To the Top!

Summer Camp Rock Climbing

Squeezing your feet into tiny, rubber soled shoes, wearing a climbing harness and helmet, and being tied to a bright pink rope that stretches up 100 feet over a rock above you, can be a little intimidating. If the rock is steep, like the climb called “B-52” on the south side of Looking Glass Rock, climbing it might even seem impossible. But that’s exactly what a small group of Rockbrook girls did this morning thanks to Rita and Nicole who led their trip. With a lunch of burritos packed, along with all the necessary climbing gear, the girls left Rockbrook around 8am, hiked up the mile-long trail, and arrived at the base of the rock, a little sweaty already, set to climb. The first pitch of B-52 is rated 5.8 and is not a simple climb. It takes courage, strength, and determination to take each step up, balancing on the eyebrow shaped edges of rock. You have to really trust that your feet won’t slip because handholds are scarce on this route. Every move feels a little risky— despite knowing you’re on a top belay —so in the face of that (perceived) risk, you have to be brave to make progress up the rock. These Rockbrook girls showed exactly that kind of strength and bravery because they all topped out the route! We might say they left their comfort zones at home!

Dot Painting Project

On the back porch of the Hobby Nook cabin, the Painting and Drawing activity meets. The porch has several long tables and benches, good lighting, and all the supplies to experiment with different painting and drawing media. It also is surrounded by old-growth rhododendron bushes that provide good shade, and on most days there’s a light breeze blowing through making the porch a delightful place to work. Recently the painting instructors, Tessa and Jess, have been helping the girls learn how to blend colors by using a dot-painting technique. This requires mixing paints on a palate before applying it to the canvas, or in this case, on a small square of card stock. The girls blend the paint using a wooden brush, then dip the other end of it in the paint to apply it. It’s a deliberate process of repeated blending and application to achieve different degrees of shading and slight color variation.  And the results are awesome! I’ve seen some really cool examples of the camper’s work: a boat splashing through the waves, a detailed vase of flowers, and a closeup of an eye… all really well done.

Summer camp water slide girl

You may have noticed that recently there are quite a number of photos in our online gallery of girls hurtling out the bottom of our lake’s water slide, affectionately known as “Big Samanatha.” The lifeguards open the slide during the two free swim periods, one before lunch and the other before dinner. Perhaps because it’s been so dry and warm lately, but also because it’s simply a lot of fun, the free swim periods have been very well attended (coming down to the lake is optional during those blocks of free time before lunch and dinner), and hence the slide has been getting a nice workout. After walking along the boardwalk and climbing the tower to the start of the slide, it can take some nerve to launch yourself because at the top, you are about 50 feet in the air as you stare down the 150-foot slick vinyl. It’s a surprisingly quick ride down, and a pretty big splash waiting at the bottom. For most girls, that means holding your nose and letting out a quick scream before hitting the water. It’s a fun ride, and after a short swim, an easy walk back around for another slide.

One last thing… A friend passed along an article that I thought you also might appreciate. Written by Margie Warrell, it makes the case for teaching girls to be brave, and goes further to suggest six things we can do to encourage that quality. Here is the article. Like we know well here at Rockbrook, there is much to be gained from being Kind, Silly and Brave.

Girls summer camp kids

Views from Looking Glass Rock

Sometimes here at Rockbrook, there is so much going on, it can be hard to choose between all the offerings. I often hear campers deliberating whether to sign up for trips, or to stay at camp to enjoy all the activities here.

GroupshotThis morning, while a daring group of young ladies was heading down to the lake to take a special early morning “Polar Bear Plunge” into Rockbrook’s chilly waters, girls were packing out for an overnight rafting trip, kayakers were preparing to try their paddles on the white waters of the Green River, and a van was driving off camp for a climbing trip to Looking Glass Rock. Rockbrook girls were having to choose between all these fabulous opportunities before the girls had even eaten breakfast! The best part about camp is that no matter which experience a girl chooses each day, whether wet or dry, on camp or off, scheduled or spontaneous, it is sure to offer her a fun chance to challenge herself, to make new friends, and provide her with a new story to share about her adventure.

Today’s group of devoted young climbers rose before the rising bell, ate a quick breakfast, packed lunch and climbing gear into back packs, and drove off to Looking Glass Rock. This group of six campers—all of whom already had a chance to climb Rockbrook’s own Alpine Tower, climbing wall, and live rock-face, Castle Rock—traveled into the Pisgah National Forest with three climbing staff to test their growing skills on another natural rock.

LookingGlassRockFromPilotZoomLooking Glass Rock, is a local monolith just shy of 4000 ft in elevation that hosts a wonderful variety of climbs, accessible to many skill levels. Well earning its name, Looking Glass is a massive granite rock jutting out of the valley floor whose many reflective faces offer climbers dozens of multi-pitch, free bouldering, and top-roping routes. After a brisk hike up the mountain from the parking area, we arrived to the rock face to find it was an exceptionally quiet morning for Looking Glass. We had the pick of the mountain.

FullSizeRender(1)Adventure Director, Clyde Carter, and climbing counselor Rita Keil, deftly scrambled up to set up an anchor on a pair of climbs well suited for today’s group. They set two routes that exposed the girls to different qualities of rock, challenged their skill level, and offered opportunities for success. After everyone had the chance to climb both routes, we moved anchor to try another part of the rock. These climbs were a little more challenging, inviting the girls to explore the limits of their skill and stamina. One of the important things about trying new things at Rockbrook is that we provide a great place for girls to safely push themselves. We create the environment to give them the confidence to try new things, and cultivate the knowledge that even if they are not able to reach the top today, they have reached new heights. At the end of the day, everyone feels good about their own experience, is inspired and supported by those around around them, and is granted the gift of a stunning and well earned view. If you stand on the hill at Rockbrook, you can look across the valley and see Looking Glass glinting in the sunlight. What fun for this group of veteran climbers to now come back to camp, look across the valley and get to say, “I climbed that!“

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Descending and Ascending

Kayak trip on the upper green riverNC Green River Kayak kidOne of the whitewater rivers popular with kayakers in this area of North Carolina is the Green, a dam-released river running through a deep gorge just south of Asheville. One reason for this popularity, besides the natural beauty of the surrounding forest, is the different sections of the river that provide a range of whitewater boating challenges. Perhaps the most famous, and certainly the most technical, section is known as the “Narrows.” With several class IV and class V rapids, and boasting a gradient of about 100 feet per mile, this is a section for experts only. At the other extreme is the section known as the “Lower” Green. It is about 5 miles of class II whitewater making it excellent for beginners, and the section most commonly run by camps.

Today a group of Rockbrook girls, led by Leland, Andria and Clyde, ran a third section known as the “Upper” Green. It is a moderately difficult section of class II and III+ rapids dropping almost 50 feet per mile over 4 miles. The whole section runs relatively fast, and the two largest rapids, named “Bayless’ Boof” and “Pinball,” are challenging lines with significant waves.  Our Rockbrook kayaking girls handled it just fine, and spent the whole day playing on the water. Rarely paddled by summer camp kids, it’s a real accomplishment for these girls to run the Upper Green.

Kid climbing Sundial route of Looking Glass Rock in North CarolinaMeanwhile, another group of Rockbrook girls, rather than descending a river, ascended a rock. Led by Andy and Rita, a group of Seniors and Middlers woke up early and drove into the Pisgah Forest to reach the base of Looking Glass Rock. They headed up the trail… gently uphill at first, but steep toward the end —to a climbing area known as the “Nose,” and were able to set 2 ropes on a well-known climb called “Sundial.” This climb is rated 5.6 in the Yosemite Decimal System, which means it’s steep enough to require a belay system and technical hardware for safety, but not so difficult that it requires advanced skills or strength. Climbing Sundial requires precise footwork, and the girls quickly figured out that the sloping “brow-shaped” handholds sometimes work better when you cling to them from underneath, lifting up instead of pulling down. Sundial also rewards you at the top of the 80-foot first pitch with a gorgeous long view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This photo of Haley at the top of the climb shows her after she removed her blindfold.  That’s right; with careful and patient footwork, she was able to climb the whole route blindfolded!  After a quick splash in the creek to cool off, the crew made it back to camp happy about the day’s fun and accomplishment.

Back at camp, the girls eating lunch in the dining hall were surprised when Chase interrupted the meal and shouted “Dance Break!!” into the PA System.  The speakers were ready and the music queued up, and a second or two later the entire dining hall was up and dancing to the song “Classic” that’s popular on the radio these days.  It’s a fun, pop dance song, and most of the girls new the words enough to sing along. For those three minutes of loud pumping music, everyone was moving, smiling and having a complete blast.

Girls slip and Slide for FunGirl attacking with shaving creamOur after dinner “twilight” event was a crazy shaving cream fight and slip-n-slide. This is about as simple as it gets, but also equally as fun. The girls dress in their swimsuits and assemble on our grassy sports field. Then, armed with a can of plain shaving cream, they attack each other spraying and smearing the slippery foam everywhere. The goal is to cover your friends (and, I suppose, anyone within reach!) as much as possible, spraying their backs, arms and hair, all while running around to avoid being sprayed yourself. Can after can of shaving cream was emptied, while we all laughed hilariously and screamed with delight. At one end of the field, we also unrolled a wide sheet of plastic down a gentle slope, added a little soap and sprayed it with water to make a fun slippery ride. The girls, all greased up with shaving cream, took turns launching themselves down the plastic, sliding in some cases 75 feet before rolling off the end to a stop in the grass. This last photo sums up the event nicely… Tons of good “clean” fun.

Camp Shaving Cream Fight for Girls