Absolute Exuberant Hilarity

Greased Watermelon
Egg Toss Game
Sack Relay Race
Three legged race
Girls eating watermelon

It’s not quite the 4th of July yet, but that has not stopped us from getting ready for the holiday and celebrating it with a good dose of red, white and blue.

If you’ve been following along by reading these blog posts and scanning the daily online photo galleries, it’s clear that we have jam-packed days here at Rockbrook. We’re happily playing, having more muffin-fueled conversations than you can count, and being physically active— swim, climb, ride, run, shoot, flip and zip —all day. After a whole week of intense fun like that, it felt really good this morning to sleep in an extra hour. Everyone seemed to have no trouble relaxing longer and then coming to breakfast in their PJs for a treat of fresh Krispy Kreme doughnuts along with Rick’s egg sandwich fixins’ (English muffins, cheddar cheese, scrambled eggs, and ham) and our yogurt/fruit/granola/cereal bars.

After breakfast everyone dressed in their camp uniforms (white shirt and shorts, with red tie) and assembled on the hill around the flagpole so the Hi-Ups could lead a flag raising ceremony. In two rows, they marched toward the flagpole, raised the flag, led us all in the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of “America the Beautiful.”

The Juniors next led the Chapel assembly on the theme of “Goodwill.” They chose songs like “Lean on Me” and “What a Wonderful World” and took turns speaking about what “goodwill” means to them. They shared stories about when people were especially kind and helpful. Sarah explained why there is a cabin at camp named “Goodwill” (It’s named after the birthplace of Rockbrook’s founder Nancy Carrier, a plantation in SC by the same name).

After rest hour, we held the day’s main event, a fun all-camp relay race: the “White, Blue and Red-bird Olympics.” We randomly assigned all the girls to three multi-aged teams (red, white and blue) and gave each a gallon of washable body paint to “express their team spirit.” You can imagine how that turned out! Each team also came up with a cheer, and a strategy about who would participate in the different group challenges and relays to come.

The relays themselves were classic. At the lake, the teams raced to move a greased watermelon up and back through the water, as other girls tried to ride the waterslide “Big Samantha” as fast as possible. Another group madly soaked sponges and ran to squeeze out the water, filling a nearby bucket. In the gym, after a break for a few slices of watermelon, the girls took turns pairing up for a three-legged-race, the Dizzy Lizzy spinning bat run, and a costume challenge that involved dressing in various costume items, running and then removing the costume for the next member of your team. Another athletic challenge was the sack race held on one of the tennis courts. Using burlap sacks that once contained coffee beans, the girls climbed into the sacks and hopped the width (and back) of a tennis court as fast as possible. Meanwhile, things got a little messy on another court as the teams tossed eggs back and forth, stepping farther apart with each toss. I’d say the winners successfully tossed their eggs about 40 feet. Amazing!

All the groups ended up at the landsports field after their relays, the perfect place for the final event of the afternoon: a giant all-camp shaving cream fight. Cases of shaving cream bottles, dozens of squirt guns, and almost 100 water balloons were distributed across the grassy field. The sound system was queued up with an up-tempo pop song, and suddenly white foam was spraying everywhere. Laughing and shrieking with delight as they sprayed each other, the girls soon had emptied their cans of shaving cream and then went on to style each others’ hair or simply cover themselves completely. You’ve never seen a group of girls, from the 6-year-olds to the biggest teenagers, have this much crazy fun. Absolute exuberant hilarity! And so fun to see, even if it meant getting a handful of shaving cream planted on your back unexpectedly.

Shaving Cream Squirt
Shaving Cream Girl

Nearby, Richie, Rockbrook’s builder and facilities manager, who is also an officer in the local volunteer fire department, stood by with a 600-gallon pumper firetruck ready to provide a welcome shower. When he turned on the hose, spraying warm water high in the air, it took no time for a wet dance party to erupt as the girls cleaned off. It was an exciting way to rinse off before heading back up to their lines for a “proper” shower before dinner.

Shaving Cream Shower

The whole afternoon was the kind of full-on fun we love around here. It was loud and silly, sweaty and messy. It was full of laughter and cheers, girls letting loose, and friends having the best time together. Such good stuff.

Lollipop Moments

by Chrissy Swartz, Waterfront Director

RBC started off our lazy Sunday with a full extra hour of sleep and a special treat of Krispy Kreme donuts for breakfast. The girls came to the dining hall in their pajamas, and then returned to their lines after breakfast to tidy up both their cabins and themselves in preparation for Cabin Inspection and Chapel. Chapel at Rockbrook is always a meaningful experience full of sharing communal values in a supportive, safe place.

Camp ChapelToday’s theme, goodwill, promoted feelings of kindness and awareness towards others, in addition to being the namesake of one of our oldest buildings on the property—the home to our camp library and the activity K.I.T. (Keep In Touch).

Girls from every age group volunteered to share stories and sentimental objects that they believed symbolized goodwill. Many of the stories focused on the idea that a small act of kindness towards someone else can start a domino effect of good deeds. No matter how small an act of goodwilll is, its impact can be monumental.

One counselor shared a story she remembered from a TED Talk, an organization devoted to the spread of ideas in Technology, Entertainment and Design. The video of the talk is below, filmed September 2010 at TEDxToronto. I highly encourage you to watch the short video for the full story. However, I have also included the meat of the transcript below that I felt connected well to our chapel theme. This is the story of lollipop moments.

Drew Dudley: Everyday Leadership [transcript]

I went to a little school called Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. And on my last day there, a girl came up to me and said, “I remember the first time I met you.” And she told me a story that had happened four years earlier. She said, “On the day before I started university, I was in the hotel room with my mom and dad, and I was so scared and so convinced that I couldn’t do this, that I wasn’t ready for university, that I just burst into tears. My mom and dad were amazing. They were like, “We know you’re scared, but let’s just go tomorrow, go to the first day, and if at any point you feel as if you can’t do this, that’s fine; tell us, and we’ll take you home. We love you no matter what.'”

She says, “So I went the next day. I was in line for registration, and I looked around and just knew I couldn’t do it; I wasn’t ready. I knew I had to quit. I made that decision and as soon as I made it, an incredible feeling of peace came over me. I turned to my mom and dad to tell them we needed to go home, and at that moment, you came out of the student union building wearing the stupidest hat I’ve ever seen in my life.”

“It was awesome. And you had a big sign promoting Shinerama,”—which is Students Fighting Cystic Fibrosis, a charity I’ve worked with for years—”And you had a bucket full of lollipops. You were handing the lollipops out to people in line, and talking about Shinerama. All of the sudden, you got to me, and you just stopped. And you stared. It was creepy.”

“Then you looked at the guy next to me, smiled, reached into your bucket, pulled out a lollipop, held it out to him and said, ‘You need to give a lollipop to the beautiful woman next to you.'” She said, “I’ve never seen anyone get more embarrassed faster in my life. He turned beet red, he wouldn’t even look at me. He just kind of held the lollipop out like this.”

“I felt so bad for this dude that I took the lollipop. As soon as I did, you got this incredibly severe look on your face, looked at my mom and dad and said, ‘Look at that! Look at that! First day away from home, and already she’s taking candy from a stranger?!'”

She said, “Everybody lost it. Twenty feet in every direction, everyone started to howl. I know this is cheesy, and I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but in that moment when everyone was laughing, I knew I shouldn’t quit. I knew I was where I was supposed to be; I knew I was home. And I haven’t spoken to you once in the four years since that day. But I heard that you were leaving, and I had to come and tell you you’ve been an incredibly important person in my life. I’m going to miss you. Good luck.”

And she walks away, and I’m flattened. She gets six feet away, turns around, smiles and goes, “You should probably know this, too: I’m still dating that guy, four years later.”

A year and a half after I moved to Toronto, I got an invitation to their wedding.

Here’s the kicker: I don’t remember that. I have no recollection of that moment. I’ve searched my memory banks, because that is funny and I should remember doing it and I don’t. That was such an eye-opening, transformative moment for me, to think that maybe the biggest impact I’d ever had on anyone’s life, a moment that had a woman walk up to a stranger four years later and say, “You’ve been an important person in my life,” was a moment that I didn’t even remember.

How many of you guys have a lollipop moment, a moment where someone said or did something that you feel fundamentally made your life better? All right. How many of you have told that person they did it? See, why not? We celebrate birthdays, where all you have to do is not die for 365 days. Yet we let people who have made our lives better walk around without knowing it. Every single one of you has been the catalyst for a lollipop moment. You’ve made someone’s life better by something you said or did. If you think you haven’t, think of all the hands that didn’t go up when I asked. You’re just one of the people who hasn’t been told.

Rockbrook is full of lollipop moments shared among campers and counselors alike. So many of our values at RBC encourage us to share and support and grow alongside each other while at camp. I truly believe every Rockbrook girl has a lollipop moment in mind when she immediately begs to sign up for next summer as she waves goodbye to this year’s cabinmates and counselors. And I also truly believe that we have all inspired those moments in others, whether we are aware of our impact or not.

It was very fitting that our afternoon culminated in another Rockbrook special event, Miss RBC, which asks each cabin to collaborate on a skit of some sort. Remixes of traditional Rockbrook songs, rewrites of chart-topping hits, and some groovy dance moves were only a few of the highlights of the skits. Other girls chose to make their own music with their hands and feet and voices, or with props, including pots and pans.

missRBCThis event always challenges the girls in some way or another. It requires teamwork, communication, and compromise. But in the end, every skit comes together to form something beautiful that includes each and every camper in some way. It’s a celebration of taking a chance, of getting up on stage in crazy costumes to perform in front of a lot of other people, knowing the whole time that you’re not alone, that the girls on either side of you are also wearing a similar goofy costume and singing their hearts out about muffin breaks in harmony with you.

The entire point of Miss RBC is to be confident while looking and acting silly, together. That’s pretty much the goal of camp in general, too.

“There’s power in looking silly and not caring that you do.”   –Amy Poehler

Having the confidence to laugh at yourself for wearing three pairs of sunglasses and a pink boa inspires others around you to be confident and goofy. It lets our true and authentic selves shine through. I can think of no better place than Rockbrook where we can explicitly recognize these lollipop moments, and also intentionally create them. We pay it forward at camp; and in return we receive encouragement, love, and friendship.

My parting words this evening, then, are as follows: Peace on earth, goodwill to men, and pink boas for all.

potsandpans

Julia Caroline Hurd

We’ve often pointed out that Nancy Carrier, the woman who founded Rockbrook Camp, is the great-granddaughter of P.T. Barnum, the great American showman and circus founder.  It’s true, and here is a cool old photograph that helps explain the lineage.  Taken in 1875, this is a portion of a larger family portrait showing P.T. Barnum, his second wife, Nancy Fish, several of his children, son-in-laws, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Julia Caroline Hurd and PT Barnum

P.T. Barnum is seated third from the right and the woman seated third from the left is Nancy Fish Barnum, his second wife. Standing between them is Samuel Henry Hurd, the man who married P.T. Barnum’s second daughter Helen Maria. Samuel and Helen Hurd had three daughters, the second of which, Julia Caroline, you see standing here to the far right. Julia Caroline Hurd, who was born in 1860, was P.T. Barnum’s granddaughter. In this picture she is fifteen years old.

Later, in 1886 when she was 24 years old, Julia Hurd married Henry Peck Clarke. She moved with her new husband from Connecticut in 1888 to South Carolina after purchasing the Goodwill plantation. It was there, in 1889, that Nancy Barnum Clarke was born, the woman who later marries Henry Nash Carrier in 1913, and in 1921 establishes Rockbrook Camp. Put differently, the young woman standing to the far right in this photograph is Nancy Carrier’s mother.

There are many more details and stories to tell about each of these people. Stay tuned…!

Nancy Carrier, P.T. Barnum and The New York Times 1888

While doing some research for the Rockbrook archives we came across this fascinating article printed in The New York Times in 1888.  It is another written source that connects Rockbrook, Goodwill Cabin, Goodwill Plantation, Nancy Carrier and P.T. Barnum.  What an interesting history!

P.T. Barnum's gift to his grandaughter, Nancy Clarke, Goodwill Plantation
The New York Times, October 24, 1888

Barnum’s Gift To A Granddaughter.

From the Columbia (S.C.) Register. October 18

It is evident that the renowned P.T. Barnum has a good opinion of South Carolina real estate, for he has recently given to his granddaughter, the wife of Henry P. Clarke, $100,000 for the purpose of buying and equipping the noted “Goodwill” plantation, which was formerly owned by the late Judge Edward Elliot Huger.  The transfer of the property took place yesterday.  Mr. Clarke owns another plantation near Eastover, where they have resided for several years.  “Goodwill” is one of the finest estates in the South, containing upward of 7000 acres, including a magnificent water power.  Several hundred acres of the richest river bottoms are protected from overflow by a levee extending for five miles along the banks of the Wateree River.  The other improvements on the property are  upon the same scale.

Right around the time that Nancy Barnum Clarke and Henry Clarke received their gift from P.T. Barnum they also purchased 300 acres in Brevard that would later become Rockbrook Camp. Their daughter Nancy Clarke Carrier grew up spending time between Brevard and Goodwill Plantation.  She founded Rockbrook in 1921.  Goodwill and Curosty are two cabins central to the heart of camp and are still in use today.  What an amazing gift from P.T. Barnum!

The History of Goodwill

Goodwill Cabin at Rockbrook
The Rockbrook Camp Goodwill Cabin

In 1895, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Peck Clarke, formerly of Connecticut, purchased over 800 acres in Transylvania County on which they built their mountain estate.  On this site, their daughter Nancy Clarke Carrier and her husband Henry established Rockbrook Camp for Girls in 1921.   One of the more interesting facts about Mrs. Carrier is that she was the great granddaughter of PT Barnum, of circus fame.  Many circus artifacts were on display in the Carrier House, and thrilled many a camper, such as the chair of Tom Thumb and many lovely home furnishings.

This circus history also has a direct link to the building known as Goodwill.   The circus winter residence was at the Goodwill Plantation, located near Columbia, SC.  When Nancy Carrier decided to establish a summer camp on her property in Brevard, she moved two 200-year-old hand-hewn chestnut log cabins to the property.  She restored the cabins to their original beauty and made them part of the center of camp life.  The buildings were named “Goodwill” after the SC plantaion and Curosty (the mountain word for crafts). Both are still in use by the campers and remain a part of Rockbrook’s proud history.