This is My Family

By Naomi Penner

I live in a mighty cabin on the Senior Line that sits up on a hill amidst the trees. A glorified tree house, if you will. Living with me are two co-counselors and 12, 13-14 year old girls. They are a spirited group of Rockbrook gals with nothing but wit, grit, pep, and cheer who always make me laugh. They are the girls of Penthouse and they are my family.

Camp Nature Girls

There’s no doubt that all of us here at RBC are one big family. We live together in the wooded mountains for a few weeks during the summer, so we’re bound to be close. We see each other during meals and activities, Assembly on the Hill, and Rockbrook Surprises, like a shaving cream fight or girl power themed carnival.

Yet, it’s the family within your cabin that shares a different kind of bond. Your cabin is your home away from home. Not only are all your belongings living in it, but so are the people you spend the most time with at camp. Your cabin mates are the first people you see when you wake up and the last you see before you go to bed. You sit together at every meal. You cheer for each other the loudest. You are proud of everything they do. You take care and look out for one another. And most importantly, you love each other no matter what. It’s your cabin mates who turn that cabin into a home.

Two Camp Friends

The fun thing about each cabin here at Rockbrook is that, just as every family, each one has a set of customs and traditions unique to just them. From mealtime to bedtime and everything in between. For me, it’s never a Penthouse meal without standing up to sing along to a Rockbrook song at the top of our lungs, or a Penthouse day without hearing “What the Buddha?!” Every night before bed, we do “Rose, Bud, Thorn.” It’s a nice way to share our day. “Rose” is something you enjoyed about the day, “Bud” is something you look forward to at camp, and “Thorn” is something that just wasn’t to your liking. A weekly tradition we do in Penthouse is “Secret Buddy.” Every Wednesday, we draw names out of a hat to see who our Secret Buddy is for that week. Gifts include sweet notes tucked away in a book, or homemade gifts made during an activity that magically appear on your bed. My favorite Penthouse practice is our nightly Mad Lib. Whoever has “Mad Lib It Up” on the chore wheel that day gets to pick the Mad Lib and go around asking for a noun, adjective, verb, etc. Laughter is critical in Penthouse and we do it ‘til lights out.

Even more special to a cabin are the memories created within and around it. I have so many to draw from with my girls. Like the time we all gathered on Side C, singing and grooving to the High School Musical soundtrack, audible from down the line. Fourth of July spent on the hill talking about our childhoods as the fireworks boomed and glimmered in the background. Or when we went stargazing together on the hill and found a running man and dolphin in the lingering clouds.

As the session nears the end, I’m savoring these final days with my Penthouse, and Rockbrook, family. Looking around the breakfast table this morning, I couldn’t help but be grateful for the time had with this amazing group of Rockbrook girls. Luckily, the wonderful thing about family is that even when you’re far away from each other, whether it be from Tennessee all the way to Poland, the love you have for one another remains.

Nie mówię po polsku! PentHOUSE!

Happy Tennis Campers

Tenisha’s Spirit Fire Speech

During the Spirit Fire that closed our recent Second Session, Tenisha was one of the first-year counselors who spoke about her experience on the staff at camp. She described her feelings as someone new to Rockbrook, and how the character of our camp community has affected her. We thought it was wonderful, and wanted to share it.

Nisha Morrison

“Sitting at home and thinking about what I would do this summer, I knew I wanted to do something different, something new and extraordinary. I wanted something where I would make memories that I could reminisce about later, something that would teach me lifelong lessons, something that would teach me how to be a better person, but most of all I wanted something that had a positive environment where I could be happy.

After watching the camp videos over and over on the website, I knew I would find all those things at RBC. Seeing all the smiles and laughter, all the costumes and events cemented my decision to apply. When I spoke to Sophie on the phone I knew I made the right choice. Listening to her enthusiasm about camp, my first thought was she’s not real. There’s no way someone could be that excited about anything, but my second thought was that I have to see what sparked so much happiness and excitement.

From the moment I entered camp I was greeted with genuine welcome from the Directors and counselors I had never met before. Within the first week I had friends and by the third I knew I had found life long friendships. I remember one day I was walking down senior line being greeted by smiling faces and it wasn’t until I reached the end that I realized my cheeks were aching from smiling so much. I was genuinely happy. I realized that even though I reached the end of the senior line, I didn’t want to reach the end of my time at Rockbrook.

Rockbrook: where girls learn to grow. When I came here, I had no idea I would be one of those girls. With the help of the the Directors, my co-counselors, and other counselors who came to be close friends, I found that I grew into a Rockbrook girl who stops every chance she gets to take in nature and appreciate her, who laughs and smiles everyday because she’s surrounded by kindhearted people who care, who wakes up with a spider by her head and doesn’t panic but catches it and releases it outside, a girl who became a sponge wanting to soak up every song, every fact about the camp activities and traditions.

And most of all, thanks to Rockbrook, I became a girl who found her very own spirit fire that she had no idea she carried. It burns brighter than ever now. So thank you Rockbrook!”

Thank you, Nisha!

A Camp perspective from Mama B

ChapelAttempts can be made to replicate a camp, stories retold, even plagiarized, but the spirit of Rockbrook can never be duplicated.

So what makes a camp distinct, different from the rest, making it a place that generations of girls, from all over the world, count down the days until they can return?  What is it that sets apart a place that mothers long for their daughters to experience what they did as children?

As a camper, counselor, mom of campers, and now camp mom, my answer to this question comes from reflection over my life, and how much camp builds character and develops skills used for a lifetime.  Although, through the years, my perspective has changed, Rockbrook’s legacy is untouched, its heritage valued, and its spirit stronger than ever.  Girls from Rockbrook have an indescribable bond, a link to one another, bound by the fact that they were “camp girls” together.

Girls from RBC enjoy sharing what they love about camp.  From a parental perspective, here are a few of my favorites:

CHOICES-When else in life do young ladies get to decide for themselves how to spend their entire day and what hobby, talent, or new experience to pursue?  In my opinion, this teaches decision-making skills and develops a sense of independence they carry with them to adulthood.  It also facilitates adventure, encouraging them to try new things, step out of their comfort zones, and embrace new opportunities.

SIMPLICITY-We live in such a fast paced world that we forget to notice the beauty around us.  Simple domestic life at camp creates an atmosphere to better appreciate the natural surroundings.  It eliminates distractions, so campers and staff notice the magnitude of the mountains, sound of the streams, and smell of the mountain laurel.  This less busy, slower paced environment also aids in the development of new friendships.

Cabin

LIMITED TECHNOLOGY-As the mom of a teenager, I have noticed a real void in the communication skills of teens today.  Because there are no computers, TVs, or phones at camp, girls communicate face to face, an invaluable lifelong skill.

TRADITION-A place rich in tradition binds girls together despite their differences.  A camp deeply rooted in traditions gives girls the comfort that some things are “unchanging” and safe place, despite their changing circumstances around them.  They look forward to the things they do every year down to the songs, Spirit Fire, and ice cream.

And finally, LAUGHTER!  It’s good for the soul.  Girls are free to be who they are, uninhibited from the pressures of the outside world.  Loud songs are encouraged, costumes welcomed, and all personalities accepted.

Miss RBC.jpg

In conclusion, my gratitude has grown as I’ve come to appreciate the camp experience.  The more time I spend here, the more I realize that Rockbrook Camp has helped shape and mold me into the person I am today, and no matter how old I am, I’ll always be a Rockbrook girl!

Bentley Parker–Auburn, Alabama

Rockbrook Girl 1979-2013