Limbo at the Lake

girls at rockbrook camp

It was a joy today to welcome our June Mini session campers to Rockbrook. As the girls arrived throughout the morning, it seemed like everyone was excited: the wide-eyed anticipation of the new campers, the enthusiasm of returning campers to see their friends, and the welcoming spirit of the full-session girls already here. With the jumping mob of counselors dressing in their red staff uniform shirts and the bright sunshine of the morning, the whole scene was festive and fun. We jumped right into our swim demonstrations for the arriving girls while the current campers rotated through a few choice activities.

During the all-camp assembly on the hill, it became clear how welcoming and community-minded these Rockbrook girls are. In minutes, the whole camp was singing the line songs, laughing at the counselor skits, and cheering for cabins that won the “mop awards.” New and returning, full- and mini-session, young and old, everyone was happily contributing to the Rockbrook Spirit. These are really great girls, friendly and encouraging. They’re definitely going to have a lot of fun together this session.

water bucket dunking machinegirl holding watermelon near the lakecamp girl doing limboThe big event of the day brought everyone together for a Polynesian Luau, a dress-up lake party, for games, snacks, crafts, music and dancing.

Chase, our Program Director, planned more than a dozen different activities for the girls, and enlisted the Hi-Ups and senior girls to help with each station. This was a brilliant way for the older girls to have fun at the event, take on a little responsibility, and interact with the younger campers. They all had on great costumes too— grass hula skirts, Hawaiian shirts, lei necklaces, face painting and hats.

The games included a version of bowling were the girls rolled real coconuts toward a set of empty tin cans. There was a beanbag tossing game akin to skee-ball that won a prize for anyone who racked up enough points. The youngest girls could “fish” for prizes using a clothespin on the end of string and pole. The prizes for these games were small lollypops, and some RBC sunglasses, stickers, and jump ropes.

The funniest event was the “bucket dunk” set up at the edge of the lake.  Combined with a corn hole game, the girls took turns tossing a beanbag toward the corn hole for a chance to pull the dunking string. If they made it, they got to soak someone sitting below the bucket of water. There was no shortage of volunteers to sit in the chair, and plenty of girls to play the game as bucket after bucket was dumped to the cheers of everyone watching.

In the lake, teams of four girls challenged other teams to swim a greased watermelon back and forth between two points. There was cheering from all sides as each swimmer pushed their fruit along, briefly losing it under water until it floated up for another slippery nudge. Nearby, a long line of girls looped around under a horizontal bar doing the limbo. As the bar was lowered and it became more difficult to slide under with their backs toward the ground, only a few girls remained.

The more crafty girls gravitated to the “grass” skirts being made from colorful ribbons, and the table where they were decorating headbands with flowers they made from tissue paper and string.

Meanwhile, everyone enjoyed playing with the many beach balls and hula hoops, as they snacked on fresh fruit kabobs (pineapple, grapes, watermelon, and cantaloupe) and unlimited snow cones. The Luau and beach-themed music kept everyone dancing in the warm afternoon sun.

Our camp photographs Karin, Abby and Hannah captured most of the event, so be sure to visit the online photo gallery too see more.  You’ll get a sense of how much the girls really had a blast with each other.

campers first day at rockbrook

Active Creative Fun

Small Camp Girls


It’s been an amazing few weather days, with everyone surprised by how cool it’s been. If you’ve been checking the Rockbrook Weather Station, you know what I mean. For example, this morning it was a chilly 51 degrees (!), which means overnight we had perfect sleeping weather (in our open-air cabins), and in the morning everyone layered up with sweat shirts, long pants, and in some cases hats. The humidity has also been unusually low, so as the day warmed into the 70s with clear blue skies, it felt wonderful to be outside. It didn’t take long for the girls to shed their layers and enjoy the sunshine as they romped about the camp for their activities.

Camp Twin Day Costumes

So many twins! Not actual twins (mostly, since we do have a few sets of biological twins at camp right now), but costumed twins could be spotted around camp today, since, yes, it was “Twin Day.” We love costumes at Rockbrook, and tend to take any chance we can to dress up, to put on something— and the wackier the better —that’s out of the ordinary. There’s something inherently fun about taking on a different character, perhaps completely changing your hair (neon purple!), wearing a shiny black cape, or even changing your accent (Arrrrh, pirates!). It’s good fun to dress up, but more importantly, it’s active creative fun, and not some kind of passive entertainment. There’s no recipe or formula for how to make your twin costume; you and your friend have to decide. Same shirt, shorts, glasses? What about hairstyle? And since our dress up days at camp are always open to the whole group, there’s both a performance element, and a sense of pride that comes from presenting your costume creativity to everyone else. In this way, participating in a group costume event like Twin Day provides a real boost to our (admittedly zany) community.  When we’re into it, it brings us together. It can be a little disconcerting to see two girls wearing lab coats playing tetherball before lunch, but you can’t help but smile at the sight.

While girls were trotting with horses, zipping high among the trees, and tying t-shirts for dye in camp, about 60 middlers and seniors spent part of the day in Swain County rafting the Nantahala River.

Camp Rafting kids
Nantahala Kids Rafting

The Nantahala has been ranked as the best class II whitewater river in the southeast because it offers both incredible scenery as it passes through a steep, forested gorge, and a perfect mix of whitewater rapids, calm stretches, and an exciting class II+ drop for a finale. Back in the early 1980s the US Forest service awarded Rockbrook a permit to raft the Nantahala, and since that time we are one of the very few camps to do so with its own equipment and guides.  Over the years, taking a whitewater rafting trip has become an extremely popular adventure outing for Rockbrook girls.  There’s no additional charge and we offer the trip to everyone who is old enough to go (that’s a limit placed on us by the Forest Service): the middlers and seniors. One camper explained to me that this was her fourth time down the river— every year she’s come to camp —and it’s more fun every time. “Best trip ever!” One of the defining features of the Nantahala, and I’m sure you’ll hear about this from your daughter if you ask her about rafting, is the temperature of the water. Thanks to the frigid bottom-of-the-lake water released into the river by the Duke Energy hydroelectric project, falling into the 50-degree river is an unforgettable, wide-eyed, breath-taking experience. Toward the end of the 2-hour trip, it’s a safe bet that most toes are numb. Of course, there’s a thrilling rapid around each bend of the river, and a boat of laughing, singing friends to keep the whole trip exciting and fun.

Back at camp, our evening program tonight was an all-camp special event down in the gym, and as you might guess, we turned on the costumes again, this time to the theme, “When I grow Up.” This is a brilliantly conceived costume theme that can accommodate the conventional (I saw a doctor or two, a “professional equestrienne,” and a soldier, for example.) as well as the imaginative, like a shark trainer, a unicorn princess, or a food fairy. All of the costumes were resourceful, mostly eclectic and certainly colorful.

Summer Camp Game Show
Camper Gameshow Contestant

The event was a goofy spin-off from the popular game show “Family Feud.” For us it was more like “Cabin Feud” where groups of girls from each Line (age group) attempted to guess the most common answers to questions like: What’s a fruit that has lots of seeds? Or, What’s a sport that does not involve a ball? Or, What do teenagers like to do when they’re bored? Counselors knew the top 7 answers to each question and as team members correctly guessed answers, the team earned points. Meanwhile the audience rooted for their friends, shouted helpful suggestions, and had a great time following the competition. Each winning cabin (per age group) would receive a delicious-looking cookie cake trophy, so the audience went wild with enthusiastic cheering whenever a group won a round. It was a fun spirited evening celebrating our collective creativity.

Girls Camp Relaxing

A Magical Day

“Stupefy!” “Expecto Patronum!” “Petrificus Totalus!”

And so began The Wizarding World of Rockbrook Camp, or the day when camp magically turned into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry! After lunch, campers returned to their cabins, and for Harry Potter fans, their dreams came true: their acceptance letter to Hogwarts (finally) arrived! They were witches and were invited to spend the afternoon taking classes along with the rest of their house. Each girl was sorted by cabin into one of the Hogwarts Houses: Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin.

We made our way to potions first, and we mixed phoenix tears with unicorn hair and put it in a vile to save for later. Theme music from the Harry Potter movies blasted in the background, setting the tone and putting us all more in the spirit.

After learning so much in our potions class, we headed down to our Common Room where we drank butterbeer and spent time preparing our uniforms (coloring ties) and listening to Hogwarts History (reading the Harry Potter books). It was a relaxing way to spend time before the next part of our adventure.

We then meandered down to the gym where we took part in important adventures such as rescuing Dobby (clothing relay), Quidditch practice, and walking like a spider. The cabins competed against each other and saved the day every time!

Following our adventures, it was time for another class. We went to Wandmaking where wands chose us and then we spruced them up with paint and a nice handle. Then, a charms professor taught us a few spells, and we practiced them on each other. First, we practiced unfreezing people who had been subject to “petrificus totalus” (by making them laugh) and then we practiced the rest of the spells with a rock-paper-scissors type game.

Afterwards, we looked up and we heard voices of distress—it was Harry Potter flying across the sky (on the zipline) as Voldemort was chasing him! They came down to where the campers were sitting on the hill and dueled—Harry Potter won and we all cheered!

It was then time to attend dinner in The Great Hall. With lightning scars (tattoos), floating candles (posters) and owls overhead (bird cages), we enjoyed a feast. While we were eating, we sorted each other into houses based on cards on each table that listed the personality qualities of each house. We also talked about what patronus (spirit animal) would protect us. The entire day had felt magical, and it continued through announcements when Sarah Carter (filling in for Professor Dumbledore) warned us not to go to the third floor corridor or into the Forbidden Forest.

For evening program, the seniors had a different kind of magical experience: it was coffee house! Coffee house is basically open mic night. With a crackling fire in the background and rich hot chocolate in hand, the girls watched their friends perform. Some girls performed songs like “Those Magic Changes” from Grease, “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse and “Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae. Everyone sang along with songs like “Riptide” and “A Thousand Years.” Other girls performed poems, some that they had written themselves.

My favorite part about coffee house is the amount of support that each girl who performs receives. The entire line cheers for each girl with the bravery to go up and share their talents. Cabins shout, “She’s from Cabin 5!” and girls stand on the benches, giving wild applause, after their friends perform. Counselors begin to tear up as they are so proud of their campers’ performances and talents. The combination of talent, support, and warmth makes coffee house an unforgettable evening that somehow epitomizes the magic of camp for teenagers. In every way imaginable, today was a truly magical day. We were transported into a different world, but also remembered to be grateful for the camp world we have the privilege to be a part of.

The Power of Costumes

Camp Counselor CostumeCamp Director CostumeDon’t underestimate the power of a costume. It can be as simple as a hat or a carefully draped sheet, or as elaborate as a full-body pumpkin suit or complete ninja attire. Putting on something out of the ordinary— and the sillier the better —can be transformative. It can give you permission to express an aspect of your personality that’s ordinarily muted. Or, it can be a chance to experiment with a completely different character, like a pirate for example. A costume can act as a shield of sorts from what we perceive as social expectations. It can be an opportunity to be creative, perform and proudly participate more fully in a group event. Whether it’s changing your hairstyle, carrying a wooden sword all day, or borrowing those sparkly shoes from your cabin mate, for example, wearing a costume is inherently playful, and thereby fun.

Lifeguard Camp CostumeIce Cream OlafThese are the reasons we incorporate costumes into so many of our events at camp. We know that whatever we’re doing, wearing a costume will make it more fun. A good example was the “Winter Wonderland” theme we announced this morning at breakfast. When the campers arrived in the dining hall they found painted banners, decorative snowflakes suspended from the rafters, snow centerpieces on the tables, miniature characters from the movie “Frozen” (like Olaf the snowman), and some winter songs playing. With some inspiration from the counselors who already were dressed up, everyone was encouraged to dress up in any “winter-themed” costume they could imagine.

It was great to see later an ice princess lifeguarding at the lake, a polar bear in the Painting and Drawing class, and a life-sized Olaf snowman shooting archery. There were several girls dressed as snow queens, and for some wearing a snow hat was enough. Throughout the day the girls could make gingerbread houses, and something akin to snow (from corn starch, shaving cream, and glitter). The most popular event was the “Polar Express” ice cream party where the girls could enjoy a round of hand-dipped (thanks counselors!) cones on the hill. A variation on our tradition called the “Biltmore Train,” this party let the girls finish their ice cream, and as long as they still had some cone left, they could return for another scoop. Most of the girls ended up eating two or three scoops before their cone got too soggy. A real summertime treat.

Throughout the day, the costumes seemed to multiply and evolve, as if costume wearing was contagious. The silliness seemed to inspire others to join in, and be part of the fun. Winter-themed stickers appearing at lunch, temporary tattoos at dinner, our winter theme accelerated all day. Even during the “Twilight” drum and dance workshop with Billy Zanski, the girls stayed in costume, pounding the djembes and dancing around the hillside lodge.

Maybe there will be a chance to dress up tomorrow too. Even if we don’t announce a theme, I bet there will be several girls who sport some kind of costume… Just for the fun of it.

Girl Camp Friends

5 Steps to Being Camp Chic

The Complete Look

So you’re coming to camp on Sunday, and you want to know what to pack. The costumes are a given, of course. All the tutus, masks, wigs, and funny hats that you can cram into your trunk will be put to very good use here at camp.

But what about the everyday clothes? Maybe you have been scanning the packing list on our website, trying to determine, among the listings of “7-10 shirts/shorts,” what kind of clothes are actually considered cool at camp.

First of all, don’t worry. You could wear anything—literally, anything—at camp, and no one would bat an eye. A counselor once wore an astronaut helmet for the entirety of dinner, and I never once thought to ask why. The more typical question asked at camp when it comes to fashion is, “Why not?”

Water Bottles: The Vital Accessory

At camp, the fashion rules of the outside world don’t apply. Makeup is only used for clown costumes and such, hair straighteners and curling irons are useless at best in the heat and humidity, and high heels can only ever end in sprained ankles on the gravel roads.

Here, the rules are rewritten to fit our environment—pretty clothes are replaced with functional ones, carefully styled hair is replaced with crazier styles, and traditional jewelry is replaced with colorful, homemade creations that express personality instead of expense. Camp fashion standards leave more room for creativity and originality, and allow campers and counselors to express exactly who they are and look so cool doing it.

Every summer at Rockbrook has its own styles and trends. Sarah Carter told me today about when she was a counselor in the eighties, and everyone wore oversize t-shirts and men’s boxers as shorts. When I was a counselor, it was all about tank tops and bandanas-as-headbands.

So what are the trends this summer? I talked to a ton of counselors and campers today (several of whom you’ll see in pictures) to find out the big ones.

Chacos and Socks

SHOES
Shoes at camp are all about comfort and functionality. Most people wear Chacos, Tevas, or Keens–though one counselor asked me to point out that Crocs, if worn with the right amount of confidence, are still cool. It’s always a good idea to jazz Chacos up a bit with some colorful socks, too, just to keep things interesting. For extra points, make sure to wear your Chacos enough that you can show off a beautiful Chaco tan-line.

Double Dye
Home Made

SHIRTS
Some of the coolest clothes at camp are the ones that you make right here at Rockbrook. Once you make yourself the perfect multi-colored tie-dye, the only logical thing to do is to show it off as much as possible. Also, see if you can convince your counselor to let you make cabin shirts for Cabin Day. A white t-shirt+puffy paint=quality camp fashion. Odds are very good that you’ll go home with a very cool shirt after your session at RBC!

HAIR
Hair trends often take some interesting twists and turns (often literally) at Rockbrook. Through my years here, I have seen Afro wigs, Mohawks (usually for the dances), Kool-Aid tips, and more. This year, the trends have mainly centered around crazy pigtails and cornrows. Braids are always cool at camp–the more complicated the better. But the cornrow trends (and particularly the half-heads of cornrows that I’ve seen wandering around camp, have really taken this to a new level.

Cornrows
Pigtails

ACCESSORIES
As I mentioned earlier, accessories tend to be made here at camp, not bought. Campers often don’t consider their camp session complete until they have wrists full of friendship bracelets, survival bracelets, and paddling achievement bracelets. But the accessorizing doesn’t stop there. Campers love to show off their camp-made duct tape headbands, wallets, picture frames, and more. They can knit themselves hats in Needlecraft, and weave themselves headbands in Curosty. Rare is the camper who goes home without at least one of these stylish creations.

Full Wrists
Headband

THE FLASH-TAT

Flash Tats

This year, the wildcard trend that none of us saw coming was the Flash Tat. These are basically temporary tattoos with a metallic sheen that work way better than regular make-up at making a girl’s face look unique and interesting. In fact, an entire cabin covered their faces with Flash Tats for their Miss RBC dance, and they all looked so incredible!

These are all of the trends that have come to my attention so far this summer, but if you have noticed others in the pictures, or during your camp session, feel free to comment and share!

A Fun Sandwich

Alpine Climbing Kids CampDance Kids CampThere’s news from the climbing staff down at the Alpine Tower, our 50-foot tall climbing tower located in the woods behind the gym. If you rode our bus shuttle on opening day you may have caught a glimpse of it. It’s an impressive structure made from 20-inch diameter treated telephone poles, 14,000 lb aircraft cable, 1/2-inch galvanized bolts, Crosby clamps and 1-inch think nylon ropes… all fastened into a pyramid shape creating 3 sides where girls can climb. There are different routes up each side, some with rope ladders, climbing walls, swinging logs, and all sorts of handholds bolted to the poles. With dozens of ways to climb the tower, some straight forward and others being a tricky challenge, it can satisfy all kinds of climbers. The news is that a few “crazy climbing girls” have climbed to the top using all three sides of the tower and have begun attempting them again while blindfolded. Yes, blindfolded! It might sound impossible to climb without seeing, but these girls can do it, carefully feeling for good holds, making slow progress and trusting their climbing instincts to stand and balance on each foot. It’s amazing to watch!

There are amazing things to watch in the dance studio as well. Located in the Lakeview Lodge, with its stone walls, 4-foot fireplace, and hardwood floor, one end of the studio has a wall of mirrors perfect for rehearsing group choreography. They may not start out completely in sync, but it’s fun for the girls to practice their moves, giggling as they figure things out. The instructors tell me the girls are preparing two different dances that will be part of the musical to be performed at the end of the session. That will be fun to see!

Waterfall Campers HikingCanoe Trip PackingIn addition to the in-camp activities, our out-of-camp adventure trips have been heading out in multiple directions all week. The recent fantastic weather has made the conditions for hiking, rock climbing, kayaking and canoeing just perfect. Here are some of the trips… The kayakers have been to the Green River, the French Broad River, and the Tuckaseegee River so far this week and they are planning to paddle Big Laurel Creek tomorrow. There have been day hikes to the Dupont State Forest to marvel at some of the waterfalls, for example, the Hi-Ups hiking to High Falls to take a swim at the pool of water below. Rock climbers have set up multiple routes on Looking Glass Rock out in Pisgah, spending all day out.

One special outing thrilled a whole cabin of Middlers last night. It was an overnight canoeing trip on a section of the French Broad. They packed tents, food and cooking gear, as well as everyone’s personal belongings (clothes, sleeping bag, etc.) in 8 canoes for the trip. They paddled along the gently moving water, the river bank curving left and right, for about 2 hours to reach a grassy campsite where they pitched their tents, cooked dinner and enjoyed making s’mores around the campfire before heading to bed. The next morning under bright sunny skies (Yay!), after pancakes for breakfast, the crew repacked their boats and paddled a shorter section of the river to the takeout spot. It was an excellent trip.

Meanwhile, the girls back at camp had a chance to bust out (actually re-create by swapping elements) costumes again. For our “Twilight,” that block of free time between dinner and our “Evening Program,” the counselors organized a game that crossed a scavenger hunt with Halloween trick or treating. Wearing their costumes, the campers hunted all over camp for places to find someone handing out treats (stickers, glow sticks, small toys and candies). Groups of wacky, colorful girls had a grand time pausing for photos while they scurried about searching for the next goodie to add to their bags. It was a brief, fun special event sandwiched into another full day at camp.

Halloween Costumes Campers

A Huge 4th

Campers awoken by horses near their cabinsToday, the 4th of July, was an absolutely HUGE day at camp. First of all, I can’t help but mention the weather because it was beautiful— clear blue skies, low humidity, and a high temperature of 79 degrees. It was downright chilly in the morning (about 62 degrees) when we had a very special wake up call. The seven riding staff members, dressed in their best red, white and blue, rode horses up into camp and, on cue, down each of the lines yelling “The British are coming! Wake up! Wake up!” (a reference to Paul Revere’s ride in April of 1775). Awoken by the sounds of hoof beats and these warnings, and dressed in fleeces or wrapped in blankets to stay warm, the whole camp assembled on the hill around the flagpole where the Hi-Ups raised the flag and led us in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and singing “America the Beautiful.”

On a day like this, you know what to wear… anything and everything red, white and blue. Last night a group of counselors stayed up late and decorated the dining hall with streamers, balloons, table decorations and flags. Also a surprise for the campers, we had red, white and blue hats, headbands, temporary tattoos and bead necklaces on the tables for everyone to embellish their own costumes, and boost their patriotic spirit.

Camper dressed for 4th July Camp Girl in Red White Blue USA Flag in Hair of Girl Camper

In the dining hall, for both breakfast and lunch, the girls couldn’t help but further express their enthusiasm for the holiday by singing songs like “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “Firework,” and Yankee Doodle Dandy.” At one point a whole cabin stopped eating to yell “Happy Birthday America!” followed by cheers from everyone else. These girls do have spirit!

Camp girl making a USA basketCamp holding USA flag on ziplineA tour of the camp activities this morning proved this spirit was high everywhere, with patriotic  decorations being more normal than not. For example, at the creek by the Curosty cabin, Melanie and the girls were weaving red, white and blue baskets. Feet soaking in the creek with the reeds and plenty of sunshine brightening the scene, the girls produced some really cool baskets. At the zipline, Rita brought along small flags for the girls to wave as they flew down the cable. Zip after zip, the blur of red, white and blue was spectacular to see. Over in Hodge Podge, the girls were likewise leaning pretty heavily on 4th of July colors for their tie dye t-shirt designs.

Following Rest Hour, we continued this theme with everyone joining in for an afternoon of group relays down on our grassy sports field. We first divided all the campers and counselors, mixing the Lines, into three groups. Each took a color— yes, again red, white or blue —and using tempera body paint and the how they dressed, built a unified team, complete with a rallying chant or cheer.  Split like this, the camp made up three teams of approximately 95 people.

Camper running sponge race Campers running 3-legged race Camper carrying egg on spoon racing

Once assembled on the field, again with simply superb weather, Chase and Grace organized at least a dozen different relay races matching representatives from each team. While 10 or so girls from each team competed in a relay, the others cheered them on. It was exciting to watch classic relays like the 3-legged race, the egg (on a spoon) carry, and the crab walk. We also had teams square off for an egg toss, a water balloon toss, and a cracker eating race. Other groups raced across the field carrying an orange under their chins, and others carrying a water-soaked sponge trying to fill up a bucket.  Interestingly, even though these were races, and it was very exciting for your team to win a particular relay, nobody paid much attention to the overall score. In the end, who “won” seemed irrelevant to the girls. I think they were having too much fun to worry about that sort of thing. Finally, all that racing around warmed us up enough to make the final surprise feel really great. Richie borrowed a fire truck from his Volunteer Fire Department and using the water cannon, created the largest sprinkler you’ve ever seen. He shot a spray of water about 40 feet in the air so the girls could run around and shower off a bit under it.

Cookout food at camp 4th picnicEating cookout picnic on Hill at summer campDinner tonight, taking great advantage of our huge charcoal grill, started with hamburgers, hotdogs and grilled chicken, plus homemade coleslaw, corn on the cob and freshly sliced watermelon loading down our plates. Then, tapping into another camp tradition, the girls also enjoyed a cold soda that was chilled in the stream. The hill in the center of camp makes the perfect place for an evening picnic as it slopes to present a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Topping off the meal, Katie (with some help from the Hi-Ups) made us all patriotic cupcakes— red, white and blue, each with a tiny American Flag stuck in the top. It was such a nice evening together… great food, perfect weather, fun music playing, and so many of our very best friends.

A huge fireworks show at Rockbrook CampCamp girl with statue of LibertyLeah surprised everyone after dinner by dressing up like the Statue of Liberty, complete with a crown, matching green-copper-colored dress and torch. This then led to girls wanting to have their picture taken with our Lady Liberty. It was a spontaneous photo shoot with the Statue of Liberty. And she was so nice! 🙂

As night fell, anticipation grew for our fireworks show, the finale of the day. All the girls and their counselors pulled out crazy creek chairs on the hill so they could have a view of the sky above the lake where we launch everything. Armed with flashlights and glow sticks, and bopping along to the upbeat music Stephanie and Chase had selected, the girls cheered after every colorful blast.

This has been one of the best 4th of July celebrations at camp in recent memory. So great in fact, it’s hard to think of a way that it could have been any better.

 

Happy and Excited

Camp girl makes her pancakeOutdoor Pancake SurpriseOrdinarily at camp the wake up bell rings at 8am giving the girls time to dress and do a few cabin chores before the breakfast bell at 8:30am. Today though, we surprised everyone with a special pancake breakfast held in each Line’s stone lodge. The kitchen gave us a head start by making a few hundred pancakes, but then teams of counselors, armed with griddles and huge bowls of batter, poured and flipped hot pancakes starting around 8. When the breakfast bell rang, the girls went to their lodges and found sausage and pancakes, milk and juice, but also a pancake toppings station loaded with all kinds of yummy sweet syrups, chocolate chips, marshmallow spread, butter, blueberries and cut strawberries. The girls spilled out into the sunshine around the lodges, sat in their crazy creek chairs, or lined up in the red porch rockers chatting while they watched the fog lift from the mountains in the distance. It was a lovely morning, and a big hit with the campers.

Lunch today turned toward the deep south with Rick and his team in the kitchen frying up sliced green tomatoes for everyone to make sandwiches. With a dab of his homemade rémoulade sauce, or a slice of cheese for the truly bold, this made a delicious sandwich. As a side, Rick prepared several pans of summer squash casserole made with a perfect balance of breadcrumbs, fried onions, cheddar cheese and butter. Cut cantaloupe, strawberries and grapes balanced out the table. Of course, the super-stocked salad bars saw plenty of action too, as did the peanut butter and jelly station.

Cabin Toenail PaintingBirthday Cake at CampWhen it’s your birthday at camp, as it was for Frances today, it’s a big deal. Before breakfast begins, the counselors will secretly decorate your cabin’s table with a colorful painted banner— Happy Brithday Frances! —to surprise everyone about your special day.  Then at lunch, we interrupt the meal to carry out one of Katie’s (Rockbrook’s fabulous baker) delicious cakes, highly decorated for the occasion and lit with candles. The whole camp, which is close to 280 people, then sings a big boisterous version of “Happy Birthday” followed by chanting “Tell us when to stop!” Clapping in unison, one clap for each year old, everyone counts out until the birthday girl waves us off at the right number. Also, for birthdays we happily make an exception to our “No Packages” policy, making it even more exciting to receive a few presents from home.  Sharing your birthday (and your cake!) with so many friends, is really a special experience.

This afternoon, as is the case most Wednesdays, we paused our regularly scheduled individual activity periods and enjoyed special all-cabin and whole-line trips. It’s our “Cabin Day” (Have you seen this glossary of camp terms?) Some cabins were having “Paint and Polish Parties” where fingers and toes gained fresh color. Others had letter writing projects, cabin name plaques to paint, or had plans to hike the steep climb up to Castle Rock. The Juniors had a silly costume fashion show in the Hillside Lodge. The photos of that event are hilarious!

Late in the afternoon, all the Middlers and their counselors took a ride into the Forest for a picnic, a few chilly rides down sliding rock, and a frozen ice cream treat at Dolly’s. The girls had a great time playing groups games in the grassy field after our dinner of hotdogs, chips and fruit. The “I’m a Rockbrook Girl” game seemed to be the most popular as it got everyone dashing across the huge circle a group this size (about 85) required. Our timing at sliding rock was again ideal because we found the place deserted, leaving us free to slide as much as we wanted. The water is cold enough, and by now it was late enough, that most girls slid 2 or 3 times, even as a handful braved the plunge 8 times. Good fun. And an extra large scoop of Dolly’s ice cream made the evening complete. A little chilled, but happy and excited to sing on the bus, we made our way back to camp in the dark and called it “another wonderful day” at camp.

Girls Sliding Down the Rock
Cold Mountain Water Slide