Better Than You Can Imagine

As we said goodbye to our July Mini I campers today (we miss you already!), many of us took the chance to look back on the last two weeks at camp and celebrate all the memories we made together. The night before campers leave is a perfect time to reminisce on the session — the whole camp comes together for one of our oldest traditions, Spirit Fire. We gather at the campfire circle at Vesper Rock, which overlooks our beautiful lake. As the sun sets, we sing classic Rockbrook songs and listen to fellow campers and counselors speak about what their time at camp has meant to them. Once it’s completely dark, the directors begin lighting candles!

candle ceremony child

We circle the lake, lit by candlelight, and enjoy our last moments together. Spirit Fire is one of my favorite traditions at Rockbrook. My favorite part is listening to what each speaker has to offer. Campers from each line speak — a perfect mix of new and returning girls. Some are funny, some are sweet, some are wise, and all are perfect in their own ways. As we said goodbye to our mini-session campers last night, one counselor perfectly captured the feel of Rockbrook, no matter whether it is your first year or you’ve been coming to camp for as long as you can remember.

“It can be hard to take it all in. That’s why my favorite thing to do at Rockbrook is close my eyes. The first time I remember doing this was a spirit fire. I shut my eyes, soft singing still in my ears, and when I opened them I could see all the candles reflected in the lake and all the faces that looked like they were glowing from within. There are moments like that here, that feel so bright it’s overwhelming. It helps if you close your eyes and try to absorb as much as possible…Then, when it’s winter and I’m home, I can close my eyes and picture it all again, knowing that when I’m really there, it’s better than I can imagine.” – Miriam Ellis

We can’t wait to see all our July Mini I campers again next year, but for now, close your eyes and picture all your favorite moments again. And for our Mini II campers coming on Sunday, we can’t wait to see you! Whether you’ve been to Rockbrook before or not, I can promise that no matter what, it’ll be better than you can imagine.

Blurred Emotions

Camp Girls Only

It’s hard to say goodbye, but it’s especially difficult to leave good friends, and even more so when it may be a whole year before you see them again. That’s how we all felt this morning as the first July Mini Session campers finished their time at Rockbrook this summer— a little melancholy, wistful, even confused about what to do next. For everyone at camp, today marked a change. The Full Session girls suddenly had fewer camp companions, making most things feel oddly vacant, and the Mini Session girls were abruptly returned to the “real world” as parents began arriving by car. Reuniting with family members (parents, siblings and pets!) while simultaneously departing from their camp community… it can be an intense blur of emotions. As the goodbyes spread across the morning, it was very clear to me that these girls will miss each other. We hope the many wonderful memories gained this session will sustain their new friendships until next summer. Thanks to everyone, this first July mini session was a great one!

Zipline Camper Girl

Meanwhile, camp life carried on at Rockbrook with adventure trips heading out of camp (a whitewater kayaking trip to section IX of the French Broad River for example) and the full array of in-camp activities in action. Both morning activity periods took a full slate of girls through our new zip line course.  This summer we expanded our existing zip course by debuted two new zip lines and two different additional suspension bridges. Now when girls sign up, they spend an hour on the course, zipping high above tall rhododendron bushes, maneuvering over the different bridges, and screaming past the new office building for the 450-foot final zip. The entire course is beautifully harmonized with the natural features of camp, the massive rocks and waterways in the forest here. The first zip, for example, is a gentle ride, about 60 feet in the air, between rock faces that frame Stick Biscuit Falls. The course is truly a special experience. Calling it “scenic” would be a serious understatement, and the girls love it!

Lake Relaxing in the sun

Warm summertime weather (high temperatures in the upper 80s) has been inspiring a great deal of activity at the Rockbrook lake lately. Not so much sun bathing —though there’s been some of that too— the girls have been swimming their “mermaid laps” increasing their tallies, inventing crazy poses flying through the air off of the diving board, zooming down “Big Samantha” our water slide, and just relaxing on a tube aimlessly floating in the cool water. Bright warm sunshine and the chilly mountain lake water make a wonderfully refreshing combination. It’s almost irresistible, prompting even several directors to join the crowd of campers getting wet during the open “free swim” periods before lunch and dinner. On days like this, the lake, like the dining hall during meals, is a community meeting place where everyone, campers and staff members, young and old alike, gather to enjoy the water and each others company. It’s a delightful place all day long.

Celebrating the 4th

Campers at Rockbrook on 4th of July

This morning we all paused to say goodbye to our July mini session campers. Leaving camp is hard enough on ordinary sessions when everyone departs at the same time, when the fun of camp comes to a close and new, now deep-rooted friends have to part ways. It’s even more sad on a day like today when the mini session campers leave the full session campers behind at camp. Separating this amazing community we’ve built and strengthened over the last couple of weeks, is simply tough on everyone. Of course, our consolation is knowing that we all can return next summer and meanwhile stay in touch. Thanks mini session girls for being with us. It was a great session and we’ll miss you.

The full session girls spent their morning in a new set of activities. They selected these the night before, so many were excited to finally take pottery and learn to throw a pot on the wheel, or to join a huge game of dodgeball in the gym. The instructors in Curosty had the looms warped and ready for new weavers, and the wax for making candles in Hobby Nook was melted and ready to go.

Eating Pie on 4th of July
Orange carry relay race
Girl with pie on her
White team wins and celebrates

Dinner began our 4th of July celebration. First of all, Rick served us a fantastic meal of barbeque chicken, corn on the cob, his homemade coleslaw, and probably too much watermelon… an all-American classic meal. Katie, our baker had been hard at work with a special dessert too: red velvet cupcakes, with blue icing, topped with a marshmallow and a little American flag poking out the top. Amazing and so yummy too. Several counselors had decorated the dining hall (a building that sees almost constant redecoration for special events) with all manner of red, white and blue. Combined with the girls’ costumes, streamers, balloons, shiny stars and flags jumped out in all direction. They had also selected an all-American playlist of music— “Murican Music” they called it —and soon the whole dining hall erupted into a spontaneous dance party with girls singing, dancing and posing for photos with each new song. These girls were excited!

The night’s activity was even more thrilling because it was a 3-team, relay challenge. All the girls divided into red, white or blue teams, dressed in their color, painted their faces, and arrived at the gym ready to shout their team spirit. Representatives from each team bobbed for apples, ran a 3-legged race, tossed an egg back and forth, thawed a frozen t-shirt, raced to fill a bucket with a sponge, carried an orange without using hands, threw a pie at a counselor, and ate a pie as fast as possible. Throughout all these relays, the roar of the cheering team members was almost deafening as the girls jumped and shouted from the sidelines. Wow!

Camp girls are Best Friends Forever at Rockbrook Camp