This session, an old Rockbrook tradition has resurfaced at camp. Campers from all age groups get the chance to express their creative selves and sharpen their reporting skills when they write for The Toilet Paper, Rockbrook’s self-published newspaper.
“So, what’s with the name?” I’m sure you’re wondering. As a camper, I remember The Toilet Paper getting taped up to the back of each bathroom stall door. Another Rockbrook gal who went to camp in the 80s told me she remembers the same thing being called “The Wall Stall.” So, even if the name has changed over the years, the concept remains!
The paper is largely a result of the resurgence of “PhoJo” (Photography/Journalism) as a club at camp. Coming to PhoJo is a fantastic way to spend a free swim. The favorite activity is a pass along story, where campers all sit in a circle and each write a story for one minute. Then they pass their paper around the circle, and everyone adds to each other’s tales until your original paper is returned to you–though now with some twists and turns you probably didn’t anticipate.
Reporting on camp events is also a great way to meet new people.In meetings, we go over the best ways to conduct an interview and some sample questions to ask. Rockbrook reporters can write about all camp events, such as an update on a specific activity or special theme day, or share a funny experience from their cabin with the whole camp. In the last edition, some Juniors reported on a frog that appeared in their cabin and startled their counselor! Campers gain confidence among their peers as their stories get read and discussed by the all the girls at camp, including the directors!
We can’t wait to see what shows up in the next edition, coming soon to a deducky near you!
Sometimes you have to get a little messy to feel this good. Like tonight after dinner when we had a shaving cream fight down on the landsports field. Chase announced the optional event in the dining hall, and from the cheering it was clear we would have plenty of girls ready to romp about with the slippery white foam.
The point of a shaving cream fight is simple— spray the contents of your can both on others and on yourself. Then run around smearing, wiping and rubbing the shaving cream into everyone’s hair, on their backs, and ultimately everywhere. Beyond that, the goal is to have fun, be silly and enjoy the mess of it all. It’s as simple as that.
There are no teams, and this is not a competition where we pick a winner at the end like some games. So it’s not much of a “fight” really. It’s more cooperative since it’s just as much fun to be attacked as it is to splatter others. Part of the fun is surprising someone, sneaking up to them and planting a blob right on their back, shoulder or leg… as you race away grinning, and secretly hoping, but also looking out for, someone who will do the same to you. No score: just the fun of playing the game.
And it’s absolutely hilarious! Once the spraying begins, you can’t hear anything except shrieks of delight and laughter. We all (yes, counselors and directors too!) quickly begin to look pretty funny, our hair sticking up, with white beards and mustaches, if not completely foamy.
A shaving cream fight feels liberating too. It’s a little mischievous and outrageous, but still sanctioned, even celebrated at camp. It’s a harmless way to go a little crazy, while at the same time laugh and play with your friends.
What to learn from a shaving cream fight? I’m not sure, but I’d say it’s a wonderful way to experience uninhibited joy, a deep feeling that in our ordinary lives too often struggles to find expression. At camp though, it’s pretty easy; we find it everyday.
If you spent any time watching YouTube in the early Spring of 2013, you probably saw several examples of groups doing the “Harlem Shake.” But, you may not know that the second session girls at Rockbrook made their own version of the video.
You can see the video embedded in this blog post, but here is a photo of the event that is great fun.
Click the photo to expand it, and check out all those amazing costumes! These camp girls know how to have a blast.
Just before lunch, for about an hour, our daily schedule includes a period we call “First Free Swim.” It’s a time when Chrissy, our waterfront director, and her team of lifeguards open the lake for anyone who would like to come down for a dip. This can be quite a few campers and counselors, so Chrissy stations extra guards and adds additional “Lookouts” to watch every part of the lake. During this time, we also open our 50ft water slide (affectionately known as “Big Samantha”) for those brave enough to climb the tower and hurtle themselves down the slick ride into the lake. Today, while the slide was open, some girls did tricks off the diving board and others simply wanted to float on a tube, relaxing in the sun. Lots of girls swam laps too, trying to reach the number needed to join the “Mermaid Club.”
“First Free Swim” is also simply a block of free time for the girls, a time when they might choose to go swimming, but just as frequently do something else. They might sit and read in the shade of the walnut tree on the hill, work on a friendship bracelet perched high in a red porch rocking chair, meet at the tennis courts to hit a few balls, race flip flops down the creek, play a quick game of tetherball, or perhaps plan to take a shower. And these are just a few of the options… There’s a “Rockbrook Runners” club, the “Green Team,” play practice, hunting for the Rockbrook Gnome, re-checking your mailbox, and of course, just hanging out talking with your friends. What’s important though, is that we have multiple times (there also a “Second Free Swim” period before dinner, and “Twilight” after dinner) built into our schedule when the girls have the freedom to choose what they would like to do. Different from their busy schedules at home, their extensive commitments and expectations associated with school, life at Rockbrook provides time for our girls to pursue their own interests, to set their own pace, and to enjoy this kind of independence. It’s a little strange for children to have this kind of freedom— after all, we adults are constantly telling them what to do —but these Rockbrook girls handle it quite well. They easily stay busy and happily engaged. They love being empowered in this way. In the end, being given this freedom is another boost, experienced firsthand, to their self-confidence.
In both the riflery and archery activities, we’ve got girls with a serious look in their (one) eye. With this many days of experience banked, with this many bullets and arrows successfully striking their targets, these girls are really becoming great shots! They’re pulling back their bows and loading their rifles with resolute confidence. They’ve mastered being steady, and honed their powers of concentration. For some of the girls, this is serious business because they know that next week Rockbrook will challenges the boys of Camp Carolina in a Riflery, Archery and Tennis tournament. We’ve held this match each session for decades, and no matter what the outcome of the contest, it’s always great fun for the girls to show off their skills.
It’s also a tradition for the girls of Rockbrook to attend a dance with one of the local camps for boys. Earlier in the summer we danced with the boys of Camp High Rocks, but tonight we held an event with Camp Carolina. Actually we teamed up to hold two events, a dance for the younger boys and girls at Rockbrook, and another for the older teenagers at Carolina. This allows us to play more age appropriate music and to reduce the number of children at one venue. The girls anticipated having the dance and were excited to wear a special outfit or crazy costume. One girl dressed as a pumpkin, another a crayon, and another a clown. Several girls wore tie-dye t-shirts and shorts, but in every case this was a time to clean up a bit.
At Rockbrook, our favorite local DJ, Marcus, played current pop songs and plenty of group dance numbers (The Cha Cha Slide, for example) making it easy for everyone to join in the dancing. Overall, the dancing was pretty silly, with lots of jumping to reach one hand in the air. The thrill isn’t particularly about individual dance moves or polished displays, but instead is derived from the whole group, crowded together, hopping and hustling simultaneously. As each familiar song was played, the girls screamed and sang along, having an absolutely fantastic time. Also— and this was surprisingly true for most of the teenagers as well as the younger girls —the dance wasn’t much about the boys. It was rather another chance to dress up (silly or not), laugh and act a little crazy, be together with friends, and have a really great time. These girls know how to do all of this, and it’s impressive!
Going around camp today, visiting the different activity areas, you could tell that the girls have really settled in and begun to make camp “a place of their own.” That’s a phrase from the Rockbrook Camp mission statement. It’s an attempt to summarize one of the real values of a camp experience for young girls, and it’s part of the magic of why campers love their camp. The ingredients are simple: really good people who are eager to make friends, broad opportunities to be creative, sporty, and adventurous, and a caring environment where everyone can relax and be themselves. Combine these with the girls making their own activity selections, having plenty of free time to enjoy the wonderful natural beauty of Rockbrook, and simply enjoying time with their friends, and we have something special, something very different from home and school (where parents and teachers call most of the shots), and something truly their own. This is their camp and they love it.
Of course, at camp a big group of girls can get pretty goofy and really let their silly side come out. Singing crazy songs outrageously loud in the dining hall, dressing up in a costumes for dinner, and making up skits with cabin mates are quite ordinarily part of the fun around here. This photo of an evening program cabin skit shows a little of that. Each cabin group is given a topic and challenged to come up with a group skit that they’ll perform for the rest of the age group in their lodge. It can involve singing, dancing, acting and audience participation, but whatever it is, the funnier it is, the better. A lot of the fun is working together to create the skit, as well as performing it for your friends.
This afternoon we had our Wednesday “Cabin Day.” This is a special day when after a morning of regular activity time (where the girls follow their individual activity selections), each cabin group sticks together for some special group event. Today, cabin groups were hiking to Rockbrook Falls and Castle Rock, building campfires to make S’mores, playing games in the gym and on the landsports field, cooling of by playing in the creek, and even making smoothies with the help of the kitchen. The mini session senior cabins took a trip to Sliding Rock, had a picnic and capped everything off with a stop at Dolly’s for a sweet treat. Dinner was some of Rick’s homemade fried chicken and warm yeast rolls. Good stuff. On cabin day, there’s always a lot going on!
Oh! I forgot to mention the muffins today… White Chocolate Raspberry. They were awesome!
Here’s an interesting article that caught our eye over at the Christian Science Monitor, “Mom to Dad: ‘Think Jimmy’s Doing O.K. at Camp?'” It’s a short piece written by Dave Horn about his time as an overnight camp counselor in the 60s. While parents today have online photo galleries and blogs to see how their children are doing at camp, he notes just a few years ago there were only letters. Parents had to mostly wonder and wait to find out about their camper’s camp experience.
But what if the campers didn’t write home much? After all, they’re having too much fun to stop and write a letter. Camps helped by asking the camper’s counselors to write quick notes to parents, reassuring them that all is well at camp (a tradition Rockbrook still follows). To help his young campers even more, Dave Horn turned this letter writing into a game. He had each camper take turns playing the “boss” and dictating a letter home. The camper would sit down and recite what he wanted to tell his parents and Dave would type it out on his portable typewriter. In this case, 1960s technology helping kids communicate from overnight camp.
I wonder if he mentioned hula hooping in your bathrobe? 🙂