Even in the driest weather, like that of the last few days, there are two creeks that flow through the center of Rockbrook. One is known around here as “Rockbrook Creek,” despite not having an official USGS name. It forms far above the camp, and as it descends the mountain, forms a 50-foot waterfall (“Stick Biscuit Falls”) just a short distance up the trail behind the new office building. It continues down under the dining hall, past the front of the Goodwill cabin, behind the back porch of the Curosty cabin, eventually making it into the French Broad River below. The other, much larger, creek is named “Dunns Creek” after the very large rock outcropping on the camp property called “Dunns Rock.” It too forms several impressive waterfalls on the property as it cascades down into the river valley. “Quentin Falls” and “Rockbrook Falls” are two of these waterfalls that are hiking destinations for the campers. We divert water from Dunns Creek, passing it along an aqueduct, to the Rockbrook lake, keeping it constantly supplied with clean, clear mountain stream water.
All this water, splashing down over and around the rocks of Rockbrook, which are really boulders strewn below Castle Rock and Dunns Rock, makes it a snap to discover amazing water creatures like, small fish, tadpoles, crawfish, worms, and salamanders, not to mention an array of bugs. That’s why during periods of free time around camp you can count on seeing girls stomping through the water, paper cup in hand, turning over rocks and staring intently into swirling pools. During activity periods, the “Nature” counselors will hand out small nets before heading out to explore one of the streams. There are wondrous discoveries all around us at Rockbrook.
Just the opposite of “Nature Deficit Disorder,” Rockbrook girls experience firsthand a superabundance of the Natural World. There are the impressive rocks and teeming creeks of camp, but there are also old growth trees, dense ferns and other forest plants, fauna, fungi and insects to encounter everyday. Spiders in the shower, crickets somewhere in your cabin, an owl or a bullfrog calling out at midnight: life at Rockbrook is immersed in Nature. The organic feeling of camp enriches our experience, calling the girls (sometimes literally) to dive in and ultimately providing the simply joy of loving the outdoors.
Tonight we held the closing campfire for our mini session girls. Like for all of the camp sessions at Rockbrook, we gathered everyone around the fire pit near the lake to reflect on our time together, and recognize what we’ve enjoyed, accomplished and learned at camp. The campers and counselors dressed in their red and white uniforms, and following a traditional program, sang songs and took turns speaking about what this session of camp has meant to them. One by one, from the youngest girls up to and including a few staff members, we heard sweet stories about how camp helped conquer fears, and allowed hidden talents to emerge. Mostly, the speakers recognized all the people, young and old, they now consider friends, and how they love the feeling of being at Rockbrook. Sarah spoke at the end reminding everyone that even during the school year, we can enliven some of these camp feelings…by being kind and generous, maybe a little silly and courageous at the same time. She reminded us that being outside with friends, away from our favorite flickering technology, is something we can do at home. We closed the program by lighting a white candle and sharing that flame with everyone, each camper and counselor holding their own small candle. Singing softly, the girls and their counselors spread out facing the lake, illuminating everything with golden candlelight. “Day is done; gone the sun…” It was a calm beautiful scene, and a perfect ending to a wonderful session.