Top 5 Summer Summer Camp Directories

When searching for summer camps, it’s always good to look at several to compare them and learn about which might best fit your child. You can spend a lot of time searching the Internet and reading different camps’ individual websites, but you can also visit one of the many summer camp directories out there. These are special sites designed to help sift through all the options. You can narrow the complete list of camps by region, by activity specialty, by gender, by type (sleepaway vs. day, e.g.), even by religion. As you enter your preferences, you’ll be presented with a more manageable list of camps to research in more detail, for example by requesting their catalogs and promotional DVDs.

Summer Camp Directories

Ah, but there are lots of summer camp directories out there too!  So here are what we consider the top 5 camp directories to visit.  Each is organized a little differently and will therefore yield somewhat different search results.  Looking for a residential girls camp in the southeast?  In addition to Rockbrook, each of these directories will reveal a range of options.  After spending some time on these sites, you’ll have an excellent idea about which summer camp will be right for your child.

mysummercamps Summer Camps Directory
camppage camps directory
summercamps camp directory
kidscamp summer camps
allensguide summer camp directory
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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.

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.

Are your Kids Ready for Camp?

Kid Camp Summer

How do you know if your kids are ready for summer camp?

It’s an important question to ask, especially if you have a younger child who’d be new to the experience. Most discussions of this question focus on whether or not your child is outgoing and ready for the social component of camp. The idea here is that once a child makes friends at camp, they’ll enjoy the activities and be fine away from home. In fact, it’s often hoped that the camp program will help a shy child become more outgoing, more self-confident and independent. It’s true; camp is great for this reason.

Talking with Sarah, the Director of Rockbrook, she also cautions parents to make sure their child is honestly interested in attending camp. “It’s best for it to be her idea,” she says. As parents fondly remember their own summer camp experience, or hear that camp is “good for kids,” they can sometimes push a little too hard and talk their children into the idea, perhaps before they are really ready. “Research camps together and find one that sparks her interest and makes her really want to go. Learn about camps together; listen to her concerns, and with gentle encouragement, you’ll find the right camp,” Sarah suggests. You’ll know she’s ready for camp when it’s her idea and she’s excited to go.

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.

How to Play Dizzy Lizzy

Outdoor Kids Game Dizzy LizzyHere’s how to play Dizzy Lizzy, a great outdoor game for kids to try. It’s actually a relay, a game where two or more teams race each other while completing some challenging task or overcoming some kind of obstacle.

In this case, members of each team line up and one by one run a ways out to a baseball bat on the ground. There they have to put their forehead on the bat, and keeping the other end on the ground, spin around the bat a few times (usually 3, 4 or 5 times). Needless to say, this makes you quite dizzy, and then comes the most difficult part— running back to your team so the next person can go. It’s always pretty funny to see a dizzy person try to run in a straight line, and pretty fun to try it yourself!

Next time you need a fun outdoor game for kids, give it a try!

Summer Games for Kids

Summer Kids GamesWhat is that thing?! Well, the kids at camp have named it “The Toy,” but it’s basically an aqua ropes-course, a climbing structure made of wood and rope suspended over the water on one side of the Rockbrook lake. The most popular game kids play on it is really challenging— you try to reach the farthest of 5 rings (like the girl in the photo) as you go out hand-to-hand over the water.

This is just one of the options at camp and is something you don’t have to do if you don’t want to. If swimming is more your thing, that’s fine.  Even if you don’t want to get in the water, that’s fine too.

Of course, if you don’t make it to the 5th ring, there’s a fun splash at the bottom! But if you do make it to the last ring, and only a few kids have, we announce your name in the dining hall and reward you with a special treat/prize.

Do you know what the prize is? Let us know in the comments!

What Summer Camps are About

Summer Camp Baskets

Here’s another interesting bit of reading about summer camps, this time from Harper’s Magazine (September 2007 issue). Rich Cohen, in “The Summer of Our Discontent: An Ode to Sleepaway Camp,” writes about his childhood experience at Camp Menominee in Wisconsin, and brings to the article a good deal of research about summer camping in general. There’s lots of good stuff to be found (subscribers can read more here), but I wanted to simply pass along a summary quote.

“Life at camp was changing— the nature of the kids and counselors, the very sense of what camp should be about. In the 1800s, it was about religion; in the early 1900s, it was about preserving a spark of frontier spirit; in the mid-1900s, it was about the barracks and preparing a generation for the coming war; now it’s about preparing kids for school and work, speeding them through the meritocracy.”

Yes, “being prepared” is still a big part of camp, but at Rockbrook we want kids to be kids. So camp is a place where girls can try new things, play, and play some more, create things, explore the outdoor world, gain confidence (social, physical, etc.), and have some crazy fun. Of course, personal growth and “preparation” for being a happy, well-adjusted individual happens within this context, and under the supervision of many positive role models.

I guess we could say attending Rockbrook isn’t primarily about learning how to be a better student or employee at school or work (though that might happen in the end), but it’s about having a more rounded and complete childhood experience that serves you well later in life.