Gleefully Chilled and Thrilled

Camp muffin snack break

Don’t be surprised if your daughter is far more interested in baked goods when she gets home from camp. Rockbrook has that effect on people, campers and staff members alike, because we enjoy freshly baked muffins, cookies, cakes and other desserts on a daily basis. There’s a full time baker (actually 4 that work in shifts) keeping our giant mixer and convection oven working first thing in the morning and long into the afternoon. The most sought-after item from the bakery has to be the muffins we serve every morning between the first and second activity periods. Sarah invented the idea of “Muffin Break” years ago thinking the girls would enjoy a morning snack to help keep up the active pace of camp. She also thought it would be fun to vary the flavors and make each day a surprise. The bakers enjoy inventing crazy flavors as well as repeating classics. One day it’s pumpkin chocolate chip, and the next it’s raspberry swirl, strawberries and cream, confetti, or oreo (yes, with half an oreo cookie poking out the top!). Word about the flavor spreads fast around camp when the muffins are ready each morning, and you can count on everyone swinging by the dining hall porch to grab one.

Sliding Rock Children

Let’s take all the Middlers (5th and 6th graders) and their counselors to Sliding Rock. Like rafting, this has become one of the signature trips for Rockbrook girls, something they look forward to every year. Tonight our crew of more than 100 people, including all the staff members and lifeguards, took over the rock for the evening, sliding two-by-two down the 60-foot natural water slide formed by Looking Glass Creek. And these Middlers loved it! Slide after slide, wide-mouthed screams, cheers of encouragement from friends, and satisfied smiles proved how something this simple (no batteries required!) can be this fun.  As others in the south struggle with summer heat, these girls were gleefully chilled and thrilled with this classic mountain experience.  With no complex agenda and only the fading daylight to limit us, I think most girls were able to slide 3 or 4 times before we gathered everyone for the short ride to Dolly’s Dairy Bar, our final stop of the trip. Of course the girls look forward to this too, a cup or cone of “the best ice cream in the world!” as one girl declared it. Whether it’s “Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion” or one of the other camp flavors, a frozen sweet treat after riding down a freezing waterfall, is ironically exactly right. Add to it a few dozen friends, and that shared experience creates something uniquely powerful.

It’s certainly worth repeating, but this unique power is another example of why camp is great for kids. The thrill of sliding down the rock is certainly active outdoor fun, but it’s also exceptionally educational, helping to build confidence, independence and social skills. Surrounded by friends, the girls pull each other along experiencing more as a community than they otherwise would. They’re learning to communicate, to consider others with kindness and generosity at heart, and to contribute to the larger group. Spending time in this kind of encouraging community, one focused on positive relationships and appreciative of nature and diversity, is inspiring for children. There’s curiosity, wonder and joy to be discovered and celebrated each day at camp. Ordinary school experiences don’t easily provide this kind of core learning, so more than ever, camp is a critical supplement for our growing children.

We take this educational responsibility seriously at Rockbrook, training our staff and strengthening our camp culture to encourage this kind of growth for our girls. Thank you for sharing them with us, and helping them help us make this experience so meaningful for everyone.

Tennis Camp Children

Two Awesome Surprises

Biltmore Farms dairy trucks

Among the many surprises at Rockbrook, the tradition known as the “Biltmore Train” has to be an all-time favorite. The tradition started years ago (before widespread refrigeration) when dairy products were delivered to camp from the Biltmore Estate’s Farm. On a regular basis, trucks from Asheville would make the trip to Brevard to keep camp supplied. Once a session, the Biltmore dairy truck would pull up to camp, and the girls would indulge in the sugary goodness of an ice cream cone on a hot day.

biltmore Dairy truack at Rockbrook
dolly's trolley at rockbrook camp

As the need for regular milk deliveries declined, the Biltmore Dairy closed (now it’s a winery and tourist destination), but both the ice cream tradition at camp and the name have carried on.

In recent years,”Biltmore Train” meant counselors would line up with tubs of ice cream, ready to serve hundreds of scoops to a long line of wide-eyed campers. At some point, a new tradition arose where the girls could finish the ice cream in their cone, and then get back in line to get a second scoop. As long as the cone survived and wasn’t eaten, they could continue to get refills of ice cream. With each trip through the line, the cone disintegrates making it impossible to get another scoop, but girls can end up with four or even five scoops if they are strategic (Don’t worry; the scoops aren’t all that big!). At the very least, it’s fun to get a second scoop and sample a different flavor.

This summer, we’re switching things up and returning the tradition to its roots, but with a fun twist. Dolly’s Dairy Bar, our favorite ice cream shop in Brevard, now has a food truck, an ice cream truck, that can arrive anywhere ready to serve up to 30 tubs of ice cream— the “Dolly’s Trolley.” So today, for the first time, our Biltmore Train was the Dolly’s Trolley serving the campers right under the same maple tree where the original Biltmore Dairy trucks served ice cream. It’s always a treat to have Dolly’s ice cream, but to eat it in the sunshine of the Rockbrook hill is even better.  Super cool!

Tonight’s optional twilight activity was a high-octane, hilariously messy, shaving cream fight and slip-n-slide. The call was to meet at the landsports field dressed in swimsuits and ready to smear. As the girls arrived, we handed each a large can of plain shaving cream pointing them to the grass where the “fight” would take place. After about five minutes, 50 children were eagerly spraying, wiping and racing wildly after each other. Ten minutes later, another 50 had joined in and we had shaving cream everywhere!  And while there were mostly Juniors and Middlers joining the slippery white commotion, there were plenty of Seniors too, enjoying the chance to style each other’s hair and pose for group photographs.  The slip-n-slide became popular after there was no more shaving cream to squirt. Two by two the girls hurled themselves down the gently sloping hill covered with a sheet of plastic. Already slippery from the foam, all we needed was a little spray of water to make a surprisingly fast ride. As some girls slid, others continued to mess around with their shaving cream, everyone laughing and having a blast.

Two awesome surprises in one day— the Biltmore Train and a shaving cream fight.  This must be Rockbrook!

Shaving cream in girls' hair

Cabin Day Smiles

This afternoon we happily cast aside our regular schedule for activities to give each cabin group a chance to do something together. Ordinarily, campers select their daily activities individually, scattering all the members of a cabin according to their personal preferences. It’s possible to do things with cabin mates, go swimming or zip lining for example, but it’s also common to have a totally different activity schedule from the other girls in your cabin.  Our “Cabin Day,” which happens on Wednesday afternoons, reverses that.  Each cabin group sticks together, and with assistance from its counselors, plans a whole-cabin activity of some sort.

Spa face mask funny kids

Our two cabins of Juniors banded together to enjoy a unique “Spa” experience at the Carrier House, the childhood home of Rockbrook’s founder, Nancy Carrier, and now the house where Jeff and Sarah Carter live with their family. With Sarah, the Junior counselors, and the camp moms all helping, the campers rotated through four different stations. One made “slime” using white school glue, borax and food coloring. I think the idea was that the slime was “good for your skin.” Another station involved a huge array of nail polish. Multicolored manicures and pedicures for all! The third station involved facials of a sticky “mud mask.” Sarah gave tours of the house for the fourth station, explaining some of the interesting history of Rockbrook along the way. All four stations took place simultaneously giving the girls plenty to do, giggle and smile about.

dyed hands from girls tie dyeing t-shirts

The Middler cabins branched in all sorts of directions for their cabin day. One made pottery and then took on the challenge of making ice cream using ziplock bags, salt and ice to freeze the cream. Another cabin went down to the garden to pick flowers and make individual bouquets. One cabin got particularly messy making tie-dye t-shirts. An adventurous cabin packed a few snacks and headed off to Rockbrook Falls hiking and when they returned switched gears and decorated tote bags. Probably the most impressive project hatched from a cabin who wanted to thank some of the non-cabin staff members at camp, like the kitchen folks, office workers, nurses and maintenance staff. They designed a “Compliment Board,” a bulletin board where campers could post compliments for these staff members. It was a sweet thoughtful gesture!

teen girls dressed for bowling

Finally, the Seniors switched things up completely. The entire Senior Line dressed up in wacky costumes (of course!) and went bowling! They had a great time inventing silly bowling techniques, singing along to the jukebox, and posing for photographs. Cheers erupted with every strike, and dance moves with every gutter ball. To cap off the evening, we made a stop at Dolly’s Dairy bar so everyone could sample their favorite flavor of ice cream. It’s always an exciting event to visit Dolly’s. After finishing their cones, the girls tonight sang all of the senior songs flamboyantly entertaining the other Dolly’s customers. It’s quite a sight, our group of zany, costumed, ice-cream-sugar-charged girls singing together. You can’t help but smile seeing so many people having such a great time.

Pottery Glazing Girls

An Inviting Waterfall

North Carolina Sliding Rock


Here in the “Land of Waterfalls,” as this part of western North Carolina is sometimes called, there are almost 250 named waterfalls to be found. It’s the area’s steep mountains and rocky geology, combined (ordinarily!) with plenty of rain, that create these falls from the broad network of streams and creeks that drain into the French Broad River. Rockbrook itself is an example of this, as Dunns Creek flows down through the property forming several cascading waterfalls, including “Rockbrook Falls,” a popular hiking destination for the campers.

Beyond the beauty of these waterfalls, many of them are spectacular places to play. Even the largest of them, like High Falls in the Dupont State Forest for example, have bubbling pools of water at their base, perfect spots for a daring swim. Stepping into the water below a waterfall is intense. It’s loud and you feel a definite spray thrown out as the water crashes down. Plus, our mountain streams are always chilly, as everyone at Rockbrook knows after swimming in our lake.

Sliding Rock North Carolina Campers
Pair of Sliding Rock girls

Probably the best example of an inviting waterfall is Sliding Rock in the Pisgah National Forest. This is an area where Looking Glass Creek glides over a steep, sloping rock for about 60 feet, ending with a short drop into a pool at the bottom. It’s a unique mountain water slide. Over the years, as the area has become well known, the Forest Service has organized it, charging a fee, providing parking, lifeguards and first aid services during the busy summer months. It’s a very popular place among visitors to western North Carolina.

We love it too, even to the point, in fact, of bringing all of the Middlers and Seniors to Sliding Rock each and every session. Tonight it was time for the entire Middler line, plus all their counselors to take a trip to the rock. That meant marshaling 70 campers, 21 counselors, 3 lifeguards, 3 vans, 3 buses, an SUV, 2 camp directors, and 2 additional bus drivers. We had quite an army of RBC enthusiasm, when we arrived around 7pm, which by the way is after it is officially closed. This is the best time to bring a group this large because we can avoid the typical daytime crowds, have our own lifeguards, and spend more time sliding.

Sliding Rock Girls
Sliding Rock Celebration

The experience of sliding down the rock is exhilarating. The ride itself thrills everyone— feeling the shock of the cold water on your back as you sit down at the top, the disorienting bump and spin as you accelerate toward to splash awaiting at the bottom, plunging deep into the pool for a moment before popping up to see the smiling lifeguards nearby ready to help you swim to the edge and climb out of the water. Each slide takes a few seconds, giving the girls plenty of time to scream, wide-eyed, clutching each other even tighter before hitting the pool below. I heard a couple of girls take a breath mid-scream, mid-slide, and scream a second time before holding their nose and squinting their eyes tight before their splash landing. All around there are friends cheering each other on, clapping and singing camp songs while they wait their turn to slide. The entire evening was filled with laughter, shrieks of delight, and voices of encouragement. There was time for the girls to slide multiple times, but as it grew darker and lips turned bluer, we knew it was time to dry off and roll down the hill to our final stop of the evening.

Dolly’s Dairy Bar! You might think that swimming in 58 degree water, ending up chilled and wet, would discourage girls from enjoying ice cream, but that would be wrong. These girls were psyched to order their favorite of Dolly’s unique “camp flavors” of ice cream: “Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion,” “Soar Super Storm” or “Wayfarer Overload,” for example. I think they have almost 60 different flavors in all, and they are delicious! Now mostly warmed up, we had a great time signing songs while enjoying our cones. By the way, Dolly’s will be open on our Closing Day next week… yes, even that early in the morning. You might want to plan on stopping. 😀

Dolly's Ice Cream Stand

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

Giddy with Wet Hair

Kayak Camp Roll Clinic

When you squish yourself into a colorful plastic kayak and seal yourself inside the boat by snapping a rubber, elastic skirt over the cockpit opening, like 16 or so Rockbrook girls did this morning, the boat feels like it’s part of you, making it fun to maneuver through the water. Using a double-bladed paddle, the girls can turn their boats quickly. In moving water though, when currents and obstacles can surprise you, these boats can suddenly tip over. At that point, a kayaker can slip out of her boat by tucking forward and pulling a loop on her spray skirt, performing a so called “wet exit.” There is a more advanced self rescue technique, however, called an “eskimo roll” where the kayaker stays in the boat. Rolling a kayak takes some practice to learn, so today Jamie, Leland and Andria, our kayaking instructors taught a “roll clinic” to girls at the lake. They demonstrated the coordinated series of actions a roll requires— tuck, set, sweep, snap, and lean —head, hips, shoulders and paddle all working together. Then, working one-on-one, they helped each camper learn the technique. Later, several Seniors proudly let me know that they “got their roll” and they were excited to get out on the river tomorrow.

Forest Marker Shoes

Also this morning, Jayne and Hunter led a group of girls on a hike to one of the highest points east of the Mississippi River, Black Balsam Knob (6214 ft) and Tennent Mountain (6040 ft). With a lunch packed, they left Rockbrook (2300 ft) and drove up and up, through misty clouds, to the Blue Ridge Parkway where the Art Loeb trail crosses near the road. This is way up there, high above most of the trees in the area, and even above the clouds filling the valleys below. This photo shows a US Geological Survey Bench Mark, indicating a point where the elevation has been measured and recorded (as well as the variety of footwear that can tackle this kind of high altitude hiking!). This was a great trip, exposing the girls to a uniquely stark, natural environment. The feeling being up there is amazing and everyone loved the impressive view.

For our afternoon cabin day (when individual activities are paused, so each cabin group can do something special together), we gathered all the Middlers and the Mini Session Seniors for a picnic dinner in the Pisgah Forest, and a stop at Sliding Rock. Ready in swim suits, we drove to our favorite picnic area and had hotdogs, homemade coleslaw, potato chips and fruit. We ate quickly— we’re always building appetites here at camp! —and then ran around a bit playing tag games before loading all the buses again for the short trip to “the Rock.”

Sliding Rock Girls Camp
Sliding Rock Summer Camp

Sliding Rock is formed by Looking Glass Creek as it cascades over a 60-foot dome of rock ending in a deep pool at the bottom. It’s our habit to visit Sliding Rock after the area is officially closed to the public, but because we have a Forest Service permit that requires us to be self-sufficient with respect to first aid and lifeguards, we are permitted to slide after hours. This is great because, like tonight, we often have the place to ourselves and our mob of girls (82 of them this time) can enjoy more slide time. Visiting Sliding Rock is also our habit because the girls absolutely love it. It’s the roar of the “freezing” water as it spills down the rock. It’s the piercing screams of the girls as they take turns slipping, spinning and sliding down. It’s watching your friends splash and swim at the bottom. It’s all just super fun.

To top off the outing, we made one more stop— Dolly’s Dairy Bar. Everyone screamed (again!) with excitement when we pulled into the parking lot. With “Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion” and other “Camp Flavors” on the menu, as well as more traditional flavors to chose from, it was simple for everyone to order a sweet treat they liked. Once again, when the Rockbrook girls arrived and everyone had their cup or cone, Dolly’s became quite a party. With this many girls, it doesn’t take long for them to start singing songs, laughing, and posing for silly photos. Back in the buses, still giddy with wet hair and probably a smudge of ice cream on a face or two, we were soon back at camp, happy to warm up and turn in for the evening.

Girls Summer Camp

Lifelong Inspiration

Camp Weaving Kid

The many looms of the Curosty cabin are starting to really warm up as the girls spend more time weaving. Both the table-top and large floor looms all have completed work on them now. Our master weaver Melanie, who serves as the Fiber Arts Program supervisor at Warren Wilson College during the school year, has been teaching the girls several different geometric patterns that are created by lifting groups of warp fibers as the weft is passed between them. This geometry, added to carefully selected colors for the yarns and thread used, magically creates beautiful cloth. Of course, part of the fun is watching the pattern emerge with each added row. Weaving is an example of a specialty activity that’s not ordinarily taught to kids nowadays, but despite being “traditional,” is still very cool because it’s truly creative, deeply satisfying, and for some, a craft that can become a lifelong hobby. In our 19th-century log cabin in the woods, your Rockbrook girls are experiencing firsthand something that may inspire them for years to come.

Kayaker Kid Camp

Whitewater kayaking is really catching on around here as well, with more and more girls choosing to paddle during one of their activity periods. Jamie, Leland and Andria are happily teaching more and more girls about how fun it can be. After an orientation to the equipment and how to use it (properly fitting a PFD, paddle, and spray skirt, for example), the girls first learn how to slip out of their kayaks if they flip over upside-down. It’s a simple technique called a “wet exit” that involves tucking forward, pulling a loop on the spray skirt, and pushing out of the boat. Most girls pick it up right away, and move on to learning how to maneuver the boat in the water. This morning Leland and Jamie taught girls the next, and more advanced skill in kayaking, the “eskimo roll,” which is a technique that uses the kayaking paddle to roll up-right when a kayaker tips over. This takes practice to learn, but with this kind of enthusiasm from the girls, we’ll soon have some popping right up. Like weaving, kayaking can be a source of lifelong inspiration for these girls.

Color Tag Game Girls

This afternoon was “Cabin Day,” a time when we pause our regular activities to give the campers a chance to do something with their cabin as a group. This could mean making a special treat in the dining hall like homemade ice cream, going for a hike to one of the waterfalls on the camp property, having flip flop races in the creek by Curosty, having a squirt gun battle, or playing another group game of some sort. Today, for example, one of the Middler cabins played a wild game of “Color Tag.” This game is messy. It’s a complicated contest involving colorful (and washable!) paint, little sacks of flour, and enough open grassy space to charge around trying to splash paint on the other players. As you can see, the flour is also thrown, eventually, proudly marking everyone.  While not necessarily something we’d recommend trying at home, this is good camp fun.

Meanwhile, all of the seniors in camp, plus their counselors, took a trip into the Pisgah National Forest for a supper picnic and visit to the famous Sliding Rock. Grilled hotdogs and all the trimmings… plus Watermelon! …made an excellent meal high up at one of our favorite grassy spots in the forest. We played a group game of “I’m a Rockbrook Girl” —which is a bit like musical chairs, only played with shoes— before loading up the six buses and making it to the rock.

Sliding Rock Camp Kids
Dolly's Camp Kids

Sliding Rock is a natural water slide formed by Looking Glass creek as it rolls about 60 feet over a smooth rock and then plunges into a deep pool at the bottom. It’s been an attraction for years, and a perpetual favorite of Rockbrook girls. There’s really nothing quite like it. The crashing roar of the cold water, combined with the piercing screams of the girls sliding down, makes it intensely fun. The girls plunge into the water at the bottom, and pop up wide-eyed and intent on swimming as fast as possible toward the waiting lifeguards. The thrill for some campers becomes addictive, and soon we had a few girls heading back up to slide again and again.

Perhaps the highlight of the night for everyone, though, was our last stop: Dolly’s Dairy Bar. With dozens of (54 to be exact!) unique flavors to choose from, including “Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion,” it didn’t take long for everyone to be holding sweet cups and cones of what some campers call “the best ice cream in the world.” Ice cream after the chill of Sliding Rock? Sure! It’s just that good. And that fun— to be out at night, happily away from the ordinary, and surrounded by your friends. It’s easy to see why it’s great.

Hands in the Real World

Paging through the Rockbrook photo gallery, it’s quickly obvious that our girls are extraordinarily crafty. In the Curosty Cabin, one end of the dining hall (“Hodge Podge”), Hobby Nook Cabin, the two pottery studios and several of the porches around camp, we’re being creative and making things. It might be with fibers or clay, and it might require a brush or a loom, but dozens of girls have arts and crafts projects in the works.

Camp Bracelet Girl
Kid Weaving Loom Camp
Camp Shirt Painting

Throughout every day, in other words, Rockbrook girls are working with their hands. They’re twisting (friendship bracelets), braiding (basket reeds), tying (and dying t-shirts), painting (still life compositions), rolling (coils of clay), gluing (paper collages), sewing (stuffed animals), and weaving (loom fabrics). Here, take a look:

This is great stuff for several reasons. Working creatively with different materials like this encourages kids to experiment, try unusual combinations, and “see what happens.” There’s a joyful attitude toward the process and the end result. Also, though, I think there’s a benefit from simply working with real stuff, as opposed to what modern life ordinarily requires from us, namely a daily experience built upon abstract constructions and virtual representations (think about all those screens!). Perhaps, as we’ve lost our “manual competence” (recalling Matthew Crawford’s argument), we’ve also diminished a basic satisfaction of being human, the feeling of making something useful and beautiful. If so, then camp is a welcome return, making all the arts and crafts at Rockbrook concrete opportunities for girls to be creative while recalling the deep pleasures of interacting with the real world.

Summer Camp Kayaker Girl
Girl Gaga Game

This photo shows a few girls playing Ga-ga Ball in our octagonal Ga-ga pit located near the gym. If you haven’t heard of it, this game is all the rage. It’s essentially a form of dodgeball (sometimes called “Israeli Dodgeball”) where players hit a small ball with their hands instead of catching & throwing it. Any number of girls can play, and the goal is to hit other players in the leg without being hit yourself. It’s fast paced, as the ball flies around the pit bouncing off the walls, girls jump wildly out of the way, and players who are hit hop out of the pit. Like other forms of dodgeball, the game continues until one player remains. At that point, of course, everyone hops right back in the pit to start another game. During free times at camp, before lunch and dinner, for example, you can count on a crowd down at the Ga-ga pit.

Our head kayaking instructors, Leland and Andria, have been working with lots of girls at the lake preparing them for river trips. In addition to learning about the gear, the girls are practicing basic kayaking techniques like how to “wet exit” (escape the boat when it flips), and different paddle strokes to maneuver the boats. They are very excited to master these basics and were even more so to sign up for the trip to the Tuckaseegee River today or the Green River tomorrow. These girls can kayak!

Sliding Rock Kids
Dolly's Ice Cream

Later this afternoon, for our Cabin Day activity, all the Middlers and their counselors took a ride into the Pisgah Forest for a picnic up near the Blue Ridge Parkway. We brought hot dogs (and grilled veggie dogs), pasta salad, fruit and potato chips to eat for dinner, and afterwards spent a little time digesting by playing a huge game of “I’m a Rockbrook Girl” on the grassy field. This name game was even more fun tonight with a group this size (almost 90 campers and staff members).  Our next stop took us to Sliding Rock, where the girls had a blast zipping down the 60ft, natural water slide. As you might guess the water of Looking Glass Creek that forms the slide is a “refreshing” mountain temperature (i.e. really cold!), so part of the fun is belting out a scream to match the intensity of sitting down in that water. Just about everyone was daring enough to take the plunge, and some went down 6 or 7 times in all. Very exciting fun… but there was one more stop to top things off— Dolly’s Dairy Bar. With their combination “Camp Flavors” like “Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion” and traditional ice cream flavors, Dolly’s offers a sweet treat for everyone’s taste. The girls happily lined up to select their flavor and then, after that first yummy lick, enjoyed sitting and chatting with one another on the porch or at the tables nearby. When Rockbrook arrives at Dolly’s, like tonight with our big group, it becomes quite a party with the girls singing songs, laughing and posing for photos. Now dark outside and our hair still wet, but happy and excited, we loaded up the buses and headed back to camp finishing an excellent outing.