According to the Campers

Once again, I thought we could publish a few pieces written by the campers themselves, telling us what Rockbrook has meant to them, and what they might have learned this session. We asked a Junior, and three Seniors (writing together) to share their thoughts, and these are the results!

So Much Shaving Cream Three Musketeers

Kate (9)–South Carolina

Rockbrook is a great place because it’s a place where girls can learn. They don’t just learn they become stronger people. When I first came to camp, I was not a really strong person. I did not make my bed, or clean much.

Then the day of camp came. From that second ’til now, I can tell all the girls and I have become stronger people and friends. I think that Rockbrook can make you meet a pal for life. I did, and we have told each other many secrets.

I also think my counselors are right about the saying “FFF” (Fierce Fabulous Females). That’s what you will become if you come to Rockbrook.

Hugs!

Rachel (14)–Virginia; Sanders (14)–Texas; Emily (14)–Georgia

When the three of us, Rachel, Sanders, and Emily, volunteered to write a snippet of the camp blog, at first we were unsure of how to put our thoughts into words. Should it be funny, formal, poetic, etc…? But, as we talked about it, it seemed to write itself:

To us, Rockbrook is waking up with a tangle of signatures strewn above your head. It’s coming back to friends you haven’t seen in a year, and feeling like you never left. It’s the deafening crunch of gravel at rest hour, and star-gazing on the Hill when you’re supposed to be asleep. It’s the nights when the sky is within your reach, and the darkness is your blanket.

Rockbrook is arguing with your counselor over the existence of a Fairy Party [editor’s note: just a dream…], and redetermining what “dry” means. It’s days in which laughter’s as constant as breath, and the cardinal’s glow stays with you all year. It’s the smile on your face when you’re singing your favorite camp song at the top of your lungs.

Rockbrook is home.

Immensely Meaningful

Packing to go home from camp, as the girls did this morning, is a little like getting ready for camp, just a lot less orderly. For example, there’s no “repacking list,” no careful accounting of t-shirts and socks, and no folding of anything whatsoever. Instead, there is some effort at gathering their belongings, fighting the force of entropy (which is only magnified by any group of children), and then plenty of determined stuffing. The goal is simply to shove everything back into the trunk, suitcase or duffle bag and get it closed with only a couple of loose items like crazy creek chairs, pillows and stuffed animals, for example. Of course, not everything makes it back, and despite our regular “lost and found fashion shows” in the dining hall, we are always left with a sizable pile of forgotten items. When your girls return home, and if you are missing something special, please contact our office so we can search that pile for you. We’ll be happy to return it.

Scene from camp musical

This afternoon, all of the campers and counselors, along with several invited parents of cast members, assembled in the gym, literally packed the house, to see this session’s camp musical production of The Jungle Book. Using just a simple set of painted jungle vines, flowers and other vegetation, the girls transformed themselves into the familiar characters: the singing bear, Baloo, the boy who was raised in the jungle, Mowgli, the python Kaa, the frightening tiger Shere Khan, the girl from the village, Shanti, and a host of monkeys and elephants. The girls had only a couple of weeks to rehearse all of the songs, choreography, and speaking parts, so to perform like this was impressive. They all did a great job singing the classic Jungle Book songs like “I Wanna Be Like You” and the “Bare Necessities.”

Every summer since 1921 when Rockbrook was founded, the campers and their counselors have joined the directors for a final campfire, a special gathering held at the end of each session we call the “Spirit Fire.”

Campfire girls dressed in white
Camper and counselor at closing campfire


This is a more ceremonial occasion when we wear our red and white camp uniforms, sing many traditional songs, and reflect upon our time together at camp.

For many of us, and especially tonight since this was our last Spirit Fire of the summer, this is an emotional time. There’s just something about the setting that brings out the strong feelings we have for each other… dusk fading to dark, the crackle and heat of the campfire, sitting tightly side by side with arms around shoulders, the sweet sound of everyone singing softly, and the candle-lit procession around the lake as its conclusion. The entire evening is ineffably beautiful, and immensely meaningful.

The History of the Parlez-Vous Song

Singing is a huge part of camp life and one of the funniest song traditions at Rockbrook is the Parlez-Vous Song.   A Parlez-Vous is a song made up by a cabin or group of campers and then performed spontaneously in the dining hall.  After asking several Alumna if they remember singing Parlez- Vous at camp, it seems that they have been part of the Rockbrook lore since the 1930’s.  Here is an example of a Rockbrook Parlez- Vous:

We had so much fun at the camp out last night, parlez- vousParlez- Vous

We had so much fun at the camp out last night, parlez-vous

We had so much fun at the camp out last night

The S’mores and stories were out of sight

Inky Dinky parlez- vous

These spontaneous songs are often very humorous and creative and always bring a laugh and a smile to everyone as we enjoy our meals together.

So, what in the world is the history of the Parlez- Vous and how did it come to Rockbrook?

After a little digging it appears that the origins of the Parlez- Vous come from a World War I song called Mademoiselle from Armentières.  This song was adapted from a British Indian Army song called Skiboo.  It was a rhyming song, whose lyrics changed quite regularly.  During World War I it was often referred to as the Hinky Dinky Parlez Vous Song and would be adapted and sung by soldiers.  Some versions were a bit risque but we were able to find a great version.  Listen below and be sure to wait for the chorus!

Isn’t it fascinating how songs at camp are passed along from generation to generation?   If you remember any funny Parlez-Vous from your days at camp, please send them in!  We would love to hear them.

The Rockbrook Songbook

Singing along at Spirit Fire, 2012

Singing is a HUGE part of life at Rockbrook and is something that every camp generation can share.  We hear fabulous stories from our alumnae of camp songs being sung at weddings, college events, in the middle of a restaurant, or even when you run into a friend at the grocery store.  What is it about those fun camp songs that sticks with you forever?

Because singing is such a big part of camp life at Rockbrook, we are in the process of updating our famous camp songbook.  Over the years some songs drifted out of popularity, while new ones “came into fashion”.  Songs like “Liberty” and “When the Moon Plays Peek A Boo” were very popular in the 60’s while songs like “The Coconut Song” and “Yogi Bear” are a few current hits.  With our new songbook we hope to include ALL of the camp songs from the Rockbrook repertoire.  That is where you come in!  We do not have a songbook from the 20’s-40’s.  If anyone has an old songbook or can send us any information about the songs from the early years of Rockbrook we would SO appreciate your help.

The Rockbrook Songbook, 1970

Now that camp songs are running through your mind, visit this page to hear some recordings of some popular Rockbrook songs!

Congratulations Kristin and James!

Rockbrook Wedding

We were so happy to learn of the recent nuptials of Rockbrook alumna Kristin Abele.  Kristin and her husband James were married on January 14th in Key Biscayne, Florida.  A mini Rockbrook reunion took place as Kristin’s sisters Lauren and Madi (both former campers), as well as Anne Romatowski and Kelley Hubbell were in attendance.  Kelley, Anne and Lauren were even able to come to Florida a week early for a some fun adventures before the big event.  Kristin reported that lots of camp songs were shared that week, even at the wedding.  We love that Rockbrook spirit!  Kristin even mentioned that many of the wedding guests could instantly recognize the special bond that all RBC girls share!

Rockbrook Spirit

Here is an update from Kristin herself:

“As an update for me…aside from getting married…I started my own business, with my husband in fact. We own and operate The Found Gen, which is a story/scripting group based in Miami that offers writing and editing services with an emphasis on marketing to businesses–we write copy for websites, blogs, newsletters, email marketing campaigns, proposals, marketing presentations, film scripts, commercial scripts, keynote speeches and more–and now after our wedding, we’ve even started getting requests for wedding ceremonies now! And, I completed my first novel last year and now that the wedding has come and gone–i’m aiming to edit it and send it out to be published this Spring.”

Congratulations Kristin and James!  We are so happy for you both.

Rockbrook Wedding Fun
Kelley, Kristin, Madi, Lauren and Anne

Meet Mirabelle Buchanan

Future Rockbrook camper Mirabelle Buchanan visits camp
Christy and Mirabelle Buchanan

We were so excited to see former Rockbrook counselor and Junior Line Head extraordinaire Christy Middleton Buchanan when she stopped by the RBC office last week.  She came by to introduce us to her sweet baby girl Mirabelle!  Mirabelle was born July 1, 2010.  She is absolutely adorable and already has been introduced to all of the Rockbrook songs!  We wonder what her favorite song is?

Christy says that she is already counting down the days until Mirabelle can be a Rockbrook camper!  Summer 2018 will be here before you know it!  We will be waiting Mirabelle!

Mirabelle Buchanan Birth Announcement

Twilight with Elsa and Jo

Super alumnae Elsa Claverie and Jo Littleton visited us at camp tonight and brought their ukulele and banjo. They held a special “twilight” activity for campers and counselors who wanted to learn a few traditional songs, and just enjoy singing together. It was a wonderful hour of song, laughter and smiles. Here’s a short video of a round we sang. Enjoy!

Generations of Rockbrook girls singing together… “quite merrily…”

Lisa Loeb’s Songs for Camp

Lisa Loeb Camp CD CoverLisa Loeb, singer and songwriter best known for her hit song “Stay,” has released a new CD of songs inspired by her time as a kid at summer camp. It’s a fun collection of original compositions and traditional songs all about going away to camp, the friends, the food, the fun, of just being at summer camp. She explains,

“The inspiration was the actual songs based in camp songs. In camp, we have gross-out songs, and ones like the peanut butter and jelly song. One of the things I loved most about camp is that you’re singing all the time. You did sports, and arts and crafts, ate a lot of fun food — you were singing everywhere.”

The CD has some cool guest artists helping out too, people like Steve Martin (who plays banjo) and Jill Sobule. We also like a lot of the great camp lyrics on songs like, “Are You Ready for the Summer?” “It’s not Goodbye,” and “Best Friend.”  If you’ve been to camp, you’ll really enjoy this CD.

You can hear the song “Best Friend” over at Lisa’s website.