Simply Glorious Camp Days

horse caring camp girls

Horseback riding has always been extraordinarily popular at Rockbrook, with at times close to half the girls taking mounted riding lessons at least once (though as many as five times) a week. We have an amazing herd of 30 horses again this summer, all of whom are schooled horses throughout the rest of the year either as competitive show horses or therapeutic riding ponies. This range of horses allows our equestrian staff to find horses that matches each rider’s skill level, and to offer a range of mounts. The girls love being able to interact with the horses both on the ground and while on their backs riding. There’s always grooming to do, often time for a wash, and all those manes, tails and forelocks happily love being braided. With our current beautiful weather, time at the barn and the riding lessons have been simply glorious.

whitewater rafting smiles

It was time for some outdoor adventure today too because we took our first whitewater rafting trip down the Nantahala river. Three buses left camp early this morning to allow a big group of seniors to spend the morning bumping and splashing down the river over in Swain County. Our team of Rockbrook guides met us at the put in spot and was ready with our fleet of seven RBC rafts, and piles of paddles, life jackets and helmets. Despite the recent heavy rains, the river was only slightly higher than normal, making the trip a little faster, and little more fun too. The warm sunny, cloudless day made it even better, and with very few other people on the water this early in the season, this trip really could not have been better! Check out the photo gallery for a few shots of the day.

birthday party campers

How would you decorate 12 different cakes? That’s exactly what our Hi-Ups did this afternoon, helping the kitchen prepare for our special all-camp birthday party at dinner. With two giant tubs of vanilla and chocolate frosting they began with a generous layer on the sheet pan sized cakes (about 18×24 inches), and then worked to decorate a unique design for each month of the year. They used jelly beans, M&Ms, chocolate chips, colorful sprinkles, and even breakfast cereal to spell out the names of months (mostly abbreviated). But why stop there? Soon the cakes were popping with decoration, each Hi-Up having a chance to build a delicious work of art. When the cakes were brought out, the whole dining hall sang “Happy Birthday” and cheered wildly. This “Birthday Night” also had a sports theme where there were decorations and costumes focused on different sports teams and uniforms.  It’s was a colorful, fun party for the whole camp.

Tonight was the first of our camping trips scheduled for the Juniors. About a quarter of a mile down the path toward Rockbrook Falls (still on the camp property), there’s a special area where generations of Rockbrook girls have set up a campsite. Among huge boulders and under beautiful old trees, there are two camping platforms with tin roofs, and a fire ring surrounded by log seating. Two groups of girls hiked out to the campsite after dinner with their sleeping bags, pillows and flashlights, maybe some bug spray and a few stuffed animals too. The staff built a nice campfire and led everyone singing songs, telling riddles, and making s’mores over the fire. For many of the girls, this will be their first time camping, sleeping in the woods without lights or the comfort of a bed. With the sounds of crickets nearby and the waterfall in the distance, it’s a very peaceful place to spend the night.

camp rafting girls

Her Very First Ride

Little Summer Camp girl horseback ridingFor little girls, taking their first equestrian lesson can be a mix of excitement and nervous jitters. It’s exciting because horseback riding seems so fun when you read about it or see it in movies, but for your first riding lesson, it can easily be a little overwhelming. There is so much to learn— special clothes, important safety rules, riding gear for the horse, how to mount, different riding positions, and communicating with your horse. The horses and ponies can seem so huge! And there is a lot to remember all at once.

That’s why it’s so important that a girl’s first experience learning to horseback ride be a safe, caring, gentle introduction. It’s crucial that her instructor be experienced working with small children, that he or she be kind and patient, and that the pony be calm and gentle in the ring. Taking small steps, gradually gaining confidence and greater understanding, is the best way to maintain a girl’s enthusiasm for riding. The best children’s horseback riding centers know how to pace this kind of progression.

The equestrian program at Rockbrook Camp has a long history of introducing young girls to horseback riding. Camp has just the right combination of skilled instructors and gentle ponies, enthusiasm for riding, and great equestrian facilities to encourage girls on their very first ride. At camp, we’re well prepared to make every girl’s first horseback riding experience a positive one. It’s the perfect recipe for a life-long love of horses and horseback riding!

Is She Ready for Camp?

Child Ready for Camp

Is my child ready for sleepaway camp?

It’s a common question, even from parents who went to camp themselves. Children have such individual needs and develop at so very different rates, there’s no age or school grade to point to. One girl might be perfectly ready for camp after kindergarten, and another may want to wait a couple more years before starting. Sleeping away from the comforts, familiarity and consistency of home is a big step for a child, so how is a parent to know if the time is right?

Here are 5 ways to know if your daughter is ready for an overnight camp experience.

1. Emotional Health: This is important to consider because children who are generally happy and enthusiastic do very well at camp. They seek out new experiences and are quick to participate. They recover from setbacks easily, and are comfortable expressing their emotions.

2. Social Proficiency: A sleepaway camp is a very social environment, so being able to make friends easily is an important skill. Children who are outgoing and friendly have fun joining group activities. They feel valued and get excited about being “on the team.”

3. Self-Care Skills: Living away from home also requires children to take care of certain personal habits. With minor assistance, they should be able to dress themselves, take a shower, brush their teeth, and sleep well through the night.

4. Following Directions: Joining a community of people means understanding and following a set of rules and expected behaviors. Campers should naturally comply and be happy to follow adult instructions and requests.

5. True Excitement: Girls are ready for sleepaway camp when they are truly excited about the idea. They may have learned about it from friends or family members and now are convinced it will be a super fun way to spend part of their summer. When it’s truly her idea, it’s a good sign.

Ask yourself if these 5 traits are true for your daughter. If she’s honestly excited about camp, follows directions well, can take care of her own hygiene, makes friends easily, and has a happy disposition about most things, then she is probably ready for summer camp. Of course, she doesn’t have to be perfect in all of these areas, because camp is a wonderful opportunity to improve them as well.

Going to a sleepaway summer camp is always an adjustment for kids. To one degree or another, each child is stretched in new ways, but with the excellent counselors and long traditions at Rockbrook, each is given phenomenal opportunities to grow as well.