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.
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.
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.
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.