume girl at camp banquet Dancing at camp safari banquet

The CAs really designed some amazing, creative costumes as well. Their goal was to create a magical experience for the other campers, making elaborate costumes and characters a big deal. There were monkeys, a couple of lions, birds, a zebra, elephant, a lemur, hippo and gazelle. During the meal, the CAs also presented a series of skits, a multi-act play really, that included music and dances. It told the story of a family on a safari, and how after being split up, the animals and a native group help them reunite. This was a very large group of CAs, so there were plenty of parts of play.

For the menu, they served “Slippery Snake Mozzarella Sticks,” Serengeti Salad,” “Lion’s Mane Spaghetti,” and “Jungle Dirt Bucket.” Of course, there was more than enough candy scattered around on the tables, and in each camper’s souvenir cup too. It was probably hard to eat the spaghetti while chewing a tootsie roll or sucking on a lollipop, but I’m sure no one was hungry by the end!

The evening begins with the CAs in the dining hall, dressed in costume and surrounded by the fruits of their incredible hard work, and all the rest of the campers outside, dressed in their Rockbrook T-shirts. When it was time to let the first cabin of girls enter, the CAs literally erupted with excitement. It had been building for so long, finally they could cheer and jump up and down with each other. Then, with music blasting, the campers crawled through a “starry night” tunnel to emerge into the jungle (dining hall) with all its colorful animals. Here too, it was one big cheer with smiles and surprised amazement from everyone.

Toward the end of the banquet, the oldest cabin groups (the CAs and Hi-Ups) presented songs and toasts to their counselors, and vice versa, the counselors to their campers. This became quite emotional as the songs expressed the friendship and feelings the girls now share after this great session.  It’s tradition for the whole camp to sing a few camp songs (e.g., “Rockbrook Camp Forever”) at the close of the banquet as well.

This was simply a terrific night, one I’m sure you’ll hear more about from your daughter.

CAs Hike to John Rock

9th Grader CA campersWe took the CA campers on a hike to John Rock yesterday. All 20 of them, their 5 counselors, Jessi and Jeff made the mostly uphill hike from the fish hatchery to the rock. It’s a fantastic walk through the woods, crossing several streams and moving between micro-environments. Ferns, and then mountain laurels. Rocks, then a grove of just white pine trees. Right now the mountain laurels are blooming, so parts of the trail wind you through a tunnel of white and pink flowers. Then at the top it’s a breath-taking view across to Looking Glass Rock (in the background of this photo), one of the most remarkable feature in the entire Pisgah National Forest.

We took the hike to discuss what this session’s banquet theme will be. Starting with almost 40 different ideas, these 9th graders slowly narrowed down the list and finally settled on a fantastic idea. For the rest of the session, they’ll work on decorations, costumes, skits, songs, dances, and a special menu to match their theme. It’s a big event, and a big surprise for everyone else in camp. Stay tuned for the big reveal!