Becoming Someone New

Deep Breath...On this first day of activities—the first full day of camp—I am reminded that camp is more than just a chance to retreat from the rigors of the “real world,” to have some mindless fun and excitement, and to make new friends and reconnect with old ones. Camp is a place in which campers can become someone new every single day.

Downward DogMost of the 207 girls assembled here at Rockbrook this session wear some pretty standard labels for most of the year: student, daughter, sister, class president, team captain, honor roll student, and the like. They will belong to categories like these for a while, before growing up, and gaining some more exciting ones like lawyer, doctor, engineer.

This, of course, is all in the normal course of events.

Kayak Race!What camp does, is give girls a chance to don a whole host of other identities that most people never get to try. In just one day, I have seen the school-girls who were dropped off here yesterday morph into markswomen, mountain climbers, equestrians, basket-weavers, yogis, archers, and more.

Spider-Man DropI heard them swapping stories at lunch and during free swims. Giving each other tips on which side of the Alpine Tower makes for the best climb, as though they have been climbing for their whole lives and not just one morning. Boasting cheerfully about getting their wet-exits in kayaking on the very first day. Showing their cabin-mates the first steps of the dance that they will be premiering in the dance show at the end of the session.

Soaking the ReedsA Junior spent about five minutes this afternoon, explaining to me exactly how long the reeds needed to soak in the stream before they would be pliable enough to make a basket. She had never made a basket before. She was repeating to me what she had heard the instructor say just minutes before. But, in her mind, she was an expert, a basket-weaving professional, when an hour before she had been nothing of the kind.

Perfect FormEvery day, every hour, almost, these campers get to try something new, become something different, and expand a little more. By the end of the session, they might decide that they never again want to be an archer, or a climber, or a basket-weaver—but the hope is that, through all of this experimenting, they will leave here with a bit more of the confidence that it takes to become the varied and interesting women that they will one day grow to be.

A Simple Costume

A Beautiful Spirit

A little more than 8 miles south of Rockbrook along US276, the state line between North and South Carolina forms the eastern continental divide, at an elevation of 2910 feet. On the South Carolina side we have the Atlantic Seaboard watershed, where all the creeks and streams flow down toward the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean. The North Carolina side of the continental divide sends its water north, eventually turning west, meeting the Mississippi River and emptying into the Gulf of Mexico almost 2000 miles later.

Cascade Lake Canoe TripMost of our waters here in Transylvania County, including the 2 waterfalls on the Rockbrook Property (Stick Biscuit Falls and Rockbrook Falls), flow into the French Broad river as in flows toward Asheville. East of camp is tributary of the French Broad called the “Little River,” which is a complicated creek that winds north through the Dupont State Forest. Gaining volume as it flows, it’s responsible for several of Dupont’s more spectacular waterfalls— High Falls, Triple Falls, and Hooker Falls. After the it drops over Hooker Falls, the river widens to form a narrow lake called “Cascade Lake” stretching about a mile and a half from the falls to the dam on the northern end.

This morning, a group of ten campers, led by Thea and Clyde, took a canoe trip along Cascade Lake, paddling all the way up to Hooker falls and back. They had perfect weather making their way along the beautiful waters of the lake. There was time for a brief swim to cool off at the base of the falls, as well. Clyde even packed everyone a muffin from camp, successfully recharging everyone before the paddle back to the put in. To think this water makes it all the way to New Orleans, it’s really a special experience to paddle this clear mountain lake.

Girl splashes down off camp waterslideMeanwhile back at camp, “Big Samantha,” the affectionate nickname of our water slide, was hurtling campers out into the lake during free swim. The ride is 150-feet long and begins at the top of a 50-foot tower accessed by walking along the boardwalk on the far side of the lake. The slide is made of vinyl tarp material draped between two parallel cables. With a little water spraying it from above, the slope down to the lake is slick, and the splash at the bottom is powerful. It’s a guaranteed thrill! It’s a quick swim over to the ladders, and an easy— now wet, drippy— walk back around the boardwalk, and up the tower steps for another slide. Some girls just need more than one ride down Big Samantha each day. It’s simply that fun!

Blind Folded Camper ClimbingTying on a blindfold before climbing is not something you see very often. Over at our Alpine Tower, however, there are girls who do exactly that; before they climb someone ties a bandana tightly around their eyes so they can’t see. Obviously this makes climbing much more difficult because you have to feel the next move— handhold to grab, or cable to step on —rather than see it. The climbers know the general direction to go (up!), and with occasional help from friends on the ground calling out hints, blindfolded climbing is a fun challenge. It’s amazing to watch too. The girls grope with their hands, and whenever possible stand on whatever knob, handhold, rope or cable they find.  Confidently standing up, trusting your feet, is the key to making progress. I recently watched a Middler climb the entire 50-foot tower, blindfolded, in about 6 minutes. Incredible!

Not a day goes by that we’re not impressed by the enthusiasm, zest and talent displayed by the campers here. It appears in bold ways like this climbing ability, but perhaps more so in small things… dressing up in a spontaneous costume for dinner, non-stop lap swimming during free swims before lunch, easily managing the complexities of a 3-foot floor loom, or just accompanying a cabin mate on a trip to the dining hall for muffin break. The girls now know what to do at camp, and are happily doing it. All these girls, being great girls, in all these ways: it adds up to a beautiful spirit. It is completely wonderful.

Girls Camp Summertime

A Night at Pride Rock

Rock Climbing KidS CampCanoe Camp KidsHorseback Riding KidLately the girls have been clamoring for a few of the special trips and activities we offer throughout the session, only now with perhaps some added urgency because they know we are reaching the end of our time together this session. Many of the them have been asking to ride the zip line one more time, for example. When the announcement was made at breakfast that we’ll have the zip line available today, you could hear a fluttery murmur of girls asking each other if they would do it again. Likewise, the trips offered to climb Castle Rock have been easily filled with repeat rock climbers. Since there are five different routes up there, that makes plenty of sense. The particularly avid climbers all want to get on another route, and probably one of the harder ones. Here’s another example: canoeing on the French Broad River. Emily took a group out this week to take advantage of the beautiful weather we’ve been having and to have a chance to just float along together.  Horseback Riding is no exception either. Campers who love riding have been eager to spend more time with their favorite horse, to ride Lacy, or Moe, or Smoke, for example, “one more time.” The same can be said for all of the regular activities at camp, for as we move toward the end of the session, we will be holding several special events that preempt our daily camp routines, events like the barn party (a chance for riders to demonstrate their skills and others to enjoy games with the horses), tournaments with Camp Carolina (when we challenge the boys to Archery, Riflery, and Tennis competitions) , the musical production (that’s tomorrow), and so forth.

The main event of the day, however, was something that’s been secreted planned since the first day of the session: the banquet, which is a themed dinner party celebrated by the entire camp. The 9th grade campers, our “CAs,” selected for their secret theme, The Lion King, based on the classic Disney Movie from 1994.  Their title was “A Night at Pride Rock.” As the photo below shows, the decorations were awesome, very colorful representations of African animals, the “Pride Lands,” and specific scenes from the movie. They hung colorful lights from the rafters which made the glitter of the posters sparkle. They (again the CA girls came up with all of this!) had souvenir red cups for each camper and candy decorating all of the tables, as well as animal masks, temporary tattoos, and special stickers.

Lion King Party Banquet

The costumes were also really great with all of the major characters from the movie represented. Of course, they dressed as the lions Simba, Mufasa, and Scar, but also Zazu the hornbill, Timon the meerkat, Pumbaa the warthog, and the “shaman” mandril Rafiki. Several counselors dressed up as hyenas completing the cast. It was a magical moment for the campers as they entered the dining hall and were greeted by these characters. Everyone seemed both astonished and excited as the full experience of the music, decorations and characters combined in the surprise.

Zazu Bird Costume Meerkat Kid Costume Baboon Kid Costume

The program included a series of skits and dances focused on the main songs from the movie: “Circle of Life” and “Hakuna Matata,” for example. They served hamburgers and french fries, chicken wings, and “zebra cakes” for dessert. They played music from the movie alternating with well-known pop music, which of course got the campers, dressed proudly in their blue RBC t-shirts, up to dance.

It was a fantastic party overall, a complete experience that everyone really enjoyed. The CA campers had fun, but also worked hard making that happen. Thanks girls!

Lion King Kids Costume

The Five Essential Qualities of a Rockbrook Girl

All Smiles in Needlecraft“Rockbrook Girl” is a title that we throw around all the time here at camp. We call campers Rockbrook Girls when they help to clean up messes that they didn’t help to create, are friendly to a new camper, or come bounding in on Opening Day with a grin from ear to ear and a fervent (and usually vocal) wish for their parents just to be gone already, so camp can start. We even have a song (“Hooray for [blank], She’s a Rockbrook Girl”), which ascribes that title to anyone at camp that we want to celebrate.

Friendship Bracelet MakerWhat is a Rockbrook Girl? Well—the lazy answer is that you just sort of know her when you see her. This is the answer that I nearly always lean on, since every time I put on my analytical hat and try to sum up the essence of a true Rockbrook Girl into a single, ironclad list of qualities, I run into this roadblock: there is such a wide array of thoroughly different Rockbrook Girls that there is an exception to nearly every trait I deem necessary.

Are Rockbrook girls talkative? Sure, plenty of them are. But what about the two that I saw yesterday, sitting on the Hill, not saying a word to one another, one sketching, the other reading? They looked incredibly happy to be there, and walked off when the bell rang for Evening Program with huge smiles on their faces. So what if they hadn’t said two words to each other through the whole of Twilight? They had enjoyed that hour with one another just as much as the most talkative girls in camp had.

Balloon ArcheryAre Rockbrook girls outdoorsy? Sometimes they are. There are girls who go out on every paddling, rock climbing, and hiking trip that we offer. They want to learn every camping skill that we can teach them, and would happily eschew the allures of air conditioning for the rest of their lives. But what about the ones who like to stay in their cabins with their friends, making friendship bracelets or playing cards? They are no less Rockbrook Girls than the first sort.

You see the challenge. Yet still, I think I have come up with five qualities that sum up Rockbrook Girls, that still manage to allow for the myriad personalities that fit into that category. Some girls show up on their first day of camp, fully equipped with every one of these qualities, ready to take camp by storm. Some gain a little bit more of each of them each year that they come to camp, as Rockbrook helps to shape them into the adults that they will become.

1. Friendliness
Buddies in FolkloreWhether they are talkative or quiet, shy or outgoing, Rockbrook Girls are always friendly to one another. There’s no room here at camp for the cliques and exclusion that you can find at schools, and Rockbrook Girls tend to get that right away. In fact, it’s one of the qualities of camp that they relish most. Rockbrook girls view every person that they see as a potential friend, and will go out of their way to treat those people with kindness and respect.

2. Laughter
Cracking Up in Hodge PodgeRockbrook girls laugh. They laugh when something is funny, of course, but they also laugh at themselves, when they do something silly or make a mistake. Sometimes they just laugh to fill the silences, to make sure that no one is getting too bored. Most importantly, though, they laugh when things don’t go right. They push through frustration and embarrassment, and find the humor in every situation, knowing that as long as they can laugh at it, no challenge is too difficult to tackle. Just the other day, during swim demos, I saw one of our youngest campers jump into the lake, and immediately ask the life guards to help her out. She climbed out of the lake and over to me with a grin on her face. She shrugged, and said “Well, that didn’t go so well!” I reassured her that the cold water can be a shock the first time you jump in, and that there’s nothing wrong with not quite getting it the first time. She laughed out loud, and said, “I’m not worried! I’ll just go again tomorrow.” And she marched off to join her new friends. That, right there, was a Rockbrook Girl.

3. Daring
gymnasitic leapEvery girl here has at least enough daring to leave the familiarity of home, and come to a place as crazy as this for a few weeks. That is impressive enough already. But, while they’re here, this trait can manifest itself in manifold ways. Maybe they go on every trip that we offer without looking back. Maybe they have to stand at the edge of the rock that starts the zip line for ten minutes before stepping off into thin air. Maybe they audition for the play on day one. Maybe they dread the Evening Program skits every night, but join in resolutely anyway, taking on a bigger and bigger role each time. Regardless of the form of their daring—whether effortless, or a quieter, more determined sort of courage—Rockbrook Girls always possess a bit of it.

4. Helpfulness
Painting With StrawsEvery girl at camp has jobs to do. Whether they have to take out the cabin trash in the morning, clear the tables after a meal, or keep their area in the cabin neat for the sake of their cabin-mates, they are great about remembering their responsibility to help keep camp clean. True Rockbrook Girls, though, tend to go the extra mile. They offer to help a new camper find their way to their activities, they stay behind after craft activities to help clean up the supplies, they walk their friends to the deducky if they have to go in the middle of the night, they lend out their flashlights and costumes and stationery, they sit and listen and offer a shoulder to cry on whenever a friend is upset… there are countless ways that they find to help. This comes, I think, from being very aware that they are a key part of this community. They feel acutely the responsibility that comes along with that, and want to help in any way they can to make our community strong.

5. Confidence to be who they are
SuperstarThis is a hard one. We all feel that urge to change bits of ourselves to fit in and be a part of the cool crowd. Rarely (though it does happen) do girls come into their first year of camp feeling entirely comfortable with who they are, quirks and all. But as they come back, year after year, something begins to change. They find it a little easier to be friendly to new or “uncool” girls. They find it a little easier to laugh when things get tough. They find it a little easier to call on that sense of daring when needed. They find it a little easier to lend a helping hand, even when it might inconvenience them. And, most importantly, after years of being surrounded by friendly, happy, daring, and helpful friends who love and support them in everything they do, Rockbrook girls find it a little easier to show the world their true selves, without apology.

Crazy About Activities

Horseback Riding CamperHorsback Riding ChildLet’s not forget about riding! Down through the tunnel and on the level pastures near the river, girls are working with horses every activity period. Most are taking mounted riding lessons and learning to post (rising and falling rhythmically in the saddle) while their horse is trotting, or to balance and sit properly while in a canter. A few more advanced riders are working on jumping low rails, while the first-time riding girls are excited to get their horses to walk. This morning, during the second activity period, and despite the cloudy cool weather, there were four lessons happening simultaneously.  Later, other girls who had signed up for the “Stable Club” spent their activity period bathing and brushing two of our veteran Connemara ponies, Annie and Danny. Kelsi and the whole riding staff are keeping all our “horse crazy” girls at Rockbrook happily busy.

Child Swimming at summer campChild Wall Rock ClimbingThe Rockbrook Lake, like the riding center, is another part of camp that is a favorite for many girls. We might call them “water crazy,” but again, even in less that ideal weather (i.e. more cool than hot, I’d say) you can count on a group of campers ready to jump of the diving board, zip down the water slide, swim “Mermaid Laps,” or just float around in a tube.  Dunn’s Creek, the mountain stream that feeds our lake, keeps the water temperature quite “refreshing,” so it takes a real zeal be wet on a regular basis. My guess is that for these girls, the water temperature is trivial compared the thrills the lake has to offer. Like they say, “You get used to it!”

The “climbing crazy” girls at Rockbrook have many opportunities to satisfy their appetite as well. Instead of one area, though, they have three places on the camp property where they can tighten their harness, buckle their helmet, and tie into a belay rope. They can climb our 50-ft Alpine tower choosing any one of its many different elements, work out on the climbing wall in our gym, maybe learning to “stem” (stretch to two wide footholds) in the corner, or get out on Castle Rock to hop on “Whim,” “Wham” or “Bam,” three of the most popular routes of there. Each of these climbing areas offers a range of challenges keeping our climbers coming back for more.

Of course, there are not just horse, water and climbing crazy girls at Rockbrook. There are girls keen about crafts, sports, and drama too. There are tennis girls and nature girls, kayakers and hikers. With almost 30 different daily activities at camp, most everyone has a favorite, and if given the chance, will spend extra time pursuing their preference. While more true for some camp activities than others (e.g., the ones mentioned above), it is possible, in other words, for campers to focus their choices even as our sign up system encourages them to explore a variety. As they switch activity selections every three days, have regular options for adventure trips, and fill 3 blocks of free time each day, campers can find, if they desire it, a good balance of diversity and emphasis in how they spend their day at camp. It’s possible to be excited about all your activities at Rockbrook, and a little crazy about some as well.

Camp Teen Girl Friends

It Just Feels Good

Fiber Arts CampWandering into Curosty, our fiber arts activity cabin, is like stepping into a working artist’s studio, maybe even a artists’ cooperative, because greeting you are colorful materials, finished and partly finished projects, and many hands busily creating. It’s a wondrous place. The cabin itself is built from 19th-century, hand-cut logs. It has a wood floor and a stone fireplace on one side, and draping its double-hung windows are bright red curtains. In one corner there are three 36-inch floor looms, and along two walls there are small tables with tabletop looms. The walls, though, are the most interesting because almost everything is covered with finished weavings, shelves with spools of thread, balls of yarn and strips of cloth. Embroidery floss, cane, reeds, kudzu vines, twigs and feathers are stacked or hung nearby. Three different areas display example projects the girls can make, things like bright baskets, complex loom weavings, lanyards, dream catchers, pot holders, hats, scarves, purses and wallets. Leading this creative whirlwind of weaving is Melanie Wilder who comes to us from Warren Wilson College where she is a supervisor of the Fiber Arts Program there. You can see Melanie in the background of this photo spinning yarn. She seems to always have a new project in the works for the girls. For example, they have a large group weaving that uses different bits of yarn, cloth and other fibers to create a mountain scene rather than a geometric pattern. She’s having some girls hammer a leaf between two pieces of cloth to transfer color from the leaf into the cloth leaving a neat design. The overall atmosphere in Curosty is joyfully creative as girls experiment with all these different materials and techniques. Sitting with friends, creating with your hands, twisting, threading, and tying different colorful strands, all while having time to chat, tell stories and laugh— being in Curosty just feels good.

High Ropes Course Kids ClimbingAt the Alpine Tower, our 50-foot High Ropes Course located in the woods behind our gym, the girls are working with a different sort of fiber, an 11 millimeter braided climbing rope. Instead of weaving, these girls are tying their harnesses to the rope so a staff member can belay them while climbing one of the 30 or so different routes to the top platform. The rope stretches from the climber up and over a pole above the platform and back down to the belayer on the ground. The tower is an excellent introduction to rock climbing because it requires the same balance, smooth motion, concentration and focused strength. Likewise the equipment and safety protocols are the same. With some routes being designed for a complete beginner and others requiring both polished climbing skills and strength, the Tower is an adventure activity that keeps girls coming back for more. After reaching the top platform, the climber is slowly lowered by the climbing staff members belaying. It’s possible— and a lot of girls do this intentionally for fun —to flip upside down on the rope, the belayer suspending you with your head a few feet from the ground. It’s a goofy stunt. After climbing the tower, and perhaps our climbing wall in the gym or one of the five climbs on Castle Rock, don’t be surprised when your daughter asks you to go climbing with her at the local gym. Not only will it be fun, it’ll be because she wants to show you she’s good at climbing, and knows what she’s doing.

1950s Diner BanquetTonight our 28 CA campers, our 9th graders, unveiled the theme of their secret banquet, and it was a great one: the 1950s. They called the banquet “1950s Diner.” The painted decorations, the floor-to-ceiling posters which lined every inch of wall space, referenced not just the music, the movies and television shows, and the fashion of that decade, but also diner food. In fact, for dinner they served classic hamburgers and french fries, with root beer, ice cream floats. Some of the CA girls wore poodle skirts, while others dressed like greasers and “Pink Ladies” from the movie Grease. One girl zipped around the dining hall on roller skates delivering plates of food. We also saw Marilyn Monroe, Lucile Ball, Debbie Reynolds, Ernest Hemingway, and a special guest appearance by Elvis. The skits were dance numbers with a giant cast of CAs reproducing dances like the “Hand Jive” and the “Twist,” for example. Alternating with songs from the 50s (“Jailhouse Rock,” “Rock Around the Clock” and “Johnny B. Goode”) and modern day pop songs, much of time was spent as a celebration dance party.

Camp 1950s Costume Dance Camp 50s Diner Banquet Elvis Costume Party

It’s hard to explain why, but campers and counselors alike often remark the banquet is the highlight of their entire session. Considering all of the zany fun of camp, this is extraordinary. Yes, the banquet is really fun. The surprise might be a big part of that, as is the thrill of having candy decorating your dinner table. More significantly though, I think the banquets are a true expression of the relationships we’ve formed while at camp, the true friendships and connection we now feel with so many wonderful people. It’s that, combined with an awareness that this is our last crazy celebration together before the session closes. That’s why there is so much hugging at the banquet, and often tearful embracing. It’s an emotional time for must of us. We can feel that this is a very special time of our lives.

Kids Camp 1950s Banquet Party

Beautiful Results

The cold front that brought yesterday’s drizzle stuck around today keeping the temperatures in the 60s and everyone covered up in fleeces, sweatshirts and rain jackets. The low temperature this morning was 60 degrees and the high this afternoon was 65! Keeping it cool in the mountains! Weather like this may move us inside for the most part, but it also inspired us this morning to build fires in the Lodges’ fireplaces. Now a warm crackling fire was the backdrop to the drama class in the Junior Lodge, and was something even more soothing for the Yoga girls in the Hillside Lodge. It also seemed completely normal to roast marshmallows for s’mores in the Lakeview Lodge. It’s such a cozy feeling— the dry warmth of a wood fire on a chilly day like this.

Camp Wood Turning Demo

We were very excited today to welcome a guest artist to camp, George Peterson. George works with wood crafting both sculptural and functional pieces. He carves, etches and scars the wood using different tools and techniques to make each piece completely unique. He’s displayed his work in galleries across the United States (CA, MI, IL, PA, GA and NC to name a few states), has been featured in magazine articles, and has pieces held in prestigious museum collections (Boston Fine Arts Museum, for example). Here’s a link to one of his most recent gallery exhibitions. George is also the father of two girls who attend Rockbrook, and his wife Margaret is an Alumna of camp.

Camper sanding wooden bowl

George and Margaret spent the whole day with us presenting two wood turning workshops for the senior campers. George began the sessions by demonstrating how he uses a lathe to turn a log into the shape of a bowl. The whir of the electric lathe, the shower of twisty wood shavings, and the emerging bowl was very impressive to witness. Each girl then was given a walnut bowl to finish. George had prepared these in advance, turning them and letting them to dry to the point when they were ready to be sanded. In addition to sanding, each bowl needed some carving on the bottom, and for this the girls used an electric oscillating tool, with George guiding the tool as they carved.

Wood Carving Camp Project
Camp displaying carved bowl
Finished Carved Bowl

Some bowls had developed interesting cracks as they dried, and for those, Margaret and George demonstrated how to use a waxed cord to sew across the cracks, giving the bowl a really cool look. Everyone was able to add another finishing touch by branding their bowls with the letters “RBC.” George brought a metal brand which after being heated in a torch can burn those letters into the wood. The final finishing came when the girls applied a coat of mineral oil to their bowls bringing out the deep brown color of the walnut and adding a subtle shine to the wood. This was a very special experience for everyone, both informative and fun, and in the end, one with beautiful results.

Upper Green Kayaking
Learning to Belay

Do you know how to belay? Well the girls who signed up for climbing were learning today. Belaying is the technique used to protect a climber from falls by using a special “belay device” to adjust the tension and slack in a climbing rope. It requires careful attention to the climber and a very specific pattern of hand motions manipulating the rope. The belay device (We use something called an “ATC”) adds friction to the rope when needed, making a great deal of strength unnecessary, and allowing even a small girl can keep a larger person safe while climbing.

This cool wet weather hasn’t hampered our kayakers. Just the opposite! They took a trip today to the Upper Green River, running a 4 mile section of moderately difficult class II and class III+ rapids. This is fast section with several large rapids that require accurate lines and strong paddling at times. Consequently, it’s rare to see a group of campers handle the Upper Green this well. Our Rockbrook girls crushed it!

It was time for some big excitement after dinner— a dance with the boys of Camp Carolina. Actually, we held two dances, with Rockbrook hosting the youngest boys, and CCB deejaying a dance for our Senior girls and Hi-Ups. We also organized a “Dance Alternative” activity in one of the Lodges for those girls who didn’t feel like dancing. If you take a look at the Photo Gallery, you’ll get a sense of how these dances are primarily a time to be silly, sing to your favorite pop songs, and jump around with your friends. For the younger girls dance, our friend DJ Marcus kept everyone moving with several group dances like the “Cha Cha Slide,” while over at Camp Carolina, the older girls leaped about to “Sandstorm.” Time flies at these events, but after the last song, we had to say our goodbyes and head back to camp. We enjoyed the whole evening. Thanks Camp Carolina!

Camp Dance Girls
Camp Dance Teens

Taking the Plung into Blue Skies

Jump in the lake


From dawn to dusk at Rockbrook, girls are given a constant flow of opportunities to take courageous leaps. Our start to this week was no exception.

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Campers sprang into action with their choices of four regularly scheduled activities. Girls are taking aim down at Riflery and Archery, learning to use their cameras to document their time at camp in Photo Journalism, and sprinting into action playing Dodge Ball in Gym Sports, just to name a few. In addition to the regularly scheduled activities, a whole bundle of surprises were offered at breakfast. The climbing staff signed up girls of all experience levels to climb Castle Rock. Rockbrook’s own natural rock face is located a short, hardy hike up the mountain behind the dinning hall. The climbing on Castle Rock offers challenges for beginners and experienced climbers alike, and is sure to offer every camper who tries the rock a stunning view of the mountains across the valley.

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The canoeing staff offered a trip down the French Broad, a river that snakes through the valley below camp with just enough light rapids to challenge beginners and warm up the experienced paddlers. Meanwhile, the kayaking staff gave girls a chance to learn how to “wet exit” down at the lake in preparation for the kayaking trip down the French Broad River that went out this afternoon. A camper learns her “wet exit” when she successfully pops the water tight “skirt” holding her into the kayak so she can safely leave the boat if she tips over. And in the afternoon a whole group of campers packed for an overnight trip to raft the Nantahala River. The opportunity for campers to try something new, exciting, and sometimes rather challenging is always present, even for example at the ever glistening Rockbrook lake. Well-known for its “cool” temperature, it can be a little daunting looking down at the water from the comfort and certainty of the dry dock. But finding the courage to take the plunge into something new around here is always mighty refreshing.

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Not all the challenging leaps we see here at camp are the kind that involve cold water or staggering heights. Sometimes a leap is more subtle. It is learning how to take a round knitting loom and leading a ball of yarn on the complicated journey toward becoming a hat in Curosty, or turning a vine of bittersweet into a Dream Catcher in Folklore. It is finding the right balance of fuel and friction to spark a fire at WHOA! (Wilderness Hiking Outdoor Activities). A “leap” can also be seeing that two fellow campers are struggling to make a rubber band bracelet you know how to make, stepping up to be a leader, and guiding new friends in Jewelry Making or taking the microphone at announcements and sharing with a dinning hall of 275 people that you are beginning a Rockbrook A Capella group that will be meeting today at Free Swim!

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At Rockbrook, we invite campers to see how easy it is to try something new, without fear of “failure” because we celebrate both the glorious successes completed and all the incredible victories and views all the campers earned along the way. After climbing Castle Rock today campers were asked what color they would use to described their experience. “Blue” was the response of one junior camper “Because when you climb you are just focused on flowing up the rock, and when you reach the top all you can see is sky.”

So as the sun sets on our first full day of the June Mini Session and the beginning of our week, the sunset illuminates in full spectrum; celebrating the many colors of discovery we experienced today. And the misty mountains remind us tomorrow offers many more chances to leap, to climb, to stand up, to be silly, to reflect, to try again, and perhaps to reach the sky.

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