Becoming Someone New

Deep Breath...

On this first day of activities—the first full day of camp—I am reminded that camp is more than just a chance to retreat from the rigors of the “real world,” to have some mindless fun and excitement, and to make new friends and reconnect with old ones. Camp is a place in which children can become someone new every single day.

Downward Dog

Most of the 207 girls assembled here at Rockbrook this session wear some pretty standard labels for most of the year: student, daughter, sister, class president, team captain, honor roll student, and the like. They will belong to categories like these for a while, before growing up, and gaining some more exciting ones like lawyer, doctor, engineer.

This, of course, is all in the normal course of events.

Kayak Race!

What camp does, is give girls a chance to don a whole host of other identities that most people never get to try. In just one day, I have seen the school-girls who were dropped off here yesterday morph into markswomen, mountain climbers, equestrians, basket-weavers, yogis, archers, and more.

Spider-Man Drop

I heard them swapping stories at lunch and during free swims. Giving each other tips on which side of the Alpine Tower makes for the best climb, as though they have been climbing for their whole lives and not just one morning. Boasting cheerfully about getting their wet-exits in kayaking on the very first day. Showing their cabin-mates the first steps of the dance that they will be premiering in the dance show at the end of the session.

Soaking the Reeds

A Junior spent about five minutes this afternoon, explaining to me exactly how long the reeds needed to soak in the stream before they would be pliable enough to make a basket. She had never made a basket before. She was repeating to me what she had heard the instructor say just minutes before. But, in her mind, she was an expert, a basket-weaving professional, when an hour before she had been nothing of the kind.

Perfect Form

Every day, every hour, almost, these campers get to try something new, become something different, and expand a little more. By the end of the session, they might decide that they never again want to be an archer, or a climber, or a basket-weaver—but the hope is that, through all of this experimenting, they will leave here with a bit more of the confidence that it takes to become the varied and interesting women that they will one day grow to be.

A Simple Costume

Hilarious Fun

The Nolichucky is a gorgeous wilderness river that stretches for 9 miles through North Carolina and into eastern Tennessee. It drops down through a gorge of rocks between the Bald Mountains and the Unaka Mountains forming an excellent, scenic and technical, whitewater run for kayaking. Today, Leland, Andria, Jamie and Brett led seven campers on a trip down the Nolichucky, spending all day kayaking on the water. With class III and III+ rapids most of the way, this is an intermediate kayaking river, and these Rockbrook girls were ready! They tackled the “Railroad” rapid, “On the Rocks” rapid, the “Quarter Mile” rapid, and the “Rooster Tail” rapid. They took time to play too, for example surfing a wave on the “Jaws” rapid.

Nolichucky Kayak Kid
Nolichucky River Kayaking

A couple of girls had to swim after flipping their boats, but both Marli and Anna Grace were able to roll back up, hitting a true “combat roll” (rolling up, not while practicing, but “for real” in the more difficult setting of a whitewater rapid). The girls were very excited to be able to take this special trip and to paddle so well. Take a look at this excellent group.

Nolichucky Kayaking Group
Shaving Cream Fight Girls

Maybe it was the fantastic dinner of pasta, roast chicken and green beans we enjoyed, or the blueberry cobbler (made from scratch with fresh blueberries) that showed up for dessert, or maybe the girls have now grown especially comfortable here at camp, but whatever the reason, we were all surprised by the explosive response that erupted in the dining hall when we announced an optional shaving cream fight for tonight’s Twilight activity. It seemed like every age group was excited to put on their swimsuits and in about 15 minutes, we had more than 100 girls on the landsports field armed with a can of slippery white foam. There are very few rules to a shaving cream fight. Essentially, you squirt and spray shaving cream on everyone nearby, and run around trying the smear it into someone’s hair, or into funny patterns somewhere on their body. It didn’t take long either for everyone to be mostly covered with the stuff. The girls absolutely loved it, and really spent most of their time laughing after “smearing” someone, or being “smeared.” With everyone slippery, we also pulled out a slip-n-slide to enjoy. This is all good, albeit a little messy, hilarious fun, perfect for a bunch of friends at camp.

Camp Game Show Girls

Our evening program brought back Bill Grimsly and his “Game Show Mania.” A little prompting from Chase first sent the girls back to their cabins to invent wacky costumes… proving once again that everything is more fun in costume. Check out the photo gallery to see what they came up with. When they arrived at the gym, the girls found four game show podiums set up, complete with buzzers, lights, and scoreboards. After selecting random members of the audience, each round from a different age group, Bill presented a trivia question and answer game challenging the girls to name movie titles, musical artists, characters from books, and details from Rockbrook’s history (For example, What does the F.B.I. cabin’s name stand for?). Bill mixed things up occasionally by announcing hilarious “challenge rounds” where he would award extra points if a contestant could hula hoop the longest, or was willing to eat something “not so appealing” like canned sardines in mustard sauce. When a girl won a round of questions, her whole cabin received a giant cookie as a prize, which meant that the audience was always rooting for the contestants.

By the way, the answer is “Fanny Bell Inn.” 🙂

Lifelong Inspiration

Camp Weaving Kid

The many looms of the Curosty cabin are starting to really warm up as the girls spend more time weaving. Both the table-top and large floor looms all have completed work on them now. Our master weaver Melanie, who serves as the Fiber Arts Program supervisor at Warren Wilson College during the school year, has been teaching the girls several different geometric patterns that are created by lifting groups of warp fibers as the weft is passed between them. This geometry, added to carefully selected colors for the yarns and thread used, magically creates beautiful cloth. Of course, part of the fun is watching the pattern emerge with each added row. Weaving is an example of a specialty activity that’s not ordinarily taught to kids nowadays, but despite being “traditional,” is still very cool because it’s truly creative, deeply satisfying, and for some, a craft that can become a lifelong hobby. In our 19th-century log cabin in the woods, your Rockbrook girls are experiencing firsthand something that may inspire them for years to come.

Kayaker Kid Camp

Whitewater kayaking is really catching on around here as well, with more and more girls choosing to paddle during one of their activity periods. Jamie, Leland and Andria are happily teaching more and more girls about how fun it can be. After an orientation to the equipment and how to use it (properly fitting a PFD, paddle, and spray skirt, for example), the girls first learn how to slip out of their kayaks if they flip over upside-down. It’s a simple technique called a “wet exit” that involves tucking forward, pulling a loop on the spray skirt, and pushing out of the boat. Most girls pick it up right away, and move on to learning how to maneuver the boat in the water. This morning Leland and Jamie taught girls the next, and more advanced skill in kayaking, the “eskimo roll,” which is a technique that uses the kayaking paddle to roll up-right when a kayaker tips over. This takes practice to learn, but with this kind of enthusiasm from the girls, we’ll soon have some popping right up. Like weaving, kayaking can be a source of lifelong inspiration for these girls.

Color Tag Game Girls

This afternoon was “Cabin Day,” a time when we pause our regular activities to give the campers a chance to do something with their cabin as a group. This could mean making a special treat in the dining hall like homemade ice cream, going for a hike to one of the waterfalls on the camp property, having flip flop races in the creek by Curosty, having a squirt gun battle, or playing another group game of some sort. Today, for example, one of the Middler cabins played a wild game of “Color Tag.” This game is messy. It’s a complicated contest involving colorful (and washable!) paint, little sacks of flour, and enough open grassy space to charge around trying to splash paint on the other players. As you can see, the flour is also thrown, eventually, proudly marking everyone.  While not necessarily something we’d recommend trying at home, this is good camp fun.

Meanwhile, all of the seniors in camp, plus their counselors, took a trip into the Pisgah National Forest for a supper picnic and visit to the famous Sliding Rock. Grilled hotdogs and all the trimmings… plus Watermelon! …made an excellent meal high up at one of our favorite grassy spots in the forest. We played a group game of “I’m a Rockbrook Girl” —which is a bit like musical chairs, only played with shoes— before loading up the six buses and making it to the rock.

Sliding Rock Camp Kids
Dolly's Camp Kids

Sliding Rock is a natural water slide formed by Looking Glass creek as it rolls about 60 feet over a smooth rock and then plunges into a deep pool at the bottom. It’s been an attraction for years, and a perpetual favorite of Rockbrook girls. There’s really nothing quite like it. The crashing roar of the cold water, combined with the piercing screams of the girls sliding down, makes it intensely fun. The girls plunge into the water at the bottom, and pop up wide-eyed and intent on swimming as fast as possible toward the waiting lifeguards. The thrill for some campers becomes addictive, and soon we had a few girls heading back up to slide again and again.

Perhaps the highlight of the night for everyone, though, was our last stop: Dolly’s Dairy Bar. With dozens of (54 to be exact!) unique flavors to choose from, including “Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion,” it didn’t take long for everyone to be holding sweet cups and cones of what some campers call “the best ice cream in the world.” Ice cream after the chill of Sliding Rock? Sure! It’s just that good. And that fun— to be out at night, happily away from the ordinary, and surrounded by your friends. It’s easy to see why it’s great.

Hands in the Real World

Paging through the Rockbrook photo gallery, it’s quickly obvious that our girls are extraordinarily crafty. In the Curosty Cabin, one end of the dining hall (“Hodge Podge”), Hobby Nook Cabin, the two pottery studios and several of the porches around camp, we’re being creative and making things. It might be with fibers or clay, and it might require a brush or a loom, but dozens of girls have arts and crafts projects in the works.

Camp Bracelet Girl
Kid Weaving Loom Camp
Camp Shirt Painting

Throughout every day, in other words, Rockbrook girls are working with their hands. They’re twisting (friendship bracelets), braiding (basket reeds), tying (and dying t-shirts), painting (still life compositions), rolling (coils of clay), gluing (paper collages), sewing (stuffed animals), and weaving (loom fabrics). Here, take a look:

This is great stuff for several reasons. Working creatively with different materials like this encourages kids to experiment, try unusual combinations, and “see what happens.” There’s a joyful attitude toward the process and the end result. Also, though, I think there’s a benefit from simply working with real stuff, as opposed to what modern life ordinarily requires from us, namely a daily experience built upon abstract constructions and virtual representations (think about all those screens!). Perhaps, as we’ve lost our “manual competence” (recalling Matthew Crawford’s argument), we’ve also diminished a basic satisfaction of being human, the feeling of making something useful and beautiful. If so, then camp is a welcome return, making all the arts and crafts at Rockbrook concrete opportunities for girls to be creative while recalling the deep pleasures of interacting with the real world.

Summer Camp Kayaker Girl
Girl Gaga Game

This photo shows a few girls playing Ga-ga Ball in our octagonal Ga-ga pit located near the gym. If you haven’t heard of it, this game is all the rage. It’s essentially a form of dodgeball (sometimes called “Israeli Dodgeball”) where players hit a small ball with their hands instead of catching & throwing it. Any number of girls can play, and the goal is to hit other players in the leg without being hit yourself. It’s fast paced, as the ball flies around the pit bouncing off the walls, girls jump wildly out of the way, and players who are hit hop out of the pit. Like other forms of dodgeball, the game continues until one player remains. At that point, of course, everyone hops right back in the pit to start another game. During free times at camp, before lunch and dinner, for example, you can count on a crowd down at the Ga-ga pit.

Our head kayaking instructors, Leland and Andria, have been working with lots of girls at the lake preparing them for river trips. In addition to learning about the gear, the girls are practicing basic kayaking techniques like how to “wet exit” (escape the boat when it flips), and different paddle strokes to maneuver the boats. They are very excited to master these basics and were even more so to sign up for the trip to the Tuckaseegee River today or the Green River tomorrow. These girls can kayak!

Sliding Rock Kids
Dolly's Ice Cream

Later this afternoon, for our Cabin Day activity, all the Middlers and their counselors took a ride into the Pisgah Forest for a picnic up near the Blue Ridge Parkway. We brought hot dogs (and grilled veggie dogs), pasta salad, fruit and potato chips to eat for dinner, and afterwards spent a little time digesting by playing a huge game of “I’m a Rockbrook Girl” on the grassy field. This name game was even more fun tonight with a group this size (almost 90 campers and staff members).  Our next stop took us to Sliding Rock, where the girls had a blast zipping down the 60ft, natural water slide. As you might guess the water of Looking Glass Creek that forms the slide is a “refreshing” mountain temperature (i.e. really cold!), so part of the fun is belting out a scream to match the intensity of sitting down in that water. Just about everyone was daring enough to take the plunge, and some went down 6 or 7 times in all. Very exciting fun… but there was one more stop to top things off— Dolly’s Dairy Bar. With their combination “Camp Flavors” like “Rockbrook Chocolate Illusion” and traditional ice cream flavors, Dolly’s offers a sweet treat for everyone’s taste. The girls happily lined up to select their flavor and then, after that first yummy lick, enjoyed sitting and chatting with one another on the porch or at the tables nearby. When Rockbrook arrives at Dolly’s, like tonight with our big group, it becomes quite a party with the girls singing songs, laughing and posing for photos. Now dark outside and our hair still wet, but happy and excited, we loaded up the buses and headed back to camp finishing an excellent outing.

Beautiful Results

The cold front that brought yesterday’s drizzle stuck around today keeping the temperatures in the 60s and everyone covered up in fleeces, sweatshirts and rain jackets. The low temperature this morning was 60 degrees and the high this afternoon was 65! Keeping it cool in the mountains! Weather like this may move us inside for the most part, but it also inspired us this morning to build fires in the Lodges’ fireplaces. Now a warm crackling fire was the backdrop to the drama class in the Junior Lodge, and was something even more soothing for the Yoga girls in the Hillside Lodge. It also seemed completely normal to roast marshmallows for s’mores in the Lakeview Lodge. It’s such a cozy feeling— the dry warmth of a wood fire on a chilly day like this.

Camp Wood Turning Demo

We were very excited today to welcome a guest artist to camp, George Peterson. George works with wood crafting both sculptural and functional pieces. He carves, etches and scars the wood using different tools and techniques to make each piece completely unique. He’s displayed his work in galleries across the United States (CA, MI, IL, PA, GA and NC to name a few states), has been featured in magazine articles, and has pieces held in prestigious museum collections (Boston Fine Arts Museum, for example). Here’s a link to one of his most recent gallery exhibitions. George is also the father of two girls who attend Rockbrook, and his wife Margaret is an Alumna of camp.

Camper sanding wooden bowl

George and Margaret spent the whole day with us presenting two wood turning workshops for the senior campers. George began the sessions by demonstrating how he uses a lathe to turn a log into the shape of a bowl. The whir of the electric lathe, the shower of twisty wood shavings, and the emerging bowl was very impressive to witness. Each girl then was given a walnut bowl to finish. George had prepared these in advance, turning them and letting them to dry to the point when they were ready to be sanded. In addition to sanding, each bowl needed some carving on the bottom, and for this the girls used an electric oscillating tool, with George guiding the tool as they carved.

Wood Carving Camp Project
Camp displaying carved bowl
Finished Carved Bowl

Some bowls had developed interesting cracks as they dried, and for those, Margaret and George demonstrated how to use a waxed cord to sew across the cracks, giving the bowl a really cool look. Everyone was able to add another finishing touch by branding their bowls with the letters “RBC.” George brought a metal brand which after being heated in a torch can burn those letters into the wood. The final finishing came when the girls applied a coat of mineral oil to their bowls bringing out the deep brown color of the walnut and adding a subtle shine to the wood. This was a very special experience for everyone, both informative and fun, and in the end, one with beautiful results.

Upper Green Kayaking
Learning to Belay

Do you know how to belay? Well the girls who signed up for climbing were learning today. Belaying is the technique used to protect a climber from falls by using a special “belay device” to adjust the tension and slack in a climbing rope. It requires careful attention to the climber and a very specific pattern of hand motions manipulating the rope. The belay device (We use something called an “ATC”) adds friction to the rope when needed, making a great deal of strength unnecessary, and allowing even a small girl can keep a larger person safe while climbing.

This cool wet weather hasn’t hampered our kayakers. Just the opposite! They took a trip today to the Upper Green River, running a 4 mile section of moderately difficult class II and class III+ rapids. This is fast section with several large rapids that require accurate lines and strong paddling at times. Consequently, it’s rare to see a group of campers handle the Upper Green this well. Our Rockbrook girls crushed it!

It was time for some big excitement after dinner— a dance with the boys of Camp Carolina. Actually, we held two dances, with Rockbrook hosting the youngest boys, and CCB deejaying a dance for our Senior girls and Hi-Ups. We also organized a “Dance Alternative” activity in one of the Lodges for those girls who didn’t feel like dancing. If you take a look at the Photo Gallery, you’ll get a sense of how these dances are primarily a time to be silly, sing to your favorite pop songs, and jump around with your friends. For the younger girls dance, our friend DJ Marcus kept everyone moving with several group dances like the “Cha Cha Slide,” while over at Camp Carolina, the older girls leaped about to “Sandstorm.” Time flies at these events, but after the last song, we had to say our goodbyes and head back to camp. We enjoyed the whole evening. Thanks Camp Carolina!

Camp Dance Girls
Camp Dance Teens

A Wrench in the Schedule

Ready for the Plunge!

In many ways, the days here at camp run like clockwork.

Wake up at 8 AM. Breakfast at 8:30. Morning Assembly at 9:15. First Period at 9:45. Muffin Break at 10:45. And so on. Our schedule sets the pace of our day, and forms the framework of every camper’s experience. It is comfortable, and familiar; while it may contain countless activities that they had never dreamed they’d ever try, it is still what the campers expect after years of unchanging school routines.

Look, Mom, No Hands!

But the schedule isn’t what the campers remember. Those day-to-day routines aren’t what they can’t stop talking about when they come home at the end of the session. They remember the spice, the excitement, and the spontaneity that are mixed into every piece of the schedule–surprising bits of joy so bright and exuberant, that the campers would never consider the camp schedule to be as unspectacular as their morning commutes to school.

Halfway Up

These surprises can be as small as a cabin making a spur-of-the-moment decision to all wear cowboy boots and Zorro masks to lunch, or as big as the adventure trips that we offer to campers every single day. Just yesterday, for instance, we offered five.

Between zip-lining, Castle-Rock-climbing, Green-River-kayaking, Cascade-Lake-canoeing, and Nantahala-rafting, every camper, from youngest to oldest, had the opportunity to throw a wrench into their schedule, and make their day spectacular.

Mid-Flight

They took their chance, threw out the schedule they had adopted on opening day, and set out to see the world in a new way–maybe from fifty feet above camp, zipping through the air. Maybe from the spectacular vantage point at the top of Castle Rock. Maybe from a tiny boat in the middle of a vast lake. Comfort zones were left far behind, without a second thought, by campers intent on having an adventure.

On the Road to Cascade Lake

I had the pleasure of greeting these girls when they returned from their trips. They looked exhausted. And dirty. And sweaty. And really, really ready for a good night’s sleep. But they also looked bright-eyed, and thrilled with themselves. Even though they were utterly spent, they still jumped at the opportunity to list out everything they had accomplished that day, whether it was a hand-roll in a kayak, or the courage to step off a tall rock and zoom through the air on the zip line.

It would be back to the schedule tomorrow. Back to the more typical camp days, full of the smaller, though no less wonderful, accomplishments, like tackling a new friendship bracelet design in Jewelry Making. But they didn’t mind. They had made their day spectacular. They’d figure out a way to do the same for tomorrow, tomorrow.

Even More Unique

zucchini muffins

In addition to the pleasure of having a freshly baked muffin everyday between the first and second activity period, it’s also fun for the campers to find out what flavor Katie or Sonne have made. This surprise is the talk of the camp once the first muffin leaves the dining hall porch. Even better, the flavors vary widely with some being traditional favorites like blueberry and others being completely unique like S’mores flavored, for example. This week has been a good example of this variety with Zucchini Muffins making a debut yesterday followed by Pumpkin Chocolate Chip returning today. I asked one girl how she liked the Zucchini variety and, wrinkling her nose, she said, “It had chunks of Zucchini in it!” Hmmm…. Looking around as the girls gobbled up today’s flavor, it’s pretty clear that chocolate chips easily beat Zucchini chunks when it comes to muffin ingredients. No surprise there, I suppose!

Alpine Tower high ropes course climber
Camp Mountain Swim

Hidden in the woods behind the gym is our high ropes course climbing tower, the “Alpine Tower.” You may have caught a glimpse of it from the shuttle bus running on opening day. Perched high above this complex, triangular structure of thick poles, ropes, aircraft cables and wooden climbing walls is a covered platform that serves as the summit of the different climbing routes available. There are three main starting points that branch out providing a variety of climbing obstacles to challenge the girls… Swinging logs, a cargo net, overhanging walls, ladders and ropes, to name a few. The Alpine Tower can accommodate up to 6 girls climbing simultaneously, so it handles plenty of enthusiastic climbers. If a girls climbs all three side of the Tower, then climbs again blindfolded (yes, really!), and also climbs one of the routes on Castle Rock, she is welcomed into the “Seven Summits Club” and receives a special bracelet. There are girls from all three lines who can now claim this accomplishment.

Here is a photo taken during an impromptu day hike a group of senior girls and Emily took this morning up to Flat Laurel Creek at the edge of the Shining Rock Wilderness in Pisgah. This is a truly magical spot. Above 5000′ in elevation and with views of Sam Knob and Black Balsam mountains, the water is clean and cold as is drops down slopes of granite into clear pools. As if they were visiting a private “mountain beach,” the girls were prepared with their swimsuits so they could enjoy playing in the water. What a unique experience!

Even more unique was the kayaking adventure a small group of Senior campers experienced when they spent the day paddling the Nolichucky River. For 8 miles stretching across the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, the Nolichucky drops through a steep mountain gorge of rocks making an excellent set of whitewater rapids. It’s a gorgeous place this time of year!

Camp Nolichucky Kayaking
Camp Girl whitewater kayaking on the nolichucky

Led by Leland, Andria, Clyde and Andy, the crew enjoyed perfect weather as they ran rapids with names like “On the Rocks,” “Jaws” and “Rollercoaster.” With most of its rapids being rated class III or III+, the Nolichucky is an intermediate kayaking river that is often too difficult for most summer camp kids. Not so for these Rockbrook girls! A couple of them had to exit their boats and swim a rapid or two, but overall everyone did really well on the river. A one point, the crew took a stretch break from the boats and practiced saving each other using a throw rope. It’s exciting to know that Rockbrook campers have reached this level of kayaking accomplishment.

Nolichuck Whitewater Kayaking Kids

Back at camp in time for dinner, the counselors threw a “World Cup” dinner party where they rearranged the dining hall to make 10 large tables each designated a certain country. One table was Great Britain, another Germany, and another Italy, for example. As the campers arrived they were sorted randomly so each table/country seated girls of all ages. A few campers dressed up for the event with soccer jerseys, flag t-shirts, and face paint. I think I saw a cheerleader or two as well. We played great World music, and with all the flags decorating the dining hall, dinner soon became a dance party. When the cakes came out, each decorated to look like a country’s flag, the cheers almost rattled the roof. We shared all the cakes, danced even more, topping off an excellent day.

Costume Dinner Dance Line

Fun is for the Making

Girls learning to roll a kayak at the lake

One of the technical skills we teach to the girls who select kayaking as one of their activities is the “Eskimo Roll.” This is a self rescue technique used to return your kayak right side up after flipping over. An experienced kayaker makes rolling look effortless, but in fact it takes great timing to coordinate several actions… tucking forward, setting and sweeping the paddle, snapping the hips, and positioning the head. And most of this is done upside down and underwater! Leland and Andria, our expert kayaking instructors, have been teaching roll clinics at the lake and report many girls are “getting their rolls.” A few have even successfully performed something much more difficult— a “Hand Roll.” You might be thinking sushi, but in kayaking this is rolling up a kayak without a paddle, using just your hands. Some kayakers try for years before successfully hand rolling. We’ve got 13-year old girls doing it! As the girls head out on kayaking trips, they are putting to use all this and other whitewater skills… reading the river, eddying, ferrying, peeling out, and navigating ledges and drops. It’s neat to see.

Camp class to make a tie-dye t-shirt

This week has been a big one in the “Hodge Podge” craft activity because the girls have been tie dying. Set outside near the upper pottery studio, the instructors have tables, newspaper, bottles of liquid dye (plenty of colors!) and lots of rubber bands ready for the tying. This is particularly fun for the girls because they can not only dye a t-shirt, but also any other cotton item they already own.  So look out parents! You might find a rainbow spiral pair of underwear in your daughter’s trunk when she gets home, or a bright orange “target designed” hat, or as I saw one girl designing, a newly striped pair of Converse tennis shoes! All of these items first soak in a mild solution of water and urea (which helps keep the cloth damp while the dye sets) before being twisted, folded, and then bound up tightly with the rubber bands. The resulting pattern is the result of both the different colors of dye applied and the alternating areas of dyed and un-dyed (the “resists” created by the rubber bands) cloth. One quick tip when these items arrive home… They will still need quite a bit of rinsing, and I would suggest washing them separately at first before it will be safe to launder them with other clothes.

camp girl aiming a rifle
Decorated Riflery Target

The ostensible goal for Archery and Riflery is, of course, hitting the center of the target and, using multiple shots, scoring points based on how close to the center each shot lands. We recognize this almost daily, in fact, during the lunch announcements when the instructors announce which girls have joined the “Bullseye Club.” Careful aim along with improving strength and technique allow the girls to better both the accuracy and precision of their shots. There is some keen interest in improving also since in a couple of weeks we will be challenging the boys of Camp Carolina to a scored tournament. But if you visit both Archery and Riflery, you won’t find girls just shooting for a score. Instead you’ll see balloons filled with paint, posters and markers, and even pieces of fruit. Now the targets are much more interesting, and the resulting splatter more colorful and yes, more glittery. Success and a good deal of the fun can now mean popping the balloon, piercing the apple, or destroying the banana.

learning to canoe at summer camp

Like so many other things at Rockbrook, what we do is driven by a spirit of creativity guided by a simple goal of having fun.  Why shoot a banana? Just for the fun of it.  Like all examples of free play, the primary goal is the play itself and not something external to the moment. That’s why we’ll play slow motion volleyball using a balloon for the ball, or we’ll wear costumes all day long (like for twin day), or we’ll stop lunch to dance and sing to a fun pop song. Without sacrificing the serious subject of safety— shooters always wear eye protection, for example —we encourage all of our activity instructors to restyle what they do occasionally, to add an unexpected element or substitute one aspect with another. That’s why Rockbrook girls might climb the Alpine Tower blindfolded, or add a pebble to their lanyard, tie dye their shoes, or paint with a leaf instead of a “proper brush.”

We think this kind of playful creativity is a wonderful approach for girls to experience, even acquire as they go forward. It’s a skill that easily conquers boredom, can be extraordinarily beneficial when problem solving, but perhaps most importantly, makes the world a joyful place. It proves that fun is for the making, and that we have the power to brighten up what we’re doing and en-joy ourselves along the way.  Everyday, Rockbrook lives and teaches that insight.

One Direction band costumed skit

Tonight we celebrated our first July Mini session with a banquet dinner party presented by the 9th graders and their counselors. The theme was “Night at the Red Carpet” and included appearances by an impressive list of celebrities, some of whom performed as well. We saw Lorde (Claire) sing, an original performance by Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez (Sam and Matilda), and the girls’ favorite English “boy band,” One Direction (counselors Miranda, Maggie, Paige, Gabi and Jenna). The celebrities were kindly signing autographs all night while they helped serve the dinner of pasta, salad, garlic bread and mozzarella sticks. For dessert, everyone enjoyed a “Red Carpet, Red Velvet Cupcake.” All the campers and counselors came dressed in their blue RBC t-shirts making the spontaneous dances a jumping, swirling crowd of long hair, blue and white, and smiling faces. Fueled by music, candy and the exuberance of this many happy, comfortable girls, the banquet was a great time and a wonderful success.

Great Camp Friends