A Book of Faces

Camp girls faces buddies

A Middler-aged camper asked me the other day, “Isn’t it hard to get Seniors to come to camp if they can’t have their phones?” I reminded her that all campers, no matter how old they are, and in fact the counselors too (except in the staff lounge), are not allowed to have a cellphone at camp, but I think I know what she meant. She knew, maybe from experience or observing older girls at home, that cellphone use is almost constant, that most of us, once we have a personal smartphone, tend to use it all the time… text messages, social media posts (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat!), telephone calls, and email. Once it’s in our pocket, the buzz of electronic notifications punctuates our daily experience. This perceptive young girl was suggesting that the allure of that buzz might be powerful enough to prevent girls from attending camp.

It’s a great question when you think about it, “Why are teenage girls willing, albeit reluctantly perhaps, to give up their phones for several weeks?” Would you be willing to do that? Think of all the news you would miss, and the people who couldn’t contact you! I suppose there are young girls out there who do not attend summer camp because they feel they simply can’t live without their phones, just as they might believe they can’t do without their mother’s home-cooked meals or an air-conditioned private bedroom, but there are hundreds of girls who do make that sacrifice. Here’s why. I believe it’s because they, perhaps unconsciously, know being at camp is much better than whatever their cellphones (and other electronic forms of entertainment) provide. The sacrifice is “worth it.” Their community of Rockbrook friends provides a book of faces far superior to Facebook. The daily flood of enthusiasm for creativity, adventure, and outdoor action outshines every Instagram image. The camp songs, the heartfelt conversations, the nightly “Highs, Lows and Funnies” in the cabins, the cheers and support from everyone around you arrive faster than you can type 140-character tweets. A girl could snap, and pin, and “like,” and “share,” all day long and she wouldn’t come close to feeling the authentic joy camp provides. Without flickering intermediaries, camp is real life, fully lived with real people, expressing real emotions. It’s a life too easily forgotten while staring at a screen, but for those girls willing to trust themselves and find the confidence to engage those around them, camp is also a really good life. Some claim it can’t be beat! …completely phone-free.

Whitewater Rafting Camp
Sliding Rock smiling girls

For about a fourth of the camp, today’s adventures included whitewater rafting on the Nantahala River. With our second group of July Mini session girls eager to raft and a few of the full session campers who had not yet gone, we put together two multi-raft trips, one that began the night before with camping at our outpost property located near the river in Swain County, and the other that ran in the afternoon following a picnic lunch at the water’s edge. The morning trip saw a little extra excitement as a passing thunderstorm forced the crew off the river for a few minutes. Fortunately, we had a warm, dry bus (It was trailing the trip on the road paralleling the river.) ready nearby where we could all take shelter during the storm. When the coast was clear, the rafts were off again to finish paddling the river.

Rafting for Rockbrook girls is big fun. It’s a nice combination of high adrenaline adventure (wearing cool gear!), lighthearted silliness with your friends in the raft, and hilarity as each bumpy rapid and splash of the frigid water (53 degrees!) erupts wild screams of delight. It’s even better when someone unexpectedly falls out of the boat and everyone, while laughing of course, scrambles to pull her back in. Rafting is also a chance for the girls to chat and sing with each other as they paddle, posing for photos and greeting everyone passing by in other boats and onshore. You can imagine how this much exuberance gets people’s attention, and since we’re the only girls camp authorized to raft the Nantahala (We’ve had a USFS permit since the early 1980s), it’s not uncommon for us to hear, “That’s the rafting camp.”

When it comes to having a full camp day, our mini session Senior campers know how to do it! For them, following today’s rafting, we ate a quick pizza dinner, and then turned right around for an evening trip to Sliding Rock. It was fantastic. We arrived just after another rainstorm so we had the rock all to ourselves. The girls had a blast sliding down the 60-foot natural water slide to the pool at the bottom, often with hands in the air and screaming all the way down. Everyone slid as many times as they wanted, until as it was getting dark, we loaded up the vans for a short ride to Dolly’s Dairy Bar. A cup or a cone of “Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion” or another flavor was the perfect way to top off the evening. Back at camp about 10pm, the girls took no time heading straight to bed. It’s been another full— definitely great— camp day.

Ice Cream Camp Girls

How to Make Forever Friends

Forever friends
Crafty Girl Friends

The other day I heard a snippet of conversation between two campers talking about their friends. One girl explained, “I have friends at school, but my friends here at Rockbrook are my ‘forever friends.'” What a great way to put it! Friends made at camp are exactly that— so strong, so close, so meaningful, they last. It’s pretty clear. The people here at Rockbrook aren’t just companions or playmates; they’re not simply other girls assigned to your team, or brief acquaintances that happen to eat meals with you in the dining hall. Instead there’s a deepness to many of the friendships formed at camp, an emotional quality that makes relationships here more genuine and powerful.

Why camp friends are forever friends is an interesting question. What is it about summer camp that makes a difference when is comes to forming friendships? My first thought is that we make good friends at camp by virtue of spending so much time together. When you share all your meals, spend all your free time, and do so much together with the same small group of people, you are bound to grow closer. Consistent shared experience simply brings people together. And this togetherness of camp is almost inescapable considering the sleeping cabins holding 10 or more people (no private rooms here!), the lack of electronic devices (which are inherently isolating), and the collaborative character of all our camp activities. There can be moments of solitude for everyone at camp, but generally time at camp is a collective life that keeps us inter-acting with each other throughout the day. This makes good sense, by the way, if having fun is one of the goals of camp. After all, doing something with others is clearly more fun than doing it alone, whether it’s putting on a silly costume, paddling a whitewater raft, or eating a meal.

Nantahala Rafting

While this is a start, I suspect there’s more to understanding what drives camp friendships than simply being together and sharing core experiences. Perhaps more importantly, camp life also includes a set of ideals and values, a culture, that guides how we treat each other as a community doing things together. At Rockbrook, this camp culture starts with kindness and generosity. It respects and values everyone, creating enthusiasm and building genuine encouragement. Beginning with the directors, embodied by the staff members, and sustained by Rockbrook’s many traditions, there is a feeling here of warmth and acceptance where every girl is appreciated and supported. This culture makes it easy to cooperate instead of compete, to pitch in rather than check out, and to inspire more than criticize. The Rockbrook camp culture, quite intentionally, brings out these best qualities in people, campers and staff alike, making it a special place oddly different from what’s typically valued in other circles.

Rodeo Camp Costumes

This, then, is the secret sauce. The nature of this culture, all of its practiced ideals, provides girls the freedom to explore who they really are, to develop the character and spirit of their “authentic selves.” In this way, camp empowers girls to trust themselves. Free of social judgment, camp life helps awaken confidence, giving girls the power to overcome their own assumptions about who they should be. I believe stripping away these assumptions and being genuine is what makes forever friendships possible. It feels good (“What a relief!”) to be true to yourself too, to be welcomed and nurtured by a real community. No posing needed. Instead, as camp teaches us to be brave personally, it establishes the basis for the most rewarding form of friendship.

So while we’re doing so much together at camp— riding, climbing, weaving, shooting, and playing, for example —we’re discovering that our true selves make the best friends, that being kind makes us happy, and being together like this is always more fun.

Camp girls Outside

Smiling Faces

Smiling Camp Friends
Smiling Teen Camper

Another remarkable thing about life at camp, something that distinguishes it from ordinary events at home and school, is that when you walk around and see camp girls interacting with each other and their counselors, you are very likely to see someone smiling. It often includes laughing too, but incredibly, there are smiles while doing crafts, grins jumping to avoid the gaga ball, smiles at the lake, atop a horse, while on belay climbing, even while just walking down the cabin line on the way to lunch. Our online photo gallery provides a glimpse of this, and while it’s not everyone at every minute, it’s almost unsettling how regularly you encounter a smiling face during your day at Rockbrook. Recently a mother and her daughter touring camp noticed it as well. The daughter said, “Everyone here is so nice and friendly,” referring to the smiling greetings she got throughout the tour.

The best way to understand this phenomenon, of course, is to attribute the smiles to how the girls are feeling at camp, to how relaxed and happy they are here. All of the fun things we do at camp contribute to this happiness, as does the fantastic food, and beautiful, wooded mountain setting, but I suspect this feeling of camp life is more essentially derived from our spirited community than from what have or what we do. Put differently, it’s our relationships with the caring group of people around us, based upon respect for one another, that inspires this deep feeling of comfort and happiness. It’s the people who make smiling the language of Rockbrook. Knowing you belong to this community of kind, “sweet” people, “nice and friendly” folks, is a powerful force. Feeling it, you can’t help but smile. I’d say we’re all fortunate to feel it, and smile, everyday at camp.

Teen Girl kayaking celebration

Today was a big day for adventure trips, with rock climbing, canoeing, zip lining, day hiking and kayaking all pulling campers out of their regularly scheduled activities. We announce these trips during meals, sometimes at dinner to sign up a trip leaving early the next morning, and sometimes at breakfast for shorter trips, like to our zip line course for example. The kayakers were particularly excited about their trip because it was an all day paddle down the lower section of the Green River, near Saluda, NC. This section of the Green is perfect for beginners because its class I and II rapids offer plenty of opportunities to practice ferrying and catching eddies while not being too difficult. Instructors Jamie, Marjorie Ann, Leland and Andria led 9 campers down the river.  A highlight of the day was stopping to play at the “Surf Rapid,” a spot where a standing wave is formed in the river allowing boaters to scoot in, pointing up stream, and be held in place. Surfing in the mountains of North Carolina! Now after tackling the Green, these girls are excited to paddle more challenging rivers. Stay tuned, because next week, we’ve got plans!

Kayaking surfing whitewater wave

Embracing the Weird

A parent asked me recently what it is about Rockbrook that makes it so special–what it is that has their daughter coming home year after year happier, more confident, and more comfortable with herself and her quirks.

So Excited!

I rambled a bit in response, and gave some rote answer about the strength of our community, and our encouraging of independence, and the surprising bits of spontaneity in our schedule that keep the campers on their toes.

The parent nodded along as though satisfied with my answer, but as I thought about the conversation more and more over the next few days, I became more and more dissatisfied with it. It’s not that all those things I mentioned aren’t true–they are, and they are wonderful facets of camp life. But they are not the heart of what makes Rockbrook special. I’ve been thinking for days now, trying to distill all of the magic and wonder of camp down into one phrase that sums it all up. One phrase that explains why everything about camp means so much to so many people.

I don’t know if such a phrase even exists, but I think I’ve come up with a contender: here at Rockbrook, we embrace the weird.

Gotcha

It isn’t so much that we make people weirder exactly; it’s that we provide a place where kids can let their inner-weirdness shine. They spend so much time at school, struggling to be thought of as normal, and learning from their peers that their differences and quirks aren’t something to be celebrated, but rather something to be suppressed. Often it seems that, despite the efforts of all the people who see and love their beautiful eccentricities, children (and especially teenagers) teach themselves to imitate “normalcy.” The logic seems to be that if they look and act like everyone else, their uniformity might earn them acceptance.

The beauty of camp, I think, is that we not only appreciate each other’s differences, we downright celebrate them. The girls that earn the biggest cheers in the Dining Hall aren’t the ones with their hair done up in the latest style, and their makeup done just right: they’re the girls wearing giant banana costumes for no particular reason, and singing a rousing rendition of “Banana Phone” into the microphone during announcements. The girls who begin the fashion trends at camp aren’t the ones sporting RayBans or the coolest swimsuits–they’re the ones that discover that tie-dyed knee socks and duct-tape headbands are without a doubt the most fabulous things since sliced bread.

Makeshift Mask

Most importantly, the ringleaders in the cabin are not the girls who think they have to be catty to impress people–it’s the class clowns, the includers, and the girls who can make even the most boring day fun and interesting who steal the show.

If a girl doesn’t want to be weird, though–if she doesn’t feel comfortable being the only person in the room wearing a chocolate-chip cookie costume–that’s just fine. No one will think she’s boring or, well, weird for not being weird. She can be the person whom she feels most comfortable being, while still learning to love the weirdness of others. Learning to appreciate the eccentricities of others is just as important as learning to express your own, and that’s a skill that is honed here every day.

I don’t know if this phrase is the winner. Maybe it isn’t our love of weirdness that makes Rockbrook what it is–I’m sure the truth of the matter is something much more indefinable. But I know that it’s the quality that has meant the most to me in my time here. It was here that I first learned that it was okay to be a tomboy, okay to have a laugh that is louder than everybody else’s, and okay to spend most of my free time daydreaming about getting my letter to Hogwarts.

No, camp taught me that these qualities were more than just “okay.” They were the parts of myself that I should be proudest of.

What's That?

Instant Enthusiasm

Let’s get started! The day that so many of us have been waiting for has finally arrived. For the directors, all of us who work year round, today begins the unfolding of many plans and the thrill of seeing everything come together— the people, the equipment and supplies, the activity ideas, special events, new camp buildings, and surprises for the campers. For the staff, today is the culmination of their week-long pre-camp training where they learned about the Rockbrook Camp philosophy, protocols, teaching methods, and ways to focus on their campers’ needs in the cabin. And of course, for the campers, today is when their time at camp finally begins, when the fun and excitement of the next few weeks can get started.

Moving into summer camp

Most importantly though, today is the day when we can all come together in “the Heart of a Wooded Mountain” and form the caring, and proudly a bit zany, community that is camp. We can all now begin to do things together— share our meals, dress up in costumes, sing (!!), be creative as we make things, reconnect with nature, truly feel the weather, laugh, and play all day long. It’s this sense of community, energized by all the wonderful people here, that makes the fun of camp life so powerful, and ultimately meaningful.

Swimming Tag board

These blog posts, we hope, will dip here and there into life at camp. They will report items of news, announce special events, outdoor adventure trips, or just what we had for lunch. Please don’t be shy about giving us feedback or asking questions in the comments. We’ll be happy to respond!

Once all of the campers had arrived today, and we finished up a delicious lunch of Rick’s homemade Mac-n-Cheese with fresh fruit and salad, all of the girls joined their counselors for a trip to the lake. It’s been a long tradition to begin each camp session by orienting everyone to Rockbrook’s lake, explaining the various safety rules, and assessing everyone’s swimming ability. With everyone dressed in their swimsuits and with towels at the ready, each girl takes turns demonstrating that she can swim out about 50 feet, back another 50 feet using a back stroke, and then tread water for one minute. It can be a little shocking to first feel the temperature of our mountain stream-fed lake, but it also makes most girls swim that much stronger/faster. Successfully performing the “swim demo” earns each girl a green bracelet and a buddy tag with her name on it for the tag board. If a girl has difficulty with the swim demo, she can still use the shallow area of the lake while wearing a life jacket. With the sun shining, and lots of cheering and congratulations going around from all the counselors, special staff and directors, it was wonderful to see the girls enjoy the lake for the first time this summer.

Camp Activity Tour

After changing back into dry clothes, all the girls gathered on the hill in the center of camp for a quick assembly to meet all of the special staff members, sing a few camp songs, and learn a few more guidelines about camp. For example, we demonstrated the lightning prediction and detection system we recently installed at Rockbrook. Called the “Thor-Guardian,” this system is a sophisticated sensor that measures electrostatic energy in the atmosphere near camp, and sends out a loud warning when there is a danger of lightning. It continues to monitor the atmosphere and sends a different warning sound when it is all clear. Everyone at camp will take shelter in a building whenever there is a warning, and stay there until the system indicates it is safe to go back outside.

The other highlight of the day was the activity tour, where the counselors introduced the campers to all of the activity options here at Rockbrook. Split into several groups, the girls toured camp stopping at each activity area to hear a brief presentation from the activity instructors. They saw kayak rolling at the lake, bows and arrows at archery, looms at Curosty, and flips at gymnastics. Many of the counselors made up songs and skits to illustrate what their activity involved, as well. It was a fun and informative afternoon giving the campers what they needed to sign up for their activity schedule later after dinner.

For the first day of camp, this one ranks right up near the top. It seemed like there was instant enthusiasm, loud excitement for everything we were doing and about to do. This session is off to a fantastic start!

Young girls camp friends

Staff Training: Ideas and Instruction

Reflection is an essential component of any staff development curriculum. The following topics provide a solid foundation for individual contemplation as well as ideas to stimulate large and small group discussion. This material focuses on staff attention and efforts while it also communicates clear expectations of a camper-centric work ethic. These themes also help to reveal the meaning and power behind a staff’s work and purpose during the camp season. Each question can be easily tailored to reflect an individual camp’s philosophies, missions, and program objectives. Most of these questions are best presented to a staff at the middle or end of a camp season.

1. Describe a time this summer when you completely exceeded your expectations for yourself.

2. This summer, did you experience more moments that were professionally rewarding or professionally challenging? Throughout the season, did you focus more attention on the rewarding moments or the challenging ones?

3. Describe a moment with campers that made you stop and think.

4. Practice gratitude. Create a list of ways to thank yourself on your time off.

5. Do you have a role model on staff? Identify what you admire about her.

Tower climbing at camp

6. Can you recollect a time when you solved a problem by stepping back and using a sense of humor? Conversely, can you recollect a time when you solved a problem by stepping in and taking yourself and the situation completely seriously?

7. Share a positive thought for the start of each day.

8. Describe one topic that you’re passionate about outside of camp and explain why you’re so dedicated to it.

9. Set a milestone to celebrate with your campers this summer. What will it be and how will you celebrate it?

10. Describe a time when you thought and acted beyond your own immediate needs for the good of the camp community.

11. Create an award to present to the entire staff.

12. Name a way that this job will affect your life outside of camp.

13. Name one thing that you offer the camp community that is uniquely your own; something that can never quite be replicated.

14. Imagine that you’re giving advice to next summer’s staff. What would you like to say to them?

Water Fall

15. How do you define “success” at camp?

16. Is there anything about yourself that you wish you’d known at the start of the season?

17. Imagine that you’re writing a thank you note to your campers. How will you thank them for who they are and what they’ve taught you about yourself and your place in the world?

18. Imagine that you’re writing a thank you note to your co cabin leader (or program instructor). How will you thank her for who she is and what she’s taught you about yourself and your place in the world?

19. If your campers learn just one thing this summer, what do you hope it is?

20. What has this job done for you? What have you done for this job?

21. Describe a time this summer when you were pushed to think outside the box.

22. If you could take one thing that you’ve learned in this job and incorporate it into your life, everyday, what would it be?

23. Name your favorite place at camp and a moment that you shared with a camper there.

24. In the last 24 hours, try to count how many times your campers have made you smile. In the last 24 hours, try to count how many times you’ve made your campers smile.

garden cabbage

25. Did anything happen this summer that you expect to impact your next off-season year for the better.

26. What is the quickest way to make someone smile? Do you do this often throughout your day?

27. If this summer has encouraged you to add any three things to your life’s bucket list, what are they?

28.Describe five random acts of kindness that you’ve witnessed this season.

29. What are our ultimate goals for our campers? How can we begin our work with these in mind?

30. If you could teach humanity a single lesson, what would it be?

31. If you had to create a time capsule to represent your work this summer, what would you put in it?

32. Give an example of a minor victory that we can celebrate as a staff.

America

33. Was there a mystery that you solved this summer?

34. Describe how we’re making a difference throughout our day’s work.

35. Name three character traits that are essential to being an effective and successful cabin leader.

36. Did you build anything from scratch this season? (Think beyond things here.)

Immersed in the Unfamiliar

Glancing through our online photo gallery today, you may have noticed that the girls are all wearing long sleeves. It might be a t-shirt or a sweatshirt, or likely a Rockbrook fleece, but all morning long we needed to bundle up a bit because it didn’t feel much like summer around here. It was more like the fall with the low temperature of 54 degrees when we woke up at 8am this morning. While odd for us in late July, this kind of cool, low humidity weather makes everything sparkle at camp. Waking up under warm covers in our open-air cabins, adding a layer of fleece while clicking the floor loom in Curosty, and biting into the fresh mint chocolate chip muffin, all felt especially good this morning. Up above was the deepest blue sky, not a single cloud anywhere, and the sun felt instantly warm when you stepped out of the shade, even as it warmed to about 75 degrees in the afternoon. Summer in the mountains can bring the most surprising and wonderful weather.

Yesterday, Bentley wrote about how camp has helped her daughters (and herself) gain social confidence when meeting new people or encountering unfamiliar social settings. She saw attending a sleepaway summer camp a perfect setting to develop that skill because, after all, it’s inevitable you’ll be doing unfamiliar things and meeting new people at camp— the girls in your cabin, in your wheel-thrown ceramics class, or in your whitewater raft on the Nantahala River. Everyday, there’s someone new to meet and something new to do and experience. (“Did you try that pineapple salsa at lunch today?”) From this angle, camp life means immersing kids in the unfamiliar— experiencing first-hand strange food like homemade ginger coleslaw, odd weather like this morning, quirky people like that counselor from out west, challenging activities like aiming a real gun, alien creatures like those HUGE wolf spiders occasionally found in the shower, and so forth. While camp is providing girls new experiences and offering a range of fun activities to try, it’s more importantly pushing them beyond what they know, confronting them with the exotic. Camp life happily leaps right out of every “comfort zone,” and in this way, is intentionally un-comfortable.

Riflery Ready Girl at Camp

And that’s a good thing! Obviously, we don’t want camp to imitate the comforts of home. Many of the benefits of camp life spring from those differences— unplugging from technology, being active outdoors, and managing everyday decisions, for example. Personal growth, learning of the most profound kind, requires a little shaking up and a surprise now and then. We want our kids to have these novel experiences because they are unfamiliar and because they challenge them to grow more competent. For this reason it would be a mistake to insist we make everything “easy” at camp, for example to make sure the lake isn’t too cold or that she already know everyone in her cabin. As parents, we often spend our time helping our children be comfortable, keeping them happy, and providing everything we can to smooth their path, but that’s the paradox of camp. It’s both uncomfortable and fun. It makes our girls happy while safely challenging them. Camp is as joyful as it is unfamiliar.

What makes this paradox possible at Rockbrook is our camp culture. It’s our emphasis on community, and the values that support it like kindness, caring and generosity. We all know that everyone here (counselors and campers alike) will be quick to support our efforts and is more inclined to cooperate than compete. Enthusiasm and encouragement bubble up everywhere at Rockbrook strengthening our courage to let our true selves blossom. We celebrate silliness, creativity, and costumes! We love singing, dancing, playing, and doing almost everything together. In this kind of community, what’s unfamiliar becomes part of the fun, and what’s at first a challenge becomes another opportunity to experience something new regardless of the outcome. What makes camp “fun” is another whole topic to consider, but I think the Rockbrook camp community is a big part of it.

Zoo Costume Girls

For about half of the camp, almost all of the Middlers and Seniors, today included a whitewater rafting trip down the Nantahala River. We ran 2 large trips, using our own equipment and guides: one in the morning and a second in the afternoon. Perfect sunny weather added to the excitement of rapids like “Delbar’s Rock,” “Whirlpool,” “The Bump,” and of course the “Nantahala Falls.”  These are high-pitched trips, partly from the rapids but equally from the icy cold water splashing about. It was a great afternoon of whitewater adventure.

When we all arrived back at camp, a special jungle/animal themed dinner called “A Night at the Zoo” was ready to begin. We had just enough time to race back to the cabin to throw together an animal costume. Maybe that meant simply wearing a squid hat, or painting a few whiskers on your cheeks, but there was also a giraffe and several tigers in the dining hall too.  Jungle-themed decorations and posters on the walls helped set the mood, while the girls had a great time singing animal songs (e.g., “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”) and dancing to a few related pop songs (like “Roar” for example). We gobbled up pizza and salad, and finished with chocolate chip cookie dough for dessert, making the whole dinner a special event.

Tenisha’s Spirit Fire Speech

During the Spirit Fire that closed our recent Second Session, Tenisha was one of the first-year counselors who spoke about her experience on the staff at camp. She described her feelings as someone new to Rockbrook, and how the character of our camp community has affected her. We thought it was wonderful, and wanted to share it.

Nisha Morrison

“Sitting at home and thinking about what I would do this summer, I knew I wanted to do something different, something new and extraordinary. I wanted something where I would make memories that I could reminisce about later, something that would teach me lifelong lessons, something that would teach me how to be a better person, but most of all I wanted something that had a positive environment where I could be happy.

After watching the camp videos over and over on the website, I knew I would find all those things at RBC. Seeing all the smiles and laughter, all the costumes and events cemented my decision to apply. When I spoke to Sophie on the phone I knew I made the right choice. Listening to her enthusiasm about camp, my first thought was she’s not real. There’s no way someone could be that excited about anything, but my second thought was that I have to see what sparked so much happiness and excitement.

From the moment I entered camp I was greeted with genuine welcome from the Directors and counselors I had never met before. Within the first week I had friends and by the third I knew I had found life long friendships. I remember one day I was walking down senior line being greeted by smiling faces and it wasn’t until I reached the end that I realized my cheeks were aching from smiling so much. I was genuinely happy. I realized that even though I reached the end of the senior line, I didn’t want to reach the end of my time at Rockbrook.

Rockbrook: where girls learn to grow. When I came here, I had no idea I would be one of those girls. With the help of the the Directors, my co-counselors, and other counselors who came to be close friends, I found that I grew into a Rockbrook girl who stops every chance she gets to take in nature and appreciate her, who laughs and smiles everyday because she’s surrounded by kindhearted people who care, who wakes up with a spider by her head and doesn’t panic but catches it and releases it outside, a girl who became a sponge wanting to soak up every song, every fact about the camp activities and traditions.

And most of all, thanks to Rockbrook, I became a girl who found her very own spirit fire that she had no idea she carried. It burns brighter than ever now. So thank you Rockbrook!”

Thank you, Nisha!