A Place of Belonging

It’s not too difficult to see that the girls at Rockbrook this session are having a great time. If you visit camp, all the action is what you first notice: the horseback riding at the barn, the rock climbing at Castle Rock, the kayak roll sessions in the lake, the spinning pottery wheels, clicking looms, nimble scissors, and busy knitting needles. Likewise, your first glance at the photo gallery leaves the same impression. The girls at camp are engaged in so many ways, happily active, smiling and chatting with each other.

That’s all good stuff, but on another level, there’s something remarkable also going on. It’s the culture of Rockbrook. It’s the way the girls treat each other, the assumptions and values that subtly guide them. It’s how it feels to be at Rockbrook, living and playing together in this tight-knit community.

It’s tricky describing this culture because it’s certainly multifaceted and complicated, but one aspect I think worth noting is the sense of belonging girls enjoy at Rockbrook. Almost immediately after they arrive, girls are comfortably in groups around camp, paying attention to each other, including each other no matter what’s going on. Cabin groups provide the backbone of this feeling, but it’s present everywhere. Free from the competitive social and academic pressures of school, this all-girls environment is devoted foremost to the quality relationships we have with each other. Simply put, the culture of Rockbrook, and by extension what it means to be a “Rockbrook Girl,” begins with being “nice” to each other.

summer camp teen friends

Thinking about the traditional “Rockbrook prayer” recited during the “Goodnight Circle,” programming staff member Savannah put it this way:

The culture here at Rockbrook is one of optimism, respect, love, and altruism. The amount of kindness is astounding; people are always seeking out ways to brighten someone else’s day in any manner. Each positive encounter, no matter how small, can always somehow be traced back to at least one aspect of the prayer. The message encourages girls to stand up for what is right, to be their best selves no matter who is watching (or not watching), and to aim towards making the camp community even better than it already is. It allows us to feel a sense of support unlike anything else.

Campers are more than willing to take opportunities to “do a little good” by writing a friend a sweet note, picking up a piece of litter on the ground, or walking a younger camper to her activity. Everyday at camp is filled with these small, sweet moments.

kids playing outdoors at summer camp

I’ve written about why girls love camp, and there are certainly many reasons. But perhaps most importantly, Rockbrook is a place where girls feel they belong, where who they really are (and not who they think they’re supposed to be) matters. At camp, there’s mutual caring. It’s a place where we all value and rely on each other without any reference to our age, our intellect, or our looks. Nobody has to say it, but for these girls, Rockbrook is “a place of their own” where they feel safe and happy.  And that feeling becomes the foundation for all of our relationships at camp, the root of the friendships, and the spark for personal growth.

More than ever these days, young people need certain experiences to overcome the forces of abstraction and isolation they face. Just think, for example, how all that screen time impacts their ability to communicate face-to-face, to engage the inevitable imperfections of the real world (compared to the edited and filtered online version of things), and to be actively creative and confidently engaged. They need a place of belonging where they can practice being more connected to those around them, where they can play, encounter new challenging experiences, and grow.

Thankfully, Rockbrook is such a place.

girls relaxing at summer camp

What a Wednesday!

What a Wednesday! Today our regular activity schedule paused for the afternoon to allow cabin groups time for a special activity together. This mid-week “cabin day” is a great time for girls to bond with and get to know their cabin mates even further. The counselors put a lot of thought into cabin day, starting their planning and preparation at the beginning of each week. The other fun part: it’s a surprise for the girls! They never know if they might be hiking up to Castle Rock, playing group games at the gym, having a spa, making a yummy treat, being creative with a craft project, or leaving camp for an exciting adventure at Sliding Rock! Each week it’s something different and enjoyable for the girls.

Decorated Jar held by summer camp girl

Today, one of our Junior cabins created “compliment jars” for one another. This involved first decorating large mason jars with stickers, paint, tape and scraps of colorful paper. Once they had personalized their jars, the girls then wrote complements on small slips of paper dropping one into each person’s jar. Soon each girl had a jar full of complements to read. This is an exciting time for everyone, and such a fun way to make all of the girls feel loved, noticed, and celebrated by their peers and counselors alike. Compliment jars are often displayed in the girls cabins and even treasured at home throughout the school year!

Meanwhile, a Middler cabin could be found hanging out in the ‘nest’ near Castle Rock, the huge rock face right up the mountain on the camp property. The top of Castle Rock is a fantastic hiking destination, offering an amazing view of the Blue Ridge mountains, and out on the face, we have 5 different rock climbing routes the girls can tackle. This year, though, Rockbrook gained a new addition up there— The Nest! The nest is an alcove tucked under a wide, flat portion of Castle Rock where we found the perfect place to hang Eno hammocks. Using rock anchors, we can set up a nest of up to 15 hammocks, creating a fun hangout area with a beautiful view of the forest and the surrounding mountains.

girls wearing t-shirts painted at camp

A different Middler cabin was having a fun and messy paint fight on the hill! This involved white t-shirts, bright paints, and lots of laughs! The girls began with clean shirts, but by the end of this activity, their t-shirts were far from white. They took turns painting on one another’s shirts, and happily splattering each other. This was a special day for this cabin, because these girls love to get creative and messy, and how often do girls get to play with this kind of abandon? This cabin was laughing and smiling non-stop, and they finished up this paint-filled cabin day by jumping in our refreshing lake to clean up.

tea party set on porch

One of the more original and exciting cabin day ideas today was a tea party being held by one of our senior cabins. This cabin’s counselors transformed a table on the porch of the Hillside Lodge into a fancy tea party setting, where the girls were instructed to arrive wearing their “fanciest gowns,” which for us means “amazing silly costumes!” These girls drank tea out of mugs, ate tiny cakes, and practiced ballroom dancing around the lodge. It was refreshing to see our senior campers enjoying themselves so much at a tea party, which most of them said they had not done since they were much younger. This particular cabin day activity provided these girls an opportunity to play and pretend again, to use their imaginations, and to celebrate and laugh with one another. Once a again, opening up, being a kid at camp, felt really, really good.

girl camp kids dressed in costumes
group of summer camp teenage girls
camp kids holding picnic dinner

Camp Teaches Kindness

Rockbrook is accredited by the American Camp Association, an organization dedicated to defining and promoting professionalism and program quality among America’s summer camps. Through its many educational efforts and accreditation program, the ACA’s goal is to foster “greater public understanding of and support for the value of the camp experience” while “increasing [the] number of children, youth, and adults of all social, cultural, and economic groups [who] will have a camp experience.”

horse and small kid

Today, the ACA has deemed July 24th “camp kindness day,” a day simply to celebrate kindness as a core characteristic of many camp communities.Tom Rosenberg, the current President and CEO of the ACA, and good friend of Rockbrook, put it this way: “At camp, everyone belongs and learns to contribute altruistically in a nurturing, physically and emotionally safe environment where they learn to build caring, trusting, and respectful relationships with individuals who are different from themselves.”

We’ve said it many times before; camp teaches girls to be kind. There’s a kinship, an intensity and closeness, to camp life where sharing this much (meals, chores, songs and laughs, for example) charges up our sympathy and compassion for each other. The camp community, defined by heartfelt relationships rooted in caring and generosity, simply inspires kindness toward others. At Rockbrook, it’s easy to see too. Girls are helping each other in every activity. They’re quick to comfort, support and encourage each other. There’s warmth and affection in every greeting and cheer. Living in this kind of positive community feels really good also. It opens us all up to be more trusting, and paves the way toward greater resilience and self-confidence. Of course, friendships blossom along the way, making everything more fun. Kindness is definitely key at camp. Hooray for #CampKindessDay !

camp rafting kids

About half the camp went whitewater rafting today on the Nantahala river. One group drove over on Monday to spend the night at our outpost campsite before rafting the next morning. This group had a great time roasting marshmallows over a campfire, listening to the whippoorwills out at night, and battling at least one wolf spider hiding in the rafters of the tent platforms. The second group arrived in time for lunch before their trip down the river.  For each trip, six girls, each outfitted with a PFD, paddle and helmet, piled into one of our rafts and with one of the RBC guides steering in the back, bumped and splashed down the 9 mile section of river. The predicted afternoon thundershowers held off until we were on our way back to camp, adding to everyone’s enjoyment of their time on the water.

Back at camp in time for dinner, the girls were excite to find out that it was “Birthday Night,” a fun special event where the dining hall is rearranged to allow everyone to sit at a table according to their birth month.

This is always a popular event because it means sitting with different people, staff and campers alike. It’s one big birthday party for everyone at camp, and since there are 12 months, we had 12 cakes, each decorated by the Hi-Ups with colorful frosting and candy designs. Never missing an opportunity to dress up, we also made this party even more fun by giving it a “sports” theme with decorations and costumes based on different sports teams and uniforms. It was a colorful party of good silly fun for the whole camp.

Nantahala falls rafting splash

Kinder than is Necessary

“Kinder than is necessary. Because it’s not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed…If every person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary – the world really would be a better place.”

–RJ Palacio, Wonder

Many of my campers love the book Wonder by RJ Palacio. In it, a boy named Auggie, who was born with facial abnormalities, goes to middle school for the first time. Through shifting perspectives and realistic characters, the book ends up being an excellent argument for kindness.

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This book resonates at Rockbrook particularly because, in many ways, Rockbrook’s foundation is a culture of kindness. There is something gentler about being here, something that causes everyone to be a little more patient with each other, to go out of our way for someone else. With mini session girls starting their first day of camp, it was fun to see how they were welcomed into camp and became a part of this culture.

In Jewelry Making, girls made beaded necklaces. I saw many girls not making it for themselves only, but giving their necklaces to friends. They put their friends’ initials on them–entire cabins now match with beaded necklaces and bracelets. They enjoyed having a fun and colorful identity for the entire cabin to sport around camp! I’ve also seen many friendship bracelets being given to good friends. I even saw one girl giving a particularly intricate bracelet to a friend on the first day of camp! We all wondered how she had made the bracelet so quickly, but she said that she had been working on the bracelet throughout the year, ready to give it to a friend when she finally saw her at camp! It is impressive to consider how much these bonds continue throughout the year.

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Hodge Podge is an activity where girls make really fun crafts. I don’t know of a better way to describe it–they make flubber, which is a gooey playdough-like creation. It doesn’t make much of a mess, but feels really weird and makes fun sounds! They also tie-dye shirts and fun pillows. Today was a flubber day, and the girls had so much fun talking to each other and making flubber. After, everyone let their friends play with their fun creations and it became a hit in the cabins.

I see this culture of kindness the most frequently in the dining hall. Our dining hall is wonderful and neighborly, and even though they are in close quarters, the girls are able to work together to make sure that everyone has enough space and can get in and out for food. We are constantly borrowing things from other tables, but today, I noticed that a lot of tables were also making sure that others have enough. Sometimes, girls will volunteer to be the ones to get up and get more food, even if they did not take the last thing. Girls will go out of their way to show new campers where the water spigot is, or where to find the extra spoons. After dinner, a camper from our cabin volunteered to help clean the table when it was not her night. These things might seem small, maybe even too small to mention, but these are the things that create the atmosphere in which we live.

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It’s impossible to talk about kindness at Rockbrook and not mention the Hi-Up Campers. These are the oldest campers at Rockbrook, and they have many responsibilities that help keep camp running. They help out with the dishes, choose which songs to sing at meals, sort mail, get ready for special events, and help out with activities, among other things! This group of hi-ups has gone above and beyond to make all of the other campers feel loved. At twilight, hi-ups are frequently seen on the hill playing with the juniors and braiding their hair. They are constantly walking other girls to the barn, and helping out when any of the younger girls are feeling homesick. They show patience and love to the younger girls. In Nature, for example, hi-ups helped the juniors avoid slipping on rocks on a hike to Rockbrook Falls. Their spirit of helping others has resonated throughout the camp, making the other campers feel supported and welcomed!

Wherever you go at Rockbrook, you can’t help but notice this sense of gentleness and willingness to do things for others. Girls volunteered to sweep the lodge last night when their friends were on the rafting trip. Others helped comfort girls who were homesick. In one middler cabin, girls who had been to camp for years spent time trying to help a new friend who was experiencing homesickness. They asked her a lot of questions about her home life and tried to apply all of those things to camp–it truly helped the homesick camper and made her feel more at home here at camp.

Within this culture that so regularly exudes kindness as a philosophy, it doesn’t take long for girls to feel comfortable and at home. We aren’t competing against each other. Instead, we all want the best for each other. I see campers make being kinder than is necessary a rule in their lives at camp, whether consciously or unconsciously,  they intentionally make decisions that brighten the lives of others. During each of these times, when girls go the extra mile, they are making their cabin, their line, and the camp has a whole a more generous place. Kindness is contagious, and in living this way at camp, I think this kind of generosity extends when campers return home.

Face to Face Living

pottery camper at summer camp

The other day I was talking with a young counselor about camp and whether there was anything about the experience this summer that has surprised her. She had attended camp for 7 years as a camper already, so I was curious if she recognized anything different now that she’s older. She quickly said that she was having a blast with the campers in her cabin, and that she loves being a counselor because she gets to know the girls so well and do so much with them. She was surprised how “intense,” “emotional,” and “fun” camp is.

Put a little differently, life at camp is face to face living. We’re all in this together, sharing everything (costumes, food, pink eye —well, we try not to share that last one!). When we’re at camp we pay attention to each other constantly. We are very close, feel truly connected, to a lot of people. Being at Rockbrook means accepting the intimacy, thrills and challenges of community… but in exchange, building countless heart-felt relationships, deepening our humanity, and yes, having  a lot of “fun.”

By making this observation, I think this young woman, without knowing it, was also commenting on ordinary life outside of camp. Essentially, it lacks the closeness, the rich, personal experience that defines our days at girls camp Rockbrook. Ordinary American life, generally speaking, is more about individual consumption, privacy, personal advancement, and ego-centric entertainment— all while being mostly blind to the other people around us. As we speed along the course of our lives, tightly tethered to our smartphones, community is too often left in the dust. Feeling dis-connected, bored and alone, can easily be the sad remainder.

Painting Girl at summer camp

There’s an irony to this, too. Think of all the daily technology we utilize ostensibly to be more connected to each other: text messaging, emails, social media posts, and telephone calls. Thanks to modern communication technology, it’s simple to announce what you’re doing, ask someone a question, or look up information. The ease and convenience of using these technologies has made them ubiquitous threads of modern life. At the same time— and here is the irony —it seems they are isolating us as human beings. Sending a text message is a thin gruel compared to the deep feelings that accompany being present with someone you care about. An email conveys only a shadow of its sender. Facebook, despite its attempt to offer a “multimedia experience,” can’t touch the emotions of being with supportive friends. There’s no electronic translation for kindness. If our ordinary lives are increasingly defined by these diminished forms of communication, if we’re left with only these rarefied connections to other people, then, as we become more isolated, our humanity is going to suffer.

Thank goodness for camp! Here we feel more connected than ever despite (maybe because of) giving up our electronic communication devices. For good reason, we unplug to connect more fully to those around us. Life at camp feels good because it begins with wholehearted connections, with the messy and rewarding energy of a community. The contentment your girls feel at camp springs from living face to face, directly and without the filtering “convenience” of technology. It’s providing them proof that having kind, compassionate relationships with other people is a bumpy, fun path to a rich and rewarding life.

camp girl friends

Kind, Silly, Brave

There’s no doubt that camp is a remarkable experience for girls. You can see it everyday here at Rockbrook, see it as you browse through the online photo gallery, and hear about it if you ask the campers and counselors how it feels to be here. Of course, camp means having sensational fun, a “really great time,” but as we’ve said many times before, it’s more than that. Coming to Rockbrook means forming relationships, joining a community with a distinctive culture and language, and perhaps most importantly, learning important things about yourself that can make a difference to you later in life.

Kind Camp Girls
Kind Girls at Camp with Friends

Lately, I’ve been thinking more about how camp is a “place for girls to grow,” about the ways that girls benefit from their time at Rockbrook. There are many, but let me focus on three of the more important ones: being kind, silly and brave.

I think Rockbrook teaches girls to be kind. There are lots of reasons for this, but most of them spring from the close relationships we have with each other as a community. Being all girls may have something to do with it, as does the fact that we do everything, all day and night, together (There’s a kinship for all of us here), but the spirit of Rockbrook is rooted in being sensitive to the needs of others, in caring and generosity. The closeness of camp life, realizing that we are all together and that we all belong, fuels our sympathy and compassion for each other. It makes us kind. This explains why it’s the other campers who are first to jump right in and help comfort someone homesick in their cabin. Kindness is at work when hundreds of friendship bracelets are exchanged every session at Rockbrook. It’s true affection for each other that sets the tone in every conversation around camp, while weaving baskets, feet in the creek, and twisting tie dye t-shirts, for example. Camp simply encourages heartfelt relationships. As we all relax and open up our true selves, we grow closer to each other, and kindness blossoms naturally. It’s darn right magical!

Silly Camp Lake Bathing
Silly Camp Spa Treatment

Rockbrook reminds girls that being a little silly is a good thing. There are times, of course, when we all have to be serious, but in many situations there’s room for lighthearted humor, a dash of exuberance, and more than one color. At camp, things are more silly than not, as we easily burst into song, ordinarily add costumes to whatever we find ourselves doing, and are quick to laugh throughout the day. Life at this kind of girls camp feels good, and is more fun, partly because we’ve found a balance between serious tasks, like keeping our cabins clean and taking care of our health, for example, and the joy to be found by appreciating the silly side of our personalities. Camp teaches us that there can be a playful dimension to most things. We dance when setting the dining hall tables. We can sing… gosh, anytime! Waiting in line for muffin break, we can braid our friend’s hair, adding a flower we just picked. We can dress like twins with a bunk mate, just for the fun of it. For girls at camp, it’s pretty easy to smile all day long and to make everything whimsical. In addition, developing this habit of cheerfulness nurtures the girls’ creativity. Learning that it’s OK, even preferable, to include some of their silly side when completing a task is like being given permission to mix things up a bit, to get creative while being productive. That’s why you see Rockbrook girls happily helping around camp, adding decorations to just about everything, and enjoying the most routine tasks. Being silly means being creative, and when done together, that makes something fun, no matter what.

Brave Zip Line Camper
Brave Camp Kayaker

It’s also true that Rockbrook helps girls be more brave. Simply deciding to come to camp, to leave the safety and familiarity of home, takes courage. So being here alone— navigating daily decisions (what to do during free time, for example), taking care of ordinary personal needs (remembering to take a shower, for example), and interacting with so many different people, unusual foods, and new activities —requires some degree of bravery. In addition, some of our camp activities themselves require the girls to muster their courage. It’s completely natural to be afraid of stepping off a rock tethered to a high zip line cable, or to approach a new whitewater rapid in a kayak, or even to stand up in front of the whole camp to tell a joke during the lunch announcements. But these Rockbrook girls are choosing to do it— proving they are both capable and brave. A shy quiet girl at home suddenly is first to fly down the water slide at the lake. A girl who might never choose to join a painting class (thinking, “I’m terrible at art”) feels inspired to join her friends and enjoy the process of being creative. With encouragement springing from every direction, girls may discover the confidence to try all sorts of things they might never be brave enough to accomplish otherwise, from the physical challenges of sports, to the personal challenges of getting along with their cabin mates.

The culture of camp inspires and encourages girls to be kind, silly and brave. It provides regular opportunities, wrapped in the guise of “Big Fun,” to develop these aspects of their personality. We hope that as they grow up, and carry the spirit of Rockbrook with them out into the “real world,” your girls will be happier and more successful strengthened in these ways.

Super Silly Camp Girls Group

We’re Gaga!

If you take a stroll down behind the Rockbrook tennis courts, past the lower pottery studio, and through the tunnel under the highway, you’ll pop out by the French Broad River, nearby where all our horseback riding happens at camp. There we have our fenced pastures, horse barns, riding rings, and equestrian office— all on the west side of US276, while the majority of the camp, connected by the tunnel, is up the hills on the east side.

Horseback Riding Camper

This summer we have 30 horses at Rockbrook, all being superbly cared for by Kelsi, our Equestrian Director, and her staff of riding instructors. The personalities of the horses, their strengths and sensitivities, identify them as suitable for riders with specific skills and confidence riding. This photo, for example, shows Olivia riding Rocket, a 10-year-old thoroughbred/half linger cross who came to us from Mary Thomson at St. Andrews University. Isn’t it a great shot? Rocket can ride hunter jumpers and dressage, and has been used for several years in lessons for young children. He responds well to definite riders, and can be a little quick when jumping. It looks like he and Olivia— even their manes— are right in sync in their canter! If your daughter decides to take riding while she’s here at camp, you’ll no doubt hear about the favorite horse she rode, perhaps Otto, Watson, Annie, Quinn, or even Rocket. If you write her, you might ask about which horses she’s had a chance to ride. 😉

Gaga Ball Players

Ordinary dodgeball played in our gym is often part of the “Sports and Games” activity, but just outside is an octagonal court, about 20 feet wide with 30-inch high walls, that is for a special kind of dodgeball called GaGa (or Ga-ga Ball). The game is thought to have come from Israel and its name from the Hebrew word “ga” which means to touch or hit. “Israeli Dodgeball” is another name for it. Played mostly during free times at camp, like before lunch and after dinner, girls of any age and athletic ability can enjoy a game of Gaga. Any number can play too, making it easy to start a game and include everyone. The object is to hit a small, soft ball with your hands (not throw it) to hit other players in the leg, eliminating them from the game. As the girls knock the ball around inside the court, they jump wildly out of the way trying to avoid being hit. The court is just the right size to keep the game moving quickly, and soon when the last person is left (the winner) another game starts right up. Later in the week, there will certainly be an impromptu Gaga tournament for those girls gaga about gaga!

camp-girls

During the cabin skits tonight that were part of the Senior Line’s evening program, I was impressed by how much fun the girls were having being silly and performing for each other, but also by how close they had already become after only this first week of camp. It’s another of the amazing benefits of camp— by spending so much time together, unplugged from screens, sharing, communicating, and cooperating, your Rockbrook girls are also building emotional bonds with each other, growing more and more comfortable each day. It’s clear that camp life is fundamentally social, but perhaps different from the relationships formed at school, kindness and encouragement define the way Rockbrook girls treat each other. They are simply quick to be nice, and that really fuels the friendships being formed here. Over time, it’s this closeness that makes camp life so rich, and that’s so rewarding to experience.

Heartfelt Euphoria

Counselor and Camper happy together
Girls happy at summer camp

Lately, it’s been tour season at Rockbrook, with families, often 2 or 3 at a time, visiting to learn more about camp. Over the last week, I’d say we’ve had more days than not with tours scheduled. This is great because we are always pleased to show off a little of what makes Rockbrook special, and to hear what prospective families find remarkable. For example, tour groups are often surprised that “everyone is so friendly around here.” It’s true, walking around camp creates a chorus of greetings, waves and smiling faces, no matter what time of day. Also though, a parent today commented that everyone at Rockbrook seems so “genuinely happy” and this got me thinking again about why this is the case. Everyone knows that camp is a happy, fun-filled place where girls can spend their days enjoying activities, being with friends, and playing outside in a beautiful setting. But I don’t think happiness at camp can be traced simply to these kinds of outward characteristics, to the activities, the camp facility, the quality of the food, or even the experience of the directors, though certainly all of these are important ingredients. Also, the kind of happiness we’re talking about here, the kind that brings out the best in kids, can be elusive elsewhere. Outside the haven of Rockbrook, even when every material need is met (and sometimes luxuriously met), the pure joy we find at camp can be missing. And that’s what stands out; there’s a heartfelt delight (even euphoria!) at camp very different from the mere pleasures and comforts of ordinary life.

Waterfall Camp Kids

So what’s the secret?  What is it that happens at camp that might be implemented or encouraged at home and school to make our kids more “genuinely happy?”  While not the whole story, I think Rockbrook succeeds in this way because it is foremost a community of caring people who appreciate and respect one another. The girls here know that they belong. They know that wherever they go in camp— to their cabin, to an activity area, to a picnic or an assembly on the hill —and no matter who is there joining them (an old friend or a new face, camper or staff member), they will be enthusiastically welcomed, sincerely encouraged, and fully supported. The deep happiness felt at camp blossoms from the positive relationships formed among everyone who is a member of our community. Free from competition and criticism, the way we interact here is uplifting and in important ways liberating. We talk about the power of community a lot, and this is yet another of its rewards.

Rock Climbing camp kid

Much like you and me, children need to feel liked. They need to feel that they are appreciated and that they are essentially good. This makes them keenly aware of how others, other children (their peers) and adults (parents, teachers, and camp counselors, for example) respond to them. It’s when these responses are affirmative and approving, as opposed to grumpy, demeaning or even just spiritless, that the magic happens. Put most simply, a child will begin to find genuine happiness when she feels those around her are likewise genuinely happy to see her, to be with her, and to love who she really is. Perhaps surprisingly, this kind of happiness derives not from what we do or what we have, but from who we’re with. If they are caring and kind, “sweet” and reassuring, enthusiastic and encouraging, we will find happiness. This kind of collective spirit, so beautifully embodied by Rockbrook, is a powerful force.

And it’s something that builds upon itself in a community.  Beginning with our staff and then with our campers, caring inspires care, kindness calls forth further kindness, and happiness leads to the happiness of others. We can already see that the girls this session are helping each other in this way. As they grow closer, support and encourage each other, as they become more comfortable with each other, and as they feel genuinely appreciated, the fun of camp intensifies. It’s no wonder that the girls love it here.

How do you show you’re happy when your kids are around?