A Complete Blast

camp craft cabin interior
Camp fiber arts craft projects
Camp girls weaving on floor loom

One of the most historic buildings at Rockbrook is the log cabin named Curosty. Mrs. Carrier, Rockbrook’s founder, moved it to camp, along with another cabin named “Goodwill,” from the plantation where she was born in South Carolina. Both cabins easily predate her birth in 1889. They are authentic log buildings constructed from 12-inch thick logs set on a low stone foundation and equipped with a stone fireplace and chimney on one end. The Curosty cabin has a wooden porch jutting off the back, and the Goodwill cabin has a stone porch running along its front. Curosty briefly served as an office for the camp, but it soon became the home of one of the original craft activities: weaving. As you can see from these photos, this is still true today. A visitor can peek into Curosty at anytime, and there will be table-top and floor looms clicking away. Nowadays, the girls are doing other kinds of weaving, as this project board shows: Latch Hook, lanyard, and basket weaving for example.  Their projects include making belts, purses, bookmarks, potholders, sock dolls, dream catchers, pillows, yarn dolls, and “ojos de dios” (eyes of god)… All from many strands of colorful yarns twisted and tied, carefully intertwined and looped over and under each other. There are some very beautiful things being made.

Camp color run girl

In a community of all-girls, it can be fun sometimes to get a little messy. Tonight’s evening program gave us exactly that opportunity when we set up a “Color Run” to the gym. This was a crazy event where the campers ran (jogged actually) through a gauntlet-like row of counselors throwing different colors of non-toxic, washable, powdered paint. A few counselors squirted the campers with water guns to start off, so the paint stuck in very cool tie-dye-like patterns on the their shirts, shorts, arms and legs. The girls added colorful face paint to decorate themselves even more outrageously. For those campers not interested in getting this messy, there was also a “dry run” path down to gym.

There, our friend and local DJ Marcus had his light show and sound system set up for a fantastic color dance party. We had glow sticks and more glow paint to make the whole event even more brilliant. For the next 2 hours, we all had a great time dancing and jumping around, posing for silly photos, laughing and singing along to the pumping pop music, Only the occasional pause for a drink of water slowed us down.

And these girls know how to dance!  Maybe with no boys around and feeling more at ease generally, we had campers and counselors really working up a sweat. Here again, we have all these girls enjoying the freedom to be themselves, and experiencing first-hand, that doing so is a complete blast!

Camp color light dancing

A Community of Fun

Girl and horse at equestrian camp

This is a time of camp when everyone seems to be settled in. After only these few days together we’re singing the songs louder and more confidently, taking on higher level activity challenges, and most importantly, happily greeting so many more new friends we see around camp. That’s the really cool thing; you can feel the whole community growing closer and caring for each other. And of course, knowing this many people this well, we all are having even more fun. There’s a friend around every corner, someone waiting to join you in whatever the next thing is. “Let’s go get changed for horseback riding!”

young camp girl learning to knit

One of the oldest buildings at Rockbrook is a 19th century log cabin called Curosty. Originally constructed in nearby, Rockbrook’s founder Nancy Carrier moved it here to serve initially as the camp’s office. Now it houses our fiber arts activities. Inside you’ll find girls learning to weave using all kinds of looms and techniques. They are weaving narrow belts and headbands on tabletop looms, wider and more complex fabrics on the floor looms, and simple designs on lap looms… All surrounded by the hand-hewed timbers of this 150-year-old cabin. On the back porch of Curosty, in the shade of the oaks and hemlocks and nearby a gurgling creek, our Needlecraft activity meets. This is another wonderful opportunity for our campers to step back in time and learn classic needlework crafts like knitting, cross stitch, and embroidery. Working with colorful threads and yarns, the girls are threading, twisting and knotting strands into beautiful designs. Different from some of the more physically active, thrilling activities, stepping into Curosty is calm and conversational.

Campers-dressed counselors

Guess what happens when you let eight 2nd graders dress you in anything they want. That’s right; it can be pretty crazy, and that’s exactly what the Junior Line girls did tonight to their counselors.  For their evening program, and with all sorts of costume props at their disposal, the girls didn’t hold back as they added multiple layers and accessories. Hats, scarves, sunglasses, tiaras, dresses and skirts- nothing seemed out of bounds. The finale was a wild fashion show in the Junior Lodge, which had everyone rolling with laughter. It’s great for the girls to see their counselors be such good sports, throwing themselves into all this silliness, just letting go and enjoying themselves no matter who might be watching. After all, that’s exactly what “having fun” often means.

Also tonight all the Middlers and their counselors took a trip into the Pisgah Forest for a picnic dinner. Rick and his crew packed us yummy Burritos, chips and fruit to eat, and after a short drive we had the whole crew (92 people in all!) skipping and frolicking through the grass of our favorite secret spot. Back in the buses, we then headed to Sliding Rock for a few trips down the rock. A rain shower from earlier in the day had swollen the creek a bit, making it a slightly faster ride, but it had also warmed up the water temperature a bit (though I suspect the girls didn’t really notice!). Sliding Rock is a real mountain treat, and is something Rockbrook campers have enjoyed for generations. Finally, we made a stop at the famous “Dolly’s Dairy Bar,” located at the entrance to the forest. Everyone picked out their favorite flavor for a cup or cone, like “Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion,” to top off the evening.

Happy Girl Loving Camp
This is awesome!!

Basket Weaving at Rockbrook

Basket Weaving at Rockbrook Camp
Campers gather at the creek to work on baskets circa 1970

One of the traditional mountain crafts that is still taught at Rockbrook today is basketweaving.  Curosty, our weaving and basketry center, has been the home of this mountain activity since Rockbrook’s founding in 1921.  With its location right next to the creek, it is the ideal sight to learn this ancient art.  Campers soak their reeds (dried grass) in the creek for several hours until the reed is soft and pliable.  Then they are able to weave them together to make baskets of all shapes and sizes.  For the younger campers we provide a weaving base which helps them to arrange their reeds in the proper order.  It is quite a special moment when all of your weaving efforts pay off and you have a functional art piece, handmade at Rockbrook!

woven basket from summer camp
The finished product!

The Art of Weaving at Rockbrook

Fiber arts have long been a popular activity at Rockbrook Camp
Weaving Class at Rockbrook Camp, 1930

Arts and crafts has been an important part of the program at Rockbrook since it’s founding in 1921.  Giving girls the chance to express themselves creatively, the crafts program features many specialties such as jewelry making, pottery and painting.

A favorite creative outlet at Rockbrook is weaving on the loom.  Weaving takes place as part of the “Curosty” activity.  Curosty (a regional term for “know-how”) is the home of our fiber arts classes which include weaving, basketry, knitting, cross stitch, and needlepoint.  The class takes place in our 19th century log cabin which can be seen in the photo above.

In a catalog from the 1930’s Curosty is described as: “a place where the lore of the mountains is preserved in the indigenous craft of weaving.”  In the 1920’s the creative outlets were also considered important to young women as they would “help make their homes more attractive.”  Although the roles of young women have changed a lot since the 1920’s, the creative outlets still give the campers the chance to express themselves creatively and expand their skills in a multitude of outlets.

Click here for more about our current craft program which still features weaving on the very same looms from the 1930’s!

Scoubidou, Boondoggle, Gimp

Boondoggle Lanyard

What is a gimp? Originating in France and popular even today at summer camps worldwide, it’s what we call a lanyard. Did you know that “Scoubidou” (pronounced in your best french accent) is its original name? They’re called “Scoubies” for short, and can refer to either the colorful plastic strands used or the final project of repeated knots. Sometimes, when the material is braided, it is called a “Boondoggle,” a name that appears to have come from the boy scouts and their tradition of braiding a ring of leather straps to hold a neckerchief.

At camp, this traditional arts activity is insanely popular. You can see it everywhere.

This lanyard material is also referred to as “Gimp,” following the name for twisted treads (usually silk, cotton or wool) used as decorative trimming on dresses. Our familiar lanyards have quite a history!

The world record for the longest Scoubidou (Boondoggle, Gimp, Lanyard) is held by Manuela Dos Santos of Brancourt, France. On November 11, 2008, she finished her Scoubi— 1,673 feet and 2 inches! An amazing project. It makes us wonder if the strands she used were single long pieces or sections tied together.

Want to learn more? Check out these links:
Basic Lanyard patterns
Fun Scoubidou projects
Cool Boondoggle videos