Camp is a Refuge

Cute Little Camp Girls

We hear this a lot, actually: that camp is a refuge.  It’s a place where girls can escape the busy, sometimes overwhelming pace of their regular lives.  For many young kids, each day is a bombardment of stimuli, new information and entertainment.  There are school responsibilities, social demands, and activities at home all demanding attention.  Increasingly, parents have noticed that the intensity of their children’s lives is making them more anxious, fearful, and worried.  There’s so much going on, it’s difficult for kids to really connect with the people (family and friends) around them, adding even more to the burden of handling everything on their own.  Everything around them seems to be shouting, and sometimes it’s just too much!

Thank goodness for camp.  It really can be a refuge, a huge relief from all of this.  Simply being outside, unplugged from rapid-fire electronic stimulation, is a powerful antidote.  Having daily opportunities to engage creative talents, physical challenges, and deep social/personal relationships is so welcome, kids just blossom in a camp setting.  It’s the greatest gift to simply have time to relax, to play in the creek, dress a little silly, or chat with a friend in the porch rocking chairs. The environment of a kids camp is a powerful healthy response to the extreme busyness of ordinary life. It always has been, and these days, it seems like it’s needed more than ever.

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.

Spotlight on Sarah

Sarah Reed Carter is the Director of Rockbrook Summer Camp for Girls

Sarah Reed Carter is the Director of Rockbrook. She grew up in Winston-Salem, NC and began her Rockbrook career in 1985. Sarah thought it would be fun to be a CIT (Counselor in Training) while her older sister was a cabin counselor. So at 16, she had her first camp experience not realizing what a big part of her life Rockbrook would be years later.

Sarah returned to camp year after year while attending Trinity College in Connecticut and until starting graduate school at Vanderbilt University for her Masters of Education degree. She taught drama, worked as a lifeguard, and served almost every age group as a cabin counselor. Along the way, she met her future husband Jeff, who at the time worked as a hiking and climbing guide for camp. Sarah and Jeff were married at Rockbrook in 1996.

For the next 8 years, Sarah taught elementary school in Nashville, TN, Concord, NC, and Asheville, NC.  After returning to Brevard, she became the director of a local preschool for 2 years before returning to Rockbrook to be a full-time director with Jeff.

While camp is in session, Sarah oversees camp life and communication with parents.  During the off-season, she works on camper recruitment, communication with Rockbrook’s camp families, and child specific issues.  She also loves spending time with Jeff and her two daughters Eva and Lily.

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.

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!

Leadership Summer Camp

Kids Learning LeadershipSummer camp is one of the best places for children to learn about leadership, to explore what it means to be a good leader, and to practice the kinds of personal skills important to being a leader. Bring together kids of different ages (at Rockbrook that’s girls between 6 and 16 years old) and provide so many activities where they interact and play together, and you’ll have one event after another where leadership is central. Campers find themselves asking questions like, “How can we work together on this?” and saying things like “Let’s make a plan.” It might be for a cabin skit or preparing for a group hike, but being a good listener, cooperating, maybe compromising, being creative about individual contributions, and being confident about being part of a team are almost daily parts of camp. Particularly for our oldest campers, for example the CAs who plan the end-of-session banquet, overnight camp offers (even requires, at times) chances to develop leadership skills and serve as leaders for the younger campers.

Sure there’s lots of crazy fun going on, but we’re growing as well.