Birthday Celebrations at Rockbrook

Each summer we have campers who get to spend their special day at the best place on Earth – Rockbrook Camp! Having a birthday at camp is something unique and only applies to a handful of girls. At Rockbrook, we try to make each birthday special! First, counselors spend time creating a banner to be hung in the dining hall right next to the birthday girl. The birthday girl will walk in, see her special birthday banner, and her face will immediately light up with excitement. The banner also lets all of camp know it’s a special day! Along with the banner, cabin mates usually create a birthday card and sometimes even craft gifts from various activities to give to the birthday girl.

camp counselor floating in lake
Hi-Up counselors Mia (at left) and Grace enjoying the lake for Mia’s birthday!

The next step of the birthday celebration is for the kitchen to bake the birthday girl a cake! Counselors then take the time to put icing and candy on their camper’s cake. At either lunch or dinner, the Hi-Ups will ring their song bell as the counselors walk out with the birthday cake in hand. The dining hall then breaks into a beautiful chorus of “Happy Birthday.” Once the counselors reach the birthday girl she can blow out her candles and make a wish as the dining hall chants “stand up, stand up, stand up!” As the birthday girl stands, the campers chant “tell us when to stop” and then they begin counting. When the campers count up to the birthday girl’s age she will wave her hands signaling them to stop! We then all cheer and the birthday girl and her cabin mates get to enjoy the delicious homemade birthday cake!

Felix the Camp Dog
Camp dog Felix celebrated his 2nd birthday with an agility demonstration and a dog birthday cake!

Today is July 8th, and we happened to have two special birthday celebrations! First was to celebrate one of our fabulous Hi-Up counselors! Mia turned 22 today and was celebrated with a three layered cake covered in candy, along with a dance break at lunch where we all got to dance to Taylor Swift’s song “22.” This evening we celebrated the second birthday of our beloved camp dog Felix! During twilight, Felix showed us all of his wonderful tricks he learned at doggy school. He rolled over, gave high fives, and even jumped over a hurdle and through a hula hoop! The crowed cheered and continued the camp tradition of singing “Happy Birthday.” Felix then got a dog-friendly cake of his own – he really enjoyed licking the icing! We ended Felix’s birthday celebration by eating dog-shaped cookies the kitchen staff so kindly made for dessert!

We are so lucky to live in such a joyful and supportive community here at Rockbrook, where we can celebrate occasions large and small. Whether you hit a certain number of bullseyes, swam a specific number of mermaid laps, or you are having a birthday at camp, there are always fun and exciting celebrations in store.

A ‘Chill’ Opening Day

If you ask some of the older campers to describe the differences between the three sessions at Rockbrook, they usually answer something like this. “First session has the ‘sweet girls.’ Second is for the girls who are most ‘into’ camp. And third session is the most ‘chill.'” Of course, these are broad generalizations with plenty of variation to be found in each characterization, and it’s a little difficult to imagine how a camper would know much about sessions she does not attend, but today as we opened our third full session of the summer, there was some truth to label of “chill.”

summer camp opening day

Sure, there was loads of excitement— twitchy girls in the cars as they drove up, counselors leaping with enthusiasm as each camper arrived, and friendly directors ready to welcome everyone throughout the morning. These third session campers were all smiles and clearly ready for camp. After waiting weeks of summer for their session to start, how could they not be?  At the same time though, the morning felt easygoing, unfolding smoothly and cheerfully. Arriving at camp seemed like the most natural thing for the girls this morning. It’s true that most (a bit more than 80%) had been to Rockbrook before, so familiarity was guiding them, and the gorgeous, cool sunny weather probably helped as well. It really was a delightful, smooth, almost “chill,” opening day. So welcome to Rockbrook!

Once everyone had arrived, we all gathered under the walnut tree on the hill for a chance to sing a few songs, meet some of the directors and special staff members, and be reminded of a few camp protocols (about the Thorguard lightning warning system, for example). When Sarah introduced Felix, the new camp puppy, the girls were thrilled to see him do a few tricks like a “high five” and a leap over her extended led. Felix just turned one year old and he’s an Australian Labradoodle. He has a wonderful disposition and is always happy to interact with the campers. His coat is so soft, you can’t help but give him a quick rub when he passes by. You may spot him in the photo gallery. We’re looking forward to him being a member of the camp community for years to come.

Girl with buddy tag after completing camp swim test

After lunch, which was a meal of Rick’s homemade mac-n-cheese, fruit and salad, we launched into cabin meetings and a visit to the lake for our swimming demonstrations. Each line (age group) took turns meeting Lyndsay, the head of the waterfront, learning about the tag system and the opportunities to swim each day at camp. Then each girl took turns jumping off the dock, swimming and treading water to demonstrate how comfortable she is in the water. With only a couple of exceptions, all the girls did great and received a blue tag for the board. We had hot chocolate ready for everyone when they finished up, since the chilly lake can feel extra cold on a cool day like this.  Despite the scattered thunderstorms that were threatening in the area, we were lucky to complete all the “swim demos” with no rain.

The counselors presented their activity skits in the late afternoon.  These are entertaining presentations with costumes, songs, and dances all designed to advertise each activity to the campers.  Seeing who is teaching each activity and hearing something about what each activity entails is helpful when the girls select their first schedule later this evening.

Charcoal-grilled hamburgers and crisp watermelon filled our dinner plates (or veggie burgers for those with that preference).  The evening program included more name games and skits, prepping everyone to jump into camp activities tomorrow.

A quick word about sending mail… Do it!  The girls check their mailboxes after lunch each day, and having something to grab before heading off to rest hour is always appreciated.  Here’s the info you need about staying in touch.

We’re off to a great start.  Perhaps it’s been a little “chill” so far, but you’re about to see a lot more!

camp swim girl friends

Like We Never Left Off

Maybe it’s a sign of anticipation, or something related to being busy with preparations, or perhaps simply our craving for camp life, but as we opened Rockbrook today for the 2018 season, we all couldn’t help but feel a surge of excitement and enthusiasm. There have been plenty of camp-related projects occupying our time over the past year— facility improvements (new bathhouse for the lower line, for example), program development, new camp puppy training, and hard work assembling a fantastic camp staff for the summer. But there’s nothing like having camp filled with people again. It felt absolutely great to finally have campers and their families join us creating the community of camp.

So welcome everyone to Rockbrook! And such a wonderful opening day it was. The cars arrived at a steady pace throughout the morning to the cheers of the eager counselors on the hill. The lush gardens and colorful containers glistened in the sun from the recent rains. The check-in sequence in the dining hall seemed smooth and relaxed, everyone happy and at ease all morning long. Returning campers reunited with camp friends as new girls slipped right into cabin groups. Soon there were groups for girls just walking about, immersing themselves in camp, visiting the lodges, marveling at the rushing creeks, and likewise beaming with excitement.

first summer camp assembly

By about noon, all but a few campers had arrived and we were ready for our first assembly on the hill under the walnut tree that looks out across the mountains. The weather was still beautiful and sunny with a light occasional breeze, making the camp songs we sung seem even more lively. Sarah introduced the directors, line heads and other special staff members, and the Hi-Up campers said hello by teaching everyone a new song. A fun highlight was when Felix made his appearance. Felix is our 10-month old Australian Labradoodle who has the enviable job of being the camp dog. We’ve been training him since he was 8 weeks old, and while he’s still getting used to camp, he’s already enjoying all the attention he’s getting from the girls. I’m sure you’ll see photos of him throughout the summer.

Everyday, in fact, you’ll find newly posted photos in our online photo gallery. You have to login to your parent account to view them, but you can send a login invitation to friends and family members once logged in. You should check the gallery often because I think you’ll really enjoy seeing what we’re up to at camp.

It’s become a popular Rockbrook tradition to serve Rick’s homemade Mac-n-Cheese for the first lunch. Today we continued that tradition with hot trays of bubbling cheeses with a crunchy breadcrumb topping, peas and watermelon plus our super-stocked salad bars that included other fruits and vegetables. The gluten-free and vegan version seemed popular too. Delicious comfort food for everyone.

The lake became our focus after lunch as we invited all the campers to demonstrate their swimming ability and receive a swim bracelet and buddy tag that qualifies them to sign up of paddling trips (whitewater rafting!) and enjoy free swim times each day. It’s a simple test that assures the lifeguards that girls can be comfortable in the water and can tread water for a minute without struggling. We paused the demonstrations for a passing thunderstorm between the Middler and Senior groups, but easily finished up everyone, and now the tag board if full of colorful plastic discs.

Activity skits in the gym introduced everyone to the activity instructors we have this summer, and announced several of the new craft projects available. Set to pretty silly songs, and at times with dance moves and plenty of costumes, we all enjoyed a fun variety show for about an hour.

It’s been a marvelous opening day, full of songs, laughter and girls already relaxing into the spirit of camp. It’s like we never left off from last summer. The fun and friendship has started right back up. Amazing!

camp swim buddies