Learning to canoe first means learning strokes, and there’s no better place to practice than on flat open water. This morning, Emily led a canoeing trip to Cascade Lake for 11 campers to do just that. With boats loaded and other gear stowed in the trailer, they drove just 15 miles to the lake and put on the water. Right away it became clear for the girls that when there is no current to move the boat, propelling and steering requires attention and skill— forward and back strokes, J-strokes, pries, and sweeps. Fortunately, it was a calm, windless morning, with bright sunshine overhead, which made it easier to maneuver the boats. It took a little practice, but soon the band of boats made it all the way down the lake to Hooker Falls, where the girls had time to beach the boats and go for a short swim. After a light snack, the crew paddled back across the lake to load up the boats and make it back to camp for a late lunch. The girls returned excited and happy about how “amazing” the trip was.
Meanwhile, the regular activities at camp carried on. In Curosty, the fiber arts craft cabin, girls were learning to knit, for example. Working with two knitting needles, instead of paddles, these girls were learning stitches, not strokes. Here, fine hand skills are required to twist, pull and flip the yarn while keeping the tension consistent. Like canoeing, practice pays off when learning to knit as well, but in the end, you have something soft and warm, maybe a little uneven, but handmade nonetheless. Riding the zip line, on the other hand, doesn’t take any practice, or require strokes or stitches. Nope, all you need to zip line (beyond the harness, helmet, tether and dual pulley) is a little nerve, and maybe a couple of lungs full of air to release as a scream when you fly by high above the camp (oh, and 43 facial muscles for a smile as well!). In the activity we call WHOA, the girls have been learning to build a campfire, and when successful, perfecting their marshmallow roasting technique. Whether aiming for lightly golden brown or charred to a crisp, roasting a marshmallow is the kind of outdoor activity these girls are happy to practice.
When Chase announced that the Biltmore Train would be arriving today after lunch, the dining hall exploded with shrieks of laughter and delight. Like Oprah had just given them some unimaginably fantastic prize, girls were jumping up and down in unison, clapping, waving their arms in the air, even collapsing with what looked like tears in their eyes. Yes, the thought of an ice cream party can do this to a group of girls, especially a huge ice cream party like this where everyone can have multiple— in some cases 5 or 6! — cones if they please. It’s been a long Rockbrook tradition to hold this once-per-session ice cream extravaganza called the “Biltmore Train.”
During the dinner announcements, another wild frenzy of screaming broke out when Chase invited everyone down to our grassy landsports for a twilight shaving cream fight and slip ‘n slide. This is another special event that, because it’s so much fun and because we do it only once per session, the girls really look forward to. Campers and counselors alike arrived dressed in their swim suits ready to get messy. Each armed with a can of shaving cream, it took about 5 seconds for the girls to begin squirting and smearing white foam on everyone. Nobody was safe; even the photographer (me) ended up covered.
For the next 30 minutes or so, the girls became more and more covered with the stuff, happily shaping outrageous hairstyles, finger painting messages on their stomachs, and adding to the designs on everyone else. We also set up a slip ‘n slide. Now covered with shaving cream, essentially coated in slippery soap, the girls took turns running and launching themselves down the long sheet of wet plastic. It’s a great time for them to roll and tumble as they glide along two or three at a time. Being this slick, some of the girls easily slid about 80 feet! After a quick rinse with the hose, it was time for a warm shower, some dry clothes, and evening program in each Line’s lodge.
What a great camp day! Adventure, creativity, time outdoors, yummy treats, and goofing around with friends— it’s been downright magical.