Turning Into a Mermaid

By Lindsay Futch (The Lake Lady)

swimming friends at campSo, you’d rather be a Mermaid, right?
Well good news! Rockbrook Camp allows you to do just that.

From the first day you arrive at camp, you have the opportunity to dive right into the Redbird-shaped Lake, and demonstrate your swimming style.

But if you want to be a Mermaid, clearly one dip in the lake is not enough. It takes time in the water.

Here’s the Rockbrook guide to turning into a Mermaid!

Step One: Sign up for swimming as much as you can! In swimming, we like to give time to the campers to swim their Mermaid laps.  You will swim back and forth a lot, while the awesome lifeguards cheer you on with each passing lap.

mermaid girls swimming lapsStep Two: Set a goal to swim a certain number of laps each day. Depending on your age, becoming a mermaid requires different lap totals. Juniors in full sessions swim 125 laps, while juniors in mini sessions swim 65 laps. These numbers increase as you get older!

Step Three: If you didn’t make that goal amount in swimming, continue them during first and second free swim times. Sometimes, it’s difficult to meet the lap goal that you set for swimming activities. But that’s okay!  It’s fine to take a break and enjoy playing with your friends. If that happens, just know that you can always swim during the first and second free swim periods to complete your laps.

kids goofing around at the camp lakeStep Four: Just keep swimming! Like Dory says in Finding Nemo, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming swimming swimming!” The laps might seem too long, but setting a goal and being determined to finish that goal is very rewarding in the end. Especially when Dolly’s is the reward!

Step Five: See your scales start to glint in the sun. You’re almost done! Just a little more perseverance.

Step Six: Feel your tail start to sprout.

Step Seven: Bask in the camp celebration of your transformation. When you’ve finally reached Mermaid status, the whole camp sings a special song just for you.

“Way down at Rockbrook in the chilly lake.
There were some girls a swimming who started to shiver and shake.
We saw some scales a glinting and TAILS they did sprout.
Lo and behold a Mermaid, the whole camp to shout. Oh Mermaid, Mermaid, what’s your name?
(Name, Name)
You’re a Mermaid!”

Step Eight: Enjoy a refreshing scoop of ice cream from Dolly’s Dairy Bar!! You’ve earned it! You’re a Mermaid!

rockbrook camp lake fun

Join the Club

Rockbrook is, almost by definition, an inclusive place. When campers arrive, for example, counselors personally greet every camper, welcoming them to the community. It’s non-competitive, so each person’s contributions are equally celebrated. Within this inclusive environment, then, the clubs that have emerged this session have a unique Rockbrook spin on them.

camp free time at creekTo start with, every session, there are a couple of clubs that encourage campers to meet goals. Rockbrook Runners is one of these clubs. They meet every day at Hiker’s Rock at first free swim and go for a run around camp along Charlotte’s Loop, which is about two miles long. Full session campers are trying to log 26 miles, and mini session campers are trying to log 13 in order to enter the Marathon Club. Those in the Marathon club go to Dolly’s at the end of the session. Not everyone runs, of course—there are groups of people running, jogging (known as “yogging”) and walking, so everyone can find a group going at their pace. Rockbrook Runners is a great chance for girls from different lines to get to know each other, and also to behold the beauty of camp in parts they may not usually see.

camp free swim timeIf land isn’t your forte, you can also choose to splash into the water. If you’re down by the lake during any activity period or any free swim, you will see girls swimming laps in an effort to enter the Mermaid Club. There are different amounts of laps that each age group is supposed to swim, and then they are members of the Mermaid Club. When they complete the laps, their name is announced in front of the dining hall, and the entire camp sings the Mermaid Song:

Way down at Rockbrook in the chilly lake,
There were some girls a swimmin’ who started to shiver and shake
We saw some scales a glinting and tails they did sprout
Lo and behold a mermaid, the whole camp to shout:
Oh mermaid, mermaid, what’s your name?
[Name! Name!] You’re a Mermaid!

Some girls prefer the more leisurely Rockbrook Readers, who meet on the hillside lodge porch during second free swim with books and sometimes much-needed peace and quiet. The hillside lodge overlooks the mountains, so this informal club enjoys a beautiful view and rocking chairs that create an idyllic setting for reading.

camp friends girlsCampers can depend on these clubs every session of every year. They’re part of the fabric of free swims. Rockbrook is camper-driven, though. Especially in the last few days, as girls are feeling more comfortable and confident, clubs created by campers have been popping up every day. Yesterday, a group of girls created the Fruit Club. This club’s mission is “to learn fun facts about fruit, and to dissect fruit” in order to learn more about it. In a similar vein, the Milk Club was also created. Fellow campers signed up for the Milk Club under their favorite type of milk—2%, Skim, or Lactaid, to be sure to be inclusive of girls who are lactose intolerant. The Glitter Club was also introduced, which is primarily a club of glitter appreciation. Everyone who enjoys glitter is welcome, and they are planning to do things like make friendship bracelets with the word “glitter” on them in order to celebrate their appreciation of glitter.

horse kids camp

A Terrific Evening

Camp Lake SwimDuring the two “Free Swim” periods of each day, 45 minutes before both lunch and dinner, it’s common to see a good number of girls swimming laps at the lake. Some using kick boards and others varying their strokes, girls are clocking laps back and forth. And they are keeping count of exactly how many they finish, because if they reach 200 (150 for Middlers, and 100 for Juniors) they join the “Mermaid Club.” You can imagine completing that many laps is no one-day affair; it takes dedication and multiple trips to the lake. When a camper joins the Mermaid Club, Chrissy, our Waterfront Director, will read out your name in the dining hall during the announcements after a meal, and then the whole camp sings the “Mermaid Song” inserting the camper’s name in the final line. Chrissy wrote the song, and here are the words.

The Mermaid Song

Way down at Rockbrook in the chilly lake,
There were some girls a-swimming,
Who started to shiver and shake.
We saw some scales a-glinting,
And tails they did sprout!
Lo and behold a mermaid and the whole camp did shout
“Oh Mermaid, Mermaid, What’s your name?
[name]! [name]! You’re a mermaid!”

More of a chant than a song, it’s an honor to be recognized by everyone in this way. In addition to the recognition, some girls are (at least partially!) motivated by another perk awarded members of the Mermaid Club each session: a trip to Dolly’s Dairy Bar. For girls who simply love the waterfront, the water slide “Big Samantha,” the diving board, or just floating around on a tube in the sun, this is a concrete way to show it. Here’s a short video to give you a better sense of it all. I wonder if your girls are striving to join the Mermaid Club… (Hint. Hint. You could write them and ask!)

Gym Games at summer campFor those who prefer more land-based activities to fill their free time, the gym is one place to go because there’s bound to be a basketball or dodgeball game in the works. Right outside the gym, the GaGa pit is a great option. The tennis courts are also available to practice your serve or just to hit a few ball with a friend. A group of “Rockbrook Runners,” which includes walkers, leaves for a loop around the camp during the first Free Swim of the day. Like the Mermaid Club, the Rockbrook Runners have a club based on how many loops/laps are completed by the girls. It’s the “Marathon Club,” and as you might guess, the runners aim to finish 26 miles while they are here for the full session (though less if at camp for fewer weeks). And yes, the same extra sweet, creamy reward awaits those who run the required amount. Running for ice cream… I suppose that makes sense in some way or another.

The tankless hot water heaters were humming constantly this afternoon after we announced at lunch that tonight we would travel over to Camp High Rocks for a square dance with their boys. After braiding a lot of clear hair, dressing in whatever combination of flannel, jeans and bandannas we could gather, our entire camp made the short journey up the mountain (10 bus/van loads plus a couple of cars for extra counselors!). When we arrived, the boys were waiting for us out on their tennis courts and the bluegrass music was already playing from a set of speakers on the small hill nearby.  Some of the girls seemed a little nervous about not knowing how to square dance, but the High Rocks boys, and their counselors, were friendly and relaxed about the whole event and helped the girls learn different moves. Once we got going that uncertainty passed and soon everyone was smiling and laughing with every turn and do-si-do.

Camp Square Dancers Camp Square Dancing

After about an hour of dancing, we took a short break to mingle and recharge with some homemade oatmeal raisin cookies and lemonade. A little more dancing and we were back down the mountain discussing what made tonight’s square dance (for some, surprisingly) so fun. Maybe it was the outdoor setting with beautiful evening sunlight, or the lighthearted friendly atmosphere, or the opportunities to talk with each other, or the gentlemanly behavior of the High Rocks boys, or the genre of the music (… Well, for the girls, maybe not that.). Whatever the reason, we were all sure it was a terrific evening.

summer camp girls