An Abundance of Fairies

Fairy House made from natural materials at summer camp

One of the traditional songs we sing at Rockbrook is “In the Heart of a Wooded Mountain,” the title of which has become one of the phrases we use to refer to Rockbrook. Generations of girls, and now alumnae of the camp, understand this phrase intuitively after living among the old trees, moss and lichen covered rocks, and steep hills of this protected place. Another phrase from this song refers to Rockbrook as a “Fairyland of Beauty.” Here too, experiencing the splendor of camp, really feeling the wonder of its natural setting, is just magical. It’s the kind of place where friendly woodland fairies would live and do their work, making everything come alive with color, pattern and texture. With some imagination and free time to explore the woods, both of which are more than abundant around here, you can see evidence of fairies all over camp. It’s natural then for girls to help the many Rockbrook fairies by building them houses. Tucked into little corners by tree stumps, or perhaps under a broad fern frond, campers construct their fairy houses using special enchanted sticks, leaves, moss, and stones. It’s a delicate, and quite intentional process, but today the Rockbrook fairies gained two new luxury apartments thanks to a couple of juniors.

Camp Water Slide girl

Blue sunny skies and warm 80-degree temperatures made our morning activities just delightful, particularly after yesterday’s morning rain. The equestriennes were back in the rings learning to post, the archery and riflery markswomen were adding to their target scores, and the Alpine Tower climbers were back on belay all morning long. High above, cabin groups of Juniors were taking their first ride on the RBC Zip Line, screaming and waving their arms with glee all along the 450-foot ride. At the lake, it was a parade of water sliders hurling themselves down “Big Samantha,” as our slide is affectionately, though informally, known. Leaps off the diving board, swimming laps to join the “Mermaid Club,” or just splashing around in a floating tube, were just right for others at the lake.

Elsewhere in camp, the Hodge Podge craft activity girls were making some serious headbands using pom-poms, ribbons, sparkly beads, feathers and gel pens. Were they practical, utilitarian head bands? Probably not, but colorful and fun? Absolutely! In the dance studio, set in the Lakeview lodge, girls were leaping and twirling across the hardwood floor practicing their dance moves, resting now and then for further instruction. Over in the shade of the back porch of the Curosty cabin, other girls were knitting, some with traditional knitting needles and others using the hoop-shaped “Nifty Knitters.” After selecting their favorite color of yard, it didn’t take long for these girls to learn the basic stitches needed to see a satisfying fabric of woven yarn emerge.

Camp girls smile going down sliding rock

Tonight we set another record when 120 people from Rockbrook picnicked in the Forest, slid down Sliding Rock, and invaded Dolly’s Ice Cream stand. The group was that large because we took all of the Middlers and Mini session Seniors, plus all of their counselors. Seven buses and five cars were needed to transport everyone, so it was quite a mob. A group this size, while making it louder and a little more rowdy, definitely made it more fun too. The enthusiasm for sliding down the rock, feeling the deep-down chill of mountain water splashing up your back, energized the whole scene as did the everyone’s screams and yelps. Four or five slides later and a short drive down the hill, we all made a stop at Dolly’s Dairy Bar for a yummy cup or cone of their custom “camp” flavors of ice cream like “Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion,” “Slick Rock Rumble,” or “Music Camp Obsession.” Any of the campers will tell you (and probably will when they see you!), “Dolly’s has the best ice cream ever!” You may have to stop by when you pick up your daughter from camp… 🙂

Ice Cream Eating Children

Fun and Formative

Camper girl kayaking clinic

For quite a while now we’ve talked about how Rockbrook is “a place for girls to grow,” how a sleepaway camp experience can be so instrumental in the lives of young girls, helping them socially, personally, and even physically. Being at Rockbrook is plenty of fun, of course, but it’s also formative in really important ways. Here’s an article we published back in February about how camp helps children grow.

The adventure activities at Rockbrook provide a good example of this. They are ideally suited to providing the right balance of challenge and success, in an active, friendly and supportive context. They are just right for inspiring campers and fostering their self-confidence and social skills. Take today’s kayaking trip down the French Broad River. The girls handled the rapids, stuck together as a group encouraging each other, and conquered the technical aspects of catching eddies, ferrying, and reading the river. There were international campers on the trip too (Belgium and Russia), giving the girls even more chances to learn from each other. Getting out of camp for a river trip like this is often a highlight of a girl’s camp experience, perhaps because it’s a more focused moment where she can feel good about her abilities and relationships. Or, perhaps it’s just a good time!

Camper Fairy House

Our traditional Rockbrook “camp song” includes this line— The rosy mist of the morning, Veil it anew at dawn, Like a fairyland of beauty, Where friendships so true are born. This line is inspired by the notion that Rockbrook is a “fairyland of beauty,” that all of its natural beauty, the mosses, rocks, creeks, ferns and wildflowers for example, are the work of fairies. All of us at Rockbrook, being in this “wonder-full” place, can easily imagine friendly spirits working their magic all around us. This photo shows a “fairy house” a few of the girls have built near hiker’s rock. Gathering leaves, sticks, moss and other found bits of nature, they’ve been building several of these houses. Some have bathtubs, beds and even a set of “monkey bars” and a swing! Others were made mostly of rocks and colorful pebbles.  What fun to search the woods with your friends for special, enchanted fairy house building materials!  And, what a nice surprise to turn the corner in camp and encounter one of these special creations.

Girls dressed up for camp event

For dinner tonight Rick made us a feast of baked tilapia, roasted red potatoes, steamed broccoli (along with our salad bars of fresh fruits and veggies), along with Alison’s homemade brownies for dessert. After dinner, Jane (who by the way is majoring in fine art photography at The Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, DC) grabbed the camera and announced an impromptu twilight activity for the girls: a silly glamor photo shoot. She encouraged folks to just dress up and come out to the hill to get their picture taken. Dressed in true Rockbrook spirit (i.e. super silly) mostly the Juniors got excited about the idea, and Jane captured a bunch of really great shots.