Kids Kayaking Adventure

Kids Adventures Camp KayakingGearing up for another adventure at camp! This time it’s kids whitewater kayaking on the lower Green River over near Saluda, NC.  Learning to paddle a kayak is another outdoor adventure activity that’s incredibly satisfying for kids.  Camps provide everything they need to get excited about the sport— the right equipment, step-by-step instruction, qualified supervision, and a perfect whitewater river.

It’s really fun to strap on all the gear and settle into one of the cool kayaks, even if it is a little scary at first.  But after kids practice getting out of the kayak when they flip over (a “wet exit”) and eventually rolling back upright (a “roll”), they become more confident in the boat and can use their paddle to maneuver around obstacles in the river.  It really gets fun when the camp kids can play on the river, surfing waves, running rapids, ferrying, and catching eddies.

Kayaking adventure for kids at camp.  Very fun stuff.

Kids’ Freedom to Play

Kids Summer Free Time

“I’m so glad you build into each day plenty of free time.”

Yes, our daily camp schedule includes three different blocks of time when kids can do what they want— right before lunch, right before dinner and right after dinner.  Before lunch and dinner we open the lake for a “free swim,” a time when anyone in camp can come down for a dip.  Otherwise, kids can hang out in their cabin with friends, play games on the hill, explore the creek by “Curosty,” write letters home, chat with their counselor, prepare a skit for evening program, or just read a book.  There are so many options.

This kind of free time is such a welcome relief from the overly scheduled, competitive, pressured life so many kids deal with at home and at school.  Grades! Sports! Music Lessons! Home Chores!  Since their childhood is almost “job-like” with its extensive commitments and expectations, kids really need a place that allows for their own pace, their own interests, and their own sense of fun to flourish.  At Rockbrook, we all enjoy this, every day.

After all, you gotta have free time to really play.

Kids Gotta Love S’mores!

Let’s talk s’mores… Don’t you just love ’em?  You know how to make them.  Take two graham crackers and a piece of plain milk chocolate, roast a marshmallow on a stick over a fire, and make a chocolate marshmallow sandwich with the graham crackers. Some people like their marshmallow golden brown and gooey, while others are fine burning the marshmallow a little bit to make a charred skin. Either way, they are an excellent sweet treat out around the campfire and one of every kid’s favorite outdoor activities.

Did you know that nobody knows for sure who invented s’mores? The first recorded recipe appears in a Girl Scout book called Tramping and Trailing published in 1927, but s’mores were certainly around before that. For example, Moon Pies, which are also made of a cracker, marshmallow and chocolate, were first produced in 1917.  It’s a bit of a mystery, but it’s fun to think that making s’mores has been an outdoor activity kids have enjoyed at Rockbrook since the very beginning.

How to Make Wheel-Thrown Ceramics

wheel-thrown ceramics at camp

“Can you learn how to use the potter’s wheel?”

Yes, you can! The Rockbrook ceramics camp activities lets campers improve their pottery skills so they can learn to throw pots on the wheel.  After practicing other ceramics techniques, specifically hand-building methods like pinch, coil and slab pottery, it’s exciting to learn about the potter’s wheel.  You’ll work on 4 steps:

  1. Centering the clay on the wheel.
  2. Opening up the center of the clay.
  3. Pulling up the walls and shaping the piece.
  4. Trimming the base of the piece.

Of course there’s lots of detail to each of these steps, but this brief outline gives you a sense of what’s involved in learning to throw ceramics on the potter’s wheel. Over a few weeks at camp, you’ll be surprised how good you can get and be amazed at the cool things you can make.  Maybe next summer, you can finish a whole set of matching mugs!

P.S. If you want to read more about it, check out the book Wheel-Thrown Ceramics, by our friend Don Davis.  It’s the best one around.

How to Play Tetherball

Outdoor Tetherball Games at CampLately we’ve been getting a few questions about how to play the game tetherball.

So, how do you play tetherball?

The main goal is for each player (there are only two kids, one against the other) to hit the ball in a direction that will wrap the cord up around the center pole. Each opponent is hitting the ball in an opposite direction, so that’s the contest— you hit it one way and she hits it the other way. The trick is to hit the ball so that it’s hard for your opponent to reach the ball and hit it back. One strategy is to hit the ball downward so that it goes high (and hopefully out of reach) when it wraps around to your opponent’s side. You win when you wrap the cord completely around in your direction and the ball hits the pole.

After you play a while kids can add rules that make the game more challenging and fun. Maybe you can allow only certain kinds of hits, or require that the ball wrap around high on the pole, or create funny penalties for “carrying” the ball or grabbing the string.  Like all great games, there are loads of options!

Tetherball is one of those amazing outdoor games kids love to play at camp. Got a free minute? Let’s play!

P.S. Want to learn more about tetherball? Check out this article.

Fun Arts and Crafts

Arts and Crafts ActivitiesHere is one of the arts and crafts activities the girls enjoyed this summer at camp.

Can you tell what it is?  Pine cones tied to a branch with string— it’s a mobile.  What’s fun is using different sized pine cones and then arranging them with different lengths of string.  When the stick has more than one branching part, even better!  This kind of craft activities is really like making a sculpture.  It’s putting three-dimensional objects together to end up with some cool art. One girl turned her mobile into a bird feeder by adding some peanut butter and birdseed to the pine cones. Functional art too!  Arts and crafts are always fun at camp.

Take a look!

Kids Camp Outdoor Memories

Rockbrook outdoor kids at summer campMore comments and memories from a Rockbrook Alumna…

“Every memory is a favorite memory, but there was one that my friend and I do get a kick out of (by the way, her name is Natalie Berry and we have been best friends for 30 yrs). One year our cabin was one of the wild cabins. We all were friends and had gone to Rockbrook for several years. We came up with this name that whenever anything went wrong we blamed “Bob.” Needless to say it picked up like wild fire and we got in trouble for stirring things up. It’s one of those ‘You had to be there’ situations.

“I truly miss Rockbrook. It is my childhood and a great past that I can share and relate with my grandmother Virginia Summer, who also went there. Now I have a 7yr old daughter who I sing camp songs to. My wish is to send her to Rockbrook and who knows maybe one day she’ll have a daughter that she can send too.”

Kids Summer Program

Kids Camp TimeIs it possible to have “too much summer camp?” According to Abby Brunks, in her recent Atlanta Journal Constitution article, the answer might be yes. Ms. Brunks fears that being at summer camp can become an extension of the busy, overly scheduled life most kids experience throughout the school year. She believes that kids need a “good long break to just hang out,” and therefore cautions parents not to send their kids away to summer camp (particularly “specialty camps” apparently) for “weeks on end.”

Here at Rockbrook, we understand this concern. That’s why we build into every day a good amount of free time when campers can just “hang out.” There’s time to sit on the porch and talk, explore one of the camp streams, goof around with your cabin mates, make up a song, write a letter, or just relax. For years we’ve recognized this as one of the great opportunities of camp— it’s a chance to experience carefree summer living, to have the freedom to decide for yourself what you feel like doing, while having so many fun options easily available. That’s why coming to camp is so great. Sure at home you may be able to hang out, but you won’t have near the opportunity to try new things, meet new people, and explore nature. And because it is so refreshingly different from home or school, weeks easily seem like days.