Dancing with Rockmont

Camp Girls Boys Dance
Just on the edge of Black Mountain, NC, about and hour away from Rockbrook, is Camp Rockmont for Boys. Founded in 1956 on the 500-acre campus of the former Black Mountain College, it’s now a well-known camp that hosts about 400 boys per session. The beautiful Lake Eden is the center of the camp, along with it’s dining hall, historic dormitory, several athletic fields, and gymnasium. The whole campus is beautifully designed and feels like a mountain retreat.

Tonight, for the first time in the history of Rockbrook, our girls had a “social” with the boys at Rockmont… finally the -brook and the -mont coming together. This was quite a logistical feat since it involved us transporting all of our Middlers, Seniors, Hi-Ups and their counselors to Black Mountain, but with some help from two chartered 44-passenger buses and all of our camp buses and vans, we were able to make the journey with 3 seats to spare.

Girls Camp Rockmont DanceAs our convoy of vehicles pulled into the Rockmont gate, a dozen or so of the boys stood out front waving and holding a hand-painted sign reading “Welcome Rockbrook!” Several other campers, and Shawn the Rockmont assistant Director, then led us from our buses up to a grassy area between their gym and dining hall, and adjacent to their lake where all the evening’s action was planned. The weather was ideal— cool shade, light occasional breezes, and clear cloudless skies —so we were all excited to get started and see what this “social” would entail. And it was amazing! Up the hill in the gym, the dance music was rockin’ with fun disco lights and kids dancing in a dance floor area marked by a set of moveable bleachers. Down in the dining hall, a couple of counselors were leading a craft activity and closer to the lake, another staff member was tending a big campfire where the boys and girls could just sit and talk. There were frisbee games and spikeball (AKA “slammo” or “battle bounce”) games to play. There was a snow cone machine making cones for everyone, and plenty of water stations set up stocked with cookies to enjoy. They also had short hay rides slowly carrying groups of kids by tractor around a loop through the camp.

Girls Camp DancerWith all these options available, it was fun for the girls to flit from one thing to the other. They would hear a favorite song coming from the gym (like Y.M.C.A., for example) and run up to dance. Then feeling hot from jumping around to the music, would head back down to the grassy field to cool off with a cup of water. The girls mostly moved in groups, more comfortable having conversations and interacting with the boys with friends nearby. I think the most common question I heard being asked was, “How old are you?” Apparently, for these children, that’s both important and a little difficult to guess. As the evening unfolded, it seemed to me that the girls became a less nervous and more of these conversations were taking place.

The highlight of the night was the fantastic fireworks show Rockmont presented to close the evening.  It was their 4th of July celebration and included very professional mortars and rockets fired from the dock in the middle of their lake.  With music blaring, and colorful explosions blasting in the sky, it was a thrilling show.

The bus ride back to Brevard got us home quite late, and the girls will no doubt be a little tired tomorrow, but it was a very fun outing for everyone. Thanks Rockmont! We had a great time visiting, and we hope to do it again soon.

Playful Balance

Zipline Camp Girl The Rockbrook zip line and swinging bridge is a special camp activity we offer like other adventure trips (e.g., backpacking, kayaking, and canoeing). The girls sign up for it whenever it’s announced in the dining hall, like today after breakfast. This means skipping one of their regularly scheduled activities, but riding the zip is such a thrill, almost everyone does it at least once while they’re here. The girls meet the instructors at “Hiker’s Rock” to gear up with their harnesses, helmets, and special dual-wheeled pulleys. They then hike up into the woods behind the dining hall to the start of the swinging bridge. This is a 100-foot long suspension of steel cable, rope and wooden planks, hung between two huge boulders about 60-feet in the air. The bridge is challenging— some might say “scary” —because it wobbles as you walk on it, but also because we intentionally removed several of the planks leaving gaps to balance across. Once on the far side of the bridge, now perched high on a rock ledge, the girls take turns clipping their pulley into the 450-foot long cable that stretches across the camp, passing in front our new office building and ending on a wooden platform. It takes some courage to step off the ledge, but as the girls feel the ride’s acceleration, they’re immediately smiling, often screaming, and having a great time.

Camp Archery Pull GirlOn the flat area near the gym, the archery instructors have been helping girls improve their shooting techniques. There are a few safety rules on the archery range to learn first (e.g., the shooting commands), but then there are tips about how to stand, to draw and hold the bow, to aim, and to release. Archery requires proper balance, breathing and concentration too, so the girls have plenty to work on! It’s exciting when someone gets a bullseye and thereby has her name announced at lunch as joining the “bullseye club.” These girls are really getting good!

Gymnastics Camp TeenMeanwhile, nearby inside the gym, Elaine Trozzo our longtime gymnastics coach has been working with the girls on the balance beams, both the high beam and low beam depending on the skill she’s teaching. She’s going over basic walking techniques with the beginners, but also helping a few girls improve their jumps, turns and dismounts. Elaine does a great job keeping her classes fun and informative by combining drills and games. She always begins with a few minutes of stretching to warm up, and lately has been finishing with runs on the mini tramp with girls taking turns doing tricks like flips and tucks onto the landing pads. It’s nice to think how the skills developed in gymnastics— strength, balance, and flexibility, for example — easily translate to other physical activities and sports.

Like dancing… for, despite a passing band of rainy weather after dinner, tonight we were all excited to dance with the boys of Camp Carolina. We actually held two dances, the Juniors and Middlers staying here in the Rockbrook gym, and our Seniors loading up eight buses and vans to make the trip over to Camp Carolina’s dining hall for their dance. We also offered an alternative activity for those girls who thought dancing wasn’t their thing tonight. These dances are fun for the girls because they are mostly about jumping around with each other, being silly and singing to the music. The boys are almost simply a backdrop (though perhaps less so for the oldest girls). Several of the more popular songs have well-known choreographed group dance moves like the “Cha Cha Slide,” or even that classic, “YMCA.” Overall, this evening was a chance to dress up a little, maybe get your hair “just right,” and enjoy a night of playful dancing.

Camp Dance ChildrenCamp Dance Teens