All of This on Her Own

Rockbrook Ecumenical chapel
Campers wearing white and red camp uniform

How we spend our Sundays at Rockbrook is a little different than other days of the week. It begins at a relaxed pace by sleeping in a little later, resting a little longer, and instead of doing cabin chores and getting dressed for breakfast right away, the girls shuffle into the dining hall still dressed in PJs and robes- literally, just rolling out of bed. There’s a special “real world” treat waiting for them too- boxes of freshly delivered Krispy Kreme doughnuts to supplement the regular fruit, cereal and yogurt bar, and today, Rick’s perfectly scrambled eggs.

The campers then dressed in their camp uniforms, which for Rockbrook means a white polo shirt, white shorts and a red tie, and assembled on the camp hill for our flag raising ceremony just in time for the sun to rise over the mountain behind camp. From there it’s a short walk along the “path of silence” to the Chapel area of camp. The Middler campers and their counselors led the Chapel this morning. They chose to sing songs, read poems and other meaningful passages, all revolving around the theme of gratitude. These gatherings are not religious ceremonies for us (they do not include readings from religious texts, for example), but rather are opportunities for the girls to reflect upon their time at camp and the broad human values and feelings that strengthen our community. We want girls of all backgrounds, no matter what their religious beliefs, to feel comfortable and included at Rockbrook, so our Chapel gatherings, set so beautifully in the woods, reflect that priority.

Girl sitting on her camp bunk bed

Meanwhile today, we also welcomed our July Mini 2 campers to Rockbrook for the start of their session. As they rode up the driveway with their trunks and duffel bags packed (in some cases, packed for weeks in anticipation!), it was absolutely clear that these girls were more than ready for camp to get started. They wanted to rush through the check in process, barely containing their enthusiasm, fidgeting while the nurses and the office checked things out. Up in their cabins, they finally got to meet their counselors and cabin mates, select their bunk, and settle down. All of this doesn’t take long, so parents are sometimes surprised how quickly they are “dismissed” by their daughters. “I got this, mom.” It can even be a little unsettling to see your girl skip off with her friends with just a wave or sly smile, but it’s good to remember that Rockbrook is her camp, not yours. It’s a place for her to be herself, grow up a little, try lots of new things and build really strong friendships. And all of this on her own! It’s a special recipe for encouraging independence and growing self confidence. Such good stuff.

After lunch a brief thundershower cooled things off and cleared up in time for the whole camp to charge up for a wet and wild carnival down on our sports field. A group of counselors, with the help of Frampton, Charlotte and Sofie, organized the event which included an inflatable obstacle course and water slide. The girls came dressed in their swimsuits and ready to get wet. There were sprinklers spraying, water pistols for just about everyone, water balloons and a bucket dumping game to satisfy that desire. The girls played the RBC corn hole game to win silly prizes, made small sand art bottles, tossed Pocket Discs around the field, and ran around stopping to hula hoop between getting a face painting design.

For snacks we had goldfish, an endless supply of snow cones, and drinks for everyone. Bringing the whole camp together for this kind of raucous event, mini and full session girls alike, is a great way to kick things off for the new girls. They can let loose right away, and by the end of the afternoon, they’re already feeling at home. I took a short video of this crew you see below. It’s posted on the Rockbrook YouTube channel and is very cute.

girls with face paint showing they love rockbrook

Camp Carnival Fun Games

children assemble for camp opening ceremony

Welcome August Mini Session Campers!! Welcome to Rockbrook! Today a big group of new and a few returning campers arrived for this, our last mini session of the summer. Like our other mini sessions, these are shorter sessions perfect for younger and first-time campers, so for the majority of these girls, this was their first day at Rockbrook. After waiting most of the school year and now until August, their anticipation made for high pitched, and maybe a little nervous, excitement. It doesn’t take long though to settle down after meeting the staff members and other girls, and realize how friendly and welcoming everyone is. Parents are sometimes surprised how quickly and easily their daughter is ready to say goodbye, and to run off with her new cabin mates.

While the new mini session campers were checking in and getting settled, the full session girls followed our regular Sunday schedule— sleeping in a little, enjoying a breakfast with fresh Krispy Kreme donuts, dressing in their white uniforms and red ties, performing the flag raising ceremony, and attending the wooded chapel service. Chapel today was put on by the Senior campers and the theme was “Growing.” Right before lunch the whole camp gathered under the big walnut tree on the hill with the gorgeous mountain view in the background, for our Sunday assembly. This a chance to introduce key staff members (e.g. Mandy, Jessi and the Line Heads), see skits about the various activities available at camp, present the “Mop Awards” to the cleanest cabins, learn and sing a couple of new camp songs, and afterwords, take state photos. Biggest state this session? North Carolina, by far.

Swimming camp buddy tag girl

Right after lunch the new campers and their counselors zipped down to the lake for their “swim demonstrations.” Sarah, several lifeguards, and Elizabeth, our head of the waterfront, ran through the exercise designed to test everyone’s ability to swim and tread water. When a girl “passes” the swim demo, she receives a special colored buddy tag alerting the lifeguards of her swimming skills. If someone’s uncomfortable in the water, or if they can’t complete the “demonstration,” she will have to wear a life jacket and stay in the shallow end of the lake, but is certainly welcome (though not required) to come down for swimming lessons during her swimming activity or during one of the free swim periods.

The afternoon’s activity was a crazy water carnival we held down on our sports field. It was crazy because there was so much action, so many girls having fun in different ways at the same time. We had a giant inflatable water slide where after climbing up, would shower you as you flew down into a pool of water at the bottom. There was a tent where several counselors were painting faces (and arms, and backs and stomachs!). We had a coconut bowling game going on, and a “cake walk” game where the girls danced in a circle, landed on numbers, and if lucky won a tasty cupcake prize. The snow cone machine was making icy treats non-stop, and everywhere there was someone working out a hula hoop.

The slip-n-slide was probably the biggest hit. What could be a better use for a long sheet of plastic? Stretch it down a gentle hill, add a little baby soap and water, and launch yourself down for a wet slippery ride! Add some upbeat music and you’ve got an awesome time. The big surprise though, was a shaving cream fight at the end of the Carnival. We passed out a couple of cases (yikes!) of shaving cream, and the girls took off trying to spray each other, splatter it in each others’ hair, and ultimately cover their entire bodies in white slippery foam. All kinds of creative hairstyles soon appear, with laughter and smiles all around. Be sure to check out the photo gallery to see more of that. We rinsed off a bit under the hose, and headed back up for a quick shower before dinner. Whew! What a fun afternoon, and a great way to open the August Mini session.

childrens camps carnival scene