It’s not everyday that you wake up to the sounds of horse hoof beats outside your window and shouts of “The British are Coming! Wake up! Wake up!” But today is the 4th of July, and at camp odd things are always possible, and that’s exactly what happened this morning. It’s been a tradition for years at Rockbrook for the equestrian staff to dress up a few horses and ride through camp waking up the girls on the 4th of July. Shouting about the British coming is a reference to Paul Revere’s ride, of course (even though it happened in April of 1775, not the 4th of July, and there’s some doubt about him yelling that phrase!). Still dressed in their PJs, the girls and their counselors next assembled on the hill for the Hi-Ups to raise the flag, and lead everyone in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and singing America the Beautiful.
If we could make it red, white and blue today, we did! Table directions, streamers in the dining hall, hats and headbands, beaded necklaces, our clothing, temporary tattoos, even some of the food we ate, like the amazing baked dessert cake with white icing, blueberries and strawberries— nothing was completely immune to the embellishment this kind of patriotic spirit inspires. Likewise, there wasn’t a meal all day that we didn’t sing something like Yankee Doodle Dandy, God Bless America, Firecracker, and You’re a Grand Old Flag, as well as the normal raucous Rockbrook songs.
On ordinary Wednesdays campers pause their regular activity schedule and stick together as cabin groups for more group-oriented fun- something we call “Cabin Day.” It being the 4th of July today, we decided to offer a dozen or so special activities cabin groups could select all over camp. We threw beanbags through the RBC corn hole games, tossed water balloons, made tie-dye t-shirts, played bingo to win funny red white and blue prizes, made “puppy chow” for a snack in the dining hall, opened the gym for a game of volleyball, and of course swam in the lake. One cabin took white t-shirts and splattered each other with red, blue and green paint, decorating the shirts (and themselves!) with splats and blobs of color. A little messy, but definitely a lot of fun. We had popsicles for everyone at one activity station and cool, sweet watermelon at another. A particularly unusual treat, following yet another Rockbrook tradition, was when the girls discovered a stockpile of sodas chilling in the creek. Such busy good fun for the 4th of July!
After dinner, which was a classic meal of hotdogs with all the fixings, french fries, homemade coleslaw, and more watermelon, the mini session campers dressed in their uniforms for a closing campfire. Like our full session “Spirit Fire,” this is time for more traditional songs, reflections upon our time together at camp, and simply another moment to grow closer as a community. It can be a little sad for some campers as they grapple with having to end their session and say goodbye tomorrow morning, but it’s also really meaningful to them, following all the Rockbrook girls in the past who closed their sessions in this way. Singing quietly, lit candle in hand and standing shoulder to shoulder around the lake, it’s a very special experience.
The day’s finale was a fireworks display launched over our lake. The whole camp gathered, crazy creek chairs in hand, on the grassy hill overlooking the lake for a perfect view of the colorful explosions. We have a license and permit to shoot more powerful fireworks, so the 35 minute show was pretty impressive. Blast after blast kept the girls cheering, and spontaneously singing even more of their favorite Rockbrook songs.
Sometimes parents will ask if it’s strange for our girls to be at camp during the 4th of July. Well, as you can see, we have a great time together. With all of these friends around, all of these fun things to do together, and all these surprises and treats provided, how could it be any better?