DIY Halloween Costumes Ideas

Are you still looking for Halloween costume ideas? Well, camp is one of the best sources of costume inspiration because as you know, we love dressing up at Rockbrook! Costumes make all of our theme special events come alive, but they are also something that makes every day, certainly every meal, and almost every moment just that extra bit special.

At camp, we foster a deep love for silliness and self-expression. You can see that in tutus, sparkly fairy hair, colorful face paint, and glitter (so much glitter!). This spirit of creativity and free flowing whimsy leads to some really great spur of the moment costumes at camp!

pac man costumes

Our camp banquets are a chance for 9th grade campers to really stretch their creative muscles! If you have some cardboard and paint laying around the house then you could make these amazing Pac-Mac and ghost costumes. This would be a simple and easy DIY costume for just one person or for a whole group of friends. Another amazing banquet inspiration is from “That 70’s Banquet.” I’m sure every camper has at least one tie-dye shirt in her closet. Grab that, some jeans (the more flare at the bottom the better) and make yourself a flower crown. You’ve got an instant 1970’s colorful classic.

Up for just a little shopping? Take a cue from some of our camp themes this summer! A great scientist (mad or otherwise) is simply a white coat, plastic gloves, and a pair of goggles away! Add a beaker and white wig for extra detail.

silly camp costume

Camp is a place where you can express yourself and know that the community will support you and celebrate you for exactly who you are. Sometimes that’s a peacock on the hill, or a mermaid at archery or just lots of smiles and shine and silly faces and glitter (oh, so much glitter!).

However that creative spark manifests in our campers, we want to encourage it. Silliness is brave. Rockbrook is full of brave, bold, silly and special girls!

“There’s power in looking silly and not caring that you do.”
—Amy Poehler

mad science costume
teen camp costumes

A Wild West Banquet

People say you never forget your first banquet at Rockbrook. It’s simply like no other party experience, and for a girl who’s spent time at camp, it’s an incredible cap to the fun of the session. Many girls will tell you it’s their favorite event at camp, something they look forward to, and during the days leading up to it, they can hardly contain their excitement.

Understanding why the banquet is such a memorable and important experience for Rockbrook girls is not too difficult. It’s first of all a sensory overload. The CA campers (9th graders) work hard all session long to accomplish this. They select their secret theme on the first day of their session, and then transform the interior of the dining hall into a new environment using painted banners, lights, balloons, streamers, table decorations, and props. A real opportunity for creativity! These girls then dress in costumes taking on different personalities or roles. They create a playlist of music to complement the theme, and ask the kitchen to cook special foods and snacks to serve.

All of this creates the scene of the party, but what makes it fun is having all your camp friends attending, all the people of camp excited to celebrate their session together, with music, dancing, great food, entertainment, and sweet treats. When friends this close get together, it’s an especially fun event.

It’s so exciting when it’s time to enter the dining hall (which has been hidden all day by sheets hung over the windows while the CAs decorate and prepare). All the campers and staff members, dressed in their camp t-shirts, crawl through the porch to emerge into a line of the dressed CAs and the wildly transformed dining hall. It’s such a great feeling to be surprised like that!

cowgirl costume camp girls

Tonight’s banquet had the title, “Welcome to the Wild West.” It featured girls dressed in black with bandanas hiding their faces— definitely “robbers.” There were two girls dressed as sheriffs on the hunt for those robbers. Cowboys dressed in boots and hats, and square dancers dressed in frilly skirts, performed skits, pausing at times for choreographed dance numbers also.  The CA counselors dressed as green desert cacti and performed a dance number as well.

The music was “wild west” related too: “Cotton Eyed Joe,” “These Boot are Made for Walkin’,” and of course, “Old Town Road” were all included, along with a great mix of popular dance hits.  Likewise for the food: “tumble tots” (Tater Tots), “sugar cubes” (apple cubes), “cacti” (green beans), “hay bales” (cornbread), really delicious barbecue chicken, and blackberry cobbler for dessert.

We ended the banquet like we have for decades at camp: singing the song “Rockbrook Camp Forever.” The girls stood, arm-in-arm, singing as loudly as they could, “friends true and faithful.”  Filled with emotion, the girls ended up singing the song multiple times (with no claps at the end)! Thank you CA girls for a wonderful banquet. The whole camp had a fabulous time.

Banquet of Games

Tonight our ninth grade campers, known at camp as our “CAs,” unveiled the surprise theme for their party to celebrate the session. They’ve been planning since the first day of camp when the group selected this theme, carefully keeping everything a secret from the other campers (and most of the staff!) at camp. From the food, music, costumes, choreographed group dance performances, brief skits, to a truly amazing array of decorations, these girls considered every detail. We call this party at the end of the session, this over-the-top dance party, the “banquet.”

Game night party decoration

The banquet theme for this first session of 2019 was “Game Night.” They focused on board games, card games, and a few electronic games to select their characters, food and of course the entire dining hall’s decorations.  Using mostly paint on paper and cardboard, we saw posters and props for Checkers, Clue, Chutes and Ladders, Boggle, Parcheesi, Stratego, Rummi-Kub, Operation, Monopoly, Blokus, Uno, Barrel of Monkeys, Connect 4, Twister, Apples to Apples, Candyland, Spot it, and Pictionary, as well as Tetris, Pac-man, and Just Dance. With this many games represented, it was amazing to see the variety of designs, and colorful drawings that covered literally every inch of wall space in the dining hall. In every direction, the girls saw larger-than-life depictions of their favorite games.

This session has a record number of CA campers, 28 in all, so this was a wonderful theme to accommodate lots of characters. For example, from the game CandyLand we saw Queen Frostine, Miss Mint, Princess Lolly, Grandma Nutt and even Plumpy. There were characters from the game Clue: Professor Plum, Colonel Mustard, Miss Peacock, Miss Scarlet, Mr. Green and a Detective. Mario and Princess Peach were portrayed. The Queen of Hearts, the Monopoly Man, the Operation Man, Just Dance characters, Pac-man and his pursuing ghosts also made an appearance, while all of the counselors transformed themselves into different color dice. What a crowd!

summer camp party girls

The food included “game piece” fruit kabobs, “puzzle” chicken nuggets, “pizza spinners,” and checkerboard brownie/blondie cakes for dessert. The program included several dance performances, alternating with the entire camp jumping up to dance and shout to popular songs.  Just imagine 300 people all singing (as loud as they can, by the way) “shake it off,” “party in the USA,” or “meet me in the middle!” Now imagine all those people packed into a room, with even more excitement and exuberance bubbling up from the friendships strengthened over a couple of weeks together.  Add to that, loud music, eye-popping colorful decorations and costumes, and the kind of party food and snacks (i.e. sweet stuff!) kids love, and you have a REALLY fun party. I asked one camper between dancing how she liked the banquet, and without a split second of hesitation, she threw her arms up and yelled, “It’s awesome!”  There’s no doubt about it.

Cheer-inducing Fun

summer camp cabin mates

It was a great delight today to welcome our August Mini session campers to Rockbrook. The bright, sunny weather matched the mood of the morning perfectly as the girls and their families arrived. The mob of enthusiastic counselors, all dressed in their red staff shirts, waited eagerly on the hill and literally jumped, arms waving, when a camper in their cabin was announced as arriving. The whole morning was festive and fun, and seemed to unfold without a hitch.

Out of the 75 campers arriving (now a full house!), 25 are new with this being their first session at Rockbrook. It took no time for the current full session girls to show their welcoming spirit as groups began forming to rotate through a few choice activities and explore different areas of the camp property.

That upbeat mood carried right into the all-camp assembly on the hill we held before lunch. Sarah and the other directors led several camp songs, introduced key members of the staff, and reminded everyone about a few safety protocols (what to do when our Thorguard lightning prediction system sounds its alarm, for example). The girls particularly enjoyed meeting Felix the camp dog, our 1-year old Australian Labradoodle. You might call him an instant celebrity.

Lunch was tray after tray of Rick’s homemade mac-n-cheese, paired with an amazing fresh kale and carrot salad, and grapes. Hot and cheesy, it was delicious comfort food for an opening day.

water balloon toss catch
dunk bucket splash
super stacked snow cone

The afternoon event of the day brought us all together for a Polynesian Luau, lake party of games, snacks, crafts, music and dancing.

The Hi-Ups (our 10th graders) along with many of the full session senior girls helped staff the dozen or so different stations where the younger campers could enjoy an activity. This added responsibility boosted their interest and made it easy for the different age groups to interact during the event. More fun for everyone.

Naturally, it’s not a Rockbrook party without costumes and dressing up. Everyone got that message because you’ve never seen so many Hawaiian shirts, lei necklaces and grass skirts. Combined with the face painting and the girls’ swimsuits, this was an extraordinarily colorful event.

There were games to try: a balloon toss, a version of bowling that used real coconuts to knock over empty cans, a softball tossing game like skee-ball, corn hole, and a “fishing game” for the youngest girls that won fun RBC prizes like sunglasses, stickers, patches and jump ropes.

Beach balls, hula hoops, and a giant limbo line kept everyone moving, and with fun beach music pumping, several spontaneous dance parties popped up now and then.

The event that seemed most popular was the “bucket dunk” set up at the edge of the lake. This odd contraption has one purpose— to dump the contents of a bucket (in this case, water scooped from the lake) onto the head of someone sitting below when a string is pulled. The girls thought it was hilarious to soak their friends, and there were plenty of volunteers, campers and staff members alike, to both pull the string or to be “dunked.” Simple, super-campy, cheer-inducing fun.

Meanwhile the more crafty girls could make “grass” skirts from colorful ribbons and streamers, or learn to tie tissue paper into flowers to decorate headbands and bracelets. To stay hydrated and fueled up, there was fresh watermelon for snacking and plenty of snow cones (including some crazy ones!) to go around.

Be sure to login to your parent account for an entire photo gallery of the event. I think you’ll enjoy seeing how much fun we had. What a great way to kick off the session! These girls are ready for camp.

summer camp luau girls

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 kid

Today, 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 kids

About 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.

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 Sparkling Day

Camp girls arrival day

When the weather is this perfect, like it was today, it makes everything more pleasant at camp, and even inspires us to change our plans to enjoy being outside a little more.  You can always check our Rockbrook weather station for the details, but the cool, dry air moving through our area right now, and the bright, sunny skies that result, have been spectacular. The afternoon high temperatures have been in the low 80s and the lows at night have been near 60 (even in the 50s!).

In this weather, and also because so many smiling excited faces were arriving, the opening of our second July mini session really sparkled today. The check-in process unfolded smoothly, and by about 11:45 the whole camp was assembled and ready to go. Today was also (the camp dog) Felix’s first birthday, so as Sarah introduced him to the campers, they enjoyed singing “Happy Birthday” and laughing when they clapped once to mark his age. The “mop” awards recognized one cabin from each line as especially clean, and several girls were thanked for showing exemplary “Rockbrook Spirit” when they helped someone recently.

Rick’s signature opening day lunch of homemade mac-n-cheese, fruit and salad refueled us before setting out on camp tours, cabin meetings and swimming demonstrations for the new campers.

bucket water dumping game
kid limbo game
luau party camp girls

The main event of the day, a Polynesian Luau lake party, also took advantage of the gorgeous weather, with games, crafts, snacks, music and dancing. The Hi-Ups (our 10th graders) and many of the full session senior girls helped staff different stations where the younger campers could enjoy an activity.

Of course, we included dressing up for this party— Hawaiian shirts, plenty of lei necklaces and grass skirts, flower face painting, and colorful swimsuits all around.

There were games where coconuts were bowled toward empty cans, bean bags tossed toward corn holes, hoops hula danced, and backs bent to slide under a limbo bar —all to win fun RBC prizes like sunglasses, jump ropes and stickers.

The largest consistent crowd huddled around the “bucket dunk” near the lake. This is a funny contraption designed simply to dump the contents of a bucket (in this case water scooped from the lake) onto the head of someone sitting below when a string is pulled. That’s it! Girls took turns volunteering to be “dunked,” as contestants aimed bean bags at a corn hole board.  If someone tossed her beanbag into the hole, she won a chance to pull the string. Naturally, this whole scene drew a crowd of spectators as the buckets of water splashed down. Splash, cheer. Splash, cheer.

There were chances to be crafty too. The girls could make a “grass” skirt from colorful streamers tucked into a string belt, or use tissue paper to make a flower bracelet.

For snacks, loads of fresh fruit kabobs (strawberries, grapes, watermelon, and cantaloupe), cups of red punch and unlimited tropical fruit flavored snow cones were all popular. All afternoon beach-themed music added to the festivities, inspiring dance breaks in the games.

I’ve seen a lot of these opening day, all-camp special events, and ordinarily there are pockets where jitters can dominate the mood for a few of the girls. All the people, the craziness of the action, and the sheer novelty can sometimes be foreign and overwhelming. Walking around today, however, I was impressed how happily the girls were participating in the different activities, breezily trying different things, and playing together in groups. These girls are clearly ready for camp. So ready!

teen summer camp girls

Entertained and Inspired

With all the in-camp activities humming along here at Rockbrook, populating the daily online photo gallery, it’s easy to forget that there are daily adventure trips going out too. Girls can choose to go on a “wet and wild” hike through a stream, as the Hi-Ups did today for example. They can take their first kayaking trip on moving water like the Middlers did today on the French Broad river. Or, as another trip went out this morning, our rock climbers can spend the day climbing at Looking Glass Rock or Cedar Rock in the Pisgah Forest. You may not see as many photos of these activities in the gallery, but they have been going strong all week.

Camp adventure backpacking girls

A group of fourteen Middlers and Seniors had a memorable backpacking trip today. Led by Clyde, Jayne, A.M. and Savannah, the crew loaded two buses with packs, tents, cooking gear and food for the overnight and set out to the higher elevations north of the Blue Ridge Parkway. At the trailhead, they divided into two smaller groups to hike in different directions and ultimately to convene at a designated campsite for the night. This area near Flat Laurel Creek is littered with wild blueberry bushes, which are right now coming into season, so the girls enjoyed picking and eating the berries as they hiked. With their tents pitched and dinner wrapped up, Clyde led the girls up the steep trail to the top of Sam Knob mountain (elev. 6055ft) to watch the sunset. The amazing 360 degree view up there was just perfect for watching the sun dip through patchy clouds and ultimately behind the distant mountains.

The next morning the girls had a rare, fascinating encounter. While they were exploring a nearby waterfall and rocky overlook, a black bear raided their backpacks! The crew had finished eating breakfast and breaking down their campsite, and as they ventured further down Flat Laurel Creek to explore, they left their packs in a pile near the trail. This took about 45 minutes, but when they returned it was obvious that some animal had torn into the top of a couple of the packs and found a ziplock bag of trail mix.  Looking around, they spotted the bear nearby in the woods. It had dragged one of the backpacks away, but as Clyde yelled and waved his arms, the bear retreated from the pack and soon ran off. The girls were excited to see the bear and not frightened since it was clearly not menacing. Ordinarily, it’s the sunset hike that’s the highlight of this trip, but this time it was the bear.

Meanwhile back in camp, it was time for the circus! We announced a whole evening of circus-themed activity complete with costumes, fun music and games, and a professional acrobatics show by the NC troupe “Imagine Circus.”

circus camp counselor costume
camper circus costume

It all started with the girls dressing in their best circus attire —scores of clowns and colorful performers —making dinner festive good fun. When suddenly a nine-foot tall (stilt walker) jester ducked into the dining hall to announce the acrobatics show in the gym, the girls seemed dumbfounded. Every eye in the dining hall followed this golden-winged jester as she strode among the girls answering their questions.

Just after dinner, during our twilight time, we further set the mood by serving cotton candy and popcorn, perfecting our circus costumes further, working on face paint, cracking glow sticks (more color!) and getting even more excited for the show.

And what an amazing show it was! Using a 25-foot tall, pyramid-shaped structure and other props, the performers, who were all female, impressed everyone with an array of aerial and ground acrobatics set to music. They hung in the air by silks, held unbelievable poses with suspended hoops, and showed incredible strength, coordination and balance jumping and flipping. Every trick seemed more amazing than the last, and the crowd showed its appreciation with louder and louder cheers as the show progressed. It was inspiring for the girls to watch these powerful women confidently perform such extremely difficult physical maneuvers.

circus acrobat show
circus camp fire performance

The show’s finale included batons and hoops set on fire! As the performers danced and leapt about, swirling their flaming props in the dark, the campers applauded in a standing ovation. Entertained and inspired, they absolutely loved the whole show!

crazy summer camp costumes

Irresistible Fun

Sliding Rock Cheer

Isn’t this a great photo? As you may have guessed, it was taken at sliding rock here in Pisgah, but what makes it wonderful is how well it captures the expression on the girls faces, one ecstatic and the other a little terrified. For most of the girls we took to slide this evening, to zip themselves down the 60-feet of sloping granite through the cold mountain water of Looking Glass creek, they felt exactly that, an odd combination of intense excitement and dread at the same time. Just sitting down with the chill of the water up their back, elicits this feeling, and then as they begin sliding and accelerating down the rock toward the pool at bottom, most girls can’t help but scream. It’s really the perfect response for any thrilling adventure like this. On the second and third trip down the rock the feeling of excitement overtakes the nervousness, but even then, like riding a roller coaster, it just feels good to throw your hands up and yell. For even these teenage Senior campers we took tonight, this was irresistible fun. Sliding and sliding, we kept it up until it was almost dark— a very full dose of camp adventure.

Sliding Rock Emotions
whitewater rafting camp splash

Earlier today two groups of girls enjoyed a fantastic day rafting on the Nantahala River, another classic Rockbrook camp adventure popular with the girls. Perfect sunny warm weather, our regular crew of Rockbrook guides, and very few other outfitters on the river made the trips superb. We offer these rafting trips to every Middler and Senior— we can do that since Rockbrook has a Forest service permit to guide its own rafting on the Nantahala—and I’d say 90% of the campers opt to do it, either a day trip or a longer outing that involves spending the night at our outpost camp near the river. Like the sliding rock photo above, this rafting shot captures the feeling of rafting, and it too is a heart-pumping ride that’s uniquely fun at camp… good friends screaming their heads off as they bump down mountain whitewater.

Camper being slimed

Finally, tonight we enjoyed a special dinner and evening program set to the theme, “Nickelodeon.” The dining hall was decorated with colorful streamers and painted banners showing well-known Nickelodeon television shows. While everyone enjoyed their roasted chicken Caesar salads and bread for dinner (oh, and which included a delicious chocolate cake with green “slime” glaze for each table), we played “Nick at Night” songs. Lots of campers and counselors dressed up. There was Sponge Bob, Patrick Star, Blue from Blue’s Clues, and the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There were colorful Nickelodeon “Splats” hidden under chairs in the dining hall, and when a camper discovered a certain splat, she won a prize. Several “lucky” campers won the prize of being slimed by a bucket of green goo dumped over their heads. We all gathered on the hill to watch the sliming. During evening program, we also played other messy games like an egg toss that required the contestants to catch the egg in a bucket strapped to their heads. There was a “Double Dare” style game where the girls could only use their feet to remove a banana from a tub containing various canned foods like jello, pie filling, whipped cream and sliced beets. These games were certainly a little messy and in some cases a little gross too, but I think the girls really enjoyed playing them and laughing while they watched their friends. Once again there seemed to be non-stop cheering as everyone stayed excited during the event.

Ninja Turtle Costumed girls