Robbie Francis of Go Swan Filmworks (and Rockbrook dad!) has returned this summer to film and edit more of his occasional highlights videos. Each video provides a fascinating 2-minute glimpse into life at camp, the buzz of activity, and the sweet friendships blossoming all around us.
Here is Robbie’s first video for the third session. Take a couple of minutes to watch. We think you’ll really enjoy it.
Robbie Francis of Go Swan Filmworks (and Rockbrook dad!) has returned this summer to film and present a series of his excellent highlights videos for us.
This is the fourth year Robbie has been making these occasional videos at Rockbrook, much to everyone’s delight. It’s amazing how he can convey the sweet interactions and overall feeling of camp life in just under two minutes.
Robbie filmed earlier this week and now we have his first video for the second session. Take a look and enjoy. It’s great fun to watch.
It’s been the most phenomenal session. The campers, both the seasoned, multi-year returning girls and the first-timers, took everything that makes up camp and elevated it to become one of the most joyful, supportive, friendly groups I’ve ever seen. How they sang songs in the dining hall, how they strolled together between activities, how they laughed and smiled watching each cabin’s skits during evening program —this was clear in these, and so many other ways.
Tonight during the closing campfire ceremony, what we refer to as the “Spirit Fire,” we saw the special character of community these girls and the staff have formed while at camp. As the girls gathered around the campfire, dressed in their white uniforms, they huddled close to each other, many with arms around, or their head resting on, the nearby shoulder. When they stood to speak about their time at camp this session, we heard girls express gratitude for the people they’ve come to know and love at Rockbrook. One marveled at how fulfilled she feels at camp, just by “being here.” A staff member said she felt lucky to have found Rockbrook, a place of such “authentic caring.”
Alternating between these reflections on the session and singing traditional camp songs, the program became increasingly emotional. Several girls sniffled, but when others had trouble stifling their crying, the melancholy mood was contagious and soon it was difficult to hear over the sobs and gentle weeping. I was reminded of the saying often attributed to A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” When something is this good, it’s just sad when is has to come to an end.
Cherishing the memories, saving the craft projects, and collecting the photographs from the session can help a little, as can staying in touch with their camp friends, but the feeling of camp will have to wait until next summer. Thank you everyone for being a part of Rockbrook. You are what makes it special, all of you, all of us, together. How lucky we are!
It’s hard to believe it, but our 2018 summer season has come to a close. After our glorious though short time together, it’s now time for everyone at camp, all these great girls, to say farewell to Rockbrook for another year.
It’s really been an amazing summer, one that I think everyone will remember fondly. We could try to measure it by counting rounds of ammunition shot at riflery, pounds of clay shaped into pottery vessels, or muffins consumed during our mid-morning break. But adding up the materials of camp seems superfluous. We could look at the Mermaid laps swum in the lake, horses ridden, or trips down the Nantahala River rafting, but that too would be an inadequate measure. Looking at all the friendship bracelets tied on wrists, or the songs sung in the dining hall together, or the skits performed as cabin groups, gets us a little closer because they represent the friendships formed and strengthened while at camp.
It might be tempting to list special events— the exuberance of the shaving cream fight, the support and talent performed in the “Wizard of Oz” production, or the joyful celebration of the “Expedition Earth” banquet. We could point to accomplishments like being in the bullseye club for archery, winning the mop award, or climbing all three sides of the Alpine Tower. Camp could be understood as a success for all these reasons too, but there’s a deeper sense that we’ve all experienced something very special this summer.
All of these details are part of the answer, but I think the campers and staff members alike will mostly remember their camp days this summer by how they felt while here. It’s not what we did each day, but how we felt while doing it that has made this summer special.
It simply felt really good to be this active outside each day. It was a relief to find all these great girls who immediately accepted and encouraged our true selves. We felt more confident and competent with each daily moment of success. We felt truly connected to the people around us. We felt happy exploring the creative, sporty and silly sides of our personality. We experienced moments of pristine beauty and wonder in this lovely natural environment. We reveled in the constant current of friendship that buoyed everything at camp. Away from the habits of home, absent the pressures of school, given meaningful freedom, our camp days were inherently satisfying, rich with opportunities for new experience.
Our camp life this summer was amazing for all these reasons. So as we say farewell to camp for now, we’re sad to leave our friends and the good feelings that energized our days. We’re sad that the special way we feel at camp has to end until we can return next year.
Meanwhile, we can be thankful. Thanks to everyone for being the great girls of Rockbrook, contributing your love, energy and care to making camp life this wonderful. Thanks to everyone!
As the mini session girls spent their last day at camp, and the full session girls are now into the deep beauty of their camp experiences, the greatest gift of camp was felt strongly throughout the day: friendship. Girls spent the day making each other friendship bracelets, reflecting on the best moments of camp so far, and for some, made a few more wonderful memories before camp was over.
I was struck how entire cabins of girls who had met each other just a week and a half ago have become best friends. Cabins have formed beautiful identities, some counting themselves off to the Seven Dwarves from Snow White, others sporting French braids all throughout camp. Some cabins respond to role calls with inside jokes, then laugh about how they are all in on it. However the cabin expresses it, special bonds have formed and each girl has an important role in her cabin. A lot of girls arrive to this point in camp and say things like, “I can’t believe I only just met you,” or “I am just so glad our paths crossed.” Behold the magic of camp.
This closeness was celebrated today because today was Cabin Day! For Cabin Day, we do not go to our third and fourth activities, but instead, plan something fun to do as a cabin. For mini session girls, this was a great time to reflect on a wonderful and meaningful session. One junior cabin used the time to paint fairy houses and put compliments from friends inside of them. Another group tried to build rafts that could float on the lake! Some cabins spent the time scrapbooking and making compliment jars to be read on the drive home—memories that could last the year. Another cabin had a special day at Hogwarts with Butterbeer (cream soda and ice cream), a sorting ceremony, and brooms for Quidditch. I saw a group of middlers going around the world—they decorated shirts in Paris for Fashion Week, had a safari in Africa (near the Alpine Tower), and finally went on a hike to the Costa Rican Rainforest (Rockbrook Falls) for an end to a perfect journey. Everyone had a great time as they bonded with their cabins.
After Cabin Day, the fun just kept going. To celebrate Rockbrook’s birthday, we had a birthday party! The dining hall was decorated with old camp pictures from every decade camp has existed. The high-ups painted posters and decorated tables with tattoos that read, “HBD, RBC,” (Happy Birthday, Rockbrook Camp). Music from every decade played over the speakers, and we had a lot of fun dancing to songs we don’t usually dance to, like ‘The Twist’ and ‘In the Mood.’ Sarah Carter informed us that July 6 was actually the date that camp opened, so it could not have been more perfect to be celebrating tonight! It made us all reflect on how many stories Rockbrook really holds. All of the girls who have called this camp home have found friends, have their own favorite spots, have their own stories and special memories that have gotten us to where we are now. It is special to be a part of something bigger than we are.
Following dinner, full session campers signed up for activities and attended evening program as usual, excited to stay in the mountains and continue growing their friendships. Mini session campers gathered together at the Spirit Fire and reflected on the session as a group. Spirit fire is a tradition as old as the camp itself. It is a time to sing old camp songs, and a time for every line to speak about their love of camp. The speeches last night were particularly moving. Some girls talked about the peace they felt when they were at camp, some talked about a true sense of home. All mentioned the friendships they had cultivated in such a short amount of time, and how special camp friends are. As we walked around the lake holding candles lit from the spirit fire, most girls needed to get their candles relit. There is a proverb that suggests “a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle,” and as I saw girls leaning over to their friends and asking for some more light, I realized that this was the true purpose of coming to camp. At camp, we light each others’ candles every day through kind words and small deeds. Our entire life becomes simplified, and somehow, we understand that this is all we really need.
So the mini session girls will leave tomorrow. They will carry with them the beautiful memories and some of the sweetest friendships imaginable. Hopefully, they will keep in touch throughout the year and find ways to carry the light from their candles into their lives at home. The full session girls will continue to grow in their friendships and continue to live their camp lives to the fullest without taking a day for granted. Though some of our friends will leave tomorrow, there is a collective sense of gratitude for the friendship in the first place. As one girl at Spirit Fire remarked, “Camp friends are the best friends.”
What do Emma Roberts, Lisa Loeb, Blair Underwood, Frank Sesno, Ashlan Gorse, and Lisa Raye have in common? They all believe who they are today is, at least partly, because of camp. Take a look.
It’s hard to predict how children will benefit from the experience of summer camp, but there is overwhelming evidence that they do. The American Camp Association has studied this, and written about it, and now produced this great video illustrating what real people feel about camp. It’s heartwarming to see that camp can be such a powerful force in the lives of adults, and exciting to know today’s children have the same opportunity.
Here’s a group photo of our recent slide show at the Buxton’s home in Charleston, SC. We had such a great time visiting with the current girls attending camp and their friends interested in becoming Rockbrook girls.
Charleston has been, and continues to be a core town where Rockbrook Girls live.